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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

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

Anderson Spider Silva (Em Portugues do Brasil

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Anderson Silva’s Camp Want GSP, Franklin, Or Diaz

August 01, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Ed Soares Anderson SilvaThe UFC has a big problem on their hands. The UFC has a champion that only wants to fight marquee fighters as opposed to the “amateurs.” Anderson Silva’s camp doesn’t care what your record is. If you aren’t a name, go to the back of the line.

While the UFC middleweight champion doesn’t do much speaking, his managers Ed Soares and Jorge Guimaraes do plenty. Both managers (because when you are that good, you need more than one) recently talked to the press about potential upcoming fights for their champion and let’s just say they aren’t nearly as excited about a Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva fight as you are.

Silva’s co-manager Guimaraes was the first to make headlines last week when he was asked about Silva’s next opponent.

“No opponent makes sense for Anderson at this moment. Unless we do a catchweight against Georges St-Pierre,” said Silva’s co-manager to Tatame.com. “They (the UFC) didn’t offer the fight, but he’s the only one that could do a super fight. Anderson has the biggest paycheck in the UFC, and you can’t promote an event with these amateur kids that are coming up now.

Yep, that is right. Silva’s management team is referring to the growing list of potential middleweight title challengers as “amateurs”. “That’s a big joke,” Guimaraes said. “Everybody saw that it worked for Chael, and he got really famous with that, and now everybody wants to be in the spotlight.

The more level headed manager, Ed Soares was a little more tactful in his response to the same question to MMAJunkie.com.

I don’t think any opponent in that category is a joke,” Soares said. “I just think that some of his opponents just aren’t as attractive. When I look at Weidman, I think he’s a very talented guy. He’s got a bright future. But when I look at it, he’s 9-0. Anderson has got double the wins he has in his career in the UFC. So I just don’t see the value of being able to fight a guy like this right now. That’s my opinion.

Soares reiterated the champion’s desire to fight Georges St-Pierre but also mentioned a familiar name. Soares said that Silva would be interested in a third fight with Rich Franklin. You know, the same Rich Franklin Silva brutalized on two different occasions.

A new potential super fight recently emerged when Nick Diaz’s camp challenged Anderson to a super fight. Soares was very receptive to the challenge on Twitter.

I think the idea of @SpiderAnderson vs @nickdiaz209 is pretty good. Let’s see what the @ufc thinks?” – @edblackhouse

There is something very obnoxious about these statements coming from Silva’s camp. These people sit around complaining about amateurs and lack of competition, while calling out or being open to fights with fighters that either Silva would undoubtedly destroy or have big weight disadvantages against their fighter. It is one thing to complain about lack of competition or insult other fighters, but it is a whole other story when you do this while ducking the obvious choice…Jon Jones.

Anderson has outright refused to fight Jon Jones. I don’t think anyone reading this blog could disagree that Jones would give Silva his biggest test in MMA. Additionally, Silva has already fought at light heavyweight and is undefeated in UFC’s division. This isn’t a case of GSP or Diaz moving up in weight or anyone being at a weight disadvantage. This is a fight that would pit arguably the two best in the sport against each other with all odds being even. Yet Silva’s camp refuses to even consider the fight, while complaining about a lack of competition?

Whether Silva’s team think that the crop of challengers are amateurs or not, is irrelevant as long as their client holds the title. Silva needs to defend against the top contenders as deemed by the UFC. I can understand Silva wanting to get the most money for his fights with high profile dream fights. That is fine, but if that is the case than Silva needs to relinquish the middleweight title. His camp can’t have it both ways.

At the end of the day this is all a real easy decision to make. Stop picking on the fighter that fights in a division below yours and take the fight against Jones. Unless Silva is that scared of getting KO’d by Bones, it is the only option. The fact they refuse to fight him and complain about lack of competition is the real joke.

Urijah Faber: The Laws of the Ring

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

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UFC 149 Faber Vs. Barao Predictions & Analysis

July 20, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, Videos

It’s time for quite possibly the most injury-plagued card in the history of the UFC. The number of cancellations for this card is simply astonishing. Seriously, I could write a couple of pages alone just on the fights that won’t be happening any more and on the fighters that are no longer on this card, but were at one time. Calgary fans sure got unlucky for their first UFC event, but they still have a couple of intriguing bouts, including an Interim Bantamweight Championship fight which will likely deliver entertainment in spades.

This Saturday from the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada the UFC rolls in with UFC 149. Before getting to what’s on the card, let’s go ahead and take a look at fighters that have scratched from this event after being scheduled: Jose Aldo, Erik Koch, Michael Bisping, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Thiago Alves, Siyar Bahadurzada, Thiago Silva, Mauricio Rua, Bibiano Fernandes, George Roop, Claude Patrick and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. I think that’s all of them…

Anyways, what we do have for this card is a five round main event for the UFC Interim Bantamweight Championship. Originally scheduled to face Champion Dominick Cruz at UFC 148, Urijah Faber now faces Renan Barao, after a severe knee injury to the champion derailed that grudge match. Other main card bouts include a Middleweight bout with serious title implications between Tim Boetsch and the debuting Hector Lombard. Heavy-handed Heavyweight strikers will do battle when Frenchman Cheick Kongo takes on Shawn Jordan. Two Welterweight bouts round out the Pay Per View Main Card as Brian Ebersole steps up on short-notice to battle James Head and Canadian Chris Clements fights the always-enigmatic Matt Riddle.

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Lightweight Bout: Mitch Clarke vs. Anton Kuivanen

Mitch “Danger Zone” Clarke is a Canadian fighter from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Clarke is a member of the Hayabusa Training Center in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Clarke’s best weapon is mainly his submission game, earning six of nine career victories by way of tap out. Clarke has a career record of 9-1, with his lone loss coming in his last bout, which was his UFC debut. Anton Kuivanen is a Finnish born fighter from the GB Gym in Helsinki, Finland. In preparation for this bout he has also been spending time with the American Top Team in Florida. Kuivanen does his best work on the feet, as he is a technically sound kick boxer. Although lacking in big fight-stopping power but he throws nasty leg kicks and has a solid jab to back it up. Kuivanen also dropped his UFC debut, as he was out-wrestled by Justin Salas. Kuivanen has a professional record of 16-5, and is one of Europe’s top Lightweight prospect.

