Monthly Archives: October 2013

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UFC Fight Night 30: Enter the Dragon

*Betting Odds courtesy of MMA Mania

Lyoto Machida (-360) vs Mark Munoz (+300)

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Former Light Heavyweight Champion and karate master Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida makes his middleweight debut against Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machin” Munoz. Machida comes in as a late replacement to Michael Bisping who pulled out due to an eye injury. Munoz has won three of his last four with his defeat coming to new Middleweight Champion, Chris Weidman. The winner of this fight will make a strong case for a title shot in the division’s short but growing list of contenders.

Machida Wins: if he stops Munoz’s takedowns and keeps the fight standing; Machida has fought and defeated a lot of wrestlers so Munoz’s skillset isn’t anything new. His biggest challenge may be to finish the fight as his fighting style tends to be iffy with judges as his last two decisions have revealed.

Munoz Wins: if he is able to take Machida down and neutralize him long enough to prevent him from scoring points on strikes; Phil Davis won a disputed split decision against him by simply taking him down enough times to win the judges and Munoz could benefit from the same tactic. It’s a tall task to say the least but the only other option is to Stand and Wang.

My Pick: I liked Munoz’s chances of dragging Bisping to a decision victory but The Dragon presents a steeper challenge. Munoz has never fought a striker of Machida’s caliber while wrestlers are a dime-a-dozen to Machida. I give Munoz plenty of credit in making this a dangerous fight for Machida but it’ll be The Dragon who comes out arms raised: Machida by unanimous decision.

Ross Pearson (+120) vs Melvin Guillard (-140)

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The co-main event pits explosive strikers, Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson against Melvin “The Young Assassin” Guillard. Pearson is on a roll with two TKO wins and Guillard off of a big KO of his own. Both fighters have striking backgrounds:  Pearson in Taekwondo and Guillard in boxing. Whatever happens, this fight will have some fireworks.

Pearson Wins: if he uses his Judo/BJJ background to tap out Guillard or keep the fight on the ground, away from his greatest strength: his punching power. He can also catch Guillard in the right spot and knock him out. Pearson has KO power (5 KO wins) but standing and banging with one of the division’s most lethal strikers doesn’t favour the Brit.

Guillard Wins: if he engages Pearson in an all-out brawl and avoids his submission attempts; Pearson has big knockout power but Guillard may be the strongest puncher in the lightweight division (20 KO wins). A toe-to-toe showdown with the brawling Brit favours the more heavy-handed American.

My Pick: This is a bad stylistic matchup for Pearson who I feel will want to put on a show for his people. He’s tough as nails having only been knocked out twice in 21 fights but Guillard’s power is on another level. Pearson could submit Guillard alternatively but not before Guillard can put his hands on him: Guillard by round 1 TKO.

 

Jimi Manuwa (-170) vs Ryan Jimmo (+150)

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A battle of hard-hitting heavyweights pits the undefeated Jimi “Posterboy” Manuwa against Ryan “Big Deal” Jimmo; Manuwa has won both his UFC fights by way of knockout and may be the next big prospect in a division desperately looking for contenders. Jimmo on the other hand is 2-1 with the UFC with a spectacular seven-second knockout of Anthony Perosh. There’s good chances someone gets flattened and whoever does it could be joining the division’s top ten sooner than later.

Manuwa wins: if he keeps the fight standing and bangs with Jimmo; he runs the risk of getting knocked out by a heavy-handed Jimmo but he’s easily the more explosive of the two. None of his opponents have made it to a decision and 12 of his 13 wins have come via KO. He has a BJJ background but he’d be hard-pressed to use it against the bigger wrestler.

Jimmo wins: if he is able to control Manuwa on the ground or up against the cage like he did in his last fight against Igor Pokrajac. Jimmo is a dangerous striker but if he’s outgunned, he’ll utilize his wrestling and hope to grind his opponent out to a decision win; boring, but effective.

