UFC 160 Main Event Preview and Guest Panel Predictions
By Dave Carpinello
This Memorial Day weekend, the UFC brings out the big boys in Las Vegas for a rematch for the UFC heavyweight title. UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez meets Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva on Saturday, May 25 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Velasquez and Silva previously met at UFC 146, with Velasquez emerging victorious. Now the two will meet for the sport’s biggest prize. After avenging his only career loss and regaining the title at UFC 155 last December, Velasquez (11-1) now prepares for the first challenger in his second reign atop the heavyweight division. This weekend, he’ll meet Bigfoot Silva (18-4), who earned the shot at the UFC title with impressive back-to-back knockout wins over Travis Browne and Alistair Overeem, for a second and deciding time.
Cain Velasquez (11-1) vs. Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva (18-4)
UFC Heavyweight Title Bout
Cain Velasquez joined the UFC in only his third professional bout against Brad Morris at UFC 83. The AKA prospect won by TKO on the undercard before moving up in competition to face Jake O’Brien where he secured his fourth straight first round TKO. Gaining popularity with the fans, Velasquez then went to the second round for the first time in his career against the ultra-tough Denis Stojnic before earning another TKO.
Velasquez then showcased a solid chin and a ton of heart against Cheick Kongo, using dominant wrestling and ground and pound to earn a unanimous decision – the only time he has gone the distance. After a second round TKO victory over IFL stand-out Ben Rothwell, Velasquez knocked out former PRIDE heavyweight champion and former UFC interim heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Then Velasquez got his chance to unify the heavyweight belts and he stopped Brock Lesnar inside the first round to earn the unanimous UFC’s heavyweight title. His party was short lived though as he lost his title and his next fight when Junior dos Santos knocked him out on the UFC’s debut on FOX.
Following that loss, Velasquez returned at UFC 146 and laid a bloody beatdown on Antonio Silva ending the fight via TKO in Round 1. Then he got his rematch with Junior dos Santos and it looked nothing like the first fight. As Velasquez became the first fighter in UFC history to post triple digits in significant strikes landed and double digits in takedowns landed in a single fight, landing 111 significant strikes and 11 takedowns in the rematch as he cruised to victory and reclaimed the UFC heavyweight title.
Velasquez owns nine of his eleven professional victories by TKO, including seven inside the first round. Despite an NCAA Div I all-American wrestling background, Velasquez possesses a strong Muay Thai attack and some of the best conditioning in the heavyweight division.
UFC Record: 8-1 (7 TKO)
Strengths: Good kickboxing, two-time NCAA Div I All-American wrestler, great conditioning
Weaknesses: Criticized ground and pound power
Key Wins: Junior dos Santos, Antonio Silva, Brock Lesnar, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Cheick Kongo, Ben Rothwell, Jake O’Brien
Notable Losses: Junior dos Santos
Antonio Silva made a name originally as a super heavyweight, but most recently in the 265 pound category with his powerful hands, speed, agility, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu prowess. Silva began his career with a 7-1 record, including wins over Tengiz Tedoradze, Ruben “Warpath” Villareal, and Tom Erikson before joining EXC.
Silva went 4-0 with Elite XC, winning his promotional debut over Wesley “Cabbage” Correira by TKO before submitting Jonathan Wiezorek with a rear naked choke. Silva then edged out a decision over former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez before knocking out Justin Eilers. Following his run in EXC, Silva went to Japan where he fought for Sengoku Raiden Championship.
With SRC, Silva earned wins over Yoshihiro Nakao (injury) and Jim York before joining Strikeforce. In his promotional debut Silva lost a decision to Fabricio Werdum, but he rebounded to put together a three-fight win streak. Silva’s rebound came as a unanimous decision over former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski and was followed up by a knockout over Mike Kyle. Then Silva won the biggest fight of his career when he won by TKO due to a doctor stoppage over Fedor Emelianenko in the opening round of Strikeforce’s heavyweight tournament. In the second round of the tournament though he ran into Daniel Cormier who crushed him in round one on his way to eventually winning the tournament.
Following Zuffa’s merger of Strikeforce fighters into the UFC, Silva made his Octagon debut at UFC 146 against Cain Velasquez and the results were bloody, as Velasquez used strikes and elbows to TKO Silva in round 1. The man called “Bigfoot” was able to rebound though with two straight victories to earn this rematch. First, Silva knocked out Travis Browne in under two minutes at UFC on FX: Browne vs. Silva in October 2012. He followed that impressive performance up with a shocking knockout of the former Strikeforce heavyweight champion, former K-1 World Grand Prix champion and former DREAM heavyweight champion, Alistair Overeem at UFC 156.
UFC Record: 2-1
Strengths: Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, most wins by TKO, size
Weaknesses: Struggles most in bouts when he can’t score the takedown
Key Wins: Alistair Overeem, Fedor Emelianenko, Travis Browne, Andrei Arlovski, Mike Kyle, Tengiz Tedoradze
Notable Losses: Cain Velasquez, Daniel Cormier, Fabricio Werdum, Eric Pele
UFC 160 Main Event Guest Panel Predictions:
Jamie Varner (21-7-1-2, former WEC Lightweight Champion) – “Cain Velasquez is going to win this fight with another TKO.”
Chris Bradford (Owner/Head Trainer – Top Tier Muay Thai) – “Velasquez will once again find his range standing and pick him off. Superior striking will either win the fight standing or it will end when the GnP happens. I see Cain finishing by TKO in 2nd.”
Jesse Finney (5-1, Owner of Finney’s H.I.T. Squad Gym) – “I think Cain will beat Bigfoot everywhere inside of the Octagon.”
