Last UFC of the year, a go

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All the pieces are in place for UFC 141 to go down this Friday evening at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, with all the fighters making their respective weight without much ado.

The Goliath-vs.-Goliath showdown between Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem looks set to test the octagon fencing to breaking point, while Donald Cerrone and Nate Diaz began their altercation already, with hat flipping and shoving at the pre-event press conference. Now in the under card Diego Nunes promises to beat Manny Gamburyan up like no one has before, but the Armenian sent out an early warning that he’ll be showing the Brazilian no mercy, so things should get ugly. (Check out the Trainee’s Picks on GRACIEMAG.com and post your predictions.)

Overeem shocks Joe Rogan with his size. Photo: UFC.

530-lb fracas 

The UFC wraps up the year 2011 this Friday, the 30th, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas with a weight-carrying showdown—a 530-lb one, to be exact. Two of the promotion’s most imposing heavyweights, former UFC champ Brock Lesnar and former Strikeforce, Dream and K-1 champion Alistair Overeem, will square off to determine who is next to get a shot at Junior Cigano’s belt. Lightweights Nate Diaz and Donald Cerrone will go toe to toe in the penultimate fight of the night.

On the under card, three Brazilians will be looking to do their country proud and move up the ranks in the MMA major league: Junior Assunção, Luis “Beição” Ramos and Diego Nunes take on Ross Pearson, Matt Riddle and Manny Gamburyan, respectively.

Brock and Overeem don’t see five rounds in the cards

Although their encounter is officially set for five rounds, both Lesnar nor Overeem feel the conclusion will come before the sound of the final bell. “We’re the kinds of guys who don’t give up. We’re fighters, we want to end fights. I’ll be fighting with that intention, and I hope he will be too. I don’t see this fight going past round one or two. Round two at most,” ventured Overeem. “We’re going in there to finish the fight. I don’t see it going five rounds,” said Lesnar in agreement.

One of the most popular fighters on the UFC roster, Brock Lesnar hasn’t set foot in the octagon since October 2010, when he lost his title to former champion Cain Velasquez. The reason for his lengthy absence is an intestinal condition called diverticulitis, which flared up after suffering the life-threatening illness for the first time one year prior. Nevertheless, the wrestler guarantees he’s in tip-top shape, and doesn’t feel he’ll be set back any by ring rust. “I feel great mentally and physically. I’m strong, heavy and sharp,” he declared.

Although relatively inexperienced in MMA, with just seven professional fights, Brock holds noteworthy wins over Frank Mir, Shane Carwin and Randy Couture, from whom he won the divisional belt. Now “The Reem” has an astounding 47 fights to his name, 35 of which are wins, with 14 knockouts. The former champion of Strikeforce, K-1 and Dream, Overeem is also a veteran of the defunct Pride FC promotion, where he faced such big-name fighters as Vitor Belfort, Chuck Liddell, Maurício Shogun and Rogério Minotouro. Although most lauded for his savvy standup game, Overeem has won 19 of his career fights by submission, showing he’s worth his salt on the ground, as well. “I’m a complete fighter; I do it all. I have wrestling, submissions and striking,” he gloats.

Nate Diaz, fists raised to Cerrone, before Dana White's eyes

Cerrone and Nate Diaz bark—who will bite?

Another heavily anticipated fight has TUF season 5 winner Nate Diaz taking on one-time World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) title challenger Donald Cerrone. The two will lock horns in the octagon to settle a feud that began back at an open training session in the lead-up to UFC 137 and reached boiling point at the pre-UFC 141 press conference this past Wednesday, while the traditional staredown and photo session was underway: Diaz flipped Cerrone’s hat off his head and gave him a shove. Dana White swiftly stepped in to keep the animosity from spilling over into violence.

The brother of Nick Diaz, Nate is best known for his Jiu-Jitsu savvy—nine of his last 11 wins came by way of submission, three of which garnered him “Submission of the Night” honors. Now Cerrone, a kickboxer by background, is known for his standup skills, especially his leg and head kicks. Riding a six-fight win streak, Cerrone has only come up short three times in his career, all while fighting under the WEC banner. Cerrone knows his way around on the ground, though—he has 13 submission wins to his name. When the dust settles, whose bite will have the most effect?

Three Brazilians in under-card action

The Brazilian fan base will tune in early. In the evening’s opener, Diego Nunes takes on one-time WEC title challenger Manny Gamburyan. A savvy striker, the Southern Brazilian wants to get back on the winning path since dropping a decision to Kenny Florian in June of this year. To do so, he’ll have to outdo a celebrated judoka who, having lost back-to-back fights, will need to reaffirm his place in the promotion.

A last-minute substitute at UFC Rio, Luis “Beição” Ramos wasn’t given time to show his stuff—particularly his dangerous ground game—in his UFC debut. Knocked out by Erick Silva in just 40 seconds of the first round in his only octagon outing, the Nova União representative will be looking for redemption against Matt Riddle, a TUF 7 contestant whose entire professional career played out in the UFC. “I’m hungry for this win and will do whatever is necessary to obtain it,” declared Beição.

A Jiu-Jitsu black belt with a capoeira background, Júnior Assunção will have his hands full when he takes on TUF 9 winner Ross Pearson. A taekwondo black belt known for his crisp boxing, Pearson will be making his featherweight debut (he previously fought at lightweight). Assunção, who is coming off a win over Eddie Yagin, knows his opponent on Saturday will be no push-over but is pleased with the opportunity. “I asked for it and the UFC gave me a chance to fight someone tough. I understand the risks, but I’m aware of the rewards if I win,” stated Pearson

UFC 141

Las Vegas, Nevada, United States

December 30, 2011

Brock Lesnar vs Alistar Overeem

Nate Diaz vs Donald Cerrone

Jon Fitch vs Johny Hendricks

Vladimir Matyushenko vs Alexander Gustafsson

Nam Phan vs Jim Hettes

Card Preliminar (TV americana)

Ross Pearson vs Junior Assunção

Anthony Njokuani vs Danny Castillo

Card Preliminar (Facebook)

Jacob Volkmann vs Efrain Escudero

Dong Hyun Kim vs Sean Pierson

Matt Riddle vs Luis Ramos

Manny Gamburyan vs Diego Nunes

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