- FIGHT-BY-FIGHT: UFC 82 PRIDE OF A CHAMPION

February 28, 2008
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by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com







 

UFC
MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT:

ANDERSON
SILVA VS. DAN HENDERSON

 

UFC
middleweight (185-pound) champion Anderson Silva takes on Pride welterweight
(183-pound) champion Dan Henderson. Silva has a 20-4 record and trains with
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in Brazil. Henderson has a 22-6 record and trains out
of Team Quest with Ryan Parsons.

 

Silva comes
off a stoppage victory over Rich Franklin at UFC 77, his second win over the
former champion, while Henderson comes off a close decision loss to Quinton
Jackson at UFC 75.

 

This is the
second unification bout between UFC and Pride champions, both have involved
Henderson. This should prove to be another exciting affair between champions,
as neither fighter seems to be overtly better than the other, but both bring
different strengths into the fight that can play to their advantage.

 

Silva is
the more precise and accurate striker, while Henderson packs the more powerful
punch. Silva can finish the fight with an accumulation of strikes, while
Henderson can get the job done with just one solid shot. The advantage goes to
Silva because when Henderson loads up and throws the right hand, he leaves
himself open for knees and kicks.

 

On the
ground, Silva has shown that he fights well off his back. Henderson will have
the advantage in wrestling, but the edge goes to Silva in submissions. Both
fighters will fight at a high pace and cardio shouldn’t be a problem for
either.

 

It’s an
even match-up, but if Henderson decides to keep the fight on the feet like he
usually does, it will be his undoing and if it hits the ground, Silva shouldn’t
have much of a problem getting back to his feet. Look for Silva to pick
Henderson apart on the feet with precise and technical strikes en route to a
decision.

 

Prediction:
Anderson Silva by decision.

 

href="http://www.mmaexclusives.com/view_player.php?id=2408">VIDEO INTERVIEW
WITH ANDERSON SILVA

href="http://www.mmaexclusives.com/view_player.php?id=2407">VIDEO INTERVIEW
WITH DAN HEDNERSON

href="http://www.mmaexclusives.com/view_player.php?id=2410">VIDEO INTERVIEW
WITH ANTONIO RODRIGO NOGUEIRA

href="http://www.mmaexclusives.com/view_player.php?id=2409">VIDEO INTERVIEW
WITH RYAN PARSONS

 

 

WELTERWEIGHT
BOUT:

JON
FITCH VS. CHRIS WILSON

 

Undefeated
in the UFC, Jon Fitch takes on debuting Team Quest fighter Chris Wilson. Fitch
has a 15-2 record and trains out of the American Kickboxing Academy with Josh
Koscheck. Wilson has a 13-3 record and trains out of Team Quest with Matt
Lindland.

 

Fitch comes
off a decision victory over Diego Sanchez at UFC 76, while Wilson comes off a
decision victory over Derrick Noble at Sportfight 20.

 

Fitch was
originally set to face Pride veteran Akihiro Gono, but an injury scrapped that
fight and Wilson stepped in to make his UFC debut. Wilson has had success in
smaller organizations, but now he makes his debut on the biggest stage in MMA.

 

Fitch has
the advantage on the ground being a solid wrestler and a brown belt in
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Wilson has a solid wrestling base, but it isn’t as good as
Fitch’s. It’s fairly even on the feet, neither fighter having an advantage over
the other.

 

Impressive
in all of his UFC bouts, one more win and it will be hard for anyone to argue
that Fitch doesn’t deserve a shot at the UFC welterweight title. Wilson is a
good fighter, but has a tall task ahead him in his UFC debut and the prospects
of winning aren’t great.

 

Fitch will
out hustle Wilson for the duration of the fight, putting him on his back and
taking him to school en route to a lopsided decision.

 

Prediction:
Jon Fitch by decision.

 

 

HEAVYWEIGHT
BOUT:

CHEICK
KONGO VS. HEATH HERRING

 

French
striking specialist Cheick Kongo faces off with Pride and K-1 Hero’s veteran
Heath Herring. Kongo has an 11-3 record and trains out of Quonium Gym in France.
Herring has a 27-13 record and trains out of Las Vegas with Rob Kaman.

 

Kongo comes
off a decision victory over Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic at UFC 75, while Herring
comes off a decision loss to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 73.

 

This is an
interesting fight for both fighters at this point in their careers; one looks
to survive and the other looks to propel himself to a title shot.

 

With a win
over a strong ground fighter in Herring, Kongo will boost himself into a
possible title shot. If Herring wins, it proves that he still can compete with
relevant heavyweights and not fall into obscurity.

