UFC 117 Breakdowns and Predictions

Expect nothing short of fireworks in perhaps the most stacked MMA card this year. Can Chael Sonnen back up his words and dethrone the pound for pound king? What will be the outcome this time around in the long-awaited Fitch/Alves rematch? Could the end be near for Matt Hughes? Who will become the new #1 contender for the UFC Heavyweight Championship?

The questions will become answers on Saturday night. I encourage you to read my breakdowns to see why I made the predictions that I made. At the end of the breakdowns, I will have my official picks listed. Thanks for reading. Enjoy the fights!

Anderson “The Spider” Silva Vs. Chael Sonnen

Key Victories :

Silva (Dan Henderson, Rich Franklin, Forrest Griffin, Demian Maia, Patrick Cote, Nate Marquardt, Thales Leites, Chris Leben, Hayato Sakurai, Jeremy Horn, Carlos Newton, James Irvin)

Sonnen (Nate Marquardt, Paulo Filho, Yushin Okami, Dan Miller, Jason Miller, Jason Lambert, Trevor Prangley)

Forecast :

The hype for this bout has far exceeded original expectations. We all have Chael Sonnen to thank for that. For months, he has talked more trash than Quinton Jackson and Rashad Evans combined. Does Sonnen truly believe the things that are coming out of his mouth? No one knows for sure. I do know one thing though. He truly believes he can beat Anderson Silva. With the right mindset and style, Sonnen makes for a very formidable opponent against the proposed pound for pound king.

While Sonnen attacks his wardrobe, English speaking abilities, and willingness to take fights, Silva sits behind the shadows quietly listening. Will Sonnen’s trash talking throw him off his game?…Or…Will it infuriate him and bring out the Anderson Silva from every fighter’s nightmare? The man who made Forrest Griffin’s punches look like bullets from the matrix. The man who turned Rich Franklin’s nose into a broken, yet straighter version than Owen Wilson’s.

Whatever happens, let’s hope for a great performance and a satisfying finish…Not a regretful Sonnen balled up in the fetal position two minutes in. Well, I guess that would be satisfying for some.

Born in Curitiba, Brazil, Anderson Silva is a black belt in BJJ, Tae Kwon Do, and Judo. He is also a yellow belt in Capoeira. To those accusing Silva for his Michael Jackson Thriller-like antics, Capoeira is an art form that incorporates martial arts, music, and DANCE.

Silva is a member of Team Black House alongside longtime friends, the Nogueira brothers, Lyoto Machida, Paulo Filho, Junior Dos Santos, and Jose Aldo. In twenty-six bouts, fifteen have come by KO. He currently holds the longest active winning streak and the record for the longest winning streak in UFC history. At UFC 112, he severely busted up Demian Maia en route to a lopsided unanimous decision.

Fighting out of Portland, Oregon, Chael Sonnen is an NCAA Division I All-American Wrestler, a two-time University National Champion in Greco-Roman, and a U.S. Olympic team alternate. He trains at Team Quest with fighters like Dan Henderson, Matt Lindland, and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou. Sonnen is currently on a three fight win streak. At UFC 109, he took a huge upset in impressive fashion over top ranked contender, Nate Marquardt.

Keys to Victory :

In a recent interview, Sonnen said, “I think a black belt under the Nogueiras is saying, like, ‘I got a free toy in my Happy Meal’.” Pop quiz time! What do Trevor Prangley, Forrest Griffin, Jeremy Horn, Renato Sobral, Paulo Filho, and Demian Maia all have in common? They have all submitted Chael Sonnen. Horn in particular has submitted Sonnen twice.

People are forgetting Anderson Silva is a black belt in BJJ with an extremely underrated guard game. Silva has the ability to seek out submissions and land devastating elbows from bottom. If taken down, he has to employ this tactic on Sonnen. Don’t remain stagnant and allow Sonnen to impose his will.

On the feet, Silva can be his usual dominant self. He has to be a little more careful to avoid being taken down. Sonnen is leagues above Demian Maia in the wrestling department. Distance and timing will be key in Silva’s avoidance of the takedown.

Silva has to also be careful throwing kicks and especially flying knees. Every kick gives Sonnen an opportunity to catch the leg and land an easy takedown. With his accurate and explosive technique, Silva may be able to avoid getting his leg caught. Flying knees are a completely different story. If he misses or doesn’t rattle Sonnen, he has all but guaranteed himself to be taken down.

Despite showing improved standup, Sonnen needs to strike when needed and be consistent with his takedowns. Silva does a lot of taunting and gesturing in his bouts. Sonnen has to ignore what Silva does and stay with his own gameplan. The one thing Sonnen has going for him in this bout is his ability to snag takedowns from the outside.

Travis Lutter and Nate Marquardt all took Silva down with outside shots. Unless he gets a good body lock, Sonnen should stay away from the clinch area. Silva has the most devastating Muay Thai Plum in the game.

Throughout the bout, Sonnen has to avoid becoming lackadaisical in his approach. He has to count on Silva being there to make him pay for every mistake. On the ground, Sonnen should keep a good base and control Silva’s hips. Silva has long legs and will constantly look for submissions. Sonnen needs to be patient and drag Silva into deep waters with a grinding onslaught of takedowns and ground and pound.

Prediction :

Chael Sonnen poses a significant threat stylistically for Anderson Silva. I just don’t see it coming together for him on fight night. Unless he’s been training with Chris Brown, Sonnen has nothing for Silva on the feet. Silva will happily dance around every punch landing three or four of his own in return. Sonnen can definitely take Silva down, but his submission defense may not be enough thwart Silva’s advancements.

All of the trash talk leading up to this showdown is a win-win for Sonnen. His stock has grown regardless of the outcome. Fighters like Dan Hardy and Paul Daley have utilized similar tactics. Their notoriety soared because of their pre-fight antics against bigger named competition. Win, lose, or draw, Chael Sonnen is a smart man.

Look for Sonnen to make things interesting by snagging a takedown or two. He may even steal a round. One mistake will be all that’s needed for Silva to lock up the triangle finish from bottom. After this fight, maybe Sonnen will seek out a Happy Meal?…or at least some submission defense.

Jon Fitch Vs. Thiago “Pitbull” Alves

Key Victories :

Fitch (Thiago Alves, Diego Sanchez, Paulo Thiago, Mike Pierce, Ben Saunders, Akihiro Gono, Brock Larson)

Alves (Matt Hughes, Josh Koscheck, Karo Parisyan, Marcus Davis, Chris Lytle, John Alessio)

Forecast :

It is a complete an utter travesty that this fight isn’t getting the hype it deserves. In my pound for pound rankings (coming soon), Jon Fitch and Thiago Alves make the top ten. If I play devil’s advocate, the only reasoning I can give for the lack of promotion is that this bout has been postponed multiple times. The UFC could be tiptoeing around this fight just in case it falls through again. In any case, fans should get ready for one of the biggest showdowns this year.

This bout is actually a rematch from the UFC Fight Night card on June 28, 2006. On that night, an upkick and a barrage of punches led to a TKO victory for Fitch. Since that fight, Alves’s vast improvement has garnered him significant victories over Matt Hughes, Josh Koscheck, and Karo Parisyan. A win here could get one of these guys within distance of a rematch with Georges St. Pierre.

Fighting out of San Jose, California, Jon Fitch was a four-year letterman and captain of the Purdue University Wrestling Team. He currently trains at American Kickboxing Academy with Cain Velasquez, Josh Koscheck, Mike Swick, Cung Le, and Josh Thomson. His style consists of Wrestling, Kickboxing, and Guerrilla Jiu Jitsu (black belt).

In many MMA rankings, Fitch is currently listed as the #2 Welterweight in the world. He is an incredible 21-1 in his last twenty-two bouts. His lone loss came to GSP in August 2008. At UFC 111, he tenderized Ben Saunders’s face for three rounds.

Thiago Alves was born in Fortaleza, Brazil. He started training in MMA at the age of seventeen. Training at American Top Team, he is surrounded by guys like Thiago Silva, Jorge Santiago, Mike Brown, and Alessio Sakara. His style is predominantly Muay Thai and BJJ (brown belt).

He is currently ranked on most MMA lists as the #3 Welterweight in the world. After losing to Fitch, Alves went on a seven fight win streak. He was finally stopped at UFC 100 in a Welterweight title bout with GSP.

Keys to Victory :

There is no secret to what Jon Fitch must do to win and possibly keep his facial features intact. He has to be consistent and successful with his takedowns. Disguising the shot and Alves’s ability to stifle fence clinches will be two major problems facing Fitch come fight night.

On the feet, Thiago Alves is easily one of the best strikers in the Welterweight division. Alves isn’t dumb either. He knows what Fitch wants to do in this fight. The whole fight will come down to Fitch’s ability to be successful enough on the feet to setup takedowns.

When Fitch shoots in, he needs to catch Alves out in the open. Alves is very strong from the clinch and will be nearly impossible to drag down if pushed against the fence. Fitch has to avoid telegraphing his takedown attempts. He can’t allow himself to get sloppy as the fight wears on. I hope Fitch has been working on defending and countering leg kicks. Alves kicks like a horse in the Kentucky Derby.

Thiago Alves will have the definitive striking advantage. He needs to put together a workmanlike performance on the feet and remain patient. Fitch is as durable a fighter as they come. He can likely take whatever manly violence Alves dishes out. Alves also has to be prepared to defend plenty of takedowns.

In the bout with Josh Koscheck, Koscheck seemingly forgot that he was a wrestler and chose to engage Alves on the feet. Fitch is a more methodical fighter. Expect to see plenty of takedown attempts.

Despite losing to GSP, Alves was active from all positions. That can’t change in this fight. Fitch won’t mind lingering in stalemated positions to grind out a decision. If pushed against the cage, Alves has to keep scoring points with short punches, knees, and elbows. When taken down, he has to land strikes from the bottom and constantly seek out opportunities to scramble and explode back to his feet.

Prediction :

On June 28, 2006, Jon Fitch’s hand was raised after his TKO stoppage of a young, up-and-coming Brazilian. On August 7, 2010, that honor will be bestowed upon Thiago Alves. Fitch will really struggle grabbing takedowns. His mediocre striking will be his undoing. Alves will avoid takedowns and take Fitch apart on the feet. A bruised and bloodied Fitch will stare hopelessly down at the canvas as the judges give Alves the victory and his title aspirations.

