UFC 132 takes place Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas with the bantamweight belt on the line as champ Dominick Cruz takes on the only man to defeat him, Urijah Faber.
While this event ends a whirlwind run for Zuffa that kicked off Memorial Day Weekend, it has not tempered the thirst for events here at MMADieHards.com. Our five-person panel of MMA DieHards writers and broadcasters made their picks on all the fights. MMADieHards.com writers Jason Kelly, Bob Badder, Robert G. Reynolds and Aidan O’Connor joined yours truly on the panel for this event.
The house was divided on each and every fight, and that’s where the “Counterpunch” comes in. One of the writers in the minority defends his reason for going against the panel members’ collective majority opinion.
Below, we list the match, with those who picked that fighter in parenthesis and the defender’s write-u
Jeff Hougland (135) VS Donny Walker (135)
Defending Hougland: Robert G. Reynolds
The bout between Hougland and Walker may prove to be the fight of the night. Even though they are the first fight of the night, the UFC newcomers have a lot to prove as to why they should be there.
While Hougland had a shaky start to his MMA career, winning one out of his first five fights, he has been able to put the puzzle pieces together in an eight-fight winning streak. Walker has won seven of his last nine fights to lead him to this debut in the UFC.
The only problem for Walker is that they have put him up against a formable opponent who knows how to take care of business. Hougland has never gone into the third round in any of his fights and at UFC 132, we can expect the same.
Walker won’t be able to handle the pressure of Hougland, and will have to tap to a rear naked choke submission, slapped on midway in the second round.
Takeya Mizugaki (136) VS Brian Bowles (135)
Defending Mizugaki: Jason Kelly
I can see how Bowles would be the favorite heading into this fight, but something tells me Mizugaki can squeak out the victory.
Mizugaki is difficult to finish, and I don’t think Bowles possesses the skills to put away the Japanese fighter. I think Bowles will have trouble taking Mizugaki down, and even more trouble trying to keep him down , if the fight even hits the canvas. I think the fight will definitely go to the judges’ scorecards, but Mizugaki will be the one pushing the pace and controlling the Octagon for the better part of the fight.
I don’t expect fireworks in this match, but I do predict Mizugaki takes the unanimous decision, 30-27 on all three cards.
Aaron Simpson (185) VS Brad Tavares (186)
Defending Tavares: Robert G. Reynolds
The undefeated Tavares is going to be looking to add to his impressive win streak with a stomping on Simpson. Well, he does have a loss to The Ultimate Fighter Season 11 champ, Court McGee, but since that was considered an exhibition … we will leave it at that.
With both fighters having fought almost the same amount of times, Simpson will have and advantage in the area of experience, with a more solid resume of competition. However, Simpson is a slow starter and may find it difficult to get into a rhythm with the quicker-paced Tavares.
The superior striking of Tavares is going to prove to be the defining difference and we can expect a second-round TKO stoppage in his favor.
Andre Winner (155) VS Anthony Njokuani (156)
Defending Winner: Aidan O’Connor
Another Counterpunch where I’ve sided with a fellow Nottingham native, I see Winner out-maneuvring Njokuani en-route to a victory.
Joe Rogan has often said that Winner has some of the finest boxing skills inthe UFC and I believe the Team Rough House export will combine precision strikes with evasive footwork to pick apart the Nigerian-turned-American. In Njokuani’s last outing, against Edson Barboza, the two Muay Thai practitioners showed a willingness to stand and exchange with using leg kicks from distance and I can’t see Winner favoring such a position.
Should the bout go to the clinch or the ground, Winner has shown glimpses of his ability to hold his own in both fields. Winner was able to challenge lightweight powerhouse Ross Pearson at his own game against the fence and the BJJ blue-belt also holds a few career submission victories to his name.
Rafael Dos Anjos (155) VS George Sotiropoulos (156)
Defending Dos Anjos: Bob Badders
The bloom is off the rose of Sotiropoulos after his surprising loss to Dennis Siver at UFC 127, and that is what Dos Anjos needs to capitalize on.
When the two meet at UFC 132 they will be staring at an opponent who needs a win equally as bad, albeit for slightly different reasons. Sotiropoulos looked to be in line for a title shot before he was derailed by Siver, who never let the Australian jiu-jitsu ace take the fight to the ground. Dos Anjos has been up and down in his UFC career, sporting a 3-3 record that puts you closer to the cut list than being a title contender.
This fight is interesting because it pits strength vs. strength. The standup game is not where either fighter wants to be as Sotiropoulos and Dos Anjos have just one TKO each among their victories. This fight will go to the ground, it just depends on which black belt dictates the flow and pace. If Dos Anjos stuffs some early takedown attempts of Sotiropoulos, that could pay big dividends. I’m obviously not privy to Dos Anjos’ game plan, but I would say frustrating Sotiropoulos early and then taking advantage with his own slick jiu jitsu is the recipe for an upset.
Shane Roller (155) VS Melvin Guillard (155)
Defending Roller: Joe Rizzo
Keep underestimating Roller, but do it at your own risk.
