Saturday, August 7, 2010

UFC 117: Kyle and I pick 'em

Hey, even in the midst of a con and the ongoing attempt to sell tons of copies of Children No More and help child soldiers, we can't forget the UFC. Where would it be without our picks? (Exactly where it is, of course, but we'll ignore that fact.)

Beginning with the undercard, here's how we see the fights.

Rodney Wallace vs. Phil Davis

Mark: You have to feel bad for Rodney Wallace. He was originally slated to face Stanislav Nedkov, but an injury led to Davis stepping in as a replacement. Davis is a vastly superior wrestler who will take down Wallace at will and pound or submit him for the victory. Davis will look great, and Wallace will look like he needs to drop some mass and give up his status as one of the more undersized light heavyweights.

Kyle: Phil Davis is another former Division I wrestling champion who's looked flawless in his first six fights. Wallace is five inches shorter, a weight class higher than he should be, and possessed of questionable conditioning that's earned him two decision losses in a row. Davis should win this one easily.

Ben Saunders vs. Dennis Hallman

Mark: I'm not a fan of Saunders, but he's going to take this fight thanks to his size and reach advantage and his kicks.

Kyle: Saunders is a much bigger man who has good enough take-down defense to stuff Hallman's weak shots and good enough reach to punish Hallman on the feet. Saunders for the win.

Johny Hendricks vs. Charlie Brenneman

Mark: Hendricks is better in every aspect of the game that will figure into this fight. He's unlikely to win in spectacular fashion, but he's going to take the match, probably by decision but possibly by a late submission.

Kyle: Brenneman peaked at 12th in the Division I Wrestling Nationals. Hendricks was a two-time Division I wrestling champion. Since Brenneman reportedly tends to rely on ground-and-pound, that puts him in for a rough night. Look for Hendricks to grind Brenneman down and give him a dose of his own GnP medicine.

Stefan Struve vs. Christian Morecraft

Mark: Morecraft is a tall, undefeated fighter who will be facing a taller, better fighter who's spent time working against far better opponents than Morecraft has ever fought. Struve will get Morecraft against the cage, then take him down, and eventually garner a submission victory.

Kyle: The 6'11" Struve is a physical anomaly who's hard to prepare for. It's unlikely that the 6' 8" Morecraft has ever had to fight up against a taller opponent before. He probably also hasn't faced a submission wizard of Struve's caliber. The Skyscraper, at 22 years old, has managed to rack up a staggering 14 wins by submission in his professional career. Look for Struve to put his limbs where Morecraft doesn't expect them and lock on a choke.

Dustin Hazelett vs. Rick Story

Mark: Hazelett is a better striker than Story and a vastly better submission artist. Story's only advantage is his superior wrestling, but all it can do for him is get him on the ground and into Hazelett's world of submission pain. I doubt this one will make it out of the second round, but however long it goes, it will end with Hazelett's hands up in victory.

Kyle: Hazelett could be a top-ten fighter, if he just had the game plan to match his skills. Story's a tough brawler, but fights with more aggression than technique. Expect Hazelett to tie his opponent up and use his superior jiu jitsu to lock on a submission. End of Story.

Tim Boetsch vs. Todd Brown

Mark: This is another fight that changed radically due to an injury. At one point, Boetsch was going to face Thiago Silva in a bout tailored to give Silva a nice return to the UFC. When Silva went out, Brown came in, and Boetsch's future turned rosy. Brown has a puncher's chance, but that's about it. Expect Boetsch to trade with Brown for at most a round and a half before he connects, drops Brown, and walks away with the KO or TKO victory.

Kyle: Brown comes in on short notice as a replacement for an injured Thiago Silva. Brown has had two professional fights, the second of which he lost to Din Thomas, whom he outweighs by fifty pounds. Boetsch should walk right through him.

Now, to the main, televised bouts.

Junior dos Santos vs. Roy Nelson

Mark: As interesting as it would be to watch the Double Beef Whopper-fueled Nelson find a way to defeat dos Santos, it's not going to happen. The only question is whether dos Santos knocks out Nelson in the first or the second round.

Kyle: The main card starts off with a bang with this battle of heavyweight strikers. Dos Santos is a well-conditioned athlete with superior boxing who can go a hard three rounds. Nelson is tough and arguably more well-rounded, but also pretty round: all the extra body fat that he carries around will start to weigh on him as the fight goes on. Dos Santos should be able to fight off Nelson's take-down attempts and strike from the outside to get the KO.

