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UFC 155 Dos Santos Vs. Velasquez Results and Wrap Up

December 30, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC made its return to the land of Pay Per View last night and although some fights left fans wanting a bit more, the other bouts were loaded with action that more than made up for it. If you were unable to see some of the undercard bouts, I highly suggest you try to do so by any means possible. Melvin Guillard versus Jamie Varner, while slightly slower than expected was an entertaining bout. As well the Featherweight tilt between Leonard Garcia and Max Holloway was a highly entertaining slugfest that went for a full fifteen minutes. Add in impressive TKO victories for Heavyweight Todd Duffee and Bantamweight Erik Perez and there is some top shelf violence for those of you that like it that way.

Moving on to the main card, some of the bouts didn’t quite live up to the hype. Others such as the co-main event between Lightweights Joe Lauzon and Jim Miller more than exceeded the hype, as those two men engaged in a bloody back and forth brawl that is a definite contender for Fight of the Year consideration. The Main Event was also solid as two of the best Heavyweights in the world collided in a much better effort than their first bout on UFC on FOX 1. Let’s take a look at the winners and losers from this card and take a look at what could be next for them.

Derek Brunson defeated Chris Leben via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds

The boo-birds were out right away at the MGM Grand Garden Arena for this Middleweight fight that kicked off the PPV. Although Leben is often a fan-favorite due to his slugging style, his wrestling-based opponent Brunson wanted no part of it. Brunson crowded Leben throughout the contest using clinches and takedowns to control Leben and give him very little space to get his offense going. Leben himself offered little resistance, as after a year off due to suspension, he looked like a man who wasn’t used to being in the Octagon. He looked tired and slow, and his takedown defense was almost non-existent. He was never really in too much trouble, but he definitely wasn’t ever close to winning either. Unfortunately as commentator Joe Rogan stated, the unamused look on Chris Leben’s face after Brunson’s celebration after the fight might have been the most entertaining part of the bout.

What’s next for Brunson? This card was loaded with Middleweight talent, so one might think a winner from one of the Middleweight bouts up the card would make sense for Brunson, but I think that’s too large a step for him right now. Although he earned a victory, he didn’t look great doing it and it definitely wasn’t a breakout performance. With Strikeforce officially closing its doors, I think the best fight for him would be to welcome one of his former promotion-mates to the UFC. Tim Kennedy is facing Trevor Smith at the final Strikeforce event and the winner of that bout makes some sense.

What’s next for Leben? He’s got problems, everyone knows that, but he’s always going to have a spot in the UFC because of his style. Alan Belcher got knocked off by Yushin Okami later in the card, and would prefer an opponent who would keep the fight standing. Leben fits that bill and would likely produce an entertaining rebound fight for one of the two. Belcher is almost the perfect opponent for him right now.

Yushin Okami defeated Alan Belcher via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds

In the pre-fight hype videos Alan Belcher claimed that Yushin Okami couldn’t beat him if he kept the fight standing. Apparently he convinced everyone, including Okami, of that fact. Okami did what he usually does, a solid one-two jab combination right into takedown attempts and top control. Belcher had a few bright spots, as he snagged a couple of submission attempts, but none were ever close and they all ended with him in the unenviable position of being beneath Okami. In the end the Japanese fighter cruised to a Unanimous Decision.

What’s next for Okami? He’s turning into the Middleweight version of Jon Fitch. He’s good enough to beat almost anyone in the division, but he’s going to get absolutely slaughtered against the champion. Add to that he’s got a somewhat boring wrestling based approach to fighting and it’s hard to keep giving him meaningful fights where he’s likely going to knock off top contenders or up-and-comers with little fanfare. Still he moves up the ladder and a bout against other main card victor Costa Philippou might make sense. The other potential bout is one against Hector Lombard who recently scored an impressive stoppage against Rousimar Palhares.

What’s next for Belcher? Belcher’s hot streak got seriously derailed and he’s going to need to prove he can handle a wrestler like Okami before he ever gets a shot at a serious top contender at Middleweight. Still, he’s going to need a rebound fight and like I said, previous main card loser Chris Leben is the perfect foil for him. Someone who is willing to stand and trade with him and who is weak on the ground if things go bad. If the UFC wants to rebuild Belcher, he’ll get Leben next.

Costa Philippou defeated Tim Boetsch via TKO (Punches) at 2:11 of the Third Round

This wasn’t a breakout performance for Philippou that many people thought it might be. In fact, this was a truly bizarre fight. Boetsch controlled the opening round, throwing wild, looping punches that were scoring against the usually competent striking defenses of Philippou. In between rounds Boetsch complained to his corner of a broken hand and in the second, an accidental head butt opened a massive gash on his forehead and an eye poke only increased his vision problems. In the third round, he was reduced to pulling guard, but didn’t have an answer for Philippou’s ground and pound, as the referee stepped in to save Boetsch in the third round after he seemed to be looking for a way out.

What’s next for Philippou? Considering the bizarre circumstances of his win, his slow start, and the less than impressive fight from him overall, I wouldn’t complain about a possible rematch between these two. However, with Boetsch’s broken hand, he’s going to need time off. Philippou should still receive a step up in competition and needs to prove he can handle a talented wrestler, which is why I think a bout against other main card victor Yushin Okami makes a lot of sense. If they choose to go another route, former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza, should be making the leap to the UFC soon enough. If he wins his bout at the final Strikeforce show against Ed Herman, I think Souza is another good fight for Philippou.

What’s next for Boetsch? Hand surgery, I guess. In all honesty, this is kind of a crappy result for Boetsch, since he took some unfortunate illegal shots to derail his game plan, which was definitely working in the first round. Still, he was undefeated in the Middleweight division until last night, so I doubt they give up hope on him yet. He’s not going to drop severely down the rankings with the circumstances surrounding the loss, so he’s in kind of a weird spot matchmaking wise. I really don’t know what they do with him here, I guess he’s going to take a step down. Karlos Vemola was supposed to fight Leben on the card, but pulled out due to injury maybe him. That or throw him against Belcher or Leben, although I think Leben is too far a step down, and I think those two should fight each other. Other than that maybe Jake Shields if he stays at Middleweight.

Jim Miller defeated Joe Lauzon via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds

This one earned Fight of the Night honors and it definitely deserved it. These two guys engaged in a bloody brawl that was back and forth and had action until the final bell. Miller looked the best I’ve ever seen him and his recent loss to Nate Diaz seems to have lit a fire inside him. He may be a permanent gatekeeper in the ultra-packed Lightweight division, but he’s a tough one. His conditioning was top notch for this bout and his dirty boxing looked better than ever, as he used a tight clinch to deliver some big punches and short elbows in the first round that caused the giant gash that caused Lauzon to lose a ton of blood. To his credit Lauzon proved how tough he was in this bout, even with blood pouring out of that massive cut, he refused to let the doctor stop it and he kept coming until the final bell, sinking in a late leg lock that nearly stole the fight and in fact stole him the round on a couple of scorecards.

What’s next for Miller? He’s had fourteen fights in the UFC and he’s won most of them. His only three losses have come to the current Lightweight Champion and two of the last three Number One Contenders in Nate Diaz and Gray Maynard. He’s a true grinder and his improving striking is only going to make him an even tougher challenge for most guys. I think Rafael dos Anjos has been impressive lately and deserves a step up in competition, as the Lightweight Gatekeeper, that puts him right in Miller’s wheelhouse.

What’s next for Lauzon? He proved he’s as tough as they come and dangerous any time he’s still in the fight. He’s always going to struggle against powerful wrestlers and the elite fighters of the Lightweight division, but he’s a highly entertaining fighter with decent striking and dangerous submissions. Sounds like another top Lightweight that recently lost a title fight. Indeed a bout between Lauzon and fellow TUF 5 alumnus Nate Diaz could be an action packed affair. Give the two of them a headlining slot on an FX or Fuel TV card and give them five rounds to go bananas, fireworks are sure to follow whether that fight takes place on the feet, on the ground or anywhere in the building.

Cain Velasquez defeated Junior dos Santos to win the UFC Heavyweight Championship via Unanimous Decision after Five Rounds

For those that wrote off former champion Velasquez after his poor performance in their first bout, they were treated to a significant wake up call. Velasquez came out guns blazing against Dos Santos and immediately brought the fight to the Brazilian Champion. Although many expected Cain to be somewhat laid back like he was in their first bout, he caught everyone, including Dos Santos off-guard when he came right after him in the first round. That first round told the story of what would end up being a very one-sided contest. Cain scored an early takedown and Dos Santos was able to slip through and get back to his feet, but it didn’t slow Velasquez down. He continued forward, pressing him against the cage. Partway through the round he landed a big right hand that dropped Dos Santos for the first time in his UFC career and ended the round battering him with ground and pound. Dos Santos was clearly gassed after the first round and spent several of the next rounds trying to recover, while Velasquez continued to push the pace. Although he eventually slowed himself, he was still able to outwork Dos Santos both in the grappling department and somewhat surprisingly in the striking department en-route to a clean sweep of the scorecards, winning with scores of 50-45, 50-44 and 50-43.

What’s next for Velasquez? The Heavyweight division has a whole lot of top fighters, but they are in a weird position, where they don’t have any clear cut favorites to become the number one contender. Alistair Overeem is expected to get the first crack at Velasquez, but he’s going to need to get by Antonio Silva first, and that’s no guarantee considering what we’ve seen in the past from fighters returning from year-long suspensions. The other option is Fabricio Werdum should he emerge victorious against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, but that fight isn’t taking place until after the filming and airing of TUF: Brazil 2. The leading candidate was Daniel Cormier who recently won the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix and is heading to the UFC, but Velasquez and Cormier are teammates and have already said they wouldn’t fight each other. No matter what happens, Overeem or Werdum or someone else entirely, Velasquez could be facing a bit of a layoff while the division sorts itself out.

What’s next for Dos Santos? He’s going to need to get a win or two before he gets another crack at the title. Granted if things shake out the right way, he may only need one impressive victory like Velasquez did, but the list of contenders is long and growing in the Heavyweight division. The best two possible matches I can think of for Dos Santos are the loser of the upcoming Mark Hunt and Stefan Struve fight at the UFC’s next London event, (provided it’s Hunt, since a rematch with Struve is probably not necessary for Dos Santos.) The other option is the loser of the upcoming Alistair Overeem and Antonio Silva bout, since either one of those two would be an intriguing bout, especially with the bad blood between Dos Santos and Overeem.