Clay “The Carpenter” Guida Vs. Rafael Dos Anjos

Key Victories :

Guida (Nate Diaz, Mac Danzig, Josh Thomson, Marcus Aurelio)

Dos Anjos (Terry Etim, Rob Emerson)

Forecast :

Fans can expect fireworks when the Lightweights hit center stage. Guida and Dos Anjos are rarely involved in boring fights. On one side, you have the crazed, Ritalin-depraved Guida battling back to relevancy. On the other side, you have hungry, submission-savvy Dos Anjos looking to reel in the biggest win of his career.

Fighting out of Johnsburg, Illinois, Clay Guida trains at Midwest Training Center. His style is predominantly Wrestling. In the UFC, he has earned three “Fight of the Nights” and one “Submission of the Night”. Guida was the first ever Strikeforce Lightweight Champion after defeating Josh Thomson in March 2006. He inherited his nickname “The Carpenter” from his previous occupation.

After compiling a 20-6 record, Guida got an opportunity to fight in the UFC and started training full-time. At UFC On Versus 1, he submitted Shannon Gugerty via Arm Triangle in the second round.

Rafael Dos Anjos fights out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is a black belt in BJJ. Out of fourteen wins, seven have come by submission. Dos Anjos currently trains at Gracie Fusion. Along with BJJ, he has made strides in his Muay Thai thanks to the Sityodtong Team at Evolve MMA.

Dos Anjos is on a three fight win streak. At UFC 112, he demonstrated his dangerous ground game against budding UK superstar, Terry Etim. He transitioned from a Kimura and submitted Etim with an Armbar in the second round.

Keys to Victory :

For Clay Guida to win this fight, he’s going to have to calm down and be more methodical with his approach. What!? A calm and methodical Clay Guida? Is that even possible? I don’t really know. Guida’s hyperactive style has often landed him in trouble against stiffer, proven opposition. Dos Anjos is a game opponent with great submission skills. Guida has to control the fight and avoid getting careless.

Before shooting for takedowns, Guida should test the standup. I believe he has the better boxing of the two. Dos Anjos is an improved Muay Thai artist, but his hands remain relatively sloppy. Yes, the same could be said about Guida, but Dos Anjos tends to prioritize his standup with heavy leg kicks instead crisp punching combinations.

Guida has to check the kicks and get the better of the exchanges. If the standup fails, he has to shoot for takedowns and work from guard. Dos Anjos remains very active from bottom. Guida has to be careful in transitional scrambles.

Rafael Dos Anjos needs to be patient. Six of Guida’s eleven losses have come by submission. His overly aggressive style makes him susceptible to getting caught in dangerous positions. Dos Anjos should take his time and force Guida into making a mistake. He has to avoid a scrap fest.

Clay Guida keeps a pace few can hang with. Dos Anjos has to pace himself and mix things up with simple one-twos and takedowns. He should really load up on his overhand. Guida isn’t great at checking leg kicks. A simple kick feint could open Guida up to a massive overhand.

If taken down, Dos Anjos has to keep an active guard. Guida doesn’t mind lingering in full guard to work his ground and pound. Dos Anjos must remain vigilant of opportunities to initiate sweeps, submissions, or scrambles.

Prediction :

If this fight ends early, I see Dos Anjos winning by submission. If it goes the distance, Guida will be awarded the decision. I choose the latter. Guida and Dos Anjos will put on a “Fight of the Night” performance. The fight will play out close on the feet. Guida will get takedowns but struggle to land anything significant inside Dos Anjos’s guard. After surviving a memorable war and various submission attempts, Clay Guida will walk away with the split decision.

Matt Hughes Vs. Ricardo “Big Dog” Almeida

Key Victories :

Hughes (Georges St. Pierre, B.J. Penn, Sean Sherk, Matt Serra, Frank Trigg, Hayato Sakurai, Carlos Newton, Chris Lytle, Joe Riggs, Royce Gracie, Renzo Gracie)

Almeida (Nate Marquardt, Kazuo Misaki, Kendall Grove, Ikuhisa Minowa, Matt Brown, Ryo Chonan)

Forecast :

Matt Hughes needs one of those memory erasing devices from “Men in Black” to erase the catastrophe that occurred at UFC 112. He took on Renzo Gracie in a proposed “legend vs. legend” bout. Instead of two legends, it ended up looking like a fight between Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in “Grumpy Old Men”. MMA fans were saved 4:40 in the third round when Gracie finally passed out from heat exhaustion.

This fight represents a crossroad in the long, decorated career of Matt Hughes. After losing to GSP (twice) and Alves, Hughes’s place in the Welterweight division has become a question mark. Is he still a legitimate Welterweight contender?…or…Has Father Time completely caught up with the UFC Hall of Famer? The answer comes in the form of Renzo Gracie student, Ricardo “Big Dog” Almeida.

Matt Hughes fights out of and was born in Hillsboro, Illinois. At Hillsboro High School, he won two Class A State Wrestling Championships. His wrestling success continued in college as a two-time NJCAA All-American and a two-time NCAA Division I All-American.

After leaving Team Miletich, Hughes started the H.I.T. Squad (Hughes Intensive Training). The gym features fighters like Robbie Lawler (co-owner) and “TUF” reality standouts, Jon Madsen and Tommy Speer. Hughes is a former two-time UFC Welterweight Champion and currently holds the record for most wins in the UFC.

Fighting out of Hamilton, New Jersey, Ricardo Almeida is a member of the Renzo Gracie Combat Team. His style consists of BJJ, Boxing, and Wrestling. He is a 3rd degree black belt under Renzo Gracie. At ADCC (Abu Dhabi Combat Club), Almeida has placed top four on five occasions. He has placed first in two CBJJ Brazilian Championships and one CBJJ Pan American Championship.

This isn’t the first time Almeida and Hughes have met. Hughes defeated Almeida in 2000 at ADCC. At UFC 111, Almeida submitted Matt Brown in the second round by Rear Naked Choke.

Keys to Victory :

Hughes needs to get back to his wrestling. Almeida is great from his back, but wrestling isn’t just about getting a takedown. Hughes has to use his wrestling to shut down Almeida’s offense. He should use his striking to close the distance. Footwork will be important as it will be needed to cut Almeida’s angles off.

Hughes needs to press Almeida against the fence and rough him up with short strikes. From that position, he can opt to either keep striking or take the fight to the ground.

On the ground, he has to be careful in Almeida’s guard. If he can stay active from the clinch position, it may prove more effective for Hughes to keep pummeling Almeida from that position. On the feet, Hughes has to use more effective blocking. The “paddy cake” stance has to go. It leaves him completely open in exchanges.

Distance will be key for Almeida. He has to utilize good footwork in his movement in and out of range. Hughes will most likely seek the clinch to drag the fight to the ground. Almeida is the superior striker and should use his boxing to outpoint Hughes on the feet.

He can’t allow Hughes to trap him against the cage. When the distance closes, he needs to strike at angles and circle away. Almeida has to be scrappy in this fight. He needs to control the action and remain active from every position.

Prediction :

It’s time for a bold prediction. Hughes will be on the losing end of the exchanges. He will make it up on the cards with an occasional takedown and good clinch work. The fight will be fairly close heading into the third round.

A tired and beat up Hughes will attempt a telegraphed takedown. Almeida will defend and take Hughes’s back. The ref will step in as Hughes taps to a Rear Naked Choke. If I’m right, Nostradamus should move out of my parking spot. If I’m wrong, you can find me at the local bar drinking away my sorrows.

Junior Dos Santos Vs. Roy “Big Country” Nelson

Key Victories :

Dos Santos (Mirko Cro Cop, Fabricio Werdum, Gabriel Gonzaga, Gilbert Yvel, Stefan Struve)

Nelson (Stefan Struve, Brendan Schaub)

Forecast :

Junior Dos Santos is about to have the weight of the world on his shoulders…..literally. He will fight Roy Nelson in a bout with title implications. According to Dana White, the winner of this fight will be next in line to challenge either Brock Lesnar or Cain Velasquez for the UFC Heavyweight Championship.

Junior Dos Santos fights out of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. He trains at Team Black House with Anderson Silva, the Nogueira brothers, Lyoto Machida, and Paulo Filho. His style is Boxing, Kickboxing, and BJJ (brown belt). All but three of his victories have come by KO. At UFC On Versus 2, JDS stopped Gabriel Gonzaga in “Knockout of the Night” fashion.

Fighting out of Las Vegas, Nevada, Roy Nelson’s style includes BJJ (black belt), Boxing, and Shaolin Kung Fu. Along with ADCC experience, he has a grappling victory over Frank Mir at a tournament in 2003 at Grappler’s Quest. He is the TUF Season 10 winner and a former three-time IFL (International Fight League) Champion. Out of fifteen wins, eight have come by knockout. Nelson has earned “Knockout of the Night” in his last two bouts.

Keys to Victory :

In this handicap match, JDS has to take Nelson’s belly out of the equation. He needs to keep a good base and effective sprawl to keep from ending up on his back. If there is one question mark surrounding JDS, it’s his ground game. Nelson will be looking to exploit any possible holes in his game.

JDS has to use good range and pick Nelson apart on the feet. He doesn’t want Nelson grabbing hold of him. During exchanges, JDS should watch out for the overhand. Nelson throws that thing like he’s pitching a fastball.

Roy Nelson has to realize and understand that JDS is not Brendan Schaub or Stefan Struve. JDS is arguably the best striker in the division. We’ve seen what happens to fighters when they get scrappy in the pocket with JDS. They tend to end up taking a dirt nap in the first round.

Nelson has to find a way to drag this fight to the ground. I’m not saying he couldn’t throw a hail mary and catch JDS. Why take the risk? JDS has a solid chin and heavy hands himself. With title implications on the line, Nelson has to fight a smart fight.

On the ground, Nelson has to demonstrate good top control. He can’t give JDS opportunities to scramble free after every takedown. Solid ground and pound and constant pressure from “belly control” should be enough to wear down the Black House protégé.