Matt Hughes vs. Ricardo Almeida

Mark: Matt Hughes' recent victory over Renzo Gracie was one of the saddest wins to watch in recent history. Almeida is a far tougher opponent, so this one will end early with Hughes losing. Unless the UFC is willing to feed Hughes increasingly weaker opponents, this fight may well need to be his last. He's a legend who deserves every accolade he's received, but his time is over.

Kyle: Hughes, like Chuck Liddell, just doesn't know when he should retire. Taking on Renzo Gracie in his last fight, Hughes was less impressive in victory than many fighters are in defeat. Almeida, on the other hand, looked like an absolute terror in his last fight against Matt Brown--and like a completely different fighter from the Ricardo Almeida who had let his previous three fights go to decision. Expect Almeida to stuff Hughes' take-down attempts and use his superior reach to punish Hughes from outside until Hughes just can't take the punishment anymore.

Clay Guida vs. Rafael Dos Anjos

Mark: Clay Guida is an exciting fighter who gives his all and whose heart and energy have deservedly earned him a lot of fans. If Rafael Dos Anjos weren't so very much better than Guida at submissions, Guida would have a shot at grinding out a decision win. The problem is, Dos Anjos is that much better on the ground, so expect to see Guida tapping in a submission loss.

Kyle: Guida is a tough, tough lightweight who's had the bad luck to have run into some of the hardest men in his division. Dos Anjos is an up-and-comer on a three-fight win streak. Both men are enthusiastic, albeit reckless, strikers. Guida has an edge in wrestling. Dos Anjos has an edge in jiu jitsu. This should be a close match, but in the end I think that Guida will be able to use his superior top control to eke out a victory.

Jon Fitch vs. Thiago Alves

Mark: Jon Fitch is not an exciting fighter, but he is one of those guys who is only a few fighters away from a real chance at the welterweight title. Unfortunately for him, Thiago Alves is one of those fighters. Expect a grueling war, but in the end either Alves will knock out Fitch with his superior hand speed or grind through a decision win.

Kyle: Fitch is going to spend this fight wanting to put Thiago Alves on his back. Alves his going to spend this fight wanting to stay outside and throw power punches. Expect neither man to get his wish. Instead, Fitch is going to spend fifteen minutes pressing Alves into the cage while Alves throws rabbit punches at his ears and kidneys. Fitch by decision.

Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen

Mark: Chael Sonnen has been running his month for months about how he is going to crush Anderson Silva in this fight and take away the champ's middleweight title. In many ways, I wish he would, because Silva has become so bored with his opponents that his recent fights have looked like jokes. Unfortunately, Sonnen won't win. Oh, he'll take down Silva, maybe more than once, but he has no way to finish the champ. The only interesting question is how Silva will win: by knock-out as Sonnen charges in for the take-out, by submission as Sonnen shows he hasn't improved his game from the guard, or by dancing around and frustrating Sonnen for 25 minutes. I really hope it's not the third option, but however it goes, Silva will hold up his hands at the end and retain his title.

Kyle: No fighter in the history of the UFC has done more to sell a fight than Chael Sonnen has. The trash-talking Oregonian seems convinced that he's going to dominate by virtue of his sheer manliness, and after back-to-back victories over Yushin Okami and Nate Marquardt, it seems almost plausible. This makes him a curious match for the enigmatic Anderson Silva, a Michael Jackson-like man-child prone to theatrical tantrums and tedious sulks in the cage. Silva is perhaps the best striker in mixed martial arts, but that's unlikely to matter in this fight because he doesn't have the take-down defense to keep Sonnen from putting him on his back. Unfortunately for Sonnen, his fantastic wrestling isn't complemented by fantastic submission defense. He's fallen victim to submissions from the bottom again and again in his career, and I expect him to tap to an arm-bar or triangle choke one more time tonight.

Check back tomorrow to see how we fared.

Finally, as always, don't use us for betting advice.


Sarah said...

"the enigmatic Anderson Silva, a Michael Jackson-like man-child"

muahahaha. Very sorry that I'll miss this fight.

Mark said...

I will have to watch it on DVR tomorrow night.


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