UFC 112: "Invincible" Preview & PredictionsIn less than 12 hours, the Ultimate Fighting Championship will hold its first card in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates at UFC 112: “Invincible.” UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson “The Spider” Silva will defend against Demian Maia in the main event, while UFC Lightweight Champion “The Prodigy” BJ Penn clashes with Frankie “The Answer” Edgar.

In another featured bout, former long-time UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Hughes will welcome fellow legend Renzo Gracie to the Octagon for the first time. MMARising.com previews the card with predictions for each fight.


UFC Middleweight Championship

Anderson “The Spider” Silva vs Demian Maia

In the main event of the evening, Silva (25-4-0) will look to successfully defend his title when he meets jiu-jitsu ace Maia (12-1-0), who enters the fight on fairly short notice for an injured Vitor Belfort.

Perhaps more so than any other recent major title fight, the game plans of both fighters coming into this fight could not be more obvious. Silva will try to keep this fight on the feet so that he can make use of his incredible array of striking techniques, while Maia will be doing everything possible to take Silva down early and often. The fight is seen by some as a mismatch due to Maia’s 21-second blowout at the hands of Nate “The Great” Marquardt, but he has an excellent chance of upsetting the long-time champion if he can score just one takedown.

Maia’s chin is not the best in the division and a few clean shots from Silva should be all that is needed to send the challenger to the canvas in an unconscious heap. However, Maia is one of the top three submission fighters in MMA today and Silva has struggled against superior ground fighters at times in the past. Silva enters the title fight on an 11-fight winning streak and seems poised to move up (or down, as has recently been rumoured) in weight if he is able to get past Maia. While a Maia submission win would be anything but shocking, Silva should leave Abu Dhabi with his title around his waist.

Prediction: Silva by TKO in round one.


UFC Lightweight Championship

“The Prodigy” BJ Penn vs Frankie “The Answer” Edgar

The co-main event features a second title fight, as Penn (15-5-1) puts his 155-pound belt on the line against the once-beaten Edgar (11-1-0).

Much like the main event, this title tilt is seen by many as likely to play out in a one-sided manner that favours the reigning champion. Penn’s strengths are well-documented, from his phenomenal jiu-jitsu to his technical boxing, and he has recently shown that cardio is no longer a problem. Edgar is a solid boxer himself and brings excellent wrestling skills into the fight with Penn, but the question remains as to whether taking Penn down is really a smart course of action.

Edgar should never been counted out of a fight, but his chances of dethroning Penn are admittedly very slim. Both Penn and Edgar typically employ styles that wear down their opponents and this fight will likely continue into the third or fourth round. Edgar’s problem is that he doesn’t possess any skills that pose a direct threat to Penn, who is durable and nearly impossible to submit. Much like Penn’s other recent opponents, Edgar will survive the early danger and should even be able to make it to a decision. Unfortunately, his hand will not be raised.

Prediction: Penn by Unanimous Decision.


Matt Hughes vs Renzo Gracie

The third featured bout on the card pits a pair of legends against each other as Hughes (43-7-0) welcomes Gracie (13-6-1, 1 NC) to the UFC.

As a long-time veteran of mixed martial arts, Hughes made his MMA debut way back on January 1, 1998. However, Gracie had already been fighting for exactly six years (to the day) by the time Hughes competed as a professional for the first time. Both men are legends in the sport, but while Hughes is one of the most decorated fighters in MMA history, Gracie and his family are the true pioneers of the sport as we have come to know it in the UFC. While Gracie is not as well-known as his cousin, Royce, a victory over Hughes would be tremendous for the 43-year-old’s career.

Hughes has long been regarded as the most dominant welterweight in the division’s history, but he has lost three of his last five fights and was very fortunate to escape with a razor-thin decision over Matt Serra at UFC 98. With his best days seemingly in the past, Hughes still believes that he can make one more run at the title. Gracie has not stepped foot in the cage in over three years and the layoff could affect him when he battles Hughes, but he has looked to be in excellent physical condition and seems to be very motivated for his UFC debut.

Gracie appears to be completely discounted in this fight, and there is some merit to that, but Hughes is clearly on a downturn in his career and Gracie appears to be as focused as ever. A Hughes decision win would shock no one, but fans must remember that Renzo is not the same fighter as Royce and will offer a tougher challenge for Hughes. While Hughes has done well to avoid submissions throughout much of his career, one mistake could be all that it takes for Gracie to pull off the upset.

Prediction: Gracie by Submission in round two.


Terry Etim vs Rafael dos Anjos

Next on the main card is an interesting lightweight matchup, as Etim (14-2-0) and dos Anjos (13-4-0) square off in what is sure to be one of the most high-paced fights of the night.

Etim won ten straight fights including his UFC debut and appeared to be one of the top prospects in the division until a pair of disappointing decision losses to Gleison Tibau and Rich “No Love” Clementi set the Liverpool native back. However, the losses appear to have only motivated Etim to train harder and he has strung together four straight victories. Now once again a rising star at 155 pounds, Etim will tangle with dos Anjos, who has also experienced ups and downs in the UFC.

