My UFC 86 Predictions

Quinton Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin 

This match has been a long time in the waiting.  Jackson is clearly the favorite going into this fight.  I believe that Jackson is a better all around fighter than Forrest is, however on any given night a guy like Forrest can beat a better guy (as he did against Shogun).  I think the countdown to UFC 86 got it right when the compared Forrest to Rocky Balboa, a guy who has done very well and has exceeded his skill set.  Forrest is tough as nails and he trains harder than anyone in the sport.  Rampage has knockout power and he is not afraid to slam someone.  There are several story lines going into this fight.  Many people will talk about the rivalry being developed through season 7 of the Ultimate Fighter.  Many will talk about how Forrest beat Shogun and Shogun beat Rampage.  Many will talk about Wanderlei Silva helping Forrest prepare for Rampage since Wanderlei has two wins over Jackson.  There wil be a ton of people rooting for Forrest in this fight.  When all is said and done though I do not think that Forrest is as good of a fighter as Ramapge.  He could win, I am not counting him out, but the odds on favorite has to be Rampage and to pick against him in this fight as far as I am concerned would be silly.  I do not know how this fight will go.  It could end quickly with a KO or it could go the distance.  Nevertheless I am picking Quinton “Rampage” Jackson to win via TKO in round 3. 

Ricardo Almeida vs. Patrick Cote

Patrick Cote is a solid fighter who has impressed as of late.  He looks renewed and he has shown some skills since The Ultimate Fighter 4.  This fight as being billed as the winner gets a title shot.  Of course I believe they need to move in line behind Yushin Okami, but I would agree that the winner here could be justified as a top 5 middleweight.  There is no secret to these fighter’s strengths.  Cote excells standing up and can knock anyone out with one punch.  Ricardo Almeida is a ground wiz.  He is one of the best ji jitsu guys in MMA.  He has beaten great ground fighters like Nate Marquardt.  My question for Almeida is going to be in regards to how he will continue to do since coming out of retirement.  Alemida just quit MMA at his prime.  He was doing great and then quit.  He then returned at UFC 81 with a win over Rob Yundt.  Almeida moved from the undecard to co-main event after one fight.  I have no problem with that as I feel Almeida is great.  Since losing to Travis Lutter at the TUF 4 Finale, Patrick Cote has reeled off impressive wins over Scott Smith, Jason Day, Kendall Grove, and Drew McFedries.  That isn’t too bad, and it shows why Cote is in title contention.  Although separated by several yeats Almeida comes into this fight with a 7 fight win streak.  Including wins over Nate Marquardt, Ryo Chonan, and Kazuo Misaki.  Misaki and Marquardt are considered by many to be top ten mdidleweights and Chonan isn’t too shabby either.  This is a classic ground fighter versus stand up fighter fight.  If Almeida gets this to the ground Cote may be in trouble.  I have a feeling Almeida has worked hard on take downs and I am sure Cote has worked hard on take down defense.  I think this fight will not last past round 1.  It will either end with a Cote KO or Almeida submission.  I think Almeida’a experience will pay off and he will be able to take Cote down and submit him.  I pick Ricardo Almeida by submission in round 1. 

Joe Stevenson vs. Gleison Tibau

Following Joe Stevenson’s fight with B.J. Penn many people forgot about Joe Stevenson as a contender in the lightweight divison.  Let’s not forget that Stevenson is a top notch fighter.  He is a tough dude, who didn’t do too badly against B.J. Penn. Tibau is 3-2 in the UFC with his losses coming to Nick Diaz and Tyson Griffin.  Tibau is a good fighter, but I do not know if he is on Joe “Daddy” level.  Joe has some quality wins in the UFC.  In the end I think Joe Stevenson’s wrestling will prove too much and he will beat Tibau via unanimous decision. 