Prediction :

“Belly Control” won’t prove effective in this one. Nelson will overreach during a standup exchange in the first. JDS will immediately pinpoint the mistake and deliver a corrective counter. A wobbled Nelson will desperately reach for a takedown. The desperation will quickly come to an end as JDS finishes Nelson with a barrage of punches that’ll seal his date with Lesnar or Velasquez for the UFC Heavyweight Title.

Official Picks

Anderson Silva By Round 2 Submission

Thiago Alves By Unanimous Decision

Clay Guida By Split Decision

Ricardo Almeida By Round 3 Submission

Junior Dos Santos By Round 1 TKO

UFC On Versus 2 Breakdowns and Predictions

The UFC returns to Versus with a card full of past and future stars. Will the veterans repel the odds and once again strive for MMA greatness? Or…Will the future hold steady and continue to mold into the present?

I encourage you to read my breakdowns to see why I made the predictions that I made. At the end of the breakdowns, I will have my official picks listed. Thanks for reading. Enjoy the fights!

Jon “Bones” Jones Vs. Vladimir “The Janitor” Matyushenko

Key Victories :

Jones (Brandon Vera, Stephan Bonnar )

Matyushenko (Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Pedro Rizzo, Jason Lambert, Yuki Kondo)

Forecast :

Joe Silva and the UFC brass should be commended of their patience in developing Jon Jones. At 23 years of age, Jones is a superstar in the making. From a business perspective, you understand that young and inexperienced fighters have to take baby steps and climb the ladder more steadily than wily veterans. From a fan’s perspective, you want to see the best fights possible. People are ready to see Jones tested by the upper-echelon Light Heavyweights.

I would personally side with the business side of things. In the Heavyweight division, stars like Brock Lesnar, Cain Velasquez, Shane Carwin, and Junior Dos Santos had to progress a lot faster to bolster an old and diminishing UFC division. The UFC Light Heavyweight division is arguably the most stacked in the sport.

Jones has plenty of time to gain experience and realize his maximum potential. With that said, he will meet a stiff roadblock in this card‘s main event. Jon Jones looks to continue his rise to stardom when he meets UFC veteran, Vladimir Matyushenko.

Fighting out of Endicott, New York, Jon Jones is a Greco-Roman Wrestling, Judo, and Muay Thai practitioner. He was a 2005 state wrestling champion at Union-Endicott High School and a National Junior College Champion at Iowa Central Community College. He currently trains at Jackson’s MMA with the likes of GSP, Rashad Evans, Shane Carwin, Nate Marquardt, and Keith Jardine. At UFC on Versus 1, Jones dismantled Brandon Vera in a first round TKO stoppage.

Born in Rečyca, Belarus, Vladimir Matyushenko is a Freestyle Wrestler. He was a two-time National Junior College Champion at Lassen College. In November 2007, He became the first ever IFL (International Fight League) Light Heavyweight Champion.

People remember Vladi’s early years when he battled Tito Ortiz at UFC 33 for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. Despite losing the decision, Vladi rebounded by defeating Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Pedro Rizzo. In his last twelve bouts, he is 11-1. At UFC on Versus 1, he took a less than eventful split decision victory over Eliot Marshall.

Keys to Victory :

Jones will have a definitive ten inch reach advantage. At 84.5 inches, he has the longest reach in the UFC. He should use his Mister Fantastic jab to setup his diverse offense and neutralize Vladi’s advancements. The beauty of being so well-rounded is the ability to be successful in all areas of a fight.

Jones should use his vastly unorthodox standup to close the distance. When close, he can cinch the clinch to utilize his Muay Thai or Greco-Roman throws. Vladi isn’t great from his back. On the ground, Jones should be able to work some serious ground and pound.

Vladi has to be aggressive in this fight. He can’t sit there like one of the “Three Stooges” waiting on a surefire bitch slapping. He has to actively seek out takedowns. We haven’t seen Jones fight from his back. It will be Vladi’s job to force the fight into unknown waters.

On the feet, he has to beware of Jones’s striking. Jones is a very technical and unorthodox fighter. Vladi can’t let awkward movements, spinning back elbows, or flying knees rattle him. He has to use good boxing defense and continue to work simple combinations to disguise his takedowns.

The clinch will be the most dangerous place for Vladi. He has to keep good separation and work his shots from the outside. Jones is known to bully fighters from the clinch. When pressed upon, Vladi has to be ready to circle and change angles to get out of harms way.

Prediction :

The nickname “Janitor” was brought about by Dave Schultz as a joke on the U.S. Wrestling team. They apparently saw Vladi cleaning mats in poor looking clothing. This was after he defeated members of the U.S. squad. Since then, Vladi has made a name of mopping up respectable MMA veterans. At UFC on Versus 2, Vladi can leave his janitorial utility belt at home. Jon Jones will be doing the mopping in this one.

Vladi will hang tough, but Jones will prove to be too much. Look for Jones to notch up another awe-inspiring performance as he dominates all positions to take the unanimous decision nod.

Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Munoz Vs. Yushin Okami

Key Victories :

Munoz (Kendall Grove, Ryan Jensen, Mike Pierce)

Okami (Anderson Silva, Mike Swick, Alan Belcher, Evan Tanner, Dean Lister, Jason MacDonald, Kalib Starnes)

Forecast :

This bout could be a betting man’s nightmare. Despite subtle differences, both fighters mirror one another across the boards. This should make for a great stylistic clash. A win here could get Yushin Okami another shot at an upper echelon Middleweight. A win for Mark Munoz would ensure his debut in the top ten Middleweight world rankings.

Fighting out of Vallejo, California, Munoz boasts a style of Wrestling, BJJ, and Muay Thai. He was a two-time California State Wrestling Champion at Vallejo High School. After high school, he attended Oklahoma State University where he earned two Big 12 titles, back to back All-American Honors, and a Division I National Championship.

Munoz currently trains at Team Black House with Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida, Junior Dos Santos, and the Nogueiras brothers. He is a purple belt in BJJ. At UFC 112, he endured and rebounded from a rough start to take the TKO victory over Kendall Grove.

Yushin Okami fights out of Kanagawa, Japan. His style consists of Wrestling, Kickboxing, and Judo. He trains out of Team Wajyutsu Keisyukai which includes former UFC fighters, Caol Uno and Keita Nakamura. Okami is a top ten Middleweight with ADCC (Abu Dhabi Combat Club) Submission Wrestling World Championship experience. At UFC Fight Night: Florian vs. Gomi, he showcased improved standup in his TKO stoppage of Lucio Linhares.

Keys to Victory :

Munoz needs to be aggressive and keep constant pressure on Okami. Chael Sonnen employed a similar tactic at UFC 104. In that bout, Sonnen worked Okami with good striking and multiple takedown attempts. Okami seemed lost throughout the fight.

Munoz needs to bring about some déjà vu. He needs to push the fight and continuously mix up his game with striking and takedown attempts. Defense will also be key. With Munoz pushing the fight, he may find himself in danger of being taken down. He has to rely on his wrestling instincts and be prepared to defend when Okami changes levels.

The best advice anyone can give Okami right now is “FIGHT YOUR FIGHT”! In the Sonnen bout, Okami was passive and refused to work for takedowns. It was like a scene from “Space Jam”. The “Monstars” stole Okami’s wrestling abilities. With the pressure to “be more exciting”, it’s a shame to see terrific fighters like Okami and Sean Sherk deviate from natural skillsets to more “fan friendly” kickboxing bouts.

While working his wrestling, Okami has to keep a lower base. This will allow him to initiate faster sprawls to defend Munoz’s takedowns. On the feet, Okami should work just enough to disguise his shots. He has to avoid brawling with Munoz. A swift and cautious approach is the way to go.

Prediction :

This is a hard fight to predict. I could honestly see either guy walking away with this thing. A trip to the past helped me come up with my prediction. So come along and grab Uncle Willy Wonka’s hand children. I’ll be your tour guide to Mark Munoz’s past.

Despite being a D1 Level Wrestler, ground control has been a major issue for Munoz. At UFC 102, Nick Catone was able to consistently out-jockey Munoz for position, stuff takedowns, and grab takedowns of his own. That bout wasn’t even a year ago.

Munoz also showed control issues in his bout with Kendall Grove. Grove was able to shrug off takedowns and win the transitional battles. At one point, Grove transitioned immediately to Munoz’s back after a failed takedown attempt. What does all of this have to do with Yushin Okami?

I believe Yushin Okami is a far better wrestler (not BJJ) than Catone and Grove. This is the best wrestler Munoz has faced since his loss to Matt Hamill. The bout will probably play out early on the feet. When the second round comes along, Okami will start mixing his game up more successfully. A tired and desperate Munoz will struggle as the fight starts to tip in Okami’s favor. Successful takedowns and superior boxing will net Okami a hard-earned split decision.

John “Doomsday” Howard Vs. Jake Ellenberger

Key Victories :

Howard (Tamdan McCrory, Dennis Hallman, Chris Wilson)

Ellenberger (Pat Healy, Mike Pyle)

Forecast :

Fighting out of Boston, Massachusetts, John Howard is a Muay Thai and BJJ artist. He trains with Team Wai Kru MMA. Despite a 4-0 UFC record, the road has been anything but easy for Howard. In all four UFC bouts, he found himself having to come back from early adversity.

At UFC on Versus 1, Howard survived an early takedown and tough ground and pound from NAIA All-American Wrestler, Daniel Roberts. A big mistake from Roberts gave Howard the KO stoppage and Knockout of the Night Honors. It was literally an eye opening experience for Roberts.

Jake Ellenberger was born and continues to fight out of Omaha, Nebraska. He is a Wrestler, Boxer, and BJJ fighter. Training at MidAmerica Martial Arts, Ellenberger is surrounded by guys like Ryan Jensen and Chad Reiner. He made his UFC debut back in September 2009 against Carlos Condit. Condit barely escaped with the split decision. At UFC 108, Ellenberger rebounded with an impressive TKO stoppage over Mike Pyle.

Keys to Victory :

To win this fight, Howard has to be more reserved and technical with his approach. An interesting stat heading into this bout is that Jake Ellenberger has never been knocked out. Along with a great chin, I believe Ellenberger is also the better wrestler of the two. I’m not saying Howard shouldn’t be aggressive in trying to finish on the feet.

