UFC 103 – Preview and Predictions

UFC-103OK so I was a little off with my picks from UFC 102, but I’m gonna go ahead and give it another go!!

I got the records from Sherdogs fightfinder so apologies if they are wrong:
Rob Emerson (9-7-0) vs Rafael Dos Anjos (11-4-0)
Both fighters are coming off losses but Dos Anjos arguably has the higher calibre of opponents on his record. Still seeking his first win in the UFC, Dos Anjos best bet here is his submission skills. Emerson’s strength lies more in his stand up and he is also very resilient, his first pro fight was against Jens Pulver and that is a hell of a baptism of fire considering Jens has already had his first successful run in the UFC and was coming off his win to none other than BJ Penn. Dos Anjos took Tyson Griffin to a decision in his last fight but lost the call (wow Griffin in a decision match… shocker considering his last 7 have been decided that way!).
This should be a striker vs grappler matchup and as ever my love of the grappling side of MMA is meaning my heart is going to rule my head and I’m picking Dos Anjos to pull out the submission win in round 1 after wanting none of the standup.

Igor Pokrajac (21-5-0) vs Vladimir Matyushenko (22-4-0)
Both with fairly even records, Cro-Cop student/team mate Pokrajac is coming off an 8 fight win streak and (up until his fight before last – a rematch with little nog) Matyushenko was on the same. Matuyshenko has by far the more “names” on his record, every time Pokrajac has fought a “name” he has lost (Assuerio Silva and Mamed Kalidov). Not so Matyushenko who has defeated Pedro Rizzo, Little Nog and Tim Boetsch among others. Not having seen either men fight myself (that I can recall, although I probably have watched the UFC events Matyunshenko fought on back in 01/02/03), I’m gonna base my pick on analysis of their records. With the sort of form he is in, I have to with Pokrajac. Despite the lack of big names on his record he hasn’t been out of the first round in his last 3 fights which were all won by TKO. By contrast Matyushenko could only manage a decision win to Jason Lambert in his last outing, who is on a 5 fight losing streak since he KO’d babalu way back in 2007. That and the fact that old Vlad ain’t no spring chicken anymore makes me lean towards the Croatian. Matuyshenko isn’t going to be an easy fight at all, but someone from team cro-cop is going to win tonight and it ain’t gonna be Mirko (but we’ll get to that later) Pokrajac by TKO in round 2/3

Brian Foster (12-3-0) vs Rick Story (7-3-0)
Ricky Story comes in as a replacement for Paul Daley who has been drafted in to fight Martin Kampmann in the absence of the injured Mike Swick. Story is coming off a decision loss to John Hathaway at UFC 99 whilst Foster is on a 3 fight win streak including 2 first round KO’s in his 2 most recent fights. Both have solid wrestling but it may be Fosters KO ability that decides this fight. Story has a win over Jake Ellenberger who was impressive against Carlos Condit at UFN19 and is no slouch when it comes to wrestling, but then given that he trains with Matt Hughes and Robbie Lawler at HIT squad it’s fair to say neither is Foster. I’m going with Foster to take a TKO win in round 2

Eliot Marshall (7-1-0) vs Jason Brilz (17-1-1)
Marshall has some impressive BJJ credentials. Holder of a blackbelt and the first american to win gold as a blue, purple and brown belt at the pan-american games he is obviously going to be looking to use those skills against a powerful brilz who is on a 10 fight win streak. Brilz clearly has the better experience and has been in the cage against better opponents. He is also a decent wrestler and this will be what decides the fight I think. I’m going to go for Brilz to be able to use his wrestling and power to avoid catching the jitz from Marshall and take a decision win

Rafaello Oliveira (9-1-0) vs Nik Lentz (16-3-1)
In this battle of some-of-the-worst-fightnicknames-ever, Rafello “the tractor” will meet Nik “the carnie”. Man I hate bad fight nicknames, I almost don’t care about this fight purely because they have both saddled themselves with stupid fooking names. meh… Another BJJ vs Wrestling matchup, black belt Oliveira will look to submit “the carnie” (god it sounds even worse the second time you say it in your mind!!!) but Lentz will look to layeth the smacketh downeth from top position. As a Minnesota Martial Arts Academy fighter he will be a master of lay-n-pray and purely because that style of fighting sucks (effective though it may be) and because of his marginally more sucky nickname, I am once again hoping that great grappling wins. Oliveira by submission in round 1 (but a decision win for carnie man lentz is a good bet!)

Jim Miller (14-2-0) vs Steve Lopez (12-1-0) Miller has the far stronger record, other than a decision loss to Gray Maynard (maynard won a decision…shocking!!) you have to back to 2006 to find his last defeat (another decision loss to Frankie Edgar). In short Jim Miller is hard to beat! Whilst Lopez is no slouch judging him purely on his record, he hasn’t fought in over a year and he hasn’t fought in the UFC before. He was bought in on late notice to replace Thiago Tavares and all these things add up to him not having much of a shot in this fight. I don’t see how anyone can pick Lopez over Miller here and I’m picking Miller to come out on top here. Miller decision

