Saturday, May 29, 2010

UFC 114: Our picks

Though as the main event commences, Kyle will be in the air on the way to Morocco, and I will be taking the stage for my new Wake Up Horny, Wake Up Angry spoken-word/comedy show, we cannot desert our loyal MMA fan readers. Thus, here are our picks for this evening's fights. We start, as usual, with the preliminary fights, where we disagree on only one outcome.

Jesse Forbes vs. Ryan Jensen

Mark: This one could go either way, because executing the right game plan could let either fighter win. Given that belief, I have to go with Jensen, because I think he's more likely to be able to stick to an intelligent plan.

Kyle: Both fighters are coming off losses, so the loser of this fight could end up getting sent back to the minors. Forbes is 0-2 in the UFC. Jensen is 1-3, but has faced tougher opponents. I give this one to Jensen.

Joe Brammer vs. Aaron Riley

Mark: Ten years ago, Aaron Riley might have been a contender. Today, he's the guy contenders beat on their way up. Brammer, though, won't make it past him, because Riley is just better in almost every area. Riely by decision in a long night for Brammer.

Kyle: Again, both fighters are coming off losses. Riley's an old warhorse with forty fights on his resume, though, and Brammer's not likely to show him anything that he hasn't seen before. Look for Riley to sprawl and brawl his way to a stoppage.

Luis Cane vs. Cyril Diabate

Mark: After Little Nog demolished Cane, I think the UFC felt bad for the guy, because they've given him an opponent who's almost tailor-made for him. Diabate is easily bullied and likes to stand outside and throw careful strikes. Cane's in-your-face style will let him beat up Diabete and ultimately win, probably via TKO.

Kyle: Ignoring one DQ for an illegal knee, Luiz Cane has lost exactly once in his 13-fight career: a TKO two minutes into his last fight against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. He's finished eight of his other fights with strikes. Cane is a legit striking badass, and he's going to give Diabate a hard welcome to the UFC. Cane by in-your-face bullying.

Melvin Guillard vs. Waylon Lowe

Mark: I've never been a fan of Guillard, but I have to give him credit: his last fight proved that moving to Greg Jackson's camp was a very smart move. He's now a more patient fighter, and his skills are growing all the time--and he's still freakishly fast and strong. Against him comes poor Lowe, who had a scant three weeks to prepare. Guillard by TKO long before the third round ends.

Kyle: Melvin Guillard has great genetics and a lousy attitude. He's a ball of explosive fast-twitch muscle attached to an insecure brain struggling with a cocaine habit. He'll never be a top fighter because he lacks the discipline to get better at the things he's weak at. Unfortunately for Waylon Lowe though, Guillard is mostly weak at submission defense, and Lowe has never shown much flair for submissions. Lowe's a boxer-wrestler just like Guillard is, but not as good in either area. Guillard should win this one, though Lowe will probably get another UFC shot as a thank-you for taking this fight on only three weeks notice.

Efrain Escudero vs. Dan Lauzon

Mark: The MMA blogs are awash with news about Dan Lauzon's training camp blowing up and even his brother declaring his behavior unprofessional. He was already facing a tough match-up in Escudero, but with a bad camp as preparation, Lauzon is in deep water. I'll be surprised if he lasts all three rounds, but even if he does, Lauzon will yield the win to Escudero.

Kyle: Escudero fought Cole Miller in September, and won. Lauzon fought Cole Miller in January, and lost. MMA isn't necessarily transitive, but these three have pretty similar skill sets; Escudero is just better. Add to that the fact that Lauzon was just ejected from his training camp for slacking when he should have been preparing, and the outcome of this fight doesn't seem very much in doubt. Escudero for the win.

Dong Hyun Kim vs. Amir Sadollah

Mark: I'm glad Amir Sadollah earns some of his income hosting small spots for the UFC between segments of The Ultimate Fighter, because this match-up looks like it's designed to add a loss to his record. Kim is stronger and more skilled and too smart to stand and trade with Sadollah. I expect Kim to move in fast, clinch, throw, pound, and repeat. I think Sadollah may well last all fifteen minutes, but even if he does, Kim will emerge the victor.

