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Since March 2012, the upper brass of UFC’s Heavyweight division has seen its share of modifications.  Over the last year and few months, it’s gone something like this:20130106041903_IMG_6906

1. What was to be, is not!

2. What wasn’t expected to be revisited, has come full circle.

3. What was once overlooked, is now noticeable.

First, there’s Alistair Overeem!  After serving a nine month suspension for elevated testosterone levels from March to December 2012, the Blackzilian heavyweight began his road to redemption. It came to an abrupt halt at UFC 156, courtesy of Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva.

Then there’s Silva and reigning Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.  These two met at UFC 146. Coming off a devastating loss to Junior Dos Santos at the debut of UFC on Fox, Velasquez defeated Silva in dominant fashion.  Because of this, many were skeptical about a rematch between these two. However, just as Velasquez’s loss to Dos Santos ignited a fire in him, Silva was fueled with similar ignition, scoring consecutive TKO wins over Travis Browne and Overeem (an upset special). Now, the unlikely has become reality as these two will vie for the title Memorial Day weekend.

Finally, there’s the underdog of the bunch, Mark Hunt. After a first round knockout of household name Cheick Kongo, Hunt became a Twitter sensation, with fans petitioning on his behalf to UFC20091025062926_antoniosilva President Dana White for a title shot. While White would not honor the fans’ requests, he did the next best thing. He threw Hunt into the octagon with Stefan “The Skyscraper” Struve, who at the time was a top-10 contender. With a one foot disadvantage before him, not only did the 5’11” Hunt  crumble his 6’11” foe, he also knocked Struve out of the top-10, earning himself a spot in the rankings. Now the Twitter champion of the heavyweights will have the daunting task of facing former champion Junior Dos Santos to determine the next man in line for a title shot.

In addition to these title implicated fights, UFC 160 will feature additional matches with championship ties and an opening bout that is sure to set the tone for the evening.

Without further ado, here we go:

Donald “Cowboy Cerrone vs. KJ Noons (Lightweight Division Bout)

With both fighters with a combined 3-5 win-loss record, it’s clear they are desperate for a win. Looking beyond the surface, Cerrone’s last loss came in the form of a knockoutCerrone and Noons while Noons’ fell into the hands of the judges (Split Decision). Both Noons and Cerrone have been submitted.  The difference, however, will be in the chin. Cerrone’s is susceptible to the knockout, while Noons appears to have one made of granite. Did I mention this is Noon’s UFC debut? I’ll take the Strikeforce transplant in a knockout win over “The Cowboy”, in what should be en electric bout between kick boxers.

Gray “The Bully” Maynard vs. TJ Grant (Lightweight Division, Number One Contender’s Bout)

When it comes to pushing fighters into deep waters, Gray Maynard sits in a class of his own. This is actually a good and bad thing.Gray Maynard and TJ Grant  Twice, fight fans have seen Maynard put his fingertips on the Lightweight title. He had former champion Frankie Edgar in troubled waters in their most recent bouts, but he was unable to finish the job. With a guy like Grant, who is amazing in submissions, pushing the pace and as formidable of a striker as Maynard, the hope is that “The Bully” has mastered the art of finishing what he starts. The likelihood of that is slim, given Grant has never suffered a knockout loss. With that said, I’ll take Maynard in a close encounter to get a third title shot against Benson Henderson. Split decision!

Glover Texiera vs. James Te-Huna (Light Heavyweight Division Bout)

Two Light Heavyweights with heavy hands and heavier title aspirations will slug it out to see who moves a step closer to facing UFC’s best pound-for-pound fighter Jon “Bones” Jones. TheGlover Teixeira and James Te Huna similarities between the two (height, build, punching power) present a serious challenge in picking a winner. Some would say Te-Huna has an advantage with his wrestling. Not so!  Reason being is four out of five of Te-Huna’s losses were by way of submission.  With Texiera being a Jiu Jitsu artist, the ground game would not bode well for Te-Huna. Look for Chuck Lidell’s protege (Texiera) to submit Te-Huna in what should be a fight to remember.

“Cigano” Junior Dos Santos vs. Mark “Super Samoan” Hunt (Heavyweight Division, Number One Contender’s Bout) 

Dos Santos arguably has the most accurate hands in the Heavyweight division.  They are not without power, as he has knocked out many, including currentJunior Dos Santos and Mark Hunt champion Cain Velasquez, Frank Mir and Fabricio Werdum. Under this truth lies something that only Velasquez was able to expose in their rematch at UFC 155. Dos Santos does not fair well under duress.  When pressured, he is out of his element. He lacks the counter punching needed to ward off attacks. Finally, he leaves himself open for shots. Velasquez proved an open Dos Santos chin leads to knockdowns. This bodes well for Hunt, who belongs in the discussion of “heaviest hands in the division.” While Hunt isn’t as quick as Velasquez, he has the imposition needed to pressure Dos Santos. Not to mention, Hunt has the kind of chin that can take Dos Santos’ best shots.

This is bigger than Twitter love! I smell an upset special and I’m at the table with utensils waiting for it to be served. The “Super Samoan” does the inconceivable and puts Dos Santos to sleep.

Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio “Big Foot” Silva (Heavyweight Title Bout) 

The battle of awakened giants!  Since suffering their last loss, both fighters have rattled off a two-fight winning streak of dominant proportions. “Big Foot is an imposing figure whose boxing, kicking,velasquez-vs-silva1 wrestling, and ground-and-pound has earned him the description of “well rounded”.  Velasquez offers similar attributes, but they come at a greater speed. Although Silva will put up a better outing than he did first go round, Velasquez put on a clinic entitled “Speed Kills”. Velasquez will retain his title by way of unanimous decision.

Five fights where hands will definitely fly. The potential here is jaw dropping.  IS there any reason this card should not garner a nomination as “fight card of the year”?

Enjoy the fights and more importantly, please have a safe holiday weekend. We need you back for all that’s forthcoming here at Take No Prisoners Sports.

By Antoine Hoffman

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