UFC 130: Edgar vs. Maynard III/Rampage vs. Hamill
Gather around, CamelClutch faithful, ‘cause it is fight week. We can all look forward to a Memorial Day weekend filled with backyard BBQing, celebrating those who’ve served and died in the armed forces…and watching a bunch of fights that are hopefully confined to the Octagon and not between your father and uncle over who marinates the best steak.
As the title implies, the original headliner of “Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard the third not-so-rubber match” was scrapped due to both fighters’ injuries and replaced with the initial co-main event Rampage vs. Hamill. Even though The Hammer does not necessarily hold the PPV drawing power against Rampage that, say, Rashad Evans does, a win by either of these fighters puts them in the title mix at 205. Here come the predictions…
UFC 130Undercard (courtesy of Facebook & Spike TV)
Renan Barao over Cole Escovedo
Michael McDonald over Chris Cariaso
Gleison Tibau over Rafaello Oliveira
Kendall Grove over Tim Boetsch
Miguel Torres over Demetrious Johnson
Brian Stann vs. Jorge Santiago – Middleweight bout
Santiago begins his second tour of the UFC with a tough fight against Brian “All American” Stann. The former Marine is on a two fight winning streak after knocking out Chris Leben at UFC 125 back in January and submitting Mike Massenzio last August, which coincidentally is the last time Santiago fought. If you have not seen Santiago’s fight against Kazuo Misaki from Sengoku 14, I give you permission to stop reading this article, find the fight online and come back to me. Do it. Now. On paper, Santiago is the more well-rounded fighter, but I think Stann is on the cusp of fighting the upper echelons of the pack at 185 and will use his punching power to finish.
Jay’s Pick: Stann via TKO, R3
Thiago Alves vs. Rick Story – Welterweight bout
During his five-year tenure with the UFC, Thiago Alves‘ only losses have been to Spencer Fisher in his debut, Jon Fitch (twice), GSP and the UFC’s weigh-in scale. He most recently avenged his loss to The Scale by completely dominating John Howard at UFC 124 this past December and looked very svelte in doing so. On his feet, he is a wrecking machine and widely considered one of the best strikers at 170. His ever-improving takedown defense will be put to the test with Story, who’s riding a five-fight winning streak since losing his UFC debut against John Hathaway back at UFC 99. Story’s southpaw style and wrestling pedigree could pose a problem and at +170, throwing Story some betting action on the premise that he’ll hold Alves down for 15 minutes isn’t a bad idea. I wouldn’t wager too much though. I think The Pitbull ends the streak.
Jay’s Pick: Alves via TKO, R2
Stefan Struve vs. Travis Browne – Heavyweight bout
I think Joe Silva, for the sake of making things seem less freaky, likes to pair Stefan Struve (nickname: The Skyscrapper, 6’11”) against heavyweights that are ever-so-slightly taller than most of the division. The last two of Struve’s victims were Sean McCorkle (6’7″) and Christian Morecraft (6’6″). Here, the Dutchman gets the undefeated Travis Browne (6’7″).
The Alliance MMA product last fought to a draw against Cheick Kongo last October at UFC 120, but other than that, his skills in the Sweet Science have lead to 10 wins, 8 by knockout. Given Struve’s length, Browne would be wise not to put him on his back unless he’s unconscious given his propensity to throw up some of the gangliest triangles in MMA. Oddsmakers are giving Struve the slight edge at -145, but it’s so close, and I hate picking all favorites, so I’m going to go with Browne on this one.
Jay’s Pick: Browne via TKO, R1 (wouldn’t be your kids’ college tuition on that one)
Frank Mir vs. Roy Nelson – Heavyweight bout
The last time these two competed in some sort of sanctioned competition was a jiu-jitsu match at Grappler’s Quest 2003, with Big Country besting Mir on the mat. Eight years later, Frank Mir gets the chance to even things up, only this time he is allowed to punch Nelson in the face. Both men are very adept on the ground (being surprisingly spry and nimble coupled with a big belly is a nice advantage for Nelson), but over their past few UFC appearances, they’ve been knocking people out or taken several punches in trying to do so.
Nelson is 2-1 over his past three, having lost a UD to potential #1 contender Junior dos Santos last August. Before that, he was 2-0 by way of TKO/KO against Brendan Schaub in the TUF 10 finale and Stefan Struve at UFC Fight Night last March. Mir’s last three inside the Octagon have been up and down as well – he clubbed Cheick Kongo then choked him out, got pummeled by Shane Carwin, then played patty cake with Cro Cop before knocking him out with a terrible knee at UFC 119. Conventional wisdom states that if someone like dos Santos, who has some of the best technique and power in the division, can’t finish off Big Roy then Mir certainly won’t be able to either. I’m inclined to agree, but I still think Mir grinds this one out.
Jay’s Pick: Mir via decision
I, like most people who follow the sport, am not really sure if Rampage wants to be fighting on Saturday night. Despite talk of Hamill “lighting a fire under him” and recent photos showing him being in great shape, Jackson has fallen victim to the idea that one big movie means a windfall of Hollywood offers and talks of retirement persist. Hopefully, he is not sleeping on Hamill, who is currently on a “five” fight-winning streak (I put that in quotes since his DQ win over current champ Jon Jones was more a formality and a testament to Steve Mazzagatti’s stupidity than anything).
We all know Matt Hamill is a great wrestler, but his stand up has become less plodding and more refined over his past few fights. His best bet would be to pepper Jackson with a few carefully selected shots then shoot for the takedown and hold him to grind out a decision. It’s not sexy, but I doubt Jackson will be going for a ton of submissions and it could be the smartest path to victory. However, despite the distractions, Jackson still has knock out power and with the UFC brass already whispering ‘title shot’ later this year if he can win, Rampage will see one more big pay day as being worth the effort.
Jay’s Pick: Jackson via KO, R2
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