Full UFC 155 results & winners…
Cain Velasquez defeated Junior Dos Santos via unanimous decision to regain the UFC heavyweight title
Jim Miller defeated Joe Lauzon via unanimous decision
Costa Philippoud efeated Tim Boetsch via third-round TKO
Yushin Okami defeated Alan Belcher via unanimous decision
Derek Brunson defeated Chris Leben via unanimous decision
Eddie Wineland defeated Brad Pickett via split decision
Erik Perez defeated Byron Bloodworth via first-round TKO
Jamie Varner defeated Melvin Guillard via split decision
Myles Jury defeated Michael Johnson via unanimous decision
Todd Duffeed efeated Phil De Fries via first-round TKO
Max Holloway defeated Leonard Garcia via split decision
John Moraga defeated Chris Cariaso via submission

Chael Sonnen: The Voice of Reason: A V.I.P. Pass to Enlightenment

Anderson Spider Silva (Em Portugues do Brasil

UFC shirts and videos on Amazon.com

UFC 155 Results: Cain Velasquez Regains UFC Title

December 30, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Cain Velasquez is an animal! Velasquez mauled Junior Dos Santos in their UFC 155 rematch proving to the MMA world that his 64 second loss to the JDS was a fluke. Velasquez won a unanimous decision to regain the UFC heavyweight title in one of the most one-sided UFC title wins in years.

Dos Santos could not stop the shot. Velasquez dominated the former champion on their feet and taking him to the ground. Velasquez had his way with Dos Santos at UFC 155, absorbing very little to punishment at all from the champion. UFC commentator Jor Rogan proclaimed at one point that he had not seen such a dominant performance by a challenger over a champion since Anderson Silva defeated Rich Franklin for the middleweight title several years ago.

Velasquez opened up looking to strike and takedown the former champion. Dos Santos did a good job early on of avoiding any serious damage until Velasquez connected with a right hand. Dos Santos was never the same after eating the shot. Velasquez swarmed in and tried to end the fight in the first round to no avail yet the tone was set by the challenger.

The rest of the fight saw Velasquez have his way with Dos Santos. Velasquez practically took Dos Santos down at will. Junior had very little offense throughout the fight and looked tired and beaten when he came out for the second round. Velasquez never stopped and was relentless in his attacks. I’ll give Dos Santos credit as he hung around for five rounds, longer than I thought he would. Dos Santos did connect on a nice uppercut as the third round. Unfortunately Dos Santos had nothing left and couldn’t follow up.

Velasquez nailed a body shot followed by an uppercut in the fourth round that staggered Dos Santos. Somehow or another Junior held on. Junior again put something together towards the end of the fourth round but couldn’t follow up. Velasquez’s cardiovascular conditioning throughout the fight was just unbelievable.

Seeing Junior standing at the start of round five after being brutalized throughout by Cain was real impressive. Junior stopped Cain from getting a takedown and wound up hitting a nice left to Cain’s body. Junior seemed to recover well by this point. Dos Santos hit a right hand and kept Cain’s takedowns at bay. Velasquez finally got the takedown at about 2:30. Cain smothered him with ground and pound. Junior got back up. Junior connected in a clinch. Velasquez hit a head kick with about :30 seconds to go. Junior looked like he had been brutalized while Cain looked like he wasn’t even scratched as the fifth and final round closed. Velasquez was shortly named new UFC champion by unanimous decision.

What’s next for the UFC world champion? In my opinion I think Cain is the most well rounded UFC heavyweight champion in history. He should have a dominant reign as champion barring an injury. He could face either Alistair Overeem or Fabricio Werdum if either man wins their next fight. Overeem would be the favorite but Dana White mentioned that Werdum would be a top contender if he wins his next fight against Big Nog.

I’d love to see a third fight between JDS and Velasquez. I think this rivalry has the potential to be one of the greatest trilogies of all time. It wouldn’t shock me to see fight number three in the fall or winter of 2013.

Look for a full recap and analysis of UFC 155 here on the Camel Clutch Blog shortly by Lee McGregor.

Full UFC 155 results & winners…
Cain Velasquez defeated Junior Dos Santos via unanimous decision to regain the UFC heavyweight title
Jim Miller defeated Joe Lauzon via unanimous decision
Costa Philippoud efeated Tim Boetsch via third-round TKO
Yushin Okami defeated Alan Belcher via unanimous decision
Derek Brunson defeated Chris Leben via unanimous decision
Eddie Wineland defeated Brad Pickett via split decision
Erik Perez defeated Byron Bloodworth via first-round TKO
Jamie Varner defeated Melvin Guillard via split decision
Myles Jury defeated Michael Johnson via unanimous decision
Todd Duffeed efeated Phil De Fries via first-round TKO
Max Holloway defeated Leonard Garcia via split decision
John Moraga defeated Chris Cariaso via submission

Chael Sonnen: The Voice of Reason: A V.I.P. Pass to Enlightenment

Anderson Spider Silva (Em Portugues do Brasil

UFC shirts and videos on Amazon.com

UFC 155 Dos Santos Vs. Velasquez 2 Predictions & Analysis

December 29, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC returns to the land of Pay Per View this weekend with their traditional New Year’s Eve card. Despite not technically taking place on New Year’s Eve, the UFC has more than made up for it by packing this card with talent and intriguing match-ups from top to bottom. Headlining the card is a rematch that everyone has been clamoring for since their first meeting as the headliner for the UFC’s first event on the Fox Network as UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos battles the man he defeated for the title Cain Velasquez.

The co-main event of the evening features a Lightweight tilt that will move the winner significantly up the ladder in terms of placement in what is arguably the UFC’s deepest division as Joe Lauzon battles Jim Miller. Three Middleweight bouts are on the docket for the rest of the main card and many of them feature top ranked contenders. First up are Middleweight brawlers Tim Boetsch taking on Constantinos Philippou. The next Middleweight contest features former number one contender Yushin Okami taking on emerging contender Alan Belcher. The opening contest of the Pay Per View Main Card features fan and Dana White favourite Chris Leben taking on Strikeforce import Derek Brunson.

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Flyweight Bout: Chris Cariaso vs. John Moraga

Chris “Kamikaze” Cariaso is a 31-year-old fighter from Oakland, California. He is a member of the Fight and Fitness Gym in San Francisco, California. Cariaso holds a career record of 14-3 and recently won his UFC Flyweight debut at UFC on Fuel TV 4. John Moraga is a 28-year-old former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Phoenix, Arizona. He is a member of the MMA Lab in Arizona where he trains with UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson. He holds a career record of 12-1.

Quick Pick: John Moraga via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Leonard Garcia vs. Max Holloway

Leonard “Bad Boy” Garcia is a 33-year-old fighter from Plainview, Texas. He is a member of Greg Jackson’s Team training in New Mexico. The brawler and fan favourite holds a career record of 15-9, but has never been knocked out and hasn’t been in a boring fight throughout the course of his career. Max “Blessed” Holloway is a 21-year-old fighter from Waanae, Hawaii and is the youngest fighter on the UFC roster. He is a member of the Gracie Technics Gym in his hometown and holds a career record of 6-1.

Quick Pick: Max Holloway via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Heavyweight Bout: Phil De Fries vs. Todd Duffee

Phil De Fries is a 26-year-old fighter from Sunderland, England. The massive Brit is a talented grappler who now trains in the USA with the Alliance MMA Gym in Chula Vista, California. He holds a career record of 9-1 with 1 No Contest. Todd Duffee is a 27-year-old fighter from Evansville, Indiana. Duffee is a member of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California and those striking skills have earned him the record for the fastest Knockout in UFC history at 7 seconds. He holds a career record of 7-2.

Quick Pick: Todd Duffee via KO in Round One

Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Michael Johnson vs. Myles Jury

Michael “The Menace” Johnson is a 26-year-old fighter from St. Louis, Missouri. He is a member of the Blackzillians training in Boca Raton, Florida. The former TUF cast member holds a career record of 12-6, but is currently on a three fight winning streak. Myles “The Fury” Jury is a 24-year-old fighter from Hazel Park, Michigan. He is a member of the Alliance MMA Gym in San Diego, California. He holds a perfect professional record of 10-0.

Quick Pick: Michael Johnson via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Melvin Guillard vs. Jamie Varner

Melvin “The Young Assassin” Guillard is a 29-year-old fighter from New Orleans, Louisiana. He is a member of the Blackzillians training out of the Jaco Hybrid Training Center in Boca Raton, Florida. He holds a career record of 30-11-2 with 1 No Contest. Jamie “The Worm” Varner is a 28-year-old fighter from Phoenix, Arizona. He is a former WEC Lightweight Champion who trains out of the AMA Fight Club in New Jersey. He holds a career record of 20-7-1 with 2 No Contests. This bout was supposed to take place two weeks ago at The Ultimate Fighter finale, but a last minute illness to Varner forced the bout to be postponed.

Quick Pick: Melvin Guillard via TKO in Round Three

Preliminary Card (FX): Bantamweight Bout: Erik Perez vs. Byron Bloodworth

Erik “Goyito” Perez is a 23-year-old fighter from Monterrey, Mexico. He now resides in the USA and trains with Greg Jackson’s camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He holds a career record of 12-4, but is 2-0 in the UFC with two stoppage victories. Byron Bloodworth is a 29-year-old fighter from Lynchburg, Virginia. Bloodworth is a member of the Iron Clutch Fitness Gym in Atlanta, Georgia. He holds a professional record of 6-2.

Quick Pick: Erik Perez via Submission in Round One

Preliminary Card (FX): Bantamweight Bout: Eddie Wineland vs. Brad Pickett

Eddie Wineland is a 28-year-old fighter from Houston, Texas. Wineland was the inaugural WEC Bantamweight Champion. He trains out of the Duneland Vale Tudo Gym in Portage, Indiana. Wineland holds a career record of 19-8-1 with 16 Stoppage victories. Brad “One Punch” Pickett is a 34-year-old fighter from London, England. A former Cage Rage Featherweight Champion he now trains stateside with the American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. Pickett holds a career record of 22-6.