Analysis and Prediction: Clarke is a talented grappler, but the fact is that it really didn’t translate into success in his UFC debut. He was completely outworked and out grappled by John Cholish. Kuivanen was outwrestled by Justin Salas, who is a more accomplished wrestler than Cholish, but despite that, he had more success getting back to his feet and creating scrambles. On the feet, Kuivanen is far superior in the striking department, and judging by both of their UFC debuts, I don’t think Clarke can get the fight to the ground and even if he does, I don’t think he can keep it there. Kuivanen batters him on the feet and escapes the few times it hits the mat to take a late stoppage. Anton Kuivanen via TKO in Round Three

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Antonio Carvalho vs. Daniel Pineda

Antonio “Pato” Carvalho is a Canadian fighter from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. He is a well-rounded fighter with backgrounds in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo, and Shotokan Karate. He is a member of the Brazilian Top Team Canada and the Abe Ani Combat Club in Oshawa, Ontario. Carvalho is best known for his stint in Japanese MMA promotion Shooto, where he holds a notable victory over Hatsu Hioki. Carvalho is a talented striker who isn’t afraid to take the fight to the mat if things don’t go his way. Carvalho holds a professional record of 13-5. Daniel “The Pit” Pineda is a talented grappler from Houston, Texas. He is a member of the 4oz Fight Club who is a talented finisher on the ground, with 11 career victories by way of Submission. Pineda holds a professional record of 17-8.

Analysis and Prediction: Both of these fighters are well rounded, but Pineda is the more talented finisher. Carvalho is a more technical striker and has a strong chin to boot, meaning it’s unlikely that Pineda can unleash the same blitzkrieg style of attack as he has in the past. Both fighters slowed considerably as their last bouts progressed, so cardio could be an issue for both fighters in this one. As it is, I think Pineda can push the pace on the ground and will find a way to latch onto a late submission, or hold on for a decision victory. Daniel Pineda via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Bantamweight Bout: Bryan Caraway vs. Mitch Gagnon

Bryan “Kid Lightning” Caraway is an American fighter from Yakima, Washington. Caraway has fought for a number of major MMA promotions such as Strikeforce, EliteXC and the WEC. He is also known for his stint on The Ultimate Fighter. Caraway is a member of the Team Alpha Male Gym in Sacramento, California. He holds a professional record of 16-5. Mitch “The Menace” Gagnon is a Canadian fighter from Sudbury, Ontario. He is a member of the Team Shredder Gym in his hometown. Gagnon is a talented grappler with a knack for finishing his opponents in the first round, most by either Guillotine Choke or Rear Naked Choke. Gagnon has a career record of 8-1 and is making his UFC debut in this bout.

Analysis and Prediction: Caraway is basically the standard and stereotypical Team Alpha Male fighter. He uses takedowns and relentless pressure from the top to overwhelm his opponents and outwork them on the mat. Gagnon is talented off of his back, but it’s unlikely he’ll have much success against Caraway who is a capable grappler himself. There will certainly be some exciting moments on the mat, but I think Caraway will just bring too much pressure for Gagnon to handle. He succumbs to a Rear Naked Choke late in the second round. Bryan Caraway via Submission in Round Two

Preliminary Card (FX): Light Heavyweight Bout: Ryan Jimmo vs. Anthony Perosh

Ryan “Big Deal” Jimmo is a Canadian fighter from Saint John, New Brunswick. The former MFC Light Heavyweight Champion, he is one of Canada’s top prospects at the weight class. He is a black belt in Shotokan Karate who trains with the Hayabusa Fight Team in Edmonton, Alberta. Jimmo holds a career record of 16-1, and might be best known for his short stint on the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter, where he was eliminated before making it into the house. Anthony “The Hippo” Perosh is an Australian fighter from Sydney, New South Wales. He is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who does his best work on the mat. The former Heavyweight fighter is a member of the Sinosic Perosh Martial Arts Academy where he is one of the head instructors. Since returning to his more natural Light Heavyweight weight-class he has racked up a 3-fight winning streak in the UFC, stopping all three of his opponents. Perosh holds a career record of 13-6.

Analysis and Prediction: Both of these fighters do their best work on the ground. Perosh has been improving his striking, but his best work is still done on the ground. Jimmo is largely hated on for his “boring” points-based approach to fighting. Jimmo is basically a less-talented version of Lyoto Machida, who employs a similar elusive style, but without the flashy striking. Perosh will basically just chase him down and although Jimmo is the better striker, he can’t do enough damage to hurt Perosh and it means that the Australian can basically just work for takedowns without repercussion. Perosh will eventually finish Jimmo on the ground. Anthony Perosh via Submission in Round Three

Preliminary Card (FX): Bantamweight Bout: Roland Delorme vs. Francisco Rivera

“Stunning” Roland Delorme is a Canadian fighter from Winnipeg, Manitoba. He was a contestant on the fourteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. He is a member of the Winnipeg Academy of Mixed Martial Arts. Delorme has finished every victory in his career, owning six Submissions and two TKOs. Delorme’s striking skills have been a bit of a liability in the past as he has proven extremely hittable in some of his bouts, but he has incredible heart and a strong chin. Delorme has a professional record of 8-1. Francisco “Cisco” Rivera is making his return to the UFC as a late replacement, accepting the bout less than a month ago. Rivera is actually making his return to the UFC, after being cut after losses to Erik Koch and Reuben Duran. Rivera is a member of the United MMA Gym in Buena Park, California. He is a talented striker with big power, but somewhat limited grappling skills. Rivera holds a professional record of 8-2.

Analysis and Prediction: This is basically your typical striker vs. grappler type of match. Rivera is a strong striker with big power and quick hands who can end anyone’s night given the opportunity. Delorme does get hit far too often, but his chin is superb and he can take a whole lot of punishment and keep coming forward. I expect that to be the case in this bout as he works forward through big punches and secures a takedown late in the first round before locking up a tight choke. Roland Delorme via Submission in Round One

Preliminary Card (FX): Middleweight Bout: Court McGee vs. Nick Ring

Court “The Crusher” McGee is an American fighter from Layton, Utah. McGee is best known for his stint on The Ultimate Fighter where he won the eleventh season of the show. McGee made waves as the story of his past as a heroin addict and alcoholic tugged at heartstrings throughout the MMA world. McGee is a member of The Pit, training out of San Diego, California. He is the definition of a grinder, a workhorse type fighter who uses takedowns and top control to outwork his opponents on the mat. He holds a career record of 13-2. Nick “The Promise” Ring is a Canadian fighter from Calgary, Alberta. Ring is a former professional boxer and kick boxer who until recently was undefeated in his MMA career. Ring was a competitor on the same season of The Ultimate Fighter that McGee won, and actually defeated McGee early on in the show, before a knee injury forced him to withdraw and allowed McGee to re-enter the contest. Ring does his best work in the striking department where he can use leg kicks, a strong jab and good footwork to sprawl and brawl his way to victories. Ring has a career record of 12-1.

