There’s little argument that Randy Couture, Andrei Arlovski, Gabriel Gonzaga, and Fabricio Werdum are Top 10 heavyweights. So when either Gonzaga or Verdum rack up two consecutive losses after UFC 80, there is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, both men should be lauded for taking such a highly competitive fight at this point in their careers.
As I blogged about in the post Meet your new UFC Heavyweight Champion, Gabriel Gonzaga!, Gabe has all of the tools to be UFC Heavyweight champion. The same could also be said for Werdum. The deciding factor in this contest might just be the training camps. While Werdum has traveled back to Brazil to train with the World-renown Chute Boxe Academy, Gonzaga has chosen to stay put and train with Team Link in the lesser known MMA not-hotbed of Ludlow, Massachusetts. While World-class athletes can certainly emerge from modest surroundings, the question is whether or not Gonzaga has surround himself with enough quality training partners to further his growth. If he’s the top guy in his camp, how will he grow as a fighter?
Nothing against Werdum, but I’m rooting for Gonzaga in this one. He’s most definitely a monster, but has a “likability” factor that is hard to define. That is a highly marketable combination. He’s also working on his English, which all International MMA fighters should make a top priority. (Hey, don’t get mad at me – former Pride President Nobuyuki Sakakibara felt the same way).
See Gonzaga Decapitate Mirko Cro Cop
Look for an exciting contest as Gonzaga looks to return to Heavyweight contention and Werdum looks to exercise the specter of the Arlovski snoozefest. Whoever the winner, they're surely deserving of a shot against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (or Tim Sylvia, should he decide to let his fists fly).
And don't forget my man Heath Herring. He's coming back! Now, on to predictions...
UFC 80 Predictions
B.J. PENN VS. JOE STEVENSONMMA Weekly: Penn by submission in the third round
Sherdog: Penn by rear-naked choke early in the second round
GABRIEL GONZAGA VS. FABRICIO WERDUMMMA Weekly: Gabriel Gonzaga by decision
Sherdog: Gonzaga by TKO late in the second round
MARCUS DAVIS VS. JESS LIAUDINMMA Weekly: Davis by TKO in the third round
Sherdog: Davis by TKO early in the second round
JASON LAMBERT VS. WILSON GOUVEIAMMA Weekly: Gouveia by decision
Sherdog: Gouveia by guillotine choke late in the first round
KENDALL GROVE VS. JORGE RIVERA MMA Weekly: Grove by submission in the first round
Sherdog: Grove by TKO stoppage in the second round
ALESSIO SAKARA VS. JAMES LEEMMA Weekly: Alessio Sakara by TKO in the first round
Sherdog: Lee by submission
SAM STOUT VS. PER EKLUNDMMA Weekly: Stout by decision
Sherdog: Eklund by first round strangulation
PAUL TAYLOR VS. PAUL KELLYMMA Weekly: Taylor by KO in the first round
Sherdog: Taylor by second round KO
ANTONI HARDONK VS. COLIN ROBINSONMMA Weekly: Hardonk by KO in the first round
Sherdog: Hardonk by first round knockout