Weidman vs. Silva 2: Complete Guide to UFC 168 Fight Card

Scott Harris@ScottHarrisMMAMMA Lead WriterDecember 23, 2013

Weidman vs. Silva 2: Complete Guide to UFC 168 Fight Card

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    UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman
    UFC middleweight champion Chris WeidmanJayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    We're in the final countdown now. Households around the world have trimmed their UFC trees. They've baked their UFC cookies and submitted their wish lists to one of the UFC's helpers, strategically scattered across the nation's retail centers.

    Truly, there's nothing else like the UFC's end-of-year fight card. If you don't believe me, just ask the UFC. They'll clue you in on what this week is really about. And we need to hold dear those things that make it special. 

    This year, what makes it special is a rematch between these two guys named Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman, whose first fight in July ended in a rather noteworthy fashion. There is also a fight between Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate, who will stoke that incomparable spirit of hatred and rage that has become such an indispensable part of our revelry this time of year.

    Those are the highlights, but each bout holds intrigue as the card builds to the finale. Isn't that just the best metaphor for this season? Enjoy the journey, not just the destination.

    What follows are information capsules on each fight, predictions for each contest and information on when and how to watch. Let us rejoice in this information and be glad in it.

Robbie Peralta vs. Estevan Payan

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    Estevan Payan
    Estevan PayanGary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Division: Featherweight
    Records: Robbie Peralta (16-4-1), Estevan Payan (14-4-1)
    See it on: Facebook and YouTube, 7 p.m. ET

    Ah, Robbie "Problems" Peralta. He may have 99 difficulties in life, but a badass nickname is not one.

    I can think of two others, though. First, he lost for the first time in the UFC and in four years when Akira Corassani decisioned him in April. Second, he popped for marijuana (pardon me, "marijuana metabolites") after the fight.

    Following six months of suspension and a series of rehab classes, the grueling nature of which I can only pretend to conceptualize, he's back and facing Payan, who probably swallowed about a pint of his own blood in his UFC debut, a bashing from Jeremy Stephens that somehow, some way, went the distance.

    Props to Payan for his toughness or whatever. But against another hungry knockout artist in Peralta, it will be "problems," if you see what I mean, for the Arizona native.

    Prediction: Peralta, TKO, Rd. 2

William Macario vs. Bobby Voelker

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    Bobby Voelker
    Bobby VoelkerEric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    Division: Welterweight
    Records: Bobby Voelker (24-10), William Macario (6-1)
    See it on: Facebook and YouTube, 7 p.m. ET

    William Macario's fighting style is not the kind of style that slowly reveals itself inside the tiny spaces or the unplayed notes. It is not a Virginia Woolf novel. He realized somewhere along the way that his balled-up fists could really hurt people, and that's where the strategery begins and ends.

    Fine. The best part about this matchup is that Voelker loves to slug, too, quite possibly making this the blood pudding course among the evening's delicacies. 

    Unless one of those wild Macario hooks breaks through, the veteran Voelker should weather the storm and prey on a tired opponent in the second half of the contest. I'm picturing a stoppage right before the second-round horn.

    : Voelker, TKO, Rd. 2

John Howard vs. Siyar Bahadurzada

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    John Howard
    John HowardWinslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Division: Welterweight
    Records: John Howard (21-8), Siyar Bahadurzada (21-5-1)
    See it on: Fox Sports 1, 8 p.m. ET

    Howard made a lot of short lists for comeback of the year when he triumphantly returned to the UFC this summer after two years of exile in the MMA hinterlands. 

    Bahadurzada's career has followed an almost perfectly opposite track of late. The former super prospect rushed into the UFC and immediately received—and knocked out—Paulo Thiago. But since then, he has sandwiched a loss to Dong Hyun Kim between a couple of injury withdrawals.

    Both men can ugly up a fight in a hurry. This fight will fit that description, but in a good way. Both men are due for something of a market correction. Bahadurzada will instigate a brawl and get the better of the exchanges. 