My Pick: I’d like to believe Manuwa keeps his undefeated and stoppage streak going but Jimmo is a hulking wrestler who’ll keep Manuwa down and keep him there lest he tags him with a few good hits for a surprise TKO win: Jimmo by unanimous decision.

BEST OF THE REST

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Norman Parke (-155) vs Jon Tuck (+135)

Stormin’ Norman Parke going up against Jon “Super Saiyan” Tuck; two tough submissionists who are relatively new to the company. Tuck has some power in his fists but Parke looks like a kid raised from stone. This could be a sleeper Fight of the Night contender. Norman Parke via split decision.

Alessio Sakara (-220) vs Nicholas Musoke (+180)

It’s about time “Legionarius” Alessio Sakara got back on the win column. His explosive striking ability will be a rough welcome for UFC newcomer, Nicholas Musoke. The Swede has the looks of a legit fighter but Sakara will come in like a rabid dog fighting for what could be its last meal. Alessio Sakara via round 2 TKO.

Phil Harris (+315) vs John Lineker (-380)

John Lineker wants a title shot should he get by hometown boy, Phil Harris. The Englishman is a crafty BJJ expert but Lineker is one of the bigger flyweights having fought to as heavy as lightweight. His explosive power has yielded him 3 straight wins and he’ll keep rolling this Saturday. John Lineker via round 1 TKO.

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UFC 166 MAIN CARD PREDICTIONS (AND MORE)

*Betting Odds courtesy of MMA Mania

Heavyweight Championship: Cain Velasquez (-200) vs Junior Dos Santos (+170)

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The greatest heavyweight trilogy of this generation; Cain Velasquez and Junior “Cigano” Dos Santos are the two most prominent heavyweight fighters today and both appear destined for Hall of Fame careers. JDS knocked Cain out the first time and Cain answered back with a five-round ass-whooping. Both fighters have immense knockout power (over 80% of their wins by KO) and their only losses in the octagon have come against each other. Who wins the rubber match?

Cain Wins: since he is cerebral. His striking is precise and on point and he’ll control the action with relentless takedowns and constant pressure. Overshadowed by his 10 KO wins is his NCAA Division I wrestling pedigree. This man outwrestled  a much bigger Brock Lesnar. His cardio is the best in the division and if the fight goes the distance, odds are in his favour.

JDS Wins: if does not over train and if he can hit Cain in the right spot within the first few rounds. He’s done it before and he can do it again. JDS may be the heavyweight division’s best striker in terms of his power and versatility. If anyone can pull a knockout out of their ass it’s him. If he improves his cardio he’ll hang with Cain though he shouldn’t risk leaving it to the judges as Cain is the more efficient fighter.

My Pick: Cain’s calm calculating demeanour reminds me of the great Fedor Emelianenko; fighters like him dissect their opponents and JDS would know his best chance to win is by knocking Cain out quickly and not trying to “out technique” him. If it goes the distance I see Cain winning but I’ll go with the spectacular and pick a Junior Dos Santos Round 3 TKO to cap off one of the greatest heavyweight fights.

Daniel Cormier (-600) vs Roy Nelson (+450)

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A battle of the heavyweight division’s premiere fat guys! Daniel Cormier is undefeated (12-0) in his short MMA career. He’s a decorated NCAA Division I and Olympic wrestler and a close training partner to Cain Velasquez. Roy “Big Country” Nelson is a Shaolin Kung Fu fighter with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. All of his UFC wins have come by knockout and he has never been finished. Ever. DC is expected to move to light heavyweight regardless of the outcome and Nelson is coming off a loss to Stipe Miocic. A big win here would still boost either fighter’s stock immensely.

Cormier Wins: if he keeps his distance and neutralizes Roy Nelson’s greatest advantage: his punching power. Cormier is a small heavyweight and is lighter on his feet. He has knockout power but prefers to wear his opponents out. Nelson showed in the Miocic fight, he can gas quickly. Cormier can either outwrestle Nelson or force him to overexert himself en route to a decision.

