Rua practically gazing into a mirror.
No matter who you’re rooting for at UFC 128, you’re all but guaranteed an exciting night of fights that have the potential to launch some careers and end others. Luckily for lazy writers everywhere, many of the bouts line up perfectly with tried and true analysis that’s been written a hundred times before. Here’s a half-hearted breakdown of tonight’s action, joined by your blisteringly accurate predictions in the comments section.
Jones vs. Rua: Jones following the path carved out by Rua. Everyone’s talking about this main event as if it’s already over, but make no mistake: this is going to be one hell of a donnybrook. Beyond weighing in on Jones’s self-esteem issues, the media has been beating the drum that at age 23, Jones finds himself in the same spot Shogun that was in at that age. At that time, however, Rua was being touted as the best fighter of his era, not the next. The sport has no doubt evolved since 2005; has Rua kept pace, or have multiple knee operations left him lagging behind? Shogun is a worthy champion and has the ability to not only win this fight but to end it. That being said, look for Jones’s size and wrestling skills to overwhelm the champion en route to his destiny.
Schaub vs. CroCop: Young lion looks to topple the past-prime legend. CroCop has looked very un-CroCop-like since his debut in the UFC. The only highlight of his fight with Mir came seconds before Mirko laid lifeless on the canvas. His bout with Pat Barry was equally frustrating. His unwillingness to pull the trigger and constant talk of retirement do not bode well for a victory tonight. Schaub is coming off his decision victory over Gabe Gonzaga, who famously gave CroCop a taste of his own medicine. Look for Schaub’s aggression and pace to be too much for the battle-worn Croation in what should be his last fight in the Octagon.
Marquardt vs. Miller: Can Marquardt defeat his greatest foe- his own mind? Miller is a solid fighter, and you’ve got to give him credit for stepping into this bout on short notice, but few are picking him to get his arm raised at the end of the night. Marquardt has struggled recently in some big fights, choking according to Dana White, so tonight will be a test to see if he can overcome the mental roadblock some feel he’s hit. Look for Marquardt to return to form in an impressive win tonight.
Faber vs. Wineland: Faber looks to put the little guys on top. Faber was at one point the WEC’s golden boy. His energy inside the cage and charisma outside of it helped garner fans for the UFC’s little brother. Now fighting under the UFC banner, he has a chance to continue building on the momentum already created by his sub-155lb brethren. In Wineland he faces a fighter that should give him a decent fight and force him to perform, but largely this is a showcase bout for Faber and his new weight class. Look for Faber to earn the victory and a lot of new fans this evening.