Kyle: Sadollah fought like a kickboxer in his last couple of fights, so it's easy to forget the fluid submission skills he showed in his victories on The Ultimate Fighter. Judoka Dong Hyun Kim is going to have little trouble putting Sadollah on his back--the Ultimate Fighter winner has never shown much inclination to resist a takedown--so the question is whether Sadollah can pull off a sub from the bottom. I'm betting that he can.

Now, the main card.

Diego Sanchez vs. John Hathaway

Mark: Sanchez has decided to move back up to welterweight, and though I don't believe he has any real shot at the title here, either, this fight should be good to him. Hathaway is young and talented and may be great one day, but he's not ready for Sanchez. Sanchez FTW, probably by decision.

Kyle: Sanchez's last fight was for the lightweight title. He's a top-ten fighter at 170 or 155. Hathaway's not. Hathaway will probably try to take the fight to the ground, but Sanchez has the wrestling chops to keep that from happening and the striking skills to make a stand-up fight very unpleasant for Hathaway. Sanchez by sprawl-and-brawl.

Todd Duffee vs. Mike Russow

Mark: Duffee is still maturing as a fighter, and he has a great deal to learn, but he's already better than Russow will ever be. Expect him to win by KO or TKO, probably no later than the second round.

Kyle: After setting a new record with his 7-second knockout of Tim Hague in his first UFC fight, undefeated heavyweight Todd Duffee has become the new It Boy of the UFC. His second fight, against wrestler Mike Russow, will answer a lot of questions about Duffee's ability to cope with a fighter who has the wrestling background that Duffee lacks. Duffee has incredible explosive power, but when a guy's longest fight is six minutes his conditioning is a complete unknown. All of these uncertainties make this a tough fight to call, but I'm going to guess that Russow has the wrestling to put Duffee on his back and grind on him for the win.

Michael Bisping vs. Dan Miller

Mark: I'd like to see Miller win this fight, because I've tired of Bisping, but I don't think he can do it. Expect Bisping to do well enough against Miller's takedowns to hold his own, and then to rack up the points with strikes that won't knock out Miller but that will annoy and slow him. Bisping by decision--probably with the crowd booing from time to time.

Kyle: Bisping has superior technical striking skills, but Miller has the wrestling to take Bisping down again and again. It's hard to see anyone finishing this fight, but Miller should be able to control position and out-point Bisping for the win.

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Jason Brilz

Mark: Little Nog is a top-five light-heavyweight, and Brilz is facing him with only a month's notice. Nogueira is so much better in so many ways that I'm not sure how he'll win, but if this one makes it two full rounds before Nogueira emerges the victor, I'll be surprised.

Kyle: In another substantial mismatch, veteran Antonio Rogerio Nogueira should make short work of Jason Brilz. Brilz is a talented up-and-comer, but his best wins have come over guys leagues below Nogueira. Nogueira by domination.

Rashad Evans vs. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson

Mark: If you swapped their training camps and somehow persuaded Jackson to listen to his coaches and do what they say, he could be the champ in no time and walk right through Evans on his way there. Evans, though, is the one training with Greg Jackson, and though he's the smaller man, he'll execute the more intelligent game plan and ultimately win by decision.

Kyle: Quinton Jackson is a much better boxer than Rashad Evans, but this isn't a boxing match. Evans has a recipe for how to beat Jackson in the fight between Jackson and Forrest Griffin. Evans should do well if, like Griffin, he stays outside and punishes Jackson with leg kicks. Evans is also likely to win any exchanges in the clinch; Jackson has never demonstrated especially good dirty-boxing skills. There's always the chance that Evans will stand in the pocket and Jackson will land a highlight-reel knockout. But as long as he fights smart, I expect Rashad Evans to out-score Jackson and earn the victory.

Tomorrow, I hope to report on how we did.

As always, remember these important words: Don't use us for betting advice!

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