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To all the Take No Prisoners supporters that are Mixed Martial Arts fans and have been missing their fight fix courtesy of us, let me start with a sincere apology for dropping the ball in this regard. Instead of drawing a laundry list of excuses, I’ll just atone for my negligence to you all and work to assure you all never again suffer from further MMA famine, as long as I’m able to compose MMA entries.
Now that I’ve got that out-of-the-way, what better way for me to make up for my negligence than to give you a forecast of a five bout, fight card that includes a double main event featuring former champions looking to redeem themselves in the form of championship glory?
Without further ado, here are my shots at UFC 168’s main card:
Chris “The All American” Weidman (Champion) vs. Anderson “The Spider” Silva (Number One Contender)-UFC Middleweight Title Bout/Main EventUFC168_448499_SecondaryEventFeature
Like Chael Sonnen, Chris Weidman was able to pressure Anderson Silva with his wrestling and ground and pound.  Unlike Sonnen, Weidman did not unleash any wasted motions, which resulted in him doing the unthinkable, giving Silva his first ever UFC loss and dethroning MMA’s greatest fighter of all time. While Silva contributed to his loss with unnecessary showboating, no one can deny Weidman seizing and taking of an opportunity.
The biggest lesson I took from this fight, along with both matches with Sonnen, is as great as Silva is, he struggles in area of takedown defense. What was also learned is the right shot at the right time will send Silva to the mat. On the flip side, I learned Silva responds well to embarrassment. After being bullied in his first match against Sonnen for 23 minutes before securing an armbar to keep his title, Silva approached his rematch in assassin-like fashion, finishing him not even a full two minutes into the second round. WIth that in mind, I’m taking Silva to avenge his only UFC loss, but he must recapture assassin-like to reclaim his title. Any showboating like he did in his first meeting with Weidman and history will repeat itself.  I think a victory for Silva will come in the form of a knockout. At 10-0, Weidman’s chin has yet to be tested…Silva is the perfect guy to do just that.
“Rowdy” Ronda Rousey (Champion) vs. Miesha “Cupcake” Tate- UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title/Co-Main Event0243bff211cad41e5389edde8e84a2ac
I don’t know if there are two fighters out there now who despise each other more than these two do.  Apparently, the rivalry started back in their days of Strikeforce.  Ronda Rousey was looking to make for herself, so she took to Twitter to call out then champion Miesha Tate. After a few wins, Strikeforce’s matchmakers obliged Rousey with a shot at Tate’s title.  Rousey would go on to beat Tate, becoming Strikeforce’s last Women’s Bantamweight champion before the company was bought out by UFC and elevating the credibility of women’s MMA.
Fast forward to The Ultimate Fighter 18.  Rousey and Tate were assigned to captain teams of aspiring coed fighters. Unfortunately, Rousey’s personality outshined all the fighters looking to make a name for themselves. Her emotional instability caused fans to see Rousey’s true nature, ultimately turning many fans against her.
Now on to the fight!  Every Rousey victory in her brief, yet unblemished career has come by way of first round submission in the form of an armbar. While I understand the philosophy of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, Mixed Martial Arts is a sport where you can only be one-dimensional for so long. Rousey isn’t a fan of being punched in the face either. Already having experience against Rousey, Tate should know what it takes to avoid being vulnerable to another armbar. That along with constant pressure in the form of strikes and takedowns should help Tate secure her second title in mainstream MMA.
Josh “The Warmaster” Barnett vs. Travis “Hapa” Browne- UFC Heavyweight Division Bout20131226041731_5D3_4478
Josh Barnett carries a set of the heaviest hands in the heavyweight division. He’s also in the same discussion as Frank Mir and Stefan Struve when it comes to the best submission artists among the big boys.  The area where he’s lacking, which proves favorable for Browne is athleticism.  If Browne can use his athleticism to take down Barnett, land significant strikes, avoid the clinch, takedown and submission attempts should this match go to the ground, there’s no reason Browne can’t win this fight.  I’ll take Browne in a decision victory over Barnett.
Jim Miller vs. Fabricio “Morango” Camoes- UFC Lightweight Division Boutdownload
With only one submission loss in Jim Miller’s 26 fight career (22-4), he is almost foreign to the idea of being submitted.  However, four of Miller’s nine losses are by way of submission.  Did I mention 13 of Miller’s wins came in the form of submissions?  I suspect Miller will bang with Camoes for a bit until the perfect opening arrives for him to lock in to cement his 14th win via submission.
Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier vs. Diego “DB” Brandao- UFC Featherweight Division Boutdustin_poirier_head
Dustin Poirier is the type of fighter whose effort and heart can never be questioned.  He leaves it all in the octagon every time he scraps. I saw him live at the George Mason Patriot Center a year ago and in a losing effort to Chan Sung Jung, I was floored.
Fast forward to December 28, 2013!  Once again, Poirier will not be short of effort. Some of his other deficiencies, however, could come back to bite him. He’s facing a buzzsaw in Diego Brandao who strikes and take fighters down in ferocious manner. When it comes to takedowns, Poirier isn’t too strong in distributing or defending them.  I can’t help but think this pairing will set the bar as the opening fight of the card, but Brandao should take this one by way of unanimous decision.
UFC 168 will emanate live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena and is only available on Pay-Per-View.  Given that this is the inaugural event where the Pay-Per-View purchase rate has increased $59.95 (previously $49.95), UFC’s front office better pray for top-tier events moving forward.
Enjoy fight night everyone and we’ll be back with a full recap of what appears to be a stacked card.
By Antoine Hoffman
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