This Sunday the UFC debuts on a network other than Spike TV: Versus (congratulations to any DirecTV subscribers reading). This will be the first of two shows on the cable-owned sports network and could help send more eyeballs to sibling WEC’s shows in the future. I’ve already had my first shot of Jameson (Happy St Patrick’s Day everyone, btw) so let’s get to the main card:
Alessio Sakara vs. James Irvin
The Italian vs. the Sandman makes for an interesting matchup to start the live show. Irvin has been absent from the Octagon after his Anderson Silva embarrassed him back in July 2008…oh and that whole pesky “suspension for illegal painkillers” thing afterward didn’t help him get back to action either. Across from him is Sakara, a fellow banger who also has a solid ground game. While Sakara has been erratic since arriving in the UFC (5-4-1), Irvin is making his MW debut, he’s been plagued with injuries, and he’s going to have some ring rust (his Charlie Brown-esque interview with Heavy.com doesn’t exactly inspire confidence either). Irvin is capable of the KO & is a slight favorite, but, maybe this is the Jameson talking, I feel like Sakara will get an upset.
Jay Pick: Sakara via submission, R2
Cheick Kongo vs. Paul Buentello
[adinserter block=”2″]KO of the Night could very well come from this fight. Two big men with similar styles and both coming off losses: Frank Mir showed us that his new frame can be used to choke Kongo unconscious and Buentello, despite knocking down the flying, gangly Stefan Struve, wound up losing a decision in the end. Buentello, at 36, does not have much else going besides knocking Kongo’s head off with a solid punch. I think Kongo knows this and will use his kickboxing skills to finish the Headhunter off.
Jay pick: Kongo via TKO, R1
Junior dos Santos vs. Gabriel Gonzaga
Two heavyweight fights on the main card? I’ll take it. A short time ago, Gonzaga was vying for the HW title. Now? He’s shown flashes of grit mixed with disappointing losses. He’s coming off a nut-kicking TKO win over Chris Tuchscherer, but before that, HW contender Shane Carwin sent him to Neverland with a straight jab. Dos Santos…do we have to explain? He’s undefeated in the UFC by beating Werdum, Struve, Cro Cop, and Yvel and finishing every fight. I will be dead honest, CamelClutch fans: I am riding the JDS train. Gonzaga has the better ground skills but I think the younger dos Santos has the power to finish Gonzaga and push him one step closer towards a title shot (which, if he keeps this up, should come sometime in Spring-early summer 2011).
Jay Pick: dos Santos via TKO, R3
Jon Jones vs. Brandon Vera
[adinserter block=”1″]After two heavyweight slugfests, let’s take it down a weight class for the Main Event, featuring two guys with impressive and exciting striking skills. Vera has been deemed by many to be one of the biggest busts in UFC history after showing HW promise and defeating Mir back in 2006. After dropping to LHW, he’s 2-2 with close decision losses to Keith Jardine & Randy Couture and wins over K-Sos and Mike Patt. He’s recently gone on record as saying we’ll see the “old Brandon Vera” in this fight. When he fights Jon Jones? He’ll need the past, present, and future Veras on his side. Again, full disclosure, I split my time between the Junior dos Santos train and the Jon “Bones” Jones train (I’m just a fan with a worthless opinion, people). Jones is one of the most exciting prospects in MMA today with his unorthodox striking style, a solid wrestling background and time on his side (He’s twenty-freaking-two). Oh and for this fight, he’s getting a full training camp with Greg Jackson and Kru Phil Nurse…and is claiming that we’ve only seen a tiny portion of what he’s capable of…and he’s going to unload his full arsenal on Sunday. The Truth is going to hurt, Brandon.
Jay’s Pick: Jones via TKO, R2
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