    PredictionBahadurzada, unanimous decision

Dennis Siver vs. Manny Gamburyan

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    Dennis Siver
    Dennis SiverJayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    Division: Featherweight
    Records: Dennis Siver (21-9), Manny Gamburyan (13-7)
    See it on: Fox Sports 1, 8 p.m. ET

    Dennis Siver's loss in July to Cub Swanson taught me one thing and one thing only: Cub Swanson is a freaking contender.

    Notice that my enthusiasm for Siver remains undampened. It's a dry enthusiasm. He'll always be at a reach disadvantage, even at featherweight. But that shouldn't be an issue at UFC 168. Gamburyan is an outstanding grappler who can smother some people, but he's ducks on the pond when the fight is standing. Siver's no slouch on the ground, either. I'm going to take the marble countertop what gained dimension and sprang to life.

    Prediction: Siver, unanimous decision

Gleison Tibau vs. Michael Johnson

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    Gleison Tibau
    Gleison TibauGary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Division: Lightweight
    Records: Gleison Tibau (28-9), Michael Johnson (13-8)
    See it on: Fox Sports 1, 8 p.m. ET

    Gleison Tibau fights are such festive affairs, perfect for this special UFC season. Can't you just smell the Twitter jokes about how he's a miniature Incredible Hulk and what not?

    And it's true, what you've heard. It's all true. He's Rousimar Palhares squeezed into lightweight shorts. He's also something of a gatekeeper at 155, consistently growing less consistent the higher he goes in the division.

    Johnson is not very high in the division, despite an impressive upset of Joe Lauzon in August. Johnson has a better all-around game, and his combinations should find their mark more than once. But Tibau's mass will win the day. Eventually, he'll get underneath those strikes, power Johnson to the mat and grind him to ribbons against the chain link.

    Prediction: Tibau, unanimous decision

Chris Leben vs. Uriah Hall

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    Chris Leben
    Chris LebenJayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    Division: Middleweight
    Records: Chris Leben (22-10), Uriah Hall (7-4)
    See it on: Fox Sports 1, 8 p.m. ET

    When the battery is dead, it's dead. No amount of empathy or enthusiasm will alter that. You can't become more energy efficient and expect an already dead battery to come back to life.

    That's not a perfect metaphor. But hopefully it gets the point across. Chris Leben is 33 in human years but far older in fight years. More than once, he has switched camps, working to revitalize himself and his career. But so far, the jump start hasn't taken. The only fight he's won in his last five contests came over Wanderlei Silva, one of a very few UFC fighters more shopworn than Leben.

    In his most recent fight, Leben worked hard to overcome Andrew Craig, essentially a younger, more polished rendition of himself. But in the end, with the crowd chanting his name, Leben just...couldn't do it.

    And he won't be able to do it against Hall, a mentally shaky fighter who is thirsty for the ego infusion he would gain by adding Leben's name to his victims list. It'll be Leben's fourth loss in a row and fifth in his last six, and I think it will come by way of something spectacular, with many awkward and difficult questions to follow.

    Prediction: Hall, KO, Rd. 2

Dustin Poirier vs. Diego Brandao

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    Dustin Poirier
    Dustin PoirierRafael Suanes-USA TODAY Sports

    Division: Featherweight
    Records: Dustin Poirier (14-3), Diego Brandao (18-8)
    See it on: Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET

    The path hasn't always been straight, smooth or attractive, but it has led Diego Brandao to the brink of contendership among the world's best featherweights.

    It falls to Dustin Poirier to determine whether Brandao belongs in that elite mix. I believe he will rule in the negatory. He'll use that well-rounded game, including creative and razor-sharp striking, to keep Brandao guessing and pick him apart.

    It's funny that with Brandao's size and strength, he's probably capable of pulling out a decision if he puts his nose to the grindstone. But I don't think he's there yet, and I'm not sure he'll ever be.

