This Saturday the UFC returns to Brazil after thirteen years, with arguably one of the biggest cards of the year. Hosting Brazil’s finest, the card is strong from top to bottom and should provide fireworks for those lucky enough to obtain tickets to the HSBC Arena in Rio.
Main Event – Anderson Silva (c) VS. Yushin Okami
The 185lbs king pin and most pound for pound best fighter ever has a fantastic opportunity to cement his legacy in what for him must be the grandest stage of them all. Silva will be pitting his UFC middleweight title against Dana White, the proclaimed best fighter to come out of Asia, Yushin Okami.
Anderson Silva must be on top of the world after his highlight reel knockout of Vitor Belfort back in February and it seems this bout offers him multiple opportunities to make a real statement. ‘The Spider’s’ last loss was against Okami, and despite it coming through controversial means, he will be keen to avenge that glitch in his record. He too has the chance to fight a man who shouldn’t have much to offer standing with the muay-thai genius and in doing so provides the Brazilian with another highlight reel window.
…I see him cementing his legacy with a fantastic performance…
With that said, Okami has an uncanny ability to knock fighters out of their comfort zone, and without Silva having the dominant wrestling game to put Okami on his back, and with Okami’s recent affiliation with fantastic grinder Chael Sonnen, there is an opening for an upset, enough so anyway to make this fight interesting. However, there is simply too much on the cards for Anderson, and fighting in Rio I see him cementing his legacy with a fantastic performance topped off with a second round TKO win.
Co-main Event – Forrest Griffin VS. Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua
In a rematch of one of 2007’s fights of the year, Forrest Griffin steps in as the heavy underdog, again, against one of the best 205lbs fighters alive. Back at UFC74 Forrest pulled off one of the greatest upsets in the company’s history submitting the then pound for pound great Shogun. But the big question is whether the feat can be done again on an even greater stage.
There are several differences in the rematch that might be game changers. Shogun was coming off a big knee surgery for their first fight and throughout his career losses have followed these surgeries. But Shogun has always responded well and has never lost back to back fights, so expect a fit and exciting Rua to enter the cage on Saturday. Add that to the fact that he too can avenge a loss, and is fighting in his home country, the Shogun that fights on Saturday could well be the best we have ever seen.
…The key to this fight is who starts best…
Forrest however can never be counted out, a fan favourite and a truly likeable character, this could be the first time Griffin enters the cage with the fans not on his side. But the loveable American comes to fight, and in doing so on his day can beat anyone, with his tremendous pace and work ethic. The key to this fight is who starts best, if Griffin can get on top and early he can wear down the Brazilian in a similar fight to their first. But for me, I can’t see Shogun making the same mistakes and envisage him taking the fight to Forrest, and earning a convincing second round stoppage, beginning his road back to the 205lb title.
On top of this the rest of the card is stacked, including Nogueira VS. Schaub, as the veteran takes on the young lion and Brit Ross Pearson takes on muay-tai ace Edson Barboza in what is set to be a stand-up war.
UFC: Rio is set to go off with a bang, so make sure you tune in on Saturday night.
Images courtesy of the UFC