UFC 134 Preview – Yushin Okami Vs. Anderson Silva
This is the first show after the huge Fox announcement and who better to main event their latest show than the best fighter in the UFC, Anderson Silva. Silva is facing Yushin Okami, the man who holds the last victory over him, albeit by disqualification. It’s a loss that Silva doesn’t even recognize.
On the undercard is a rematch between Shogun Rua and Forrest Griffin. Griffin beat him in an upset in their first fight, and both guys really have a lot to gain from a victory. Both are former champions who are kind of in limbo in the light heavyweight division. Big Nog faces young tiger Brendan Schaub in Nog’s first fight since the blitzing he received at the hands of now heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.
The FGB crew has predictions has predictions on all three fights.
Brendan Schaub vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Duan: Schaub by 3rd round TKO
Alan: Nogueira by 2nd round submission
JP: Schaub by 2nd round TKO
Stevie J: Schaub by 1st round TKO
Cactus Jim: Nogueira by 2nd round submission
GG: Schaub by 2nd round TKO
This is really a test of how far Nog has fallen. If he can’t win at this level there really is little point in him fighting on. He’s done everything he could have done in the sport and for me at least, the time has come for him to bow out. I don’t really believe Schaub is a great fighter, so it will be kind of sad if he is to go out on this note, but I think that’s what is going to happen. Physically, I just don’t think it’s there anymore.
I give Schaub a good bit more credit than Duan. He has a lot going for him – he is really athletic, he’s big, he’s young and he trains at one of the better camps in the sport. He has shown improvement in every fight and at his stage, that’s probably the most important thing. He’s far from the finished article though and gives up a big edge in experience to Nog. The experience factor, and what should be a partisan crowd, are the two biggest things Big Nog has in his favour in this fight and I actually think they might be enough to see him through. He has to be real careful on the feet as Schaub has shown good power, and Nog has a dodgy chin at this point. I think he’ll be careful enough to stay out of trouble and use his guile to get Schaub in a bad position on the ground.
This fight is a microcosm for the whole sport. Guys like Nogueira are legends for what they accomplished in Japan and in the early days of the sport. If it wasn’t for what guys like Big Nog, Brendan Schaub may have taken a desk job after his short NFL career instead of getting into the fight game. But now the there is money, fame, and possibility in fighting and these new athletes are slowly beating the old timers into retirement. Schaub gets the chance to grow his own brand off the rubble of another Pride hero as he takes on Minotauro. I expect him to do just that by showing off his youth, speed and good hands as he beats Nog to the punch on the standup and wins via KO in the second round.
Stevie J says:
Ordinarily I would say it’s too soon in the career of an up and coming heavyweight like Schaub to face a guy with the legendary stature and reputation of Minotauro. If on the other hand if you ignore that this is only his 10th pro fight and look at his last four wins, he’s stepped up the ladder in competition with each progressive win: Chase Gormley to Chris Tuchscherer to Gabriel Gonzaga to Mirko Cro Cop, with the latter being arguably as much of a legend as Big Nog. Perhaps more importantly, Cro Cop may have been as much past his prime as Big Nog. It’s not that either weren’t great in their day but the day is 2011 and if Fedor taught us anything in his last three losses it’s that legends can’t coast on their past accomplishments. He didn’t look good against Frank Mir, he looked REALLY BAD against Cain Velasquez, and we’re starting to hear excuses – infection this, injury that, flu this, et cetera sound familiar? I won’t name names but you know who I mean. He’s had an awfully long lay-off dating back to February of last year and in that time Schaub fought 4 times and won 4 fights – all of the names listed above. He’s young, he’s strong, he hits hard, and he’s ready. Unless Nog can get him to the ground and take advantage of the fact he wasn’t a wrestler or a jiu-jitsu guy when he got into fighting, I think Schaub wins handily – possibly even by a first round TKO.
Cactus Jim says:
Here we have Nog on the decline and Schaub getting better with each fight. In this fight I think Schaub does well on the feet, but Nog will look to get this on the ground to neutralize Schaubs retard strength. Once on the ground I think Nog has the better skills and should be able to catch an arm or a choke and end this one with a W.