He has to avoid overextending and getting caught with a punch or scooped for a takedown. He should keep a good base, work his boxing, and attempt takedowns of his own. Ellenberger has a nasty right hand Howard should definitely be wary of.

Ellenberger should come out aggressively and seek out takedowns. Howard isn’t an elite level striker, but his power should make him respected by all Welterweights. Ellenberger can’t allow himself to be baited into a slugfest. He should use his standup to set up his takedowns. On the ground, he shouldn’t underestimate Howard’s BJJ. Howard utilized a nice butterfly sweep from bottom to take control in the Daniel Roberts bout.

Prediction :

This fight will go one of three ways:

1) We see a Street Fighter re-imagining in which Ellenberger or Howard gets caught and take a Nyquil-induced nap.

2) Dan Miragliotta accidentally pokes Ellenberger in the eye and Howard takes advantage.

3) Jake Ellenberger comes in with a sound game plan and grinds out a tough decision.

If you picked option three, you get a free six pack of beer!….on you of course.

Tyson Griffin Vs. Takanori Gomi

Key Victories :

Griffin (Urijah Faber, Clay Guida, Gleison Tibau, Marcus Aurelio, Hermes Franca, Rafael dos Anjos, Thiago Tavares, Duane Ludwig)

Gomi (Hayato Sakurai, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Marcus Aurelio, Mitsuhiro Ishida, Jens Pulver, Charles Bennett, Duane Ludwig, Dokonjonosuke Mishima)

Forecast :

Takanori Gomi represents yet another MMA veteran who waited past his prime to decide to fight in the UFC. Everything Gomi has accomplished in his storybook career remains relatively unknown on western shores.

It’s quite a shame that the majority of MMA fans were watching Gomi fight for the first time at UFC Fight Night 21. Will Fedor have to lose to James Thompson before he finally decides to jump ship? In any case, we’ll see if Gomi has one last hurrah when he takes on Tyson Griffin.

Fighting out of Las Vegas, Nevada, Griffin trains at Xtreme Couture. The famous gym features fighters like Randy Couture, Forrest Griffin, Gray Maynard, Martin Kampmann, and Vitor Belfort. Griffin’s style consists of Wrestling and Boxing. In the UFC, he has secured five Fight of the Night Honors and one Submission of the Night Honor. At UFC 115, Griffin dropped a disappointing split decision to teammate, Evan Dunham.

Born in Kanagawa, Japan, Gomi is a Boxer, Wrestler, and Shooto artist. He trains with Team Kugayama Rascal. In Pride, Gomi was a world champion and the 2005 Lightweight Grand Prix Champion. He also holds the fastest knockout in Pride history (6 seconds at Bushido 3).

Before Pride, he was the Shooto Welterweight Champion. At one point, Many considered Gomi to be the number one Lightweight in the world. He was submitted by Kenny Florian in his UFC debut.

Keys to Victory :

This should be a vintage Tyson Griffin performance. He needs to push the pace with simple combinations and setup takedowns. In his bout with Evan Dunham, Griffin showed improved boxing. He should use his boxing to sift through Gomi’s slow exchanges and land shots of his own.

Lately, Gomi has shown the cardio of a 200-plus pound toddler. Griffin needs to take advantage of Gomi’s cardio issues. He should wear Gomi down with takedowns and relentless ground and pound.

Despite recent blunders, Gomi remains a formidable striker at Lightweight. It would be nice to see him clean up his boxing game. Gomi often keeps his hands at his sides when he strikes. This stance makes his punches very predictable and easy to see. Kenny Florian took full advantage of this flaw at UFC Fight Night 21. A tighter stance enables a fighter to get off quicker, unpredictable punches.

Gomi usually keeps a good base. He will need it in this fight. Griffin is fast at striking one minute and shooting the next. Gomi has to be constantly vigilant of takedowns. He should look to stuff the shots and outpoint Griffin on the feet. This will be a grueling fight. I hope Gomi comes in shape.

Prediction :

The disappointments continue for former Pride champions and marque Japanese fighters. Griffin will control this bout from start to finish. Gomi will tire quickly as he struggles to keep up with the frantic pace. Griffin’s onslaught will last a full fifteen minutes as he snags the unanimous decision.

Gomi is a legend in the sport and was one of the primary faces in the Pride organization. I hope the UFC holds on giving him his walking papers. Melvin Guillard, Jeremy Stephens, and Dennis Siver all make for future interesting opponents.

    Official Picks

Jon Jones By Unanimous Decision

Yushin Okami By Split Decision

Jake Ellenberger By Unanimous Decision

Tyson Griffin By Unanimous Decision

UFC 116 Breakdowns and Predictions

A Heavyweight bout for the ages sits atop a card full of interesting style matches. With Fedor losing last weekend, this fight should give us a new Heavyweight king. Who tumbles first? We’ll find out Saturday night.

I encourage you to read my breakdowns to see why I made the predictions that I made. At the end of the breakdowns, I will have my official picks listed. Thanks for reading. Enjoy the fights!

Brock Lesnar Vs. Shane Carwin

Key Victories :

Lesnar (Frank Mir, Randy Couture, Heath Herring)

Carwin (Frank Mir, Gabriel Gonzaga)

Forecast :

This is literally the biggest fight in UFC history. The seismic activity given off by these two MMA behemoths should keep scientists busy for weeks. There will be enough power in the octagon on Saturday night to light up Cowboys Stadium. With that power, some unlucky soul is bound to be doing some serious snoozing.

After Bruce Buffer shuffles and does his classic, hyperactive introductions, the battle for the UFC Heavyweight throne will commence. Brock Lesnar, UFC Heavyweight champion, will finally face Shane Carwin, Interim Champion, for the Undisputed UFC Heavyweight Championship. Someone throw “Buff” some Ritalin!

Brock Lesnar has quieted the scrutiny amongst MMA fans regarding his former stint as a professional wrestler. This wasn’t some freak show or act of desperation to be a serious professional athlete. Lesnar’s impressive wrestling background, unusual athleticism, and massive size has skyrocketed him to MMA stardom. Fighting out of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota, Lesnar’s style consists of Wrestling and Boxing.

He amassed the following accomplishments during his collegiate wrestling years at Bismarck State College and the University of Minnesota: two-time NJCAA All American, 1998 NJCAA Heavyweight Champion, two-time NCAA All-American, two-time Big Ten Conference Champion, and the 2000 NCAA Heavyweight Champion.

He currently trains at his own gym with Team Deathclutch. In his last bout, Lesnar defecated all over Frank Mir in a one-sided affair. That fight was nearly a year ago. A serious case of Mononucleosis and Diverticulitis has kept Lesnar’s career in limbo. Being his first fight back, many wonder about the toll the illness may have taken on his body.

A recent Sherdog article talked about Randy Couture training with Lesnar for this fight. According to Couture, Lesnar hasn’t lost a step and appears to be even more dangerous than he was previously.

Shane Carwin is a member of Jackson’s MMA. The highly praised camp features world class fighters like GSP, Rashad Evans, Jon Jones, Nate Marquardt, and Andrei Arlovski. Carwin attended Western State College and the Colorado School of Mines. In his college years, he was a two-time NCAA Division II Wrestling National Runner-Up Heavyweight, the 1999 NCAA Division II Wrestling National Heavyweight Champion, and also a two-time Football All-American.

Currently undefeated in his MMA career, one could say Carwin has a penchant for putting people to sleep. He has KO’d every opponent set before him in the first round. At UFC 111, Carwin’s destruction of Frank Mir resembled a street mugging.

Keys to Victory :

Distance will determine the outcome of this fight. Brock Lesnar has to avoid getting closed off and trapped against the cage. Despite not landing anything significant, Randy Couture was able to consistently cut Lesnar off and press him against the fence. Carwin will be the most physically imposing opponent Lesnar has fought thus far.

When the distance closes, Lesnar needs to circle away from the cage. In the open, Lesnar will have opportunities to land. Carwin doesn’t possess fluid striking and often leaves himself open to counters longer than a 7-Eleven gas station.

There will be chances on the feet, but the standup shouldn’t be Lesnar’s avenue to a successful title defense. He needs to use his superior speed and athleticism to drag Carwin to the ground. A major strength in Lesnar’s game is his ability to control from the top and carefully seek out advantageous positions.

This fight shouldn’t be any different. He needs to wear Carwin out with good top control and well-placed strikes. This bout will be dependent on Lesnar’s ability to formulate and stick to a gameplan.

I hope Shane Carwin has been practicing his sprawl. Lesnar has a freakish shot for a guy his size. Carwin should utilize the crossface when he sprawls from takedown attempts in the open. Lesnar rarely drops to a knee during his double leg attempts. He basically drops his head and gores opponents through the octagon.

A crossface is when you use your forearm to drive a guy’s face away from your body as you’re simultaneously sprawling away from the takedown…Phew…Breathe….Ok! This could prove very useful for Carwin if he stays alert and keeps an explosive sprawl.

On the feet, Carwin has to do a better job of protecting himself. In the Gabriel Gonzaga fight, Carwin was tagged by the same right cross two or three times in a row. The damage added up and had him in early trouble. Lesnar possesses one punch knockout power.

Carwin has to keep his hands up, utilize timing, and explode in and out of range with nasty intentions. If he can cut Lesnar off, he should seek out the clinch and do some fence work. Against the fence, Carwin could land bombs and greatly reduce Lesnar’s chances of snagging takedowns.

Prediction :

Think of this fight as two overgrown Jonathan Goulets with world class knockout power going toe to toe. It really doesn’t matter how great your chin is. If Lesnar or Carwin lands clean, you’ll suddenly be serenaded by green fairies and the sounds of Beethoven. No, you aren’t drunk from a night fueled with bottles of Absinthe. You got tagged with a Lesnar or Carwin cross.

This is a tough fight to predict. It’s amazing that Carwin still remains a mystery after twelve MMA bouts. In the UFC, he hasn’t shown much outside the ability of one punch knockout power. This isn’t a bad thing. Carwin is a true specimen who deserves his placement among the Heavyweight elite.

There is still a big question revolving around Carwin. What if he doesn’t land that devastating punch? What if the fight goes the distance? In the Gonzaga fight, Carwin was soundly losing up until the massive haymaker.

