Silva seeks revenge at UFC 148

Chael Sonnen (above) battles Anderson Silva in a rematch at UFC 148 Saturday night. (AFP)

Chael Sonnen (above) battles Anderson Silva in a rematch at UFC 148 Saturday night. (AFP)

JOSE RODRIGUEZ, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:01 PM ET

You can set your calendar by it.

The UFC hosts its biggest events at Super Bowl and Fourth of July weekends.

This year’s American Independence Day offering is being billed as the biggest fight of the year.

The rematch between middleweight champ Anderson (Spider) Silva and Chael Sonnen, the retirement bout for former light-heavyweight champ Tito Ortiz and the return of former middleweight contender Patrick Cote.

The hype machine is in overdrive with the normally softer-spoken Silva promising to smash out Sonnen’s teeth and UFC president Dana White saying he expects the pay-per-view numbers to rival the record 1.5 million buys of UFC 100.

Regardless of the outcome, this is the most anticipated rematch in years and fans and bookies seem split on how it will unfold.

Here are the Sun Media predictions for UFC 148’s main cards:

JOSE RODRIGUEZ”S PREDICTIONS:

Middleweight champ Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen

Sonnen will face a much different Silva than the one he bullied at 117. If there was ever a wake-up call for a complacent champ, that was a textbook example. Look for a crisp-striking Silva to keep Sonnen on the outside and look for a knockout.

PREDICTION: Silva by second round (T)KO

• Forrest Griffin vs. Tito Ortiz

The trilogy fight will mark Ortiz’s retirement and Hall of Fame induction. Too much emotion in this one for Ortiz to lose.

PREDICTION: Ortiz by yet another split decision

• Patrick Cote vs. Cung Le

Quebec’s Cote is back, but his return fight is anything but easy. Le is a creative striker. But Cote has heavy hands, is on a four-fight-win streak and wants to stay in the big show.

PREDICTION: Cote by second round (T)KO

• Dong Hyun Kim vs. Demian Maia

Maia is one of the best jiu-jitsu practitioners in the world and his boxing has become increasingly crisp over the past year. Kim has only lost once (Carlos Condit) but Maia has never lost back-to-back fights. And he won’t this time.

PREDICTION: Maia by unanimous decision.

• Chad Mendes vs. Cody McKenzie

McKenzie is a strong submission specialist, but crafty wrestler Mendes is coming off his first career blemish against champ Jose Aldo.

PREDICTION: Mendes by unanimous decision

• Mike Easton vs. Ivan Menjivar

Canada’s Menjivar is undefeated in his three UFC fights. Easton is tough with only one loss, but Menjivar has a deeper toolbox.

PREDICTION: Menjivar by decision.

NEIL SPRINGER’S PREDICTIONS:

• Middleweight champ Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen

This is a tough one to call. On the one hand, Chael Sonnen was two minutes away from having his hand raised the first time. On the other hand, Anderson Silva is, well, Anderson Silva and can finish any fight in the blink of an eye. My gut says Silva will make the necessary adjustments to put Sonnen away, but it won’t be easy.

PREDICTION: Silva via third round KO/TKO

• Tito Ortiz vs. Forrest Griffin

It would be a storybook ending for Tito Ortiz to walk away with a victory in his final MMA bout, but I don’t see it happening. I expect this to look a lot like their second fight, with Forrest Griffin stuffing most takedown attempts and peppering Ortiz with combos.

PREDICTION: Griffin via decision

• Patrick Cote vs. Cung Le

Cote has to know he will likely lose the first round, when Le is at his sharpest and most unpredictable. The Quebec middleweight could certainly adjust after a tough opening frame and do damage inside, but the Sanshou specialist has the ability to keep him at bay with an array of kicks.

PREDICTION: Le via decision

• Dong Hyun Kim vs. Demian Maia

Since this is Demian Maia’s welterweight debut, it will be interesting to see how the weight cut affects his performance. The Brazilian jiu jitsu wizard’s kickboxing has improved recently, but I doubt he can keep up with Dong Hyun Kim, who finally opened up his striking game against Sean Pierson last December. Kim’s judo ability will also make him tough to take down.

