The Fight Report: UFC on FUEL TV 8

| February 25, 2013 | 7:40 pm | Reply

UFC Fuel TV 8Another week of UFC action, and you can’t argue about the UFC on FUEL TV 8 card not being of PPV quality. This installment features important fights in the Middleweight division with Stann, Wandy, Okami and Lombard all in the mix. Plus we get the return of Diego Sanchez, and much more.

So, let’s dig into this buffet of violence and see how the event pans out.

Brian Stann vs. Wanderlei Silva:

A former champion working his way through the UFC, Brian Stann has been impressive in victory and defeat. A solid tactician with a wealth of skills, Stann’s calm under fire and timing make him someone to watch in a tightly packed division, with his only losses coming at the hands of truly elite competitors.  With his plate full with his UFC commitments and time being against him, he can afford no missteps if he hopes to gain a UFC title shot in his fight career.

Wanderlei Silva has held titles of his own and with his career similarly winding down, this may be one of the last times we see him in the cage. Using a steady stream of hooking punches and packing crippling power into everything he throws, Silva isn’t a tough fighter to puzzle out, but one false move will leave you laying on the mat.

This fight is interesting, but particularly the weight class. Not willing to drop down to Middleweight any longer, Silva is making Stann come to him at 205lbs, which could prove to be a major X-factor for the aging fighter. The larger gas tank doesn’t necessarily give Silva much of an advantage though, as Stann still has the better fight smarts of the two and the more diverse grappling game. It could be much closer than fans think, but I still have to side with Stann to get the job done, taking a late TKO or decision win.

Mark Hunt vs. Stephan Struve:

While the Rally for Mark Hunt didn’t get him a title shot, it did put him on the radar for bigger fights. A legend of K-1, Hunt had a rough transition into MMA, but having slimmed down considerably and put serious effort into learning the mat game and wrestling defense, he’s standing tall as a mid-card threat.  His best attribute is his blazing hand speed which is rare in a heavyweight, yet Hunt to throw considerable heat, has the chin to take some return fire, and has proven to be a three round fighter at this point as well. His opponent is no stranger to heavy-handed contenders though.

Struve has had a subtle yet steady progression in his career.  Going from a submission stylist with a glass jaw and transforming himself into a patient and steady kickboxer, Struve has successfully recognized and patched the flaws of his fight game like few in the sport.  Having dispatched a line of foes that he’d never have beaten years ago, Struve is set for another such test in Hunt.

It’s funny to think that if this fight took place a couple of years ago, not a soul would think Struve would win, yet here he stands a considerable favorite in many people’s eyes.  This is a true toss-up though, as Hunt has little to fear from Struve’s power, and will be looking to wing his killer punches into Struve’s structurally unsound chin the entire fight. What makes the fight so difficult though is Hunt’s short frame vs. Struve’s massive height, meaning Hunt has to cover literally feet of distance to land anything on his opponent. This forward motion sets him up for takedowns, counter knees and even inventive guard pulls, all which put Hunt in danger. It only takes one from Hunt, but I think he’ll have extreme difficulty landing it and Struve will keep him outside with leg kicks and straight punches. This combined, along with the threat of the matwork from Struve, keeps Hunt from closing range after the first round, leading to a methodical win for Struve via decision.

Takanori Gomi vs. Diego Sanchez:

Japanese megastar Takanori Gomi has been through the wringer in the UFC, but having seemingly found his groove with a pair of wins, he’ll return to the big stage in Japan once again. Known for his ridiculous power for a lightweight, Gomi has since put his punching power on the back burner, instead returning to his submission grappling roots in his last fight with Mac Danzig. Having removed from of the predictability from his style, he stands a well-rounded and dangerous foe.

An original TUF winner and never in a dull fight, Diego Sanchez makes his return to Lightweight after stalling out against the top of the 170lb division. Known for his incredible grit and beautiful submission grappling, Sanchez is never out of a fight and has been known to come on strong late in a match if he’s in jeopardy of losing. While shifting weight classes and camps can take a toll on a fighter, Sanchez stands to be able to do his best work in this lightweight run.

