UFC 127 Penn vs Fitch: Preview and Predictions

February has been a busy month for MMA and the final weekend of the shortest month of the year is an vertiable MMA-fest. I have my weekend planned: Stream cagewarriors 40 for free over the internet, sky plus Bamma 5 and watch it after cagewarriors and then visit my brothers for a sunday night UFC session to round the weekend off. What could be better?

This UFC has four brits fighting, which is always good. Unfortunately I won’t get to see Tom Blackledge make his debut, or see Curt Warburtons fight, but Ross Pearson on the prelims and Bisping on the main card, should be great fights that I will get to see. The main event of the night is a bit of a mixed bag for me. I love BJ Penn, he is an MMA god. I even named my son after him (sort of). But I HATE Fitch with a passion. He is one of the worst MMA fighters to watch in my opinion. I can’t take anything away from his record, 14 fights and 13 wins in the UFC is undoubtedly commendable. But the way he wins them (at least recently) is painful. Have someone rub lemon juice in your eyes and kick you in the balls at the same time and the sensations you will experience are only half way to how I feel when I have to watch Fitch fight. It physically pains me to see him in the Octagon. Trouble is, as much as I want BJ to smash Fitch’s fugly face, I think he is really up against it in this match.

Bisping has a score to settle with Jorge Riveira after all the trolling the American has been doing and again as much as I’d love to see him get the job done. I always end up watching Bisping fight through my fingers as I slap my face in disbelief at how he fights sometimes. Hopefully we see the Bisping that fought Kang instead of the Bisping that fought Henderson.

One fighter I always love to watch and who hasn’t failed to deliver yet is George Sotriopoulos. After this match, should he beat Denis Siver (and I’m betting my house that he does), he is next in line for a shot at the title. George vs BJ would be my dream match at Lightweight, that is a dream MMA fight for someone who loves to see high-level jiujitsu in the Octagon (Joe Rogan would literally mess himself if that fight happened). But seeing as BJ is now campaining at 170lbs, we will probably have to settle for George Sotiropoulos vs Maynard when Maynard wins the Edgar rematch. Ho hum.

So after all my pontificating, prattling and procrastinating…………..let’s get it on!

The undercard (streamed on facebook)
Tie Quan Zhang 12-1-0 vs. Jason Reinhardt 20-1-0 – Featherweight
When you look at Reinhardts record (and if you didn’t know any better) you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is a one way ticket out of the UFC for Zhang. Then you dig a little deeper and realise that the UFC desperately wants to break the Chinese market and Reinhardt got smashed in under 2 minutes by Joe Lauzon before racking up 2 wins against opponents with a combined record of 2wins and 16 losses. Make no mistake, Dana is going to be sitting there hoping that Zhang destroys Reinhardt in this fight! As it turns out, Dana shouldn’t have too much to worry about. The only area where Zhang trails Reinhardt is wrestling but that shouldn’t be too much of a factor as he bests Reinhardt in reach and standup skills and should wipe the floor with him if it hits the mat. Zhan Submission rd 2

Anthony Perosh 10-6-0 vs. Tom Blackledge 10-6-0 – Light Heavyweight
Tom Blackledge may not have the best record, but this is a guy who has been around the scene a long time and has a highlight reel KO from M1 Challenge to scare any opponent witless. He has been unlucky with injuries and has flitted between LHW and HW, but it is 205 where he is at best. Perosh is a jiujitsu standout but rarely shows it and in fact has been a nice punching bag for most of the guys he has fought when stepping up to UFC level fights. This works out pretty nicely then for Blackledge and I’m picking him to start the night off really well for the British contingent. The only banana-skin for Tom is his deficit in the grappling game, if Perosh catches hold of something he will likely finish the Brit, but nevertheless I’m backing Tom to keep this on the feet and hopefully land one of his special kicks just for the Australian audience! Blackledge TKO rd 2

non-aired prelims
Curt Warburton 6-2-0 vs. Maciej Jewtuszko 8-0-0 – Lightweight
Warburton is a tough fighter who already has a loss in the UFC, a close decision dropped to the far more experienced Spencer Fisher. Once again he is up against in this fight. Jewtuszko is a muay thai expert and BJJ purple belt who dazzled with a dynamic striking display in his last fight at WEC 50. As a heavy underdog, he was expected to take a beating at the hands of Anthony Njokuani, but he flipped the script and won the fight in 1:35 with a spinning backfist followed up with a few uppercuts for good measure, earning him KO of the night. Warburton then, needs to be on his game and not afford too much distance to the polish fighter. Curt has it in him to make this a good scrap, but on balance I don’t think his overall skillset matches up too well with his opponent on saturday. If he can outwrestle Jewtuszko he may rack up some points to sneak a win via the judges, but if this doesn’t go the distance then I fancy the Pole to take home the prize. Jewtuszko TKO rd 3

Mark Hunt 5-7-0 vs. Chris Tuchscherer 18-3-0-1(NC) – Heavyweight
What can I say about this fight.. two fat fucks trying to knock each other out. Hunt is a shot fighter but could pull out a KO here if he can rediscover a fraction of his Pride / K1 form. This is unlikely though as his best days seem far behind him. A shame as there’s something about Tuchsherer I really don’t like…. oh that’s right: his bitch tits and fat ugly FACE! *phew* ok I’m back in the room. Anyhow, I don’t really care too much about fatties stinking up the octagon so I’ll make this short. Tuchscherer will win, probably by sub!