Josh Koscheck vs. Chris Lytle

Koscheck is 8-2 in the UFC.  Like Joe Stevenson, he has been forgotten since his loss to Georges St. Pierre.  Don’t forget folks that Josh Koscheck (love him or hate him) is a contender in the UFC middleweight divison and is clearly a top 5 guy in the divison.  He has wins over good fighters in Diego Sanchez and Dustin Hazelett.  Chris Lytle is no push over.  Lytle has been around the UFC for a while, debuting at UFC 28. I believe Lytle is 4-8 in the UFC.  He has lost to some good fighters in Matt Serra, Matt Hughes, Karo Parisyan, Thiago Alves, Robbie Lawler, Joe Riggs, and Nick Diaz.  He has fought some top notch fighters.  He just hasn’t beaten the top tier guys.  I though Lytle was done prior to his highlight reel KO of Kyle Bradley.  Is Lytle going to be a sacrificial lamb to get Koscheck back into contention talk?  I believe so.  Lytle could stun everyone and KO Koscheck, but Koscheck is a good fighter who is improving.  He needs a win here.  A win here will set him up for a fight against another top contender.  I look for Koscheck to shoot, get the takedown, take the mount and pound out Lytle.  I pick Josh Koscheck by TKO in round 2. 

Marcus Aurelio vs. Tyson Griffin

Tyson Griffin is always a part of great fights.  This could be a great match, which quite honestly I have a hard time picking.  Aurelio has a 16-5 record in MMA, however 4 of those 5 losses are split decision losses.  He lost a controversial split decision to Clay Guida in his UFC debut and a split decision loss to Takanori Gomi.  Aurelio has big wins over top tier fighters including a win over Takanori Gomi.  Aurelio trains out of the American Top team with guys like Thiago Alves.  Aurelio is a top tier lightweight.  The winner of this fight is no doubt in serious contention (behind Huerta and Florian).  This has the makings of a great fight, but I look for it to go the distance.  Quite honestly this is a toss up in my mind.  Both Griffin and Aurelio have top training.  Both can hold their own striking and on the ground.  I do not know who has the advantages anywhere.  Interestingly, both have recently fought a common opponent in Clay Guida.  Tyson Griffin won a split decision with Guida and Aurelio lost a split decision to Guida.  In other words, that doesn’t tell us much.  Both can hang with the big dogs.  I will pick Tyson Griffin by split decision.  (That sure would stink for Aurelio to have 5 of his 6 losses by split decision, perhaps he knows the danger of leaving it for the judges). 

Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Justin McCully

Gonzaga has gone from main event to under card quickly.  He las lost to Couture and Werdum and is now trying to climb back into contention.  This fight may make it onto the pay per view card.  This fight will tell us a lot about Gonzaga.  He gained a lot of attention for his incredible knock out of Mirko Cro Cop.  Since then he has lost to Couture and Werdum and hasn’t looked great.  This fight will tell us if Gonzaga is a fluke.  McCully is a good fighter, so it will be interesting.  I still think Gonzaga is a top level fighter and I think that he will pull out a win here.  I pick Gonzaga by TKO in round 1. 

Jorge Gurgel vs. Cole Miller

Gurgel is a great trainer and he is 3-2 in the UFC, but he hasn’t beaten anyone notable yet.  Cole Miller is 2-1 in the UFC and looked good on the Ultimate Fighter season 5.  I think that this fight is evenly matched and I think that in the end Cole Miller will get the win by unanimous decision.

Melvin Guillard vs. Dennis Siver

Melvin Guillard is super talented. This may be his last chance in the UFC.  If he loses he is done.  He is already on record saying he’d like to move over to the WEC.  He would do well there.  I don’t think he is done yet though.  I think Guillard will win this one by TKO in round 3. 

Justin Bucholz vs. Corey Hill  

Rumor has is that Corey Hill is improving greatly.  He looked great in his last fight against Joe veres, but Buchholz is  astep up in talent.  I still think Hill will prevail.  Hill’s height will prove too much and he will utilize his reach and the muay thai clinch.  Hill is a 6;4” lightweight! I pick Corey Hill by a barage of knees and TKO in round 1. 

Upset Watch*: Marcus Aurelio over Tyson Griffin; Chris Lytle over Josh Koscheck

Fight of the Night Prediction: Tyson Griffin vs. Marcus Aurelio

Knockout of the Night Prediction: Quinton Jackson

Submission of the Night Prediction: Ricardo Almeida

* Upset watch denotes my picks which I feel could turn into upsets, in other words, these are my picks I would least be shocked if they were wrong.

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