UFC 139 is a bit of a throwaway show and that’s too bad. I was never sold on Dan Henderson vs. Shogun Rua as the main event, but ever since Dana White took Cain Velasquez from San Jose for the first Fox show, I guess it’s as good of a follow up as they’re going to get. One thing will be for certain: the fight should be exciting.
The two other big fights on the card have ties to the area. Cung Le is San Jose’s own so he should get an amazing reaction live. And Urijah Faber is just a few hours away and he should be a popular fighter for the home crowd as well.
The FGB crew along with friend of the site JP and Stevie J from Angrymarks, have predictions for the the top three fights of this show.
Brian Bowles vs. Urijah Faber
Duan: Bowles by decision
Alan: Faber by 2nd round decision
Stevie: Bowles by 2nd round TKO
JP: Faber by decision
Big D: Faber by decision
Cactus Jim: Bowles by decision
GG: Faber by decision
Even though these two are roughly the same age, there’s a lot more miles on the Faber clock. This guy has been in some proper hard fights. He’s probably on the downward slide, while I still feel Bowles is advancing with each fight. He’s that bit fresher and I just think he will prove to have too much for Faber.
I’ve been a Brian Bowles fan longer than anyone. I think he’s an awesome fighter in every way. That said, I think Urijah might just be a bit too cagey for him and can weather his storm before getting an opening himself. I think he’ll get a good position on the ground and tap Bowles out.
There’s a bit of an uncomfortable pattern emerging with Faber in the latter stages of his career. He’s very popular, he’s better than any of the mid-card fighters he’s matched with, but when he works his way to a title shot he always comes up a punch slower or a takedown short. At one time he was such a dominant WEC champion. He was a big fish in a smaller pond, now he’s a slightly above average fish in a huge ocean. Slowly but surely reality is dawning on me as to his level now. Faber only used to lose title fights, but the only guy who has beaten Bowles is (guess who) Dominick Cruz and Faber couldn’t beat him either. Bowles has the punching power to stop Marcos Galvao and Miguel Torres, and he’s got the submission technique to beat Damacio Page and Charlie Valencia. Faber has… wrestling. Wrestling and one choke everybody in his camp knows how to do. Wrestling, one choke, and a competent but not exceptional striking game. I’m a big fan of the California Kid and I’ll still be after this fight but I think Bowles might be the guy to come along and expose Faber in a big way as not being competitive at the top level any more in 2011.
Fight of the night right here, Urijah Faber never fails to bring it on fight night and Bowles is as tough as they come at 135. I expect these guys to throw just about everything at each other and have the fans in San Jose going nuts. Figuring a win could land him a rematch against Cruz, Bowles should have an extra fire lit under him here though Faber may be the best fighter in the world without a belt. I like these two to go a hard three rounds with Faber getting the better of exchanges through his speed and his ability to string together attacks. A competitive match but Faber dictates the pace and takes the decision.
Big D says:
I like both guys and I think this is on the card to steal the show even though the main event is likely going to, this is gonna be one of those three round back and forth wars. Urijah’s strategic mind will be too much for Bowles though and it will earn him the decision after a grueling 3 fight war.
Cactus Jim says:
Faber is a ridiculous favorite in this fight, but I see this one much more as a pick ‘em match up. Faber hasn’t held a title in nearly 4 years and although he’s looked good in recent outings, he hasn’t been able to gain back a title although he’s had three opportunities to do so. Bowles on the other hand has been a title holder within the last 18 months, losing it on a doctors stoppage, the only defeat on his record. I don’t see a decided edge for either guy aside from Bowles ability to choke guys out. My gut tells me that Brian will be able to stay active enough on the ground and accurate enough on the feet to pull off a decision. So, while I really like Uriah’s hair, I’m going to have to pick Bowles in this one.
I really like Brian Bowles and I think he’s sort of been treated unfairly ever since he lost the 135 pound title. He never got a rematch with Dominick Cruz and has toiled in non-televised fights land for a bit. I think this fight is a literal toss up. Bowles can hurt Faber and when he does, I think Faber forgets about standing up, and moves into a straight wrestling mindset. If Bowles can shut down the wrestling, or at least tame him a bit, I think he wins the fight. But I think these are the fights that Faber wins. He may not ever again be at the top of the mountain, but he’s always going to be near the top. I think he ekes out a close decision.
