UFC on Fuel TV 8: Wanderlei Silva v. Brian Stann
UFC on Fuel 8 is headlined by Wanderlei 'The Axe Murderer' Silva moving down to 185 to fight 'All American' Brian Stann. But that fight doesn’t interest me as much as the heavyweight fight between New Zealander Mark 'Super Samoan' Hunt and Dutchman Stefan 'Skyscraper' Struve, or the middleweight tilt between Hector 'Lightening' Lombard and Yushin 'Thunder' Okami.
Stefan Struve’s UFC career has been on an uphill trajectory after four consecutive wins, including an impressive finish of Stipe Miocic. The 6’11” Dutchman poses many problems for opponents: long reach with kicks and punches, very respectable striking, solid chin, comeback capabilities, and a strong ground submission game, due in part to the aforementioned wingspan.
Former K-1 kickboxer Mark Hunt hasn’t got a spectacular MMA record at 8-7, but he has three straight wins of his own in the UFC, his last a TKO over respectable Cheick Kongo, who Cain Velasquez could not finish.
If you’ve read my articles, you know my stance on K-1 kickboxers and their relative poor translation to MMA. They stand and trade, and show comparatively no movement. They don’t fight so much as point-fight. But Hunt has that 'Je ne ce quoi'. At 5’10” and 260 pounds, he’ll be a tough man to get down, even for Struve. And Hunt only needs to land one.
Struve submitted vicious kickboxer Pat Barry, and neutralized heavy hitter Lavar Johnson before submitting him too. Bet on Struve watching a lot of Mark Hunt tapes and finding a way to negate the Kiwi’s hands before finishing him with a submission and sending him to 8-8 Even-Steven land.
Hector Lombard came into the UFC with a hype train quickly derailed by Tim Boetsch, but got himself on track again with a brutal KO of Brazilian Rousimar Palhares. The fast-twitch, ripped Cuban can obviously finish a fight quickly if he lays leather to chin.
Palhares isn’t known for his hands, though, and Boetsch has greatly improved striking in addition to great wrestling and an amazing chin. So the question here is, can Lombard apply hands against more technical strikers? Can the better stand up fighters at 185 negate the speed and power of Lombard?
There is no better test for Lombard right now than Okami. The Japanese judoka and kickboxer is a great, technical stand up fighter who has improved his wrestling, takedowns, and ground and pound since losing to Chael Sonnen, by training with Sonnen. It’s important to note that Okami was knocked out by Boetsch after dominating the stand up, and Anderson Silva in a 2011 title fight.
Look for Okami to have learned from the Boetsch fight and to take the fight down, again and again if he has to. In order to win this fight, he needs to effectively tire Lombard on the ground, against the fence, and by using movement and distance to force Lombard out of range.
Okami by TKO in round three.
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