Happy 4th of July everyone! Let us not waste a second and get right to the breakdown and picks!
All odds are courtesy Bovada.lv and all confidence picks are from a scale of 1-10 with 1 being the least and 10 being the most.
Anderson Silva (-240) vs. Chris Weidman (+190)
Inarguably the biggest challenge of Silva since Dan Henderson, Weidman is the blueprint for how to beat “The Spider.” A takedown artist (4.47 TApM, 72%) with great defenses both striking (68%) and on takedown attempts (100%), he excels in all of the areas Silva commonly exploits. But those numbers were put up against inferior competition, as only Maia and Munoz could be considered top ten fighters. Silva hasn’t had a real challenge since the first Sonnen fight, but back in the day he made guys like Henderson, Franklin and Belfort look like sparring partners. But he’s 38 years old with 37 pro fights under his belt. Weidman has the youth and athleticism, but Silva has the experience, the calm and the technical striking skills to pick Weidman apart if he can stay on his feet. In what I predict is a fight for the ages, I see Weidman keeping this fight on the ground and either locking in a choke or G&Ping the champion for the win.
Prediction: Weidman via TKO in Round 3 (Confidence = 5)
Frankie Edgar (-550) vs. Charles Oliveira (+375)
In his first non-title fight since the TUF 10 finale, Edgar looks to bounce back after three straight close decision losses to Ben Henderson and Jose Aldo. Oliveira, however, has nothing to lose, being given no shot against the former LW champ. Oliveira had gone to distance once in 20 fights. Edgar had done so in 12 of 20. Expect Oliveira to be the aggressor, throwing unorthodox strikes and looking for a takedown. But Edgar is a strategist, so expect him to time Oliveira, shoot in and grind out a decision. But there’s always a chance Oliveira could convert a takedown attempt into his patented anaconda choke, so be weary.
Prediction: Edgar via Unanimous Decision (Confidence = 7)
Tim Kennedy (-155) vs. Roger Gracie (+125)
This is my upset lock of the night. Roger Gracie has not been submitted in MMA or BJJ competition since he was a blue belt. Only one fighter has even attempted a takedown against him in MMA. He’s a towering 6-foot-4 middleweight with a five-inch reach advantage and improved striking. Kennedy’s only chance is for a KO/TKO (none since 2007) or to get on top and grind out a decision against a superior submission fighter. He’ll try to keep the fight standing, get taken down (56% TD offense) and get subbed.
Prediction: Gracie via Submission in Round 1 (Confidence = 6)
Mark Munoz (-130) vs. Tim Boetsch (EVEN)
This may be a middleweight bout, but both these fighters will enter the Octagon at well over 200lbs. Both solid grapplers and strikers, Munoz uses his hands to set up his shoot while Boetsch uses his to stay standing and shoots to keep his opponents honest. However, Munoz has the better takedowns, notching nearly half his attempts over his last five fights (9-for-19). Expect Munoz to make up for his loss vs. Weidman by getting Boetsch down and forcing a TKO win. But either man has a legit shot of pulling out a W with that game plan.
Prediction: Munoz via TKO in Round 2 (Confidence = 4)
Cub Swanson (-230) vs. Dennis Siver (+180)
Two fighters who have seen a resurgence in their careers, Swanson and Siver are in line for a FW title shot in the near future. Swanson has reeled off a quartet of wins from 2012 on out, while Siver is 2-0 since dropping to featherweight with a pair of dominating decisions. Both fighters have identical heights and reaches and throw punches in bunches, but Swanson has more pop (three of last four wins by KO/TKO) and is more accurate (46% compared to 32% SA). Expect TKO No. 4 of 5 this Saturday.
Prediction: Swanson via TKO in Round 1 (Confidence = 5)
Andrew Craig (-155) vs. Chris Leben (+125)
If Leben wants to keep his job, he has to beat Craig. The old “Crippler” had all the tools to win this bout easily, but that fighter hasn’t showed up since his 2011 KO win vs. Wanderlei Silva. Still, Craig has some holes in his striking defense (37 percent) and takes too many shots if the fight keeps standing (2.86/min). He’s also got just a 25% takedown rate inside the Octagon, compared to Leben’s 57% defense. Expect Leben to keep this fight on its feet and land some big punches, but take home a decision win.
Prediction: Leben via Unanimous Decision (Confidence = 5)
Norman Parke (-190) vs. Kazuki Tokudome (+155)
Two of their division’s promising young prospects, Parke and Tokudome impressed in their Octagon debuts: Parke winning TUF: The Smashes vs. Colin Fletcher and Tokudome beating BJJ savant Cristiano Marcello. Parke is a grinding grappler with excellent chokes, using his Guillotine and RNC to tear up the UK MMA scene. Tokudome uses his Judo pedigree to toss opponents around and finish with either an armbar or G&P from a dominant position. I see these two’s styles leading to a 15-minute stalemate with neither man doing much to hurt the other. It’s a coin flip in my book, so I’ll take the man with the three-inch reach advantage.
Prediction: Tokudome via Unanimous Decision (Confidence = 1)
Gabriel Gonzaga (-260) vs. Dave Herman (+200)
This fight presents an interesting clash of styles. Gonzaga has evolved from a knockout artist with submissions to a submission fighter with knockout power, winning his last three fights via choke. Perhaps that’s a response to the six KO/TKO losses of his career. Herman doesn’t have the big names of the guys Gonzaga’s been KO’d by (Carwin, Dos Santos, Werdum etc.) but he’s got 15 KO/TKO wins against mostly lesser competition. Herman is hard to take down (63% TD Def.), but he’s a turtle on his back. I feel Gonzaga has a better chance at getting a takedown than Herman has of a flash KO, so I’ll have to go with the Brazilian by a slim margin.
Prediction: Gonzaga via Submission in Round 2 (Confidence = 3)
Edson Barboza (-550) vs. Rafaello Oliveira (+375)
Barboza is simply one of the sport’s most dynamic strikers, as proven by his highlight-reel spinning back kick KO over Terry Etim and his leg kick TKO wins as well. His only loss came in an epic upset vs. Jamie Varner, showing he may be prone to overlook fighters he’s heavily favored against. However, Oliveira is prone to getting highlight-reel KO’d, like he was against Yves Edwards two fights ago. Stepping in late and having two fights since 2011, the ring rust may result in him going sleepy night-night to a Barboza kick.
Prediction: Barboza via KO in Round 1 (Confidence = 9)
Seth Baczynski (-300) vs. Brian Melancon (+230)
Melancon is a smothering fighter coming out of Ricco Rodriguez’s camp, knowing the submission game well and possessing good top control and G&P. But he’s facing a fighter seven inches taller and who has plenty of Octagon experience. If Melancon were a wrestler, which he is not, I’d smell an upset via decision. But I think he’ll have trouble getting Baczynski down, leading to a difficult striking battle and eventual TKO loss.
Prediction: Baczynski via TKO in Round 1 (Confidence = 7)
Mike Pierce (-650) vs. David Mitchell (+425)
Pierce’s tenacious takedowns will keep this fight on the ground. Mitchell has a lot of submission wins off his back, but Pierce has excellent sub defense (only losses by decision). Expect a lot of ground and pound from Pierce and either a TKO or Decision win.
Prediction: Pierce via TKO in Round 1 (Confidence = 8)
Thanks again for taking the time to read this Cardiac Attack Sports exclusive. Remember to follow me on twitter at @LucasKinser to keep up with whatever my mind comes up with next. Happy 4th and enjoy the fight!