Even without the build-up from this season of the Ultimate Fighter, this Saturday’s tilt between Chael Sonnen and Jon Jones would be a big deal because of the high profile of the combatants. Jon Jones is well on his way to being the greatest fighter in the history of the sport. He is a prodigy in every sense of the word. His recent run of title defenses haven’t just been impressive, they have been dominant. His last five victories have all been over former UFC Champions, which is unprecedented. Chael Sonnen, on the other hand, has become one of the most recognizable fighters in the company because he is an unparalleled trash talker who is not only brash and outrageous, but he has fought his best fights when the lights have been at their brightest. He is the only man to have ever pushed Anderson Silva to his limits, showing no fear and heedlessly pressing forward against a man most other fighters are scared to death of. Add in their recent stint as opposing coaches on the best (and more importantly, highest-rated) season of the Ultimate Fighter in years and the anticipation of this fight has reached a fever pitch. Alongside the main event are a few fights that will go a long way towards clarifying the title picture in their respective weight classes. I am not sure that this card will have the fireworks of the last few events, but the fights ought to be competitive and all the fighters involved have a lot to gain with a win and even more to lose with a defeat.
Jim Miller vs. Pat Healy – Both fighters are wrestlers with terrific submission skills who are most effective when they can pressure their opponents. Since both guys will be wary of going to the ground, this fight could end up as a slugfest, which will favor Miller. Miller has the superior boxing skills and be will batter Healy if it stays on the feet. This fight is important because the winner may be just one more victory from a title shot. Miller wins via 2nd round KO/TKO.
Phil Davis vs. Vinny Magalhaes – Davis is an NCAA wrestling champion and Magalhaes is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion so both men are supremely confident in their grappling credentials but Davis has a much more well-rounded skill set and is also the more athletic of the two. Magalhaes is a definite threat to win by submission, but I think he will struggle to get into any advantageous positions. Davis wins via Unanimous Decision.
Roy Nelson vs. Cheick Kongo – These two have been stuck in the middle of the heavyweight division for a while now, suffering a loss every time they have built up a little momentum. Kongo has the longer reach and better footwork but Nelson has an indestructible chin, big punching power and a huge advantage in the grappling department. Kongo will land a few punches, but Nelson will have him in trouble early and often. Nelson wins via 1st round KO/TKO.
Michael Bisping vs. Alan Belcher – There has been a lot of gamesmanship and chatter between Bisping and Belcher leading up to this fight. Both have predicted 1st round knockouts and said that the other is afraid, but I think that it is a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Belcher is the harder hitter, but Bisping has made a career out of using his movement and counterstriking to frustrate his opponents. He will do the same to Alan Belcher, stinging him with jabs and always being just out of reach when the power shots return. Bisping wins via Unanimous Decision.
Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen – To put it frankly, Sonnen is in big trouble. In order to win this fight he will need to take Jones to the ground and control him for all five rounds. Every moment that he is not in top control he is in danger. Jones is the most unpredictable and dynamic fighter in the UFC, who has won fights in every way imaginable. Sonnen is quite possibly the best wrestler in the sport, but it will not be enough against Jon Jones and I think Jones intends to make a statement in this fight and make an example out of Sonnen. Jones wins via 2nd round Submission.