So my picks were not great for UFC 109 (most notably Nate “The Great Parlay Killer” Marquardt). Fortunately, UFC gives us all another chance with UFC 110, coming to you from the Acer Arena in Sydney, Australia this Saturday, February 20, 2010 (or for our Aussie readers, Sunday, February 21, 2010). The upside for us crazy Americans is that this foreign show is so far ahead time zone-wise that it’ll broadcast live at it’s usual 10 PM ET time slot. The downside is that if both Elvis Sinosic & Chris Haseman come out on the under card to Men at Work’s “Land Down Under” and Australia explodes into a raucous party, our Aussie mates have work to look forward to the next day. That said let’s take a look at the main card.
Mirko Cro Cop vs. Anthony Perosh
And just when I thought Ben Rothwell had a slight edge over Cro Cop, he goes and gets sick on us 2 days before the fight. Now PRIDE’s Croatian head-kicking machine has a fight with Australia’s own Anthony Perosh, a jiu jitsu specialist who went 0-2 in the UFC against Christian Wellisch & Jeff Monson back in 2006. Ok, Mirko, this is the moment of truth: if you can’t beat a guy who’s coming in on a day’s notice and has had no time to really train for you, despite fighting on his home turf (and being given the opportunity most fighters would sell their soul for), hang it up.
Jay Pick: Mirko Cro Cop (somehow, someway)
Keith Jardine vs. Ryan Bader
Straight up: I like this matchup for Bader. It’s a step up in competition and with Jardine being the perennial gatekeeper in the division, it’ll be a good litmus test if Bader belongs in the thick of it. Jardine gets the edge in terms of cardio and some say his unorthodox style could be a foil to the young TUF: Season 8 winner, but I think Bader’s wrestling will be the difference. Plus, Jardine’s big wins during his 2-3 stint have been over a declining Liddell and a bust-of-a-Vera.
Jay Pick: Bader by decision
Joe Stevenson vs. George Sotiropoulos
[adinserter block=”1″]Two lightweight contenders: Stevenson has, over the past 2 years, only lost to the best of the division (Penn, Sanchez, Florian). Sotiropoulos is 4-0 in the UFC without a lot of quality competition (Jason Dent & George Roop). Both have good jiu jitsu and will look to control the tempo. Stevenson is the favorite and, in my eyes, rightfully so: he’s faced tougher competition, he went the distance with Sanchez, and his last outing where he finished off Spencer Fisher was impressive. I give it to Joe Daddy.
Jay Pick: Stevenson by submission, R3
Wanderlei Silva vs. Michael Bisping
As the co-main event, this is the fight that seems to be sparking the most interest. Wandy represents, like Cro Cop, an aging PRIDE vet who’s an unflappable fan favorite despite being 1-5. Bisping was riding a 3 fight winning streak until UFC 100 where his Facebook relationship with rival TUF: Season 9 coach Dan Henderson became “complicated” (and by complicated, I mean Hendo delivered 2009’s Knockout of the Year and gave birth to some great Photoshop jobs). The cocky Brit rebounded with a TKO win over an overrated Denis Kang at UFC 105 so he’s heading into this fight with a win. Basically, this is going to be a slugfest. Bisping wants to remain Dana’s UK golden boy while Wandy wants to say to us in semi-garbled, accented English “I’m still here.” Don’t let his record fool you: Silva got headkicked by a prime Cro Cop, went the distance when Liddell was showing flashes of old, took a nasty left hook from the ever-powerful Rampage, and lost a very tight decision to a game Rich Franklin. Do I worry about him testing out a new weight class? A little, but I think he has more to offer than Cro Cop at this point and Bisping does not have the power that any of his previous competitors has.
Jay Pick: Wandy by TKO, R2
Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira vs. Cain Velasquez
[adinserter block=”2″]And now we return to the Heavyweight division for the main event. Once again, we have a weathered PRIDE warrior (with a legendary career and a penchant for “What the HELL!?” come-from-behind victories) facing an undefeated young monster with 6 out of 7 wins coming by TKO. Both of their recent wins have been over solid competition: Nog defeated Randy Couture in an amazing three-rounder at UFC 102 and Velasquez got the aforementioned semi-premature TKO over Ben Rothwell at UFC 104. Stylistically, this is an interesting match up (and the betting odds reflect this with Velasquez getting a slight edge). Cain is a wrestler and did nothing but lift and dunk a 6’4″, 265 lb Rothwell with ease. Unfortunately, dunking Nogueira, arguably the best Heavyweight jiu jitsu practitioner of all time, is not the best idea. Cain should try to keep this standing and hope that Nogueira’s 1st ever TKO-loss from Frank Mir at UFC 92 is a sign that the seemingly indestructible Brazilian has been finally worn down. If Nogueira can sustain the shots that Cain will undoubtedly throw and get it to the ground, I think he’s got another “What the HELL?” up his sleeve.
Jay Pick: Nog by submission, R3 (I wouldn’t bet your first born on this)
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