Cung Le vs. Wanderlei Silva
Duan: Silva by 2nd round TKO
Alan: Le by 1st round TKO
Stevie: Le by TKO
JP: Le by 1st round TKO
Big D: Le by 1st round TKO
Cactus Jim: Le by 2nd round TKO
GG: Le by 3rd round TKO
You can forget about form, you can forget about skills, and you can forget about tactics; this fight comes down to styles and how they mesh. Do you prefer the pinpoint accuracy of Le or the more crude marauding style of Silva? That’s where this fight will be decided.
Silva is gone as a fighter; he shouldn’t win here, but I believe he will. Wanderlei has fared OK against the more technique based strikers – the Michael Bispings and Rich Franklins of this world. It’s the big bangers who have destroyed him. The guys who were willing to take on the threat head on and disarm it. Le isn’t going to do that.
No matter how much he deteriorates, Silva has natural skills that will never abandon him – real-deal knockout power and an ability to finish fights. Le will start fighting off the back-foot as normal, but Silva will keep pouring on the pressure. At some point Cung will come to the awful realization that he has to stand his ground and fight. As soon as that happens, Silva will blast him out. Somebody (likely Mike Goldberg) will scream “The Axe Murderer is back”. He won’t be.
I see this being like Silva/Leben. Whoever lands first, wins. I’ll say it’s Le.
On paper you could make a case for this fight, but in my prediction I’m not going to. A less generous person would say this is an exhibition match for Cung Le. I’ll be slightly more charitable than that. This is an exhibition match for UFC – and my definition of “exhibition” is “two popular guys who are not likely to ever be champion again but the crowd will cheer loudly for.” Perhaps that’s not very charitable after all, but honestly both guys are one dimensional in an era where that’s no longer acceptable at the top of the game, and on top of that Silva has developed a chin that’s easier to shatter than Glass Joe. The big problem for Silva is that Cung Le’s one dimension is an exciting flashy kickboxing Hollywood striking style. It’s sort of like Alexander Shlemenko’s spinning backfists – it shouldn’t work and yet because he can put so much power into them it almost always does. Le could figuratively and perhaps literally kick Silva’s head off, which is what I expect, and I’m not too thrilled about the Axe Murderer going out that way. I hope this is his retirement fight.
At this point I think Wanderlei is finished as an elite fighter. All those years in Pride of using a kill, kill, kill style have taken their toll on his physical limitations and left him a fighter who gets knocked out in under a minute by Chris Leben. Now he gets thrown up against a potent kickboxer in Cung Le who is older but with significantly less wear and tear. Would not surprise me at all to see Wanderlei lose this fight on the first exchange and do not think he gets out of the first round against Le. Highlight knockout for Cung Le and instant chatter for a match against the Spider.
Big D says:
Silva has everything to lose here, because if he loses here, his career is done. Le is debuting, so its big for him too, but he can afford to lose and get another fight. It’s in San Diego, so we know he’ll be getting the big pop, and I also think he will bring death to Silva’s chin.
Cactus Jim says:
I’m not sure how many times the obvious can be stated, but I’ll do so again. Wanderlei is no longer a relevant fighter and should not be fighting any longer. Listen, I don’t think Le has much relevance either and don’t think he’ll see many more paydays outside of action movies, but in this one I think he can best the once great Silva. Le will do this by using his movement to keep Wanderlei winging punches into thin air, using kicks to keep him at bay, and in the second will move in and finish off a blown up Wanderlei. Will he finish him with kicks or with punches? Hell, I don’t know. Wanderlei’s one chance is to land that big shot, and power is typically the last thing to go, but in my mind the smart money would be on Le.
Even though I agree with the rest of the guys that this thing could end early, I think that Le’s best chance is to make Silva work a little. Neither guy is going to be in great cardio shape, but I think because Le has taken less punishment overall, most will think that he’s the younger guy, when in fact, it’s exactly the opposite. But in cage years, Silva is old enough to be his dad. I think it could really turn into a slobber knocker later in the fight, especially when both guys get tired. I don’t really have a scientific reason why I think Le wins because he really shouldn’t. If Silva was even 60% of what he once was, he probably doesn’t have much problems with Le. But I think the home crowd, his quick in and out striking style, and eventually, just being able to outlast Silva will all be parts of why he wins. I’m really excited for this one.
