UFC 139 Preview: Shogun Rua vs. Dan Henderson
By Jaime Feal
This Saturday night live from San Jose, California, is a card loaded with potential fireworks. Matchmaker extraordinaire Joe Silva really did a fantastic job putting this one together. Most of the main card fights will involve fighters who are ready willing and able to stand in the pocket and trade strikes. Up first on the Pay-Per-View at the now regular time of 9 p.m. EST will be Stephan “The American Psycho” Bonnar vs. Kyle “Kingsbu” Kingsbury.
Light Heavyweight Division (205 lbs):
Stephan Bonnar (13-7, 7-6 UFC) vs. Kyle Kingsbury (11-2, 4-1 UFC)
The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 veteran Bonnar comes into the fight having won two straight fights after he was in danger of losing his spot on the UFC roster. He will take on the red hot Kingsbury who has rattled off four straight wins inside the Octagon. Bonnar will no doubt want to make this a stand-up war utilizing his many years of Muay Thai experience. Kingsbury may oblige but the smarter game plan for “Kingsbu” would be to utilize his superior wrestling and take Bonnar down. As a former college football player Kingsbury has the extinct to use his athleticism and he will need to do so in this fight to stay ahead of Bonnar. If he mixes in takedowns with strikes he should have no problem frustrating Bonnar and grinding out the win.
Prediction: Kingsbury wins by unanimous decision.
Welterweight Division (170 lbs):
Martin “The Hitman” Kampmann (17-5, 8-4 UFC) vs. Rick “The Horror” Story (13-4, 6-2 UFC)
This fight is huge for both of these welterweight contenders. Story was one win away from a title shot while Kampmann has been looming towards the top of the heap in the division for several years. I fully anticipate the two men testing each other on the feet to start the bout. Kampmann has always relied on excellent kickboxing and counterstriking while Story is just a beast who constantly comes forward looking to engage. I think Kampmann’s experience and more polished technique will allow him to get the better of the stand-up. It’s at this point that Story will go into wrestling mode and attempt more takedowns. However, I think Kampmann will be expecting this and will have his takedown defense well prepared like it was for his fight against Diego Sanchez.
Prediction: Kampmann wins by unanimous decision.
Bantamweight Division (135 lbs):
Urijah “The California Kid” Faber (25-5, 1-1 UFC) vs. Brian Bowles (10-1, 2-0 UFC)
Faber will be the huge crowd favorite here in his native state of California. This is a battle between two former WEC champions and the only blemish on Bowles’ record is a loss to current Bantamweight kingpin Dominick Cruz. Faber always flashes explosive athleticism in both his wrestling and his striking. Bowles is the more steady of the two fighters and will look to land the big right hand that knocked out Miguel Torres and won him the WEC bantamweight championship. Still, while Bowles is very dangerous at all times, I don’t think he matches up well at all with Faber. I believe “The California Kid” has better wrestling, cardio, and striking. Bowles has the edge in the power department but Urijah knows this and will be continuously taking him down and working ground and pound.
Prediction: Faber wins by unanimous decision.
Middleweight Division (185 lbs):
Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva (33-11-1, 3-6 UFC) vs. Cung Le (7-1, 0-0 UFC)
This fight is a tough one to call. On the one hand, Cung Le’s passive style is tailor-made for Silva’s relentless attack. On the other, Silva has lost 6 of his last 8 fights and has looked like a shadow of what he once was. Complicating matters further is that Le is 39 years old and himself an old, aging fighter with lots of cage rust. Cung is adept at using distance and his kicks to keep his opponents at bay. Silva will look to neutralize this by getting inside and trying to unleash his whirlwind hooks. I think “The Axe Murderer” comes out with a point to prove and silences his critics with a vintage performance. Cung Le will be left wishing he continued to pursue his acting career as opposed to stepping back in the cage, especially at the elite level that is the UFC.
Prediction: Silva wins by KO, Round 1.
Light Heavyweight Division (205 lbs):
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (20-5, 4-3 UFC) vs. Dan “Hendo” Henderson (28-8, 3-2 UFC)
A matchup between two former PRIDE champions caps off the evening, and what a main event it is. Both these men always bring raw aggression and tenacity inside the cage and are extremely entertaining to watch. Shogun barely ever looks to take his opponents down as the former Chute Box product prefers to use his legendary Muay Thai. His array of strikes is vast and when at his best he will attempt leaping punches, flying leg kicks and head kicks. When taken down Shogun has a decent guard and jiu-jitsu game but he is primarily trying to get back to his feet and strike. Henderson has a devastating right hand that can end a fight in one punch. What he did to Bisping was one of the most vicious knockouts I have ever seen in MMA. His KO over Fedor was also extremely impressive and was started by a right uppercut on the ground. Hendo’s right hand is one of the most lethal weapons in all of MMA. However he will have a hard time landing it because Shogun has better speed, movement, and overall striking. Henderson, a former Olympic Greco-Roman champion, needs to use his wrestling to take down Rua if he wants to win this fight. He is too much of an alpha male to do so, of course, and will stand and bang with Rua looking to end it with his right hand. In the process he will get caught by an array of strikes that will finish the fight.
Prediction: Shogun wins by TKO, Round 2.