Roy Wins: if he catches Cormier with one of his punches. That’s right, just ONE PUNCH. His last 3 wins were all round 1 knockouts. He is no slouch in the ground either and other than having a BJJ background, he is over 25 lbs heavier than Cormier. Despite being a huge underdog, I like Roy’s chances of pulling off the upset.

My Pick: this fight is closer than people may expect. Cormier is the big favourite to win but Roy may be the strongest and toughest fighter he’s faced and has a BJJ background. I’ll fall in line and take the safe pick: Cormier will out-point Roy Nelson, keep away from him and take him to a snoozer unanimous decision win. Nah. Sign me up for a Roy Nelson surprise knockout in round 2.

Gilbert Melendez (-800) vs Diego Sanchez (+550)

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A battle of Mexican stars pits former Strikeforce Lightweight Champion, Gilbert Melendez against The Ultimate Fighter original series winner, Diego “The Dream” Sanchez. On paper, this fight is a huge mismatch. Melendez is a top 5 lightweight in the world while Sanchez is barely scratching the top 20. His last fight, a controversial decision win over Takanori Gomi doesn’t help his case. Melendez is coming off a razor-thin split decision loss to former champ, Benson Henderson. As an additional storyline: both fighters were once sparring partners and have a storied history together. This match is ten years in the making.

Melendez wins: if he takes Diego to the ground and neutralizes him. Standing and counter-striking Diego seems like a good choice as he is more technical but Sanchez will just eat your punches to give his own and this is the danger Melendez faces. He doesn’t want to be on the wrong end of a decision. He can prevent Sanchez from scoring points by grinding him out and holding him down.

Diego wins: if he can prevent Melendez from controlling him on the ground or if he can avoid trying to “out-point” Melendez. Gil is a crafty fighter and manages to capitalize on any kind of opening. Sanchez needs to find the controlled aggression that has led to his previous wins. Melendez will get his shots but so long as Sanchez dictates the pace of the fight he should have a good chance at scoring an upset.

My Pick: Despite the difference in rank, this fight may be the most even in the main card. Not only does Diego have warrior spirit, a granite chin and a strong BJJ game, he has familiarity with Melendez. On top of that, he is a vet of close decision wins and seems to get the benefit of the doubt. Melendez is the better fighter but don’t underestimate the Dream in pulling off a colossal upset: Diego Sanchez via (controversial) split decision win.

Gabriel Gonzaga (+175) vs Shawn Jordan (-210)

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A clash of two heavyweights looking to get in the top 10 of the division; Gabriel Gonzaga, long-time UFC vet has won 3 of his last 4 fights by stoppage since he returned from hiatus in 2011. Shawn “The Savage” Jordan has also won 3 of his last 4 fights by stoppage. A big win from either fighter would have them just outside the top 10.

Gonzaga wins: if he doesn’t stand and bang with Jordan and wears him out with constant pressure from his grappling. Gonzaga is the superior grappler. He has 11 wins by submission (2nd all-time next to Frank Mir) and has a 4th degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Jordan wins: if he can outlast Gonzaga’s grappling and avoid his submission attempts. If he keeps the fight standing, he’s likely to knock him out. Jordan is the superior athlete and tough as nails. He took everything Mike Russow emptied on him and finished him in the second round.

My Pick: Safe choice is to give it to the more experienced Gonzaga to grind Jordan out en route to a (boo-fest) decision win. If his cardio holds up, the chances are even better. But Jordan’s a favourite for a reason. It’s hard to avoid a savage’s hands for all 15 minutes. A Jordan punch can floor Gonzaga at any time: Shawn Jordan by Round 1 KO.

John Dodson (-340) vs Darrell Montague (+280)

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Flyweight contender John “The Magician” Dodson welcomes Darrell “The Mongoose” Montague to the UFC. Dodson’s only loss in the octagon came against champ, Demetrious Johnson in a fight that saw him floor the champion repeatedly. Montague on the other hand is an enigma and hasn’t fought any high-profile fighters outside Ian McCall. Dodson either gets himself back in title contention or Montague makes a titanic statement.

