Saturday, July 3, 2010

UFC 116: Kyle and I pick 'em

Tonight's UFC PPV event features two of the biggest, baddest men in MMA: Heavyweight Champion, Brock Lesnar, and Interim Heavyweight Champion, Shane Carwin. Both will cut significant weight to make the 265-pound maximum for their class.

We, of course, will gather to watch the show. Here's how Kyle and I think it will go. We disagree on only two fights, so it's up to Madsen vs. Vemola and Akiyama vs. Leben to decide which of us emerges the winner tonight.

First, the fights that will hit TV only if the main card runs short on time.

Jon Madsen vs. Karlos Vemola

Mark: The UFC will have to be desperate to televise this fight, which should consist of many minutes of Madsen taking down Vemola and pounding on him. Madsen FTW, either by TKO or decision.

Kyle: Karlos Vemola comes into the UFC like Shane Carwin two years ago: a massive physical specimen with an unblemished record of knocking out his opponents in the first round. But Carwin was an NCAA Division II wrestling champion. Vemola's been fighting in Europe, and his ability to control position against American wrestlers is an open question. Madsen is a good entry-level wrestler to measure Vemola against. He's competent at what he does, but he lacks the explosive speed that makes Brock Lesnar such a threat to top heavyweights. My guess is that Vemola will be able to stuff Madsen's takedown attempts and get a KO.

Daniel Roberts vs. Forrest Petz

Mark: Roberts by taking down Paulino until Paulino makes a mistake big enough to cost him a submission loss--or until the clock runs out and the judges give Roberts a unanimous-decision victory. [CORRECTION: Paulino was out a while ago, and I messed up by including him here. I'm still going with Roberts.]

Kyle: Petz is the better striker. Roberts is the better grappler. Petz has a history of questionable submission defense that makes me think that this is a bad fight for him. I expect Roberts to put him on his back and get the tap.

Dave Branch vs. Gerald Harris

Mark: Harris could screw up and give Branch a free arm, but short of a mistake that basic, nothing else is going to stop Harris from beating the tar out of Branch.

Kyle: Branch has a chance of getting a submission off his back, but Harris' superior striking and wrestling should allow him to dominate the fight. Harris by beat-down.

Kendall Grove vs. Goran Reljic

Mark: Though he's never going to be a title contender, Grove is good enough to win against a decent number of middle-of-the-weight-class fighters, including this one. Expect Grove to use his longer reach, better conditioning, and vastly superior ground game to beat Reljic handily.

Kyle: Grove has already screwed over Reljic once. By badmouthing Spike TV, he managed to get his fight bumped off the free preview slot on that network, costing himself and Reljic sponsorship money. In the fight, Grove is going to add injury to insult. His freakish reach makes Grove a difficult puzzle for anyone to solve at 185. I just can't believe that a guy coming off a decision loss to C.B. Dollaway has the solution. Kendall Grove for the win.

Spike TV will then broadcast live two of the fights.

Ricardo Romero vs. Seth Petruzelli

Mark: Now that Dana has cut Kimbo, I believe he must have decided it was time to cut--again--the man who beat him, Seth Petruzelli. So, he handed Petruzelli to Romero, whose wrestling game will be just good enough for him to win via repeated take-downs and beatings. Next week, expect Petruzelli to be looking for a new home.

Kyle: In 2006/2007, Seth Petruzelli had two fights in the UFC and lost them both. Since then, he's strung together four wins, including a KO of Kimbo Slice. Like Kimbo, though, Petruzelli just isn't up to fighting at the level of the UFC. Romero for the win.

Brendan Schaub vs. Chris Tuchscherer

Mark: This one feels like a tune-up match for Schaub, one that gives him a big enough opponent that it might look like he had to work to win. Tuchscherer will try to take him down and may even succeed once or twice, but in the end, Schaub's greater strength, power, and conditioning will lead to a win, probably by KO or TKO.