I keep having flashbacks to Big Nog getting knocked into next week by Cain Velasquez. My thinking at the time of the fight was that he still had something in the tank, but after that fight, I simply didn’t want to see him be hit like that ever again. I hope it doesn’t happen, but I have a feeling he’s going to take a bit of a beating here and lose by knockout again. I’d love if it didn’t happen.
Forrest Griffin vs. Shogun Rua
Duan: Rua by 1st round TKO
Alan: Griffin by decision
JP: Rua by decision
Stevie J: Rua
Cactus Jim: Griffin by 3rd round TKO
GG: Griffin by decision
I don’t believe Rua is amongst the division’s best, but I do believe he’s better than what he showed in his first fight with Griffin. It’s a bit of lottery with Forrest; some nights he’s on, other times he’s not. I’m going to wager on one punch knockout power in this one. They will slug it out, Forrest will leave his chin in the air and night-night.
I’m not at all concerned about their first fight. It was 4 years ago, Shogun was only just coming out of Japan and Griffin was not as developed a fighter. I’m going to look at more recent outings for both guys. Griffin has really gone against his reputation by being solid and unspectacular in his last few fights. He beat Tito and Franklin without taking any chances, and he was really never in danger. He looked a more mature fighter. After being a guy who fought ALOT early in his career, he’s now had significant rest time between fights and I think that will help his longevity. Rua on the other hand has been a mixed bag recently. He was in shape for the first Machida fight and did great for five rounds. He was in poor health for the second fight and won in one round. He was in poor health again for the Jones fight and was dismantled. Very hard to predict what we’ll get from him. I think Griffin is the safer bet. He’ll be well prepared as always, and I think he’ll exploit whatever weaknesses Shogun gives him.
After seeing Rua abused by Jon Jones and knowing Forrest’s heart really isn’t in the fight game anymore, this rematch isn’t going to come close to stirring the type of interest it did the first time around. But these are two talented top of the food chain light heavyweights and the product should still be good. If Shogun is healthy he will let all 8 points of attack fly and at the same time I hope getting punched in the face lights a fire under Forrest so he throws it right back. My pick is a coin flip but I’ll take Shogun because I think he wants to keep fighting while Forrest is just fulfilling a contract at this point.
Stevie J says:
Arguably the most intriguing fight on the card. I was called a fool when I picked Forrest Griffin the last time they fought, but the only truly foolish thing was that I didn’t put some money where my mouth was on it, because I’d have raked it in. This is an emotional rematch for Rua though, not just because he’s out to avenge a loss in his UFC debut, but because he’ll be in his home country of Brazil and 99% of the audience is going to be going batshit crazy for him. He’s not the champ any more, but that won’t matter, he was a legend to them before UFC and without the title he still is. That kind of emotion is not to be discounted in giving him momentum, possibly too much, because he shouldn’t take Griffin lightly. If Nog’s been on a layoff, Griffin has been a ghost, having only fought twice since 2009. Both were wins, but both were decision wins, and it may just be that his career peaked with the Rampage fight and there’s not much left in the tank. It’s fair to say he bounced back from his humiliating loss to Anderson Silva, but it’s also fair to say Griffin got exposed. Both of these guys are out to prove something, and wouldn’t it be a career statement for Griffin to beat a legend like Rua twice, once in the U.S. and once in his own country? Well as Dave Meltzer says, that’s not going to happen. Rua is a better striker, he’s better on the ground, and lightning won’t strike twice.
Cactus Jim says:
Rua just hasn’t impressed me as of late. I think Forrest comes into this one with the knowledge that he beat the man once before, and although I don’t think this fight will look anything like that fight did, coming in with that knowledge may give him a bit of a mental edge. I think that Rua is going to put a beating on Forrest for the first couple rounds, but Griffin’s conditioning will pay off and he’ll land something solid late in the fight as Rua fades. Will he have enough to put him out? I’m thinking so. If not, Rua will take a decision.
If Forrest Griffin has anything left in the tank, I think he takes this fight. Much like Jim said, I think Forrest has an advantage knowing that he beat Shogun already once, and did so because he was in better shape. I don’t think there’s any question that he’s going to be in better shape again. Shogun is going to have to make quick work of Griffin and be explosive like he was against Lyoto Machida in their second fight. I think Griffin knows that and will fight a much smarter fight, like the ones he’s fought recently. And then in the third round, it becomes a pick ’em. I think Forrest will outlast Rua again.
