This Saturday, The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to Brazil for the first time in over ten years as UFC 134: Silva vs. Okamicomes to you live from the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro. Just as they’ve done in the past with cards in Canada and England, there is a Brazilian fighter featured in all but one bout, with three of the countries biggest stars featured on the main card. As has been the case often in the past, this event has been injury riddled and replacements have had to be found quickly. With just days left before UFC 134 goes down, let’s take a look at the Main Card and break it down.
To open up the PPV broadcast, we have a Light Heavyweight bout between Luiz “Bahna” Cane (11-3-1) and the undefeated Stanislav “Staki” Nedkov (11-0). Nedkov was scheduled to make his UFC debut on two separate occasions but injuries to himself and then his opponent prevented it from happening. Now, barring another freak accident, he will finally step foot in the The Octagon opposite the heavy-handed Cane. Although both men are BJJ Black Belts, the majority of their wins have come by way of knock out. Their Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will likely bring them to a stalemate and force them to slug it out.
The next bout on the broadcast is a Lightweight battle between Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson (12-4) and Edson Barboza (8-0). Pearson breaks the stereotype of fighters from England only being strikers. Not only does he have a background in Judo, he has earned the majority of his victories by way of submission. Barboza also breaks a stereotype of Brazilian fighters only being grapplers as he holds a Black Belt in Muay Thai and the majority of his wins have come by way of knockout. When these two get in the cage, you can expect an exciting fight for sure. Pearson has shown in the past that he can hang with both strikers and grapplers as he holds victories over guys like Dennis Siver and Aaron Riley. Barboza has also proven that he can hang with either type of fighter as he holds victories of Mike Lullo and Anthony Njokuani. This fight will be exciting and could possibly bring hope Fight of the Night honors.
Next up, Brendan “The Hybrid” Schaub (8-1) takes on Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira (32-6-1) in the only Heavyweight bout of the night. In his biggest test to date, Schaub meets Big Nog in this classic battle of ‘Grappler vs. Striker’. It’s no mystery that Schaub is going to try to avoid going to the ground with Big Nog and Big Nog is going to try to take Schaub to the ground. At this point in his career, Schaub has never been submitted, or even really had his ground game tested all that much. Although Nog has over forty fights, he has only been knocked out twice. However, both those knockouts happened in two of his last three fights. Schaub has exhibited one-punch-knockout power in the past and could very well shut Big Nog’s lights off should he connect cleanly. Nogueira must avoid the big punches of Schaub and get the fight to the ground as quickly as possible and do what he does best.
The Co-Main Event of the evening is a rematch between former Light Heavyweight champions Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (19-5) and Forrest Griffin (18-6). In their first fight, Rua was heavily favored to win but just couldn’t figure out Griffin’s awkward fighting style. After being dominated for two rounds, Rua was forced to tap to a rear naked choke with just fifteen seconds left in the fight. From there, Forrest rode a wave of momentum into a title fight with Rampage Jackson and as the underdog once again, he came out on top. Since that fight, Shogun has been dealing with numerous knee problems and claims to finally be healthy. Forrest hopes to replicate his past victory over Shogun and keep himself relevant near the top of the division. While Shogun is looking to avenge a loss and come out without any knee problems so he can chase that title once again.
The Main Event of the night is also a rematch from many years ago. Anderson “The Spider” Silva (30-4) will look to not only avenge his last loss but also defend his UFC Middleweight Champion, extend his UFC win streak, and extend his UFC title defense streak as he faces off once again with Yushin “Thunder” Okami (26-5). In their first meeting, over five years ago at Rumble on the Rock 8, Silva landed an illegal upkick that rendered Okami unable to continue and was disqualified. When both fighters were signed to the UFC in 2006, it was only a matter of time before these two crossed paths again. Okami faced Rich Franklin at UFC 72 in a Number One Contender’s match with Franklin coming out on top and earning the right to fight Silva for the Title. Fast forward another two years to find Okami in another Title Eliminator match against Chael Sonnen in which he lost and Sonnen went on to face Nate Marquardt in a Number One Contender’s match. One year later, in his own Number One Contender’s match against Marquardt. Okami was crowned the victor after three rounds and finally deemed the next in line to challenge Silva.
Throw in a quick dismantling of Vitor Belfort via the famed “Segal Front Kick” by Silva and now Okami will finally get his shot at the belt. Once Dana White made it official, the discussions about the Silva/Okami rematch rose quickly. Silva had beaten everyone that had challenged him for his title with ease, until he faced Sonnen who gave him problems for four rounds until he finally submitted him in the fifth. With Sonnen being a training partner of Okami, it’s only natural to wonder if Okami would be able to take Sonnen’s gameplan and finish where he left off. After the Sonnen fight, Silva stated that he had injured his ribs leading up to the fight and that was the real reason that Sonnen was able to dominate him. Now that Silva is completely healthy, he is looking to prove that the Sonnen fight was a fluke and Okami will not be able to out wrestle him. Silva is known for his unorthodox striking and impressive finishes. While Okami, on the other hand, is known for his wrestling, control and lack of finishes. When these two meet again, it will settle the fued and possibly shape the Middleweight Title picture for the future.
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