Maybe it was an off night? The point is that sometimes you have to look beyond the record. Carwin isn’t going to land that punch in every fight. The time will come when we will all see the completeness of his game. I believe that time will be this Saturday night.

Lesnar may see early trouble on the feet, but he will shoot and snag takedowns at will. Carwin will take massive damage from the bottom. The ref will finally step in to save Carwin from the vicious ground-and-pound onslaught deep in the first round.

Chris “The Crippler” Leben Vs. Yoshihiro “Sexyama” Akiyama

Key Victories :

Leben (Mike Swick, Patrick Cote, Jorge Rivera, Jorge Santiago, Alessio Sakara, Aaron Simpson)

Akiyama (Alan Belcher, Denis Kang, Melvin Manhoef)

Forecast :

Wanderlei Silva was originally scheduled to fight Yoshihiro Akiyama on this card. After suffering a serious rib injury, he was forced to withdraw from the bout. Chris Leben has agreed to step in and seize a great opportunity. Akiyama is a respectable top ten Middleweight. If Leben is victorious, his stock would rise significantly in the UFC.

Born in Portland, Oregon, Chris Leben trains out of Icon Fitness MMA. He is a Boxer, Wrestler, and BJJ artist. Many remember him as a cast member of the first ever season of The Ultimate Fighter. After the show, Leben went on an impressive five fight win streak.

He was on his way to a shot at the Middleweight title…and then he met Anderson Silva. If what Silva did to Leben that night had to be tried before a court of law, the UN would be needed to settle the case. It was a complete castration of pride.

Four years later, Leben claims to have rededicated himself to the sport. Amidst skeptics, he backed up those claims by defeating Aaron Simpson at the TUF 11 Finale. That fight was a little over a week ago. Leben will step into the cage on Saturday night with only two weeks rest. He is already in shape and figures Simpson and Akiyama to be similar opponents.

“Sexyama” will be forced once again to protect his Zeus-like face from a bruising brawler. Fighting out of Osaka, Japan, Yoshihiro Akiyama is a black belt in Judo and Shotokan Karate. He trains at Xtreme Couture and the Akiyama Dojo in Tokyo, Japan. At UFC 100, Akiyama went to war with Alan Belcher in a “Fight of the Night” performance. Akiyama took the split decision. Out of sixteen fights, it was the only decision in his MMA career.

Keys to Victory :

If Leben has any hope of progressing in his MMA career, he has to start defending himself. I will admit that he has one hell of a chin. Leben could be the spokesperson for Bounty. His chin just absorbs punches. The problem hinges on the fact that Leben is incredibly easy to score on. Akiyama is a tough fighter with a fairly sturdy beard of his own. If Leben leaves himself open, he will likely be out-pointed.

He has to also watch out for the clinch. Akiyama has very slick throws. Leben should be aggressive, but he has to make sure he doesn’t extend too far on his combinations. He doesn’t want Akiyama grabbing him and working his judo. Leg kicks will prove useful in this bout. Alan Belcher battered Akiyama’s legs at UFC 100. Akiyama never really adjusted to that form of offense and left just about every kick unchecked.

If Kimbo Slice was fighting Chris Leben, what would he do (or at least say he’d do)? He’d “throw those thangs” on him! Don’t be Kimbo Slice. Leben has a history of breaking jaws. If “Sexyama” stands and bangs, the only “thangs” he could be throwing in the near future is regurgitated pudding. He has to respect Leben’s power. Don’t get baited into unnecessary exchanges.

Akiyama should remain patient. In the open, he should fire off simple combinations and get out of range. If Leben gets impatient and blitzes, Akiyama can slow the fight down by grabbing him and doing some clinch work. Leben’s striking seems to get sloppier as the fight drags on. Akiyama can take advantage of Leben’s open defense by pushing the fight and extending his combinations.

Prediction :

This fight is more dependent on what Akiyama does wrong than what Chris Leben does right. Barring a reckless performance, Akiyama should get the victory. Leben is as tough as they come. There are still persistent, technical flaws in his game. Until Leben improves, he will remain a perennial gate keeper for Middleweight prospects. Akiyama takes the unanimous decision.

Chris “Lights Out” Lytle Vs. Matt “The Immortal” Brown

Key Victories :

Lytle (Kazuo Misaki, Aaron Riley, Pete Spratt, Matt Brown, Paul Taylor)

Brown (James Wilks, Pete Sell)

Forecast :

This is a rematch of the August 2007 bout in the United Fight League (UFL). Lytle took that fight via guillotine submission in the second round. “The Immortal” one, Matt Brown, will put his pro wrestling persona on the line as he looks to take vengeance on Chris “Lights Out” Lytle.

Training out of Integrated Fighting Academy, Chris Lytle is a Boxer, BJJ artist, and wrestler. Out of his twenty-eight victories, nineteen have come by submission. He is a BJJ black belt who has earned multiple “Submission of the Night” (2) and “Fight of the Night” (4) honors.

Along with training and fighting, Lytle is also a full-time firefighter at the Indianapolis Fire Department. He has never been finished in his MMA career. All of his losses have come by decision or cut stoppages. At UFC 110, he submitted Brian Foster with a kneebar.

Matt Brown may be “The Immortal”, but he looks like “The Lethal Weapon”, Steve Blackman. Brown is a brown belt in Judo and blue belt in BJJ. The majority of his wins have come by TKO stoppage. He fights out of Las Vegas, Nevada/Seattle, Washington and trains at Warrior Training Center.

Some may remember Brown from his stint on TUF Season 7: Team Rampage vs. Team Forrest. He was defeated on the show by the season’s winner, Amir Sadollah. In his last bout, Brown succumbed to a rear naked choke from Ricardo Almeida.

Keys to Victory :

Lytle should take a page out of his own book in this fight. In the first fight, he was able to close the distance, get the takedown, and lock up a submission. This fight shouldn’t be any different. He has to be aggressive and take away Brown’s range. When the distance closes, Lytle should work Brown against the fence with short strikes and takedown attempts.

The fence can’t be a stalling point. If Lytle can’t lock up takedowns, he needs to keep landing short punches, knees, and elbows for points. He has to beware of the Muay Thai Plum. Brown is a tall Welterweight with an effective clinch game.

Brown doesn’t have to brawl with Lytle, but he can’t afford to be passive and lose on octagon control. He should be aggressive and pick apart Lytle’s sloppy striking. Lytle throws punches like he’s pitching for the Orioles. He keeps his hands low and uses decent head movement to protect his already strong chin.

When the distance closes, Brown should try to grab the plum. From that position, he can work knees, dirty boxing, or whip Lytle around to improve his position. He has to avoid developing a stagnant guard if the fight hits the floor. Lytle has a decent enough top game to ride out a decision.

Prediction :

This could be a “Fight of the Night” candidate. I expect both guys to make the most of such a Primetime slot on a big PPV. Matt Brown has underrated takedown defense. He is incredibly hard to drag to the mat. I don’t see Lytle getting many opportunities to impose his ground work.

Brown will shrug off takedowns, work Lytle from the clinch, and get the better of the exchanges. It’ll be a brutal fight. In the end, Bruce Buffer will call on Matt Brown’s name as the winner by split decision.

“The American Psycho” Stephan Bonnar Vs. Krzysztof “The Polish Experiment” Soszynski

Key Victories :

Bonnar (Keith Jardine, James Irvin, Eric Schafer, Sam Hoger)

Soszynski (Stephan Bonnar, Brian Stann, Dan Christison)

Forecast :

The initial bout between these two Light Heavyweights took place at UFC 110. Soszynski was controlling the early part of the bout. As time went on, Soszynski started to get tired and slow down. Bonnar managed to come back in the fight. In the third round, an accidental head-butt gashed Bonnar’s head. The ref was forced to stop the bout amidst a booing crowd and pleading Bonnar. Soszynski was awarded the TKO victory.

Fighting out of Temecula, California, Soszynski trains at Team Quest. The legendary gym contains fighters like Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnen, Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, and Matt Lindland. Soszynski is a BJJ artist, Boxer, and Wrestler. Before venturing into MMA, he was a bodybuilder and professional wrestler. He picked up his initial MMA knowledge from fellow wrestler, “Bad News Brown”.

On TUF Season 8: Team Nogueira vs. Team Mir, Soszynski made it to the semifinals. He was defeated by Vinny Magalhaes. Since the show, Soszynski has compiled a 4-1 record in the UFC.

For every post TUF fan, Stephan Bonnar will always be dear to your heart. The unforgettable slugfest he put on with Forrest Griffin at the TUF 1 Finale created legions of new fans. Fighting out of Chicago, Illinois, Bonnar trains with Xtreme Couture and Team Sityodtong. He is consistently surrounded by talent like Randy Couture, Forrest Griffin, Patrick Cote, Tyson Griffin, and Vitor Belfort. His style includes BJJ (purple belt), Kickboxing, and Muay Thai.

The last four years haven’t been particularly great as far as Bonnar’s UFC career is concerned. In 2006, he tested positive for steroids. Since June 2006, Bonnar has lost five of his last seven fights.

Keys to Victory :

In the beginning of the first fight, Soszynski looked extremely sharp with his punches. He used a lot of footwork and constant pressure to blast Bonnar on the feet. The problem came in the second round. Stephan Bonnar is a durable fighter. He will eat punches and keep coming forward.

Soszynski has to pace himself in this fight. Don’t sit in the pocket and wing punches at Bonnar. He should be aggressive and take advantage of Bonnar’s bad countering. When Bonnar is the aggressor, Soszynski needs to use good footwork and change angles.

Bonnar has to improve his countering and striking defense. When pressured, Bonnar does a half-squat, closes his eyes, and wings his punches like an aerobics instructor. He also has a problem keeping his hands up. Stephan, we all know you love getting bloodied and going to war. Hell, we love seeing you do it…But…Think about your career. How long can your body withstand so much punishment? How many chances is Dana White going to give you?

When Soszynski presses, Bonnar needs to circle and punch at angles. He can’t allow his face to become a punching bag. Soszynski may not tire out this time around. Bonnar needs to close the distance and try to secure takedowns. On the ground, he’ll have to be wary of Soszynski’s BJJ. Soszynski has one of the nastiest kimuras in the game.