Quick Pick: Brad Pickett via TKO in Round Two

Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Chris Leben vs. Derek Brunson

Chris “The Crippler” Leben is a 32-year-old fighter from Portland, Oregon. Leben is a fan favourite known for his iron chin and his brawling style, but lately he’s also become known as a troubled fighter who will be returning from a one-year-suspension. He was a cast member on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter and has been in the UFC ever since. He is a member of the Icon Fitness MMA Gym in Oahu, Hawaii. The brawler holds a career record of 22-8.

Derek “Wrecking Ball” Brunson is a 28-year-old fighter from Wilmington, North Carolina. He is a former NCAA Division 2 All-American Wrestler from the University of North Carolina. He is a member of Greg Jackson’s camp in New Mexico. Brunson has power in his hands, but his technical striking skills are still developing. He does his best work on the mat, when he can control his opponents by using his top shelf wrestling skills. After starting his career undefeated at 9-0, he has suffered two straight defeats in 2012 to move his record to 9-2.

Analysis and Prediction: To me I think this one comes down a lot to how Leben responds to being off for a year. Brunson has shown some promise in his fights, but he still remains a pretty raw and unproven talent against top shelf competition. Besides Jacare Souza, Leben will be by far his stiffest competition and he’s taking the fight on late notice. Leben is a more complete striker and he’s probably been drilling takedown defense since his loss to Mark Munoz. Really I have a hard time imagining Brunson winning this fight, unless Leben looks like a shell of his former self. Chris Leben via TKO in Round Two

Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Yushin Okami vs. Alan Belcher

Yushin “Thunder” Okami is a 31-year-old fighter from Kanagawa, Japan. A former UFC Middleweight Title Challenger, Okami is one of the top Middleweight fighters in the UFC. Okami is a talented grinder, who does his best work using a ground based, wrestling and top control oriented game plan. He holds a black belt in Judo, which he uses well to earn trips and takedowns when standing. Okami is a member of Team Quest, training with Chael Sonnen in Portland, Oregon. He actually holds a career victory over Belcher already, having defeated Belcher in his UFC debut. Okami holds a professional record of 27-7.

Alan “The Talent” Belcher is a 28-year-old from Jonesboro, Arkansas. Recently after an eye injury caused a yearlong layoff and almost cost him his career, he has reeled off four straight stoppage victories and has emerged as a rising contender in the Middleweight division. Belcher is a talented striker who holds a black belt in Tae Kwan Do and a black belt in Duke Roufus Kickboxing. Belcher is also an underrated grappler who holds a brown belt in Judo and a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Belcher is a member of the Roufusport Gym in Biloxi, Mississippi training under famed kick boxer Duke Roufus. He holds a career record of 18-6.

Analysis and Prediction: Belcher is a talented striker and his grappling game is definitely significantly underrated by a lot of people, but this isn’t a great match up for him. Okami is massive for Middleweight and he’s strong and perfectly content to wrestle his way to victories. In his last bout Okami was thoroughly dominating Tim Boetsch on the ground until a third round miracle comeback. Belcher is talented and dangerous on the feet, but I really don’t think Okami is going to give him time to get comfortable there. I expect a steady stream of one-twos and takedowns from Okami as he wrestles his way to a decision victory. Yushin Okami via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Tim Boetsch vs. Constantinos Philippou

Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch is a 31-year-old fighter from Lincolnville, Maine. He is a former NCAA Wrestler from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania and often uses his wrestling skills to grind against his opponents on the mat. Boetsch is also a talented striker with big power, who owns a black belt in Jeet Kune Do. The former Light Heavyweight fighter has enjoyed a string of success since dropping to the UFC’s Middleweight division as he is currently on a four fight winning streak, including victories over Nick Ring, Kendall Grove, Yushin Okami and Hector Lombard. Boetsch is a member of the AMC Pankration Gym in Maine. He holds a career record of 16-4.

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Constantinos “Costa” Philippou is a 33-year-old fighter who was born in Limassol, Cyprus. He now resides and trains in New York City, New York where he is a member of the Serra-Longo Fight Team. Philippou is a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but does his best work in the striking department. He is a talented and powerful striker who is technically sound and can throw bombs with the best of the Middleweight division. Currently riding a four fight-winning streak, Philippou holds a pro record of 11-2 with 1 No Contest.

Analysis and Prediction: Philippou has come a long way since his UFC debut where he was outworked on the mat by Nick Catone, but the game plan to defeat him likely remains the same. Boetsch has had a successful run since making the drop to Middleweight and he’s simply massive for the weight class. His style has remained the same as he remains a true grinder. He does his best work in close, using clinches to utilize dirty boxing and score trips and takedowns from there where he can work his top control game and ground and pound. Philippou needs to keep this fight at a distance if he wants to be successful, but I don’t think his footwork can keep him at range long enough to win this fight. Despite some success for Philippou I think Boetsch moves his way up the ladder another rung. Tim Boetsch via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Pay Per View): Lightweight Bout: Joe Lauzon vs. Jim Miller

Joe “J-Lau” Lauzon is a 28-year-old fighter from East Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Lauzon is best known for his highly entertaining style of fighting, as he’s taken home 11 post-fight bonuses during his UFC career. Lauzon’s striking is decent and fundamentally sound, although at times he uses a bit too much boxing and not enough kicks to be wholly effective. Still, he does his best work on the mat, as the purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is excellent at creating submission opportunities during sweeps on the mat. The former Ultimate Fighter cast member is the head trainer of his own gym Lauzon MMA in Massachusetts and holds a career record of 22-7.

Jim Miller is a 29-year-old fighter from Sparta Township, New Jersey. Miller is taking this fight as a late replacement for Gray Maynard. Miller is one half of the Miller Brothers, as his older brother Dan also competes in the UFC as a Welterweight. Miller is a member of the AMA Fight Club in New Jersey, where he is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Miller is an aggressive fighter who is constantly moving forward against his opponents. His striking is fairly rudimentary, but he has decent power and a strong one-two which transitions well into takedown shots that he blends well. On the mat, Miller is a talented grappler who is dangerous anytime that there is a scramble on the mat. He holds a career record of 21-4.

Analysis and Prediction: Both of these guys are aggressive and love to fight balls to the wall. Both are also decent strikers that do their best work on the mat, so it will be an interesting styles clash to say the least. Lauzon has to be one of the best first round fighters in the UFC, as he absolutely storms out of the gates constantly searching for a finish, if he’s smart he’s been watching Nate Diaz’s one sided beat down of Miller over and over to glean some tips from it. That loss may also be important to Miller, since it will be his first fight since and how he responds to that loss will say a lot about how this fight goes down. Miller has the skills to grind out a decision using his wrestling to control and dominate Lauzon on the mat, but Lauzon is very dangerous at any time. As it is I think Miller uses takedowns and top control to wear out Lauzon and eventually comes away with a decision victory, sealing the deal in the third round. Jim Miller via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Pay Per View): Heavyweight Championship Bout: Junior Dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez

Junior “Cigano” Dos Santos is a 28-year-old Brazilian fighter from Santa Catarina, Brazil. He is the reigning and defending UFC Heavyweight Champion, a belt that he won from his challenger Cain Velasquez. Dos Santos is one of the most talented and hardest hitting strikers in the Heavyweight division, owning 11Knockouts in 15 career victories. Dos Santos also has excellent grappling skills, holding a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under famed fighter Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Dos Santos is a member of the Black House Gym, training with Team Nogueira in Bahia, Brazil. Dos Santos is a dangerous fighter, who already holds a career victory via first round knockout against Velasquez. He holds a professional record of 15-1 and hasn’t lost since November of 2007.

Cain Velasquez is a Mexican-American fighter from Salinas, California. The 30-year-old is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Arizona State University. Velasquez is a member of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California and is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion. Velasquez holds a brown belt in Guerilla Jiu Jitsu, which is a form of submission grappling more suited to modern MMA. Despite his previous loss to Dos Santos, many people have claimed that he took the bout with a significant knee injury since it was the UFC’s debut on Fox, and really shouldn’t have been fighting in the first place. Still, he remains a dangerous fighter wherever the bout takes place, as his striking has been rapidly improving and he’s a nightmare for anyone to handle on the mat. In his last bout he absolutely demolished Antonio Silva on the ground and left him a bloody mess, before finally earning a TKO in the first round. Velasquez holds a career record of 10-1, with his only loss coming against Dos Santos.

Analysis and Prediction: For many people the biggest question heading in to this contest is ‘Can Cain earn a takedown against Dos Santos?’ A man who has proven to be nearly impossible to takedown in the UFC, in fact he’s only been taken down once in his entire UFC career and it lasted for only seconds. For me, I think a more important question to consider is how is Dos Santos going to be able to handle himself if he does in fact end up underneath of Velasquez.

Cain has one of the most aggressive and nasty top games in the Heavyweight division. He throws ground and pound with bad intentions and his elbows can absolutely end your night as they cause significant damage. Cain is also a better striker than he showed in the first bout and to be honest, I think the injuries to both fighters are significant enough that the results of the first contest are barely even useful in a true fight analysis. Dos Santos’ trainers claim that he has one of the best ground games in the Heavyweight division, but even that isn’t going to be enough to contain Cain Velasquez, if he manages to score a takedown.

Dos Santos is surely going to be focusing on keeping this bout upright. Despite his claims that he’s ready to submit someone in the UFC, I’m not convinced he’s going to be pulling guard against a wrestler as talented as Velasquez. So for him, he’ll need to use footwork and an effective sprawl and brawl style to keep the bout standing and look for the big knockout shot. He’s shown that he can knock out almost anyone, if he hits them cleanly. Unfortunately I don’t think Velasquez will be nearly as slow or hittable as he was in their last encounter.

