By Sam Offut
While this might be the Super Bowl’s weekend, the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) will prove its staying power and cultural importance with a huge fight card. The UFC is a combat sports organization that features real, live fights between elite fighters trained in boxing, wrestling, muay thai, jiu-jitsu, and many other martial arts. The UFC often tries to tap into the sports frenzy of the Super Bowl by featuring a stacked fighting card on the Saturday before. This year is no different. Featuring three impressive main fights, UFC 126 will be one of the best fight cards in the history of the sport. Here’s why:
Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort
Anderson Silva is the current UFC middleweight (185 lbs.) champion. He is putatively the best fighter in the world—better than any other fighter at any other weight. He is known for his striking ability, his slick submissions, and his confidence in the cage. In his fight in August of 2009 with the former champion Forrest Griffin, he literally dropped his hands to his hips and allowed Griffin to throw punches at will, dodging every thrust. He is set to defend his title for the eighth time and extend his thirteen-fight winning streak against fellow Brazilian striker and former champion Vitor Belfort. Belfort is on a five-fight win streak, but due to injury went without fighting in 2010. Look for this fight to be a slugfest with Silva winning by knockout in round two or three.
Rich Franklin vs. Forrest Griffin
These two fighters have lots in common; both are former champions, very likable, and are known for their huge hearts. Griffin is also known for his dry wit and is a best selling comedic author. Before Franklin became a top tier fighter he taught mathematics in Ohio, and Griffin was once a police officer in Georgia. Both put on consistently exciting performances and the winner of this fight will likely have a title shot in the light-heavyweight (205 lbs.) division. Look for Griffin to pepper Franklin with leg kicks and punches to win a unanimous decision.
Jon Jones vs. Ryan Bader
This is a battle of two highly touted prospects. Ryan Bader is undefeated, has had a fantastic amateur-wrestling career, and won season eight of The UFC’s reality show, “The Ultimate Fighter.” Jon “Bones” Jones is virtually undefeated and is the most hyped prospect in the history of the sport. At twenty-three years old he already has the highlight reel of a veteran. The champion of this match will most likely take on the winner of the Griffin-Franklin fight. Look for “Bones” Jones to defend Bader’s takedown and use his unorthodox striking, and ten-inch reach advantage to get a second round TKO.