Smartest Guy at the Bar: UFC 163 Edition
Aldo has eight finishes during his 15-fight winning streak. |
Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
With the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as the familiar
Ultimate Fighting Championship on Saturday drags its Octagon
into the Southern hemisphere for UFC
Pound-for-pound standout Jose Aldo will
defend his featherweight title for the fifth time against Chan Sung
Jung in the main event, while 2008 NCAA wrestling champion
Davis will attempt to solve the Lyoto Machida
riddle in the co-headliner.
The Portuguese chants will be loud and proud since the majority of
the card pits native Brazilians against foreigners.
How We Got Here: The No. 1 contender sweepstakes
at 145 pounds eventually landed on “The Korean Zombie.” Ricardo
Lamas was promised a crack at Aldo after he beat Erik Koch at UFC
on Fox 6, but Anthony
Pettis cut in line. All it took was a supposed text message
from “Showtime” to UFC President Dana White stating he could shed
the superfluous 10 pounds and drop a weight class. However, Pettis,
a former World
Extreme Cagefighting champion, withdrew with an injury, leaving
Jung and his blitzkrieg style as the most intriguing matchup in the
eyes of Zuffa brass ... Two light heavyweights on two-fight winning
streaks will clash before Aldo and Jung go at it. Machida thought
he had banked a title shot after edging Dan Henderson
at UFC 159. Unfortunately for “The Dragon,” the win was
overshadowed by the lack of action in the bout, leaving him to
tread water at 205 pounds. He faces Davis, who draws his first top
10 opponent in three appearances.
Pettis exited with an injury.
Home Sweet Home: If you bet on Brazilians fighting
non-Brazilians in Brazil, you are probably a rich man by now. UFC
on Fuel TV 10 in June featured a host of Brazilians battling
foreigners, and every foreigner who faced a Brazilian lost. Whether
or not this is a premeditated move by matchmakers, Brazilians tend
to fight harder at home, meaning those coming through customs are
faced with an uphill battle. Nine of the 12 matches at UFC 163 pair
a Brazilian with a non-Brazilian. Placing locals on a Brazilian
card makes sense from a promotional standpoint: they speak the
language, they do not have to travel and they help rally local
media. Good luck, imports.
Featherweight Fun: The 26-year-old Aldo is already
the most accomplished featherweight in the division’s short
history, having held the UFC title with an iron fist. He has
defeated a diverse crop of contenders, from former lightweights
Edgar and Kenny Florian
Team Alpha Male’s Chad Mendes.
Luckily for fans, new contenders sprout as fast as Aldo knocks them
down. Jung punched his ticket to Brazil with a three-fight winning
streak. Beyond the South Korean, three contenders stand out. The
aforementioned Mendes and his wrestling credentials made for an
intriguing matchup since standing with Aldo seems about as wise as
grappling with a cactus. The presence of new Team Alpha Male coach
Ludwig has helped upgrade his standup from rudimentary to
dangerous in a few short months, adding to an already potent
arsenal. Mendes will face Clay Guida at
164. Cub Swanson
finds himself on a five-fight winning streak, boasting four
knockouts in that stretch. He demolished Dennis Siver
at UFC 162 and seems to have found himself as a fighter. Swanson is
fighting with vicious purpose and creativity. Lamas is the only one
of the three who has not faced Aldo yet, and he submitted Swanson
in November 2011. An NCAA All-American wrestler at the Div. III
level, he is undefeated since downshifting to featherweight,
finishing three of his four opponents. Lamas is the front runner as
far as the Smartest Guy at the Bar is concerned.
Lamas may be next in line.
Useless Fact: Recently retired former World
Extreme Cagefighting champion Brian Stann
will fill in for Joe Rogan as color analyst for UFC 163. The former
Marine has plenty of plans for retirement. He will continue in his
role as a UFC analyst for pre- and post-fight shows. Additionally,
the Silver Star recipient made such a positive impression on Fox
that he was signed to call college football games for the network
in the fall. It appears Stann, who played linebacker at the Naval
Academy, will be wearing makeup more often than he wore the
five-ounce gloves inside the Octagon.
Say What: MMA fans love to discuss super fights,
as they represent a break from the ordinary. It should come as no
surprise that fans are intrigued by the thought of Aldo competing
against top lightweights. However, weight classes exist for a
reason, and fighters who ignore them generally do not get their
hands raised. Look at B.J. Penn’s record
at 170 pounds. Aldo said all the right things about the subject
during a pre-fight media call: “One step at a time. I want to focus
on my fight against ‘The Korean Zombie’ and then we’ll worry about
a potential lightweight move. I don’t want to take too big of a
step. I respect my opponent and can’t overlook him.”
Awards Watch: “Submission of the Night” will be
tough to pin down on a card overflowing with Brazilian jiu-jitsu
black belts who are matched against foes from countries without BJJ
studios on every street corner. With that said, Vinny
Magalhaes is taking on Anthony
Perosh in Brazil; that is all you really need to know ...
McCall needs to make a statement, and he knows it. He remains
winless in the UFC, though his three fights have come against the
top two flyweights in the world. Look for “Uncle Creepy” to right
his ship with a “Knockout of the Night” effort against Illiarde
Santos ... In 2011, Jung won “Submission of the Year” with his
twister on Leonard
Garcia. A year later, he was part of the “Fight of the Year”
Poirier. He is lined up for another memorable performance here.
Give “The Korean Zombie” and Aldo “Fight of the Night” honors.
McCall needs a win.