On April 30th, The Rogers Centre could be deemed the most fortunate arena in professional sports…and it has nothing to do with the Toronto Blue Jays, its most steady occupants. On this fateful night, it will have the luxury of hosting an Ultimate Fighting Championship record 55,000-plus attendees. As an added bonus, the main card will feature three acclaimed fighters; a legend, a champion who is also an icon and a champion who has yet to scrape his prime, but is trending in a phenomenal direction. Here’s my forecast on how these marquee names will fare at UFC 129:
Jose “Scarface” Aldo (Champion) vs. Mark “The Machine” Hominick (Challenger) – UFC Featherweight Title Bout
It was September 2010 when “Scarface” was last seen in action. After his domination of Manny Gamburyan and successful defense of the WEC Featherweight strap at WEC 51, he was forced to take a seven month layoff to recover from shoulder and neck injuries. Making his debut at UFC, Aldo will have to face a hostile Canadian crowd who no doubt will back hometown hero and one contender Mark Hominick. “The Machine” has the hands that can go blow for blow with the champion, so it’ll be interesting to see who would win the boxing match, should it go that route. Because the champion has four knockout weapons (knee and elbow strikes, punches and kicks), I’ll go with the more well-rounded striker of the two. “Scarface” retains the strap via first round knockout.
Randy “The Natural” Couture vs. Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida – UFC Light Heavyweight Bout
Maybe it’s his age…maybe it’s the anticipated strategy to counter his opponent’s fighting style. Whatever it is, for a second consecutive bout, I’m more intrigued with a Randy Couture match than any other fight that shares a card with him. For those of you who are unaware, Machida is an innovator in this sport. He sits in a class of his own as a Mixed Martial Artist with background in Karate. That uncommonly used craft has propelled him to championship status. On the flip side, it has given him a reputation for being distant fighter. Then there’s Couture! He’s known as “The Natural” for a reason. He is one of the pioneers/trailblazers of the sport who has been around since UFC’s conception, just about. He’s in a small class of fighters who have won championships in two weight classes. As far as the fight is concerned, Machida can be aggressive; it just seems to come in spots. Couture however, pushes the pace habitually and creates opportunities for aggression. Ed Soares, Machida’s Trainer, vows Machida will be more aggressive than usual. While that’s an uplifting proclamation for The Dragon and his camp, aggression is what Couture, 47, does. Dirty boxing, clinching, wrestling, ground-and-pound; you name it and Couture does it.The Dragon has sat atop the Light Heavyweight division and he wants to once again become champion. Couture confirmed that this is his last fight. A return to championship glory will be deferred as The Natural rides off into the sunset, stamping a legendary career, at The Dragon’s expense.Couture over Machida by unanimous decision.
George “Rush” St. Pierre (Champion) vs. Jake Shields (Challenger) – UFC Welterweight Title Bout
As a UFC fighter, Jake Shields sits on the longest winning streak with 15 victories. In that run, he has wins over such household names as Yushi Okami, Carlos Condit (two fighters he beat in a one-night tournament), Mike Pyle, Paul Daley, Robbie Lawler, Jason Miller, former UFC great and current StrikeForce Light Heavyweight Dan Henderson and Martin Kampmann. Here’s the kicker, the only win that actually came out of the UFC was the latter fight against Kampmann. The preceeding 14 wins came from other organizations. Shields is out to dent the legacy of St. Pierre. It’s possible he could, given his win streak and his status as the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu artist in the 170 pound-class. He emphasizes the notion that GSP has never seen a fighter of his caliber. While there could be some validity to that claim, Shields has never seen a fighter the likes of GSP either. St. Pierre has the second longest, active win streak against UFC fighters with eight. In order to get GSP in his clutches, Shields will have to figure a way to get the champion to the ground. GSP, however, is explosive from just about any place in the octagon. Shields will test St. Pierre, but I see homecoming as a favorable one for one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the game. GSP will retain his title in the form of a unanimous decision.
UFC 129 offers a stacked card. Enjoy fight night and check back into Take No Prisoners Sports to get my recap.
By Antoine Hoffman