UFC Light Heavyweight Chael Sonnen is in camp for his bout with Rashad Evans at UFC 167, but the UFC Tonight host and analyst always has a thing to say about the upcoming fights. Sonnen recently spoke with Fighters.com’s Senior Writer John Petit and was kind of enough to do a run down of the main card fights for UFC Fight Night: Maia Vs Shields. In part one of our exclusive interview, Sonnen breaks down the fights like only he can, and you can read who he is picking to win each bout.
Demian Maia Vs Jake Shields
I think this one is a decision. I think it will be a pleasurable fight, and I think its going to be very technical. As fans, a lot of the fights we get excited about are the brawls and I don’t think we are going to see a brawl here. I think we are going to see some incredible technique once hits the ground. On the feet I think its going to be a bit more wild. All told, I think Shields will control position for more minutes than Maia does and that will earn Shields the decision.
Erick Silva Vs Dong Hyun Kim
Silva sure is fun to watch, and he has so many tools in his box. I personally lean towards a guy who has one skill that is dominant. The misconception is that you need to be very well rounded at everything. The reality is, and what all our champions have, is that they have one dominant skill in which they can impose on anyone in the world. I haven’t seen enough of this Kim guy to know that he’s got that, but I know he believes he does. After seeing what Jon Fitch was able to do, I’m quite sure he is going to try and follow that same plan, and I think its going to work. Kim will be able to drag him down, and get good positions. He is also very long and big for the division, and the shortcomings he has in the stand up department he is able to make up for with his stature. I think its a good hard close fight, and an important fight, but I think he is going to copy Fitch and get to the top and do some damage.
Thiago Silva Vs Matt Hamill
I really respect Matt’s coach for not taking part in this camp. I think a lot of coaches will show up for the pay day and not look out for the betterment of their athlete. It’s a very stand up move by this guy and I admire him for it. However, the reality of it is Matt Hamill is going to go fight. Thiago Silva is a tough fight and he is a mean and nasty guy who enjoys his job. Hamill has some tools too, he has a good jab if he can find it, but I am going to go with Hamill’s coach on this one and pick Silva.
Fabio Maldonado Vs Joey Beltran
Can’t wait for this fight. Awesome fight. I would never miss a Maldonado fight. Maldonado is THE toughest guy in the division when it comes to heart and determination. He is one of the toughest guys in the sport when it comes to that. His skills need some work. He’s not terribly talented in a lot of areas, but he has the most important one down and that is toughness. Joey Beltran is a very proud Mexican fighter and is very proud of his heritage and the history of grit that Mexican fighters always bring. Whether its the ring of the octagon. I don’t necessarily have a pick for this fight, but I know there is no way I am going to miss one second.
Rousimar Palhares vs. Mike Pierce
This is the co main event for me. This is the fight I really want to see besides Shields Vs Maia. Mike Pierce is awesome, and he has always been awesome. His rise to stardom has been slow, and I wish I could figure out why is has been slow, but this is a main card fight on FS1 and the world will be watching. This is a breakthrough moment for him. Pierce is mean, he is powerful, and he knows what he is doing there. Palhares on the other hand, who I have a lot of respect for, has the one way to win. I don’t think he is going to be able to find it. I have been wrong about him before, but I don’t think he is going to be able to find it on someone that is determined and as intelligent of a fighter as Mike Pierce. I’m taking Pierce.
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