We are now into our third UFC event in as many weeks and the second in a row to have a title bout as the main event. Add this to the Edgar vs Maynard fight next week and three titles in three weeks is surely enough to satisfy even the most demanding MMA fan. This is the first time a title will be contested on a UFC Live card and it should be an electric match-up. Champion Dominick Cruz avenged his only career loss in his last title defence against Urijah Faber. Cruz showed great composure and skill, taking a unanimous decision win against the former Featherweight standout. He will need to be on his game again come Saturday against Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson. Johnson has also only tasted defeat once, against our very own Brad Pickett. If Johnson should take this match and Pickett gets past Barao at UFC 138 then we could very well see another Englishman contest a UFC title, a rare treat for the UKMMA Fans and a shot which many think Pickett is knocking on the door for. Back to the action on this card, we also have UK grappling standout Paul Sass making his second UFC appearance against Michael Johnson in a fight which will ensure the UK fans take special notice of this card. Fortunately Premier Sports have stepped up and will broadcast this event on the BSkyB Network for British fans, who wouldn’t normally get to see the UFC Live events on terrestrial television. Republic of Ireland fans can watch the action on Setanta Sports. Unfortunatley, if you are a VirginTV subscriber, you have to go begging to a mate who has sky!
Let’s get into it then, with my picks for UFC Live 6. Let’s get it on!
Walel Watson 8-2-0 vs. Joseph Sandoval 6-0-0 – Bantamweight
In the first of the “who?” fights on this card, Walel Watson faces the undefeated Joseph Sandoval. I literally know nothing about either of these guys other than what Sherdog fight finder tells me. Watson is really tall for a Bantam (5’11” if you care) and with 7 of his 8 wins coming via submission, if is a fair assumption that he prefers the submission game and his frame make his guard game a difficult proposition for any opponent. Sandoval is a Shark Fights veteran and….that’s about it. Obviously this is pure guess work but based on the clear advantage his height affords him on the floor I will take “Team Hurricane Awesome” member Watson to submit his foe. Watson submission round 1
Josh Neer 31-10-1 vs. Keith Wisniewski 28-12-1 – Welterweight
A combined 83 fights between them sees to veterans of the game square off. Neer is well known to UFC fans with several runs in the promotion and has a mediocre 4-6 record on the big show. He is currently riding a four fight win streak, all of which were first round victories. For his part, Wisniewski is on a six fight run, all but one being a stoppage win. He has definitely not faced the same level of opponent as Neer as often as Neer but he been in with names like Aoki, Masvidal, Markham, Shonie Carter and Pete Spratt. I like Neer in this fight and feel is far more likely to be comfortable under the spotlight and pressure of an appearance on the biggest show in MMA. Neer decision
Byron Bloodworth 6-1-0 vs. Mike Easton 10-1-0 – Bantamweight
Again this is a finger in the air pick due to knowing so little about the participants. Easton is well-known for his uber-controversial win over Chase Beebe but that is the extent of my knowledge on him and Bloodworth comes in as a totally unknown quantity. I am not going to spend too much time contemplating this result and am going to use simple MMAMath to deduce that if Easton can hang for five rounds with Beebe, he can do the business against Bloodworth. Easton submission rd 2
Shane Roller 10-4-0 vs. T.J. Grant 16-5-0 – Lightweight
After a patchy win/loss/win/loss type run in the UFC Welterweight division, Grant drops down to 155lbs and faces Shane Roller, who is just waking up from being knocked silly by Melvin Guillard. Roller does possess fierce power in his hands and received a nice KO of the night bonus for his win over Thiago Tavares, but I fear he is up against it in this fight. Grant has a clear advantage on the ground over his opponent and Roller will need to resort to his wrestling skills to keep out of harms way on the ground. Grant has never been KO’d and has only been submitted once, but it is possible Roller will be able to wrestle-stomp his way to a decision. Against Johnny Hendricks, another NCAA Div 1 wrestler, Grant was continually put on his back and despite getting up a lot and having some success on the feet, it was the takedowns that ultimately lead to Grant dropping the decision. It could go this way again for Grant against Roller who is also a NCAA Div 1 wrestler and 3-time all American. Although I think Grant is the bookies favourite, I am taking Roller in this fight. Roller decision
Paul Sass 11-0-0 vs. Michael Johnson 9-5-0 – Lightweight
Paul Sass is a ground assassin and a true expert at pulling guard effectively sustaining little or no damage. This fight will be decided by Johnson’s ability to avoid the ground at all costs and keep this standing. He will no doubt be the more accomplished wrestler, but the way Sass can get the action to the mat is something to behold. His guard-pull and subsequent submission of Mark Holst in his debut was beautifully executed and it is hard to believe he won’t be able to do the same thing against Johnson. I don’t want to disrespect Johnsons skills and as long as this is on the feet, you have to favour the American. I just think one way or another this one is hitting the mat, and when it does you can expect it to be all Sass. Sass submission round 2
Yves Edwards 40-17-1 vs. Rafaello Oliveira 14-4-0 – Lightweight
Edwards is a supremely well-rounded and highly experienced fighter, as you would expect from a 14 year veteran of the game. He took a vicious KO loss to Sam Stout the last time he stepped in the Octagon, but prior to that was on a decent 3 fight run including a double-bonus winning fight against Cody McKenzie at fight for the troops 2. Oliveira is an elite BJJ practitioner, with decent wrestling, but his UFC experiences have been less than promising with a 1-3 record. I expect Edwards to constantly be able to land shots from the feet and to be that little bit too wiley and smart to get caught with anything Oliveira has in his arsenal. Oliveira is a hard guy to put away and Yves will need to be on it for all 15minutes of the fight, but I expect to see him come away with the decision. Edwards decision