I don’t think Dos Santos can keep Velasquez at bay, and I think his advantage on the ground is far more significant that Dos Santos’ edge on the feet. That alone, combined with the fact that we’re going to see a significantly better and strong Velasquez make me think it’s going to be time for the challenger to reclaim his belt. I think he stops Dos Santos with strikes in the third round. Cain Velasquez via TKO in Round Three

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UFC 144: Edgar Vs. Henderson Predictions & Analysis

February 23, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The Ultimate Fighting Championship makes it’s somewhat long-awaited return to the Land of the Rising Sun, this weekend when they hold their first card in Japan since UFC 29 all the way back in the year 2000. They are returning to the former hotspot of PRIDE Fighting Championships, the massive Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The main Pay Per View card of the event has been amped up to four hours of run time and has added an additional two bouts.

Featuring a main event for the UFC’s Lightweight Championship between challenger Benson Henderson and champion Frankie Edgar, the UFC is offering a very solid card this weekend. Also the card features nearly every Japanese fighter employed by the UFC, so it offers a lot for the hometown crowd as well as a number of intriguing bouts for those of us who will be watching the card from the comfort of our own living room.

In addition to a potential barn-burner in the Main Event, this card offers a lot of intriguing bouts throughout the entire main card. The heavyweight bout between Mark Hunt and Cheick Kongo could turn into a complete slug-fest. The lightweight contest between Anthony Pettis and Joe Lauzon could feature all kinds of crazy high-octane action and that bout has some definite title implications at 155-pounds. A potential number one contender bout in the Featherweight division will take place when world-ranked Hatsu Hioki takes on Bart Palaszewski. Bouts featuring Quinton Jackson, Ryan Bader, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Jake Shields, Yushin Okami and Tim Boetsch round out the main PPV card. Let’s get right into the action.

Preliminary Card Bout (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Zhang Tiequan vs. Issei Tamura

Zhang “The Mongolian Wolf” Tiequan (anglicized Tiequan Zhang) is a Chinese-born fighter and is the first fighter from China to fight for the UFC. He is a member of the Black Tiger Team from China, as well as a notable member of China Top Team. Zhang is a BJJ, Sanshou and Shuai Jiao (Chinese Wrestling) based fighter. He is a brown belt in BJJ and excels when the fight hits the mat. Zhang is one of the better grapplers in the Featherweight division who has good takedowns with decent kick-boxing skills. Zhang started his career by going 14-0, stopping all of his opponents. Zhang has a career record of 15-2 and has never been finished in a fight.

Issei Tamura is a Japanese born fighter, who fights out of the Krazy Bee Dojo in Tokyo, Japan. He is actually taking this bout as a late-replacement for the injured Leonard Garcia. Tamura is a wrestling based fighter who has spent the majority of his career under the Japanese Shooto promotion’s banner. Tamura is relatively new to MMA, making his pro debut in June 2008. Tamura is fairly undersized as a Featherweight fighter, who cuts relatively little weight to make 145 pounds, and stands only 5’5” so he may be fairly undersized in this bout. However, he remains a strong wrestler who is able to takedown and control his opponents as the base of his offense.

Analysis and Prediction: There is a lot to say about Octagon jitters, as they have been the downfall of many fighters in the past. Also account for the fact that Tamura is a late replacement and is somewhat undersized for the division, there is a lot going against him in this bout. In Zhang’s previous fights he has hunted submissions relentlessly, sometimes at the expense of winning the bout. This proved to be his downfall in his last bout against Darren Elkins, where he was taken down because of his willingness to go after Guillotine Chokes which never really came close to stopping the bout. Tamura isn’t the greatest of fighters, but he has the tools to beat Zhang here, unless Zhang has worked considerably on his game planning and cardio, he’s going to struggle against someone who is perfectly willing to grind away at him from top control. Issei Tamura via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card Bout (FX): Bantamweight Bout: Takeya Mizugaki vs. Chris Cariaso

Takeya Mizugaki is a 28-year-old fighter from Ibaragi, Japan. Mizugaki formerly fought for the Shooto promotion in his native Japan, before being brought in as supposed cannon-fodder for then WEC Bantamweight Champion Miguel Torres. Mizugaki ended up going five rounds, in a highly entertaining slugfest that earned him some serious job security. Mizugaki is a striker first, with developing ground skills, but he definitely prefers to keep his fights in the pocket. He is a member of the Shooting Gym Hakkei gym in Kanagawa, Japan. Mizugaki has done well in both the WEC and UFC, falling only to the elite of the division (Urijah Faber, Brian Bowles, Scott Jorgensen, Miguel Torres) but has defeated all other comers. Mizugaki owns a professional record of 15-6-2.

Chris “Kamikaze” Cariaso is a 30-year-old fighter from San Fransisco, California. Cariaso has fought for a number of large MMA promotions including Strikeforce and Elite XC before signing with the WEC. Cariaso is a striker with solid kick-boxing skills who like his opponent has fared well but has fallen against the higher-level fighters in the Bantamweight division. Cariaso also adds competent grappling skills to his strong kick-boxing background, which makes him a tough match up for nearly anyone in the division. He owns a professional MMA record of 12-3.

Analysis and Prediction: Both of these guys are strong strikers with competent ground skills. Both men would also much prefer to stand in the pocket and trade with their opponents rather than work the fight to the mat. The similarities do not end there, as they both have fared well against mid-level competition but have struggled against the upper class of Bantamweights. The biggest thing here may be that Mizugaki will enjoy a four-inch height and reach advantage, which could be the downfall of a striker like Cariaso. This one is likely going to feature three rounds of back and forth kick-boxing, but don’t be surprised if it degenerates into a brawl at times. One of a number of potential Fight of the Night contenders here, but the Japanese fighter takes it on home soil. Takeya Mizugaki via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card Bout (FX): Middleweight Bout: Riki Fukuda vs. Steven Cantwell

Riki “Killer Bee” Fukuda is a 31-year-old fighter from Tokyo, Japan. Fukuda is a boxing and Shooto based fighter, who was an All Japan University Wrestling Champion. He has fought for a number of notable MMA promotions including DEEP, Dream, Elite XC, Shooto and K-1. Fukuda is a member of the Grabaka Gym and is a very grinding fighter. Fukuda is very tough and durable who is constantly moving forward. He throws solid one-two combinations as a way to close the distance against his opponents before shooting for takedowns. From top control he is very effective at grinding away at his opponents with constant ground and pound. One thing that may be concerning for Fukuda is that he has been out of the cage for over twelve months due to injury. Fukuda owns a career record of 17-5.

Steven “The Robot” Cantwell is a 25-year-old fighter from Long Beach, California. He is a former WEC Light Heavyweight Champion who now trains out of the One Kick’s Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cantwell has had a bizarre history with the UFC, pulling out of a number of fights due to undisclosed injuries, one of which Dana White said “May cause him to never fight again.” When he is fighting Cantwell is a strong grappler with mediocre striking skills. He does however own a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but outside of a few fights, hasn’t really been able to translate those skills effectively to the cage. Cantwell has a career record of 7-5, but hasn’t won a bout since 2009 and is likely fighting for his employment in this bout.

Analysis and Prediction: Fukuda is being thrown a soft-ball here from the UFC in my opinion. He is coming off of a long layoff and is getting an opponent tailor-made for him to beat. Cantwell is a fairly sloppy striker and although Fukuda isn’t the second coming of Muhammed Ali, he’ll likely hold the edge striking. On the ground Cantwell had nothing to offer Mike Massenzio who is a pretty comparable grappler to Fukuda, so it’s unlikely that Cantwell can do much to stop Fukuda from taking him down. He’s too tough to be finished, but he’s likely going to drop a clear cut decision to the Japanese fighter. Riki Fukuda via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card Bout (FX): Bantamweight Bout: Norifumi Yamamoto vs. Vaughan Lee

Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto is a 34-year-old fighter from Kanagawa, Japan. A few years ago Yamamoto was one of the most feared fighters in the lighter weight-classes in the world. His stellar wrestling background as well as strong striking and knockout power that is abnormal for a man so small, made him a nightmare for many opponents. Since coming over to the UFC, he has not fared as well, dropping back to back decisions and is 1-4, in his last five bouts. Fighting out of his own Krazy Bee Gym in Tokyo, Japan he’ll be looking to get back on track in this bout. Despite his recent struggles, his approach to fighting remains the same. Strong wrestling that he uses to keep the bout standing, while hunting for the huge right hand that can end anyone’s night. Despite his recent struggles Yamamoto owns a professional record of 18-5.

Vaughan Lee is an English fighter from Birmingham, England. He is a member of the Ultimate Training Centre in Birmingham, England. Lee is a fairly well-rounded fighter. During his fight against Chris Cariaso, Lee was able to dominate Cariaso on the ground for the first round. He has also shown fairly strong kick-boxing skills in previous fights. However, in his bout against Cariaso, once he was taken down, he showed very little ability to do anything from his back. Lee also has significant power in his strikes as well, as he holds a number of first round stoppage victories on his resume. Still he remains a fairly hot and cold fighter, with a professional record of 11-7-1.

Analysis and Prediction: This is a fight that’s likely going to take place on the feet. I don’t have a whole lot of confidence in either fighter, but I think Yamamoto holds enough advantages here to win the bout. His wrestling hasn’t looked great in recent bouts, but he was once a contender to join the Olympic Wrestling team for Japan, so it’s unlikely that Lee will be able to work the bout to the mat easily. In a striking battle, Yamamoto struggles at times against fighters who are faster than him, which I don’t actually think Lee is. Throw in the home crowd advantage and it’s likely that “Kid” will land a huge right hand at some point that ends the Brit’s night. Norifumi Yamamoto via TKO in Round Two

Preliminary Card Bout (FX): Lightweight Bout: Takanori Gomi vs. Eiji Mitsuoka

Takanori “The Fireball Kid” Gomi is a 33-year-old fighter from Kanagawa, Japan. Formerly the face of the lighter weight-classes in PRIDE, he is the former PRIDE Lightweight Champion. During his peak he was the Lightweight version of Chuck Liddell. A striker with big power who threw massive looping punches that hit with a ton of power, while using his strong wrestling skills defensively to avoid being taken down to the mat. Things have been tough for Gomi since 2008, as his skill set has since deteriorated. His wrestling skills have not gotten any better and his striking has slowed with age. He is no longer the feared striker he once was, as in his last bout he was outclassed in the striking department by Nate Diaz. Outside of an impressive one-punch KO of Tyson Griffin in 2010, Gomi hasn’t looked like his former self in a number of years. Still, his one-punch KO power has to be respected and he is still one of the most recognizable Japanese fighters in the history of the sport. Gomi holds a professional MMA record of 32-8 with 1 No Contest.