Yushin Okami vs. Anderson Silva
Duan: Silva by 4th round TKO
Alan: Okami by decision
JP: Silva by 2nd round submission
Stevie J: Silva by late round submission
Cactus Jim: Silva by decision
GG: Silva by 4th round TKO
Okami is the type of guy that because of his style he will be competitive with anybody. Unless Silva grows old fast I don’t see him taking rounds, but he will hang around for a while and make him work hard for it. My feeling is that the cumulative damage will catch up with him late on and the ref will decide he’s earned his money.
It’s all come down to this. After Anderson Silva being the bain of my life for almost five years (well not so much at the start where he was winning me money!), his reign of terror will be ended by not just a man…. But a JAPANESE man! Being the mark that I am for all things Japanese, I couldn’t have asked for a better situation. While Okami does in fact look Japanese, he doesn’t fight Japanese. He fights like an American. He fights like a grind it out wrestler. He fights like….. Chael Sonnen?
Yes indeed the man who pushed Silva to the brink, before getting caught in a submission, showed how you beat Silva. You take him down and you wear on him. You just need to be careful until the final bell. Okami has great submission defence (way better than Chael who falls into triangle chokes while he’s walking down the street) but he doesn’t have as relentless a ground and pound. He might not beat up Anderson like Chael did but he can stifle him. I think he will. If he can’t get the takedown and implement these tactics, I doubt he’ll last two rounds.
The UFC doesn’t have much to sell on this one. They’ve been promoting Okami as a really strong guy in a sport where everyone is a really strong guy. That’s about all they have to work with since Okami doesn’t finish fights. Okami will have to wrestle Anderson for five rounds to win and that is a lot of time to spend in the spider’s web. So this fight basically boils down to what strike or submission Anderson will use to win. I predict rear naked choke in the second with some heel strikes to go along with it.
Stevie J says:
Now the idea has been bandied about that every champion can only go so far before they lose, and every peak athlete can only stay at the peak of the mountaintop for so long. Every time Silva does it again, those voices get a little louder and a little more adamant, claiming that sooner or later Silva’s number will be up and this might finally be the time. And as challengers for the middleweight title goes, Okami may be the best guy to face Silva in a long time. Other than a loss to Chael Sonnen which obviously thrust Chael into a title shot against the champ, he’s 6 of his last 7 and 10 out of 12 overall in UFC. If you can fight 12 times in UFC and only lose twice, you’re a bad-ass dude. Okami is criticized for not being flashy or exciting, but he is exactly what he needs to be to beat Silva: he’s got a strong judo base so he won’t be swept, he’s a good grappler so he could press Silva to the cage or go for takedowns, he’s a kickboxer so he can trade with Silva if needed, and he MAY even have a psychological edge given he owns a win over Silva (albeit by DQ). Funny that I’m picking Silva after all of that, but I don’t think it’s his time to fall off the mountaintop yet, and if you thought Rua would be a hero in Brazil, just wait ’til you hear the reaction Silva gets. Speed is in his favor, power is in his favor, and submissions are in his favor. Okami will fight a tactical fight, and he’ll survive, but in the late rounds Silva will use that speed and power to knock him down and sink in a rear naked choke.
Cactus Jim says:
Until someone actually beats Anderson Silva I will have a hard time betting against the guy. In this one I think Okami has the strength, but I’m not sure he has the speed to get Silva down and keep him down long enough to win this fight. On the feet I think Anderson picks him apart with leg kicks and punches his face into hamburger while he backpedals his way to victory.
I think the longer this fight goes and the more success Okami has, it will show more so what Silva may have lost than what Okami has gained. Ever since Chael Sonnen created the blueprint on how to beat Silva, I’ve wondered how successful others could be with Silva if they fought in this style. It seems to be the way to go. But not too many are as rabidly aggressive as Sonnen. Does Okami have the gas tank to be as relentless as Sonnen was and not fall into traps? I think he can be successful for a few rounds, but at the end of the night, the more talented fighter will win. I think Anderson stops him late, but we might see Silva get tested more than he should based on the talent disparity.
There you have it. We’ll have live play-by-play of the card on the site tomorrow.