The UFC have been putting out seemingly cursed cards recently. Some great fights are announced and then injuries/illnesses and ego’s seem to get in the way and as a result we end up with some hastily cobbled together cards. UFC 107 is not an exception, not least because we have lost a main event that used a whole reality series to build it up! Rampage vs Rashad was to be the big draw on this card following their coaching stints on TUF10, but as we all know, Rampage threw his toys out the pram and quit, after deciding he wanted time out from his UFC contract to go play at being Mr T, making cabbage cannons whilst locked in a remote farmyard barn (damn I hope they use that weapon from the series in the movie that’d be frickin awesome!!).
Also off the card was holder of the fastest UFC knockout Todd Duffee facing heavy hitter Paul Buentello and Jon Fitch rematching Thiago Alves. But some decent opponents have been found to step into the breach for the injured fighters. The replacement main event could potentially be an instant lightweight classic and we get the added bonus of hopefully seeing Frank Mir beaten to a bloody pulp again after the joy of watching Freeman way back in the day and more recently Brock Lesnar reduce his face to mush. The man charged with making my night this time is Cheik Kongo because in case you didnt know: I hate Frank Mir
Kevin Burns 7-3-0 vs. T.J. Grant 14-3-0 – Welterweight
Grant is ranked in the top 50 welterweights by the respected fightmatrix.com, largely based on his uber-successful run of fights in his native Canada, where he submitted fools for fun. Since coming to the UFC however, that run seems to have ground to a halt with 2 decisions, one going each way. The step-up in class he took to face those opponents (Ryo Chonan and Dong Hyung Kim) clearly evident in the end result. This is not the case with Kevin Burns who is a much easier proposition than the two afore-mentioned opponents. That’s not to say that Burns is a slouch, far from it. He seems fairly well-rounded and also has a TKO win over Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. However I am going to go with Grant to take this one with jits power late on. Grant sub rd 3
Damarques Johnson 9-7-0 vs. Edgar Garcia 7-1-0– Welterweight
Seeing as he was the best fighter on Team US in TUF9, I’m quite surprised at just how “meh” Demarques is. I don’t think he matches up well with Garcia at all and it’s a bad night for Johnson. He has reach advantage but not the snappy stand up needed to take advantage of it and I don’t see how he is going to win this fight. Probably his only chance is his jiujitsu which may be better than Garcias as I know little about Edgars ground game. However given Garcia’s obvious superiority on the feet and inspite of the reach advantage I see Damarques walking onto Garcia’s fists and having his lights put out sometime in round 2. Garcia t/ko rd 2
Rousimar Palhares 9-2-0 vs. Lucio Linhares 13-4-0 – Middleweight
YES!! Can you say zoozhitsu fren??? Hopefully we will be treated to a grappling master class in this match, but grappler vs grappler matches in MMA very often disintegrate into displays of mediocre striking and are often decided on wrestling as both men respect the others ground game too much to engage on the floor. I’m hoping this match doesn’t play out like that, as I’m a huge fan of the groundgame in MMA (have a I said that a little too much in my posts in this blog?). Palhares looks like he could RNC a rhino and Linhares is coming off a tear with 5 first round wins in his last 5 fights (3 subs 2 tko’s). Again quality of opponent has to be taken into account though and Palhares has had the bigger fights by far in his career. Taking Hendo to a decision and beating Jeremy Horn in his last 2 fights. Palhares plays a tight, smothering, methodical jits game and I think he can use this to great effect against Linhares who will not only have to deal with the skill of his opponent but the inevitable first time “octagon jitters”.
