UFC 108 – Preview and Predictions

So finally we are a few days away from the first UFC 2010. Somehow the UFC has pulled together a pretty decent card after possibly one of the THE most pull-out ridden cards in UFC history. I’m sure all the pull-outs have nothing at all to do with the fights being so close to christmas and people not wanting to miss out on all that bad food and booze a week out from their fights!! (Damn its a good job I never was much good at MMA, even if I was I’m not sure I’d have the will power to abstain over christmas!).

The list of UFC 108 casualties and people who were pencilled in and later scrapped would be a monster card all on its own. Lesnar (poo leaking into his gut), Big Nog (staph), Anderson Silva (elbow surgery) are the biggest names. Carlos Condit, Sean Sherk, Rory Markham and Gabriel Gonzaga are some of the others. I’m sure there’s more but I’ve completely lost track of the exact in’s and outs. Still there are some great fights slated for the event and although it’s not a set-the-world-alight card we should be seeing some quality matchups. UK UFC fans will be drooling in anticipation of seeing another KO for Paul “Semtex” Daley in his second Octagon appearance and the main event of Thiago Silva vs Rashad Evans looks to be a barnstormer. But before we get into that, let’s look at the non-pay per view fights:

The Undercard
John Gunderson 22-6-0 vs. Rafaello Oliveira 9-2-0 – Lightweight
UFC debutant “Quick Guns” Gunderson (I’m not guna say it!) comes in as – surprise surprise – a late replacement after some intense card shuffling. He has a pretty decent record stretching back to 2002, is an IFL veteran and has 15 submission wins to his name. Oliveira has had one fight in the UFC, a decision loss to Nick Lentz, his record is a lot less impressive than Gundersons and you have to love the fact he has beaten Wigman Big Big (twice) and Fabio Fabio (so good they named him twice). Honestly I don’t know how this fight is going to go, unless Google is lying to me Gunderson is now training out of Xtreme Couture and given his impressive submission pedigree, and the fact I really am struggling to find things to write on this fight, I’m gonna just dive in and predict a submission win in Round 2 for Quick Guns!! Gunderson Round 2 Submission

Mike Pyle 19-6-1 vs. Jake Ellenberger 21-5-0 – Welterweight
Ellenberger impressed in his previous fight despite dropping the decision to Carlos Condit and gave a much stronger showing than most fans (and Condit probably) expected. He has a strong wrestling background and will need it against the BJJ fighter Pyle who despite being subbed by Brock Larson in his UFC debut came out with a win via Guillotine in his last outing at Fight Night 19. Its no secret that I prefer the submissions side of MMA to the striking but there is something freaking awesome about a big KO. With 15 T/KO’s on his record Ellenberger could deliver in this fight and on his previous showing against Condit, where he had him rocked early, I think he will finish this fight. Pyle has only been KO’d once in his entire career but I think a TKO stoppage here is gonna be his next loss. Ellenberger TKO rd 3

Mark Munoz 6-1-0 vs. Ryan Jensen 14-5-0 – Middleweight
Jensen has had a previous stint in the UFC, losing out to 2 first round subs to Thales Leites and Demian Maia. His record would suggest he favours the grappling game with 9 of his wins coming by sub. It’s fair to say Munoz is not an elite grappler like Leites and Maia and although he possesses big power it might not be enough against Jensen, who has only been KO’d once and has sparked a few people out himself. It’s likely Jensen will get put on his back by the chimp strength of Munoz but he won’t be out of the fight and I think he could sneak a submission early in this one. Jensen sub rd 1

Dan Lauzon 12-2-0 vs. Cole Miller 15-4-0 – Lightweight
The first Lauzon brother to make an appearance on the card, Dan Lauzon returns to the UFC since his debut loss to lightweight gate-keeper Spencer Fisher way back at UFC 64. He followed that with another loss in another organisation but then went a tear and is unbeaten in his last 8 fights with only 2 of those getting out of the first round. Miller is a long lanky awkward looking fighter with very effective submissions. Lauzon is going to be looking to make a statement now he has found his way back to the big show, and given that he has stopped 6 of his last 8 opponents with strikes it’s not too much of a stretch to guess how he will want this fight to go. On the ground it should be Millers and he won’t go without a fight, Lauzon will need to get inside them lanky arms to do the damage he wants. The momentum favours Lauzon but big show nerves have claimed many a fighter with an impressive record behind them. This one could go either way and its a bit of a coin toss, but there’s something about tall people that upsets me, probabaly the fact that I am a short-arse, so I hope Lauzon KOs that long streak of piss 🙂 Lauzon T/KO rd 1