Kyle: This fight is like a sneak preview of the main event, as Brendan Schaub trains with Shane Carwin and Chris Tuchscherer helped Brock Lesnar prepare for his championship fight. Tuchscherer is, like Madsen, a plodding wrestler with questionable conditioning. If he can hold Schaub down for three rounds, he might be able to eke out a decision, but it's more likely that Schaub will stuff his take-downs and knock him out.

Finally, the pay-per-view show will bring us these five matches.

Kurt Pellegrino vs. George Sotiropoulos

Mark: I like both these guys, and this should be a fun fight to watch. Both are on winning streaks, and both are edging toward being title contenders. Both have great ground games. Sotiropoulos' jiu-jitsu, though, is just enough better than Pellegrino's that we can expect him to win via submission.

Kyle: Sotiropoulos by superior grapple-fu.

Stephan Bonnar vs. Krzysztof Soszynski

Mark: When these two first fought, a head butt cut Bonnar and led to a stoppage. Bonnar was losing, but he was game to continue. The UFC quite reasonably gave him this rematch. The problem is, Bonnar does one thing--stand and hit--and he doesn't do it as well or with as much power as Soszynski. Expect Soszynski to win via either TKO due to another cut on Bonnar or a decision.

Kyle: Soszynski and Bonnar have become everything they're going to be in the UFC: mid-level fighters with more heart than technique who swing for the fences and put on an entertaining show. Soszynski has a slight edge in boxing talent and a large edge in knock-out power, though, and that's going to make all the difference as he beats up Bonnar on the feet.

Chris Lytle vs. Matt Brown

Mark: UFC matchmaker Joe Silva knows that Lytle will bring the fireworks. Brown's the same way. Expect these two to slug it out for three rounds, walk away bloody, and watch as the ref raises Lytle's hand in a decision victory. If oddsmakers are putting odds on the Fight of the Night, this one has to be an early favorite.

Kyle: Seriously, I don't care. Can we watch Lesnar vs. Carwin already? Fine, then. Lytle.

Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Chris Leben

Mark: When Wanderlei Silva was fighting Yoshihiro Akiyama, I was stoked about this fight. Then, Silva had to pull out, and Leben, to his credit, agreed to take the fight--despite having fought just two weeks earlier. I don't like Leben, but I have to give him credit for trying. That's all he'll do, though, because Akiyama would beat him when he's at his best--and he's nowhere near that.

Kyle: Leben by being a huge steroid freak. I know that he's only two weeks out of his last fight, but come Saturday night, Leben's going to look like he's a full weight class above Akiyama. He's going to be hard to move, and he's going to have more power standing. Besides, I'm sure the steroids have helped him recover from his last fight.

Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin

Mark: This fight was already as huge as its two combatants, and then when Fedor tapped last week, it became the battle for the unofficial crown of best heavyweight anywhere. I like Carwin better, and I want him to win. He's got more pure knock-out power than Lesnar by far, and he's brought in Greg Jackson to refine his game. He's also got less ring rust, because he's fought in the past few months, while Lesnar has been out for a year.

The problem is, I think Lesnar is going to win. I suspect it will be by ground-and-pound following one or more take-downs.

I actually hope to be wrong on this one.

Kyle: This fight's not going out of the first round. The question’s going to be whether Lesnar will be able to use his incredible speed to take Carwin down and pound him out, or whether Carwin will be able to tie Lesnar up standing and use his dirty boxing to get the KO. Either way, it should be an exciting as hell 3 minutes. The UFC hasn’t had this many pounds of angry beef in the cage since they instituted weight classes. In the end, much as I'd like to see Carwin win, I think Lesnar's speed will be too much for him. Lesnar by ground and pound.

Check back tomorrow, and I'll tell you how we did. As always, don't use us for betting advice!


Griffin said...

I'm calling Carwin for the main event. He's the smarter fighter, and actually has a ground game.

Mark said...

As I said, I hope you're right.


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