Deep, deep in that big old greedy heart that pumps Ferrari oil through Dana White’s platinum plated veins there is a teensy little voice of regret that Silva – Sonnen II is even going happen. What could be better than Spider defending his belt, in Brazil, against an inland Oregon loudmouth who has not just insulted some of the proudest people in the world, but continues to go out of his way to mock Brazilians as much as he can now? Here’s what could be better. Silva, the most precise and deadly striker in the history of the UFC, walking out to fight his countryman Rousimar Palhares, a leg submission artist so feral I suspect now and then he accidentally breaks someones ankle waiting in line to pay for his groceries.
Dana wishes this for many reasons, the most important being that since Silva took over the title in 2006 Middleweight has been unofficially renamed the ‘Who Wants Their Face Rearranged by A. Silva’ division. Plenty of fun has been had watching who would get the next shot at the belt, but very few of the contenders produced did much contending. Palhares would be the perfect foil to Silva. Though both are from Brazil, Palhares had a fucked-up-even-by-Brazilian-standards childhood in the rural, internal part of the country. Silva was certainly no silver spoon rich kid, but grew up in Southern, beach-dappled Curitiba. Striker v grappler, North v South, it’s a dream for a
Palhares, however, has refused to stick to his lines. While a fantastic fighter, good fun to watch, and quite possibly actually insane, his two chances to make a serious move to front line middleweight contender ended in losses to Nate Marquardt and Dan Henderson, both of whom Spider dispatched with relative ease. Now, high on the main card of a network televised fight, Palhares is getting a chance to make his case again. You can almost hear Dana in the background whispering, ‘C’mon Rousimar, give me a reason to move you up in the order.’
His opponent at UFC on FOX 3, Alan Belcher, is a fine all around fighter and not to be taken lightly. His standard strategy is to soften up opponents with excellent kickboxing and then he’s equally willing to finish with his fists, knees, or on the mat with jiu-jitsu. That said, Belcher has combined some impressive hammer blow knockouts and submissions with losses to near-unknowns like Jason Day. Whichever fighter LOSES this one is in danger of being seriously marginalized in the weight class, while the winner at least has a chance, by winning another fight or two, to be a serious contender. Personally I think Belcher is going to swing one of those kicks out there, Palhares is going to grab the leg, tear it off at the knee, and walk back to the dressing room chewing on it like a chicken bone. Palhares by bloody violence, round 2 at the latest. But whoever wins, keep an eye on them.