UFC 160 ANALYSIS
A breakdown of the fights on the main card of UFC 160 today at the MGM Grand:
CAIN VELASQUEZ (CHAMPION, 11-1) VS. ANTONIO “BIGFOOT” SILVA (18-4)
■ CLASS: For heavyweight title
■ LINE: Velasquez minus-800
■ STORYLINE: Anyone who watched these two fight almost exactly a year ago at this venue probably was surprised to see a rematch booked. It was as one-sided a beatdown as you will see at this level. Velasquez dumped Silva to the mat and proceeded to beat him for 3½ bloody and horrific minutes until the match mercifully was called to a stop. But Silva has earned his way back to title contention with back-to-back wins, so here we are again. There’s not a lot of reason to believe things will be much different. Velasquez is too fast and athletic for the comparatively lumbering Silva. The challenger might be less aggressive early to avoid such a quick takedown, so he theoretically could last longer. But Velasquez is too good in the end, and Silva is in major trouble again.
■ PICK: Velasquez by second-round knockout
JUNIOR DOS SANTOS (15-2) VS. MARK HUNT (9-7)
■ CLASS: Heavyweight
■ LINE: Dos Santos minus-425
■ STORYLINE: Hunt’s story is awesome, but so is dos Santos’ talent. The Brazilian is a former champion and unquestionably the second-best in the division. One of the mysteries to Hunt’s run of success is why opponents continue to stand in front of the mostly one-dimensional power puncher. Expect dos Santos to challenge himself by trying to stand up with Hunt early. Dos Santos thinks he has a big edge with his speed and will consistently beat Hunt to the punch and wear down his famously strong chin. He might be right, but there probably is an easier path to success on the ground. Dos Santos hasn’t showed off his ground skills often, but he should have a comfortable edge on Hunt in that department. As skilled as dos Santos is as a boxer, he has no reason to challenge Hunt’s power. Stefan Struve would tell you the same thing if half his jawbone wasn’t left over in Japan from the last time Hunt landed a big punch.
■ PICK: Dos Santos by second-round submission
GLOVER TEIXEIRA (20-2) VS. JAMES TE HUNA (16-5)
■ CLASS: Light heavyweight
■ LINE: Teixeira minus-300
■ STORYLINE: Both fighters bring winning streaks into the cage, though Teixeira’s 18 straight wins are more impressive than the four straight Te Huna has won. Teixeira spent several years as one of the world’s top fighters not in the UFC because of complications securing a visa. He has lived up to the hype since finally getting into the organization a year ago this week. Teixeira submitted Kyle Kingsbury in the first round, then pounded Fabio Maldonado for two rounds before winning a decision over Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in January. Teixeira is a trendy pick to earn a title shot in the near future, but he’ll have to get by the powerful knockout artist. Te Huna started his run after an early submission loss to No. 1 contender Alexander Gustafsson in 2011. Te Huna has a shot to pull the upset here. While Teixeira has been good, he also has shown signs of vulnerability. This might be where it catches up to him.
■ PICK: Te Huna by third-round knockout
GRAY MAYNARD (11-1-1) VS. T.J. GRANT (20-5)
■ CLASS: Lightweight
■ LINE: Maynard minus-210
■ STORYLINE: Maynard admits that his progression hit a plateau after spending his entire career at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas. He bounced around after moving to Northern California and wasn’t overwhelming against Clay Guida in his most recent fight a year ago. Now he has been training exclusively at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif., for a year and should have new wrinkles in his game. He would be best served if his new trainers told him to go back to what made him the top contender in the lightweight division. Maynard’s wrestling might be the best of anyone at 155 pounds, but he often abandons that aspect of his game in favor of trying to land power punches. He says AKA has taught him to blend everything, which could be bad news for Grant. The fight is for the No. 1 contender spot, and Grant insists the spotlight won’t intimidate him. Maynard, however, has been in two top contender bouts and two title fights, so the spot shouldn’t get to him. Grant has been phenomenal in winning four straight bouts in impressive fashion since dropping to lightweight. He will earn a title shot at some point. This isn’t the time, though.
■ PICK: Maynard by decision
DONALD CERRONE (19-5) VS. K.J. NOONS (11-6)
■ CLASS: Lightweight
■ LINE: Cerrone minus-280
■ STORYLINE: If this fight lasts long enough, it has fight of the night written all over it. This one pits two exciting strikers who won’t back down from anyone. There is one caveat, however. The unknown factor could be Cerrone’s increased work with a sports psychologist. While it might make him stay more disciplined and give him a better chance to win, it also might take away some of the craziness in the cage that has made his fights so thrilling. Noons is making his UFC debut after spending the past three years in Strikeforce. Many former Strikeforce fighters have fared well in their UFC debuts, but Noons dropped four of his last five fights there and might not be on Cerrone’s level.
■ PICK: Cerrone by second-round submission
ADAM HILL/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL