The UFC returns to pay-per-view this weekend, giving Zuffa a chance to refill its coffers after last weekend’s free show on FOX, and giving us a chance to watch some “name” fighters wallop each other. And by “wallop”, I mean at least three of the five bouts on the main card will likely result in fighters carted out of the Octagon on stretchers and an emergency room full of guys waiting to get x-rays of their hands and skulls. That’s right, I’m talking about Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Dan Henderson, Cung Le, Wanderlei Silva and Brian Bowles, a quintet of dudes who could punch and kick the paint off a battleship if they had to. Between the five of them, there’s been an absolutely murderous selection of kicks, knees and punches collectively delivered to opponents over the years. Think we’ll see some more of that violent magic at UFC 139 on Saturday night? I’m not a gambling man, but I’d say our chances are good. Preview time!
-Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Dan Henderson – When not getting manhandled and destroyed by champ Jon Jones, Shogun is usually wrecking dudes with his aggressive Muay Thai. In his lifetime, he’s taken out Lyoto Machida (which made him the UFC light-heavyweight champ for a spell), Chuck Liddell, Alistair Overeem, and what he did to Quinton Jackson in PRIDE would make him a king in certain small South Pacific islands. But lo, who is the Brazilian facing? None other than the heavy-handed Henderson, who’s smashed everyone from Fedor Emelianenko to Renato Sobral to Michael Bisping. Despite Shogun’s jiu-jitsu black belt and Henderson’s wrestling, the odds are slim this bout is going end up a grappling chess match. No, I’d say someone is getting KO’d. Most likely Shogun.
-Cung Le vs. Wanderlei Silva – San Shou kung fu product Le was utilizing pinpoint-accurate spinning back-kicks before it was cool, and when not kept on the bench, was one of Strikeforce’s shining stars. Silva, well, everyone knows Silva. With his Muay Thai and raw bloodlust, he ruled PRIDE with an iron fist, and though Father Time has made him somewhat less dangerous, it hasn’t changed his “go for it” attitude. This match-up matters little in the grand scheme of things, but instead is more about pitting a fan-favorite against another fan-favorite. Will Le find Silva’s admittedly worn-down chin before Silva bum-rushes him into oblivion? I hope not. The Brazilian was badly knocked out when he faced Chris Leben, and too many more of those means the end is near. I say Silva’s still got enough in him to get in range and unload, earning himself a win via TKO.
-Urijah Faber vs. Brian Bowles – Bowles was the WEC bantamweight champ after his first-round knockout of Miguel Torres, but a loss to Dominic Cruz stripped him of the belt, and his propensity for shattering the bones in his hands seems to keep him on ice a lot. Faber was the Lord of the Featherweights for a while, but with Jose Aldo the boss there and Cruz in possession of the 135-pound championship title, no way is Faber getting a taste of that kind of glory again. So what we have here is a very dangerous puncher versus a talented and fast cat who’s probably better than everyone else in the division but the champ himself. No matter what, Bowles always has a chance at landing that one massive fist, but Faber will probably be too quick in terms of getting in and out and varying his angles of attack. Therefore, if he can avoid eating knuckles, Faber takes the decision.
-Martin Kampmann vs. Rick Story – Story was an unstoppable mix of wrestling and punching, until he met Charlie Brenneman and got wrestle-humped to death. Kampmann’s skill set is so well-rounded, he probably has first aid, carpentry and interior decorating knowledge to go with his knowledge of submissions and striking. Plus, Kampmann’s last two losses – to Diego Sanchez and Jake Shields – were close, seesaw affairs. All of this means Story isn’t going to be showing the Dane anything he doesn’t have an answer for. In fact, those answers are likely going to make Story cry, and through those tears will come a loss via decision.
-Stephan Bonnar vs. Kyle Kingsbury – For his epic and timely battle against Forrest Griffin at the TUF 1 Finale, Bonnar will always have a job with the UFC. Which means we occasionally get to see him take on guys with impossible names like Krzystof Soszynski and Igor Pokrajac. Thank God for Kyle Kingsbury, then, whose name rolls off the tongue and whose mode of attack could best be defined by the word “grinder”. Nothing spectacular is going to happen in this fight. They’re going to tie up, hit each other with short punches and knees, and Bonnar’s hair is going to get wet with sweat and it will probably get in his eyes en route to his decision victory. But that’s okay. The rest of the card should be exciting.