Scott Casber (Takedown Wrestling Radio) – “This is going to be an interesting style versus style match up. Cain is healthy and active again and should be able to take on all comers. I’m putting the entire $4.48 I have in my pocket on the former Arizona State star. Velasquez is just now starting to come in to his own with style, energy and power. He’s a big dude that has amazing punching power and good wrestling skills. V over Bigfoot!”
Paul Bradley (20-5-1, Strikeforce & UFC Veteran) – “There is no doubt about it, Cain by TKO in round two.”
Elvis Sinosic (The King of Rock & Rumble) – “This seems to be a rematch which has happened by accident. Bigfoot appears to be an opponent that was tailor made for Overeem to beat. A big slow striker with slower takedowns (even though he does hit hard). Overeem was supposed to win to earn his shot at the belt. Well Bigfoot spoiled that result by taking Overeem into deep waters and putting him away in the 3rd round. Bigfoot has shown improved striking, endurance, a strong chin and great patience in his last fights. He is a tough opponent for any of the HW’s. Cain has shown great improvements in his striking and also shown that he has a strong chin after his last appearance against Junior dos Santos.
To win Bigfoot needs to keep the fight standing early and lure Cain into a striking match and when he least expects it to take him down and get on top. Bigfoot is a big heavy strong fighter with good Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and if he gets on top he is dangerous. Cain needs to pressure Bigfoot with his speed and look to put Bigfoot on his back and do what he does best, Ground and Pound. I think Cain’s speed will be too much for Bigfoot. Cain’s endurance cannot be questioned and surviving and taking it into the later rounds is not an effective strategy against him as he only gets stronger as the fight goes on. The big question is, has Bigfoot’s takedown defense improved. If he can stay off his back he has a good chance of implementing his game plan. I just don’t think he will be able to do it. Cain’s takedowns are too fast and too good. He keeps pumping them out from beginning to the end. Even if Bigfoot takes down Cain it won’t help as Cain is like a Jack in the Box and pops right back up after hitting the ground.
I think Big Foot will provide a better opponent in this rematch and will come in well prepared. I just don’t think it will be enough. I am picking Cain to win a Decision in the later rounds or possibly even another TKO victory.”
Junior Assuncao (13-5, former XFC Lightweight Champion) – “Velasquez wins this fight with a knockout in round 1.”
Andy Main (6-1-1, Ultimate Fighter Alum) – “I read that Cain said he’s coming in with a completely different game plan. Why in God’s name he would do that I have no idea. My guess is unless Cain brain farts and gets rocked with a lucky punch early on, nobody will even remember that these guys fought two times. This fight will look exactly like the first fight. Cain is a beast. I don’t see him being beat in any fight that goes past the first. Cain by TKO round 4.”
Cyrille Diabaté (19-9-1, PRIDE & UFC Veteran) – “I think that Cain’s speed, wrestling and cardio will get the better of Bigfoot. I don’t think the fight will be as one sided as first time but Cain will win by TKO in the middle rounds of the fight.”
Paul Daley (32-12-2, former Cage Rage British Welterweight Champion) – “I think the same outcome of the first fight will be the result again on Saturday night. Cain smashes Bigfoot inside the first 2 rounds.”
Julio Heller (Owner X Sports Marketing Esportivo e Cultural) – “I think that Bigfoot learned a lot with the first fight, it was his debut in the UFC, now coming from a great victory against Overeem, he will have a different fight plan. He is the underdog, all the pressure goes to Velasquez, great fight, for sure finished by KO, I hope that it is Bigfoot who scores the win.”
Lew Polley (15-4, Team Black House) – “Cain by TKO in the 4th Round”
Thomas Denny (27-20-1, former King of the Cage Welterweight Champion ) – “Velasquez wins this in the 2nd RD with another TKO. He is coming to retain his title and he will be hitting hard combos, finishing with leg kicks and chopping him down!”
Paul Buentello (31-15, former King of the Cage Heavyweight Champion) – “Cain all the way, Bigfoot has No chance in this fight.”
Rick Hawn (15-2, former US Olympian, Bellator Season 6 Lightweight Tournament Winner) – “Velasquez will win this fight via TKO in the 4th round.”
Ryan Couture (6-2, Son of UFC Hall of Famer) – “I don’t see the rematch this weekend going much differently than the first encounter. Cain should be able to take Silva down and do damage from the top position. It may take longer this time but I expect him to come away with another TKO win.”
Guest Panel Predictions Results:
Cain Velasquez – 15
Antonio ‘Bigfoot” Silva – 1
Undecided – 0
UFC 160: Velasquez vs. Silva – Fight Card:
Main Card Bouts (Pay-Per-View):
Cain Velasquez (11-1) vs. Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva (18-4) – UFC heavyweight title bout
Junior dos Santos (15-2) vs. Mark Hunt (9-7)
Glover Teixeira (20-2) vs. James Te Huna (16-5)
Gray Maynard (11-1-1) vs. T.J. Grant (20-5)
Donald Cerrone (19-5) vs. K.J. Noons (11-6)
Preliminary Card Bouts (FX):
Mike Pyle (24-8-1) vs. Rick Story (15-6)
Dennis Bermudez (10-3) vs. Max Holloway (7-1)
Colton Smith (6-1) vs. Robert Whittaker (11-2)
Khabib Nurmagomedov (19-0) vs. Abel Trujillo (10-4)
Preliminary Card Bouts (UFC Facebook):
Stephen Thompson (6-1) vs. Nah-Shon Burrell (9-2)
Brian Bowles (10-2) vs. George Roop (13-9-1)
Jeremy Stephens (20-9) vs. Estevan Payan (14-3)
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