UFC119 Mir vs CroCop:Preview and Predictions

Big weekend for UK fans with the UFC and BAMMA events all happening. I have already written about BAMMA here, so please go check it out. This UFC isn’t a stellar card by any means, but it is solid and promises some great matchups. Mirko Cro Cop steps into the breach at short notice to face Frank Mir after Mirs original opponent (big nog), had to withdraw through injury. I have yet to be convinced by Cro Cop in the UFC, I think his star is on the wane, but a fight against Mir gives him a great opportunity to show that he can challenge the upper echelons of the divison. A BIG problem though, is the news that he suffered an eye injury in training very recently. Although he has been cleared to fight by the commission, an eye injury isn’t a great thing to carry into a fight, because – as much as I hate to state the obvious – the ability to see is a pretty big must-have when you’re standing opposite someone who is trying to hurt you! Elsewhere on the card we have a veterans battle when Matt Serra and Chris Lytle face off in a match that could well be the fight of the night. Also lightheavyweight stand out Ryan Bader faces little Nog, after a string of impressive performances that has put him right up in contention to start troubling the big hitters of the 205lb division and possibly get a shot at the title.

So now I got you all warmed up, allow me to finish you off: Let’s get it on! (with the fight previews I meant…. get your mind out of the gutter :))

Mark Hunt 5-6-0 vs. Sean McCorkle 9-0-0 – Heavyweight
Local boy McCorckle makes his UFC debut and is fighting a veteran of the fight game. Hunt also makes his debut, although his name will be a lot more familiar to hardcore MMA fans as he has been around a long time, plying his trade in K1 and Pride. He famously has wins over both Cro-Cop and Wanderlei Silva in Pride and has fought a literal who’s who of the MMA and kickboxing worlds. Since his victories over CroCop and Silva, his MMA career hasn’t exactly gone to plan: He has been stopped in the first round in his five previous fights. Admittedly the fighters who administered those beatings are stellar names: Barnett, Fedor, Overeem, Manhoef and Mousasi respectively. However carrying a losing streak like this isn’t normally how you get into the UFC! Hunt has clearly been taking his training seriously since being signed and I have seen pics of him around “teh interwebs” looking a lot trimmer than he has done in the past whilst training at ATT. Maybe this will give him a little edge on his opponent who weighs in at a similar size to hunt 300lbs but at 6’7″ has almost a foot height advantage! I don’t envy Hunt in this one and he is going to have his work cutout for him facing a unit like that! Both men have some serious work to do to make the UFC’s 265lb limit, it will be interesting to see how they look stepping on the scales tomorrow!
As for the fight itself: McCorkle may do well to look at the record of Hunt and opt to take this to the mat where he could use his size advantage to great effect over the Kiwi fighter, who isn’t exactly a grappling standout. With that said, a look through McCorkles record shows us that he is clearly a guy who loves to bang and so it looks like the fans will be treated to a barnstorming opening fight which could be KO of the night contender. Whilst his record shows 4 submissions, a closer inspection tells you that 3 of those were submissions from punches (all inside 2 minutes). On stats alone you’d have to favour McCorkle in this one, he’s been more active and far more successful than Hunt recently and has age and size on his side. Hunt can never be written off entirely and looks to be taking this MMA stuff seriously now. Also on Hunts side is his clear experience advantage and the fact that he has been in with guys who would chew up and spit out all of McCorkles prior opponents. Training at ATT can only have been of benefit to Hunt, and he is certainly not a write off. This is a big fight for both guys for very different reasons. Who wants it most is the guy that’ll win. My money is on McCorkle to pull off the shocker but me being wrong would be nothing new and Hunt has a better than average shout. Still I’ll take McCorkle in this one. I think he has been brought in to compete with the new breed of Heavyweights who are all gigantic men. Hunts time to shine has very probably passed, McCorkles is just starting. McCorkle TKO rd2

