We are, of course, still in the midst of the holiday season. Nothing says holiday more than mostly naked men beating the hell out of each other, so it is a perfect time to have another UFC event. UFC 92 is no normal event. either. Some of the recent events have been decidedly short of interesting high profile matchups, but this event has three different matches that could each qualify as a main event. Here’s a quick look at each, along with my attempt to find the value:
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (+105) vs. Wanderlei Silva (-135) – This one is kinda like watching ski racing or bull riding – you can pretend you are interested in the sport of it, but you’re really just hoping to see a wreck. Jackson lost his last fight, and subsequently went insane, so there is a real chance that he could do something intensely crazy in the ring this time. That would be fun to see. Jackson was arrested a couple of times, led the cops in a high speed chase, spent some time in psychiatric care, and was generally nutso . If he is in a good place and well prepared for this one the he’d be my heavy favorite. It just comes down to whether he can be trusted.
The two fighters have met twice before, and Silva came out ahead both times. I’m not at all convinced by Silva, though. He won last time out, but that followed three losses. He has the feel of someone who is in the twilight of his career. Even with the sanity issue, I find it easier to trust Jackson than Silva. And, as a bonus, if Jackson loses his mind we have an easy excuse for our loss.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (-350) vs. Frank Mir (+275) – This is the fight between the instructors to culminate the most recent season of The Ultimate Fighter. As the odds indicate, it is only barely a fair fight. When the line is like this in the UFC I like to try to justify the underdog. I just can’t do it in this case. Mir is a decent fighter, but Nogueira is bigger, faster, stronger, and just plain better. The winner gets a shot at Brock Lesnar, and you know that Nogueira wants that. He’ll be highly motivated. Nogueira is the clear choice. You just have to decide whether he justifies the price. I think his one looks like a pass.
Forrest Griffin (-120) vs. Rashad Evans (-110) – This one is the class of the night, and it is close. Griffin is defending the title he won from Rampage Jackson for the first time. Evans has never lost. Evans isn’t the most exciting fighter, but he is obviously effective. He looks like he is calculating his every move a hundred different ways before he makes it. That gives him a style that is in stark contrast to Griffin, a classic brawler.
My biggest concern with Evans is his inactivity. He has fought just once in the last 13 months, and he wasn’t given much of a test by Chuck Liddell when he did. It’s not clear, then, if he will be ready for the onslaught that he will fave from Griffin. I think that the fight is going to be a long one, and I think that both guys will take a beating. In the end, I think that Griffin will be able to better set the tone of the fight, and I expect him to be the last man standing.