Shogun Rua vs. Dan Henderson
Duan: Rua by decision
Alan: Henderson by 3rd round TKO
Stevie: Henderson by decision
JP: Henderson by decision
Big D: Rua by decision
Cactus Jim: Henderson by 3rd round TKO
GG: Henderson by 2nd round TKO
Henderson’s instinct to strike first, grapple second will kill him in this fight. Despite bouncing up and down the weight divisions successfully since the dying days of PRIDE, Henderson is still undersized for a light heavyweight. Rua is the rangy, long limbed, sort that can make that mean something. He’s also developed into a much more patient and disciplined stand up fighter in recent years. He will be content to just let the points pile up knowing full well nobody knocks out old man Henderson. Dan won’t be able to shut him down. He will secure a takedown or two and have some success from there; leaving everybody wondering why he didn’t focus efforts more on that aspect of the fight.
Tough fight to call. Leaning Dan because I think he can survive Shogun’s best shots, and I don’t know if Shogun can survive Dan’s. Plus if Dan wants to get in close and make it dirty, he can grind out a decision.
Hendo is my new Captain America, only he has one punch knockout power that as much as I liked Couture was never his forte. On the minus side that often comes at the expense of having a gas tank, which even as Couture aged never seemed to be a problem – he had cardio for days and when Hendo loses it’s because he burns up all his gas in a round or two. I think he’s largely got that under control in his recent fights, but Shogun is the mirror image of Hendo in that respect – he wins quick or things start to go South in the later rounds. On top of that Shogun is beating the guys he’s supposed to beat (Coleman, Liddell, Griffin) but got absolutely smoked by Jon Jones to the point it not only solidified Jones’ stature as the new phenom but made Rua look uncompetitive in his own weight class. Word on the street is one of these guys would get a shot at Jones by winning, but I don’t want to see Rua fight him again, and I’m not sure Hendo could handle Jones freakishly long reach as a striker and the fact a wrestler like Jones might just stuff every takedown and get a few of his own. I’m getting ahead of myself, but I’ll say this much – for a Brazilian fighter Shogun is better known for his punching power than his jiu-jitsu. His best chance is to end it quick, and so is Dirty Dan’s. Knowing that I’m going to make a ballsy prediction – Hendo is actually going to try and grind this one out. In a battle of striking he could win or lose, but in a battle of wrestling he’d almost certainly win. I expect lots of takedowns and some good ground & pound for a Hendo decision victory.
What a great fight right here! Though it would have probably been of legendary proportions back in Pride, its still a great matchup today. Henderson seems to be excelling back at 205 where he cleared out Babalu, Cavalcante, and Fedor with his big power punching. Now he returns to the UFC and squares off against Shogun who is coming off a easy win against a disinterested Forrest Griffin. A win for Henderson could give him a chance to dethrone Bones while a win for Shogun probably sets him up for a title eliminator. If Henderson gameplans properly, he should use his substantial wrestling skills to plant Shogun on his back early and wear at his cardio. A steady diet of ground and pound for three rounds will lead to a late round stoppage of a clear cut decision for Henderson.
Big D says:
This is one of those rare fights that PRIDE never did even though both were big stars there during the peak years. Here we have two guys who have tremendous knockout power and a long career of doing so. I’m never the guy to count Hendo out, specially since he’s never really been knocked out, but Shogun’s raw power will be too much and probably lead to a decision for him.
Cactus Jim says:
I think we’re in for a good one with this fight. Both guys have got KO power and one of them has a granite chin. Aside from his thorough beat down by Jon Jones, Shogun has looked pretty good in his last few outings. That said, I would put forth the suggestion that he’s really only 1-2 against real competition in the last couple years. I believe that even at his current age, Dan Henderson is real competition and that he’ll be able to take the best that Shogun can deliver and keep coming forward. He’ll keep throwing those power punches and sooner or later one of them will connect. I would also give Dan an advantage on the ground so if he does find himself on the receiving end of too many punches from Shogun I think he can get the fight on the ground and use top control to grind out a win.
I see this fight going one of two ways. Either Dan Henderson gets Rua out of there fairly early, or Rua will work his way to a decision victory. I don’t see Henderson being stopped. And I also don’t see him successfully winning a drawn out 25-minute fight. I’m going to side with Henderson on this one. I think he’s on a roll. He’s won 3 in a row and all by knockout. While he’s swinging away with that big right hand and not doing much else, he’s landing that right hand. I think Shogun will be a much harder target to hit, but I think Henderson will impose his will. If he doesn’t, he could be in for a night as long as when he lost to Jake Shields.
There you have it. We’ll have play by play of the show tomorrow.