By Jaime C. Feal
Tomorrow night, live from Brazil and on Pay-Per-View, UFC 163 takes place with a main event Featherweight Title Fight pitting champ Jose Aldo against challenger Chan Sung Jung, aka “The Korean Zombie.” Aldo, unbeaten since 2005, looks to continue his dominant reign and rise up the pound-for-pound list. The co-main event features a very important clash in the Light Heavyweight division between former champion Lyoto Machida and Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis. The winner of this bout could be next in line for a title shot after Alexander Gustafsson, or at the most one more win away. The rest of the card is average at best, as injuries decreased the overall quality of the Pay-Per-View which is top-heavy and reliant on the title fight to carry it.
Middleweight Division (185 lbs.):
Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira (5-2, 1-0 UFC) vs. Thiago “Marreta” Santos (8-1, 0-0 UFC)
The Ultimate Fighter Brazil winner in the middleweight division brings his beautiful Capoeira style striking into the Octagon once again to take on newcomer Thiago Santos. Ferreira has been a lifelong student of Vitor Belfort, and now trains alongside him with the Blackzilians in South Florida. The Brazilian striker was supposed to face another TUF competitor in Clint Hester, but an injury opened the door for Santos to step in as a replacement.
“Marreta” competed on the Ultimate Fighter Brazil Season 2 in the welterweight division, losing to eventual winner Leonardo Santos. Now “Marreta” steps up to the middleweight division to fight for the first time under the bright lights. Half of Thiago Santos’s wins have come by way of knockout, so this appears to be his best chance to win the fight – catching Ferreira with a power punch. Ferreira has been clipped before by less skilled strikers, so it is not out of the realm of possibility. What’s much more likely, however, is that “Mutante” uses his superior skillset and experience to defeat the debuting Santos with ease.
Prediction: Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira wins by KO, Round 2.
Light Heavyweight Division (205 lbs.):
Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida (19-3, 11-3 UFC) vs. Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis (11-1, 7-1 UFC)
The classic striker versus wrestler matchup takes place tomorrow night, as perennial top 5 light heavyweight Lyoto Machida brings his unique karate style to the cage to face off against former wrestling standout Phil Davis. These two men couldn’t be any different in how they choose to approach their fights. Machida is a striker who loves to play the distance game and keep the fight standing. Machida uses incredible timing and counter-striking ability to frustrate his opponents.
Davis, on the other hand, likes to grind his opponents down with excellent takedowns and heavy top control. The only man to defeat Davis gave him a dose of his own medicine, as Rashad Evans out-wrestled Davis to take him completely out of his element. While Davis won’t be taken out of his element by a superior wrestler tomorrow night, he could very well look out of place against the mystifying style of Machida.
Machida has made a living on making people look silly, and a wrestler with limited stand-up skills is a perfect matchup for him. Machida is never in a hurry, and this fight will be no exception. He will take his time, measure the distance, counter-strike, and slowly pick apart Davis. As the fight goes on towards the third round, “Mr. Wonderful” will get more and more desperate on his takedowns, which may leave an opening for a knockout. The last time the southpaw Machida faced an aggressive wrestler who rushed forward, he knocked Ryan Bader out silly with a straight counter left. Expect Machida to cruise to a decision with the slight chance of a KO if Davis gets over-aggressive.
Prediction: Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida wins by unanimous decision.
UFC Featherweight Championship (145 lbs.):
Jose Aldo (22-1, 4-0 UFC) vs. “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung (13-3, 3-0 UFC)
Aldo was originally scheduled to match up with Anthony Pettis, the former WEC lightweight champion, and the last man to defeat Ben Henderson. That superfight was derailed by an injury to Pettis, unfortunately, so the UFC chose the next most exciting contender in The Korean Zombie. Although Cub Swanson may be more deserving of a title shot, Zuffa brass places a high value on entertaining fights, and Jung’s style where he relentlessly comes forward aggressively like a “Zombie” makes for very fun fights to watch.
Unfortunately for the Korean Zombie, this style will get him knocked out fast. Jung used to throw caution to the wind and worry only about offense, as evidenced by his 2010 fight of the year with Leonard Garcia. Since then, he has been able to scale back the wild aggression and take a more systematic and measured approach. Jung is well-rounded and is the only man to ever get a twister submission in the UFC, a jaw-dropping submission he pulled off in his rematch against Leonard Garcia. The Korean Zombie also has a stunning 6 second knockout over former #1 contender Mark Hominick. A recipient of two Fight of the Year awards and one Submission of the Year, Chan Sung Jung is about as an exciting a fighter as there is out there, and he’s pretty well-rounded to boot.
Despite Jung’s well-roundedness, Aldo is better almost everywhere, with the possible exception of judo. Aldo has a serious speed advantage, using lightning quick hands and powerful leg kicks to decimate his opponents. On the ground Aldo is extremely underrated. His black belt from Nova Uniao is elite, but he rarely gets to showcase his ground skills. This fight could be the fight where he really impresses on the mat with his beautiful guard passes and transitions to mount.
Of course, Aldo could just choose to stand up and devastate his opponent with leg kicks, as he did to Urijah Faber. Aldo’s speed advantage is so pronounced in this fight, he may be twice as quick as his opponent. While the Korean Zombie does have height and reach advantage, his movement is mechanical and plodding compared to the lightning-fast Aldo. The man they call “Scarface” has a chance to move up even higher on the pound for pound rankings with an impressive victory. He currently sits as the #4 P4P fighter in the world, and will be looking to make a statement tomorrow night, live on Pay-Per-View.
Prediction: Jose Aldo wins by TKO, Round 4.