Dodson wins: if he keeps the fight standing and whips Montague with his arsenal of missiles. Dodson is looking like another Greg Jackson success story and there’s no real indication of him slowing down. His superior athleticism also makes you wonder just what else this kid can do.

Montague wins:  if he grounds Dodson and keeps him from utilizing his greatest strength: his striking. Montague would have to live in a dark cellar in Laos not to be aware of Dodson’s power. He is also a relative unknown and hasn’t been in the spotlight long so he can use that to his advantage..

My Pick: It all depends if the striker can keep the fight standing or the wrestler can push the fight to the ground. Whoever does which will more likely win. I don’t know much about Montague but he could be the next big thing in the flyweight division. I’ll give him a lot of credit but for now, it feels like a John Dodson round 2 TKO.

UFC Fight Night 29 Main Card Picks!!

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DEMIAN MAIA (#4) VS JAKE SHIELDS

I see this fight going in two directions: the first (and one I’m praying for) is going to be a major treat for jiu-jitsu fans as Shields and Maia, two BJJ black belts and premiere grapplers go into a grappling war of the ages.

In 48 combined fights neither fighter has been submitted. They’re both aggressive and wear out their opponents to a scorecard win or a submission (19 combined submission victories). Height, reach and age are all pretty identical.

Of course the second (worst-case) scenario is both – well aware of each other’s expertise – decide to rely on their… not-so-exciting stand-up games. Shields despite having a kickboxing background leaves much to be desired in his striking and Maia (though improved) has rarely shown a penchant for standing and banging.

Maia is undefeated as a welterweight having dominant victories including one over Jon Fitch. Shields on the other hand looks to be a bad loss away from the firing squad. If Shields doesn’t enter this fight with the same ruthless aggression Maia will, it might be a really short – or really long night for him.

Result: Maia via unanimous decision

ERICK SILVA VS DONG HYUN KIM

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A fight between two welterweight prospects who people have forgotten. They’re outside the top 10 but a huge win here could push them in. Dong Hyun Kim has won his last two and his only losses have come against former Interim champ Carlos Condit and Demian Maia. Erick Silva is coming off a tough loss to the gritty Jon Fitch but has three 1st round submission wins. He’s a BJJ Muay thai expert in the mold of Anderson Silva – his mentor and training partner.

“Stun Gun” is a big dominating wrestler and the only fighter who’s outgrappled him was Maia, who was a former middleweight title contender. Depending how well Silva’s improved his grappling and takedown defense, I see Kim Jon Fitch-ing Silva all over again. But Silva is a creative striker and submissionist and has more than likely learned from his run-in with Fitch.

This fight has an eerie resonance with the Jacare and Okami fight: the Brazilian BJJ Muay Thai expert going up against the big strong Asian wrestler. I love Silva’s promise – call me a fanboy but I’m all on board his bandwagon like everyone’s on Jacare’s. Fitch was also a better wrestler than Kim. Silva wasn’t dominated by Fitch in fact coming close to submitting him – twice. He may just pull that off against Kim – if he doesn’t knock him out first. Either scenario is likely to happen, so my gut says.

Result: Erick Silva via round 1 TKO

THIAGO SILVA VS HATT HAMILL

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A clash between two light heavyweight gatekeepers. Matt Hamill and Thiago Silva weren’t doing so hot until their recent victories over Roger Hollett and Rafael Cavalcante, respectively. Silva was and still is one of the premiere light heavyweights in the UFC. Only has 3 losses and 2 came to former champions (Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans) with Alex Gustafsson – who most recently gave #1 P4P king Jon “Bones” Jones a run for his money – is the third. Of his 15 wins, 14 have ended in stoppage with 12 coming via knockout.

