Ultimate Fighting Championships presents UFC 131
Saturday, June 11, 2011, 9:00 pm Eastern, TV: Pay-per-view
Rogers Center, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
It is a pretty good time to be a sports fan in Vancouver. The beloved Canucks are one win away from the franchises’ first ever Stanley Cup. The BC Lions are one of the favorites to win the Grey Cup in the upcoming CFL season. Vancouver even has an expansion team in Major League Soccer that is relatively competitive. Vancouver is also the host to UFC 131 this weekend.
This card was supposed to be headlined by MMA superstar Brock Lesnar vs Junior Dos Santos with the winner in line for a heavyweight title shot against undefeated Cain Velazquez. However, Lesnar was forced to pull out with a serious illness. Lesnar’s diverticulitis recurred and he is out for at least a year after having 12 inches of his colon removed. Shane Carwin stepped in as a replacement. Though Lesnar’s presence would have made the Card even more exciting, there are still some great fights on the card. Here is a look at the main card with odds courtesy of Bodog.
Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (-525) vs Vagner Rocha (+325), lightweight bout, Three rounds
Cerrone is 14-3 in his career and comes over from WEC where he was a crowd favorite. Cerrone’s Muay Thai style has led to 12 submission wins in his career. The 5’11” Cerrone takes on Brazilian fighter Vagner Rocha. Rocha has only been pro since 2009 and is 6-1 in his career. Rocha was a late replacement for Mac Danzig who pulled out due to injury. Rocha normally fights at 171 and struggled to make weight. He will have an advantage in strength but it might not be enough against the talented multi-dimensional Cerrone.
Cerrone is great at kickboxing and submissions, and has improved his wrestling a lot. He has become a three-dimensional fighter and can beat you with many different styles. His fights are usually exciting, which is why he is such a crowd favorite. It will be interesting to see if Cerrone has a letdown as he takes on an fighter for which he didn’t have much prep time. Cerrone could be in line for a lightweight title shot if he wins here.
Rocha is strictly a grappling specialist, but he does teach jiu-jitsu in his spare time. However, he doesn’t have the stand-up game to get Cerrone down on the ground to use his grappling skills. That could prove to be problematic.
Cerrone should win this easily unless he falls asleep or is looking ahead.
Cerrone wins by ref stoppage in the 2nd round.
Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Munoz (-125) vs Demian Maia (-105), Middleweight Bout, three rounds
Munoz is 10-2 in his MMA career as he takes on the 14-2 Maia. Maia is a ground specialist while Munoz is an expert at takedowns and ground-and-pound. Munoz, a former NCAA champion wrestler is arguably the sport’s best pure wrestler, while Maia is arguably the best submission specialist in the sport. This makes for an intriguing match-up because neither will be completely comfortable regardless of the style.
Despite their respective strengths, this fight might come down to who can gain control standing up. Maia has 5 career submissions in UFC because he thinks at least 2 steps ahead of his opponent on the ground. Neither is that great at striking but Munoz is rapidly improving in that department, having knocked out his last opponent C.B. Dolloway in the first round.
If Munoz can avoid getting trapped on the ground by Maia, he should win this fight rather easily.
Munoz wins by second round knockout
Dave “Pee-Wee” Herman (-185) vs Jon Olav “The Viking” Einemo (+155), Heavyweight Bout, three rounds
The 20-2 Dave Herman takes on 6-1 Jon Olav Einemo in a heavyweight bout between fighters making their UFC debuts. The powerhouse Herman is ironically nicknamed Pee-Wee but he is 6’5″ and 245 pounds.
Einemo hasn’t fought since 2006, so rust will be an issue. He is a submission specialist and has 5 career wins by submission. The Norwegian fighter is 6’6″ and 220 pounds. If he can get the powerful Herman on the ground, this fight will be over quickly, rust or no rust.
Herman’s struggles in takedown defense and sometimes leaves himself wide open as he attempts kicks and punches. This isn’t a good match-up for him and he could be ripe for the upset. Of his 20 wins, 19 have been decided by TKO or submission.
Einemo wins by submission in the third round
Kenny “KenFlo” Florian (-325) vs Diego “The Gun” Nunes (+250), Featherweight Bout, three rounds
Florian competed in the first season of The Ultimate Fighter at 181 pounds. He is now fighting at 145 pounds. The 5’10” Florian is 13-5 in his career. He will have a decided height and reach advantage over 5’6″ Diego Nunes. Nunes is 16-1 in his MMA career. This fight is billed as the co-main event on the card.
Florian will make history Saturday night as he will become the first UFC fighter to ever fight in 4 different weight classes. No one knows how his body will react to such a dramatic change. He has fought at 155 pounds in his last 3 fights and might be a little drained from the stress of getting down to 145. Florian has improved a lot especially in takedowns. Florian usually relies on his striking ability with dangerous elbows and jabs. He struggles against stronger wrestlers but Nunes is a Muay Thai specialist so it shouldn’t be a problem.
Nunes will look to use his kicks and aggressive style to gain the advantage. If he gets in the top position he will look to work for a submission.
If Florian isn’t too physically drained, this could be a close fight.
Florian wins by split decision
Junior “Cigano” Dos Santos (-170) vs Shane Carwin (+130), Heavyweight bout, Three rounds
Dos Santos is 12-1 in his MMA career as he takes on the 12-1 Carwin. Some have said Carwin is a slower version of Lesner with much better striking power. Carwin is 6’2″ and weighs 265 pounds. Dos Santos is 6’4″ and weighs 240 pounds.
Carwin’s only loss came to Lesnar last year. In that fight he was dominating Lesnar before Lesnar came back to grab the submission win. Carwin has notable wins over Frank Mir and Gabriel Gonzaga via knockouts. Carwin hasn’t fought since the Lesnar loss last July as he has been out with injuries. Carwin can end any fight quickly with his powerful strikes. He has 7 TKO and 5 submission victories in his career.
Dos Santos’ most memorable victory is over “Big Country” Roy Nelson last August. Dos Santos pounded Nelson with everything he had but the big guy would not go down. Dos Santos ended up winning by unanimous decision. However, Dos Santos showed great conditioning and didn’t panic when Nelson wouldn’t go down. Dos Santos is great at escaping take downs and has never been kept on the mat in 6 previous UFC fights.
Both of these fighters are powerful strikers and you probably don’t want to get a beer thinking they will feel each out. This could be a very quick fight, maybe ending in the first round.
Carwin wins by knockout in the second.
This should be a great card, and filled with exciting bouts even without Lesnar. Enjoy the card.