Eiji Mitsuoka is a 36-year-old fighter from Saitama, Japan. He is accepting this bout on late notice as an injury replacement for George Sotiropoulos. Despite his relative unknown status in North America, he has fought for a number of major Asian MMA promotions including Dream, DEEP, World Victory Road and PRIDE. Mitsuoka is an extremely talented grappler with limited striking skills to complement. However, he recently took a year long sabbatical from competition where he trained exclusively in striking skills, so who knows what kind of impact that might have. Mitsuoka is a member of the Wajyutsu Keisyukai RJW Fight Team. Mitsuoka holds a professional MMA record of 18-7-2.

Analysis and Prediction: Despite the fact that he holds little name value, Mitsuoka is a dangerous opponent and is one that Gomi cannot overlook. Striking, Gomi holds a distinct advantage, as he throws significantly better combinations and hits harder than Mitsuoka, even with his deteriorating speed. However, Gomi has always been prone to gassing out and being out-classed in the grappling department. Mitsuoka is extremely tough and durable, having never been stopped due to strikes in his career. If Gomi hasn’t improved his cardio issues, it is entirely possible that he pummels Mitsuoka for two rounds, before getting taken down and submitted in the third. It’s actually the outcome that I’m predicting. Eiji Mitsuoka via Submission in Round Three

Main Card Bout (Pay Per View): Lightweight Bout: Anthony Pettis vs. Joe Lauzon

Anthony “Showtime” Pettis is a 25-year-old fighter from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is a member of the Roufusport Fight Team based out of his hometown, where he trains regularly with fighters like Alan Belcher, Pat Barry and Ben Askren under legendary kick-boxer Duke Roufus. Pettis is a very well-rounded fighter with backgrounds in Muay Thai, Tae Kwan Do and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Pettis was the final WEC Lightweight Champion and actually defeated headliner Ben Henderson at the WEC’s final show to win that title. Pettis has very flashy and quick striking skills, perhaps being most notable for “the Showtime Kick” where he scaled the cage wall, before delivering a head kick to Ben Henderson in their bout. On the ground Pettis has an active guard and is very active from both the bottom as well as top control, constantly searching for sweeps and submission attempts. Pettis holds a career MMA record of 14-2.

Joe “J-Lau” Lauzon is a 27-year-old fighter from Brockton, Massachusetts. He trains at his own home gym Lauzon MMA in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Like his opponent Lauzon is a very well-rounded fighter. He is a competent striker who can put together combinations well, as well having a very impressive and aggressive grappling skill set. Lauzon is a former cast-member of The Ultimate Fighter, where he was defeated in the semi-finals by Manny Gamburyan. Lauzon is coming off one of the biggest wins of his career at UFC 136 when he stunned Melvin Guillard with a big punch, before latching onto his back and submitting him via Rear Naked Choke. Lauzon has a professional record of 21-6, including 17 wins by way of submission.

Analysis and Prediction: This is an extremely intriguing bout and is a serious contender for Fight of the Night. Pettis is one of the flashiest strikers in the Lightweight division, but in his last bout showed that he could follow a game plan if needed by outwrestling and grappling Jeremy Stephens. Pettis was controlled by Clay Guida, but Lauzon doesn’t have the wrestling chops to control Pettis on the mat like that. Most likely this bout takes place wherever Pettis wants it to, which means it will likely turn into a striking battle. Lauzon is decent, but he’s shown a tendency to gas out in the later rounds and he won’t be able to keep pace with “Showtime.” Pettis will wear him down with leg kicks and body punches before finally stopping the bout in the third round. Anthony Pettis via TKO in Round Three

Main Card Bout (Pay Per View): Featherweight Bout: Hatsu Hioki vs. Bart Palaszewski

Hatsu “Iron Broom” Hioki is a 28-year-old Japanese fighter. He is a member of the ALIVE Shooto & Jiu Jitsu Academy in his hometown of Tokyo, Japan but also trains at the famed Tristar Gym in Montreal, Quebec, Canada alongside Georges St. Pierre. Hioki has fought for a number of notable organizations including TKO, Shooto (where he was the Lightweight Champion) and World Victory Road. Hioki is a competent striker, who can put together stellar combinations and has a very strong chin, but his bread and butter is his grappling game. Hioki is a black belt in BJJ and the majority of his wins have come via Submission. From top control Hioki is absolutely relentless, constantly pressing to pass guard and throw ground and pound as well as search out submission opportunities. Hioki’s professional MMA record is 25-4-2.

Bart “Bartimus” Palaszewski is a Polish born fighter that resides and trains in Illinois. He is a member of Jeff Curran’s Team Curran gym in Wonder Lake, Illinois. Palaszewski despite not yet being 30 years old is a veteran of the fight game with 50 career professional bouts. Despite his training with Jeff Curran and his black belt level in BJJ, striking is where Palaszewski is most confident. He throws solid combinations with big power. He recently made the drop to Featherweight and had impressive results as he flattened Tyson Griffin at UFC 137 with a huge left hook that knocked Griffin out cold. Palaszewski owns a career record of 36-14.

Analysis and Prediction: I’ll admit a couple things right away here, 1) I bet pretty big on Hioki against George Roop. 2) It was a less than impressive victory for someone who is touted as the number two Featherweight fighter in the world, 3) I actually had it scored 29-28 in favor of Hioki. With that out of the way, we move on to this bout. Hioki struggled against Roop’s lengthy frame, but striking has never been his strong suit, he is often willing to oblige opponents in that realm, but he prefers the ground. Against Palaszewski he faces a BJJ black belt, that should be significantly better on the ground than he actually is. This one will certainly come down to Hioki’s ability to get the fight to the mat. Palaszewski hits hard and hits often, so this fight could end at any time, but in front of a home crowd and with octagon jitters out of the way, I think Hioki finds a way to drag Palaszewski down to the ground and runs game on him from there, eventually earning a late stoppage. Hatsu Hioki via Submission in Round Two

Main Card Bout (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Yushin Okami vs. Tim Boetsch

Yushin “Thunder” Okami is a 30-year-old fighter from Kanagawa, Japan. He is a Judo based fighter, with a black belt in that discipline. Okami also has very strong wrestling skills which he has continued to improve since beginning to train in the USA with Chael Sonnen at Team Quest. In addition to his strong wrestling and Judo skills, Okami is one of the larger fighters in the Middleweight division and is extremely strong which aids him in controlling his opponents on the ground. Okami has decent technical boxing, backed mostly by a solid jab and basic one-two combinations, but he uses his strikes simply to close the distance and get into a clinch with opponents. From there it’s a Judo throw, or a double leg takedown away from hitting the mat, where Okami can grind away on his opponents with ground and pound from the top. Okami holds a professional MMA record of 26-6.

Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch is a 31-year-old fighter from Lincolnville, Maine. Like his opponent he is a Judo and Wrestling based fighter. After struggling as a Light Heavyweight fighter an improved diet and drop to Middleweight has rejuvenated him as a fighter. Boetsch often struggled to control his opponents at 205 pounds, but now is better able to impose his wrestling skills against Middleweight fighters. Boetsch has proven very competent in the clinch in his UFC career, showing good dirty boxing skills, with nasty uppercuts, as well as a strong ability to earn takedowns using his Judo skills. Boetsch holds a career record of 14-4.

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Analysis and Prediction: Boetsch has found new life at Middleweight. As a Light Heavyweight, he faced some of the biggest, toughest wrestlers in the division and was completely man-handled by most of them. However, at Middleweight he hasn’t had that problem. Against Okami, he may be back in problematic territory. Okami is one of the biggest, strongest fighters in the Middleweight division. Okami probably has the better stand up. The only area I really think Boetsch has an advantage is in the clinch with his dirty boxing, but it’s unlikely Okami let’s him hang out there for very long before he takes him down. On the ground Okami is one of the best grinders out there, constantly pounding away at his opponents. Boetsch has big power, so if Okami gets baited into a firefight it’s possible he could be in trouble. But Okami has never shown himself to be reckless, he’s a controlled fighter, who usually follows the game plan and even though Boetsch knows what it is, he doesn’t have the track record to stop it. Yushin Okami via Unanimous Decision

Main Card Bout (Pay Per View): Welterweight Bout: Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Jake Shields

Yoshihiro “Sexyama” Akiyama is a 36-year-old fighter from Osaka, Japan. He is a 3rd degree black belt in Judo and also holds strong boxing skills. He currently splits training time between Team Cloud in Japan and Jackson’s Submission Fighting in New Mexico. Akiyama is making his Welterweight debut in this fight, so it may be interesting to see how the weight cut affects him, as he has never really been known for having strong cardio. Still, he was a small Middleweight fighter and fans have been calling for him to shed the weight for a while now, so it’s unlikely to have a massive impact on him come fight night. Akiyama’s biggest issues have always been his cardio and is inability to game plan, often resorting to brawling against fighters and ignoring his obvious ground advantages. Still, because of his amazing chin and ability to withstand punishment he’s mostly gotten away with it (save for his last bout against Vitor Belfort where he got annihilated striking and KO’ed for the trouble.) Akiyama holds a professional MMA record of 13-4-2.

Jake Shields is a 33-year-old fighter from California who is a member of the famed Cesar Gracie Fight Team where he trains regularly with Gilbert Melendez and the Diaz brothers. Shields has fought for and held titles in a number of notable MMA promotions including Elite XC, Shooto and Strikeforce. He is a black belt in BJJ as well as a former NCAA Division 2 Wrestler at San Fransisco State University. Shields is best served when using his wrestling to get the fight to the mat and then working his high level Jiu Jitsu skills against his opponents. His stand up is fairly rudimentary, although he can absorb a lot of punishment, which usually keeps him out of trouble, in fact Jake Ellenberger was recently the first person to finish Shields via strikes in more than 10 years of pro completion (and that was a week after Shields’ father and manager had passed away, so it’s hard to ignore the psychological effects that likely had on Shields.) Despite his recent setbacks, he remains one of the best Welterweight fighters on the planet and is probably the top one or two grapplers in the UFC’s Welterweight division. Shields owns a professional MMA record of 26-6-1.