T.J. Grant 15-4-0 vs. Julio Paulino 17-3-0 – Welterweight
Two guys with decent records up and big potential up next. Both are coming off decision losses to better wrestlers. Grant is a muay thai and submissions specialist while Paulino has a background in wrestling. Only Grant has been stopped in a fight before and this looks to be a very close matchup. Paulino didn’t look particularly impressive in his promotional debut against Mike Pierce but he still wasn’t stopped, something which suggests he has a bit more to give than he showed against a guy who is the archetypal wrestle-stomper. I honestly haven’t got an awful lot to say about this one other than Grant has been around the big show a bit longer than Paulino, but it is hard to say whether that experience will be telling or not. Grant probably comes in as a favourite here and is arguably a bit more versatile a fighter, certainly on the feet. But if Paulino is the aggressor here and goes after the takedown rather than being the guy on bottom the whole time, we may see a different fighter to the one we saw against Pierce. I know I’m not really selling this fight and possibly I’m sleeping on what could be a fight of the night…..but my guess is not 😉 This looks like it’s going the distance and by process of eenie meenie miney mo I’m picking Paulino for the win. Paulino decision

Waylon Lowe8-3-0 vs. Steve Lopez 12-2-1 – Lightweight
Two men seeking their first wins inside the UFC octagon square off in this lightweight contest. Lopez instantly springs out as the shoe-in pick for this one with hometown advantage, a better record and a top class fight team behind him. Sometimes though, you have to look past all this: Lowe was a division 2 wrestler and put a decent record together, he almost made it onto TUF9 but was beaten by Santino Defranco. In that fight Dana said himself it shouldn’t have gone to a second round because Lowe really took it to deFranco in that first frame, but burnt himself out. In his full UFC debut he came up against an in-form Melvin Guillard and was taken out early with a huge knee to the body. With a point to prove this time he faces Lopez, who also has a background in wrestling but not to the level of his opponent. He retired through injury in his UFC debut against Jim Miller after dislocating his shoulder. He since had surgery and has been cleared to fight, but this is his first fight back in year and he is facing a tough opponent. Yes Lopez has home town advantage here, but I think Lowe could take this with his superior wrestling proving the deciding factor. Lowe decision

Thiago Tavares 14-3-1 vs. Pat Audinwood 9-0-1 – Lightweight
Audinwood is a fighter who has been completely off radar for me. But now that he is in the big show, he is firmly in my sights. Especially because his fight nickname is “awesomely awesome”. Just say that out loud for a sec… “Pat Awesomely awesome Audinwood”. That is no nickname, it’s a effing tounguetwister! He comes in undefeated and he may indeed be “awesomely awesome”, but he’s going to have to put in a strong performance to live up to his nicknames billing against Tavares. Whilst Tavares came to the UFC with a lot of hype behind him he hasn’t shown his full array of skills and has come up short in a few of his fights. Whilst most of his wins in the UFC have come by decision (and most of his losses incidentally), he is undoubtedly an extremely talented grappler and should comfortably deal with Audinwood on the mats. On the feet Audinwood is a totally unknown quantity to me so I cannot comment with any authority on how that might go. He has now T/KO victories on his record (Tavares has one) so not a lot to go on there. I’m going to take Tavares in this one as I do not believe Audinwood will be able to compete with the Brazilians grappling skills. Tavares submission round 2

Aired Prelims
Matt Mitrione 2-0-0 vs. Joey Beltran 12-3-0 – Heavyweight
Mitrione is the ex-football player, turned TUF contestant and holds a victory over Kevin “Kimbo-Slice” Ferguson which signalled the end of Kimbos UFC career. Beltran is far more experienced and is an in-your-face banger type of fighter. He suffers from a significant height deficit in this fight and it is hard to see how is going to get in Mitriones face like he’d want. Mitrione is improving all the time and I think he will have more than enough to comfortably handle “the mexecutioner” in this match. Mitrione will hopefully be smart enough not to enter a war of attrition on the feet with Beltran, who seems able to just eat punches all day. Whilst there is always the danger of Mitrione getting clipped here, I think he should be able to get hold of Beltran and when this happens and he gets it to the ground, Beltran will be horribly exposed and despite Mitriones ground game not exactly being well-honed, it is more than a match for Beltrans. Mitrione submission round 1