 

Kongo has
the advantage on the feet and since losing to Carmelo Marrero has been training
hard to improve his ground game. Herring needs to get the fight on the ground
and keep it there if he wants to win.

 

Kongo
should be able to pick Herring apart on the feet and if it goes to the ground,
he will be able to get back up and continue his onslaught against Herring en
route to a decision.

 

Prediction:
Cheick Kongo by decision.

 

 

MIDDLEWEIGHT
BOUT:

YUSHIN
OKAMI VS. EVAN TANNER

 

Ranked No.
8 in the world, middleweight contender Yushin Okami takes on former UFC
middleweight champion Evan Tanner. Okami has a 20-4 record and trains out of
Wajyutsu Keisyukai Tokyo with Caol Uno. Tanner has a 32-6 record and trains out
of Utah with Josh Burkman.

 

Okami comes
off a decision victory over Jason MacDonald at UFC 77, while Tanner last fought
at UFC 59, submitting Justin Levens.

 

With a win
over Tanner, Okami would no doubt earn the next shot at the UFC middleweight
title. A win for Tanner could put him back into the spotlight that he has been
away from for the past two years.

 

Okami has
the advantage both on the feet and on the ground; he also seems to be the
stronger fighter of the two. Tanner’s best chance of winning the fight will be
to stay on the outside and pot shot Okami, much like he has done in the past to
his other opponents.

 

It’s been
two years since Tanner last fought and that will play a huge factor into this
fight. It will be hard for him to shake the rust off early and he will more
likely get off late in the fight and that is when Okami is his strongest.

 

Okami will
out-muscle and be all over Tanner for the entire fight, winning a lopsided
decision over the former champion.

 

Prediction:
Yushin Okami by decision.

 

 

MIDDLEWEIGHT
BOUT:

CHRIS
LEBEN VS. ALESSIO SAKARA

 

Ultimate
Fighter alumnus Chris Leben takes on the newly reformed middleweight fighter
Alessio Sakara. Leben has a 17-4 record and trains out of the Icon Gym in
Hawaii. Sakara has a 12-6 record and trains out of the American Top Team with
Wilson Gouveia.

 

Leben comes
off a surprising stoppage victory over Terry Martin at UFC Fight Night 11,
while Sakara stopped James Lee at UFC 80.

 

Leben was
being beaten by Terry Martin and came back towards the end of the fight to
finish the Chicagoan and resurrect his career in the UFC. Sakara will be making
his debut as a middleweight after being an undersized light heavyweight
fighter.

 

Sakara is
the better fighter on the ground and is the better technical striker of the
two, but Leben hits hard and has a chin of steel. This fight will not likely
ever hit the ground and be fought entirely on the feet.

 

Sakara
needs to use his superior technique to beat Leben and not get into a wild
exchange, which is what Leben wants to finish the fight. Sakara will look good,
tagging Leben from the outside, but he will be lured into an exchange and get
caught by Leben to finish the fight.

 

Prediction:
Chris Leben by TKO in the first round.

 

 

WELTERWEIGHT
BOUT:

DIEGO
SANCHEZ VS. DAVID BIELKHEDEN

 

Ultimate
Fighter 1 winner Diego Sanchez takes on former Shooto European Champion David
Bielkheden. Sanchez has a 17-2 record and trains out of the University of
Jiu-Jitsu with Saulo Ribeiro. Bielkheden has a 12-5 record and trains out of
Brazilian Top Team with Murilo Bustamante.

 

Sanchez
comes off a decision loss to Jon Fitch at UFC 76, while Bielkheden stopped
Nikola Matic at Lord of the Rings: Schilt vs. Guelmino.

 

Despite all
of the promise of his earlier career, Sanchez needs a win after dropping two
straight fights to keep himself relevant in the UFC welterweight division.
Bielkheden will be making his Octagon debut and would make a big impact right
off the bat by beating the first Ultimate Fighter winner.

 

Sanchez has
the slight advantage on the feet against Bielkheden. Both fighters are very
ground savvy, but Sanchez has a slight edge with better wrestling. Sanchez will
take this fight to ground and pound on Bielkheden, while the Swedish fighter
goes for the submission.

 

Sanchez
will be able stay out of submissions and dish out some punishment in the form
of strikes to win a decision over the debuting Bielkheden.

 

Prediction:
Diego Sanchez by decision.

 

 

HEAVYWEIGHT
BOUT:

ANDREI
ARLOVSKI VS. JAKE O’BRIEN

 

Former UFC
heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski takes on bright heavyweight prospect Jake
O’Brien. Arlovski has an 11-5 record and trains out of Illinois. O’Brien has a
10-0 record and trains out of the Integrated Fighting Academy in Indiana.