Analysis and Prediction: This bout has some serious contrast in styles. Neither fighter has great striking, but of the two, Akiyama’s is definitely better. If Akiyama could stay disciplined when striking, he would hold a significant edge, but his tendency to throw wild punches often ends up hurting him. On the ground Shields is an absolute beast, his blend of NCAA level wrestling and BJJ skills, combined with great athleticism and strength makes him tough for anyone to handle on the mat. His striking is surprisingly bad for someone who’s been in the fight game for as long as he has, but it’s rarely been a problem for him in the past. On the ground Akiyama is no slouch, but he is not a dynamo from his back. His grappling game is mainly focused on being effective from top control. On the bottom against a fighter like Shields, he’s going to be focused on covering up and playing defense, the perfect chance for Shields to capitalize on a small mistake and latch onto a submission. Akiyama has also always had problems with his cardio and after cutting weight to drop a weight-class, I doubt it’s going to improve in this fight. Shields on the other hand has fought in numerous championship bouts and has looked solid over all five rounds, so we know he won’t slow down. If Akiyama gets tired in round three, expect him to get taken down, pounded on and Rear Naked Choked for his troubles when he turtles up. Jake Shields via Submission in Round Three

Main Card Bout (Pay Per View): Heavyweight Bout: Mark Hunt vs. Cheick Kongo

Mark “The Super Samoan” Hunt owns one of the strangest resumes in all of MMA completion. A former Super Heavyweight fighter who used to weigh in at well over 300 pounds, but has since made the permanent cut to 265 pounds to make the UFC’s heavyweight limit, Hunt is one of the most powerful strikers in all of MMA. Hunt holds career victories over Wanderlei Silva, Ben Rothwell and Mirko Cro Cop, but has losses to other fighters like Sean McCorkle and Melvin Manhoef. As a former professional K-1 Kickboxer that is where Hunt’s skills lie. The New Zealand born fighter is now a world traveler, training at a number of notable MMA Gyms in his quest to improve his all-around MMA game, his most recent stop was at American Top Team. Hunt holds a professional MMA record of 7-7.

Cheick Kongo is a French born Heavyweight fighter from Paris, France. Kongo trains at the Wolfslair MMA Academy in Paris. The 36-year-old stands 6’4” and with an 82 inch reach regularly holds reach advantages over his opponents. Kongo is a kick-boxer first and foremost with backgrounds in Muay Thai, Savate and traditional kick-boxing. Recently he has shown a more dynamic MMA game, with an ability to game plan, by utilizing wrestling and top control against his opponents. Kongo is very successful in the clinch, where he can use knees to the body to wear out his opponents, before searching for a takedown. Although his ground game is fairly basic, he still excels at sitting in guard and posturing up to use his size to deliver ground and pound to his opponents. Kongo holds a professional MMA record of 17-6-2.

Analysis and Prediction: This one is definitely one of the more intriguing bouts on the card, that could go a couple of ways. It also feels as though it’s a bit of a throwback to the sideshow fights that Pride used to put on. Kongo is a kick-boxer, but he doesn’t have the most solid of chins. In his bout against Pat Barry he tried to strike which earned him a ticket to queer street and if it wasn’t for Barry’s poor decision-making he probably could have won that fight. Instead Kongo made the epic comeback. Against a powerful striker like Hunt, it’s hard to think that Kongo will be making any kind of comeback if he takes anything more than a jab directly to the chin. Hunt is fairly one-dimensional, but he has been improving in other areas. However, Kongo has also improved considerably recently. In his most recent bout against Matt Mitrione he used a plethora of leg kicks and a newfound wrestling skill set to dominate Mitrione for three rounds. If he employs a similar approach against Hunt, he should be able to outwrestle the samoan for three rounds, but if he chooses to stand and trade, it becomes a dicey situation for the Frenchman. Overall, Kongo has shown himself to be getting smarter, so I think he plays this one safe and earns a clear unanimous decision, but if he decides to trade, it could be upset city for Mark Hunt. Cheick Kongo via Unanimous Decision

Main Card Bout (Pay Per View): Light Heavyweight Bout: Quinton Jackson vs. Ryan Bader

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is a 33-year-old fighter from Memphis, Tennessee, but he will be returning to his second home for this bout. Jackson is a former standout from the Pride Fighting Championship days and is loved by Japanese fight fans. He’s already stated that he’s looking forward to putting on a show for the locals. Jackson is a strong striker and a decent wrestler, however, he prefers to use his wrestling mostly for defense, preferring to stand and trade with his opponents. Jackson is probably one of the most straight-forward fighters in the UFC. He comes to bang. Jackson constantly uses his footwork to shuffle around, searching for the opportunity to throw a counter right hand, or a big overhand hook, all of which have the potential to end any fighter’s night. Jackson owns a professional MMA record of 32-9.

Ryan “Darth” Bader is a 28-year-old fighter from Reno, Nevada. Bader is best known as the winner of the eighth season of Spike TV’s The Ultimate Fighter. Bader was a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler, winning three Pac-10 Championships during his time at Arizona State University. Bader is a member of the Power MMA Team and a former member of Arizona Combat Sports Fight Team. He prefers to use his wrestling in his fights, using takedowns and top control to earn points on judge’s scorecards, while using ground and pound to wear out his opponents. Since his time on the reality show, Bader has continually improved his striking skills and is now a fairly competent boxer. Still, his boxing skills are fairly basic, throwing simple combinations and sometimes winging big power punches. Despite his skills being somewhat rudimentary, no one can knock his ability to throw with power as he has earned several recent KO victories. Bader’s career record is 13-2.

Analysis and Prediction: Many people seem to think that Bader has a decent chance at pulling off the upset in this one. The easiest thing to point to is following the game plans that Jon Jones and Rashad Evan have both used successfully against Rampage. Leg kicks, fighting at range and then dragging him to the mat at every opportunity. Rampage’s weakness has always been that he’s too straight-forward. He doesn’t check leg kicks… ever, it’s a serious problem for someone so high on the Light Heavyweight food chain. His other problem coming into this bout is his love for the Japanese fans. At a recent press conference he admitted that he fought stupidly in his Pride days, not fighting intelligently and instead fighting for fan reaction instead of winning, and even worse than that, he’s promising to do it again!

Bader has the tools to win this fight, but it won’t be easy. Rampage has some of the greatest takedown defense in the division and is extremely durable. His loss to Jon Jones was pretty lopsided, but he has lasted the longest of any of Jones’ victims in the UFC so far, so that has to say something. Also, you can never count out the power in Jackson’s counter-punches. The perfect game plan for Bader is to stay outside, work the leg kicks intelligently and use a solid jab to set up his takedown when closing the distance. From the bottom, Jackson has very little to offer other than covering up and trying to scramble, so if Bader is patient he should be able to control the bout on the mat for the majority of the time that it stays there.

All of this of course is easier said than done. Rampage is one of the biggest punchers in the division and is probably the most well-rounded striker that Bader has ever faced. Jackson is an expert at using his footwork to avoid getting trapped in the cage and his massive frame and brute strength make him a nightmare to try and work to the ground. His counter-punching style is extremely effective and if he says he’s willing to let the fists fly in the cage, it could be lights out early for Bader, who’s chin was somewhat exposed by Tito Ortiz. Even if Bader tries to replicate the game plan that Evans used, it’s worthy to note that Rampage won the third round of that fight and after shrugging off a takedown attempt landed some huge uppercuts that nearly knocked Rashad out cold. If the same thing happens to Bader, history has proven that he might not be able to last like Rashad did. Quinton Jackson via TKO in Round Two

Main-Event Bout (Pay Per View): Lightweight Championship Bout: Frankie Edgar vs. Benson Henderson

Benson “Smooth” Henderson is a 28-year-old fighter from Colorado Springs. Henderson is probably best known as a former WEC Lightweight Champion. Henderson is an extremely aggressive fighter, constantly pressing forward against his opponents. Henderson is a member of the MMA Lab Fighting Team in Glendale, Arizona. He has a background in a number of different martial arts disciplines, including a black belt in Tae Kwan Do, a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and was a former NAIA All-American Wrestler when he was in college. Henderson is a decent boxer, but he lacks the high-level technical aspects such as strong footwork and tight defense to make him a truly strong striker. Instead he relies more on pressure and getting in close. In clinches there are so many things that Henderson can do including punches, knees, elbows, takedowns and submission attempts, it’s hard to defend against, because opponents never know exactly what’s coming. On the mat is where Henderson truly excels as he uses his strong wrestling base to earn takedowns and is very dangerous from top control, constantly forcing opponents to work to avoid submissions and ground and pound. Henderson owns a career MMA record of 15-2.

Frankie “The Answer” Edgar is the reigning and defending UFC Lightweight Champion. Edgar is a 30-year-old fighter from Toms River, New Jersey. Edgar is a member of the Renzo Gracie Combat Team based out of New Jersey. There Edgar is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Ricardo Almeida and also trains his boxing under Mark Henry and his Muay Thai skills under the tutelage of Phil Nurse. Before joining the UFC Edgar was an NCAA Division 1 Wrestler at Rutgers University. Edgar is the best boxer in the UFC’s Lightweight Division, using strong footwork, hand speed and incredible timing to overwhelm his opponents in exchanges. Edgar also uses angles well, constantly moving around, which makes him difficult to wrestle against as he is never straight ahead for wrestlers to shoot for takedowns or force him into clinches against the fence. Edgar owns a professional MMA record of 14-1-1.

Analysis and Prediction: This one definitely has the potential to be five rounds of intense, high-paced, back and forth action. The fighting styles of both men definitely lends itself to this one going all five rounds. Edgar is one of the most difficult fighters in the UFC to finish, as he’s escaped more submissions than anyone else and has never been knocked out in his entire career. Edgar on the other hand has shown how hard he is to finish, mainly throughout his trilogy of fights against Gray Maynard, where he was rocked in nearly every fight, before storming back to win the remaining rounds in those bouts.