C.B. Dollaway 10-2-0 vs. Joe Doerksen 46-12-0 – Middleweight
Dolloway is another TUF graduate who promised much but didn’t really deliver. Although he only has two losses in his UFC career, he hasn’t exactly set the world alight with his performances. Doerksen is a long time veteran with a less than stellar UFC record and is only still around due to his recent surprise win over Tom Lawlor. He is undefeated in two years but 6 of the 7 wins he has put together in that time were outside the UFC. Dolloway may be able to out-tough Doerksen here. He has to watch that he doesn’t leave himself open to submissions as Doerksens offensive grappling is still pretty good. But with father time and a long hard fight career going against his, you have to fancy Dolloway to pull this one out of the bag and snap the win streak of the veteran. If he doesn’t, he may well find himself falling victim to the axe that has been ruthlessly wielded by Dana and co recently. Dolloway decision

Main Card –
Jeremy Stephens 18-5-0vs. Melvin Guillard 24-8-2-1(NC) – Lightweight
This is quite a tough one to call actually. Guillard when he’s on is outstanding and whenever I’ve picked against him he seems to turn in a great performance. Stephens is tough as hell and neither men have ever been knocked out. The Greg Jackson influence on Guillard seems to have curtailed a lot of the mistakes he seemed to make in his earlier fights. With a 35 fight record it’s sometimes easy to forget that Guillard is still only 27. Both men have ridiculous power but Stephens probably has the more polished standup game. Guillard will come armed with a solid game plan no doubt, but his ability to get that gameplan off is going to be key here. If Stephens can get Guillard on his back then it heavily favours him, if he can move Guillard around on the feet and get him to chase and make a mistake then again I think it favours Stephens. Things get interesting if Guillard can use his Judo to good effect and actually get Stephens on his back. Even as I type this, I am still not convinced I can make a solid pick either way. I can see both mens ways to win here. If pushed I’d have to take the cop-out route and say this one goes to decision – probably in favour of Stephens, no Guillard, no…Stephens! Ah f*ck it, I have no idea!! http://www.Tossacoin.com says it’s a Stephens decision 🙂

Evan Dunham 11-0-0 vs. Sean Sherk 33-4-1 – Lightweight
After a really unfortunate run of injuries, Sean Sherk is back and his opponent is a guy whose star is definitely on the rise. Sherk has only ever lost to Champions or people who then went on to be champions and he could be Dunhams toughest opponent to date. Ring rust and father time are factors that could affect the outcome of this fight and work against Sherk. If he tries his most recent tactic of standing and trying to box with Dunham he should find himself eating a lot of jabs due to the clear reach advantage of Dunham. If he goes after the takedown and top control game he was famous for in the earlier part of his UFC career, he is leaving himself open to the very competent submission game of the Dunham. Basically wherever this goes I’m picking Dunham to come out tops. I think Sherk will try to take this down at some point and fully expect Dunham to lock on some funky choke to spoil Sherks return to the big show, probably in the later rounds.Dunham submission round 3

Matt Serra 11-6-0 vs. Chris Lytle 29-17-5 – Welterweight
Lytle takes on Serra in a rematch of their TUF 4 finale encounter. Serra came out the winner on that and went on to famously shock the world by KO’ing GSP. Since that defeat Lytle has gone on to get 7 fight bonuses – a UFC record and in the 11 fights since his he last met Serra in the octagon he has gone 7-4 in total. Serra by contrast has only fought 4 times and has a record of 2-2. On paper then, you’d have to fancy Lytle in this match, but Serra is just a bad match up for him. A devastating puncher with a very good ground game, Serra is like Lytles kryptonite. He just does everything a little bit better. Lytle is teak-tough and his ground game is very good, but I can’t help feeling Serra may have the edge. One thing Lytle will carry into the Octagon with him that Serra can’t match, is the fans support. Lytle is the local boy in this match and Serra will definitely be on the recieving end of the crowds displeasure. Though this may make other fighters waiver, Serra has that confident swagger that seems to say this won’t bother him at all. I can see this going the distance and I think it is a potential fight of the night. Lytle will need to pull out all the stops to get the win here, but if he goes after Serra too much he will leave himself open to that right hook counter. I really like Lytles style and he has put in some great performances in the octagon of late, but Im going for Serra here. Serra decision