    Prediction: Poirier, unanimous decision 

Jim Miller vs. Fabricio Camoes

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    Jim Miller
    Jim MillerJoe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    Division: Lightweight
    Records: Jim Miller (22-4-1), Fabricio Camoes (14-7-1)
    See it on: Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET

    Everyone loves the vale tudo and jiu-jitsu bona fides of Camoes. But man cannot live on bona fides alone, especially in mixed martial arts.

    In mixed martial arts, you need wrestling. Camoes doesn't really have it. Miller does. And that will tell the tale. Miller, who needs a win, should control the action and cruise.

    Prediction: Miller, unanimous decision 

Josh Barnett vs. Travis Browne

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    Travis Browne
    Travis BrowneWinslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Division: Heavyweight
    Records: Josh Barnett (33-6), Travis Browne (15-1-1)
    See it on: Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET

    Five minutes. Nineteen seconds. $100,000. How can you argue against those numbers? I'm not going to argue against those numbers, which sum up the two knockouts and two knockout-related bonuses he's earned in his last two contests.

    I'm also not going to argue against the fact that Browne's winning streak could very well be at six right now if he hadn't torn his hamstring in the opening moments of his 2012 fight with Antonio Silva. 

    Barnett most certainly has a ground advantage. And you know what else? I think it's a large advantage. He can dirty this one up and grind it out. He'll win plenty more fights in this fashion. But I don't think this one's going to reach that point. I think this is Browne's time.

    Prediction: Browne, TKO, Rd. 1 

Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate

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    Ronda Rousey
    Ronda RouseyJayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

    Division: Women's bantamweight
    Records: Ronda Rousey (7-0), Miesha Tate (13-4)
    See it on: Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET

    You can't bet against Ronda Rousey. Just ask her team members. I'm not going to belabor this point. Until further notice, just Sharpie in Ronda Rousey and that's the procedure. 

    For whatever it's worth, though, it seems Tate has a bead on Rousey, at least as a person. I think that's part of what irritates Rousey so much.

    Can Tate carry whatever that is (an edge?) into the cage? Can she cause Rousey to spontaneously combust with fury before the opening horn sounds?

    I don't know. But I'm going to change an earlier pick I made. Based on headspace alone, I'm giving Tate a round. Don't spend it all in one place, Miesha.

    Prediction: Rousey, Submission, Rd. 2

Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman

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    Chris Weidman (right) after defeating Anderson Silva in their first fight at UFC 162.
    Chris Weidman (right) after defeating Anderson Silva in their first fight at UFC 162.Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

    Division: Middleweight (for UFC middleweight title)
    Records: Anderson Silva (33-5), Chris Weidman (10-0)
    See it on: Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET

    Remember the earlier, in-no-way-uncommon sentiments I expressed about Chris Leben? Take a portion of that, add some Georges St-Pierre and I think you have a sense of Anderson Silva 2013.

    Not comparing the actual fighters, of course, with Silva being the only GOAT. But he's 38 years old, with almost 40 pro fights to his name. His fights these days come served with a sense of obligation and, even worse, of going through the motions. Maybe it was just me, but his loss at UFC 162 seemed tinged with a sense of relief.

    Maybe there's some magic in cutting away the red tape. Maybe Silva will be revitalized at UFC 168. But I'll believe that if I see it.

    In the rematch, Weidman will get back to doing what he was doing before he received that gift-wrapped knockout. Namely, he was winning the fight. He'll score takedowns, get Silva on his back and pound him. It's the long-held Way to Beat Anderson Silva, executed by someone with the skill set and wherewithal to execute it. 

    The younger, hungrier fighter will take it. In this unusual case, that distinction doesn't go to the challenger.

    Prediction: Weidman, unanimous decision

    Scott Harris is a writer for Bleacher Report MMA. For more fight predictions and the sort of generally baseless speculation you simply can't find elsewhere on the Internet, follow Scott on Twitter