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UFC 126 preview: Will cage rust be a huge factor?

This week I’ll be previewing the main card of the “UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort” event that will take place in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 5th.  This appears to be a solid card from Zuffa with several marquee names from top to bottom in which the results could have ripple effects through several divisions.

However, the title of this card should be UFC 126: “Cage Rust” because several of these fighters have been out of action for quite some time.  Let’s take a look at the five story lines heading into the event:

Can Anderson Silva regain his aura of invincibility against Vitor Belfort?

Silva hasn’t fought since August 2010 where he submitted Chael Sonnen to narrowly escape his first defeat inside the Octagon.  How will Silva bounce back from the pounding he took, and will he be able to withstand the hand speed of Belfort?

After all, Sonnen dropped Silva a couple of times in their match up.  Belfort hasn’t fought since running through Rich Franlin like Castor oil way back in September 2009.  However, I must mention that the fight was at a catch-weight of 195lbs.  Which means it will have been a full two years since Belfort has had to cut down to 185lbs.

Will the weight cut affect Belfort?  Can Silva afford to get tagged against Belfort the same way he did against Chael Sonnen?  Will this fight go to the ground at all?  Be sure to check back this week for the preview!

Which aging star will make a move in the stacked UFC light heavyweight division between Rich Franklin and Forrest Griffin?

I say aging because both guys have been in all out wars while suffering devastating knockouts throughout their UFC careers.  Franklin hasn’t fought since ending the career of UFC Hall-of-Famer Chuck Liddell in June 2010.  Griffin hasn’t fought since escaping Tito Ortiz with a split decision win back in November 2009.

So the trend remains with guys fighting on this card after lengthy layoffs.  I think this is a perfect fight for both guys in that they both probably will never be champions again, but they could be solid matches for other light heavyweights within the division.

Will the size of Griffin be too much for Franklin?  Will Griffin be able to withstand the straight left punch and liver kick from Franklin?  This should be a good one, so be sure to check back this week for the preview!

Which rising star will seize the moment and come out victorious between Jon Jones and Ryan Bader?

Bader continues the lengthy layoff trend as he hasn’t fought since a unanimous decision win against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira back in September 2010.  Jones hasn’t fought since destroying MMA veteran Vladimir Matyushenko back in August 2010.

This is a fight that you want to see between two rising stars.  Can Bader withstand the length and unorthodox style of Jon Jones?  In fact, Bader will be giving up close to ten inches in reach for this fight.

Can Jones withstand the power of Ryan Bader?  Excellent fight here and the winner will certainly be in title contention.  Check back as I’ll tell you who to put your money on later this week.

This is the UFC debut of former WEC bantamweight champion Miguel Torres as he takes on Antonio Banuelos.

Torres will be making his UFC debut and this will be his first fight since taking out Charlie Valencia back in September 2010.  The former champion was facing a must win situation after suffering two devastating defeats to Brian Bowles and Joseph Benavidez.

He’ll be taking on the always tough Chuck Liddell protégé Antonio Banuelos.  Banuelos comes into this fight a winner in four out of his last five.  It’ll be a good test for Torres as he looks to insert himself back into title contention to eventually face the current champion in Dominick Cruz.

Can Banuelos negate the length of Torres?  Banuelos has a way of grinding out wins via decision.  Can Torres avoid being put on his back trying to submit a guy that hasn’t been submitted since 2002?

Can Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto make a successful UFC debut against Demetrious Johnson?

Yamamoto was thought to be the best featherweight fighter in the world by many just as recent as 2009.  However, a split decision loss to Joe Warren (in his second career fight) was just a sign of things to come for the fallen Japanese star.

He’d go on to lose his next fight before rebounding with a KO win against Federico Lopez at DREAM 14 as a bantamweight.  Yamamoto will be fighting as a bantamweight in the UFC as well as he’ll be taking on Demetrious Johnson.

Johnson is 9-1 with his only loss coming against a dominant wrestler in Brad Pickett back at WEC 48.  While Yamamoto has great standup, he is also a very good wrestler in his own right.

Will Yamamoto seize the moment and re-invent himself in the United States?  Will Johnson make it three wins in a row and use Yamamoto to build him name up even more?

It should be an exciting match-up, and be sure to keep checking ProMMAnow.com (www.prommanow.com) as we bring you non-stop coverage of “UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort” this week!

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  • edub

    Edit: The Kid fight wasn’t Warren’s Pro debut. It was his second pro fight.

    Nice breakdown.

    Silva, Griffin, Jones, Torres, Johnson

  • http://prommanow.com Kelvin Hunt

    You are absolutely right. Thanks for catching that…and thanks for reading…I like that Johnson pick for the upset…dunno if I’m go that way…but could happen.

  • edub

    No prob.

    It’s just a hunch after seeing Kid kind of fall of in the past couple years, and Johnson look very good in his recent couple of fights. Kid was outwrestled pretty easily by Kanehara. However it was a weightclass higher than the one him and Mighty Mouse are competing at so who knows?

  • http://www.prommanow.com Richard Mann

    Also, don’t forget that DJ is probably best at 125

  • edub

    Very true.

    Really hope the UFC can actually gain enough fan traction to implement that weight class.

  • http://www.prommanow.com Richard Mann

    They also need to land another tv deal or something so they can get the card space.

  • edub

    Or just “trim the fat” a little but more.

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