It has been about a year since we last saw Brock Lesnar in the cage at UFC 100, beating Frank Mir with the horseshoe that was, allegedly, jammed up Mir’s ass and winning the UFC Heavyweight title. At UFC 116 we get to see him take on an even bigger opponent, Shane Carwin, in what many predict to be the biggest fight of the year, both in terms of divisional impact and PPV buys. A UFC 100 card on the whole it is not, but here’s a quick rundown of the main card.
SPIKE Preliminary Quick Picks
Ricardo Romero over Seth Petruzelli
Brendan Schaub over Chris Tuchscherer
George Sotiropoulos vs. Kurt Pellegrino [adinserter block=”2″]
Starting the night off with a Lightweight scrap between the Aussie, George Sotiropoulos, and New Jersey-native Kurt “Batman” Pellegrino. Sotiropoulos trains with Eddie Bravo at 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu with 7 of his 12 wins coming via submission and he’s currently riding a 6 fight winning streak, most notably a UFC 110 UD win over the very dangerous Joe Stevenson. Pellegrino is riding a 4 fight winning streak, with his most recent win being against Fabricio Camoes in his home state at UFC 111: St. Pierre vs. Hardy. Both have good jiu jitsu with the edge going to Sotiropoulos. I wouldn’t expect this to turn into a slugfest and, more than likely, I see Batman dropping this one (I couldn’t think of a clever enough Batman-related pun here. If you do, please submit it in the comments).
Jay Pick: Sotiropoulos via submission, R2
Krzysztof Soszynski vs. Stephan Bonnar
Moving up to the Light Heavyweight division (side note: there is a fight in every conventional UFC weight class on the main card) for a rematch between K-Sos & Stephan Bonnar. Last time these guys met, K-Sos was awarded the TKO victory after a questionable headbutt cut Bonnar over the head and left him unable to continue. K-Sos outclasses Bonnar with size and a better ground game. Given Bonnar’s participation in the “Most Important Fight In UFC History” (aka The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 Finale against Forrest Griffin) his job security is in tact (he’s 1-3 with his last win coming against Eric Schafer in ’07) but he just does not have the chops to compete in the UFC. Let’s all get used to Bonnar doing color on TUF Finales or WEC shows!
Jay Pick: K-Sos via submission, R2
Chris Lytle vs. Matt Brown
[adinserter block=”1″]Potential “Fight of the Night” alert. Since “Lights Out” Lytle has rejoined the UFC in November 2006, he’s collected bonuses in 7 of his 11 fights. That’s a fantastic amount of money for a guy in the middle of the pack of the Welterweight division. He’s rattled off two wins in a row against Kevin Burns & Brian Foster since his split decision “Fight of the Night” performance against a very tough Marcus Davis at UFC 93. Brown is coming off a submission loss to Ricardo Almeida but had won three in a row against Ryan Thomas, Pete Sell, and James Wilks. This is another rematch from a UFL card in August 2007 where Lytle choked out Brown via guillotine in the second. I don’t see Brown falling into that trap again and his stand up should see him through this one (not a bad bet as a +155 underdog).
Jay Pick: Brown via decision
Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Chris Leben
Wanderlei Silva pulling out of this fight is one of the most disappointing last-minute withdrawals this year. God bless The Axe Murderer: he had a torn knee and still wanted to fight. It wasn’t until he broke 3 ribs training that it just became too much for him. So 36 hours after knocking out Aaron Simpson at The TUF 11 Finale, Chris Leben gets the call to step in on 2 weeks notice against Sexyama. Not a terrible replacement, but Wanderlei is a fan favorite and I was very much looking forward to that fight. Ok, I am done whining. Sexyama, who’s been vocally disgruntled with the last minute switch, made his UFC debut against Alan Belcher at UFC 100, winning via decision and Fight of the Night honors. A world-class judoka with an additional black belt in Shotokan karate, Akiyama is 13-1 with a decorated career in Japan fighting in DREAM & K-1. While Leben’s “Hey I’m Gonna Club You With My Overhand Left Wildly Until You’re Knocked Out” approach worked very well against a very tough Aaron Simpson, if Akiyama is not an idiot, he’ll use that judo background and take the fight to the mat to secure a submission victory. However, I should note that at +185, Leben is not a terrible underdog bet given his fantastic chin and left hand. Still, I give it to the Sexy One.
Jay Pick: Akiyama via submission, R3
Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin – UFC Heavyweight Championship
And now the fight that’ll light up Vegas for the 4th of July: Lesnar vs. Carwin. The Champ (and by that I mean the actual champ, not the Interim “No Reason To Have This” belt that Carwin won by knocking Mir cold at UFC 111) has been sidelined by diverticulitis and some questioned whether or not his career is over. Instead, he’s come back bigger and stronger than ever (so he says) and recently did an overhaul in his training by switching to southpaw for more effective striking and takedowns. This should make things interesting given that, while I’m sure a monster like Lesnar’s left cross is effective, it could leave him open to Carwin’s big overhand right if Carwin slips in. Speaking of Carwin, the man with 5 XL gloves is 12-0 and has not had to go to the second round in any of his fights. In my eyes, it’ll come down to Lesnar’s agility and control vs. Carwin’s striking. Simply put: if Carwin connects, I do not care who you are, you are staring up at fireworks this 4th of July. Odds have Lesnar at -170 with his own size, strength, and power, but I am going with the upset on this one.
Jay Pick: Carwin via TKO, R2
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