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The Downes Side: Fight Night London picks

Dry your eyes boys and girls. You may have been denied Conor McGregor vs. Rafael Dos Anjos, but Nate Diaz is the next best thing. Also, it’s time for another edition of The Downes Side!

If that’s not consolation enough, at least we have some fights this weekend to take your mind off it. Live from the O2 Arena, the UFC returns to the United Kingdom for Fight Night London. The UFC FIGHT PASS main event brings us a middleweight contest between two stalwarts of the division. Former champion Anderson Silva can prove the doubters that he still has something in the tank while Michael Bisping searches for some momentum toward that elusive title shot. In the co-main event, Gegard Mousasi and Thales Leites will try to make their own case for 185-pound supremacy. Log into your UFC FIGHT PASS account, it’s fight time!

MORE ON FIGHT NIGHT LONDON: Join UFC FIGHT PASS | Reasons to watch Fight Night London | Fight Night London Embedded: Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3 | UFC Battle Lines: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 | UFC Breakdown: Fight Night London | How to watch Silva vs. Bisping | Read: Comeback? Anderson Silva never really left | Bisping finally gets career-long wish: Silva fight | Say it again - Silva's greatest soundbites, Bisping's greatest soundbytes | Super Spider - Silva's defining moments | Silva, Bisping trade barbs with fight nearing | Watch: Silva vs. Bisping - Joe Rogan preview | Rankings Report - London preview | Open Workout Highlights | Bisping - Warrior Code | Pundits weigh in on Silva-Bisping | Bisping - Fighting and Family | Big Nog on Silva's Best Fights | Big Nog on Silva's heart | Under the radar fights | Breese turns from UFC student to fighter
 

ANDERSON SILVA VS. MICHAEL BISPING

Time for the main event! It’s hard to watch legends age and hard to imagine that Anderson Silva is 40 years old. What’s even harder to imagine is that he lost his title to Chris Weidman over two and a half years ago. Man, it’s not long until those Just for Men ads will be directed at me. My own mortality aside, Michael Bisping will try to accelerate Silva’s. “The Count” has always been on the cusp of title contention, but has never got there. With back-to-back wins over CB Dollaway and Thales Leites, Bisping could get even closer with a win over the GOAT.

With Anderson Silva, it’s appealing to be on the extremes. Either he’s washed up and too old, or you still romanticize the fighter he used to be. Like most things, the truth is somewhere in the middle. The most telling evidence we have was Silva’s last fight against Nick Diaz. Yes, Nick Diaz can get anyone out of their game, but Silva just didn’t have the same crispness and flow we’re used to seeing. Bisping is prone to being KO’d on counter attacks, but his pace and aggression should favor him. Silva has lost a step, and when you’re a counter fighter, every fraction of a second is valuable. Bisping pulls the upset with a decision victory.

 The biggest fight card in the history of UFC FIGHT PASS is Feb. 27. Don't miss it - join now!

GEGARD MOUSASI VS. THALES LEITES

That brings us to the co-main event. Both in striking and grappling, Gegard Mousasi is one of the most skilled technical fighters in the entire division. Just when he starts to get some momentum, though, a flying knee from Uriah Hall steals it. Thales Leites has made the most of his return to the UFC. He’s won five out of six and has developed a striking arsenal to compliment his world class jiu-jitsu.

Mousasi is like the minivan of the MMA world. He may not be the slickest, most exciting model, but he’s well-built and solid. He’s responsible, like the girl you dated in college your mom told you to marry. Leites has improved his stand-up, but he still lacks Mousasi’s overall ability. At a distance, Mousasi should command the fight. Leites’ only chance is to get around the jab and straight punches, and he’ll probably fail. Mousais shows that there’s still room for Dodge Grand Caravans in MMA and wins by decision.

TOM BREESE VS. KEITA NAKAMURA

We move to welterweight for Tom Breese and Keita Nakamura. The most promising British export prospect since those kids from One Direction got together, Breese has made quite an early impression. He’s finished both his UFC fights by first-round KO and the 24-year-old has a bright future. Nakamura, though, will try to dim the lights a little bit. The 31-year-old submission ace started his second UFC stint strong with a submission win over Jingliang Li back in September.

You can’t teach experience, and that’s certainly true. Experience does have its limitations though. Nakamura does have competent defense on his feet, but I don’t see how he survives Breese. The Englishman’s output, power and speed all surpass his opponent. As long as he doesn’t make a critical error and give up his neck, Breese pounds Nakamura worse than the sterling in this week’s currency exchange market. Breese by first-round TKO.

FRANCISCO RIVERA VS. BRAD PICKETT

We open the main card in the bantamweight division with Francisco Rivera and Brad Pickett. One of the hardest hitters in the division, eight of Rivera’s eleven career wins have come via TKO. Unfortunately, he hasn’t found the mark lately and has dropped three of his last four. Brad Pickett has also dropped three of his last four, and needs a win just as much as Rivera.

There’s no telling where this fight will go. Both of these fighters can be a bit lax when it comes to the fight IQ. Not in the sense that they don’t know what to do, but that they can get suckered into throwing down with an opponent. Rivera has the clear power advantage, but three of his five losses have been submissions. Pickett may not have the same pop in his hands, but Rivera will overextend himself looking for the finish. Pickett capitalizes and finds the upset and second round submission.

That wraps up another compassionate version of the Downes Side. Follow me on Twitter @dannyboydownes. Also, don’t forget to leave your own thoughts, questions, comments, predictions and tips for getting over heartbreak on the page here. A pint of Ben and Jerry’s may sound cliché, but have you tried the Spectacular Speculoos?

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