Abu Dhabi will host the first outdoor UFC event in just a couple hours, this will also mark the first UFC event taking place in the middle east and the fans won't be let down with a fight card stacked from top to bottom that surely won't disappoint. The card will have all eyes focused on arguably two of the world's pound for pound best in Anderson Silva and BJ Penn as they both are set to defend their titles. Anderson will be looking to make this his 6 straight title defense and 11th straight win overall since entering the octagon. This will be BJ's 4th title defense since submitting Joe Stevenson back at UFC 80 to claim to vacant strap at the time. Making his UFC debut will be Pride standout Renzo Gracie as he'll be taking on future hall of fame fighter Matt Hughes, that'll have Hughes looking to knock off another Graice inside the Octagon. Kendall Groves will be stepping back into the cage as he'll try to make it 2 in a row coming of a slick submission win over Josh Rosholt. Kendall won't have an easy task at hand with The Filipino Wrecking Machine also looking to extend his winning streak to 3. Rounding out the main-card will be a light weight battle likely to steal fight of the night honors in Rafael Dos Anjos vs Terry Etim. Here's my break down to the main-card taking place this Saturday the 10th live from Abu Dhabi.
Middleweight Championship fight : Anderson Silva (25-4) vs Demian Maia (13-1)
Originally touted as Anderson vs Vitor, Anderson will now take on the very dangerous Maia which makes for a complete new game plan for The Spider. When Maia fights and the fight hits the ground its generally over, but that might not be the case in this fight as Anderson Silva has his own black belt from fellow Brazilian, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and has shown he isn't afraid to use it submitting Travis Lutter and Dan Henderson. Clearly Maia will have the advantage on the ground being among the elite BJJ practitioners in MMA. Will that be enough for Maia though? Highly doubtful! Maia has constantly been working on his stand up showing us great improvements during the Miller fight, but does anyone seriously think his stand up will be close to the Spiders? No and far from it! What I took from the Nate/Maia fight, Demain's stand up still has quite the way to go. Sure out striking Miller was impressive but not quite nearly enough to make me think he can stand with Andy. I expect Andy to dictate where this fight takes place with his striking finishing him off late in the second of early in the third.
Prediction: Silva via TKO 3rd round.
Lightweight Championship fight: BJ Penn(21-5) vs Frankie Edgar (12-1)
The real question about this fight is how will Frank win this fight? BJ's the better striker, I can't think of a person in the LW division with the same ground game as Penn. The only advantage Frankie has on paper is his wrestling, but what we know about BJ is it's going to take an elite wrestler to get him there and an even better one to keep him there. Now Edgar's a great wrestler, but elite? Sadly not, as we learned it in the Gray fight. Also Frank's not the biggest LW another reason I don't see him putting Penn on his back, I feel he would be more dangerous at 145. I'm not taking anything away from Frankie, I love Frankie and would nothing more to see Frankie pull of the upset but sadly folks its not happening.
Prediction : BJ via submission 4th round.
Welterweight showdown: Matt Hughes (43-7) vs Renzo Gracie (13-6)
This weekend will mark the debut of another Gracie entering the octagon. Renzo will make his octagon debut at the age of 43, taking on UFC veteran and future hall of fame inductee Matt Hughes. Renzo will have quite the daunting tasking on his hands with his uncle unable to get the job done back in 2006. Renzo comes into this fight with a 6th degree black belt under Carlos Gracie Jr. so his game plan is obvious in this one; get Hughes to the mat and sub him. Not so easy though, Hughes doesn't have a black belt, but if you were going to give him a belt, it would def. be black. Hughes bjj won't have to be on the level of Gracie's because whatever he lacks in grappling his strength will more then make up for. I would find it interesting to see either fighter want to keep it standing with there being no clear advantage for either fighter standing. Hughes will dictate where the fight takes place with his superior wrestling and with him claiming in the past that he wants a KO victory it wouldn't be shocking to see him keeping it standing until he gets tagged and then we can expect some good old ground and pound. Renzo's bjj should be enough to stop him from taking too much damage on the ground but not enough to win it.
Prediction: Hughes via UD.
Middleweight Brawl : Kendall Groves( 11-6) Mark Munoz(8-1)
Both fighters are coming in off wins and expect nothing more then to put up another mark in the in column. Kendall Groves TUF 3 winner come into this one with a win over Josh Rosholt and winning 3 of his last 4, his only loss came via UD by Riccardo Alemdia. Kendall has improved leaps and bounds since joining the show but has failed to stay consistent inside the cage keeping outside of the top 10. This would be a big win for The Spyder if he can pull it out over The Filipino Wrecking Machine who also is coming in off a win. He looks to make it 3 in a row and attempt to erase peoples minds of the Matt Hamel highlight reel head kick. Kendall doesn't have the power to KO Munoz so he doesn't have to worry about another vicious head kick, but he will need to worry about Kendall's long legs catching him in triangle abnd putting him to sleep. Munoz move to ATT has helped him out quite a bit and I wouldn't expect them to send him out there without training some long leg bjj guys. Munoz's wrestling will decide this fight. If he comes out smart taken it to the ground he should pull out the UD or maybe stop him late, Kendall's jaw has been suspect. If he keeps it standing I think Kendall has more to offer on the feet and picks him apart.
Prediction: The Filipino Wrecking Machine via TKO 3rd round.
Lightweight FIGHT OF THE NIGHT! Rafael dos Anjos(13-4) vs Terry Etim(16-2)
Yea you read it write, I'm calling it right now this will be the fight of the night! Two young hungry up and coming fighters going at it has fire works written all over it! dos Anjos didn't come into the UFC with the most impressive fashion. He fell victim to a Jeremy Stephens uppercut and came out on the wrong of a decision to Tyson Griffin. Since then Raf has pulled off wins over Rob Emerson and Kyle Bradley. Etim is no joke though, one of England's top prospects and coming in off a 4 fight win streak. Etim can keep it standing or take it to the ground winning 11 of his fights via submission and collecting submission night honors in his last 2 fights. Raf's good but I believe Terry's just a bit better at everything. Raf should be the stronger fighter which will keep him in it while putting on one hell of a fight!
Prediction: Terry Etim via Split!
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