Awesome!! UFC is back this weekend. After nearly a month off I am getting withdrawals and there are some potentially great fights on this card. It looks like some of the prelims will be aired as well which is great news as often the pay per view audience miss out on some of the good matches that happen on the undercards of the events.
So I’m back again for another installment of UFC picks based on crap nicknames and pretending to be semi-knowledgeable about the MMA game! Here goes…..
Stefan Struve 17-3-0 vs. Chase Gormley 6-0-0 – Heavyweight
Struve is an awesome submissions fighter…but that’s about it. His striking and wrestling are poor at best. However I give him a pretty good chance against Gormley, who although undefeated hasn’t exactly been in the cage with a high calibre of fighter. Gormley is ANOTHER new addition to the seemingly endless roster of heavy weights on the UFC’s books. His last fight was over a year ago and as ever “octagon jitters” could be a factor here. His best chance is to keep it standing and avoid putting Struve on his back where he would be in real danger of getting subbed. Whether he will be able to stick to a gameplan under the pressure of the big show only time will tell. That will be the key to this fight. I’m going to stick to my tried and tested (and usually spectacularly wrong) tactic of favouring the grappler here and pick Struve by Sub in round 2 for no other reason than i think Struve’s experience and slick submissions will favour him as he wont want this on the feet at all, will force Gormley to wrestle and will take an opening when it’s given.
Kyle Kingsbury 7-2-0 vs. Razak Al-Hassan 6-1-0 – Light Heavyweight
I must admit to knowing absolutely fook all about these 2 guys. Other than Al-Hassan got his arm broken by Steve Cantwell in his last UFC outing at fight for the troops and looked horrible stood-up. He does have a lot sub wins on his record and is touted as a very talented fighter. Whether he will get a chance this time to show what he is capable of in the octagon is a different story.
Kingsbury has dropped his last 2 fights the last being to tom “the filthy mauler” Lawlor (FUUUCK!! Another shite nickname… what is going on – seriously!) at the TUF8 finale. He has a good chance here to take a KO win if Al-Hassans standup is anything like as bad as it was in his last outing. This time I’m gonna go with a KO win for Kingsbury as he’s due a win and Al-Hassan is in his first fight back after a nasty injury.
Jorge Rivera 16-7-0 vs. Rob Kimmons – Middleweight
Rivera is a veteran of the game but has arguably seen his best days come and go. His standup skills are reknowned but despite his KO against Kendall Grove at UFC80 I’m not sure they are as good as they once were. At 37 he is in the twilight of his career and it’s safe to say he is no Randy Couture. He faced off against Anderson Silva at Cage Rage 11 waaaay back in the day and got beat up and there is no way he could ever hope to be in the octagon with him again in my opinion. Rob “the rosedale reaper” Kimmons (aaaaaaaarggggh not another one) has the better record of the two and heavily favours the jiujitsu game, so this should be a classic striker vs grappler match. Kimmons is no contender either but his skills should be more than a match for the ageing Rivera who even in his prime he was open to being subbed (Lee Murray triangled him at UFC 46 and Murray aint no submissions guy!!). I’m taking Kimmons by sub round 2
Yushin Okami 23-4-0 vs Chael Sonnen 23-10-1 – Middleweight
I really don’t know why Okami hasn’t been more hyped as a potential challenger for Silva given that he holds a win over him. Admittedly he has been hampered by injuries including a broken hand when he was actually slated to face off against “the spider” but that doesn’t justify him constantly being left out of the names of potential contenders for Anderson. I think he has too much for Sonnen in every department and whilst Sonnen can definitely make this a scrap, I think Okami will come out on top. This won’t be exciting or pretty but it will be decisive: Okami decision. Whether this will put Okami on the road back to challenging for the strap we will have to see, it’ll be interesting who they give him next. A match with Maia has potential maybe? I dunno – I’m not Joe Silva 😉
Antoni Hardonk vs. Pat Barry 4-1-0 – Heavyweight