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira 19-3-0 vs. Ryan Bader 11-0-0 – Light Heavyweight
TUF 8 winner Bader is riding a lot of momentum coming into this fight. Little Nog is coming off a victory over Jason Brilz that weas heavily disputed. I thought Jason Brilz won it and so did the crowd and half the internet. It seems the only people who thought Nog won that fight were the judges. Little nog looked like he’d lost to jason brilz. Only people that thought he’d won were the judges that night. Regardless of that performance, Noguiera is a legitimate badass, a boxing champion and a judo and BJJ blackbelt. He coasted a bit in the Brilz fight and in this one he won’t be able to, if Bader has any sense he is going to close the distance and make Nogs night really uncomfortable. The minute Noguiera is able to control distance and tee off, Bader is going to be eating leather. Clearly though, Baders wrestling is the ace up his sleeve. This has to be the most worrying thing for Nogueira and is Baders key to victory. Provided he doesn’t get clipped he should be able to put Nogueira on his back and control position. He possibly won’t finish Nogueira off, but he should be able to take a the decision. Bader decision

Frank Mir 13-5-0 vs. Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic 28-7-2-1(NC) – Heavyweight
Unsurprisingly I hope Cro-Cop knocks Frank Mirs head off his shoulders in this fight. But the eye injury is a bit of a worry. As I said at the beginning of the post, he has been cleared to fight, but it could still trouble him. CroCop needs to get in Mirs face and put the pressure on. Mir hates being on the back foot and is like a rabbit in the headlights when he is faced with a fighter that is going to pour it on him. The worst thing CroCop can do is be hesitant and let Mir get hold of him. Whilst CroCop has never been easy to submit, Mir (as much as I hate to say it) is one of the best Heavyweight grapplers out there. Although old Franky boy is clearly conceited enough to think he is gods gift to striking, if he is to win this match he needs to stick to what he does best. But this is Frank Mir we are talking about and so I’m sure he will have a go at standing up with Filopovic. Hopefully CroCops killer instinct hasn’t left him completely and we will see that head severing kick of his come into play in this fight. I would love nothing more than seeing the effect of CroCops shin impacting that stupid f*cking head of Mir. This is definitely a heart over head pick but i dont care. I will be willing CroCop on and am picking a 1st round smash win for the legendary veteran. CroCop TKO round 1

************ Updated with Results ***************
Mark Hunt vs. Sean McCorkle – My Pick: McCorkle TKO rd2 Actual: McCorkle via technical submission (straight armbar) rd 1.
TJ Grant vs. Julio Paulino – My Pick:Paulino decision Actual: Grant decision
Steve Lopez vs. Waylon Lowe – My Pick:Lowe decision Actual: Lowe decision
Thiago Tavares vs. Pat Audinwood – My Pick:Tavares sub rd2 Actual: Tavares submission (standing guillotine choke) rd 1
Matt Mitrione vs. Joey Beltran – My Pick:Mitrione sub rd1 Actual: Mitrione decision
C.B. Dollaway vs. Joe Doerksen – My Pick:Dolloway decision Actual: Dolloway (modified guillotine) rd 1
Melvin Guillard vs. Jeremy Stephens – My Pick:Stephens decision Actual: Guillard decision
Sean Sherk vs. Evan Dunham – My Pick: Dunham sub rd3 Actual: Sherk decision
Matt Serra vs. Chris Lytle – My Pick: Serra decision Actual: Lytle decision
Antônio Rogério Nogueira vs. Ryan Bader – My Pick:Bader decision Actual: Bader decision
Frank Mir vs. Mirko Filipovic – My Pick:Cro Cop TKO rd1 Actual:Mir KO (knee) rd 3.


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