Top MMA News Breaks Down UFC 141: Lesnar vs Overeem
The UFC comes back home to Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC 141 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Friday, December 30th. The main event will include former UFC Heavyweight Champion, Brock Lesnar going up against UFC newcomer and K-1 Champion, Alistair Overeem. The five main card bouts will be broadcasted live on Pay-Per-View while two preliminary bouts will be aired on Spike TV and Rogers Sportsnet. The remaining four fights will be live on Facebook.
Brock Lesnar (+105) vs. Alistair Overeem (-147)
In what is being pegged “the biggest fight ever,” these two monstrous Heavyweights will fight for the number 1 contender spot to have an opportunity to face the newly crowned champion, Junior Dos Santos. After suffering from diverticulitis, Brock Lesnar looks to return to his dominating ways and prove that he can and will take a punch. His last fight was October 2010, where he was brutalized with ground and pound by former champion, Cain Velasquez. He is looking to make a statement against one of the most hyped fighters that has never had a fight in the Octagon. Alistair Overeem has arguably the best striking credentials in all of MMA, after winning the K-1 Grand Prix back in 2010. He throws his hands with phenomenal technique and can control the cage with his brute strength. The key question for this bout is who will have the upper hand in strength? Brock Lesnar is a great offensive fighter but if he is unable to use his wrestling against Overeem, he will struggle while the fight is on the feet. He needs to get the fight to the ground immediately and hammer fist Overeem as we witnessed him do to Randy Couture and Frank Mir. If Brock is unable to do so, Overeem has to let his hands go, throwing a combination of hooks and knees while avoiding any chance of allowing the fight to get to the ground. If Overeem is not able to finish the fight within the first round or early in the second, there is little chance his cardio will hold up against a machine like Lesnar. After watching Brock curl up into a little ball in his past two fights, the edge should go to Overeem, but by the slightest margin. Plus, who wouldn’t rather witness the stand up war between Overeem and Cigano?
Prediction: Overeem via TKO Round 2
Donald Cerrone (-263) vs. Nate Diaz (+180)
Fight of the night? Probably. Fight of the year? Hopefully. Rarely does the MMA world get to witness two guys that are not only Mixed Martial Artists, but pure bred fighters. Donald Cerrone has been on a complete tear ever since his first fight in the UFC this past February, dominating the likes of Lightweight standouts Charles Olivera and Dennis Siver along the way. Nate Diaz is coming off a very impressive performance against Takanori Gomi and is looking for another big win at Lightweight. Though Diaz has had a rough year, he made the mistake of becoming a Welterweight and taking on fighters that just have far too much power for him to withstand. At Lightweight, he is able to use his 76 inch reach to his advantage and he will not be overpowered on the ground where he can use his brilliant Brazilian jiu-jitsu game to tap just about anybody out. Though Cerrone is technically the better striker, it will be very interesting to see how he deals with a guy that does not mind being punched in the face and a guy with such long reach. Cerrone also has great jiu-jitsu, but can he handle the BJJ of Nate Diaz? There are many different variables in this fight considering how talented both guys really are. Cerrone will likely need to get inside Diaz and constantly try to pick him apart without allowing the fight to get out of hand. Diaz is too resilient to be stopped, losing all his fights but one by decision. Cerrone needs to avoid taking the fight to the ground as well despite his great wrestling and BJJ. Diaz, however, has the ability to turn a fight into what he wants it to be. Cerrone has had the best 2011 of any MMA fighter besides Jon Jones and can improve on it with his biggest win of his career. Unfortunately, Diaz should not be underestimated in this fight as he is starting to look more like his brother in the stand up as he will slowly feel more comfortable against the Cowboy and uses his reach advantage as he rocks him, takes his back and chokes him out for a huge win to close out the year.