Nick Ring 10-0-0 vs. Riki Fukuda 17-4-1-1(NC) – Middleweight
Fukuda is a rarity coming from Japanese MMA as his wrestling skills mean he may actually be able to hang with the fighters in the UFC. Traditionally many Japanese fighters have struggled to find the form they were known for in the land of the rising sun, when they step into the Octagon. Fukuda could be an exception to this rule. Whilst Ring is almost certainly the better striker, he has had 3 major surgeries on his ACL (the third of which saw him leave the TUF house in series 11) and he hasn’t fought since 2009. He is surrounded by top top fighters at the tristar gym, not least of whom is GSP. But I have a feeling on Fukuda here. I expect this one will go to the judges and I’m hoping that the wrestling of Fukuda will see him navigate the superior stand-up of his opponent. Fukuda decision

Aired prelims:
Alexander Gustafsson 10-1-0
vs. James Te Huna 12-4-0 – Light Heavyweight
Gustafsson looks to be the real deal and but for that crazy anaconda choke that Phil Davis scored on him, he would be undefeated coming into this match. Te Huna has a great punch but hasn’t shown too much else, especially not at high level. Gustafsson can bang, but probably would fancy his chances a whole lot better on the ground in this one. If he can get Te Huna down and avoid the heavy shots, this should be a nice win for the Swedish prospect. Gustafsson submission round 1

Ross Pearson 11-4-0 vs. Spencer Fisher 24-6-0 – Lightweight
This is potentially one of the fights of the night and I’m so glad it’s being aired. Ross Pearson has been on a tear in the UFC and his only blip was that loss to Cole Miller. Pearson will be out for a litte revenge for the Brits on Fisher, who took a win against Curt Warburton in his last fight. Fisher is as tough as they come and vastly experienced. Both men can bring it for 3 rounds and are a good match for each other on the feet. Pearson has shown crisp muay thai skills in his fights – the Miller fight excepted – and everyone knows what Fisher brings to the party. This one has decision written all over it, but when you know the fight will be exciting, I have no problem with that! I give the edge to a hungry Pearson who will be looking to get his hype-train back on the rails following his last loss. Pearson decision

The main card:
Kyle Noke 18-4-1-0 vs. Chris Camozzi 14-3-0 – Middleweight
These two have an awful lot in common and it was almost inevitable their paths would cross in the octagon sooner or later. Both men appeared on TUF11 (with Camozzi being injured and unabled to proceed in the competition). Both have put together four fight win streaks, with Nokes stopping all four and Camozzi subbing two and decisioning two. Noke has fought the better level of opposition overall and as the local fighter, will be recieving the majority of the cheers on the night. Noke has a nice blend of wrestling and boxing so he can hang whereever the fight goes. I’m leaning towards Noke in this fight, just because he’s that bit better at every range. Of course, Camozzi has a punchers chance and he wouldn’t do his career prospects any harm beating the aussie on his home turf. But i’m taking Noke by decision

Chris Lytle 38-17-5 vs. Brian Ebersole 46-14-1-1(NC) – Welterweight
With 123 fights between them, these two men have fought more wars than just about the whole of the undercard combined! Lytle is always exciting and has a tendency to take home one of the bonuses on offer more often than not. Ebersole is someone I am not familiar with at all as, in spite of his huge number of fights, he has never appeared in the UFC octagon until now. On a 7 fight win streak including a decision win over former UFC champ Carlos Newton, Ebersole will probably be looking to avoid trading too long with Lytle and concentrat instead on taking it to the mat and searching for a choke. The man loves to finish with a choke! He is at a slight disadvantage coming as a late replacement for Carlos Condit and he will be the underdog in many peoples eyes. But he has the tools to upset Lytle. The key to this fight will be Lytles ability to keep it standing. Ebersole is a former collegiate wrestler but he is probably not a wreslter of the Fitch / Koscheck / GSP mould that would trouble Lytle too much. Lytle has the blueprint for this fight laid out in front of him, he surely knows that Ebersole will not try and match him on the feet, especially with less time to prepare his gameplan for Lytle. If “lights out” keeps it standing, he wins, but I’m not sure he will be able to put his veteran opponent away. Lytle decision

George Sotiropoulos 14-2-0 vs. Dennis Siver 17-7-0 – Lightweight
Despite his (deserved) reputation as a great striker, Siver has actually won more fights by submission that he was by KO. With a 7-4-0 UFC record, the German has been around the block and is a tough fight for anyone. Sotiropoulos though, seems to be an unstoppable force at 155lbs and with a UFC record of 7-0 he is making a statement of intent every time he fights, that he is aiming for that title. Should he win this fight impressively, he will surely be deserving of a shot. Whilst popular opinion would have Siver as winning the standup portion of this match, George has improved steadily and is a former amateur boxer himself. Clearly though, it is the ground where he excels. Siver will not want to be dragged into Sotiropoulos’ world on the mat, but it is inevitable that at some point, that is where he will find himself. George is one of my top 5 favourite fighters in the UFC to watch right now and I think he will do the business on Saturday against a game, but ulimately outmatched Siver. Sotiropoulos submission round 2.