Martin Kampmann 15-3-0 vs. Jacob Volkmann 9-1-0 – Welterweight
After a fantastic start in his UFC career, marred with only one slip up to a devastating Nate Marquardt, Kampmann found himself in contention for a title shot. Then it all went wrong as his fight with Swick was cancelled due to Swicks injury and he found himself staring at a very hungry Paul Daley across the octagon. We all know what happened next and now Kampmann is facing another climb up the WW ladder. In his way is Jacob “Christmas” Volkman, owner of the bext nickname in the UFC due to his haircut being exactly like Jim Careys character Lloyd Christmas in Dumb and Dumber. Both men are coming off losses, Volkman looked impressive against Paulo Thiago – despite being on the wrong end of the decision. Kampmann looked lost against the devastating power of Semtex. I think this will be a great fight but I favour Kampmann for this one. Tough fight and it will probably go the distance, Volkmann has never been stopped and Kampmann has never been subbed so both men could cancel each others strengths out. Kampmann Decision

Main Card:
Junior dos Santos 9-1-0 vs. Gilbert Yvel 36-13-1 – Heavyweight
Gilbert Yvel is an interesting acquisition for the UFC who really are pulling out all the stops to make the Heavyweights their marquee division. He has (to drastically understate it) a “colourful” reputation, chalking up losses for deliberate eye gouging and Ko’ing the ref! That said he is also a devstating striker as his record of 31 t/ko’s from 36 wins tells us. Whether he is the same Yvel “of old” is up for dispute, he certainly hasn’t looked as stylish as he did in his hey-day and he is really up against it in his UFC debut. The big hitting Dos Santos has made a huge impression since his UFC debut and I think it’s safe to say this fight isn’t going to the judges and is highly unlikely to go to the ground either. Someone is getting KO’d here. I think the person on the wrong end is going to be Yvel but he will go down swinging. Dos Santos T/KO rd 2

Jim Miller 15-2-0 vs. Duane Ludwig 19-9-0 – Lightweight
Duane Ludwig has a much better fight CV than Miller, having been in with such fighters as: BJ Penn, Jens Pulver, Takanori Gomi, Mario Stapel, Yves Edwards to name a few. He also has of the fastest KO’s in the UFC timed at 11 seconds against Jonathon Goulet. He has tremendous reach and as you would expect with a nickname like “Bang” serious power. However he is pretty one-dimensional and Miller shouldn’t have any trouble taking him down. I wouldn’t expect Miller to entertain the idea of standing with Ludwig and so he will almost certainly be looking for the first opening to take this to the mat. Although he hasn’t exactly been a finisher in his UFC stint (his most recent TKO win being due to an injury to his opponent rather than via strikes) his pre-UFC record is littered with Submission victories. This coupled with his wrestling is going to be Ludwigs biggest concern. How much improvement Ludwig has made in the weaker areas of his game remains to be seen, but it probably won’t be enough to stop Miller imposing his will. Barring a freak KO i think Miller takes this. Miller Sub rd2

Joe Lauzon 18-4-0 vs. Sam Stout 14-5-1 – Lightweight
Making his UFC debut with a shock first round KO of Jens Pulver, Lauzon has looked great in the lightweight division of the UFC so far, his only loss being to Kenny Florian as Florian made his way up to his shot at BJ Penn. With most of his wins being via submission Lauzon vs Stout is looking like a classic striker vs grappler matchup when you stack the records up against each other. Lauzon will want this on the floor and Stout will be much happier to trade on the feet. If his last fight with Stephens is anything to go by, Lauzon will do anything to get this down on the floor and being happy to work off his back he won’t care how it goes there. Given this inevitability you have to favour Lauzon in this match and I’m picking Lauzon sub rd3