Prediction: Diaz via Rear Naked Choke Round 3
Jon Fitch (-278) vs. Johny Hendricks (+187)
Despite not being a very popular fighter in the UFC, Jon Fitch is still widely recognized as the second best fighter in the Welterweight division behind champion Georges St. Pierre. Fitch has consistently displayed some of the best wrestling in MMA and he has fantastic octagon control. After being dominated by St. Pierre, he has been unable to reach contender status even though he’s lost once in the UFC in 15 fights. Since St. Pierre is currently recovering from a major surgery, this is his opportunity to return to title contention. Johny Hendricks has some of the best wrestling credentials in the Welterweight division but he has seemed to struggle translating it to MMA. He has become a good striker but if he wants the opportunity to defeat one of the best, he will need to utilize his wrestling and avoid getting taken down. His wrestling looked very poor in recent bouts against Mike Pierce and Rick Story but if he can return to his roots, he has a good chance at climbing the contention ladder. Fitch has underrated boxing and his technique is specifically used to create opportunities for takedowns. Hendricks should try to keep his distance and close in when he is given chances to go for takedowns himself, as Fitch is not used to fighting off of his back. After watching BJ Penn work for takedowns in the first two rounds of the fight against Fitch, there is no doubt Hendricks can find his opportunities to do so. Fitch should prepare to fight his fight but if he finally wants a second opportunity at the title, he will need to avoid being taken down and be the first to shoot. This fight will be all about strategy and Fitch should come out on top as his experience will be too much for Hendricks, who still needs to prove to himself that he can be a great wrestler in the sport.
Prediction: Fitch via Unanimous Decision
Vladimir Matyushenko (+245) vs. Alexander Gustafsson (-370)
Old school taking on new school; Vladimir Matyushenko has had a long and fun career in MMA and has looked good since he returned to the UFC. Alexander Gustafsson has the physical tools to become a top 3 Light Heavyweight and has lost only to Phil Davis in his career. Since that fight, where he displayed poor wrestling, he has shown amazing improvement and proved it when he retired Matt Hamill this past August. This fight will be an interesting one as ‘The Janitor’ tries to see how much he has left in the tank this late in his career while ‘The Mauler’ is trying to improve in his young career and get the biggest win he has had to date. Matyushenko is at a size disadvantage so he will look to use his strength and wrestling despite his much improved boxing. Gustafsson is likely going to throw plenty of powerful kicks and use his size to tower over Matyushenko as he tries to pick him apart from all angles. Matyushenko has proven that his age will not stop him from being very competitive in the growing sport but Gustafsson is far too talented at this point. Matyushenko is very resilient and will put up a fight but it is hard to envision a victory against a fighter like the Mauler. Gustafsson should be able to out strike the Janitor en route to a big victory.
Prediction: Gustafsson via Unanimous Decision
Nam Phan (-278) vs. Jim Hettes (+190)
The night will start out with a fun fight with two young Featherweights that have contrasting yet equally aggressive styles. Nam Phan can finally move on from two questionable decision losses as he finally got a UFC win against Leonard Garcia. Jim Hettes is coming off of a nice win against Alex Cacares where he was able to utilize his outstanding Brazilian jiu-jitsu to choke out the Ultimate Fighter stand out. Hettes has the ability to submit anybody with a wide range of chokes and locks and he has proven that with his nine victories, all by submission. Phan will no doubt want to keep the fight standing considering how good his boxing has become. Phan is no slouch on the ground, as he holds a black belt in BJJ, but he knows where his advantage lies against Hettes. It will be interesting to see how Hettes performs against a big step up in competition. Phan now has the opportunity to start moving forward in the division. Phan has only been given tough fights throughout his career and this is no different. He is talented enough to avoid any potentially uncomfortable situations as he will likely keep the fight standing, using an array of strikes to the body and head to win an impressive decision.
Prediction: Phan via Unanimous Decision
Sean Pierson (+305) vs. Dong-Hyun Kim (-500)
Canadian Sean Pierson is coming off of a brutal knockout loss to Jake Ellenberger after having a very impressive debut last December. After losing, he is being given a very tough fight for anybody in the Welterweight division as Dong-Hyun Kim is one of the better fighters in the division. Kim was closing in on a title shot after going undefeated in six fights in the Octagon and 16 fights in his career. He lost to current title challenger, Carlos Condit, in what many considered to be the knockout of the year. Both Pierson and Kim are good grapplers but the edge goes to Kim in that department. Kim has yet to display much striking ability in the UFC but he does have a pretty decent stand up game. Pierson displayed great boxing in his debut against Matt Riddle but his defensive flaws were exposed when Ellenberger kept him on his toes and eventually was knocked out early in the fight. Both fighters are looking to get back into the cage and get a win after first round knockout losses and Kim will likely look to be the guy to take it to the ground. If Pierson can go back to his wrestling roots and stop the takedowns of the Korean, he could work his solid boxing and frustrate Kim. It is likely that Kim comes out looking to take the fight to the ground and put Pierson in uncomfortable positions on his way to a hard fought decision.
Prediction: Dong-Hyun Kim via Unanimous Decision