This one is a potential fight of the night. Two explosive heavyweight K1 fighters facing off against each other. Please let it be so that this is one of the prelims they actually show!! If this hits the mat it will be horrible but as long as it is on the feet we will have an awesome fight on display. I favour Hardonk due to his reach advantage and training out of the Vos Gym in Holland – where awesome dutch Muay Thai fighters are wheeled off a production line – won’t hurt his chances. This is Hardonks for the taking providing he doesnt end up on his back and uses his size advantage well to keep the distance and destroy Barry’s legs. Hardonk TKO rd1
Ryan Bader 9-0-0 vs Eric Schafer 11-3-2 – Light Heavyweight
Firstly lets get the nickname out the way Ryan “darth” Bader… Even if he wasnt a good fighter i would love him for this…. So bad its actually awesome. Undefeated TUF8 LHW winner Bader is a guy the UFC will no doubt be looking to build up. Standing in his way is jiujitsu standout Eric Schafer. I’m a sucker for great grappling, I love the ground game. But even in my most generous mood I could not pick Schafer to take this. Yes there is the chance of him getting the sub. There’s always a chance and anything can happen in MMA but Schafer is no Demian Maia, and Baders top control is too good to allow Shafer to get anything done off his back. Schafers 2 losses come to Bonnar and Bisping who both possess decent stand up skills and scored big TKO wins against the Pedro Sauer blackbelt. I can’t see Schafers “jits” being enough to get him through this fight, or being able to get a takedown with top position due to Baders far superior wrestling. Bader to pound out a TKO win in the second or third round
The main card
Anthony Johnson 7-2-0 vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida – Welterweight
Another big clash of styles here. Johnson is a virtual lock for this fight, his massive size, strength and reach advantage alone should be enough to convince anyone that Yoshida has a mammoth task ahead of him trying to win this fight. Whilst Yoshida is far more technical he is really up against it in this fight and it is hard to see him making it to the end. Johnson TKO round 1
Joe-Stevenson 30-10-0 vs. Spencer Fisher 23-4-0 – Lightweight
A battle of 2 perrenial contenders, this lightweight clash is an interesting match-up. Fishers lone loss in 2 years comes from Frankie Edgar who consistently took him down and took him out of his striking game. Joe Daddy has been more active lately than Fisher and possesses great takedowns so may well look to implement the same strategy. Fisher is a scrappy fighter with powerful hands but hasn’t managed to knock anyone out cleanly since his win against Dan Lauzon in 2006. In his most recent fight he put on an entertaining fight (for the purists) against Caol Uno but the decision to give him the win was controversial and in my opinion Uno should have won the fight.
I think Joe Daddy will ensure that Fisher remains no more than a gatekeeper for the lightweight ranks by putting a beating on him as he looks to get into title contention once more. Joe Stevenson by Decision
Gleison Tibau 19-6-0 vs. Josh Neer 25-8-1
Woohoo a fighter with a nickname I like: Josh “the dentist” Neer (cos he’ll take your teeth out :D). This is a must win for both guys as they both are coming off decision losses in their previous fights. I give Neer the edge in this fight due to his workrate and his superior cardio. Tibau has great takedowns but Neers guard game is solid and I’m not sure Lay and Pray is gonna win him this fight. This one has decision written all over it and I’m going with Neer to take it
Cain Velasquez 6-0-0 vs Ben Rothwell 30-6-0 – Heavyweight
Whilst many rave about Velasquez as the next big thing at heavyweight he is far from the finished article in my opinion. Against Kongo in his last fight he was put down at least 3 times and although he dominated Kongo and won a convincing decision, I think that has more to do with Kongos inexplicable desire to try and compete on the floor, rather than keep it standing (where he was clearly winning the fight and doing damage). Rothwell will be making his UFC Octagon debut – but as a 36 fight veteran I think nerves will be less of a factor here. Undefeated since 2005 barring a 3rd round KO loss to Arlovski, Rothwell might look like a fatty manboobs but he is undoubtedly a difficult fight for Velasquez and has the ability to expose the holes in Cain’s game. Although he has a good TKO record, the fact he hit Arlovski with some good shots and Arlovski came out relatively unscathed speaks volumes as Arlovski isn’t known for having a granite chin!