There are a few questions on Sanchez end of this equation that will dramatically change the direction of this fight. One is the weight cut, as Sanchez had problems with his initial cut to Lightweight years ago, beating Joe Stevenson in a flat-footed boxing match. A similar showing against the much more dangerous Gomi could see Sanchez lightweight title run dashed before it even starts. A seamless weight cut however makes Sanchez an easy favorite here, as he’s essentially a better version of Gomi and can work any game plan he pleases I suspect this cut will be easier on him, and combined with Gomi’s wear and tear, makes this a fight Sanchez should run away with via decision.



UFC on FUEL TV 8 Poster

Quick Reports:

Yushin Okami vs. Hector Lombard: One of the most interesting bouts of the night, Okami will look to use his reach and perhaps his takedowns and top control against the vicious Hector Lombard.  Lombard hasn’t panned out to be the destroyer everyone thought, but his power and judo skills aren’t anything to ignore either. I don’t see Lombard’s ceiling being much higher than this, but Okami’s KO scares of late don’t give me much confidence against Lombard. Unless Lombard is overly cautious or finds himself working off his back, I think he can get inside on Okami and lay him out, ending it late in the first round.

Mizuto Hirota vs. Rani Yahya: Another Strikeforce export, Mizuto Hirota will bring his boxer/wrestler style to the cage, taking on long-time Zuffa Featherweight Rani Yahya. Yahya hasn’t had the best run in his Zuffa career but has managed to stay afloat with wins against lesser foes on the roster. Hirota’s plan plays right into Yahya’s wheelhouse though, and I see a guillotine in Hirota’s future. Look for Hirota to press his luck in the clinch and inside boxing departments, but fall prey to a slick submission late in the first round.

Dong Hyun Kim vs. Siyar Bahadurzada: A fight that will shift the winner deep into the division, Dong Hyun Kim will look to put away murderous striker Siyar Bahadurzada. This fight is going to be a train wreck for someone, as I can’t find a scenario where both guys come out looking great here. Kim has the potential to take Siyar down and work him over on the mat as the far superior grappler, but Siyar can also turn Kim off with one looping punch if he doesn’t pick his entry carefully. What Siyar brings that Kim might not be ready for is near inhuman core strength that may trump his own and make getting this fight to the mat a deadly chore. I suspect we’ll see Siyar keep Kim at bay for a bit with his hands, back him into a corner and lay out the Korean judoka within two rounds.

Riki Fukuda vs. Brad Tavares: The most competitive fight of the night in my eyes, Fukuda and Tavares will battle it out off on the facebook prelim card. Tavares has been lurking in the shadows for some time and fighting a steady stream of some of the toughest lower tier guys in the division.  He’ll face a similarly styled foe in Fukuda, who’s had a good deal of success

Takeya Mizugaki vs. Bryan Caraway: A great match-up between two underrated grapplers, Mizugaki and Caraway will test skills and chins in a pivotal scrap. Mizugaki has been lurking outside the top-tier for a bit now but is always a challenging opponent due to his strength and versatile game. Caraway is often the butt of jokes for his time on TUF and other non-fight related topics, but is a savvy submission wrestler that’s generally a cut above his competition. I like Caraway’s chances in a pure grappling sense, but Mizugaki has the takedown defense to make it difficult to work that kind of game plan if he’s not up for it. In a close fight, I’m leaning Mizugaki to do enough standing and reverse position enough times to take a decision nod.

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My brain child is MMAValor, something I had wanted to do for a long time and finally it’s here. Been an MMA fan since TUF season one (play catch up all the time) and the obsession started to grow like a weed and as the sport grows so does the love for the sport. I’m a jack of all trades, a very organized person that rides an emotional roller coaster daily.

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