Just ask Jamie Varner and Thiago Tavares what they think of the former Oklahoma State wrestler. Even Anthony Pettis had his hands full until pulling off a submission nine seconds from the end of a very, very close fight. That loss to Pettis was the only time in his last six fights Roller has been on the losing end, but much more is being made of Guillard’s 7-1 run.
Roller’s other WEC defeat was to then-budding champion Ben Henderson, who recovered from getting rocked early on to quickly turn the tide. Guillard may or may not be a step up from Pettis and Henderson, but Roller will have no problem holding his own. He has to ability, and now the experience, to avoid Guillard’s flurries and impose his own defense to set up the submissions that his opponent has become adept at defending.
If Roller creates enough of an opening, look for him to hit a guillotine or rear naked choke. Otherwise this underdog will grind one out and move up the UFC lightweight ranks.
Matt Wiman (156) VS Dennis Siver (156)
Defending Wiman: Bob Badders
It was hard to believe a lot of people were going to pick against Siver in his fight with Wiman. With Siver coming off an impressive unanimous decision against George Sotiropoulos, Wiman, even though he has won three fights in a row, enters as the underdog.
The key for Wiman will be to get Siver out of his comfort zone. It was all but assumed that Sotiropoulos would be able to get Siver to the ground and work his BJJ magic, but that never happened. Wiman is going to have to use his wrestling to make this a ground game and keep the dangerous kickboxer from controlling the fight on his feet. Siver is a BJJ purple belt, but you would certainly rather take your chances with him on the ground. Another thing Wiman has going for him is that he has earned consecutive wins over Shane Nelson, Mac Danzig and Cole Miller - all solid opponents – and that he has been finished only once.
Considering that came all the way back at UFC 60, this fight is a good bet to go the distance. If Wiman spends the majority of that time driving Siver into the mat and pounding away, he’ll walk away with the upset victory.
Dong Hyun Kim (171) VS Carlos Condit (170)
Defending Kim: Aidan O’Connor
While the controlled intensity that Carlos Condit brings to the Octagon is a significant obstacle for any welterweight to overcome, Kim has the credentials at hand to potentially neutralize the “Natural Born Killer” Condit.
With a black belt in judo, Kim has the ability to control and counter any furious offencs, a claim the South Korean verified when he calmly handled Nate Diaz using a combination of grappling and fence work at UFC 125 in January. Condit, however, has proven himself to be an incredibly versatile fighter, who has adapted as necessary to win fights by TKO, submission and decision, and will no doubt prove to be the toughest test of Kim’s career.
With both men campaigning for a title shot should they be victorious, it will be interesting to see if the weight of expectations on Kim and Condit will affect their respective strategies in the bout.
Ryan Bader (205) VS Tito Ortiz (205)
Defending Ortiz: Robert G. Reynolds
Come on people, it is Tito Ortiz. Well, for some, that would make it an obvious decision to choose anyone else other than him.
That “Ortiz” is the Ortiz of the past. With having fully recovered from his surgeries and injuries, Ortiz has the opportunity to display “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” that we all used to know. The fighter that is in front of Ortiz, being Ryan Bader, could possibly make him a small contender and another contract with the UFC.
After Ortiz’s last defeat he was told by the boss, Dana White, that it may be time for his retirement. UFC 132 will prove that Tito Ortiz is far from retirement and Bader will have to wait a little longer for a run at the title.
Chris Leben (185) VS Wanderlei Silva (186)
Defending Leben: Jason Kelly
Leben vs. Silva is a fight that the fans cannot lose on, but one of those two will.
As hard as it was for me to pick against “The Axe Murderer,” I have a feeling his layoff and recovery from knee surgery will play a factor in this fight. It’s no secret what these two bangers will look to do in this fight, stand and trade until somebody falls. However, I think Silva will have issues with lateral movement, therefore not being able to move out of the way of Leben’s destructive bombs, and eventual becoming the victim of “The Crippler’s” brutal knockout power.
To say this fight will make it out of the first round would be absurd, so I’m calling Leben, first round knockout.
Dominick Cruz (134) VS Urijah Faber (135)
Defending Cruz: Joe Rizzo
There is little stopping Cruz from retaining his belt against Faber.
Cruz’s fights have played out right according to plan since his entrance into the WEC, and he has been peerless at bantamweight, even with no finishes. Will he finish Faber? While the gambling odds are in Cruz’s favor, you could win a lot more if you bet this fight was going less than the prescribed 25 minutes. Cruz seems to get better as his fights go along. It happens in part because he is difficult to hit and great and outwrestling wrestlers.
The other reason is he forces his opponents’ frustration levels to build. Even in some of his pre-fight comments, Faber talked about how Cruz’s nickname should be the Irritator, not Dominator, because of the way he fights, getting inside with pitter-patter, then moving away. If Faber chases Cruz, as he says he will, it will play right into the champion’s trap.
Look for Faber to lose a fourth straight title fight.