UFC 148 Preview
Anderson Silva (29-4) vs. Chael Sonnen (28-11-1)
Sportsbook.ag Line: Silva -300, Sonnen +240
In rematch of UFC 117, Anderson Silva will look to defend his UFC middleweight title against Chael Sonnen in Saturday’s main event of UFC 148 in Las Vegas.
Silva is the winner of 15 consecutive fights, never having lost since he earned the middleweight title in 2006 with a win over Rich Franklin. Sonnen’s last loss was his 2010 submission to Silva, but he has rebounded well with a submission win over Brian Stann and a unanimous decision victory over Michael Bisping in January. Notably, however, Sonnen is looking to avenge his loss to Silva in which he tested positive for drugs after the fight. Silva is perhaps the premier striker in all of UFC, and he showed that in their last bout. But his submission victory proved his well-rounded skill set, taking advantage of fortunate positioning to earn the win despite being outhit by Sonnen throughout the course of the fight. With Sonnen’s excellent wrestling skills and the strong striking he has shown lately, he certainly has what it takes to bring down the reigning champ if everything breaks his way. And there will be no shortage of intrigue in this fight with the variety of storylines — performance-enhancing drugs, revenge and the longest winning streak in UFC.
Despite being 37 years old, “The Spider” Silva has had no trouble making quick work of anybody thrown his way. He has two straight knockouts with a TKO of Yushin Okami in his last bout, and a first-round KO of Vitor Belfort in his previous fight. Silva has 18 career wins via knockout and six from submissions. Of all his opponents, however, Sonnen gave him the best fight—reports were that after the fight, Sonnen would have won should it have reached a judges’ decision. But, Silva earned that fifth-round submission, so it never got there.
After Sonnen tested positive for PEDs following the Silva fight, his stock was down. But, he has boosted it back up since then with two strong wins that have reasserted him among the elite in the middleweight class. Those wins earned him this much-anticipated rematch after he nearly won the last time. Sonnen’s wrestling skills caused Silva a great deal of trouble last time, setting up the way for strikes and an effective attacking style that Silva was not prepared for. Silva will undoubtedly be more prepared this time, but Sonnen’s skills undeniably pose a threat to Silva.
Forrest Griffin (18-7) vs. Tito Ortiz (17-10-1)
Sportsbook.ag Line: Griffin -400, Ortiz +300
In another rematch on the UFC 148 card, Forrest Griffin and Tito Ortiz will battle Saturday night for a third time in a bout between two former light heavyweight champs.
This fight represents what will likely be Ortiz’s last bout, with the veteran being inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame prior to the fight. Ortiz is calling it quits for good reason—he has lost two consecutive fights and six of his past eight, one of which was to Griffin in a split decision in UFC 106. In particular, Ortiz has shown he is vulnerable to strong striking attacks, losing both of his last two fights by TKO. Although Griffin did not look his best in his most recent bout either, a first-round defeat at the hands of Mauricio Rua, he should be able to fend off Ortiz’s wrestling advances fairly easily. As long as Griffin is able to keep that distance, he should have no trouble making relatively easy work of Ortiz, who as his recent string of losses shows, just does not have enough fuel to win another fight against a quality opponent. Griffin’s kicking will be instrumental in fending off Ortiz. Still, going down either by KO or a decision against his nemesis Griffin is an appropriate way for Ortiz to end his career.
In Griffin’s last bout, he was outworked by Rua, who quickly earned a knockout in the first round. But don’t expect Griffin to come out looking like that again. The 33-year-old Griffin is not the fighter he once was—he had defeated Rua back in 2007—but he is still a guy who belongs among the elite in the light heavyweight class. In his two fights before losing to Rua, he had defeated Rich Franklin and Ortiz, with the Franklin fight coming in 2011 after a long layoff. Griffin’s strong legs and expert grappling skills, having won seven times in his career via submission, should let him take this fight against a familiar opponent.
Ortiz’s best shot at winning this one is turning it into a wrestling match, something Griffin will look to avoid. Ortiz’s most recent win was a submission last July over Ryan Bader in UFC 132, but since then he has looked sluggish with two consecutive losses that showed he is truly over the hill. If the 37-year-old Ortiz can coax Griffin into letting him make this a close-contact takedown battle, he has a chance for the upset. But Griffin has always been a fighter smart enough to avoid his opponents’ strengths, and this fight should be no different.
Cung Le (7-2) vs. Patrick Cote (18-7)
Sportsbook.ag Line: Cote -220, Le +170
Cung Le will look to rebound from his second career loss and prove he belongs among the elite in the middleweight division with win over Patrick Cote on UFC 148’s main card Saturday night.
Cote enters this fight as the favorite, once placing himself near the top of the middleweights until he lost to Anderson Silva challenging for the divisional crown. Two losses followed that defeat, but he then left UFC and has since won four straight. Le lost his last bout to Wanderlei Silva, but before that earned an impressive KO over Scott Smith after losing to him in their previous fight. Cote is a traditional striker with immense punching power and he will need to get close to Le in order to pounce. That can be difficult, however, given that Le is one of the most powerful kickers in the game and gives his opponents plenty of confusing looks. Given the incredible power both of these fighters will bring to the octagon, and great shot at a knockout from either side, this fight is difficult to predict. But Le figures to have a strong shot at coming out on top in this one as an elite kickboxer.
Le has won seven of his nine career fights, with each of those wins being a knockout. Wanderlei Silva was able to beat Le in a second round TKO, but Le certainly did not look overmatched there, fighting one of the best middleweights in the world. His kicks are a dangerous threat to any opponent, and fighting somebody who has not been in UFC in the last two years, he could catch Cote off guard, giving him a good chance at this upset.
Cote has won four consecutive bouts, but he lost his last three fights in UFC. Le dropped his only UFC bout but it was that strong showing versus Silva. Cote has shown he can win every which way in his career, but his two most recent wins have been knockouts. His punches have a chance to take Le down quickly, but only if he can remain patient and make sure he keeps the fight close enough so that the kicking part of his attack is less of a factor.
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