Posts Tagged ‘UFC’
The New Year gets off to a great start tonight with UFC 125, but we’ve already had a busy weekend of action. Sengoku crowned a new featherweight champion, Hatsu Hioki, at its year-end show on Dec. 30 and Dream has a new featherweight king, Hiroyuki Takaya, and an “interim” heavyweight champ, Alistair Overeem, after its Dec. 31 Dynamite!! 2010 event.
While the Japanese promotions closed out 2010, UFC will kick off 2011 with a title fight of its own, as lightweight titleholder Frankie Edgar defends his title against Gray Maynard, who defeated the champ in their previous meeting. Has Edgar, who impressed on two occasions as an underdog against B.J. Penn, improved his game enough to nullify Maynard’s wrestling, or will we see another belt change hands this weekend?
UFC 125 Predictions
The UFC returns to pay-per-view tonight at 10 p.m. ET for UFC 125. In addition to the lightweight championship showdown between Edgar and Maynard, the card also features some other fighters who have been on the rise lately, including Chris Leben, Takanori Gomi and Nate Diaz. Spike TV again will not broadcast a “UFC Prelims” show for the event, but the UFC formed a partnership with Ion Television and will air three of its prelim bouts from UFC 125 live on that network.
Preliminary Card: The prelim cards of UFC events are going to gain even more depth now that the WEC has officially been absorbed. That’s clearly evidenced here, with top small guys like Josh Grispi, Mike Brown and Diego Nunes competing outside of the main card. That would never happen if these warriors were still based in the WEC. Is the UFC going to wait until Urijah Faber or Jose Aldo fight before they place a sub-155-pound bout on the main card of the pay-per-view?
Antonio McKee, an IFL veteran, has been long overdue for an appearance on the big stage. Jacob Volkmann hasn’t really impressed me during his stint in the UFC, but he’s performed better at lightweight than welterweight. Still, he’s likely to get outclassed by McKee in almost every area. Unless McKee makes it a point to finish fights, his style will probably receive criticism – 18 of his 25 wins have come via decision – but he gets the job done. He’ll do so again here, taking a unanimous nod over Volkmann.
Daniel Roberts and Greg Soto might be my “flip a coin” fight for the evening. Roberts has great submissions and took out Mike Guymon, while Greg Soto worked for a decision win over Nick Osipczak in his last outing. I can see Roberts winning by submission or Soto taking a decision or TKO. Given what I’ve seen out of Roberts, he sometimes gets careless while transitioning to submissions. That cost him against John Howard, and I’ll say it costs him against Soto as well. Roberts slips up, setting the table for Soto to score a TKO.
Mike Brown was once riding atop the featherweight division, but after losing the belt to Jose Aldo he has alternated between wins and losses in his last three fights. If his win over Cole Province marked a renewed focus following his loss to Manny Gamburyan, then his UFC 125 bout with Diego Nunes becomes all the more interesting. Nunes has only suffered one career loss and could create problems for Brown. However, Brown marks the deepest waters Nunes has ever waded into. I look for Brown to post his second consecutive victory with a hard fought unanimous decision.
Phil Baroni is a fighter barely above the .500 mark, but he comes to fight and has name recognition, a combination that likely contributes to the fact that he’s still with the UFC despite two straight losses. His bout against Brad Tavares is the first of three listed for the Ion Television broadcast. Tavares only has six pro fights under his belt, and that might be the biggest edge for Baroni. It won’t be enough, however. This is a fight where Tavares can make an impression – give the fans some exciting action in the opening round and then pick away at a gassed Baroni as the fight progresses. Tavares has the talent to do exactly that, and will finish an exhausted Baroni in the third stanza.
The second Ion bout pits featherweight contender Josh Grispi against Dustin Poirier. Grispi is the easy favorite here, and it’s a shame that he was removed from the main card after a title bout with Jose Aldo had to be scrapped due to an injury sustained by the champ. It’s also a shame that a win here doesn’t automatically earn Grispi a title shot. He will stay in the mix though with a submission win over Poirier.
The final Ion bout features lightweights Marcus Davis and Jeremy Stephens. It’s definitely a fight designed to create fireworks, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Davis take this fight to the ground. Both men can slug, but Davis actually has the more proven ground game. I’ll say the two beat each other up on the feet for a round before Davis utilizes his superior striking technique to rock “Lil’ Heathen” and follows up with a submission for the win.