Paul Daley 22-8-2 vs. Dustin Hazelett 12-4-0 – Welterweight
UK fans have known about Daley for a longtime. He only got on hardcore US fans radars when he was signed up to the now defunct Elite-XC and he scored a big KO win over fellow UFC 108 fighter, Duane Bang Ludwig. He arrived on the big show with a bang blasting through Martin Kampmann inside a round and ruining the Danes title shot dreams. US fan-boys all say Daley is one-dimensional, has no ground game and no wrestling and while these are his weaker areas, to say they are non-existant is ridiculous. That said when you stack his groundskills against those of Dustin “Mclovin” Hazelett it doesnt look good for Daley on the ground. Hazeletts problem is going to be getting him there. Jake Shields did ok putting Daley on the ground but Hazelett is no Jake Shields and Daleys wrestling is actually a lot better than people (Americans) give him credit for. Using anti-grappling and a tight thai-clinch Daley can give Hazelett problems if he closes. On the outside Daleys muay-thai is some of the best in the WW division and his kicks will certainly give Hazeletts food for through – especially a post-rehab Hazelett who has had a year out with a blown ACL. While almost every American site will no doubt be picking McLovin for the “W”, Im sure every British site will be picking Daley and Im not going to buck that trend. Daley TKO rd 1

Rashad Evans 13-1-1 vs. Thiago Silva 14-1-0 – LightHeavyweight
This is easily the hardest fight to call of the night. Both men have only been defeated once in their MMA careers, by the same man – Lyoto Machida. Both men are powerful punchers and are top 10 LHW fighters. Trying to find the thing that separates them isn’t easy as we haven’t seen a lot of Rashad on the mat to know for sure, but I would say the difference is in jiujitsu. Although he’s never had to resort to it in his career, it is known (so google tells me!) that Silva has some pretty decent jits. Rashad seems to have ditched the wrestling that he was known for in the early part of his career and likes to keep it standing with his opponents. Using feints, fast hands, lots of head movement and serious power he has been more than a match for most of his foes. But he was poleaxed by Machida when he tried to brawl. If he tries to brawl with Silva the same is very likely to happen as Silva has the seemingly tighter striking game of the two. Rashad seems to like big looping punches and while these could knock a rhino out when they land, they just take that much longer to find the spot. Machida exploited this beautifully with his deft footwork and angles and whilst Silva doesnt have that same finesse he would do well to study the tapes. On one hand I think this one could go the distance as both men will be wary of the others power. Each of them has fight ending power in their fists but the stakes are high at the top of the LHW division for another shot at the champ and neither will want to make that one mistake that puts them back to the bottom of the title-contention ladder. Then I think about the fact that Thiago doesnt like leaving things to the judges, and the fact that I really don’t like Rashad that much and I find myself leaning towards the pitbull! Silva TKO rd2

************ UPDATED WITH RESULTS **************
Rafaello Oliveira vs John Gunderson – My Pick: Gunderson Sub rd2 Actual: Oliveira decision
Jake Ellenberger vs Mike Pyle – My Pick: Ellenberger tko rd3 Actual: Ellenberger tko rd2
Mark Munoz vs Ryan Jensen – My Pick: Jensen Sub rd1 Actual: Munoz TKO rd1
Cole Miller vs Dan Lauzon – My Pick: Lauzon Sub rd3 Actual: Miller Sub rd1
Martin Kampmann vs Jacob Volkmann – My Pick: Kampmann decision Actual: Kampmann sub rd1
Junior Dos Santos vs Gilbert Yvel – My Pick: Dos Santos TKO rd2 Actual: Dos Santos TKO rd1
Jim Miller vs Duane Ludwig – My Pick: Miller Sub rd 2Actual: Miller sub rd1
Sam Stout vs Joe Lauzon – My Pick: Lauzon tko rd1 Actual: Stout dec
Paul Daley vs Dustin Hazelett – My Pick: Daley TKO rd1 Actual: Daley TKO rd1
Rashad Evans vs Thiago Silva – My Pick: Silva tko rd2 Actual: Evans decision


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