UFC 138 Preview and Predictions: Chris Leben vs. Mark Munoz
By: William Holmes
England is one of the countries that the UFC is looking to develop a long term presence in, and the UFC has decided to return to England this Saturday as their last promoted event here was in October of 2010. While a main event of Chris Leben vs. Mark Munoz isn’t a fight worthy of PPV status, it’s certainly a fight worthy of main event status on Spike TV. In addition to the main event, the undercard features a lot of European fighters, including Brad Pickett who has a chance at competing for the bantamweight belt one day.
Cyrille Diabate (17-7-1) vs. Anthony Perosh (11-6); Light Heavyweight
Australian native Anthony Perosh takes on French native Cyrille Diabate in the first televised fight on this card. Anthony Perosh is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu technician with poor stand up ability. Eight of his victories have come by submission, and he made his UFC debut at heavyweight against Mirko Cro-Cop. His biggest victory to date was a submission win over the very average Tom Blackledge in February of this year in the UFC. Only two of Perosh’s fights have gone the distance, and his best chance to win will be to take this fight to the ground. If you’ve ever seen Perosh fight, you’d know that his wrestling is sub-par, and he will likely have difficulty taking Diabate to the ground.
Cyrille Diabate is a high level striker who is best known for his kickboxing ability. Eight of Diabate’s victories have come by KO or TKO and he has gone 2-1 in the UFC. His last fight was a decision victory over former WEC light heavyweight champion Steve Cantrell. He is prone to submissions, as he was rear naked choked by Alexander Gustafsson in his second fight in the UFC. Diabate has been on a somewhat of a hot streak as of late, as he has gone 7-1 in his last eight fights. Diabate should win this by KO or TKO, provided he can stay off his back.
Terry Etim (14-3) vs. Eddie Faaloloto (5-2); Lightweight
England’s Terry Etim takes on Hawaii’s Eddie Faaloloto in the second fight of Saturday’s card. Terry Etim is an English fighter that has seen some success within the UFC, but he hasn’t fought since April of 2010 in a submission loss to Rafael Dos Anjos. Etim is a tall fighter for the lightweight division, he stands at 6’1”. Etim has gone 5-3 in the UFC, and eleven of his victories have come by submission. His biggest victories to date have been over Sam Stout and Justin Buchholz.
Eddie Faaloloto is a relative newcomer to the UFC, and he only has four professional fights listed on sherdog, but seven listed on the UFC’s website. Eddie Faaloloto also trains with main eventer Chris Leben, which may explain his inclusion on Saturday’s card. Faaloloto lost his last two fights by TKO, his only two fights under the Zuffa banner. This matchup seems to be an easy matchup for Terry Etim after being out for over a year due to an injury. Etim should win this fight by KO or TKO early in the fight.
Thiago Alves(18-8) vs. Papy Abedi (8-0); Welterweight
Swedish fighter Papy Abedi makes his UFC debut and his welterweight debut on Saturday night as he takes on top ranked welterweight contender Thiago Alves. Abedi certainly has an impressive record, but he has yet to face any fighter on the level of competition that the UFC has to offer. Five of Abedi’s victories have come by KO or TKO, but none of his opponents have a name that jumps out at you with high level experience. Abedi is making a late start into the UFC since he is already 33 years old, but the UFC must see some talent in him since they are matching him up with the very tough Thiago Alves.
Alves is considered by many to be a very big welterweight, but standing across from him on Saturday night will be another big welterweight in Papy Abedi. Alves has strong jiu-jitsu, but may have a hard time taking Abedi down since he is a jude black belt. Alves has gone 2-3 in his last five fights, and may be in danger of being cut if he fails to pull off an impressive victory on Saturday night. This will likely be a stand up affair as both fighters have heavy power, and eleven of Alves victories have come by KO or TKO. Not much is known of Abedi since he has only fought for smaller promotions in Europe, and experience should rule the day on Saturday night and Alves should win by decision.
Brad Pickett (20-5) vs. Renan “Barao” (26-1); Bantamweight
Barao is making his second appearance for the UFC on Saturday night as he takes on Brad Pickett. Barao’s record alone is one that will make any fan look at him more closely, as it is very difficult to have over 25 fights and only one loss on your record. More impressive is the fact that his lone loss came in his first ever professional MMA fight. Barao won his UFC debut with a decision victory over former WEC champion Cole Escovedo. Barao appears to be a complete fighter, as he has twelve submissions and six KO/TKO on his resume.
Brad Pickett is the best featherweight fighter from the UK, and may be in line for a title shot with a victory over Barao. This Saturday will be Pickett’s first fight in the UFC, and he has fought four times for the WEC previously, posting a record of 3-1. His lone loss was to former title contender Scott Jorgenson in August of 2010. Pickett is a very dangerous and complete fighter, with nine submission victories to his resume and six KO/TKO. Barao though appears to be a rising star that the UFC is very excited about, as they gave him co-main event status on Saturday’s card, and with only one loss on his record, it is hard to pick against him. Barao should take this fight by decision, but if he wins impressively, he may be in line for a title shot.
Chris Leben (22-7) vs. Mark Munoz (11-2); Middleweight
Mark Munoz has gone 6-2 in the UFC, and appears to improve each time he steps into the cage. Munoz has excellent wrestling, and was an all-american while wrestling for Oklahoma State. Munoz proved in his last fight he can handle high level jiu-jitsu fighters, as he beat Demian Maia by decision in June of this year. His last loss was a close split decision to Yushin Okami in August of 2010, but since then he has rolled off three straight victories over Aaron Simpson, Demian Maia, and C.B. Dalloway. Munoz has strong power in his hands, but he doesn’t have quite the technique that you’d expect from a high level standup fighter.
Chris Leben always puts on an exciting fight, which is probably why he got main event status on Saturday night despite his above average record. Leben has been on record as saying that he wants to fight Andreson Silva for the belt, but he probably needs a few more victories if he wins Saturday to get a shot at the title. Leben has gone 4-1 in his last five fights, and he defeated the legendary Wanderlei Silva by first round KO in July of this year. He has also beaten Aaron Simpson, and defeated Japanese legend Yoshihiro Akiyama in a thrilling come from behind victory. His lone loss in his past five fights was a first round pasting at the hands of Brian Stann.
This will be an exciting fight, as both fighters are known to go all out everytime they enter the cage. Leben has a legendary chin, and will likely be able to absorb the shots Munoz brings. Munoz’s key to victory on Saturday will be strong stamina, as Leben is known to come on stronger as the fight goes on longer. Munoz should win this fight by decision in exciting fashion, but if his gas tank fails him, Leben will take advantage.