Saturday, March 27, 2010

Our picks for tonight's UFC 111 Pay-Per-View event

Tonight, a group of us are gathering to watch UFC 111. Kyle and I will both be there, and as usual, we agree on most fights. Here's how we see the fights, starting, as usual, with the undercard.

Ricardo Funch vs. Matt Riddle

Mark: Funch is going to spend most of the fifteen minutes with Riddle on top of him as Riddle grinds out the classic wrestler's decision victory.

Kyle: Riddle should have the wrestling skills to dominate Soto from the top and take the win.

Tomasz Drwal vs. Rousimar Palhares

Mark: The odds currently favor Palhares, but Sherdog, which both Kyle and I use for advice, is picking Drwal. In a risky move, I'm siding with Sherdog and betting that Palhares won't be able to out-muscle Drwal. Drwal for the win, probably a long, slow one.

Kyle: Both fighters are tough men, but I expect Palhares to use his caveman strength to get things to the ground and to get a submission.

Jared Hamman vs. Rodney Wallace

Mark: In December, we saw Rodney Wallace live at the Pearl for the Ultimate Fighter Finale, and Brian Stann dominated him. Fortunately for Wallace, Hamman isn't as good as Stann, so Wallace's superior wrestling skills should net him the win and keep him in the UFC.

Kyle: From what I read, Wallace is pretty much a pure wrestler and Hamman is pretty much a pure striker. These types of match-ups usually end up with the striker on his back eating leather for fifteen minutes. Wallace by ground and pound.

Ricardo Almeida vs. Matt Brown

Mark: The last time I checked the odds, Almeida was a slight favorite. I don't buy it. Brown has been steadily improving, while Almeida keeps showing up as the same fighter again and again. Plus, Brown is a natural welterweight, while Almeida is making a big cut. I expect Brown to wear down Almeida and ultimately grab the win.

Kyle: Almeida has always had fantastic jiu jitsu, but his game hasn't evolved over the years. In the decade that he's been fighting his weak striking and nonexistent wrestling have remained, respectively, weak and nonexistent. Despite winning his last two fights at 185, Almeida's dropping down to 170 pounds to take on Matt Brown. But he was well-sized for 185 and is going to be weakened by the weight cut to 170. Brown should be able to keep the fight on the feet and outstrike Almeida for the win, much as Patrick Cote did back in 2008.

Nate Diaz vs. Rory Markham

Mark: This time, I agree with the oddsmakers: Diaz is going to win this fight despite the large weight disadvantage. His weird striking style and long reach are going to give Markham fits, and if the fight hits the ground, Diaz's advantage only goes up.

Kyle: Markham's a good striker, but he's going to have trouble dealing with Diaz's five-inch reach advantage. On the feet, Diaz will use his usual pitter-patter of light jabs to control the space and keep Markham off-balance. If he can get the fight to the ground, Diaz should have a tremendous advantage. Diaz by submission.

The undercard often contains fighters we barely know and sometimes have never seen, so we have plenty of excuses for calling those fights incorrectly. On the main card, though, we usually have a fair amount of data and so at least in theory should do better.

Jim Miller vs. Mark Bocek

Mark: If we haven't taken an ice cream break by this point in the evening, we may well want to do it during this fight. Bocek's only real way to win is via submission, and I just don't believe Miller will give him the chance to do it. I expect Miller to grind out the classic wrestler's decision victory: take down Bocek, keep him down, hit him a little, get stood up by the ref, repeat.

Kyle: Jim Miller's a badass. This should be an easy win for him.

Jon Fitch vs. Ben Saunders

Mark: You have to respect Ben Saunders for moving up on the card to replace Thiago Alves (out with a "brain irregularity" that a pre-fight scan found) against Jon Fitch. You also, though, have to wonder why Saunders wanted another loss on his record. Saunders has reach and striking and great knees going for him, but Fitch is a top-ten welterweight with insane wrestling skills who fights smart. Unless Saunders gets in a lucky shot early, Fitch will take him down and keep taking him down until he wins. Fitch vs. Alves was a tough call, but here choosing Fitch is easy.

Kyle: Ben Saunders is being a good sport by stepping up when Thiago Alves had to pull out of his fight with Jon Fitch on two days' notice. That's not going to save him from being taken down and ground on by Jon Fitch until there's nothing left, though. Fitch by superior wrestling.

Kurt Pellegrino vs. Fabricio Camoes

Mark: Ice cream will again be calling to us during this fight, because Pellegrino, a UFC vet who's been inching his way upward, is not going to take any chances with Camoes. Pellegrino will be thinking take down, pound, repeat--just like Miller. Expect it to work for him and result in a unanimous decision for Pellegrino--and a UFC contract in jeopardy for Camoes.

Kyle: Pellegrino is a conditioning machine. He'll mix strikes with takedown attempts until Camoes is worn out. Then he'll take the fight to the ground and work for the rear naked choke.

Frank Mir vs. Shane Carwin

Mark: Frank Mir looked unstoppable before his motorcycle accident. After his return, he appeared to be on the edge of fading out. Then, Frank Mir version II appeared, and he looked great again--until Brock Lesnar smothered and then punched him out. Since that time, Mir has gotten bigger, improved his boxing, and been working on ways to beat Brock. Frank Mir version III is a scary fighter indeed. Shane Carwin, by contrast, has always been a scary fighter, but we've never gotten to see whether he's improving, because his fights end too quickly. My rational self says Mir, but I want Carwin to win, I think he has a chance because Mir should have a hard time taking him down, and so I'm going against reason and picking Carwin.

Kyle: Mir has great striking and great jiu jitsu. Carwin has great striking, great wrestling, and a solid blueprint for how a guy like him beats Frank Mir in Mir's second fight with Brock Lesnar. Mir has always been willing to take punishment to get a submission, and that would be a big mistake to make against an iron-fisted striker like Carwin. That said, I expect Carwin to take a different approach than Lesnar did. He'll use his wrestling skills to keep the fight on the feet, where he'll throw heavy leather. This fight's unlikely to make it out of the first round. Somebody's going to end up unconscious, and I'm guessing it'll be Mir. Carwin by KO.

Georges St-Pierre vs. Dan Hardy

Mark: Dan Hardy has a puncher's chance in this fight, because he definitely possesses one-punch knock-out power. That's all he has, though, while GSP has an insanely well-rounded game, is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet, and trains with, among others, Greg Jackson. I expect GSP to avoid Hardy's punches and turn in another dominating performance that culminates in a win, probably a TKO.

Kyle: With their UFC Primetime specials, the Ultimate Fighting Championship has done a great job of putting Dan Hardy over as if he's a legitimate contender. He's not. GSP has already beaten all the legitimate contenders at 170. Everything Dan Hardy does, Thiago Alves does better, and St. Pierre beat Alves like a dusty rug. GSP is going to take Hardy down at the beginning of every round--and it's going to look like a lion taking down a zebra on Animal Planet--and then GSP is going to pound on Hardy until he breaks. That took all five rounds with Thiago Alves, but I'm guessing that Hardy won't last as long.

Tune in tomorrow to see how we fared.

As always, don't use us for betting advice!

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