Prediction :

It’s amazing how much can change in five years. After Griffin/Bonnar 1, Forrest Griffin went on to become UFC Champion and one of the best Light Heavyweights in the world. Many would find it an outrage to even mention Bonnar’s name next to Griffin’s. To think, these two were very evenly matched on that historic night. What went wrong for Bonnar? Why hasn’t he developed into a top tier guy? That’s a complicated question.

The only answer I can give is that Bonnar never made serious adjustments in his game. Stephan Bonnar is essentially the same fighter he was five years ago. Dana White is in a hard place. He doesn’t want to release Bonnar. What about other fighters? Will a deserving fighter miss out on a great opportunity because Bonnar keeps getting chances?

In any case, Soszynski will dot his I’s and cross his T’s in this rematch. Bonnar will put on a game performance, but Soszynski will take the unanimous decision due to superior footwork and aggression. Along with Lytle/Brown, I wouldn’t be surprised if this bout takes “Fight of the Night” honors.

Kurt “Batman” Pellegrino Vs. George Sotiropoulos

Key Victories :

Pellegrino (Mac Danzig, Josh Neer, Thiago Tavares, Rob Emerson)

Sotiropoulos (Joe Stevenson, Jason Dent)

Forecast :

Kurt Pellegrino may not have Bruce Wayne swagger, but his alter ego has been going to work in the octagon. Fighting out of Point Pleasant, New Jersey, Pellegrino’s style consists of BJJ and Wrestling. He currently trains at Florian Martial Arts Center and his own gym, Kurt Pellegrino MMA. In high school wrestling, Pellegrino was a two-time state finalist. He is riding a four fight win streak. At UFC 111, he submitted Fabricio Camoes via rear naked choke.

Born in Geelong, Victoria (Australia), George Sotiropoulos trains out of Fisticuffs Gym. He is a black belt in BJJ. His boxing coach, Leonard Gabriel, has helped him drastically improve his standup. The improvements have made Sotiropoulos a well-rounded threat for any lightweight. On TUF 6: Team Hughes vs. Team Serra, Sotiropoulos made it to the semifinals. He lost to Tommy Spears by KO after an accidental eye poke.

Since the show, he has amassed an undefeated UFC record (5-0). At UFC 110, he took the biggest victory of his MMA career after soundly picking Joe Stevenson apart for a unanimous decision.

Keys to Victory :

This is a tough fight for Pellegrino. While he has the better wrestling, Sotiropoulos has the better striking and BJJ. This should be a very technical fight. Pellegrino should be relentless with his takedowns and use his superior wrestling to ride Sotiropoulos out on top. He has to beware of Sotiropoulos’s dangerous guard.

Sotiropoulos loves to use the rubber guard to seek out submissions and sweeps. Pellegrino has to utilize good balance and posture to avoid losing top position. On the feet, he needs to set up his shots with feints and simple combinations.

Sotiropoulos should be confident knowing he can win this fight wherever it goes. He can’t underestimate Pellegrino’s wrestling. Pellegrino won’t be as passive with his takedown attempts as Joe Stevenson was. He will get after Sotiropoulos and make him defend. On his back, Sotiropoulos needs to keep an active guard. Pellegrino is good at keeping position. It’s going to take constant effort from Sotiropoulos to find success from the bottom.

Prediction :

This should be a great fight between two high level grapplers. Pellegrino may nab a takedown or two, but he will struggle inside Sotiropoulos’s guard. On the feet, it will be all Sotiropoulos. You can chalk another impressive victory up for “The Wizard of Oz”. George Sotiropoulos takes this one by unanimous decision. Yes folks, that’s his nickname.

Official Picks

Brock Lesnar By Round 1 TKO Stoppage

Yoshihiro Akiyama By Unanimous Decision

Matt Brown By Split Decision

Krzysztof Soszynski By Unanimous Decision

George Sotiropoulos By Unanimous Decision

Strikeforce: Fedor vs Werdum predictions

The greatest of all time is fighting again. And when he is fighting,you know well that you wont see one guy laying on another one for 25 minutes,or dancing around him to grind out a decision. When Fedor is fighting,you expect fireworks,him going there and trying to finish the other guy from every position. He is always in epic fights,and this might be no different: be sure to watch!

Josh Thompson vs Pat Healy
Winner: Josh Thompson
Confidence level: ***
Two guys that are rarely in the center of attention of the MMA world,but if you look at these guys resumes,they beat some really solid names. Pat Healy has victories over Carlos Condit,Dan Hardy,and Paul Daley. Excuse me? How come most of us never heard about this guy? Well,maybe because he beat them before they became famous. Josh Thompson is a well rounded,skilled and very exciting fighter,and he is just on a level above Healy. I think the fight will be fought on their feet for the most time,with Thompson winning the ultimate decision via superior technical striking.

Cristiane Santos vs Jan Finnley for the Strikeforce Womens Featherweight Championship
Winner: Cristiane Santos
Confidence level: *****
Female MMA is at a very early age,an age when its not estabilished yet,and you need a few superstars to make people want to check out the fights. Before Cyborg-Carano lot of people said that Gina Carano is a perfect first female MMA superstar because of her looks…well Carano might have the looks of a superstar,but Cyborg definitely has the style of it. I see Cristiane as female MMAs prime Wanderlei Silva,an incredibly agressive fighter,who puts on shows,and just destroys her opponents. There are quite a few intriguing matchups for her that might be close,but Finnley is not one of them. Look out for the destruction.

Cung Le vs Scott Smith
Winner: Cung Le
Confidence level: **
What an epic war the first fight was! Instant rematch-worthy for sure. Cung Le looked like a guy that came straight out of a kung-fu movie (and its not even far from the truth) to kick Scott Smiths ass with some flashy spinning kicks. But then the epic moment of the year came,Scott Smith got bored of the role of the kickging bag,and knocked out Le in the last minutes of the fight. If Cung is the master of sanshou in MMA,than Smith is the master of epic comeback victories. I see this fight playing out exactly like their first one,except that Cung will be more cautious this time,and wont be caught by the blue collar brawler. Le takes this by UD,after a very exciting striking war.

Fedor Emelianenko vs Fabricio Werdum
Winner: Fedor Emelianenko
Confidence level: ****
No doubt,the greatest fighter of all time,that is Fedor Emelianenko. He has lot of haters in America(pretty much nowhere else),WWE fanboys who cant accept the fact that the worlds best fighter doesnt look like the worlds best fighter should look like. Thats a hard fact to swallow if you are under the age of 15. With all of this talk and hype of Fedor,lets not overlook his opponent,Fabricio Werdum. On most lists,he is in the bottom half of the top10,but he is,no doubt,the best BJJ guy Fedor faced in a looong time (yes,including Big Nog). And what separates Fabricio from a lot of fighters is that he is not delusional,he know exactly well he cant strike with Fedor. This will be a very interesting and exciting fight,its impossible to predict how it will turn out,but you just cant doubt Fedor,he is 32-1(?)-1 for a reason. Fedor survives on the ground (if the fight goes there),and knocks out Werdum,thats my prediction.

Instead of Akiyama-Wanderlei we have Akiyama-Leben now…

Daaamn,there are quite a few very good booked fights right now,but I dont know if there was another one that I was pumped for,like I was for Wandy-Akiyama. That just an incredible exciting matchup on paper. And now its off,because of Wandys injury.

But what can we do? Leben is a solid replacement,but nothing extraordinary. Before Anderson Silvas debut,Chris Leben said in the pre-fight hype video that Anderson should go back to japan,where the competition was easier. I wouldnt be surprised if he said something to this extent again,but I definitely wait an ass-whooping again. Akiyama is nowhere near the level of Silva striking wise,but he has the best judo in the UFC,his debut fight was fantastic,but I kinda missed the judo throws,I hope this time he showes us this aspect of his game.

Decent replacement,it should be an entertaining fight. And thats what the UFC needs,especially that the main event is a ptential snoozer. I dont want to take away anything from Carwin or Lesnar,but while the whole UFC fanbase is hyping up the fight big time,I see it go down two way: either an early KO (probably from Shane),or Brock takedown,safe ground-n-pound. Which is,flame me,but not anymore exciting than lay-n-pray. But the UFC knows whatsup,and how to put on a well balanced card,and Akiyama-Leben will be a key ingredient.

The 5 most exciting MMA organizations in the business…

First of all,let me get this straight: I hate when people hate on MMA organizations. “ohh what a joke is Strikefarce,Im glad I didnt spend my time on paying for their show” (which is free). I hate comments like this,because they make no sense at all. I hate when people act that just because you are in the UFC,you get magically 10 times better,or all of a sudden overhyped. I dont take sides,you shouldnt either,just enjoy this great thing called MMA,as a sport.

With that said,I thought it would be fun to make a list about the most exciting MMA organizations in the world right now,lets say pound for pound (by that,I mean,its not about “who is the most important in the business”,or “who dominates the PPV buys”,its rather how great shows can they put on with their talent).

So lets look at the top5:

5. Strikeforce

Ohh,the good old Strikeforce,the organization thats cool to hate nowadays for some reason. They started out like just any other mid-level organization,had a few decent fighters,but werent THAT important. This was before 2009,because in ’09 they picked up the pace BIG TIME,with some awesome signings,and stacked cards that didnt fail to entertain and bring the heat. But I dont want to compare the organizations based on their roster alone,and there are some things that hold Strikeforce down at the #5 spot.

Strengths: The best roster outside of the UFC from LW to HW,including the best fighter in the world. Lately they had some very entertaining and stacked cards. Best signings in 2009 out of all organizations. Willing to co-promote,that allows Dream fighters fight in the hexagon. Have some compelling matchups that the MMA world would LOVE to see (Fedor vs Overeem,Mousasi vs Henderson,Melendez vs Alvarez(?))

Weaknesses: For an organization their size,they look a little bit shallow at WW and LHW. Questionable main event(Le vs Smith) & undercard(Shaolin vs Beerbohm) choices. Sometimes just plain strange matchmaking(Overeem vs Rogers). The worst commentating team in the business. Signs of unprofessionalism.