I can’t say I’ve seen many (any?) of Rothwells fights so I don’t know how he does off his back, but i think that is where he will find himself in this fight at some point. It is then that we will see Velasquez’s key weapon as his GnP is relentless. I honestly think both fighters have a pretty good chance but it all depends where the fight goes. If Rothwell can get top position then Velasquez could see his first defeat as Rothwells grappling is known to be surprisingly good for a man who looks like he gets his breakfast, lunch and dinner at greggs and doubles up on everything. If Velasquez gets a controlling position then it could make it a difficult night for Rothwell.
I’m gonna put this one down as my underdog pick and go for Rothwell to pick up a decision, but this could very easily swing the other way and be a velasquez decision on the night.
Lyoto Machida 15-0-0 vs Mauricio Rua 18-3-0 – Light HeavyWeight Title
The climax of the night has the potential to be an AMAZING fight. Fresh off his H/l reel Ko of Rashad Evans Machida defends his title for the first time. If we see anything like the Rua of the old pride days then this will be a barnstormer. An all out aggressive Rua, whilst entertaining will play right into the hands of Machidas elusive counter punching style. The Rua of old was the complete fighter, great jiujitsu and a devastating array of muay thai kicks and clinch made him deadly and widely regarded as the no1 light heavyweight in the world. Right now, he probably isnt even in the top 5. After 2 years off following knee surgery after his debut UFC loss to Forest, he beat an over the hill old man in Mark Coleman and KO’d a Chuck Liddell whose jaw left the building about 3 fights ago.
Rua is going to need to rediscover his Pride FC form to have any sort of a chance against Machida – who grows in confidence every fight and has an innate ability to seize on the smallest opening in his opponents defence and make it look like a yawning chasm as he smashes them with crisp counters.
Rua’s best chance is to keep the striking tight, control the distance and if Machida closes the distance use that awesome Muay Thai clinch he once had. Whether that is still going to be enough though is doubtful as I am sure that somehow, someway Machida will be taking Rua out inside the distance. Machida has great takedown defence (as he showed against Tito), so even if Rua wants to test out his jiujitsu game against Machida’s he has to work out how to get him there first. I remain unconvinced that Rua will ever re-discover his pre-UFC form and even if he did, I’m still not sure he could beat the awesome Machida. The “Machida-Era” will not end tonight – although part of me hopes it does, just to hear Joe Rogans commentary: “WOW….WOW….WOW THE-MACHIDA-ERA-HAS-ENDED! WOW…WOW [etc..]”. But that aint gonna happen and my pick is The Dragon retains the belt with a 3rd round KO of Shogun
*******UPDATED WITH RESULTS************
Stefan Struve vs Chase Gormely – My Pick:Struve sub rd 2 Actual: Struve sub rd1
Kyle Kingsbury vs Razak Al-Hassan – My Pick:Kingsbury ko Actual: Kingsbury dec
Rob Kimmons vs Jorge Rivera – My Pick:Kimmons sub rd2 Actual:Rivera tko rd3
Yushin Okami vs Chael Sonnen – My Pick:Okami decision Actual:Sonnen dec
Pat Barry vs Antoni Hardonk – My Pick:Hardonk tko rd1 Actual: Barry tko rd2
Ryan Bader vs Eric Shafer – My Pick:Bader tko 2/3 Actual: Bader dec
Anthony Johnson vs Yoshiyuki Yoshida – My Pick:Johnson tko rd1 Actual: Johnson tko rd1
Joe Stevenson vs Spencer Fisher – My Pick:Stevenson dec Actual:Stevenson tko rd2
Gleison Tibau vs Josh Neer – My Pick:Neer decision Actual: Tibau decision
Ben Rothwell vs Cain Velasquez – My Pick:Rothwell decision Actual:Velasquez tko rd2
Lyoto Machida vs Mauricio Shogun Rua – My Pick:Machida tko rd3 Actual:Machida dec