Here's a preview of fights coming up this weekend in the world of MMA:
Thiago Silva Hopes for Redemption in China
The UFC will plant it’s flag firmly on foreign soil this weekend as they stage a card for the first time in the People’s Republic of China, in Macau to be precise. Saturday’s UFC on Fuel TV 6 will be headlined by a couple of veteran middleweights in the form of 40 year old former Strikeforce champion and part-time actor Cung Le [8-2] who will square off against the less acting inclined but equally grizzled Rich Franklin [29-6].
This is a big card for the UFC. Period. The first UFC card in China means it’s the first time the world’s premier fighting organization has made active steps to stake a claim in the world’s most populous nation. A huge economy, with lots of fans could mean a lot of money for Dana White and Zuffa.
But what about the fight? Well Cung Le has not had the best of training camps. He’s been battling a foot injury, which as recently as last week he claimed was only 80 percent healed. But not that it has stopped him from training as hard as he possibly could have through the pain. A win on Saturday for Le could mean he claims his second victory in a row in the UFC, which given his troubles with injuries would be a remarkable achievement. Le statistically has a dazzling defensive record, proving to be an elusive target for men who manage to get him on the mat, but the biggest concern for Le should be a question of stamina. With old age come age old problems and against Franklin, Le will be facing a fighter with a little more youth on his side (although at 37 he’s non baby) and more proven endurance. While Franklin’s last outing at middleweight was back in 2008, his experience at striking and kicking could prove terribly bothersome for Le. With two old men on the mat, and endurance being an issue, fans could rightfully predict a stoppage.
On the undercard in Macau, Thiago Silva [14-3], the baddest gatekeeper in the UFC faces off against Stanislav Nedkov [12-0]. Why is Silva a gatekeeper? Well, when you lose your last three fights, with the exception of one fight that is ruled a no contest after a failed drug test that’s the status you get assigned. Everytime Silva has been asked to step up he took a step down, with his latest failing coming against hot prospect and rising light-heavyweight glitterati Alexander Gustafsson. Facing off against the relatively unknown Bulgarian Nedkov, should prove to be an easier prospect and far easier task in hand. Despite his failings, Silva is an adept striker and against Nedkov, an unproven fighter in the UFC with only a debut victory to his name he’ll be favorite to end the fight in a stoppage.
Bellator's Bantamweight Battle
With most eyes solely focused on the UFC in China this weekend, it would be easy to forget that Bellator have a card this Friday. Which weight division is featuring this week? Well, the main event has some bantamweights lined up. Bantamweights are fun as all fight fans will know. Not quite as zippy as their flyweight counterparts but still offering plenty of crackle with their fists, this week Bellator match up is Joe Warren, a man who took more punishment than any mammal should take in his last fight against Pat Curran. Warren will be pitted against Owen Evinger, a man who has yet to record a knockout in any of his seven career victories. Don’t expect fireworks, but definitely tune in.
Igor Guryashkin is a freelance journalist whose extensive work on combat sports has been featured in ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com. He splits his time between New York and Louisville. Follow him on Twitter @IGuryashkinESPN.