UFC 168 is the final event for the promotion in 2013 and what a year it has been. 2013 has seen champions fall (Anderson Silva and Benson Henderson), a champion vacate the title (Georges St-Pierre) and a close call or two (St-Pierre and Jon Jones). A ton of great fights have happened and UFC 168 gives us a rematch of the biggest upset of the year when Anderson Silva challenges (weird to type that) the champion Chris Weidman, in a rematch of their July bout in which Weidman shocked the world by knocking out the former middleweight kingpin. Another title bout is also on the card featuring women’s bantamweight buzz saw Ronda Rousey, rematching against Miesha Tate in a rematch of Rousey’s one-sided demolition from 2012.
Lightweight: Jim Miller (22-4) vs. Fabricio Camoes (14-9)
Jim Miller has alternated between wins and losses since 2011, but he’s still a dangerous fighter. He owned a seven fight win streak from 2009-2011 before starting his back-and-forth win/loss streak with a loss against Benson Henderson. Camoes is 1-2-1 in the UFC and is on his second stint with the promotion. Another loss here will probably banish him back to the smaller promotions. Miller has 12 wins by submission, but I’d expect this one to go to a decision.
The Pick: Miller
Heavyweight: Josh Barnett (33-6) vs. Travis Browne (15-1-1)
Josh Barnett has been fighting since 1997, or since Travis Browne was 15 years old. Barnett’s fought everywhere he could, and his six losses have come against great competition (including three to the immortal Mirko Cro-Cop). Browne’s last outing was an impressive KO/TKO against Alistair Overeem (for what it’s worth, I picked him to lose), which saw him come from the verge of getting knocked out to turning the tables and flattening the Reem. Barnett’s the better wrestler and I expect him to use that to his advantage. This will be a violent fight that I see Barnett winning.
The Pick: Barnett
UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title: Miesha Tate (13-4) vs. Ronda Rousey (7-0)
Ronda Rousey is 7-0 as a professional. All seven wins have been by submission, all submissions have been armbars and all armbars occurred in the first round. I don’t see Rousey losing, but I do see the trend reversing. Tate lasted four and a half minutes before tapping out in 2012 and I have to think she’s gotten better since then. Tate has six wins by submission herself. She’s coming off a KO/TKO loss to Cat Zingano, but stepped in as a replacement to rematch Rousey. I see Rousey winning, but it may take a little longer this time.
The Pick: Rousey
UFC Middleweight Title: Anderson Silva (33-5) vs. Chris Weidman (10-0)
So, I was wrong on the first fight, and I own up to that, but I still agree with what I wrote. Whatever happened to Silva I don’t see happening again. I can’t see him getting knocked out again, so Weidman may have to look to his wrestling to earn this win. If either fighter presses the action to early it could be a short fight. In the end, I see this as a similar situation to St-Pierre vs. Serra (coincidentally Weidman’s coach) II, where the former champion rounded back into form by devastating the man who upset him. Weidman’s a better fighter than Serra, but the result will be the same.
The Pick: Silva
2013 Record: 24-7
UFC 168 takes place Saturday, December 28, on pay-per-view.