PREDICTION: Kim via second-round KO/TKO

• Chad Mendes vs. Cody McKenzie

Mendes knows he has to watch out for McKenzie’s killer guillotine choke. If he gets careless and leaves his head hanging out on just one takedown attempt, he could find himself in serious trouble. But as a member of Team Alpha Male, Mendes has seen more guillotines than the French Revolution. You can expect Mendes to control McKenzie en route to a decision win.

PREDICTION: Chad Mendes via decision

• Mike Easton vs. Ivan Menjivar

Mike Easton likes to apply a lot of pressure, but he sometimes waits too long to get into his rhythm. That could prove costly against a guy like Ivan Menjivar, who is as crafty and well-rounded as they come. If Menjivar gets on him early, he can set the tempo for the entire 15 minutes, but I’m calling another submission of the night bonus for the Canadian-Salvadoran.

PREDICTION: Menjivar via first-round submission

KEYS TO VICTORY:

RODRIGUEZ'S KEYS TO VICTORY FOR ANDERSON SILVA:

• Needs to keep Sonnen on the outside and stop the bully rush

• Soften Sonnen up with long-range strikes — especially kicks

• Needs to prove Sonnen hasn’t already won the mental war by sticking to his gameplan

RODRIGUEZ KEYS TO VICTORY FOR CHAEL SONNEN:

• Needs to frustrate and bully Silva as he did at UFC 117.

• Needs to avoid the power strikes and needs to watch counterstrikes

• Can’t leave himself exposed to submissions if the fight goes to the ground

SPRINGER’S KEYS TO VICTORY FOR ANDERSON SILVA

• Footwork, angles and feints

• Stay standing

• If taken down, control wrists or posture

SPRINGER’S KEYS TO VICTORY FOR CHAEL SONNEN

• Strike to grapple

• Apply pressure immediately

• Ground-and-pound

TALKING TRASH:

Anderson Silva: “I’m going to break his face and every tooth in his mouth. I’m going to make him pay for everything he’s said about me, my family and my country. I’m going to beat him maybe like his parents should have to teach him some manners. I’m going to make sure that every one of his teeth are broken, that his arms are broken and his legs are broken. He’s not going to be able to walk out of the Octagon by himself. I can guarantee that. He will need a plastic surgeon afterwards.”

Chael Sonnen: “He’s got a black belt under the Nogueira brothers. That’s like saying I got a free toy in my Happy Meal. Anderson Silva speaks English, he just refuses to speak to his fans. He’s a fraud. He gets in the ring and he likes to bow. He doesn’t come from a bowing culture. If you bow in Brazil, they’ll hit you over the head and take your wallet.”

FIGHTERS’ PREDICTIONS.

Sportsnet’s Showdown Joe compiled some thoughts from some top fighters on who would win the UFC 148 main event. Here’s what they had to say:

Nick Diaz: “I don’t think Anderson Silva was looking so good in the last fight. I see Chael Sonnen winning this time around. I say he works on his posture and doesn’t get put in a triangle.”

Carlos Condit: “Anderson Silva. I think he learned a big lesson from their first fight.”

Georges St. Pierre: “I think if (Sonnen) can move standing up and not get hit and find a way to close the distance and bring the fight to the ground I think he has a very good chance to win.”

Mark Hominick: “I think Anderson takes it and I think he’s going to make a statement with the fight.”

Roy (Big Country) Nelson: “I think if Chael does exactly what he did the last fight and does it for the full five (rounds), he’ll be the next champ.”

Mark Bocek: “Anderson Silva. Because I don’t think Chael is going to be the same guy Anderson fought last time. And we saw that in the Bisping fight.”

Cain Velasquez: “I pick Chael Sonnen. Just because of the way he dominated Silva the last time.”

Dominick Cruz: “Sonnen. Wrestling, pedigree and I think he can stay out of the triangle this time.”

 


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