Analysis and Prediction: I think this is a very interesting bout. In their first fight on the show Ring was able to use a variety of kicks to keep McGee at bay and really McGee’s striking is pretty bad. In the second round McGee was able to land some takedowns and work from the top position as Ring slowed down. Ring has struggled against grinders in the past, his bouts against Boetsch and Fukuda have proven that, but he does have the tools to win. Ring has an under-appreciated grappling game, actually having a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. His sprawl is excellent early in his fights, but he often struggles with cardio and slows down later in his bouts, his lack of output makes him an easier target for takedowns. McGee was just beaten up pretty badly by rising Middleweight Contender Costa Philippou. That should be the exact game plan Ring is looking to duplicate. McGee will struggle against strikers who can keep a high output and feed him a steady diet of kicks and straight punches, as he lacks the technical precision to close the distance. If Ring has improved his cardio he can win this one, but if he hasn’t addressed the cardio issue, he wins the first round before getting controlled for the second two. It’s basically a toss up for which version of Ring shows up. Nick Ring via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Pay Per View): Welterweight Bout: Chris Clements vs. Matt Riddle

Chris “The Menace” Clements is a Canadian fighter from Chatham, Ontario. He is a member of the Team Tompkins Gym where he was trained by the late Shawn Tompkins and is currently training partners with UFC fighters such as Sam Stout and Mark Hominick. Clements is probably most notable for holding the MMA Record for the Fastest Knockout, coming at only three seconds. Clements like most Team Tompkins fighter does his best work in the striking department. His grappling acumen is decent, but he will struggle against any top-tier wrestler or grappler, so the key for him in this bout will certainly be to keep it standing. He holds a career record of 11-4.

Matt “Deep Waters” Riddle might as well change his nickname to ‘The World’s Worst Game Planner.’ Despite a talented wrestling base and a collegiate wrestling career, Riddle would rather brawl with strikers much more talented than himself. While the result often keeps the fight fans entertained, it’s definitely not the best idea for his win loss record. Riddle is a member of the Throwdown Training Center in Las Vegas, Nevada where he trains regularly with some of the top wrestlers in MMA. Riddle was a cast-member of the seventh season of The Ultimate Fighter and entered the house with no professional experience and has actually fought every one of his professional bouts inside the UFC’s octagon. He has done decently for himself, holding a 6-3 professional record, but if he would only use his head sometimes, he could easily be 8-1 or 9-0.

Analysis and Prediction: There really isn’t any in-depth knowledge or analysis I can give here. Clements’ ground game is weak and Riddle has the kind of top control that gives talented grapplers fits. If Riddle focuses on closing the distance and working takedowns and top control, he can pound out a stoppage or cruise to a decision. If he chooses to brawl, like he all too often does, he opens the door for Clements to test his chin often. It’s a risk but I think someone has to break through to Riddle eventually, someone will eventually tell him his striking isn’t good and to focus on takedowns. If someone does that this fight, he wins; I just wouldn’t bet on it. Matt Riddle via Unanimous Decision

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Main Card (Pay Per View): Welterweight Bout: Brian Ebersole vs. James Head

Brian “Bad Boy” Ebersole is an American fighter who is a veteran of the sport of MMA. He is actually fighting on a relatively quick turn-around as he won his last bout less than a month ago at UFC on FX. Despite his American heritage, Ebersole is actually a world traveller, who has trained all over the globe, however he currently trains at the Kimekai/ESS Performance Gym in Melbourne, Australia. Ebersole is a grinder, who excels at using takedowns and top control to pound away at his opponents. He has a background in amateur wrestling at the collegiate level. His striking is fairly decent and although he sometimes gets hit too often, he is known for his iron chin, having never been stopped by strikes in over 65 career bouts as a pro. Ebersole holds a professional record of 50-14-1, with 1 No Contest.

James Head is an American fighter from Highland, Illinois. Head is a former Middleweight who has since dropped to Welterweight and looked impressive in his debut at the weight class. Head is a member of the Lovato Jiu Jitsu Gym in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Head is a former Golden Gloves boxer who strikes from a mainly boxing stance, throwing the odd kicks, but instead preferring to use his hands instead. Head’s best chance in this bout will be for him to try and keep Ebersole at a distance where his advantage will likely be two-fold since Ebersole is weakest striking at range and Head’s striking at range is decent. Head holds a professional record of 8-2.

Analysis and Prediction: It’s difficult to really assess Head’s current standing in terms of talent. He looked pretty awful in his UFC debut against Nick Ring where he was basically battered on the ground and absolutely worked over before getting submitted. Ebersole is currently on a ten fight-winning streak with four inside the UFC. He has the talent on the ground to simply beat Head up and despite his striking disadvantage, Ebersole has the kind of chin that you can bank on, which means he’ll probably be able to make it inside on Head relatively frequently. From there Ebersole works him over on the ground similarly to the way that Ring did. Brian Ebersole via TKO in Round Two

Main Card (Pay Per View): Heavyweight Bout: Cheick Kongo vs. Shawn Jordan

Cheick Kongo is a French fighter from Paris. He is a 37-year-old former professional kick boxer who in recent bouts has shown a lot of improvement in his wrestling and ground skills. Kongo is a member of the Wolfslair MMA Academy. Kongo is a technically sound striker who can mix his punches and kicks well. His 82-inch reach also allows him to fight well on the outside, as he has utilized a strong jab in the past. Recently when getting outworked on the feet Kongo has shown the ability to shoot for takedowns and control his opponents on the mat, which has added another dimension to his game. One thing that could be potentially dangerous for Kongo is his advanced age, as in some of his last fights he has looked slow in the striking department and his chin has been rocked in several recent bouts. Kongo holds a career record of 17-7-2.

