I’ll be honest — I don’t have a ton of interest in this card outside of the two main events. I’m more excited about the Lesnar fight than any other fight that the UFC have put on in recent memory (except for Liddell/Silva), and I’m always happy to see Tim Sylvia get punched in the face, but the rest of the card doesn’t do much for me. I’m going to limit my actual writeups for this show to the two main events, and then I’ll offer predictions only for the rest of the fights.
UFC INTERIM HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Tim Sylvia vs. Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera
This fight is for the interim title because Zuffa will never take the real heavyweight belt from Randy Couture. Why? There’s a “champion” clause in every UFC contract that states that if someone is a champion when their contract expires, the UFC can hold them under contract for an extended year. Basically, they’re preventing Couture from being free of his contract until at least October 2009, which means he wouldn’t be able to fight anyone else (Fedor Emelianenko) until 2010.Tim Sylvia is the tallest man in the heavyweight division, and he’s also one of the most boring fighters on the planet. He’s highly unpopular, mostly because he fights to win matches instead of fighting to excite the crowd. Popularity in UFC is heavily predicated on how exciting a fighter is and how much heart he shows; it has more in common with pro wrestling than Dana White would ever admit, and the truth is that Tim Sylvia just isn’t exciting…but he is good.Noguiera comes into this fight with the reputation as being one of the best heavyweights in the entire world. His last fight against Heath Herring wasn’t a good display of his skills. He’s probably the best submission heavyweight in the world and he has an iron jaw, as shown in his PRIDE war with Emelianenko. Tim Sylvia will probably win this fight, and it will probably be a decision. It’s not the outcome I (or anyone else) wants, but it’s the likely one.
PREDICTION: Tim Sylvia by decision
Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir
Despite not going on last, this is the true main event of the night, and it’s the fight that the PPV is being marketed on. This fight is probably the first true time we’ll get to see how much the pro wrestling and UFC audiences have in common, and it should do a gigantic buyrate. Brock Lesnar is a freak of nature. He’s an amazing athlete who is incredibly fast, freakishly strong and he was an NCAA champion while wrestling in college. Everyone knows at this point that he went on to become a pro wrestler for World Wrestling Entertainment, where he picked up the game MUCH faster than anyone else and quickly became known as one of the best in the business, especially given how big he is. He quit WWE because of the rigors of the road, and made a go at the NFL despite not playing football since his junior year of high school. He lasted through training camp and very nearly made the practice squad, which was an amazing feat in and of itself.He went back to wrestling in Japan, and eventually made the switch to MMA. In his first pro fight last year, he quickly took down legendary judo champ Min Soo Kim, got a full mount, and punched him until Kim tapped out. Observers at ringside noted that even Lesnar’s short punches from the mount were doing incredible amounts of damage. He’s been training MMA for two full years, so he comes into the fight far more prepared than your average newcomer.Frank Mir is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion. He’s most famous for breaking Tim Sylvia’s arm with an armbar, and for being fat and gassing during fights because he’s lazy. To his credit, Mir did suffer a horrific motorcycle accident when he was hit by an elderly driver who ran a stop sign, and he’s never really been the same fighter since. But he’s also a dangerous first opponent for Lesnar, because he was once known as the future of the heavyweight division, and he has world-class submission skills.Mir has to get a submission from the bottom in order to win this fight. There’s no way he’s going to win a three round decision with Lesnar, and he won’t be able to stop the takedown. He won’t be able to out-wrestle Lesnar, and if he can’t avoid the ground and pound, it’s going to be a short night for the former champ.
Prediction: Brock Lesnar by ground and pound
Rob Yundt vs. Ricardo Almeida: Belcher
Nate Marquardt vs. Jeremy Horn: Marquardt