After last week’s successful UFC 157 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, the UFC takes its act to Saitama, Japan, for UFC on FUEL TV 8: Stann vs. Silva.
Unfortunately, we’re not there for the event at the Saitama Super Arena. But that won’t stop us from making our picks on today’s main card (7 p.m., FUEL TV; prelims at 4:30 p.m., Facebook).
Dong Hyun Kim (16-2-1, 1 NC) vs. Siyar Bahadurzada (21-4-1): Kim is 2-2 in his past four fights — both wins by unanimous decision (Paulo Thiago, Sean Pierson) and both losses by first-round TKO (Demian Maia, Carlos Condit). Bahadurzada made his UFC debut in April by showing off his power with a first-round TKO of Thiago. Kim needs to avoid it and tie up ‘The Super’ on the mat. We like the Korean’s chances. Edge: Kim
Mizuto Hirota (14-5-1) vs. Rani Yahya (17-7): Hirota has good standup and doesn’t mind banging. In his last fight, Yahya put a slick choke on Josh Crispi in August at Staples Center. The Brazilian is a slight underdog, and while this is essentially a coin flip, we’ll go with him. Edge: Yahya
Hector Lombard (32-3-1, 1 NC) vs. Yushin Okami (29-7): A middleweight storm is brewing. Fighting in front of his countrymen, ‘Thunder’ looks to take out ‘Lightning’ and make him his third consecutive victim. Lombard rebounded from a split-decision loss to Tim Boetsch in his long-awaited UFC debut at UFC 149 in July by scoring an impressive first-round TKO over Rousimar Palhares in December. Lombard’s quickness might be too much here. Edge: Lombard
Takanori Gomi (34-8-0, 1 NC) vs. Diego Sanchez (25-5): This is a big home fight for the 2005 PRIDE Grand Prix champion. ‘The Fireball Kid’ has won his last two, knocking out Eijo Mitsuoka and getting a split-decision win over Mac Danzig. Sanchez, who is favored, did not make weight. He weighed 158 pounds and has been fined 20 percent of his purse. He hasn’t fought in more than a year but is still one of the most intense and focused fighters in the UFC. Edge: Sanchez
Mark Hunt (8-7) vs. Stefan Struve (29-5): This heavyweight battle doesn’t get more different in terms of size, but gets points for pairing two resilient fighters. At 5 feet 10 and 266 pounds, Hunt possesses tremendous firepower. ‘The Super Samoan’ by way of New Zealand and former PRIDE fighter has consecutive UFC wins over Chris Tuchscherer (TKO), Ben Rothwell (UD) and Cheick Kongo (TKO). He has a tall task in 7-footer Stefan Struve. Only 25, ‘The Skyscraper’ has finished his last four opponents: Pat Barry (triangle choke), Dave Herman (TKO), Lavar Johnson (armbar) and Stipe Miocic (TKO). Look for Hunt to get inside the Dutchman’s reach and blast away. Edge: Hunt
Wanderlei Silva (34-12-1, 1 NC) vs. Brian Stann (12-5): Another former PRIDE legend returns to Japan as ‘The Axe Murderer’ takes on ‘The All American.’ Silva hasn’t pieced together two straight wins since his PRIDE days in 2006. While his skills and chin aren’t what they used to be, Silva is still a dangerous brawler who relishes a toe-to-toe war. Stann will be smarter that that. The former U.S. Marine will need to utilize his footwork and kicks and stay outside, picking his shots and knowing when to exchange. Worth noting: Both fighters recently flirted with dropping weight and fighting at middleweight, but this one will be at 205. Edge: Stann