Palhares sub rd1
Johny Hendricks 6-0-0 vs. Ricardo Funch 7-0-0 – Welterweight
Is it just me or is Hendricks kind of an Arlovski-lite? Also if he had long hair people wouldn’t be seeing Jesus in their burnt toast, they’d be seeing Johnny Hendricks. This has absolutely nothing to do with the fight, but I think it is an observation worth making! For me Hendricks is nailed on for the win here. After beating down Amir Sadollah in a fight Sadollah was expected to win, I’m surprised Hendricks’ stock in the UFC isn’t a little higher. He has great wrestling (being a 2 time Division 1 champ – which means fuck all to me because I’m british and we don’t know college wrestling – but i’m lead to believe that means he’s pretty good). He also has proper dynamite in his punches, especially his sneaky clinch uppercuts. Funch I know very little about, except he has a perfect record and his jiujitsu is apparently slick. None the less i am going to go with Hendricks to murderise the UFC newcomer with a TKO in rd 2
Shane Nelson 12-4-0 vs. Matt Wiman 10-5-0– Lightweight
Nelson is a BJ Penn trained Mixed Martial Artist who is supposed to be a jiujitsu whizz but hasn’t shown it much in his fights. In fact most of his wins have come via decision. Wiman has been in with a much higher class of opposition and made his UFC bow way back at UFC60 but came out on the wrong end of a flying knee from Spencer Fisher. Wiman is something of a gatekeeper in the division and after 4 wins on the bounce including a KO of Thiago Tavares, his 2 most recent fights ended in decision losses. Another one and he is surely going to be handed his marching orders from Dana.
I’m expecting Wiman to come away with the W here, by decision against a tenacious and eager to impress Nelson.
Alan Belcher 14-6-0 vs. Wilson Gouveia 12-6-0 – Middleweight
Belcher has the crisper standup but a tendency to go head down and push forward swinging instead of using his footwork a bit more. Gouveia has power in his hands and a tight ground game but seemingly nothing in the gas tank. On paper -for me at least – Gouveia is the better fighter but that means nothing in this game and there is big potential for Belcher to ruin his night and put him out of the UFC (given their recent run of “cuts” they have been making from the rosta). That and the fact that both fighters are coming off losses in previous outings should add a sense of urgency to the fight. If Gouveia is sensible he will put Belcher on the mat and work the sub, if he tries to stand he might get the power shot but is more likely to get picked off, gas out and get beat. I’m hoping it goes the way of the former and am picking Gouviea by sub rd2
The Main Card:
Paul Buentello 27-10-0 vs. Stefan Struve 18-3-0 – Heavyweight
Struve, despite his massive 6’11” frame, has shown nothing much on the feet. I’m sure if he learnt just a modicum of striking he would be a much scarier proposition at heavyweight. Buentello, a man with a name that sounds like a nestle chocolate bar and a frame that suggests he eats a lot of them, is going to come out to knock Struve’s head off (if he can reach it!). Struve cannot let that happen and will I’m sure opt to tie Buentello up from the start and drag him to the floor any which way he can. When that inevitability does occur, expect Struve to smack on a triangle or transition to an RNC with relative ease and finish this fight with a sub sometime in the first round. Struve sub rd1
Jon Fitch 20-3-0 vs. Mike Pierce 10-2-0 – Welterweight
Fitch is another Welterweight who just isnt quite good enough to hold the title while its in GSP’s hands (pretty much like every other WW in the UFC right now). He isnt particularly fond of finishing fights inside the distance either but he can take a beating and will keep on coming. Pierce likes to knock fools out but hasn’t been able to do that in his last two outings and in only his 2nd UFC fight to date, is taking a massive step up in class to face Fitch. He comes in as a 3rd in line opponent, after Alves and then Almeida had to withdraw. Pierce, like Fitch, has good wrestling (he wrestled for Portland state university) and as their wrestling is likely to cancel each other out, this has decision written all over it. If Pierce can land one of them bombs then it could be his night but Fitch is just that bit too good to get caught cold like that and I’m picking Fitch to come out on top. Fitch decision.