Michael Bisping 20-3-0 vs. Jorge Rivera 18-7-0 – Middleweight
Every UFC card needs a grudge match, and Jorge Rivera has created one here. Bisping may be one of the most universally hated fighters in the UFC (in any country except Britain) and he will no doubt face a chorus of boo’s when he walks out at UFC 127. But I genuinely don’t think that bothers him, what has bothered him is Jorge Rivera taking his smack talk too far and involving Bispings family. Jorge may not be concerned about the power of Bisping but it is the volume of punches and his footwork (when he is performing well) that Rivera needs to watch out for. Bisping has the gas tank to go hard for 15 minutes and I’m not sure Rivera has the same ability, but Mike has been prone to lapses in concentration and getting clocked by the power of the American is not how he wants this fight to go. If Rivera does land a good shot, that will rattle Bisping and send him into backpedal mode and when he is being chased he leaves himself open and that could lose him this fight. Hopefully he stays true to a good gameplan and asserts himself on Rivera like he did with Denis Kang. I think he has the ability to do this and hope he tries to win this fight smart rather than open up on Rivera to prove a point and get countered with a KO punch. With 5 stoppage wins and a decision in his last 8 fights, Rivera has decent momentum coming into this fight, but he is no spring chicken and is not of a level to worry the top fighters at the weight. I can see this fight going the same way as a lot of Bispings recent matches, were he fights smart and uses his footwork to create angles to land punches on his opponent and rack up the points. For his part, Rivera will look to rough Bisping up and “the count” may have to endure some tough moments, but I give this to the Brit. Bisping decision

B.J. Penn 16-7-1 vs. Jon Fitch 23-3-0-1(NC) – Welterweight
Even as i start to type this, I’m still not sure who will win. My heart is all for BJ taking this in dominant fashion, but Fitch is virtually unstoppable. The only person who can out fitch fitch is GSP and we have all seen what GSP did to BJ Penn. That said, this is not a 5 rounder, its a 3 rounder and in the first match with GSP BJ inflicted a lot of damage on the champ. If he can do the same to Fitch then this fight will get interesting. BJ has great takedown defence and again in the 1st fight with GSP, certainly early on.. the champ couldn’t get BJ down to the mat at all. This is the BJ we need to see on Saturday or else we are doomed to another 15minutes of death-by-Fitch. The only positive thing I can say about Fitch is that his style is effective. I admire him for that, but damn he is boring to watch. He outmatches BJ in size and strength and this wil be key to his strategy, which as sure as the sun rising in the morning, will be to clinch, weardown, takedown and grind BJ Penn. If Penn can inflict enough damage when the fight is stood up and avoid a few take downs to chip away at the confidence of Fitch then maybe he can shake things up a bit. I don’t think BJ has been in too many fights where he is seen by many as being almost certain to lose, but this is one of them. That may well be the thing that fires the emotional juices of Penn and gets him properly psyched for this match. While my head is still telling me that Fitch will blanket Penn for 15minutes on his way to a decision win (zzzzzzzzzzzzzz) I am going with my heart. BJ Penn to rattle the brain of Fitch in the opening round with great standup and then in round 2 to finish with a rear naked choke off the back of an only half successful takedown by Fitch. Have it!Penn submission round 2

***************** UPDATED WITH RESULTS **************************
Zhang Tie Quan vs.Jason Reinhardt – My Pick:Zhang Submission rd 2 Actual: Zhang submission rd 1
Anthony Perosh vs. Tom Blackledge – My Pick:Blackledge TKO rd 2 Actual: Perosh submission (rnc) rd 1
Maciej Jewtuszko vs. Curt Warburton – My Pick:Jewtuszko TKO rd 3 Actual:Warburton decision
Mark Hunt vs. Chris Tuchscherer – My Pick:Tuchscherer submission Actual: Hunt KO rd 2
Nick Ring vs. Riki Fukuda – My Pick:Fukuda decision Actual: Ring decision
James Te-Huna vs. Alexander Gustafsson – My Pick:Gustafsson sub rd 1 Actual: Gustafsson sub (rnc) rd 1
Ross Pearson vs. Spencer Fisher – My Pick:Pearson decision Actual: Pearson decision
Kyle Noke vs. Chris Camozzi – My Pick:Noke decision Actual: Noke submission (rnc) rd1
Chris Lytle vs. Brian Ebersole – My Pick:Lytle decision Actual: Ebersole decision
George Sotiropoulos vs. Dennis Siver – My Pick:Sotiropoulos submission rd 2 Actual: Siver decision
Michael Bisping vs. Jorge Rivera – My Pick:Bisping decision Actual: Bisping TKO rd2
B.J. Penn vs. Jon Fitch – My Pick:Penn submission rd2 Actual: Majority draw


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