UFC 92 reminds me a lot of the old WCW pay-per-views because the matches featuring the biggest names were almost never the main event. Things got so over-crowded and lame in the WCW toward the end, they had a PPV that featured Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior, but it wasn’t the main event, and it was really depressing to see.
I love Rashad Evans and Forrest Griffin, but it’s completely trumped by the Rampage/Silva fight on the undercard, and that fight could be completely depressing to see if either guy has truly lost a step.
Otherwise, I’m so excited about this card, I’ve had to change underwear twice while resarching the fights for this preview. It’s just that good. Well, the big three fights are good. The rest of the card is kind of shitty, but the awesomeness of the Big Three still makes it an awesome card. Although the lack of Kenny Florian is disturbing, but since he just fought in November, I guess it’s okay if he takes some time off. Plus he said he’s gonna kill B.J. Penn when they fight, so it’s probably a good idea for the UFC to make sure he wasn’t being literal.
So here’s our UFC 92 preview, and on December 27, we’re going to be watching somewhere on the 27th and pretending not to notice the cards on the next couple of UFC’s aren’t all that great.
Fight other than the Big Three that might be worth watching
Yushin Okami vs. Dean Lister (185 lbs)
The winner of this fight is probably getting a shot at Anderson Silva’s title. Notice how I didn’t say “could win the middleweight title” because it’s going to take three guys with baseball bats taking on Silva at the same time to get that sucker away from him.
Okami is the better fighter of the two and the more likely of the two to give Silva some real competition. Technically, Okami has already beaten Silva, but that was because Silva was disqualified for an illegal kick, not because Yushin Okami is just that fucking awesome. Yet somehow no one has heard about it except MMA junkies. The key for Okami is going to be making sure Lister doesn’t take this fight down to the ground and make it a jiu-jitsu fight.
Lister is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and isn’t much of a threat to Okami with his stand-up, so it’s going to be very important for him to take Okami down. That said, Okami’s takedown defense is nearly as good as it gets, so Lister might eat a few trying to get the takedown.
The Fights That Count
Quinton Jackson vs. Wanderlei Silva (205 lbs.)
Silva beat Jackson twice in Pride, knocking him out both times. Since those fights, Jackson has undergone a couple of different evolutions as a fighter. When he made his way to UFC, he was as focused and dangerous as he’s ever been. He ran through Chuck Liddell and seemed as though he was going to hold the light-heavy belt for a long time before Forrest Griffin knocked him insane. Now that he had a real-live rampage in Los Angeles, it’s hard to tell who is going to walk to the Octagon on Saturday.
The perfect guy to take on Mike Tyson post-ear-biting Rampage is Wanderlei Silva. He’s a brutally effective stand-up fighter and you can tell by looking at his face that he’s been through a few dozen wars. If this fight were happening three or four years ago, I’d be all-in for Wanderlei. But now, he doesn’t move like he used to and isn’t as dangerous as he used to be. He even lost to a washed up Chuck Liddell because he can’t move like he used to. Once the feet and head go for a stand-up guy, that’s it.
Rampage is going to want to take Silva down often and beat the crap out of him that way. He’s stronger and better on the ground at this point than Silva is. Plus, the takedown virtually eliminates any chance of Rampage getting knocked out by Silva’s amazing striking capabilities.
That said, if these two end up standing and going toe to toe, MMA fans are going to pleasure themselves to the footage of this fight for years to come. These guys throw like few others in the business and this is the best candidate for fight of the night. Styles make fights, and this is THE fight.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Frank Mir (Heavyweight)
Interim Heavyweight Championship Fight
These two were the coaches for the most recent Ultimate Fighter season, so everyone knew this matchup was going to happen once the season was over. What we didn’t know until recently was the winner is going to get sacrificed to Brock Lesnar in the next heavyweight title fight. Yeah, I know Lesnar lost to Mir already, but I don’t think Mir is going to get that lucky again. If Couture had come back sooner, it would have made more sense to have Nogueira fight Couture and have a rematch between Mir and Lesnar. Oh well.
What makes this an interesting fight is how similar Mir and Nogueira are. They both prefer to fight on the ground, are BJJ experts, and are very experienced fighters. That said, Minotauro is much better on the ground and on his feet. He also takes a punch much better than Mir. He’s basically Frank Mir but better. Besides, Lesnar would destroy Mir in a rematch. I’d much rather see an intriguing matchup with Minotauro than a rematch with Mir.
Forrest Griffin vs. Rashad Evans (205 lbs.)
If any fight is going to trump Silva/Rampage, it has to be this one. Both Evans and Griffin have fantastic chins and love to stand and fight. That’s a little ironic since Evans was a wrestler and only a wrestler just a couple of years ago. Griffin has become more well-rounded, but he’s still basically the same guy he was when he won TUF season one. He hits hard and is a bitch to knock out, so if Evans is going to take the title, it’s going to have to be through a decision.
In Evans’ favor is his ability to land the big shot like he did on Liddell, but Griffin’s chin is far stronger than Liddell’s at this point. However this fight goes in the ring, I just can’t see any place where Evans is going to have a decided advantage, even on the ground. Griffin is going to come in with fantastic cardio and be totally prepared for Evans to try and take him down. Happily for all, this fight should be fought mostly standing up, so there could be a ton of fantastic action. I’m going to go with Griffin in a unanimous decision if nothing else so there’s some one on top who can take a beating in case Anderson Silva decides to go up to light-heavy again.