Kenny Florian 11-4-0 vs. Clay Guida 25-10-0 – Lightweight
Any fight that Guida is in always has the potential to be a fight of the night and this one is no exception. Florian had beaten pretty much all that stood in front of him at 155 until he finally got his shot against BJ Penn where he was toyed with and then submitted. Guida has the wrestling to put KenFlo on his back and this is where he should be aiming for the fight to go, but having won most his fights by submission Florian may be pretty happy with that – provided he can contain Guida in his guard. On the feet isn’t where this fight will be won, Florian is no KO artist although he does have great movement and may look to pick up points from any standup exchanges that occur. Guida is not as refined a striker as Florian and is no KO artist himself and has never been stopped by strikes in 35 fights. He will no doubt look to get Florian down and keep him there, looking to take the W by GnP. I think Guida will be aware of the submission threat Florian poses and is more than able to deal with it, although he has been susceptible to submissions in the past, I think he will last out the fight without falling victim to one. As much as I would love for Guida to take this, because I love his relentless pace and the exciting way he fights, I can’t see him getting past Florian. This is another fight that is likely to go to the judges with Kenny getting the nod. Florian decision
Frank Mir 12-4-0 vs. Cheick Kongo 14-5-1 – Heavyweight
This is the epitomy of the striker vs grappler match. Although Frank would love us to believe that he is some sort of striking god after he picked off a Nog who was little more than a human punchbag due to his staph infection, he will find out VERY quickly just how wrong he is if he decides to trade with Kongo. Kongo is a beast with serious power, but with horrible wrestling and a pretty much non-existent ground game. If this hits the mat then my dream of seeing Mir smashed through the canvas will disappear and I am hoping and praying that the Wolfslair coaches have had Kongo wrestling and defending the takedown 24/7 at his training camp. As much as I hate to admit it, Mir has the tools to be able to effectively deal with the threat Kongo poses and find the opening to get the submission win. Ever the optimist however, I am determined that UFC107 is not Mir’s night and Kongo learns from the lessons of the Velasquez fight: Giving Mir a full round of face smashing before getting bored of pounding on Mir’s extremely punchable face and sending him out of the fight by KO in round 2. Kongo t/ko rd2
UFC Lightweight Championship :
B.J. Penn 14-5-1 vs. Diego Sanchez 21-2-0 – Lightweight
This is a great fight to headline this card. Sanchez is one of the most intense and quite frankly bizarre individuals in the UFC, BJ is the undisputed king of the 155pound class and has his own bizarre tendencies (like constantly bouncing around weight classes taking fights he is extremely unlikely to win). BJ is undefeated in something like 8 years in the LW division and with good reason. He is simply awesome. Insane takedown defence, crazy high-level jiujitsu and very slick hands make him a nightmare opponent for anyone. All that said Sanchez poses a very real threat to Penn and won’t be an easy fight. Having dropped down a weight, Sanchez is big and powerful for 155 and BJ has struggled with bigger more powerful guys in the past (ie. Hughes/GSP). He also brings a frightening pace and BJ better be prepared for a very quick start to this fight. I can’t see there being much of an early feeling out process in this one. On the feet things are quite interesting as Sanchez has a much more varied game than Penn, who pretty much just boxes. I can’t see Sanchez getting Penn down and putting him on his back – which if he were to win the fight he pretty much has to do. For that reason I can’t see how Sanchez will win and so I have to pick Penn, although “Nightmare” will make Penn work for it. After a frenetic first/second round the pace should slow, suiting Penns game a lot better and the same fate that crushed Kenny Florians title dreams will ruin Diegos. I can only see BJ handing Sanchez his first “inside the distance” loss. Penn sub rd 3/4
******* UPDATED WITH RESULTS *******
BJ Penn vs Diego Sanchez – My Pick: Penn Sub rd 4 Actual:Penn TKO (cut) rd 5
Frank Mir vs Cheick Kongo – My Pick: Cheick Kongo (T)KO rd 2 Actual:Mir sub rd1
Jon Fitch vs Mike Pierce – My Pick: Fitch decision Actual:Fitch Decision
Kenny Florian vs Clay Guida – My Pick: Ken Flo decision Actual:Ken Flo Sub rd 2
Stefan Struve vs Paul Buentello – My Pick:Struve sub rd1 Actual: Struve Decision
Alan Belcher vs Wilson Gouveia – My Pick: Gouveia sub rd 2 Actual:Belcher TKO rd1
Matt Wiman vs Shane Nelson – My Pick:Wiman Decision Actual:Wiman Decision
Jonny Hendricks vs Ricardo Funch – My Pick: Hendricks (T)KO rd 2 Actual: Hendricks Decision
Rousimar Palhares vs Lucio Linhares – My Pick:Palhares sub rd1 Actual: Palhares Sub rd2
Damarques Johnson vs Edgar Garcia – My Pick: Garcia TKO rd2 Actual: Johnson sub rd1
TJ Grant vs Kevin Burns – My Pick: Grant sub rd3 Actual: Grant TKO rd1