Key fighters: Fedor Emelianenko,Gegard Mousasi,Dan Henderson,Gilbert Melendez,Alistair Overeem,King Mo,Nick Diaz,Cristiane Santos

Future: If they continue to imrpove with free agent signings like they did recently,they have a bright future,I wouldnt be surprised if some more current UFC superstars signed with Strikeforce sooner or later. There are things that need to be fixes as soon as possible though.

4. Bellator

The new kid in the town made a statement! What you should know about Bellator,is that they are a new promotion,strated their first “season” (that means 11 events,one every week) in last year,and they debuted with a BANG. The focus on four weight classes (FW to MW),tournaments,and hispanic-american fighters. While compared to Strikeforce or UFC they are a minor promotion,the combination of the aforementioned things makes the very exciting.

Strengths: The tournament format is a fresh idea,every fight counts a lot. Pretty good at finding talent. The circle cage might be the best fighting platform in MMA. Although not a “major org”,their production value is damn good,really nice pre-fight videos,and good commentating. Through the season you can see an event every week. Some VERY exciting and entertaining fighters(Alvarez,Imada),that produced many memorable finishes already for this young organization. Pure fighting,no freakshow/off-ring drama/controversy bullshit.

Weaknesses: The offseason is long,and they are non-existent until the next season. The tournament idea is great,but it has some flaws,especially with the title fights. Because of the relatively shallow roster and the once-per-week shows,some underwhelming fighters find their spot on the main card. Lately they got a glimpse of the lay-n-pray fever as well.

Key fighters: Eddie Alvarez,Hector Lombard,Toby Imada,Roger Huerta,Dan Hornbuckle,Joe Warren,Patricio Freire,Ben Askren

Future: They say season three will focus on BW,LHW,HW,and womens MMA. If they continue to do 2 seasons per year,they can do pretty well. They should have some better matchmaking with their title fights,and maybe 1-2 shows in the offseasons to make their fighters busy. I dont see them taking over MMA,but its a very fun organization to watch.

3. Ultimate Fighting Championsip

No doubt,the biggest MMA organization in the world,with the best roster. UFC created the American MMA,in 1993,twelve years later they had a huge mainstream success with The Ultimate Fighter reality show. Bigger UFC events are must-watch by default because of their relevancy on the fighting world. But…does it make the best show for the fans?

Strengths: Enormous roster,huge talent pool,tons of superstars,that means lots of fan favourite and lots of prospects to watch out for. Rich history. Well known brand,lots of fans still think that UFC=MMA. Strong financially,chances are low that they will go bankrupt anytime soon. They put on lots of shows,get you interested on a regular basis. They are the big dog,period.

Weaknesses: Lots of their fighters play it way too safe,because they risk a lot. Out of the 5 organizations listed,UFC has the best chances for a “lay-n-pray” or “wall-n-stall” fights. For 50 bucks,you would expect much more stacked cards,and they would be able to do it,but they protect their fighters too much. Lots of controversial things lately. Dana White while a great businessman,a very poor representative for the sport. Unbearable amount of fake hype,trash talking,guaranteeing that a fight between two wrestlers wont hit the ground,just because they look mean at each other during a reality show. Repetitive production value,aimed for the “bloodthirsty meatheads”.

Key fighters: hahh…BJ Penn,Georges St.Pierre,Anderson Silva,Lyoto Machida,Mauricio Rua,Randy Couture,I could go on and on

Future: Guaranteed. It is the biggest MMA organization with a huge talent pool,and still growing (although not on a “meteoric rise”)

2. DREAM

Japanese MMA,while technically the same sport as American MMA,has a completely different style,different rules,different traditions. I dont want to get into this J-MMA vs A-MMA debate right now,because its a looooong story,but one thing is for sure: if you think that only A-MMA is important because they have the more relevant fighters,you are missing out on A LOT. Japanese promotions always knew how to put on great,very entertaining shows,and while the legendary PRIDE is defunct,DREAM lives on,smaller,but similiar mindset.

Strengths: You want a great show? Just watch DREAM. Creative,never disappointing promos. Big time entrances,celebration-music,and national anthems before title fights give DREAM a more celebral feeling. They present the sport AS A SPORT,and not a bloodbath-spectacle. Respectful fans,not focusing on hating,rather focusing on appreciating a good fight. Best PBP commentator in the business. Crazy matchmaking,somehow they can put together a fight with two completely irrelevant fighters,still you WANT to see it badly. No protecting of their fighters (this is huge). Tournament format is exciting,with tons of intriguing matchups. Great talent pool at LW,decent at lower weight classes. Great rules,fighting platform,judging criteria,and the fighters are always look to entertain as well,not only win,the fact that they have some of the most awesome fighters in MMA helps a lot.

Weaknesses: Questionable financial background. Seems like Japanese mainstream fans start to lose interest in MMA,and rather watch boxing or K-1. Some freakshow fights,and mismatches. Although pretty good at finding talent,in some weight classes they look shallow. Sometimes they look desperate for a gimmick that would sell,be it a super hulk tourney,or changing the ring for the cage. Offseason in the first few months of the year. Announce their fights too late.

Key fighters: Shinya Aoki,Tatsuya Kawajiri,Kid Yamamoto,Kazushi Sakuraba,Marius Zaromskis,Bibiano Fernandes,some DREAM/SF fighters (Mousasi,Manhoef,Alvarez)

Future: Im a little bit worried about them. It looks that they arent in the best financial shape,but I hope this is only an illusion. The world of MMA NEEDS a major Japanese promotion,they always produce awesome moments,and I have a feeling that PRIDE will never die,it will live through K-1 Hero’s,DREAM,Sengoku,or whatever else,the Japanese-MMA tradition is just too unique to disappear by its major organization going bankrupt.

ladies and gentlemen,let me present you the winner…

1. YAMMA Pit Fighting

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just kidding,just kidding. The REAL no.1 is:

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1. World Extreme Cagefighting

Want some quality pure MMA action? Then WEC is your organization to watch. WEC started in 2001 is a little local organization that pretty much nobody cared about. Their first shows were horrible,really what you call humble beginnings. But after Zuffa bought WEC in 2006,they slowly started to change. Abandon their heavier weight classes,and focus on the lighter ones. Right now its the premier organization for fighters who are too small for LW,as you can find the best BW and FW talent here,plus they have a decent (although not world-beater) LW division as well.

Strengths: 100% MMA,no surrounding bullshit,no shit talkers(okay,maybe Varner),no reality shows,no freak shows,no controversies,just pure action. Some of the most exciting fights in the world,the little guys never slow down,never give up,start at 100% pace and finish at 100% pace. The shows never fail to entertain,they had in my opinion the best event in 2009 (WEC 41),and so far in 2010 as well (WEC 48),the best fight in 2008 (Condit vs Miura),the best fight in 2010 (Jung vs Garcia),and some of the best fights in 2009 (Brown vs Faber II,Henderson vs Cerrone,Torres vs Mizugaki). You can forget about lay-n-pray and wall-n-stall,you wont get a reminder of those by watching WEC.

Weaknesses: Repetitive production value. The rules and scoring criteria isnt as amazing as in DREAM,but it doesnt really matter because of the fighters. I wish they would get their WW division back,with Carlos Condit. Low pay for fighters.

Key fighters: José Aldo,Dominick Cruz,Miguel Torres,Urijah Faber,Ben Henderson,Joseph Benavidez,Mike Brown,Brian Bowles,Jamei Varner,Donald Cerrone

Future: I think as long as Zuffa is successful with the UFC,WEC will be successfull as well. That is…if they dont want to merge the WEC with the UFC,which would evoken very mixed feelings in me. Other than the fighters low pay,WEC is pretty much the best MMA organization you can imagine. Just sit back and enjoy watching the little guys scrap,they will put on a show for you,thats for sure.

Team Liddell Vs. Team Ortiz Finale Breakdowns and Predictions

Another season of The Ultimate Fighter comes to an end as season 11 finalists prepare to do battle. This is a card loaded with present and past TUF alumni. It should be a good night of fights. Who will be the next Ultimate Fighter? The time has come to find out. I encourage you to read my breakdowns to see why I made the predictions that I made. At the end of the breakdowns, I will have my official picks listed. Thanks for reading. Enjoy the fights!

Court McGee Vs. Kris McCray

Key Victories :

McGee (DaMarques Johnson)

McCray (Igor Almeida)

Forecast :

Disappointing is an understatement when The Ultimate Fighter Season 11 comes to mind. The show is starting to feel like a perpetual pump of reality induced television without any true new talent to show for it. Seasons 1-3 have given us more authentic talent than all other seasons combined. I understand people want “great TV personalities”. Maybe I was mistaken in thinking this show was about the fighters and producing new MMA talent. Anything else is basically a rendition of MTV’s Real World or Jersey Shore.

During the season, I fully expected Jamie Yager (Kid Goku) to turn Super Saiyan and destroy the competition. My assumption was quickly proven wrong as even Jamie’s massive fro couldn’t cushion the fists of Josh Bryant. When the dust settled, we were left with two unlikely finalists. Whether either guy becomes the next breakout MMA star remains to be seen. Who will win a six figure UFC contract and become The Ultimate Fighter? Well, that question will be answered this Saturday night when Court McGee takes on Kris McCray.

Fighting out of Layton, Utah, Court McGee was the dark horse of this season. People often joked about him not fitting the mold of a “modern day warrior”. At first glance, McGee may resemble a lad who’s experienced the Rumspringa and never looked back. His appearance proved to be deceptive on TUF 11. McGee defeated three other opponents to make it to the finals. He was selected on the show as Chuck Liddell’s sixth pick. After the show, McGee has continued training with Liddell and John Hackleman at The Pit.

Kris McCray was selected by Tito Ortiz as his third overall pick. McCray is a member of Team Gold Medal Grappling. He is primarily a wrestler. On the show, it was revealed that he set the record for total fights competed in during a TUF season (5). According to Dana White, McCray fought every Tuesday in the house.

Keys to Victory :

McCray will have the size advantage in this fight. McGee has to avoid getting caught under the bigger man. He needs to establish a good distance. Stay on the outside and work McCray with short combinations and kicks. He has to wear McCray down and force him to make a mistake. As the fight wears on, McCray tends to get really sloppy with his punches and takedown defense.

