In an alternate universe, UFC 130 is totally going to kick ass. Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard will complete their hard-fought trilogy and firm up the lightweight division title situation once and for all, while in the co-main event Quinton Jackson and Thiago Silva’s impending stand-up battle will provide more thrills than a rollercoaster packed with sticks of dynamite and on fire. But alas, we’re in our universe, where injuries have scrapped Edgar/Maynard III and Rampage is facing a tough yet completely unassuming Matt Hamill. UFC 130 does show promise – it’s hard to overlook two highly-skilled heavyweights, we get to see if Thiago Alves is still in “beast mode”, and Jorge Santiago returns to the Octagon after totally killing it in Japan. Unfortunately, there’s about zero heat going into this event, so let’s break down the bouts and discuss why the event is worth hitting “purchase” on your DVR’s remote control.
Quinton Jackson vs. Matt Hamill – Ever since Rampage got paid to act alongside Bradley Cooper and Liam Neeson in the “A-Team” movie, his efforts in the Octagon can best be summed up by the phrase “Dude has really been phoning it in”. Hey, good for him for finding another revenue stream. Fighting for a living sucks. But now we have to get excited for a main event featuring a man no longer excited about fighting, and that sucks. With his wrestling and burgeoning striking skills, Hamill is no pushover, and though in his most recent fights he barely squeaked by Tito Ortiz and Keith Jardine – and he was unequivocally slain by Jon Jones – he should at least force Jackson to break a sweat. That merits a look-see, no?
Frank Mir vs. Roy Nelson – Mir was the champ, and when Nelson was announced as a member of the TUF 10 cast, there was never any doubt that he’d win it all. Regardless of who they can and cannot beat in the current heavyweight roster, and regardless of their placement in the pecking order, they’re undeniably two very skilled bad mama jamas. They met once in grappling competition years ago, but if recent fistic trends are any indication, expect this one to be a stand-up contest. And maybe even a good one, at that.
Stefan Struve vs. Travis Browne – Struve is big and tall and good at crushing cans. We’re not sure if Browne is a can yet, although thanks to Cheick Kongo repeatedly grabbing his shorts at UFC 120, he has managed to earn a “draw” against one of the UFC’s elite. Will Struve crush the American? I have no idea, but it may be fun watching him try.
Rick Story vs. Thiago Alves – As top dogs Georges St. Pierre and Jon Fitch proved, the best way to defeat Alves is to wrestle him to death. Any deviation from that path will get you killed. Story is great at wrestling, although it remains to be seen if his skills are comparable to St. Pierre and Fitch. Ultimately, this means that we’re going to see either Alves commit murder or Story lay on top of him for three rounds.
Brian Stann vs. Jorge Santiago – Brian Stann is a living, breathing GI JOE action figure who scored big when he smoked Chris Leben at UFC 125. He should have his hands full with Santiago, though, who can hit hard and submit harder. Compared to the other bouts on the card, this one has the most crowd-pleasing potential, as it’s very likely these dudes are going to just stand in front of each other and drop bombs.