When I look at some fights or sports events, the talent gap between the two competing parties is so vast that the only way I see the underdog winning is if the favorite is injured, out of shape or unmotivated.
For instance, what happened in the ring between Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones, Jr. last weekend and in 1993 remind me of the dramatized story of Wing Chun legends Leung Jan and Leung Yee Tai in the kung fu classic The Prodigal Son.
As the story goes, Leung Jan is a spoiled rich kid whose father secretly pays to have fights fixed in his favor. After being exposed by Chinese Opera performer and Wing Chun master Leung Yee Tai, Jan dedicates himself to learning real kung fu from Yee Tai and Yee Tai's kung fu brother Wong Wah Bo.
Jan's fate intertwines with another prodigal son, Master Ngai Fai. Ngai Fai is a legitimate kung fu expert, but his father (a Manchu Duke) overprotects him, secretly ordering Master Ngai's bodyguards to kill whoever is deemed capable of hurting the young master.
Leung Yee Tai vs. Master Ngai Fai
from The Prodigal Son
Leung Yee Tai is one exponent who can hurt Master Ngai. His Wing Chun, portrayed brilliantly by Lam Ching Ying, is impeccable, and only an asthma attack can keep Yee Tai from teaching Master Ngai a kung fu lesson.
Needless to say, Yee Tai is marked for death, and the formerly incompetent Leung Jan puts his newfound Wing Chun skills to the test against someone who would've destroyed him if they'd had fought earlier.
Since Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones, Jr. have never fought each other in their primes, it's hard to say whether Hopkins beat Jones on Saturday only because Jones was way over the hill.
While watching footage of the first fight between the two, I noticed a primitive version of the nearly invincible mauling method that Hopkins would execute (no pun intended) to perfection in decisive victories over the likes of Felix Trinidad, Antonio Tarver and Kelly Pavlik.
However, his boxing technique and footwork were way too raw in 1993 to help him defeat an athletic specimen like Jones.
It's also difficult to determine whether the Bernard Hopkins that smothered and smacked Felix Trinidad in 2001 could beat the Roy Jones that ran circles around Clinton Woods in 2002.
After all, words cannot do justice to the phenomenal athlete that was Roy Jones, Jr. before his feet became heavy and coordination shaky.
I find it damn near impossible to predict how Hopkins-Jones under ideal conditions would go down, but when it comes to UFC 112, I'm taking my chances on Anderson Silva and BJ Penn.
I believe the reason Silva and Penn keep beating the competition isn't just that they box, wrestle or grapple better than their competitors, but that they're simply much better martial artists and athletes.
Silva and Penn outmaneuver whomever they face, with an uncanny ability to change directions and levels. They get to spots their opponents haven't even thought about getting to, it seems. From there, it's a matter of making their opponents pick their poison.
Silva has been compared to Roy Jones, Jr. for his creativity and flair, and routinely toys with very good fighters like Rich Franklin and Forrest Griffin. BJ Penn even landed the legendary "No-Shadow Kick" on an unsuspecting Diego Sanchez in UFC 107.
Demian Maia may be the foremost Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert in the UFC, but if he's going to take down Anderson Silva, he's going to have to beat Silva in striking range, the clinch and as they crouch. I can't see The Spider not picking Maia apart in all three areas. And Dan Henderson Maia is not.
As for BJ Penn? Don't let his destruction at the hands of the wrestler extraordinaire Georges St. Pierre at UFC 94 fool you. Penn lost to a bigger, stronger all-around martial athlete cut from a similar mold as he.
Frankie Edgar is impressive, but he's precisely the type of wrestling-based fighter that Penn eats for breakfast. Unless, of course, The Prodigy is injured, out of shape or unmotivated - something I wouldn't count on at this stage of his career.
P.S. I'm predicting first-round knockout and third-round TKO victories for Anderson Silva and BJ Penn, respectively.