McGee is a solid grappler in his own right. He has to take advantage of what McCray gives him. McGee has to be scrappy in his defense. If pressed against the cage, he has to fight for the underhooks. If taken down, he has to keep an active guard by creating space and looking to explode to his feet.

Kris McCray has to be the aggressor in this bout. During the TUF season, he did a great job of using his superior size to wear on opponents and secure takedowns. This fight should be no different. McCray needs to use his size to wear McGee down. He should try to push McGee against the fence, work short strikes, and snag the takedown.

Stamina was a huge issue for McCray on the show. That could be attributed to having to adapt to the crazy TUF experience. Whatever the reasoning, McCray has to avoid getting wild and conserve his stamina. There is no shame in losing to the better man. There is shame in losing because of poor conditioning.

Prediction :

It’s hard to judge these new guys coming off the show. The whole TUF experience can be overwhelming and actually hurt a fighter’s performance. Mixed Martial Arts is a sport that requires full dedication and preparation. In the house, fighters have to overcome the following: alcohol in a party-like environment, reality TV cameras and late night antics, living with opponents, staying injury free, adjusting to a new coach in a short period of time, and little rest between fights.

The fighters who show up on the finale are a better indication of where these guys are actually at in their MMA careers. With that said, I have to go with what I’ve seen so far. When the fight begins, the Billy Goat Gruff mean muggin’ will be on. McGee will get the better of the exchanges on the feet and avoid the majority of McCray’s initial takedown attempts. A desperate McCray will overextend on a combination and get dropped in the second. I expect both fighters to look better than they did on the show.

Matt “The Hammer” Hamill Vs. “The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine

Key Victories :

Hamill (Mark Munoz, Tim Boetsch, Reese Andy)

Jardine (Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin, Brandon Vera, Wilson Gouveia)

Forecast :

While Matt Hamill hasn’t lost a bout since 2008, Keith Jardine hasn’t won one either. It’s becoming hard not to go into every Jardine fight expecting him to get dropped violently and go into exorcism-like convulsions. He’s extremely lucky to still be headlining a UFC event. We’ll see what happens in this battle of TUF alumni.

Matt Hamill is a member of Team Punishment. The team features fighters like Tito Ortiz, Rob McCullough, and Justin McCully. Hamill’s style consists of Freestyle Wrestling, Greco-Roman Wrestling, Boxing, and BJJ. In the 2001 Summer Deaflympics, he took home a gold medal in Freestyle Wrestling and a silver medal in Greco-Roman.

At the Rochester Institute of Technology, he was a three-time NCAA Division III National Wrestling Champion. In his last bout, he was awarded the victory over Jon Jones after a disqualification for illegal elbows. That fight wasn’t going anywhere near Hamill’s way from the beginning.

Keith Jardine is a black belt in Gaidojutsu (Wrestling and Judo combination) under Greg Jackson. He trains at Jackson’s MMA with GSP, Rashad Evans, Jon Jones, Shane Carwin, Nate Marquardt, and Andrei Arlovski. Out of his last five bouts, Jardine is 1-4. Inconsistency has been a problem for him in the past, but this is the first time we’ve seen him rack up consistent losses. Jardine’s style consists of Boxing, Kickboxing, and Gaidojutsu.

Keys to Victory :

Matt Hamill has to stick to what he’s good at. Jardine’s primary weakness is his chin versus explosive fighters willing to aggressively engage. Hamill doesn’t possess the punching power of a Thiago Silva or Wanderlei Silva. That doesn’t mean he lacks power completely. Hamill is very good at cinching the clinch and wearing down opponents with his dirty boxing. Instead of aimlessly throwing punches, he needs to close the distance and do some clinch work.

Jardine has nasty leg kicks. Defense will be very important for Hamill. He can’t sit there and take kick after kick. He has to be ready to check them. With Jardine being the better striker, Hamill may struggle in the exchanges and snagging the clinch. If this happens, he may have to revert to his Freestyle roots and initiate outside takedown attempts. This could throw Jardine off his game as this is something we don’t see often from Hamill.

Distance, kicks, and clinch defense should be Jardine’s motto heading into this bout. He doesn’t want to give Hamill any hope of grabbing a leg or utilizing the clinch. He needs to stay on the outside and work Hamill with kicks and punches. There has to be snap behind everything that is thrown. Hamill doesn’t mind eating punches to clinch his opponents and begin the dirty boxing onslaught.

Jardine has to be careful in the exchanges. The time has come for him to get back to the basics in his boxing defense. Like “The Running Man” and “The Cabbage Patch”, Jardine’s “Old Man Houseshoe Shuffle” is played out. There should be no more talk about his “unorthodox” standup. That “unorthodox” standup has gotten him KTFO’d four times in the UFC. Come on now…He has Greg Jackson behind him. Let’s see some improvements.

Prediction :

Jardine will stick to a sound gameplan. He will batter Hamill on the outside with kicks and punches. Hamill’s inability to check the kicks will be his downfall in this fight. In the third round, Hamill will be unable to continue from the multiple leg kicks. Jardine can rest easy. He should escape being highlighted in the next Ultimate Knockouts DVD…for now…

Chris “The Crippler” Leben Vs. Aaron “A-Train” Simpson

Key Victories :

Leben (Mike Swick, Patrick Cote, Jorge Rivera, Jorge Santiago, Alessio Sakara)

Simpson (Ed Herman, Tom Lawlor)

Forecast :

Fighting out of Oahu, Hawaii, Chris Leben trains at Icon Fitness MMA. He is a Boxer, Wrestler, and BJJ artist. Out of his nineteen wins, ten have come by KO. Before losing to Anderson Silva, Leben had racked up five straight victories and was on the verge of a title shot. Since the brutal loss, he has been an inconsistent 4-4 in the UFC.

Leben is quickly finding himself being pushed by mid-carders to the bottom of the Middleweight totem pole. If not careful, his inconsistency and problems outside of the cage could soon land him his walking papers. At UFC Fight Night 20, Leben defeated Jay Silva by unanimous decision.

Aaron Simpson won four wrestling state championships at Antelope Union High School in Wellton, Arizona. He went on to compete at Arizona State and was a two-time NCAA All-American. When the WEC dropped its Middleweight and Light Heavyweight divisions, Simpson made his UFC debut in April 2009.

With a perfect 7-0 record, he has finished six of those bouts by KO or TKO stoppage. In his last bout, he took fight of the night honors and a split decision over Tom Lawlor.

Keys to Victory :

We need to see a more methodical Chris Leben in this fight. It was interesting seeing him choose wrestling over brawling in his bout with Jay Silva. While he isn’t the better wrestler, he can confuse Simpson by mixing up his offense. Leben has to keep a low base. Simpson will undoubtedly be looking for takedowns of his own.

On the feet, Leben needs to work his boxing and avoid getting greedy. It’s almost a reflexive action for a reeling wrestler to shoot in for a takedown. Unless Simpson is seriously hurt, Leben should land what he can and get out. If taken down, Leben needs to be aggressive in his search for submissions and opportunities to explode back to his feet.

Aaron Simpson has to avoid being baited into a battle of “rock ‘em, sock ‘em robots”. He needs to be patient in every aspect of this fight. Leben tends to overextend and throw slow combinations and kicks. If patient, Simpson may get a gift takedown courtesy of an overaggressive Chris Leben.

On the ground, Simpson shouldn’t underestimate Leben’s submission skills. Leben isn’t anywhere near a Demian Maia, but he still has competent ground skills. Simpson should use his ground and pound to chip away at his opponent. This could be a grinder. Leben is as tough as they come.

Prediction :

Stylistically, this isn’t a good fight for Chris Leben. Aaron Simpson is the better athlete and stronger grappler. Look for Simpson to repeatedly drag a frustrated Leben to the ground. This won’t make for the most exciting fight as Leben’s underrated guard will keep Simpson from transitioning. Simpson will control and grind out a unanimous decision.

Spencer “The King” Fisher Vs. Dennis Siver

Key Victories :

Fisher (Thiago Alves, Sam Stout, Jeremy Stephens, Caol Uno, Matt Wiman, Aaron Riley)

Siver (Paul Kelly)

Forecast :

Spencer Fisher is known for his explosive standup and putting on exciting performances. I can’t remember a boring Spencer Fisher fight. Sporting a style of Boxing, BJJ, and Muay Thai, Fisher is a natural southpaw. He currently trains at Team Sityodtong. The MMA school is known for fighters like Jorge Rivera, Marcus Davis, Stephan Bonnar, and Patrick Cote. At UFC 104, Fisher was stopped in the second round by Joe Stevenson.

Fighting out of Mannheim, Germany, Dennis Siver is a Sambo, Kickboxer, and BJJ artist. He is a purple belt in BJJ and currently a member of OC Fight Team. Like Fisher, Siver is also known for good standup and putting on exciting performances. Who could ever forget Siver’s TKO victory over Paul Kelly via spinning back kick. In his last bout, he was soundly picked apart by Ross Pearson in a unanimous decision loss.

Keys to Victory :

Fisher needs to be the aggressor in this fight. Siver really struggles against boxers who are efficient and aggressive in their standup. Despite possessing solid offensive standup, Siver is severely lacking in the countering department. Fisher should exploit this weakness by pushing the pace and extending on his combinations. He has to be weary of takedowns and submissions. Siver has a ground game that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Siver has to stand his ground in this fight. When pressed, he needs to counter or look for the takedown. With Fisher being the better boxer, Siver will have to set up his offense. He should use his kicks and feints to open up his standup and takedown opportunities. For Siver to win, he will have to put on a well-rounded performance. He has to keep Fisher guessing.

Spencer Fisher and Ross Pearson have similar styles. This is somewhat of an advantage for Siver. It gives him an opportunity to dissect his mistakes and try to rectify them against a similar opponent.

Prediction :

This fight should mimic Siver’s bout with Ross Pearson. Fisher will avoid takedowns while getting the better of the exchanges. This should be a fight of the night candidate as Fisher takes the unanimous decision.

Official Picks

Court McGee By Round 2 KO

Keith Jardine By Round 3 TKO Stoppage (Leg Kicks)

Aaron Simpson By Unanimous Decision

Spencer Fisher By Unanimous Decision