Can Velasquez handle real ground pressure?
Never once in seven professional bouts has Cain Velasquez been threatened when a fight has hit the mat: his wrestling core usually leaves opponents flat and struggling more for their own survival than his extinction. But the exact place where Velasquez is most comfortable -- on top -- is where Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is his most dangerous. He may not submit Velasquez, but the threat of it can help get him in and out of positions that could dictate the outcome of the fight.
Will Nogueira’s experience work against him?
Could be that Velasquez is going to be the victim of the finesse and tactical correction provided by Nogueira’s nearly 40 trips to the ring. But the price paid for that experience is a body that may want to hang up its shield. Against Frank Mir, Nogueira was downed by staph; wars with Fedor Emelianenko and Bob Sapp resulted in a different, more weathered fighter than we had seen before. If anyone stands to benefit from Nogueira’s long and painful history in MMA, it may just be Velasquez.
Will the mat be a factor in Silva/Bisping?
Most expect Wanderlei Silva (striker) and Michael Bisping (striker) to resolve their fight on the feet. But one or both men might realize their chances improve when horizontal. If that’s the case, Bisping’s takedown defense might stall out Silva in the clinch. If it does hit the mat, the spectacular guard work Bisping displayed against Denis Kang would seem to be effective enough for Silva’s so-so top game. It’s not a fight that should turn into a jiu-jitsu match -- but it might be more interesting if it does.
Is Mirko “Cro Cop” the UFC’s foreign token?
For four of his six UFC bouts, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic has competed during one of the promotion’s foreign events. Either he’s disinclined to travel to the States, or the UFC feels he’s a significant attraction for audiences with accents. That dependency might explain why Filipovic remains with the company even while owning a 2-3 mark since 2007.
Is Keith Jardine on the bubble?
Durable and well-prepared courtesy of Greg Jackson, Keith Jardine is still a fighter whose style can’t prompt too many spilled beers. While that could be excused if his wins piled up, he’s down two in 2009: a third straight loss against Stephan Bonnar might provide opportunity for Zuffa to avoid a Jackson-branded pile-up in the 205-pound division.