Shawn “The Savage” Jordan is an American fighter from El Paso, Texas. Jordan is a member of Greg Jackson’s camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is one of the most athletic fighters in the UFC’s Heavyweight division having been a starting Fullback for Louisiana State University in his college days. Jordan is an aggressive striker who constantly moves forward, but that might not serve him well as he will be at a massive eight-inch reach disadvantage. Jordan will certainly be looking to close the distance quickly and will be searching out takedowns constantly. Kongo has shown the ability to control weak grapplers on the ground from the top, but he has shown very little ability to anything from the bottom underneath a strong grappler. Jordan has a career record of 13-3.

Analysis and Prediction: Jordan has the ability to strike, but it’s definitely not in his best interest heading into this bout. Kongo is the better striker and with his huge reach advantage, it will be tough for Jordan to overcome that. However, Jordan is ten years younger than his foe and is significantly more athletic. He also has a strong chin, which allowed him to absorb some big punches in a recent bout against Lavar Johnson, before taking him down and working for a submission. I expect a fight similar to that one here, as Jordan eats some shots on the way in, but eventually works the big Frenchman to the floor and secures a Submission victory. Shawn Jordan via Submission in Round Two

Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Hector Lombard vs. Tim Boetsch

Hector “Lightning” Lombard is a 34-year-old Cuban fighter. Lombard is a former Olympic level Judoka who is a 4th degree black belt in Judo and a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Despite those impressive grappling credentials, Lombard is best known for his strong striking and big time knockout power. Lombard is a member of the American Top Team training out of Coconut Creek, Florida. Lombard owns a very impressive winning streak, having not lost since November of 2006 and is currently riding 25-fight winning streak. Lombard is probably best known for his stint in Bellator Fighting Championships where he was the Bellator Middleweight Champion, a belt that he left the promotion with when he signed with the UFC. He holds a professional record of 31-2-1 with 1 No Contest, including 24 stoppage victories.

Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch is an American fighter from Lincolnville, Maine. The 31-year-old is a former Light Heavyweight fighter who has since reinvented himself as a Middleweight and is 3-0 in the UFC as a Middleweight. A member of the AMC Pankration Gym in his hometown, he is coming off of a huge comeback victory against top Middleweight fighter Yushin Okami. Boetsch has backgrounds in amateur wrestling, Judo and Jeet Kune Do. Boetsch does his best work in close during clinches, or up against the fight where he can land big uppercuts and use his strength to bully his opponents. Boetsch holds a professional record of 15-4, with 12 stoppage victories.

Analysis and Prediction: My guess here is that the UFC has big plans for Hector Lombard who has an impressive highlight reel of knockouts. Despite his 3-0 record in the Middleweight division, it’s hard to find an area in this fight where Boetsch will excel. He prefers to clinch in close and use big uppercuts and power punches to rattle his opponents. He is able to do this by using his big physical strength as well as his Judo and Wrestling skills. Unfortunately for Boetsch, Lombard is a massive Middleweight, who is extremely strong and has top-level Judo, which means controlling him in clinches will be nearly impossible. Even worse for Boetsch is that Lombard has big power in his hands and can throw with impressive speed for such a big man. At range Lombard can use his speed advantage to outwork the significantly slower Boetsch and in close he can use his Judo skills and massive power punches to control the American. Lombard dominates this one from the opening bell until the referee pulls him off of Boetsch. Hector Lombard via TKO in Round One

Main Event (Pay Per View): Interim Bantamweight Championship Bout: Urijah Faber vs. Renan Barao

Urijah “The California” Kid is an American fighter from Isla Vista, California. The former WEC fighter is one of the UFC’s most popular fighters from the lower weight classes and was considered the crown jewel of the WEC for many years. Since that time he has had some ups and downs in the UFC, but he remains one of the top talents at Bantamweight. Faber is a former NCAA Collegiate Wrestler with a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, who is one of the most dangerous fighters from top position as he is constantly attacking with ground and pound, guard passing and submission attempts. Faber has also shown improved boxing skills over his past few bouts, most notably against Brian Bowles who he absolutely dismantled at UFC 139. Faber trains at his home gym of Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California where he is one of the founders. Faber holds a career record of 26-5, with all but one of his losses coming to UFC/WEC Champions.

Renan “Barao” Pegado is a Brazilian fighter from Natal, Brazil. He is a member of the Nova Uniao Gym in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and is one of the country’s top fighters. Barao holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is the owner of one of MMA’s longest unbeaten streaks, currently sitting at 29 fights without a loss. Barao is a very well rounded fighter who has excelled in any situation that has been presented to him in his UFC career so far. In his last bout against Scott Jorgensen (a talented wrestler himself) Barao used leg kicks and strong footwork to keep Jorgensen at bay and fend off his takedowns. One advantage that Barao will have is that he mixes his strikes well using a variety of kicks and punches which allows him to fight from several different ranges and keep space from his opponents, while Faber prefers a much more boxing based approach focusing on his punches and power shots inside. Barao’s professional record currently stands at 28-1 with 1 No Contest.

Analysis and Prediction: I think this is a highly entertaining match up and is probably a shoe-in for Fight of the Night Honors. The one thing about this fight that’s easy to predict is that it will likely be fought at an incredible pace and there will likely be non-stop action whether it’s on the feet or on the ground. Everything else about the fight… not so easy to predict. But now that I’m done selling the fight to you, let’s get down to analysis.

The striking game will certainly be an interesting test for Faber. The key to Faber’s striking in the past has always been to close the gap quickly by shooting in for takedowns as he wades in. Lately however Faber has shown some improvement in his striking game and has become a more competent striker technically. Faber’s jab is better and he throws accurate power punches. He actually rocked Bowles a few times in their bout and Bowles is a very strong striker in his own right. Barao on the other hand is very comfortable striking and would probably prefer to keep this bout a mostly stand up affair. Barao may be the first fighter that Faber has faced who will hold a speed advantage over the Californian. Barao also mixes his kicks, knees and punches well, which allows him control of the distance and range of the fight, this will be an important factor for him as it’s key to stopping the takedowns of Faber. Barao also has one other thing going for him and that’s his training camp; Nova Uniao. He trains regularly with Jose Aldo the UFC’s Featherweight Champion who has fought Faber before and absolutely destroyed him in the striking game. The one thing that Barao has definitely watched in that fight was the success that Aldo had with his leg kicks against Faber and how hobbled and slow Faber was as a result by the end of that fight. Needless to say, Faber will need to have addressed that problem come Saturday night.