Dos Anjos suffered tough losses in his first two UFC bouts, but has since bounced back with decisions over Rob “The Saint” Emerson and Kyle Bradley to earn a shot on the main card again. However, unless he is able to land a big punch early on, dos Anjos’s style does not match up well with Etim’s. In a fight that will likely see a series of scrambles on the ground, Etim should be able to secure a triangle choke or similar submission in the second round to run his winning streak to five.

Prediction: Etim by Submission in round two.


Kendall “Da Spyder” Grove vs Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Munoz

The final main card bout is a middleweight clash between Grove (11-6-0, 1 NC) and Munoz (7-1-0) that will serve as a good indication of both fighters’ futures.

Grove has had one of the most inconsistent tenures of any fighter in the UFC, but he is currently coming off of a big win over Jake Rosholt at UFC 106. Generally either looking spectacular or failing in equally spectacular fashion, Grove was on the bubble before his fight with Rosholt and a one-sided loss to Munoz could send the TUF 3 champ out of the UFC. Munoz has battled back with two straight victories after his brutal knockout loss to Matt “The Hammer” Hamill last year.

While Grove’s ground game is solid and he could definitely trap the less experienced Munoz in a submission, Grove’s chin is notoriously awful and Munoz needs to do little more than land one big punch to pick up a highlight-reel victory. Grove is good at keeping opponents at a distance with his jab, but Munoz will find a way to close the distance and should end things with an overhand right that hurts Grove and sets up the finish.

Prediction: Munoz by TKO in round one.


Undercard Fights:

First on the undercard is a light heavyweight bout between Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis (5-0-0) and Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson (9-0-0). Both fighters enter this fight undefeated and each one looked impressive in their respective UFC debuts. Gustafsson has finished all but one of his opponents and holds seven wins by knockout, but Davis’s wrestling could be the story in this fight. If he is able to take Gustafsson down, which he should have few problems in doing, Davis will be able to control the bout en route to a commanding decision or a late-fight stoppage. However, if Gustafsson can land one big punch, the fight could be over in a second. Prediction: Davis by Unanimous Decision.

Next up is a lightweight battle between John “Quick Guns” Gunderson (22-7-0) and “Relentless” Paul Taylor (10-5-1, 1 NC). This fight is difficult to call, as Taylor is known for action-packed fights and solid boxing, but struggles badly on the ground. By contrast, Gunderson has an excellent ground game, but will likely get beat up on the feet if he can’t take Taylor down. Taylor’s questionable takedown defence could be a deciding factor as Gunderson continuously tries to take the fight to the mat and Gunderson should have few problems picking up the minor upset late in the first round. Prediction: Gunderson by Submission late in round one.

Moving on, we have a solid welterweight matchup between Ricky “The Horror” Story (9-3-0) and unbeaten British prospect “Slick” Nick Osipczak (5-0-0). Story enters the fight with an experience advantage and already holds big wins over Ryan Healy and Jake Ellenberger, among others. He has won two straight fights and enters the bout with Osipczak as the favourite, but Osipczak has thus far finished all of his opponents and will look to pick up a huge win. Story has never been finished, but Osipczak’s “slick” ground game will be enough to shock Story en route to a considerable upset. Prediction: Osipczak by Submission in round two.

The next fight is a welterweight brawl between hard hitters “Bad” Brad Blackburn (15-10-1, 1 NC) and DaMarques Johnson (10-7-0) that could easily be Fight of the Night. After a shaky start to his career, Blackburn has lost just twice in his last nine fights and holds big wins over Jay Hieron, Chris Wilson, Delson Heleno and Ryo Chonan. Johnson was on the verge of being cut from the UFC until his all-out war with Edgar Garcia that saw Johnson pull off an incredible comeback victory late in the first round. Both fighters possess serious punching power, but Johnson would be wise to take this fight to the ground. If he can survive the early onslaught, Johnson can pick up the win, but this is Blackburn’s fight to lose. Prediction: Blackburn by TKO in round one.

Next up is a pivotal lightweight bout between Paul “Tellys” Kelly (9-2-0) and Matt Veach (11-1-0) that will likely determine whether Kelly sticks around in the UFC. Kelly began his career with six straight stoppage wins, but has been unable to finish any of his opponents in the UFC. He is coming off of a disappointing loss to Dennis Siver at UFC 105 and must be impressive against Veach or he may be cut from the promotion. Veach won his first 11 fights including a controversial TKO victory over Matt Grice in early 2009, but suffered his first loss in a competitive bout with current title challenger Frankie Edgar in December. He should have little trouble getting back on-track with a submission victory here and a loss to Kelly would be disastrous. Prediction: Veach by Submission in round one.

The final fight on the card is a heavyweight battle between the undefeated Jon Madsen (4-0-0) and Mostapha Al-Turk (6-5-0). This fight is Al-Turk’s final chance in the UFC, which he was awarded with due to the controversial nature of his loss to Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović last year. Despite holding a significant edge in experience, Al-Turk’s only real chance is to put the pressure on and land big punches early on that cause Madsen to falter. However, the fight is unlikely to end well for the Brit and he will be sent packing after a third straight loss. Prediction: Madsen by TKO in round one.


UFC 112: “Invincible” takes place tomorrow beginning at 1:00 P.M. Eastern time, 10:00 A.M. Pacific. The event airs live on pay-per-view and MMARising.com will provide live play-by-play for the card.


(Photo Credit: Sherdog.com)