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UFC 148 Preview: Can Sonnen shine again as Tito says goodbye?

by Rob Dore | July 7, 2012

Tonight at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas UFC’s pound-for-pound number one, Anderson Silva faces a rematch against the only opponent to ever run him close in the UFC. Chael Sonnen is also the only opponent who could sufficiently irritate the champion enough to make him break out of his usual cool and collected demeanor. As we witnessed during the weigh-in. We love a little spice added in to the mix.

On the main card we also have two legends and former champions, Forrest Griffin and the retiring Tito Ortiz, squaring off for the third time in what can only be described as a nostalgic rematch. But an entertaining one nonetheless. There are a couple of other potential fights of the nights on the card too so we’re in for an entertaining early morning of octagon action.

Let’s take a look at how the main fights stack up.

Anderson Silva (c) v Chael Sonnen

Chael Sonnen (35) almost shook up the MMA world when these two met in Oakland, Los Angeles back in August 2010. The American used his powerful wrestling to take Anderson Silva (37) down, control him on the ground and basically beat him up for four-and-a-half of the five championship rounds. One mistake half-way through round five gave Silva an opening and the battered champion found the submission he needed to win the fight.

Silva had just come off a lackluster decision win over Demian Maia, which was so poor UFC president Dana White slammed it as an “embarrassment” .
Sonnen put in the performance of his career at UFC 117 against an off-form Anderson Silva but he’s likely to be facing a far better version of the Spider tonight.

Sonnen is going to have to attempt the same tactics that he used so successfully in the first fight. Standing and trading strikes with Silva would very likely lead to an early KO loss for the challenger.

As good as his wrestling is, Sonnen is particularly susceptible to submissions with eight of his eleven losses coming via tap-out. So don’t surprised if Silva has been working on something special off his back. 7/2 for Silva to win via submission may prove a clever punt.

Silva looks fit, focused, determined and a little bit angry. If he’s on the top of his game there’s going to be nothing Chael Sonnen can do except get hurt and get stopped.

Forrest Griffin v Tito Ortiz

Who will the third time be a charm for?

Two old stalwarts and former champions of the UFC face off for the third time, having already shared a couple of entertaining split-decisions. Neither man can be described as an elite level fighter in the current division but we should still get a good old fashioned tear-up.
Tito Ortiz (37) was the first dominant champion the UFC ever had when he held the light-heavyweight belt for over 3 years (April 2000 to September 2003). A reign which earned him a place in the UFC hall of fame this week. That was a long time ago and he has won just once in his last eight octagon appearances as time and injuries have taken their toll.
Forrest Griffin (34) won the last time these two met, is 5-3 over his last eight fights and should be the one in better shape for this fight.
Hopefully it will be a stand up war which goes the distance at 8/13. Anything can happen in the octagon but going on form and fitness, Forrest Griffin is rightly the strong favorite at 2/7 to finish Ortiz’ career with a loss.

Cung Le v Patrick Côté

Cung Le is a former kick-boxing world champion, Strike Force middleweight champion and budding Hollywood star. He’s something of a legend in martial arts but at 39-years of age and with his focus more on filming than fighting this may be his second and final UFC appearance.
Patrick Cote (32) is fighting to regain a place on the UFC roster after a run of three straight defeats resulted in him being dropped for the second time in his career. Côté’s youth and greater need make him the 4/9 favorite. Le’s MMA fights have always finished inside the distance so if Côté wins it’s more likely to come via KO at 13/10.

Dong Hyun Kim v Demian Maia

Both men will be hoping a win here will push them that much closer to a title shot. Demian Maia (34) entered the UFC as a feared submission specialist. A reputation he live up to with five straight submission wins. However, since being stopped by Nate Marquadt at UFC 102, Maia has gone the distance in seven straight fights, three of which he has lost.
Dong Hyun Kim (30) has been working his way up the ladder with six wins, a no-contest and one defeat from eight UFC fights. He’s a tough fighter who wears opponents down but rarely stops them at this level. If the fight stays standing for the most part then Dong Hyun Kim should slug his way to an entertaining points win at 8/11.

Chad Mendes v Cody McKenzie

Cody McKenzie (24) isn’t a one-trick pony but he’s close. 12 of his 13 wins have come via submission so he’s good at what he does but at this level he’s currently not well rounded enough. He’s lost two of his four UFC fights, via submission, and could be fighting for his UFC contract.
Chad Mendes (27) lost his undefeated record to the UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo last time out and will view McKenzie as the first rung on the ladder back to a title shot. An excellent wrestler who can control McKenzie on the ground and at 1/7 to win, there’s value to be had backing Mendes to win via submission at 5/1 .

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