On the ground Barao is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt with a deadly submission game and has shown the ability to take advantage of even the smallest of openings in the past. However, I think he’s going to want to avoid the ground against Faber, who himself is a dominant wrestler on top and rarely ends up on the bad end of a scramble on the mat. Faber’s submission defense and awareness when he’s on top is excellent as well, and Faber is able to stay composed at all times, meaning it will be on Barao to work to get out of bad positions on his back, as Faber won’t be likely to give him any easy ways out.

As it is, I think this is a fairly even tilt. Faber is a significant step up in competition for Barao as it’s really his first Top 5 opponent in the UFC. He was able to dominate Scott Jorgensen but Faber poses a number of different problems. If Barao can use leg kicks and range to keep the fight standing, I think he can have success, but if Faber has learned from his loss to Aldo and is able to check the leg kicks and get inside, I think he becomes the favorite in the bout. Faber is likely going to be the physically stronger fighter and should have an advantage in the clinch where he can get off some dirty boxing uppercuts, or looks for a takedown or trip from the clinch. On the ground Barao has top-level skills, but he’s never been on the bottom against someone like Faber. I think each man finds some success in each area at every point in this bout, but ultimately I think Faber takes advantage of a fading Barao late in the championship rounds and storms back to take a decision victory. Urijah Faber via Unanimous Decision

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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 135: Jones vs. Rampage Results – Jackson Taps, Hughes Gets KO’d

September 24, 2011 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, Videos

Jon Jones UFC 135Jon Jones is either the second coming of Anderson Silva or a lucky fighter that hasn’t truly been tested in the octagon. Unfortunately that question may still be up to debate depending upon whether you believe Rampage Jackson’s one-dimensional offense was truly that test.

Jon Jones not only survived his first test as UFC light heavyweight champion at UFC 135, he dominated it. Jones manhandled former champion Rampage Jackson for four rounds in what looked more like a sparring session than a UFC championship fight. Jones made Jackson look like a fool for all four rounds, keeping Jackson at bay the entire fight with jabs and kicks that repeatedly connected on the challenger.

Surprisingly you didn’t get a lot of trademark Jon Jones elbows in this fight. He didn’t land his first one until about 4:26 into the first round. He did nail Jackson hard with an elbow to the ground in the third round which opened up Rampage. In the end Jones followed up a few forearm strikes with a rear-naked choke that finished off Jackson at 1:14 of the fourth round.

It was no accident that the majority of the fight was fought up top. After the fight, Jones told Joe Rogan that he intentionally stood with Jackson because Jackson insulted his stand up before the fight. Jones said he worked hard to come up with a strike-heavy game plan to prove a point, which he certainly did.

Jackson’s game plan was just absolutely horrible. He stood and looked for the knockout while Jones mixed it up with knees, kicks, punches, and a couple of takedowns. I just don’t know how Jackson expected to win this fight with such a one dimensional attack. At one point Jackson threw in a few leg kicks which actually looked to have confused Bones. His corner kept yelling to Jackson to find his range, but with Jones’ reach, that was just impossible.

I think the verdict is still out on Jones. He is good, damned good, but is he this unbeatable prodigy that some have professed him to be? Jackson hasn’t looked overly impressive to me since 2008. Shogun Rua looked out of shape and hurt at UFC 128. Ryan Bader was just submitted in the first round to Tito Ortiz. To me, these wins are impressive but a little over-hyped if you look at the big picture.

Jones will fight Rashad Evans next and I do think that will be the real measuring stick for Jones. Evans has a multidimensional attack and his striking looked better than ever against Tito Ortiz. I don’t think that Jones will be able to toy with Evans the way he did with Jackson and Rua. He is going to have to prepare for a lot more, including a fighter that has seen his weaknesses in the gym. I think it is going to be a great fight and I can’t wait to see it.

If Jones runs through Evans like he did the others, I will be all in on the Jones’ bandwagon. At that point, I think you have to match him up against Dan Henderson if Hendo beats Shogun at UFC 139. Past that I think it is time to start talking about an Anderson Silva vs. Jon Jones Super Fight. Forget about the GSP vs. Silva fight, it isn’t going to happen. Here is a fight that actually has a chance of being made at 205. If Silva and Jones win their next fights, maybe two, I think you make the fight if you are the UFC. It really would be the biggest fight in the history of MMA and the one real Dream Fight that the UFC has left to offer.

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In the co-headliner, Josh Koscheck pulled off a fantastic finish as he knocked Matt Hughes out in the final seconds of the first round. It was an interesting fight as Hughes looked dominant for most of the first round. Hughes kept the fight on their feet and relied on the jab. Koscheck eventually opened up later in the round and turned the fight with an overhand right hand. Hughes scrambled and wound up on the ground. Koscheck swarmed in with hammer fists and the referee stopped the fight at the 4:59 mark.

I can’t say that I was real impressed with the win. To me, beating Hughes on the downside of his career doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot to me. Koscheck talks a big game and has backed it up against everyone except Georges St-Pierre. However, he was dominated badly against the champion in his previous fight. I am not sure where you go from here with Koscheck but he certainly remains in the mix.

Matt Hughes did not announce his retirement after the fight. The announcers talked it up during the fight as if it would be Hughes’ last fight. Hughes said he was going to take some time off and try and figure it out. At this point it is obvious that Hughes doesn’t have the reflexes anymore to keep up with elite welterweights. This is his second first-round knockout in a row. He had a fantastic career but it really is time to call it quits.

Full UFC 135: Jones vs. Rampage Results & Winners
Jon Jones defeated Quinton Jackson via submission
Josh Koscheck defeated Matt Hughes via KO – Round 1
Mark Hunt defeated Ben Rothwell via unanimous decision
Travis Browne defeated Rob Broughton via unanimous decision
Nate Diaz defeated Takanori Gomi via submission
Tony Ferguson defeated Aaron Riley via TKO (doctor’s stoppage) – Round 1
Tim Boetsch defeated Nick Ring via unanimous decision
Junior Assuncao defeated Eddie Yagin via unanimous decision
akeya Mizugaki defeated Cole Escovedo via TKO (punches) – Round 2
James Te Huna defeated Ricardo Romero via knockout (punches) – Round 1

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UFC 135: Jones vs. Rampage Analysis & Predictions

September 24, 2011 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, Videos

ufc135: Jones Vs. RampageThe UFC returns to the Pay Per View airwaves this Saturday night with it’s latest offering, UFC 135. Live from what will likely be a sell-out at the Pespi Center in Denver, Colorado. A little bit of nostalgic fact-for-thought, the UFC held their first ever event in Denver. The event UFC 1, took place nearly twenty years ago. The UFC is also returning to Denver for the first time since Zuffa has taken control of the organization and the first time since The Ultimate Ultimate, in 1995.