Main Card: Outside of the complaint of all the featherweight action taking place before the main card, I like this lineup. It will be intriguing to see whether Frankie Edgar has the key to beating Gray Maynard in their second go-around. Additionally, Chris Leben’s return to the Octagon against Brian Stann should be a fun fight to watch. Nate Diaz will continue to be tested at 170 pounds and let’s not forget the man who always delivers great fights: Clay Guida. “The Carpenter” will lock horns with the resurgent Takanori Gomi.
Guida is a fighter who could probably drop four straight fights and yet still remain under UFC contract. His energy level has made him a fan-favorite to the point where wins and losses matter much less than exciting matchups. With Gomi scoring a big knockout over Tyson Griffin in his last outing, “The Fireball Kid” has renewed fans’ interest in him. He’s also a fighter who can put on a show – just look at his war with Nick Diaz in Pride for one example. Guida is great in the cage, but he does tend to lose against high level competition. However, he is still more comfortable in the Octagon than Gomi and that could play a role in the outcome of this bout. I predict we’ll see a Fight of the Night contender, with Guida staying busy enough to earn a razor thin split decision.
I stick by my theory that the Diaz brothers perform better as they go up in weight. Sure, they’re not going to step up to heavyweight and conquer Cain Velasquez, but in the range from lightweight up to middleweight I’d say it’s a fair assessment. Nate is fighting an undefeated welterweight this time around in Dong Hyun Kim. That’s definitely his stiffest test yet at 170. Kim would prefer to ground and pound his way to victory, but Diaz doesn’t mind being on his back and can easily submit opponents from the bottom. Kim will probably take the judges’ scorecards for maintaining top control, that is right up until Diaz snags him in a submission to take the win.
Light heavyweights Thiago Silva and Brandon Vera might put on a stand-up war, but with Vera coming off of two losses and Silva dropping his last bout to Rashad Evans, this seems better suited for the Ion broadcast. Name recognition with the UFC fans is most likely the reason this fight earned the main card nod over the featherweight tilts. As for the fight, Vera needs to be aggressive to win. He has fallen into a pattern of allowing his opponent to dictate the pace and location of the bout. If he continues to make this mistake, he’ll lose once again. Until Vera proves he has turned things around, I cannot pick in his favor. Silva scores a late TKO.
Chris Leben and Brian Stann have both enjoyed recent stretches of success. However, Leben’s achievements, along with his continuing personal struggles outside of the cage, have made bigger headlines. Stann has a great back-story, but in the cage he’s still mostly known for his striking. Unfortunately, Leben sports an unbelievable chin and deceptive ground skills. “The Crippler” is also riding a surge of momentum that Stann can’t match. Leben renders Stann unconscious in the second frame.
In their first meeting, Gray Maynard used his wrestling to bully Frankie Edgar en route to a unanimous decision victory. Obviously, in any rematch, the fighters have evolved over the time since their last meeting. In this case, I’d have to say Edgar has evolved more. His performances against B.J. Penn were extremely impressive and he has an aura of confidence now that he did not possess the last time he stared across the Octagon at Maynard. Maynard’s wrestling is still a huge concern in this fight, but Edgar will have the answer this time. The fight will remain close throughout, but I’ll say Edgar does enough to earn the nod from all three judges.
Strikeforce Challengers 13 Predictions
The next edition of Strikeforce’s Challengers series will go down next Friday, before the next edition of The Closing Bell. Therefore, we’ll preview it here. The event takes place on Jan. 7 in Nashville. The main card, featuring prospects Tarec Saffiedine, Tyron Woodley, Daniel Cormier and Ovince St. Preux, airs live on Showtime beginning at 11 p.m. ET.
Preliminary Card: Strikeforce seems to hate preliminary cards. It almost seems as if they see this portion of an event as a necessary evil. It works out well for local fighters seeking a payday, but unfortunately the majority of those fighters don’t earn televised bouts with their victories. Of course, sometimes Strikeforce does stick a few vets in there as well. This time around those vets are welterweights Nate Moore and Nathan Coy.
Coy has faced a much higher level of competition throughout his career and has kept bouts close with prospects such as Tyron Woodley and Paul Bradley. He’s my pick here to take a decision win over Moore.