Matt Hamill pretty much grew up in the octagon; all but one of his fights have occurred within the UFC. He’s a decorated wrestler being a former NCAA Division III champion and Deaflympics silver medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling. He also has heavy hands (6 wins via KO).

Tough fight. Silva is younger and has twice the fighting experience and has more to prove after having two recent wins forfeited due to failing the post-drug tests. Can’t count out Hamill either. Regardless who wins, this fight may not make it out of round 1.

Result: Thiago Silva via round 1 KO

FABIO MALDONALDO VS JOEY BELTRAN

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What do you get when you pit two granite-chinned strikers fighting for their jobs as part of the main card? The “Just bleed” Fight of the Year contender over here. Fabio Maldonaldo and Joey Beltran are relative unknowns in the casual MMA world but after this fight they may just be legendary.

Fabio Maldonaldo was already legendary in his own right. He was an unbeaten boxer posting 22 wins, 21 coming by KO. 12 of his 19 MMA wins have come via the knockout. But most impressive of all was how he took over a dozen of Glover Teixeira’s biggest bombs and continued to fight back, even clipping Glover a few times.

Joey Beltran burst into the scene by knocking out Rolles Gracie Jr. He also holds a knockout win over former UFC-er Houston Alexander. Though his record (3-5) with the company doesn’t show it, he’s been an underrated undercard talent having two Fight of the Nights to his name.

Honestly, in a slug fest like this it’s a toss up. It’s not really the result we’re after, it’s the showdown. But I’ll say the only fighter tougher than Fabio Maldonaldo is Fabio Maldonaldo after eating Chuck Norris.He should outlast Beltran in what should be one of the most brutal bangers of the year.

Result: Maldonaldo via TKO round 2

ROUSIMAR PALHARES VS MIKE PIERCE

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Another great grappling contest between two hulks in their own right. Rousimar “Toquinho” Palhares got his nickname meaning “Tree Stump” for his little muscular build. He’s 5’8″ and fought to as high as light heavyweight.  Mike Pierce is built similarly. And they both like to get down and dirty.

Palhares paved a steady 7-4 record as a middleweight, many of those wins coming by some of the craziest submissions (two submission of the nights). But back-to-back losses by stoppage has him moving down to welterweight, his first foray into the division.

Mike Pierce on the other hand has been an elite gatekeeper (if there ever was one) in the welterweight division posting a 9-3 record with those losses all coming to former title contenders and elite wrestlers. Since then, he’s won his last 4 fights, finishing half of them by knockout. In his 22 career fights, he has never been finished.

Palhares and Pierce would be interesting to say the least but unless Palhares catches one of Pierce’s limbs for him to eat break, Pierce would grind him into a tree stump. He has heavy hands and has better stand-up and has wrestled much better grapplers.

Result: Mike Pierce via round 2 TKO

RAPHAEL ASSUNҪÃO (#5) VS T.J. DILLASHAW (#9)

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A battle of rising bantamweights. The 5th ranked Assunção is undefeated (4-0) since cutting down from featherweight and after his loss in the The Ultimate Fighter finale to (now flyweight contender) John Dodson, Dillashaw has rattled off 4 straight wins of his own. Whoever wins this fight could be one fight away from a title shot.

I’m biased towards Team Alpha Male fighters especially now that Duane Ludwig has taken them to a new level with greatly improved striking. Dillashaw could be the next coming of Urijah Faber and seems to be on a path to greatness but Assunção’s experience and size would pose considerable problems for Dillashaw. In a grappling match, I generally favour the more experienced larger fighter but you can’t discount talent, something I feel Dillashaw has more of.

Dillashaw will be in for the biggest fight of his career and while my head keeps telling me to pick the bigger, stronger, grittier Assunção, I’ll go with the gut and pick the fighter with the more upside. Chalk it up to Team Alpha Male and Duane Ludwig for another big W.  Keep the streak going.

Result: Dillashaw via unanimous decision