Henderson has said in media interviews that he plans to use his size and cut off the cage against Edgar, to try to trap him against the walls. However, that might be easier said than done for him, as Edgar’s footwork is extremely impressive and will not be easy to control in the cage. Edgar will almost certainly have the speed advantage on the feet, so it’ll be tough for Henderson to try and trap Edgar without taking a number of punches for his trouble. The other problem is that Edgar is an excellent wrestler himself and his ability to sprawl and brawl is extremely impressive, it definitely will not be smooth sailing for Henderson in this realm.

Henderson has been impressive in his last few fights, but it’s important to note that Edgar will be the best striker that he has faced in a long time. And the last time he faced a striker of this calibre, he lost to the “Showtime Kick” to Henderson, in the WEC’s final show. Edgar will certainly want to keep this bout standing, as he has a decided advantage there. Trained under Ricardo Almeida in Jiu Jitsu, the champion is certainly no slouch on the ground, but it’s that area where his opponent excels. Henderson can really push the pace if this fight hits the mat, his ability to create scrambles and pressure opponents during those scrambles, is what makes him very dangerous and it was one of the tools he used to defeat both Clay Guida and Jim Miller.

This fight is going to come down to who can impose their game plan on the other man. Both fighters have strong, solid cardio and can fight for all five rounds, and both have done it several times before in their careers. Both fighters are also able to push the pace on their opponents, so it will be interesting to see which fighter begins to slow down first. For Henderson, although it’s something that’s been missing a bit from his game lately, he should be looking to throw a high volume of leg kicks. As Carlos Condit showed against Nick Diaz, nothing slows down a strong boxer more than leg kicks. Edgar is very quick and agile on his feet, but if Henderson can land some big leg kicks to slow the champion down, he’ll have more success trying to stalk him down throughout the fight.

For Edgar, I imagine he’ll fight at a range. He is an expert at closing the distance quickly and darting in and out before taking a lot of return fire. His superior footwork, combined with Henderson’s at times sloppy striking defense, should allow Edgar ample opportunities to get combinations off. Once he hits Henderson it will be just as important that he gets away quickly, Henderson will likely be the larger and stronger fighter in the cage, so Edgar will want to avoid spending any extended time in clinches with Henderson, where the challenger can begin to control the pacing and placement of the bout. Overall, I think Edgar is highly criticized as a UFC champion, but he definitely should not be. Solid wins over Maynard, BJ Penn (twice) and Sean Sherk are nothing to laugh at. At the end of the day, I think his boxing will be too much and he’ll be too quick on the feet for Henderson to slow down and control. I’ll take Edgar by a close, but ultimately clear and unanimous decision. Frankie Edgar via Unanimous Decision

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UFC 138: Leben Vs. Munoz Predictions & Analysis

November 05, 2011 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

ufc138 posterWell CamelClutchBlog fans the UFC is back this weekend for a card that even they aren’t pretending to care about. That’s right folks just because the President of the company doesn’t care about this card, doesn’t mean that you don’t have to. But hey, if you choose not to care, no one can really blame you, just make sure you watch the UFC on Fox next weekend.

All kidding aside, the UFC has really ignored this card and with the lack of star power a lot of people seem to be ignoring it as well, at least while they’re not mocking it. However, it’s a free card chock full of potentially exciting fights, with a fair number of decent betting opportunities. So hey, if you’re awake, load up the old Facebook page and check the Prelims, or wait until later to watch the Main card on tape delay on SPIKE. But before you do either, let’s check out some of the bets that you should be making. As always, all lines are the current best available market lines from BestFightOdds (www.bestfightodds.com)

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Chris Cariaso (-200) vs. Vaughan Lee (+196)

Chris “Kamikaze” Cariaso is a 30-year-old fighter from San Francisco, California. He is a Muay Thai kick boxer who prefers to strike with his opponents. He is a member of the Fight and Fitness gym from Southern California. He stands only 5’3″ tall with a 64.5″ reach, but he fights well standing for a man of his size. He is coming into this fight off of a closely contested Split Decision loss to the highly touted Michael McDonald. Cariaso holds a career MMA record of 11-3.

Vaughan Lee is a fairly unknown fighter, that I admittedly don’t know a whole lot about. On his UFC.com profile page, Lee is credited with holding the record of the most submissions in one fight at the TUF 14 tryouts…. still not exactly sure what that means though. Lee hails from Birmingham, England fighting out of the Ultimate Training Centre. Lee holds a career record of 11-6-1 and has proven to be a finisher in his career so far, winning ten of eleven fights via TKO or Submission.

Analysis and Prediction: I don’t know enough about Lee and haven’t been able to find enough tape of him on the internet to make a well-educated assumption about him. However, there are a few things we can say. English fighters aren’t overly well-known for their grappling or wrestling abilities, (no matter how hard Paul Sass tries.) The other thing we know, is that in a standing kickboxing match Cariaso is very scrappy and very tough, so we can assume that standing Cariaso will have the advantage. And without knowing that Lee can do anything about that, I’m willing to back the favorite in this fight. But I’m not betting it. Chris Cariaso via TKO in Round Three

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Chris Cope (+227) vs. Che Mills (-250)

Chris “C-Murder” Cope is a fighter from the Arena MMA Gym in San Diego, California. He is probably best known to fans as a cast member of the last season of The Ultimate Fighter. Cope earned a solid reputation on the California regional fight circuit, before making his UFC debut on the heels of his stint on TUF. Cope is a solid striker with a competent and well-paced striking style, that resembles him stalking forward continuously, usually behind a pawing jab. Cope has shown strong takedown defense in his fights, both on the show and in the UFC octagon. Cope holds a career MMA record of 5-1.

Che “The Urban Monkey” Mills is an English fighter from Gloucester and is one of the UK’s most promising prospects. He is the former Cage Rage British Welterweight champion and holds a number of victories over notable fighters like Marius Zaromskis. He was auditioned for the UK vs. USA edition of The Ultimate Fighter, however he was eliminated by the show’s eventual winner James Wilks in an elimination match before the start of the show. Mills is an experienced fighter with a strong background in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Mills holds a career MMA record of 13-4-1.

Analysis and Prediction: I actually like the underdog in this fight for a small play. Mills should be the favorite in this one as he’s likely the more well-rounded of the two. However, Cope has shown significant improvement since his time on the show and has great takedown defense and competent striking skills. Mills is a highly hyped prospect and some of his status in the betting line is being bloated because of that. At 6’1″ Cope will have a slight height and reach advantage and I think he can use that to his advantage to grind out an ugly decision victory. Chris Cope via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Heavyweight Bout: Rob Broughton (+138) vs. Philip De Fries (-140)

Rob “The Bear” Broughton is an English Heavyweight fighter from St. Helens, England. At 6’2″ and 260 pounds he is a large Heavyweight fighter from the Wolfslair MMA Academy. Broughton is a former Cage Rage British Heavyweight Champion. Broughton has notable backgrounds in boxing, freestyle wrestling and Submission grappling. He took this fight on short notice, returning after a horrible showing against Travis Browne at UFC 135, he must be concerned about job security if he loses another fight in less-than-impressive fashion. Broughton holds a career MMA record of 15-6-1.

Philip De Fries is one of the more hyped Heavyweight fighters from the UK, fighting out of Sunderland, England. As a member of The Dungeon MMA gym in Sunderland and is well known for his exceptional ground and Submission skills. De Fries is a Purple Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under his coach Rodrigo Cabral. At 6’4″ De Fries will enjoy a slight size advantage, however, he will likely be looking to get this fight to the ground as soon as possible. De Fries has a career MMA record of 7-0-1.

Analysis and Prediction: I like the favorite in this fight. De Fries is a solid fighter with strong grappling credentials and an undefeated record. He is making his UFC debut, which may be cause for concern for some, but doing it in his home country, should alleviate some of the usual Octagon jitters. Broughton showed me nothing impressive in his last fight, blame it on the altitude or blame it on whatever, but he looked awful at UFC 135. Unless his cardio has vastly improved in a month or two, he’s going to get taken down and submitted rather quickly. Philip De Fries via Submission in Round One

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Michihiro Omigawa (-213) vs. Jason Young (+210)

Let me preface this by saying that this could easily be a contender for Fight of the Night, but this could also end up being a snoozer. Michihiro Omigawa is a 35-year-old Japanese fighter from the dojo of Hidehiko Yoshida. Omigawa is a strong boxer with a 3rd degree black belt in Judo. Omigawa entered the UFC on a hot streak, but has hit a bit of a rough patch in the UFC, first losing a decision #2 Featherweight Chad Mendes. In his last fight he lost a Unanimous Decision to Darren Elkins, despite outboxing Elkins throughout the fight, one which many pundits thought that he won. However, Omigawa has also won a number of decisions that people thought he had lost, so karma is a bitch… as they say. Omigawa holds a career record of 12-10-1.

Jason “Shotgun” Young is a Muay Thai fighter from Lewisham, England. He is a strong striker with a 73-inch reach which is fairly significant for a Featherweight fighter. Young is a member of the Team Titan Gym where he trains with notable fighters like Brad Pickett and Paul Daley. Young has shown a bit of a weakness when it comes to grappling, as three of his four career losses have come via Submission. However, Young remains a strong striker with good technique and decent power in both his hands and his feet.

Analysis and Prediction: Young is being touted as the underdog pick of the night and it’s hard to argue. In his last fight, he stood and banged with up and coming prospect Dustin Poirier and fared well, before eventually losing a close Unanimous Decision. Omigawa has decent boxing but standing, he might be slightly overmatched. However, Young has a clear weakness on the ground and Omigawa is a talented grappler and Judo black belt. The line is fairly well set and I’ll probably be avoiding it from a betting stand point, but if you put a gun to my head and made me pick, I’d take Omigawa. Michihiro Omigawa via Submission in Round Three

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: John Maguire (+118) vs. Justin Edwards (-127)

John “The One” Maguire is a former Cage Rage British Welterweight Champion. He is also a former BAMMA fighter. Maguire is a self-proclaimed “pink belt in Gypsy Jiu Jitsu (don’t worry, nobody else knows what the hell that means anyways.) However, he has finished twelve of his sixteen victories, with nine coming by way of Submission, so he might be a decent grappler at the very least. Maguire is also entering this bout on the strength of five straight victories. He holds a career record of 16-3.

