On March 2, 2013 in Saitama, Japan, Wanderlei Silva and Brian Stann will headline UFC on Fuel TV 8. The 36- year-old Brazilian is sure to draw a lot of interest from the local Japanese crowed. After all, Japan was where he first made a name for himself, fighting for PRIDE and ultimately winning the 2003 PRIDE Grand Prix in Tokyo.
The co-main event of the night features a heavyweight tilt between Stefan Struve and Mark Hunt. This marks the first UFC event in Japan since UFC 144 on February 25, 2012. UFC on Fuel TV 8 looks to be one of the strongest Fuel TV cards yet, and it seems clear that the UFC has dedicated more time and effort to creating quality cards on Fuel TV. Certainly, there is increased pressure from FOX to generate higher ratings on their subsidiary channel. Fans won’t be complaining about quality fights on free TV any time soon.
Marcelo Guimaraes (8-0-1, 1-0 UFC) vs. Hyun Gyu Lim (10-3-1, 0-0 UFC)
The time-difference and jetlag is a prominent factor in these lower-level, evenly-matched bouts that take place in Japan. For that reason, I lean towards Japanese and Korean fighters in these preliminary bouts. Hyun Gyu Lim is a quick finisher and Marcelo Guimaraes didn’t impress me much in his win over Daniel Stittgen. Lim takes it via submission.
Alex Caceres (8-5, 3-3 UFC) vs. Kyung Ho Kang (11-6, 0-0 UFC)
I’ve never been a fan of Alex Caceres. I’ve never gotten over his “Bruce Leeroy” gag on his season of the Ultimate Fighter and he has never struck me as a particularly exciting fighter. He is good enough on the mat to avoid the formidable submission attack of Kyung Ho Kang, but his offense will be completely stifled. Kang wins via decision.
Cristiano Marcello (13-4, 1-1 UFC) vs. Kazuki Tokudome (11-3-1, 0-0 UFC)
Cristiano Marcello has proven to be a one-dimensional grappler in his time in the Octagon. Granted, his grappling is top notch, but Kazuki Tokudome is a legitimate Japanese lightweight who might stick around in the UFC for a few years. Tokudome wins by decision.
Bryan Caraway (17-5, 2-0 UFC) vs. Takeya Mizugaki (16-7-2, 3-2 UFC)
This is the only undercard bout where I am picking the fighter from the Western Hemisphere. In the past Bryan Caraway has shown a propensity for mental mistakes, but I think he can put together a solid game plan to stifle Takeya Mizugaki on the ground. Caraway wins via ugly decision.
Riki Fukuda (19-6, 2-2 UFC) vs. Brad Tavares (9-1, 4-1 UFC)
Riki Fukuda is going to do what Riki Fukuda always does: he will smother Brad Tavares and shut down all offense from the Brazilian. Fukuda wins via decision.
Rani Yahya (17-7, 2-1 UFC) vs. Mizuto Hirota (14-5-1, 0-0 UFC)
Rani Yahya’s game is relatively easy to prepare for. He likes to take down his opponents and maintain dominant positions throughout the fight. Certainly, Mizuto Hirota knows this but it doesn’t mean he can stop it. Hirota also likes to be aggressive with his striking and he’ll get taken down because of that aggression. Yahya wins by decision.
Siyar Bahadurzada (21-4-1, 1-0 UFC) vs. Dong Hyun Kim (16-2-1, 7-2 UFC)
Siyar Bahadurzada is a powerful and exciting fighter but Dong Hyun Kim is a terrible style-matchup for him. The only time a striker has gotten the better of Kim was when Carlos Condit knocked him out with a flying knee; Condit is on a different level than Bahadurzada. Kim will take down his Afghani opponent at will. Kim wins by decision.
Yushin Okami (28-7, 12-4 UFC) vs. Hector Lombard (32-3-1, 1-1 UFC)
Yushin Okami generates much of his offense in the clinch; unfortunately for him, Hector Lombard represented Cuba in the Olympics for judo. Lombard’s hips are fantastic and his power is unmatched in the middleweight division. Okami won’t be able to control the former Bellator MMA star in the clinch. Every time he tries to clinch, Okami risks being tossed to the mat. Lombard will eventually connect with a big hook and it will be “goodnight” for Okami. Lombard wins by knockout.
Diego Sanchez (23-5, 12-5 UFC) vs. Takanori Gomi (34-8, 3-3 UFC)
Diego Sanchez’s constant pressure will provide a lot of problems for Takanori Gomi. Though Gomi put on the best performance of his UFC career in his latest win against Mac Danzig, his conditioning issues will be his undoing in this fight. Sanchez’s pace will be too much for Gomi to handle. Sanchez will have to survive a few scares from Gomi’s powerful hands, but he will ultimately emerge victorious. Sanchez wins via decision.
Stefan Struve (25-5, 9-3 UFC) vs. Mark Hunt (8-7, 3-1 UFC)
This is one of my favorite fights of the year so far. It’s a matchup of strength vs. weakness for both fighters: Stefan Struve’s strong submission game matches up well against Mark Hunt’s poor submission defense. But at the same time, Hunt’s nuclear-powered hands match up extremely well against Struve’s suspect chin. Ultimately, Hunt is going to follow Roy Nelson’s game plan to knock out the Dutchman. Hunt will get inside of the reach of Struve and punch his lights out. Hunt wins via knockout.
Brian Stann (12-5, 6-4 UFC) vs. Wanderlei Silva (34-12-1, 4-7 UFC)
The UFC did no favors with its matchmaking for Wanderlei Silva, who has been knocked out in six out of his last ten bouts. Brian Stann has huge power in both hands and will look to pepper the Brazilian early and often with punches. Silva will have his moments of violence, like he does in almost every UFC fight, but it won’t be enough to defeat Stann. In a bout that could be his last, Silva will be on the receiving end of some big combinations. Stann wins via decision.
What do you think fight fans? Get at me @samgenovese on twitter.