The aptly named UFC 135: Jones vs. Rampage, features a Light Heavyweight Title Bout, pitting current champion Jon “Bones” Jones against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. The five-fight PPV card may be lacking somewhat in “big” name power, however, what it lacks in name, it makes up for in potential. If you’re the kind of MMA fan that loves brawls, loves knockouts and loves two dudes slugging it out on the feet, then this card is likely custom-built for your approval. A quick rundown of the fighters on the main card highlights Knockout Artists like Mark Hunt, Takanori Gomi, Travis Browne and Quinton Jackson.

Unfortunately for those of you looking to lay down a lot of loot, this one might not be the best of cards for you. The betting lines feature a number of mismatches and heavy favorites, in fact the card features only three fights where the favored fighter is less than a 2-to-1 favorite. However, there’s nothing wrong with a couple of parlays to make your odds slightly better (actually, there kind of is, parlays are generally considered sucker bets, but we can’t let a UFC event go by without betting on it.) As always, all betting lines are the current best available market lines from Best Fight Odds (www.bestfightodds.com)

Preliminary Bout (Facebook): Light Heavyweight Bout: James Te Huna (-135) vs. Ricardo Romero (+145)

James Te Huna is a New Zealand based fighter who fights out of the Elite Fight Gym in Sydney, Australia, where he is the head trainer. Te Huna is a kick boxer and a wrestler with an extremely aggressive fighting style. He has a career record of 12-5 with 8 wins via TKO. He has shown a bit of ineptitude in the grappling department however, as four of his five career losses have come by way of Submission.

Ricardo Romero is a member of the Advanced Martial Arts team in North Brunswick, New Jersey. Romero possesses a 76-inch reach but has shown himself somewhat lacking in the stand up department. Romero has decent takedowns to mix with his solid grappling and submissions game. Romero has a career record of 11-2 with 4 wins via TKO and 6 via Submission.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: This is kind of the who-cares fight of the night, and deserves to be the opener. Te Huna is an extremely aggressive fighter who rarely backs down and constantly pushes forward. Romero took a lot of punishment in the first round against Seth Petruzelli, before rallying back to win in the second once Petruzelli punched himself out. Against Kyle Kingsbury, Romero again showed a propensity to get hit a little too often for my tastes. At -135, I think a small bet on Te Huna might be worth it. He’s the better striker and is more aggressive, but remember aggressive means that he’s going to take chances and leave himself open to potential counters. However, the loser of this fight is likely facing a pink-slip and I think that may be motivation enough. If not, I believe that Te Huna has looked better in his two octagon appearances than Romero has looked in his two appearances. James Te Huna via TKO in Round Three

Preliminary Bout (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Takeya Mizugaki (-185) vs. Cole Escovedo (+190)

Takeya Mizugaki is a Japanese fighter who is a former Shooto Rookie of the Year from 2003. Before joining the WEC and UFC he was the winner of the Cage Force Bantamweight Tournament. He possesses strong boxing skills, as well as a fairly well-rounded grappling game. Mizugaki has a career record of 14-6-2, finding moderate success in the WEC and the UFC, but has struggled against the top fighters of his weight class. He has suffered recent losses to Brian Bowles, Urijah Faber, Scott Jorgensen and Miguel Torres.

Cole “The Apache Kid” Escovedo is a fighter from Fresno, California. He is the first ever WEC Featherweight champion and now is seemingly bouncing between the Featherweight and Bantamweight divisions. He is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter who has made considerable improvements to his stand up skills. Escovedo is a member of the Pacific Martial Arts fight team who owns a career record of 17-7, with ten of his wins coming by way of submission.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: I’m a bit surprised by this one. I thought that this fight would likely be a little bit closer to a Pick’ em, with the Japanese fighter as a slight favorite. However, with such long odds, getting nearly 2-to-1 I like Escovedo in this spot for a small bet. He’s got decent stand up and good grappling skills but Mizugaki has proven very tough to finish, with only Urijah Faber doing that since 2006. However, I think Escovedo can win the stand up exchanges by using his size and a decent jab mixed with leg kicks. On the ground, it’s probably close to even, although Escovedo might have a slight edge here as well. Cole Escovedo via close but ultimately Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Bout (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Junior Assuncao (+125) vs. Eddie Yagin (-130)

Junior Assuncao is a Brazilian fighter with strong backgrounds in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai and Capoeira. The BJJ black belt is a member of the Ascension MMA / Hardcore Gym in Atlanta, Georgia. He is the older brother of UFC fighter Raphael Assuncao. He previously fought in the UFC in 2006-2007, but after compiling a 1-2 record in the promotion, he was released. Since his release he has compiled a 7-1 record on the regional circuit. He enters the fight on a six fight winning streak.

Eddie “The Filipino Phenom” Yagin is a member of the Alliance MMA gym who is making his UFC debut. Yagin is a decent boxer who is able to put together quick combinations and constantly moves forward when striking. Yagin is also a decent wrestler and will likely be the physically stronger fighter in the cage against Assuncao. Yagin holds a career record of 15-4-1, with 5 wins each via TKO, Submission and Decision.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: I admittedly don’t know a lot about Yagin. I’ve seen some YouTube footage of his fights and he looks like a pretty good fighter. He has shown a solid all-around game, with decent striking albeit over-aggressive at times and good Jiu Jitsu skills. Assuncao is on a bit of a comeback roll, but the level of his competition is somewhat questionable on the regional circuit. This is a close fight and as such I’m going to avoid betting on it, but I think that Yagin is probably the better wrestler. And with all other things being equal, the guy on top is probably going to win, so Yagin is my prediction. Eddie Yagin via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Bout (Spike TV): Middleweight Bout: Nick Ring (+140) vs. Tim Boetsch (-140)

Nick “The Promise” Ring is a Canadian fighter from Calgary, Alberta. Ring is probably best known for his stint on the eleventh season of The Ultimate Fighter, where he defeated eventual winner Court McGee in the first round before withdrawing from the competition due to injury. He is a strong boxer with good Muay Thai based kicks and knees. Ring also has very underrated grappling skills. After his most recent return from injury he has begun to split his training time between his home gym and the Tristar Gym in Montreal, Quebec alongside UFC fighters Georges St. Pierre and Rory MacDonald.

Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch is a former Light Heavyweight fighter who has shown flashes of brilliance in his drop down to the Middleweight Division. He is a wrestling based fighter with strong experience in the foundation from his time as a High School and collegiate wrestler. Boetsch is a member of the AMC Pankration team in Kirkland, WA. Boetsch is an extremely strong and compact fighter, with huge knockout power and an impressive wrestling base to match. With his recent drop to Middleweight he has to be one of the physically strongest Middleweight fighters in the UFC.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: I like Nick Ring, I really do. He’s Canadian, he’s a cool guy and I’ve met him once before, so I’ve got to root for him. However, I think he might be in slightly over his head in this fight. Ring struggled against Riki Fukuda two fights ago and was unable to stuff all of Fukuda’s takedowns. Boetsch is a bigger, stronger, albeit slightly slower version of Fukuda, so Ring may be in for a long night if he’s not able to keep his distance and keep the fight standing. On the feet Ring will have advantages in speed and stand up ability, two advantages that he’ll need to exploit ruthlessly. However, Ring has never been much of a Knockout artist and I doubt he can avoid takedowns for all three rounds, meaning at some point he’s going to be underneath Boetsch, and even with his underrated grappling skills, it’s not a place you want to be. This line is pretty well set, but there may still be a bit of value in Boetsch until about -150 or -155, so if you’re feeling like laying it down, Boetsch might be a good bet. Tim Boetsch via Unanimous Decision (though I’ll likely be cheering against him)

Preliminary Bout (Spike TV): Lightweight Bout: Tony Ferguson (-325) vs. Aaron Riley (+295)

Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson is a 27-year-old fighter from Muskegon, Michigan. He is best known to most fans as the winner of the most recent season of The Ultimate Fighter. During that season he competed as a Welterweight but is returning to his more natural weight of 155-Pounds. Ferguson is an extremely talented athlete who relies heavily on his athletic talents to win him fights. In high school he earned 12 varsity letters in football, baseball and wrestling in Michigan, before moving onto Grand Valley State University on a full wrestling scholarship. Ferguson has a career record of 11-2.

Aaron Riley is a 30-year-old fighter from Tell City, Indiana and is one of the most experienced fighters on the UFC roster, with over 40 career fights. He is a very well-rounded fighter with decent wrestling and strong Muay Thai. Riley is a member of Jackson’s Submission Fighting from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Riley holds a professional record of 30-12-1.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: Ferguson is returning to Lightweight, which is a weight where he should be much more comfortable and even stronger than he showed on his season of The Ultimate Fighter. Ferguson has strong wrestling which he can use to dictate where this fight takes place. Standing Riley is no slouch, but he can’t keep up with the speed and power of Ferguson. As long as Ferguson stays upright he should be able to slowly outwork and wear down Riley all en-route to a late stoppage. But at -325, I’m not betting on it. Tony Ferguson via TKO in Round Three

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UFC 135 Main Card Bout (Pay Per View): Heavyweight Bout: Ben Rothwell (-300) vs. Mark Hunt (+315)

Ben “Northstar” Rothwell is a 29-year-old veteran fighter. At 6’5″ and cutting weight to make the 265 pound Heavyweight limit, he is one of the biggest fighters in the UFC. Rothwell is a kick boxer with decent wrestling, but often turns his fights into brawls instead of fighting intelligently. With nearly 40 career fights, Rothwell has a professional record of 31-7. Despite his strong stand up skills, Rothwell has shown somewhat spotty defense and has shown himself to be a bit ‘chinny’ being knocked out 3 times, and rocked several times in his fights.

Mark “The Super Samoan” Hunt is a New Zealand based fighter who is a former professional kick boxer He is a former Super Heavyweight fighter, who has lost considerable weight to compete inside the UFC. He is perhaps one of Dana White’s strangest signings in recent memory, entering the UFC on a five-fight losing streak. He then lost his UFC debut and was strangely given another chance at the UFC, and took advantage winning the fight by KO in round 2 and winning the Knockout of the Night award. Despite this he still enters the fight with a 6-7 professional MMA record.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: This is the only fight of the main card that I have even a remote interest in betting on. Rothwell is a heavy favorite and should be, as if he fights smart he should be able to takedown and submit Hunt relatively easily. However, Rothwell has a propensity to test himself in brawls instead of fighting smart, and if he does that, he enters Hunt’s world. At over 3-to-1 if you feel like gambling go for it. As it is, this is the perfect spot for an Arb (I’ll explain that in a second.) As for a prediction I’ll take Rothwell to use his brain for something other than a punching bag. Ben Rothwell via Submission in Round Two

**Now, for those of you wondering what an Arb is, it stands for Arbitrage. Because different sports betting sites have different lines, this specific fight has a great potential outcome. If you have money on the correct sports books, you can back both fighters and ensure profit. For example, on Site A Mark Hunt is a +315 underdog, meaning that for every $100 wagered you would win $315, if Hunt wins. So bet $100 on Hunt. On Site B, Rothwell is a -300 favorite, meaning you must wager $300 to win $100, so on this site we bet $300 on Rothwell.

Now look at the possible outcomes. Hunt wins – You lose $300 on your Rothwell bet, but win $315, so profit $15. Rothwell wins – You lose your $100 on Hunt, but win it back on your bet on Rothwell, breaking even. So just root for Hunt to win, and count your free money. (Obviously the downside to this, is if they manage to draw and you lose both bets.)

Main Card Bout (Pay Per View): Lightweight Bout: Nate Diaz (-240) vs. Takanori Gomi (+225)

Nate Diaz is the younger brother of former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion and current UFC fighter Nick Diaz. He may be best known as the winner of the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter. He is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter who also has a strong volume boxing style that often frustrates his opponents. He is a member of the Cesar Gracie Jiu Jitsu team fighting out of Stockton, California, where he is a brown belt in BJJ under Cesar Gracie. Diaz holds a professional MMA record of 13-7.

