Kobe’s Korner Quick hits
Saturday May 14th, the Zuffa war wagon rolls into Curitiba, Brazil for UFC 198. News has broken that because of an injury, Anderson Silva has been removed from the card. This was extremely disappointing for fans. The good news is the under card houses a match-up more than worthy for the main card. Both fighters are inside the welterweight’s top ten rankings and could be bumped up because of Silva’s injury.
5. (22-6) Demian Maia vs (22-13) Matt Brown
Jui-jitsu ace Demian Maia takes on a war ready and battle tested Matt Brown. Mais’s most recent victory took place in December of 2015, when he defeated fellow grappling expert Gunna Nelson by way of unanimous decision. He is widely regarded as the best BJJ practitioner in all of mixed martial arts. At 38 years old, does he have enough left in the tank to get him into serious title contention? Currently sitting at number six in the division he is definitely close. With a win over Matt Brown, it certainly would send a message to the UFC brass.
It is going to be a tall task but Matt Brown looks to build on his one fight win streak. After dropping two straight, Brown then got back to his wining ways submitting Tim Means at UFC 190. The “Immortal One” is known as one of the toughest competitors on the companies roster. He brings ferocious tenacity each time out. The 35 year old Ohio native has won eight of his last ten bouts with 13 of his 22 total wins coming by way of knock out. Will Brown’s take down defensive rate of 60% be enough to keep him off his back in this fight? If Matt Brown wants to be considered amongst the divisions elite, he must get out of here with a victory.
4. (23-10) Mauricio Rua vs (9-1) Corey Anderson
Mixed Martial Arts and Pride fighting legend Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, takes the center of the octagon once again in his home country of Brazil. He will throw down with up and comer Corey Anderson. “Beastin 25/8” is currently riding a three fight win streak and looks to take the next step of his journey against a guy that competed in some of the most memorable fights in combat sports history. This light heavyweight prospect possesses very special athletic gifts and freak strength. These intangibles have him knocking on the door of the light heavyweight top 10 rankings.
For Shogun this fight should provide some clarity as to where he is truly at in this stage of his storied career. After losing two straight, he put on a FOTN performance against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Shogun is only 33 years of age but has been part of some serious wars inside the ring and cage. How will Rua respond to being matched as a “gate keeper” against Anderson in this fight? Regardless, Rua gets to perform on home court and in front of his own people. Expect Shogun to go for broke while being heavily supported by fans.
3. (15-1) Chris Cyborg (8-6) Leslie Smith
Chris Cyborg will make her long-awaited and much anticipated debut under the UFC banner. The timing seems to be impeccable for Cyborg. As far as woman’s MMA goes, the Brazilian is already a legend among the sports pundits. This signifies a big step in her legacy and will ultimately help woman’s mixed martial arts take another step forward. She brings a unique and dynamic diverse set of skills to the cage with arguably the best striking of any female in the sport. Her stand up game is complimented by a 100% defensive take down rate.
For challenger Leslie Smith, it is going to be a tall task to say the least. This will be Smith’s first fight inside the octagon. If this task isn’t challenging enough, she will be fighting Cyborg in Brazil. I sincerely hope Smith was promised another fight after taking this one. The Peace Maker is landing over five significant strikes per minute and she will need her absolute best when these two face off. Smith was awarded “fight of the night honors in four of her six Invicta FC bouts. The real question mark will surround Cyborg and the set catch weight of 140 pounds. This is going to answer a lot of questions.
2. (22-4) Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza vs (23-10) Vitor Belfort
This one had core fans salivating prospect of seeing these two Brazilians go to war against one another. BJJ expert Jacare Souza faces knockout artist Vitor Belfort. Jacare is coming off a controversial split decision loss to Yoel Romero back at UFC 195. Jacare’s much improved striking game has turned him into a very dangerous fighter that carries tremendous power in his hands. If you are fighting this guy you also have to be aware of the take downs. Souza is executing almost four per fight. He is without a shadow of a doubt, a legit threat to anyone in the division.
Shogun Rua isn’t the only legend fighting on this card. Vitor Belfort made his first UFC appearance in 1997. Since that time, the now 38 year old Belfort has racked up 18 knock outs. In fact he has won 11 of his last 14 and is very much still alive. His knock out power is complimented by blazing hand speed. However, it is hard to gauge where he is truly at in his career. His two most recent victories came after beating a much older Dan Henderson. What we do know is that any time this guy fights, he has a chance to finish his opponent.
The winner of this fight could be looking at the next title shot in the middleweight division. Fight of the night anyone?
1. (20-5) Fabricio Werdum vs (14-2) Stipe Miocic
The main event will feature two of the most talented heavyweights in the world. This includes UFC heavyweight champ Fabricio Werdum who takes on Stipe Miocic . Already being branded as arguably the best big man of all time, Werdum defends his tile against a “man possessed” in Stipe Miocic.
The Brazilian champ hold submission wins over three of the greatest heavyweights of all time. Fedor Emelianko, Minotauro Nogueira and Cain Velasquez. Head trainer at Kings MMA Rafael Cordeiro has helped transform Werdum’s stand up game. Werdum brings a very versatile tool box to the Octagon. It isn’t just his grappling you have to worry about, this boys got knees for days.
Stipe has been on a tear finishing both Mark Hunt and Andrei Arlovski en route to this coveted title shot. During his fight with Mark Hunt, Miocic landed 315 strikes setting an all-time UFC single fight record. He brings a very technical and scary set of hands. If placed properly, his right hand can finish anyone in the division. Stipe’s striking skill set is complimented by explosive, high level wrestling.
The challenger needs to draw from his entire body of work to find a solution for a fighter widely regarded as the heavyweight GOAT. Can Stipe Miocic do the impossible? Can he upset the heavyweight champ in front of Brazilian fans? We will find out after all the smoke has cleared from UFC 198.
Don’t forget to check out my extended technical pre-fight breakdowns for UFC 198 below: