The UFC returns to Saitama, Japan, for UFC on Fuel TV 8, and the UFC brass assembled one sensational card that is sure to leave fans utterly satisfied.
The night’s main event features two of the baddest strikers in the UFC today, with former Pride champion Wanderlei Silva taking on accomplished U.S. Marine Brian Stann in a bout that promises fireworks.
To accelerate your heart rate to the brink of explosion, the UFC also sprinkled in barn-burner matchups like Diego Sanchez vs. Takanori Gomi and Stefan Struve vs. Mark Hunt for our collective enjoyment.
Put simply, this card is going to be ridiculous, and even if you consider yourself the most casual of fans, I highly suggest you tune in to Fuel TV to catch the action.
Let’s see how the main card will shake out.
Rani Yayha vs. Mizuto Hirota
This fight breaks down pretty simply: Rani Yayha is one of the most extraordinary grapplers the UFC’s featherweight division has to offer, and Mizuto Hirota will not be able to handle the Brazilian’s pace and skill on the mat. Hirota has been embarrassed on the mat before (WARNING: that link is not for the squeamish), and Yayha will avoid the knockout blow early and escape with a quick submission victory.
Prediction: Rani Yayha defeats Mizuto Hirota via submission, Round 1
Siyar Bahadurzada vs. Dong Hyun Kim
Since his devastating knockout of Paulo Thiago in his UFC debut, fans have been frothing at the mouth in anticipation of Siyar Bahadurzada’s sophomore appearance with the promotion.
Well, we’re getting it at UFC on Fuel TV 8, and his opponent, talented grappler Dong Hyun Kim, is primed to spoil all the fun.
Unfortunately for Bahadurzada, Kim excels at neutralizing his opponent’s attack and forcing a grinding ground war. Sure, Carlos Condit blasted Kim into another dimension, but that was only after Condit proved to be able to neutralize Kim’s ground game. If you recall, Kim secured a takedown early in that fight, and Condit executed a beautiful sweep against the cage to get back in his comfort zone on the feet.
Bahadurzada does not possess the ground game of Carlos Condit, folks, and I fully expect Kim to grind out a decision in this one.
Plus, Siyar trains with the Blackzillians. If that’s not enough reason to pick against him, I just do not know what is.
Prediction: Dong Hyun Kim defeats Siyar Bahadurzada via unanimous decision
Hector Lombard vs. Yushin Okami
This fight is almost an exact replica of Siyar Bahadurzada vs. Dong Hyum Kim.
Lombard, the ferocious striker, needs to avoid the takedowns and top game of Yushin Okami if he hopes to emerge victorious. While I do see Okami finding brief success in the grappling department, Lombard’s skills in this area are much more significant than Bahadurzada’s, so I think we’re in for a different result.
Okami has shown flaws against aggressive strikers in the past (see: Boetsch, Tim), and Lombard will overwhelm Okami on the feet and secure his second-straight UFC victory.
Don’t look now, but Hector Lombard is emerging into the contender for middleweight champion Anderson Silva’s crown we all thought he would become prior to his lackluster UFC 149 debut.
Prediction: Hector Lombard defeats Yushin Okami via KO, Round 2
Diego Sanchez vs. Takanori Gomi
This fight has “Fight of the Night” written all over it.
Takanori “The Fireball Kid” Gomi will fight in front of his native Japan crowd, and Diego Sanchez, never one to back down from a good ole fashioned brawl, is exactly the type of opponent that can bring out a vintage Fireball Kid performance.
While I fully expect this to be an entertaining, back-and-forth slugfest, Sanchez missed weight, and he mentioned on Twitter that he had to cut 50 pounds leading into this fight, so I’m concerned about “The Dream’s” conditioning.
If anybody has the heart to battle through fatigue, though, it’s Sanchez, and I think he will avoid the knockout blow and work his way to a decision victory with his superior size, strength, and top control.
Prediction: Diego Sanchez defeats Takanori Gomi via unanimous decision
Stefan Struve vs. Mark Hunt
It is time for our co-main event of the evening, and this one is going to be phenomenal.
Will Stefan Struve finally utilize his 84-inch reach, or will he allow the kickboxer Mark Hunt to get inside and tee off with ferocious punches?
Struve definitely does not want to eat too many bombs from Hunt, and I think the lanky Dutch fighter will pull guard early in this affair, where he can then showcase his considerable grappling advantage and submit Hunt early.
Like in his fight against Lavar Johnson, look for Struve employ a safe game plan and play to his strengths en route to a first-round submission victory.
Fun picture: Check out the faceoff between these two at weigh ins. That is a remarkable height difference, and Hunt actually weighed in six pounds heavier than Struve.
Prediction: Stefan Struve defeats Mark Hunt via submission, Round 1
Brian Stann vs. Wanderlei Silva
I would absolutely hate to be the referee in this fight.
These two strikers are going to come out swinging, and somebody is going down early.
While I definitely think Wanderlei Silva has advantages in the grappling department and the clinch, it is highly unlikely that he actually uses these strengths. I expect him to instead opt into his usual “rock-em-sock-em Wandy” routine, and that will spell disaster for the legendary Brazilian.
At this point in his career, Silva’s brain is not equipped to take the punishment Stann is capable of dishing out, and it will take just one clean punch to turn out “The Axe Murderer’s” lights.
Granted, Silva is quite capable of scoring a knockout of his own, but with a better chin and more power, the odds are in Stann’s favor in this one.
Expect Stann to avoid a brawl and implement a technical striking game that will leave Silva face-first on the canvas mid-way through Round 2. I personally do not want to see this again, and I hope that—win or lose—this is Silva’s last appearance as a professional fighter.
Prediction: Brian Stann defeats Wanderlei Silva via KO, Round 2
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