This is the fifth installment of London-based writer Brian Mallon's column on the Ultimate Fighting Championship for The Asahi Shimbun. Mallon has been a martial arts practitioner, UFC fan and journalist for many years. The biweekly feature will appear every other Monday.
In this week’s column we look forward to Kim Dong-hyun’s featured bout on the biggest card of the year this weekend. We also ask what now for Pride legend Wanderlei Silva and preview the latest assignments for two popular Japanese UFC stars.
This year's most anticipated fight is almost upon us. Almost two years after their titanic title fight, Anderson Silva will once again put his belt on the line against heated rival Chael Sonnen. Sonnen has been more than vociferous in the intervening period in his taunting of the Brazilian muay thai maestro. The trash talk emanating from the brash former realtor has been unparalleled. Silva’s native country, the Brazilian people, his family and fighting style have all been in the firing line of Sonnen as interest in this title bout reaches fever pitch. The 185-pound champ’s responses had been respectful, polite and disregarding until this week. As Sonnen’s taunting about what would ensue reached a crescendo, the normally laid-back pound-for-pound great snapped and guaranteed to damage Sonnen in a manner that would see him humiliated and retired from the sport itself.
The first bout was an electrifying affair. Entering the fifth and final round Sonnen looked on course for a landslide points win until Silva grasped victory from the jaws of defeat with a last-gasp triangle choke. This weekend the element of surprise, which was Sonnen’s most potent weapon at UFC 117, will be absent and Silva will be eager to make a public spectacle of the one-man PR machine. While it will not be as easy as “The Spider” is predicting, Silva will exact crushing revenge for the two-year vitriolic trash talk campaign.
STUN GUN TAKES ON BJJ ACE
Possibly South Korea’s most talented mixed martial artist will have the nation behind him in a pivotal welterweight scrap at UFC 148 this weekend. In a featured bout, which will have purists on the edge of their seats, the experienced judoka will seek to solve the grappling puzzle that is Demian Maia. To say Kim is a star of South Korean martial arts would be a huge understatement. The fourth degree judo black belt has given glimpses to both his Asian fan base and those worldwide of how well judo can translate to the octagon. Against Maia he will face a peerless grappler who has shown improved striking in recent outings. While Maia is a former middleweight title contender, the edge in power in this one may be with Kim. Stun Gun should be able to use his powerful throws and stifling top control to further climb the welterweight ladder this weekend.
ASSIGNMENTS ANNOUNCED FOR JAPANESE UFC STARS
In news that will have excited local fight fans, the next assignments for Yushin Okami and Takeya Mizugaki were confirmed this week. Ibaraki’s Mizugaki will lock horns with Jeff Houghland in his fifth bout with the Las Vegas-based promotion. Mizugaki has had a solid but not stellar record of 2-2, alternating between victories and defeats since his March 2011 debut. He does, however, have one important admirer in UFC President Dana White, who awarded the World Extreme Cagefighting veteran his win bonus despite the judges’ decision going against him in his most recent bout. White felt that the Kanagawa-based bantamweight won the fight and so he may not be under the intense scrutiny that a loss can bring in the UFC. Against Houghland he will be up against a Brazilian jujitsu black belt who has went to a decision in his two previous UFC fights. Local fans will be hoping that the vintage Mizugaki, who stormed to a WEC title fight against Miguel Torres, will be able to establish some momentum and make a further impact upon an exciting 135-lb division.
It was the fight that no UFC middleweight wanted but Kanagawa’s Yushin Okami has accepted it. Given his recent run of crushing submission victories, UFC matchmaker Joe Silva has had trouble finding a 185-lb competitor willing to share 15 minutes with hulking Brazilian Rousimar Palhares. Getting locked inside the octagon with Palhares is not the best way to keep all of your limbs intact but “Thunder” has manfully accepted the challenge. Okami’s original opponent was due to be Luiz Cane but the come forward stand-up artist was forced to withdraw due to injury. The result is a markedly different challenge for Okami but one that he will be capable of overcoming. Okami has a strong top control game and he is experienced at avoiding submissions while working in the guard. He may well be better served keeping this one on the feet, however. The Asahi Shimbun will examine this intriguing bout in more detail prior to UFC 150 in August.
WHERE NOW FOR PRIDE STAR WANDERLEI SILVA?
Perhaps Pride's greatest son, Wanderlei Silva, headlined the UFC’s latest foray into the Brazilian market in recent weeks. “The Axe Murderer” looked sharp throughout the five round catch-weight affair but ultimately fell to a points defeat to the well-rounded Rich Franklin. Silva is perhaps the most popular UFC fighter not only in Japan but all of Asia. His trademark all action aggressive style has had to be tapered back as the years of competing at the highest level take their toll. Fun fights still exist for Silva however as he remains a firm fan favorite. A rematch with arch-nemesis Vitor Belfort may loom possibly later this year as the revered Axe Murderer enters the twilight of a glittering career.
Join me on Facebook and Twitter and never miss an article on upcoming UFC events ...
- « Prev
- Next »