Justin “Fast Eddy” Edwards is a fighter from Mansfield, Ohio who is best known for his stint on the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter. He is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter, who also has some experience in Sanshou Kickboxing. Edwards is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under his coach at JG MMA in Bellefontaine, Ohio. Edwards has relatively raw and unpolished stand up skills, usually moving forward behind winging haymakers, throwing caution to the wind. Despite losing his UFC debut, he followed up with a strong showing against super prospect Jorge Lopez and won the fight via Unanimous Decision. Edwards has a career record of 7-1.

Analysis and Prediction: Edwards has been here before, that’s my number one reason for picking him in this one. The ground game is likely a wash, with both guys being decent at BJJ. So this one is going to come down to striking and wrestling. This is where being American lends an advantage to Edwards, as he will likely have the better wrestling. With their two BJJ skills likely cancelling one another out, the advantage will likely go to the one on top. And if Edwards has the more polished wrestling that will likely be him. Don’t expect fireworks, but I expect a win from the American. Justin Edwards via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (SPIKE TV): Light Heavyweight Bout: Cyrille Diabate (-351) vs. Anthony Perosh (+309)

Cyrille “The Snake” Diabate is a French fighter and former professional kick boxer. He is a veteran of a number of big time fighting promotions, including PRIDE, ShoXC, DEEP and Cage Rage. At 6’6″ tall he is one of the taller fighters in the UFC’s Light Heavyweight division and is also one of the best strikers in the division. Diabate also has a decent grappling game, using his long and slender frame and lanky limbs to snatch submissions during scrambles. Diabate holds a career record of 17-7-1.

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Anthony “The Hippo” Perosh has one of the most unfitting nicknames in MMA today. He is a second degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is one of Australia’s best fighters. However at 39-years old he is probably a bit past his best days in the fighting game. He is one of the trainers and head instructors at the Sinosic Perosh Martial Arts gym in Sydney, Australia. Perosh owns a career record of 11-6, with 8 wins via Submission.

Analysis and Prediction: I have no interest in betting this fight and the line is fairly well set. Perosh is a fairly unspectacular striker and Diabate is a very dynamic kick boxer, so the standing advantage goes to the Frenchman. Perosh is the better grappler, but Diabate is no slouch on the ground. Also, Diabate has a strong clinch game due to his Muay Thai background, so getting him to the ground won’t be a picnic for the Australian. I expect Diabate to dominate this fight standing working his way to a second round TKO. Cyrille Diabate via TKO in Round Two

Main Card (SPIKE TV): Lightweight Bout: Terry Etim (-600) vs. Eddie Faaloloto (+530)

I don’t even want to waste time going to far in depth into this one. But you’re not wasting time at work, avoiding real work to check out this blog for nothing, so I will, albeit quickly. Eddie “Falo” Faaloloto is an American fighter from Honolulu, Hawaii. He is a brown belt in Kajukembo (a hybrid martial art including Western boxing, Judo and grappling.) He holds a 2-2 professional record but has lost both of his UFC fights so far. Terry Etim is a British fighter from Liverpool, England. He is a member of Team Kaobon and RFT Fighting in the UK. Etim is a Muay Thai and Luta Livre fighter with a lot of UFC experience. Etim holds a career record of 14-3.

Analysis and Prediction: Ring rust is the only reason to doubt Etim in this one. He has been off for nearly a year nursing injuries. Etim has struggled against strong wrestlers in the past, but he doesn’t really have to worry about that here. If you’ve read my posts before, you know that I love big underdogs, but I just don’t see any upside to a bet here. It’s likely Etim uses his range to exploit the American standing, before dragging the fight to the mat and locking in a Rear Naked Choke after an extended period of ground and pound. Terry Etim via Submission in Round One

Main Card (SPIKE TV): Welterweight Bout: Thiago Alves (-336) vs. Papy Abedi (+301)

Thiago “The Pitbull” Alves is one of the most muscular fighters on the UFC roster. One warning before we even get into his history, do not put any stock in Alves missing weight for this fight. He missed only by one pound, and made it without incident half an hour later after stepping into the sauna for fifteen minutes and taking a pee. With that said let’s get into the analysis. Alves is a Brazilian fighter from Fortaleza, Brazil. He is a Muay Thai fighter who now fights out of the American Top Team in Coconut Creek Florida. Alves is a strong striker with knockout power in both hands. Alves also has an underrated ground game, as he possesses a brown belt in BJJ, although he rarely uses it, preferring instead to stand and trade with opponents. He is a strong, durable fighter, although he has struggled against the wrestling based fighters that populate the UFC’s Welterweight division. Alves has a career MMA record of 18-8.

Papy “Makambo” Abedi is a Swedish fighter who was born in Zaire. The native African is making his UFC debut, who happens to give his opponent Alves a run for his money in the most muscular MMA fighter category. He is a black belt in Judo and a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Abedi also has decent wrestling skills and big power in both of his hands. Abedi is a highly touted European prospect who has proven to be a wrecking machine in his MMA career so far. He holds an undefeated professional record of 8-0, with 7 wins via stoppage (5 TKOs, 2 Submissions.)

Analysis and Prediction: Well surprise, I like the underdog in this fight. Alves should be the favorite, but I don’t think he should be quite as big a favorite as he currently is on the betting lines. Alves is a former title challenger, facing a guy making his UFC debut, but Abedi does have the skills to pull off the upset. One major flaw in Abedi’s striking game is his tendency to stand straight up and keep his chin out while retreating, he will need to have corrected that, or it won’t be long before Alves exploits that fact and makes us all sorry that we bet on him. However, Alves isn’t the world’s greatest fighter off of his back and with Abedi’s Judo skills and nasty ground and pound, he could easily earn a stoppage victory if he can get this fight to the ground. Getting 3 to 1, let’s roll the dice and go for it. Papy Abedi via TKO in Round Two

Main Card (SPIKE TV): Bantamweight Bout: Brad Pickett (+131) vs. Renan Barao (-130)

Brad “One Punch” Pickett is an English fighter who is the former Cage Rage British Featherweight Champion. Pickett is a strong boxer with big power in his hands. Pickett also holds decent credentials in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu which has earned him a number of Submission victories. Although an English born fighter, Pickett now trains stateside for MMA and is a member of the American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. Pickett has a career record of 21-4, including wins over notables like Demetrious Johnson and Ivan Menjivar. He is making his UFC debut in this fight after a fairly long layoff due to injuries.

Renan Barao is a Brazilian fighter who is riding the longest active winning streak in the UFC with 26 straight victories. The 24-year-old fighter has not lost since his UFC debut back in 2005. Barao is a member of the famous Nova Uniao gym in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is a black belt in BJJ and also has a wealth of experience in Muay Thai kickboxing. Barao has an impressive record and is riding a hot streak, but Pickett will be one of his toughest opponents to date. Barao has earned an impressive 18 stoppage victories in his career, including twelve submissions. He has a career record of 26-1-1.

Analysis and Prediction: I’m really torn in this fight and I’m not too sure which way to lean. Pickett provides a significant step up in competition for Barao and will likely have the better wrestling and a strong game plan for this fight. However, Barao is a fairly talented grappler who will have a world of confidence heading into this fight. Pickett has strong boxing and is very quick and agile, however after nearly a year off, one has to wonder if ring rust might play a factor, as well as how he’ll deal with fighting in front of a home crowd once again. I’m just going to watch this fight for interest, as it’s likely going to be a good one. If your book allows you to bet on what fight will win Fight of the Night honors, you might want to consider a small play on this fight, just for shits and giggles. As for a prediction, I’ll flip a coin. Brad Pickett via Split Decision.

Main Event (SPIKE TV): Middleweight Bout: Chris Leben (+246) vs. Mark Munoz (-250)

Chris “The Crippler” Leben is one of the longest tenured UFC fighters still competing today. The 31-year-old from Portland, Oregon is a member of the ICON Fitness and MMA team in Oahu, Hawaii. He is a boxer and BJJ fighter, who prefers to turn his fights into slug-fests and brawls instead of proper MMA fights. If Leben has shown anything in his MMA career it’s his willingness to brawl and his ability to take a punch, as he has proven extremely durable and tough to finish. However, he has shown cardio issues in the past and since this is the UFC’s first 5-Round Main Event, one has to wonder if that fact might come into play during this fight. Leben has a career MMA record of 22-7.

Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Munoz is an American fighter from Lake Forest, California. Munoz is a strong wrestler with a background as a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Oklahoma State University. Munoz has shown rapidly improving striking skills as he continues to evolve as a fighter. Also, since beginning his MMA training Munoz has obtained a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. One notable tidbit of Munoz’s training is his recent switch to the Black House Gym with the Nogueira brothers, Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida. Although he was brought in as the wrestling coach for the gym, it’s hard to believe that he’s not receiving some pointers to improve his striking as well as his overall MMA game. Munoz has a career record of 11-2.

Analysis and Prediction: Leben has struggled with strong wrestlers and grapplers in the past. Leben has strong takedown defense, but has still struggled against elite level wrestlers, which Munoz definitely qualifies as. Munoz on the other hand has shown improving stand up skills, but was slightly rocked by Demian Maia in his last fight and Maia is by no means an elite-level striker. But, it’s hard not to lean towards Munoz in this fight.

As his striking game continues to improve Munoz’s wrestling will also improve. In the past he shot for takedowns from far away, looking for low percentage takedowns, instead of setting up his shots. Now he is able to use a decent jab, followed by a strong right hand and change levels to shoot for a takedown from closer, which will continue to increase his takedown percentage. Munoz has been rocked by power punchers in the past and that’s right up Leben’s alley, but Munoz has all the tools to win this fight.

The odds are stacked in Munoz’s favor. Leben can definitely end the fight with one punch if Munoz gets sloppy or gets overly aggressive in the stand up game. However, the likely path of this fight sees Munoz earning a takedown and unleashing some ground and pound, before searching for a Submission opening. You also have to consider that with Leben’s past issues with cardio, that the longer this fight goes, the more it swings in Munoz’s favor. All in all, Leben is a live underdog, but I think Munoz is the pick here. The line has been bet to a fair line, so I don’t really feel like betting it. But Munoz should be able to earn a stoppage in the third round. Mark Munoz via TKO in Round Three.

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