Efrain Escudero (11-0-0) vs Cole Miller (15-3-0)
Undefeated TUF season 8 winner Escudero is back for his first fight since winning the show. An absence of almost a year from the octagon may well mean ring rust is a factor in this fight although Miller himself hasn’t fought since submitting junie browning in the very early part of this year. Both guys have solid submission games but Escudero has the edge in wrestling and that will probably be the deciding factor here. I’m going to go with Escudero to shake of the ring rust and score a submission win after wearing miller down with a controlling top game and forcing him to make a mistake and give up his back for Escudero’s seemingly favoured (going by his record) RNC. Escudero sub round 3

Tomasz Drwal (16-2-0) vs Drew McFedries (8-5-0)
This fight isn’t getting out of the first round. Both love to bang and this fight is a strong contender to give us the KO of the night. Although on paper he has the better record, Drwal has fought less “name” contenders than Mcfedries. After his destruction of professor X, i am definitely opting for McFedries to put the lights out on Drwal. McFedries KO round 1

Main Pay Per View Card:
Tyson Griffin (13-2-0) vs Hermes Franca (19-7-0)
This one has decision written all over it. Griffin hasn’t finished a fight since his first UFC victory over Dave Lee but he has been in some amazing wars and this one looks to be another great scrap. Both fighters have dropped decisions to Edgar and Sherk and won decisions against Marcus Aurelio. Franca will be looking to make a statement on his return after a severe knee injury but Griffin is a younger, hungrier and very difficult opponent to do that against. This is a VERY close fight but I’m giving it to Griffin via decision

Paul Daley (21-8-2) vs Martin Kampmann (15-2-0)
I already blogged about this fight and I stand by that prediction. I’m taking Daley for an upset here. This may be a heart over head pick and I’ll hold my hands up to that but Daley definitely has the tools to do the job. The critical thing for him is that this stays stood up. On the ground, I hate to say it but this is all Kampmann. Kampmann is an extreme couture fighter and you know these guys are going to have great wrestling and takedowns. I hope Daley has been working on his sprawl and sub defence or his UFC career could being with an L on his record. Nevertheless Im picking the devstating striking and great muay thai clinch of Daley to be enough to take the hitman out. Daley TKO round 2

Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filopovic (25-6-2) vs Junior Dos Santos (8-1-0)
Cro Cop hasn’t exactly covered himself in glory in his UFC fights. An eye-poke win against an overmatched Mustapha Al Turk in his last fight marking a return to winnig ways after two surprise defeats to via devastating ko to Gonzaga and a decision loss to Kongo. He will be looking to make statement in this fight and establish himself as a title contender in the heavyweight division. Unfortunately I think Cro-Cops style has been exposed in the UFC… he is an awesome stand-up fighter but he can’t cut it in the octagon and for some reason he looks out of sorts every time he enters. Dos Santos is a real prospect in the heavyweight division. Devastating power and still only 25 he is definitely one of the fighters who will be looking to establish themselves at the top of the division. I’m not sure he could withstand the beast that is Lesnar but I think he is more than a match for cro-cop. If he can avoid the kicks and get inside to land those devastating punches then it’s good night Irene for the croatian. I’m taking Dos Santos here, TKO rd 2

Rich Franklin (25-4-0) vs Vitor Belfort (18-8-0)
Vitor’s return fight to the UFC is a difficult one, Franklin has been very busy this year and has been in some cracking fights. An intelligent fighter, Franklin is going to come in with a solid gameplan for this fight. Belfort is something of an enigma, known to blow hot and cold in his career, his last few fights have shown more of “the old Vitor”, like the one that devastated Wanderlei Silva with a blaze of punches at UFC Ultimate Brazil. Interestingly Belfort is dropping down from Lightheavy and Franklin is moving up from Middle. This fight will take place at catchweight but maybe the drop down will favour Belfort. Having said that Franklin is not a small man and can make LHW comfortably. Belfort is coming off a viscious KO victory against Matt Lindland and will be looking to do more of the same to Franklin. This could be the fight of the night and I’m really looking forward to it. I don’t really want to make prediction on this, I’d rather sit back and see what happens on the night, but seeing as that kind of defeats the purpose of this post, I’m gonna stick my neck out and predict Franklin to sneak a split decision

Rafael Dos Anjos vs Robert Emerson – My Pick:Dos Anjos sub rd1 Actual: Dos Anjos decision
Vladimir Matyushenko vs Igor Pokrajac – My Pick:Pokrajac tko rd2/3 Actual: Matyushenko decision
Brian Foster vs Rick Story – My Pick:Foster tko rd2 Actual: Story sub rd 2
Jason Brilz vs Eliot Marshall – My Pick:Brilz decision Actual: Marshall decision
Rafello Oliveira vs Nick Lentz – My Pick:Oliveira sub rd 1 (or a decision win for Lentz) Actual: Lentz decision
Jim Miller vs Steve Lopez – My Pick:Miller dec Actual: Miller tko rd 2 (injury)
Efrain Escudero vs Cole Miller – My Pick:Escudero sub rd3 Actual:Escudero tko rd1
Drew McFedries vs Tomasz Drwal – My Pick:McFedries ko rd1 Actual: Drwal sub rd 2
Tyson Griffin vs Hermes Franca – My Pick:Griffin decision Actual: Griffin tko rd3
Paul Daley vs Martin Kampmann – My Pick:Daley tko rd2 Actual: Daley tko rd1
Junior Dos Santos vs Cro Cop – My Pick:Dos Santos tko rd2 Actual: Dos Santos sub(punches) rd3
Rich Franklin vs Vitor Belfort – My Pick:Franklin decision Actual: Belfort tko rd1


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