If a fighter doctors urine in an attempt to mask drug use in the woods, does anyone hear it? You can be damn sure Keith Kizer does. Thiago Silva, who served a one year suspension for this very thing (although, it likely wasn’t in the woods), returns to the octagon for the first time in 16 months to take on fast-rising light heavyweight Alexander Gustafsson. In a bout that is sure to be as violent as it is entertaining, we’ll get a good grasp of where these two men stand within the division. Along with that, Brian Stann looks to rebound from his loss to Chael Sonnen last year, and he looks to do so against the always tenacious Alessio Sakara. All in all, violence lovers are in for a treat on Saturday afternoon, and we can all rejoice that the UFC is finally back in full swing. I’ve broken down how I feel the main card should go, but ultimately, no matter how it all goes down, it’ll be a very exciting card and a great way to get pumped for next week’s UFC 145 card. It all goes down at 3:00pm ET on FUEL TV, but is tape-delayed for those in Canada, unless you have premium channel Sportsnet ONE, in which case, you’re set. Anyways, on with the show.
-Damacio Page vs. Brad Pickett
Opening up the main card, Damacio Page continues his streak of taking on tought fights, as he takes on a fighter who was strongly considered a top contender in the WEC, Brad Pickett. Page looks to rebound from two straight losses, which included a complete re-do of his submission loss to Brian Bowles. Spooky stuff. When Page wins, he finishes, as he is a relatively proficient striker and grappler. Brad Pickett was doing pretty well for himself until he ran into the beast known as Renan Barao. The Englishman, goes by the nickname “One Punch”, but he’s more likely to make his opponents tap than anything.. perhaps a name change is in order? I just don’t see what Page has to offer Pickett in this fight. Pickett is just considerably better everywhere. I don’t like to underestimate any fighter, but this seems like a tune-up fight for Pickett. He’ll get the submission here.
-DaMarques Johnson vs. John Maguire
MiddleEasy contributor and TUF finalist DaMarques “Darkness” Johnson enters the cage in Sweden on Saturday afternoon looking to put together a two fight win streak, something which, in the octagon at least, has alluded him all but once. Inconsistencies aside, Johnson has a solid ground game, and demonstrated in his last bout that he can send an opponent astral traveling. John Maguire is a traveler, or a gypsy if you prefer. He’s a very serious grappler, who made his UFC debut by putting a serious beating on Justin Edwards, who probably didn’t belong in the UFC anyway. Maguire will be looking for his 7th straight win, and I would not at all be shocked if he got it. Maguire beats reality show contestants, which DaMarques was, so there’s that. I also believe his grappling might prove to be too much for “Darkness”. I’m calling one Big Fat Gypsy win.
-Diego Nunes vs. Dennis Siver
Former Nova Uniao fighter Diego Nunes has more kicks than Neil Peart’s drum kit. While he hardly throws a punch in a fight, Nunes has developed a reputation as a serious threat on the feet. He even almost knocked out Kenny Florian. Who knocks out Kenny Florian? Dennis Siver drops down to featherweight after being completely dominated by Donald Cerrone at 155. The German striker, who throws enough “spinning shit” to make Nick Diaz sick, needs a win in his 145 pound debut pretty badly. Originally, I had this fight very close, although I was leaning towards Nunes. Siver very clearly had a terrible weight cut, and he looked very drawn out. I expect a lot of kicks in this fight, and lots of movement, and some of us will probably suffer from motion sickness, but after you’ve returned from the bathroom, it will be Diego Nunes getting the nod via decision.
-Siyar Bahadurzada vs. Paulo Thiago
Siyar The Kil.. The Great. Whatever his nickname is now, he is a dangerous striker. The Afghan striker comes into this bout on the strength of a six fight winning streak, with notable victories over standouts Leandro Silva and John Alessio. He takes on Paulo Thiago, who, most notably, knocked out Josh Koscheck. I just like reminding people about that fight, I can’t help it. The Brazilian welterweight has some slick striking, and even more slick submissions. A bout between these two tough fellas is almost certain to be the fight of the night, right? I like Siyar, and he is absolutely capable of winning this fight violently. Having said that, Thiago has a very obvious advantage on the ground, and likely won’t be dragged into a fire fight with Siyar. Look for a submission win early for Thiago.
-Brian Stann vs. Alessio Sakara
Brian Stann has had a tumultuous road leading up to this bout. Losing a close friend and opting to stay home and train as opposed to going to Jackson’s MMA. Greg Jackson has been coaching him over the phone, and even at the open workouts, he looked fairly sluggish. The heavy handed Marine has a lot on the line in this fight and his future in the middleweight division could very well be decided in this bout. Alessio Sakara has been in the UFC for nearly seven years. The Italian boxer hasn’t made much of a splash within the promotion, but he has done enough to stay, and has earned some quality wins along the way. Stann’s personal problems could play into this fight, but realistically, Stann doesn’t need to be 100% to beat Sakara, he probably doesn’t even need to be 50%. Alessio Sakara’s chin shall be his demise.
-Alexander Gustafsson vs. Thiago Silva
In the main event of the evening, the hometown hero, Alexander Gustafsson, gets his shot against increasingly difficult competition. “The Mauler” is a hard-hitting 25 year old, who is well on his way to a showdown with Jon Jones, given their respective trajectories. The Swede has a significant reach advantage over most, and he beats up everyone he trains with. Speaking of beating on people, Thiago Silva is back after his extended break due to a suspension. Hopefully the 29 year old is clean and recovered from his long-suffered back problems. Having only lost to two former champions, Thiago is no slouch and definitely deserves his spot near the top of the division. Ring rust could be a factor in this bout, but I feel the biggest factor here is Silva’s propensity to get punched in the face. I expect nothing short of a war in this bout, but I expect Gustafsson to shine early, and likely dominate as it goes later and Silva likely gasses. A stoppage is possible, but I’ll go with a decision for Gustafsson.