 

Arlovski
comes off a decision victory over Fabricio Werdum at UFC 70, while O’Brien
comes off a decision victory over Heath Herring at UFC Fight Night 8.

 

Many have
speculated that this is more than likely going to be Arlovski’s final fight in
the UFC, explaining why he is on the undercard instead of the main card. A win
over Arlovski could propel O’Brien into the heavyweight title picture.

 

O’Brien has
the advantage in the wrestling department, while Arlovski is the better striker
and is the better submission fighter. O’Brien needs to get the fight on the
ground and keep it there to win.

 

Arlovski
just needs to keep from being taken down and catch O’Brien to end the fight.
Arlovski will be hard to take down because of his elusive footwork and will
catch a frustrated O’Brien off guard to finish the fight midway through it.

 

Prediction:
Andrei Arlovski by TKO in the second round.

 

 

WELTERWEIGHT
BOUT:

JOSH
KOSCHECK VS. DUSTIN HAZELETT

 

Former NCAA
wrestling champion Josh Koscheck takes on Team Gurgel submission fighter Dustin
Hazelett. Koscheck has a 9-2 record and trains out of the American Kickboxing
Academy with Jon Fitch. Hazelett has a 10-3 record and trains out Team Gurgel
with Jorge Gurgel.

 

Koscheck
comes off a decision loss to Georges St. Pierre at UFC 74, while Hazelett comes
off a submission victory over Jonathan Goulet at UFC Fight Night 11.

 

Dropping a
close decision to now interim UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre,
Koscheck proved that he could hang with the division’s elite. Hazelett will now
try to do the same thing and make a name for himself against Koscheck.

 

Koscheck
has the advantage on the feet over Hazelett. Both fighters are good on the
ground, but Koscheck has the advantage with his dominating wrestling game.
Hazelett may be a bit better in submissions, but Koscheck’s submission defense
is top notch.

 

Koscheck
will control the fight on the feet and take Hazelett down, punishing him with
strikes as Hazelett tries unsuccessfully to submit him. He’ll finish Hazelett
off late in the fight.

 

Prediction:
Josh Koscheck by TKO in the third round.

 

 

WELTERWEIGHT
BOUT:

LUKE
CUMMO VS. LUIGI FIORAVANTI

 

Team Serra
fighter Luke Cummo takes on former U.S. Marine Luigi Fioravanti. Cummo has a
6-4 record and trains out of Team Serra with Matt Serra. Fioravanti has an 11-3
record and trains out of American Top Team with Jorge Santiago.

 

Cummo comes
off a knockout victory over Edilberto de Oliveira at UFC Fight Night 11, while
Fioravanti stopped Frank Camacho with strikes at PXC 12: Settling the Score.

 

Cummo has
looked good in the past year stopping both of his opponents with strikes and
putting his MMA record over five hundred. Fioravanti has posted two wins in the
UFC, but he comes off two straight losses and needs a win to remain with the
promotion.

 

Both
fighters are primarily strikers with Cummo having a more technical style, while
Fioravanti has more power in his strikes. Both fighters are also fairly even on
the ground.

 

Cummo will
be able to dictate the fight on the feet with technical striking, while
Fioravanti will land his shots, but he will ultimately lose a decision after
being outworked by Cummo.

 

Prediction:
Luke Cummo by decision.

 

 

LIGHTWEIGHT
BOUT:

JORGE
GURGEL VS. JOHN HALVERSON

 

Ultimate
Fighter alumnus Jorge Gurgel faces off with Midwest lightweight fighter John
Halverson. Gurgel has an 11-3 record and trains out of Team Extreme with Rich
Franklin. Halverson has a 16-5 record and trains out of Iowa.

 

Gurgel
comes off a decision loss to Alvin Robinson at UFC 77, while Halverson recently
submitted Bryce Tenger at Extreme Challenge 80.

 

Gurgel
looked good early against Robinson, but he was dominated in the final two
rounds of the fight and needs an impressive win to recover from the loss.
Halverson is remembered for his lone UFC appearance, where he faked being hit
in the head with a knee on the ground, but its clearly shown in the replay that
he got hit in the shoulder and he ended up losing to Roger Huerta.

 

Gurgel has
the advantage both on the feet and on the ground, while Halverson might be a
slightly better wrestler. Gurgel should be able to out work Halverson for the
entire fight en route to a lopsided decision.

 

Prediction:
Jorge Gurgel by decision.

 

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