Main Card: The main cards of Challengers events usually provide a number of interesting contests, but the knowledge that Strikeforce rarely rewards a Challengers win with a climb up the ladder saps my enthusiasm for these shows. If the events were incorporated in a way where Strikeforce built up successful performers and then took advantage of their momentum in a timely manner, Challengers could be so much more meaningful.
Rhadi Ferguson, cousin of Kimbo Slice, will make his Strikeforce debut at the event. He’s a 2004 Olympian and already has two pro wins under his belt. His opponent, Ion Cherdivara, sporting a 1-0 record with a TKO victory, is a legit first foe for Rhadi. The fact that Strikeforce is matching Ferguson against another upstart with a successful resume is a good sign. Instead watching him squash a can, we’ll get to view him against another man at a similar stage in his career. I’ll side with Ferguson in this one.
Amanda Nunes and Julia Budd are both ranked among the top 10 female fighters in the world at 145 pounds. It should be a great striking battle that could help sort out a contender for the weight class. Budd holds a Muay Thai win over Gina Carano, but has less MMA experience than Nunes. The fact that both are strikers first might make MMA experience a moot point – this could turn into a kickboxing fight. With that in mind, I look for Budd to pull off a TKO win.
Ovince St. Preux has had a great run since joining Strikeforce in November – two months and two victories. He’s trying to make it three wins in three months when he steps into the cage with Ron “Abongo” Humphrey. St. Preux will get his first finish inside the Strikeforce cage with a first round TKO of Humphrey.
Devin Cole does sport an 18-8-1 overall record, but he still feels like nothing more than a showcase fight for Daniel Cormier. Cormier will use his wrestling to take Cole down, and then finish the IFL vet via submission.
Tyron Woodley’s near-loss to Nathan Coy exposed some holes in the prospect’s game. He bounced back nicely against Andre Galvao, but I can’t see him doing the same against Tarec Saffiedine. Saffiedine will push Woodley to the breaking point, but won’t be able to finish him. Saffiedine by decision.
David Mitchell has been forced to withdraw from a scheduled bout against Mike Swick due to injury. The welterweight contest was slated to take place on the preliminary card of the Jan. 22 UFC Fight Night 23 “Fight for the Troops” event.
MMA DieHards learned of Mitchell’s injury and subsequent withdrawal from Swick’s Facebook page and has since confirmed the news with sources close to the fight.
Mitchell (11-1) was seeking his first victory inside the Octagon after losing his promotional debut to Anthony Waldburger. The exact nature of his injury is unknown at this time.
Swick (14-4) has lost back-to-back fights against Dan Hardy and Paulo Thiago.
“Not fighting on January 22nd,” Swick stated on his Facebook page. “I got the call yesterday that David Mitchell backed out due to an injury and considering my current situation we opted to put off the fight all together. I have been dealing with my esophageal condition this whole camp and its taken a toll on my body. I will need more time to seek better treatment to ensure I can compete at this level.”
UFC Fight Night 23 “Fight for the Troops” takes place at Fort Hood in Killeen, Tex., and the main card airs live on Spike TV.
Despite numerous reports, New Jersey native Dan Miller will not be fighting Team Renzo Gracie fighter Dave Branch at UFC 128 in Newark, N.J., in March.
“The fight was never offered,” AMA Fight Club head trainer Mike Constantino told MMA DieHards. While the situation could change, Constantino does not believe Miller will be on the New Jersey card.
Miller is coming off of a split decision victory over Joe Doerksen earlier this month at UFC 124. After a three fight skid with losses to Michael Bisping, Demian Maia and Chael Sonnen, Miller is now riding a two fight winning streak.
Meanwhile, Dan’s brother, Jim, will be fighting on home turf at the March 19 event. The news of his lightweight bout with Kamal Shalorus at UFC 128 was reported earlier today by MMA Weekly.
Rear Naked Choke Radio came at you live from LA Boxing in Paramus, N.J. as Joe Rizzo and Hector Castro hosted the year-end spectacular. Everyone who has been a part of the MMA DieHards Radio Network was welcome to come back to join the show as we reflected back on 2010 and looked forward to 2011.
Joe and Hector welcomed in an astounding 10 guests in the special two-hour show:
1. Keith Florian
2. Darren “Venom” Goodall
3. Jen Palaszewski
4. Maggie Krol
5. Cameron Gidari
6. Jeremy Fullerton (stepping aside as co-host for this one)
7. Shayna Baszler
8. Duke Roufus
9. Bruce Hoyer
10. Tara LaRosa