Matt Wiman 13-6-0 vs. Mac Danzig 20-8-1 – Lightweight
In a rematch of their controversial fight at UFC 115 when Yves Lavigne inexplicably the fight as Danzig was caught in a guillotine, despite Danzig neither tapping, not going unconscious. Danzig won TUF 6 and then submitted Mark Bocek on his return to lightweight, but then had a torrid run of fights, going 2-4 for the promotion since. His Ko win over Joe Stevenson was his first stoppage win in the UFC since submitting Bocek. Wiman has had a much better top-flight run, going 7-4 in the UFC and won fight of the night 3 times on the bounce. He has only been stopped once in his career, in his first UFC appearance when he ate a flying knee from Spencer Fisher. Wiman is the busier fighter and the more likely to impress the judges, he mixes strikes and takedowns well and although I actually think Danzig has better submissions, I think Wiman will edge things on the ground due to his willingness to throw strikes constantly when the action hits the mat. Wiman decision
Charlie Brenneman 14-2-0 vs. Anthony Johnson 9-3-0 – Welterweight
Brenneman pulled off a pretty big upset when he decisioned Rick Story after stepping up on 24 hours notice. Whether he will be able to pull off the same sort of wrestling clinic on Anthony “Rumble” Johnson though, is another question. Johnson is a huge welterweight and really uses that size advantage to great effect, overwhelming his opponents. However this huge cut, can affect his stamina and if Brenneman can hang in there until the latter part of the fight, he could sneak a win here. Brennemans problem in this fight, is his apparent lack of any sort of technical standup game. Pulling the same tactics he used to great effect on Story, with continuous shots will get him nowhere against the Johnson-shaped brick wall. He is going to have to time the strikes of Rumble if he wants to put him on his back. I think Johnson should be able to find a home for his punches and put Brenneman away, but if he takes too long to do it, Brenneman might edge it. I’m taking Rumble for the stoppage. Johnson TKO rd 1
Stefan Struve 21-5-0 vs. Pat Barry 6-3-0 – Heavyweight
Never an odder looking pair of Heavyweights will meet in the Octagon than these two. Barry with his tree trunk legs and squat frame just about reaches the armpits of Struve, who has limbs like a baby giraffe. This is definitely a style vs style match up and I would be very surprised if Struve chooses to spend any length of time stood up in this one. He has a gigantic reach advantage and may look to stay behind his jab but I am not sure how effective a strategy this is for him. Barry has great muay thai and the minute he can get in range enough to destroy those toothpicks that support Struves frame, the big man is in trouble. Struve has it in him to pull out the surprise KO as we saw against McCorkle and Morecraft, but I am not sure he will pull one out of the bag against Barry. I think Struve should win this, but he needs to be smart and use his god-given advantages to do what is necessary to win. When this hits the mat, Struve’s jiujitsu is far superior to the rudimentary-at-best grappling of Barry. Struve then needs to take advantage of this and find a way to get to the floor, pulling guard if necessary, and deal with Barry before he starts to time Struve and find his spots to chop away at those scarily fragile looking legs. Struve submission round 2
Dominick Cruz 18-1-0 vs. Demetrious Johnson 10-1-0
At 5’3″ Johnson truly lives up to his moniker of Mighty Mouse. He is like a mini-whirlwind in a fight, always pushing the pace and attacking with consistent speed and power. He impressed against Torres and while some people thought he didnt necessarily do enough to win, the judges gave him the nod and that put him where he is. Cruz is a difficult proposition for any fighter in the division. He is creative in his use of angles and seems a very cerebral fighter, but this often results in a safety first type win reminiscent of GSP and can frustrate the fans who want to see him cut loose and go after the stoppage once in a while. Cruz is clearly going to use his far superior reach in this fight to keep Johnson at bay and so Mighty Mouse is going to have to combat that by being prepared to eat some shots, get inside and make this a rough night for the champ. If Johnson can use his intensity to get in the champs face and not allow him to dictate the pace of the fight, he might just pull out the win. Saying it and doing it though are two different beasts and the betting mans money should probably go on Cruz. He always seems to find a way to win out and negate the strengths of his opponents and I expect him to do the same to Johnson. Cruz decision
************************ UPDATED WITH RESULTS ******************************
Walel Watson vs. Joseph Sandoval – My Pick:Watson sub rd1 Actual: Watson TKO rd 1.
Josh Neer vs. Keith Wisniewski – My Pick:Neer decision Actual: Neer TKO (doctor stoppage) rd 2.
Shane Roller vs. TJ Grant – My Pick:Roller decision Actual: Grant verbal submission (armbar) rd 3.
Mike Easton vs. Byron Bloodworth – My Pick:Easton sub rd2 Actual: Easton TKO rd 2.
Michael Johnson vs. Paul Sass – My Pick:Sass submission rd 2 Actual: Sass submission (heel hook) rd 1.
Yves Edwards vs. Rafaello Oliveira – My Pick:Edwards decision Actual: Edwards TKO rd 2.
Matt Wiman vs. Mac Danzig – My Pick:Wiman decision Actual: Wiman decision
Anthony Johnson vs. Charlie Brenneman – My Pick:Johnson TKo rd1 Actual: Anthony Johnson TKO rd 1.
Pat Barry vs. Stefan Struve – My Pick:Struve Submission rd 2 Actual: Struve submission (triangle armbar) rd 2.
Dominick Cruz vs. Demetrious Johnson – My Pick:Cruz decision Actual: Cruz decision