Before the anticipated Velasquez/”Bigfoot” showdown, UFC 160 offers what looks to be a pretty entertaining main undercard. All fights will help determine respective top divisional rankings, with possible title shot implications on the line for some.
The much talked about co-headliner, featuring former champ Junior Dos Santos taking on hot cult favorite Mark Hunt, looked to be doubtful after Hunt’s apparent inability to obtain a visa due to legal issues stemming from a past altercation that required resolving. Thankfully, that was cleared up and we’re set for what should be an exciting fight that will potentially decide the next challenger for the Velasquez/”Bigfoot” winner. Also featured on the card is action in the light heavyweight division pitting rising star Glover Teixeira against New Zealand powerhouse James Te Huna.
Below is a preview for the upcoming main draw, complete with analysis and predictions.
For analysis of earlier action on the night’s event, check here for the UFC 160 Prelims Preview.
Pay-Per-View Main Card
Now that visas issues have been cleared up, we are presented with UFC 160’s strongest candidate for “Fight of the Night” honors, as ex-heavyweight champ Junior Dos Santos meets Mark Hunt in another title eliminator and the co-main event of the evening.
There is little question about Dos Santos’ abilities. His career has been a highlight reel of knockouts. Left in the wake has been such vaunted strikers as Mirko “Crocop” and Gilbert Yvel, as well as top heavyweights Roy Nelson, Shane Carwin, Fabricio Werdum, Frank Mir, and current heavyweight king Cain Velasquez. Although Velasquez reciprocated the thrashing with one of his own, Dos Santos is still one of two or three best in the division. Quite possibly the most gifted boxer at heavyweight, he is also no slouch on the ground. The long-time Team Nogueira fighter owes much of the credit for these abilities to the Nogueira brothers. With these abilities, Dos Santos expects to make a major statement with hopes to challenge Velasquez in their rubber match for what he believes is rightfully his.
After a storied K-1 career that saw him win the promotion’s prolific Grand Prix, Mark Hunt took the foray into MMA with miserable results. After being written off as a has-been, Hunt has re-invented himself as somewhat of a cult icon in the UFC. Dropping his Octagon debut to Sean McCorkle in 2011, he managed to string together four straight, with the latest being a jaw-breaking knockout of Stefan Struve at UFC on FUEL TV 8 in March. Hunt has displayed the granite chin and dangerous striking that once made him a champion in Japan so many years ago. Although he possesses limited grappling skills, he has somehow figured out how to land the heavy punches he’s been known for. Even in loss, Hunt will have still proven he should never be overlooked and that he is still a force to be reckoned with at the ripe old age of 39.
While there is still a glimmer of hope that Hunt can pull off the major upset, the inspired Dos Santos will not stop until he wears UFC gold one more time. Dos Santos will elect to take the path of least resistance and put Hunt on his back. Dos Santos wins by submission.
Another contest plagued with the injury-bug, light heavyweights Glover Teixeira and James Te Huna collide after Ryan Bader was forced to withdraw and Te Huna stepped up to fill in.
An impressive streak of 18 consecutive wins is on the line for Teixeira. After a much-anticipated debut in a submission of Kyle Kingsbury at UFC 146, the Brazilian has rattled of three straight in the Octagon. A very talented, powerful striker and BJJ black belt, his full arsenal was on display in January at UFC on Fox 6 in a one-sided decision victory over “Rampage” Jackson, where he beat up the long-time MMA veteran everywhere Jackson opted to take the fight. Teixiera will look to continue his winning ways and make his case for a future title shot in a very competitive 205-pound division.
Te Huna, also owner of an impressive win streak in his own right at four, has only lost once since joining the UFC. That lone submission defeat at the hands of Alexander Gustafsson was rectified with four triumphs over the likes of grizzled veterans Ricardo Romero, Aaron Rosa, Joey Beltran, and Ryan Jimmo. Te Huna is another guy with huge power in his hands. While not the most gifted technician, he can generally take most men’s best shots and offer his own, with often sleep inducing results. In his latest come-from-behind win over Jimmo, he ate a serious head kick and rallied back to earn a hard-fought decision win. His greatest hope is in landing the big one on Teixeira.
In what many believe will be a back-and-forth striking match, expect Teixeira to have none of it. He’ll continually beat Te Huna to the punch and, when he decides he’s had enough, he’ll use his far superior grappling to elicit the tap from the New Zealander. Teixeira wins by submission.
After the announcement by UFC President Dana White that the winner of Maynard-Grant would be next in line for a crack at Ben Henderson’s strap, the implications of this fight intensified ten-fold.
Maynard, who fell just short in two previous title bouts with Frankie Edgar, is now hungrier than ever going into this match, as another shot at the lightweight belt has been his only priority. The former Michigan State wrestling standout is, arguably, the highest credentialed grappler in the division. Coupled with fists of dynamite, this juggernaut can compete with the best the division has to offer. After a decision over Clay Guida, where it appeared Maynard was chasing his shadow the entire five-round fight, he’ll look to build on that momentum into a possible 155-pound showdown with champion Henderson.
T.J. Grant, meanwhile, has also been a wrecking ball since dropping down to lightweight. In four fights at the weight, he’s gone undefeated. With dominating victories over Shane Roller, Carlo Prater, Evan Dunham, and a devastating knockout of Matt Wiman, the Canadian has been on fire. Primarily feared for his excellent grappling, he has lately displayed serious standup, as evidenced in his recent destruction of Wiman at UFC on Fox 6. In search of his fifth straight, he will look to keep the pressure to stake his claim as the next challenger to the lightweight belt.
While Grant has been great, his opposition hasn’t been at the level of Maynard. “The Bully” will use his power and superior wrestling to overpower Grant to a lopsided decision.
Cerrone loves to scrap. While in possession of some of the division’s most versatile mixed offense, he prefers nothing better than an old-fashioned game of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots. That game plan has, for the most part, allowed for steady success, as he has only recorded two blemishes since joining the UFC. One of those losses, however, was a lesson in humility in the form of an Anthony Pettis body kick that put Cerrone out of commission. Since then, the Jackson MMA stalwart has obtained the guidance of a sports psychologist to fix what he acknowledges was broken and will attempt to get back on track against Noons.
Noons’ disregard for adaptation has long been known to be his Achilles’ heel. A savvy boxing technician, he has often faltered when faced with a well-balanced striking attack or a grounded wrestling game plan. With that said, he has still been known to be a very difficult task for any man across the cage from him due in large part to his exceptionally gifted boxing. In his most memorable triumph, a 2007 battle with Nick Diaz, he floored Diaz with his patented punching combos and secured the win by way of a doctor stoppage for an opened cut that kept Diaz from continuing. The Arena MMA representative, a loser in four of his last five, will try and rebound from a very controversial decision loss to Ryan Couture at Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine in January this year.
A re-inspired Cerrone will use his varied attack to keep Noons off-balance and earn a well-deserved decision.
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