Takanori “The Fireball Kid” Gomi is one of the most decorated Japanese fighters of all time. In the golden days of PRIDE he was one of the promotion’s stars. Gomi is a very experienced fighter with strong wrestling that he uses similarly to Chuck Liddell during his prime, as a means to keep the fight standing. He has knockout power in both hands and as Tyson Griffin learned, one punch is often enough to end the fight. Gomi now splits his training time with Kugayama Rascal Gym in Japan and the American Kickboxing Academy in the US. Gomi is very experienced with a career record of 32-7-1 No Contest.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: Nate Diaz is looking to repeat the same game plan that his brother used to defeat Gomi (don’t let the No Contest fool you, weed or no weed, Nick Diaz won that fight.) Luckily for him, he is nearly a mirror image of his brother in terms of fighting style, as they both use that volume punching style to throw a lot of leather and accumulate damage against their opponents. Also, lucky for him is that Gomi is not quite the fighter that he once was. Against Tyson Griffin, Gomi showed that he still has the power to end the fight with one punch, but Diaz has never been knocked out in his MMA career. It might actually be a bit too much juice to lay on Diaz, but I’m not really thrilled at the prospect of backing Gomi either. So this one is a no-bet for me. Nate Diaz via Submission in Round Three

Main Card Bout (Pay Per View): Heavyweight Bout: Travis Browne (-340) vs. Rob Broughton (+335)

Travis “Hapa” Browne is a thirty-year-old fighter from Oahu, Hawaii. He is mostly a stand up fighter who is working on developing his BJJ skills to solidify his all-around game. He is a tall fighter, at nearly 6’8″ and weighing over 250 pounds. He has massive power in both of his hands and has a number of highlight reel knockouts on his resume. Active as a professional fighter since 2009, Browne is unbeaten in his career, compiling a record of 11-0-1, with 9 knockouts. He is currently a member of Jackson’s Submission Fighting.

Rob “The Bear” Broughton is an English fighter from St. Helens, Merseyside, England. Broughton is a fairly accomplished fighter, with over 20 fights on his resume. He is a member of the famed English gym the Wolfslair MMA Academy. Broughton is a former British Cage Rage Heavyweight Champion, as well as the champion of the ZT Fight Night Heavyweight tournament. Broughton is a freestyle fighter, but has shown poor wrestling fundamentals in some of his fights, despite a decent grappling acumen. On the feet Broughton has some power, and some decent hands, but his style is somewhat slow and plodding. Still, he is a formidable fighter who is tough and durable and owns a career record of 15-5-1, with 12 stoppage victories.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: This fight is Browne’s to lose. He is the larger man and is the better striker of these two massive Heavyweights. Broughton is more of a brawler than anything with weak wrestling, he won’t have any real way to work this fight to the mat to exploit his grappling advantage. Standing, Browne will be able to throw more combinations and basically outwork Broughton all the way as long as the fight lasts (and it might not be very long.) Travis Browne via Knockout in Round One

Main Card Bout (Pay Per View): Welterweight Bout: Matt Hughes (+400) vs. Josh Koscheck (-450)

Matt Hughes is a 37-year-old fighter from Hillsboro, Illinois. Hughes is a former two-time UFC Welterweight Champion and is widely considered one of the best Welterweight fighters of all time. He is already a UFC Hall of Famer as well. Hughes also holds the current record for most wins in the UFC with 18. Hughes is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler and translates that skill set into his fights. He will relentlessly shoot for takedowns and look to work his ground and pound from the top to try and earn a stoppage or find an opening to work his underrated Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills. Hughes is an extremely accomplished veteran fighter with over 50 fights and a current professional record of 45-8.

Josh “Kos” Koscheck is the “heel” of the UFC’s Welterweight division. The 33-year-old from Waynesburg, Pennsylvania is best known for his stint on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. He is a former four-time NCAA Division 1 All-American wrestler. In the early days of his career he relied heavily on his wrestling, but he has made great strides in his striking game and now possesses solid boxing with big power in his right hand. Koscheck is a member of the American Kickboxing Academy and holds a career record of 15-5.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: This one is tough for me, I really like Matt Hughes (he has one of the best entrances of all-time,) and I really hate Josh Koscheck (he’s a bit of a douche bag.) Unfortunately, this isn’t a personality contest and Koscheck will likely be too much for Hughes. Hughes’ stand up has looked better recently, but he is still a fairly one-dimensional fighter who relies heavily on his wrestling. Koscheck is younger and likely will be physically stronger and with the wrestling ability to keep Hughes from earning the takedowns. Expect to see a similar fight to Koscheck vs. Frank Trigg at UFC 103. Koscheck will sprawl against the takedown and throw that huge right hand with bad intentions, hoping to knock Hughes straight into retirement. Josh Koscheck via TKO in Round One

Main Event (Pay Per View): Light Heavyweight Championship Bout: Quinton Jackson (+475) vs. Jon Jones (-500)

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is a 33-year-old fighter from Memphis, Tennessee. Rampage is one of the UFC’s most popular fighters with a large fan-base due to his striking heavy offense and his somewhat eccentric personality. Jackson is a strong wrestler but usually uses his strength to keep the fight standing, where he looks to use his strong boxing skills to earn a knockout victory. Rampage packs power in both of his hands, but has had problems against fighters who mix there offense with leg kicks. Jackson is a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and will look to regain his title in this fight. He owns a career record of 32-8 with 21 stoppage victories.

Jon “Bones” Jones is the reigning and defending UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Jones is a 24-year-old fighter from Rochester, New York. Before beginning his career in MMA, Jones was a state champion wrestler and also won a JUCO National Championship in Wrestling at Iowa Central Community College. Jones is most notable for his extremely long reach which is over 84.5 inches. He is also well known for his flashy stand up skills as well as the high degree of violence that often accompany his fights. Jones has a professional record of 13-1, with his lone loss being by Disqualification in a fight that he dominated start to finish against Matt Hamill.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: I like Rampage, I really do, but I think he’s going to be in for a long night in this one. Jones’ huge reach and rapidly developing stand up skills make him a tall task for anyone to handle. Rampage has also shown an inability to check leg kicks, so expect Greg Jackson to be telling Jones to leg kick Rampage into oblivion. Rampage is always dangerous and I would love to bet on him at nearly 5-to-1, but I don’t know that he has much of a chance of dethroning the champion other than landing the big punch early. Instead, Jones will use leg kicks to hobble rampage and use his reach to keep distance from Rampage’s big power punches. Halfway through the second round, expect Jones to try and take the fight to the mat, where he will be able to overwhelm Rampage and earn a TKO victory with nasty elbows. Jon Jones via TKO in Round Two.

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