Breaking Down the UFC Middleweight Division

The Champion: Anderson Silva

The Top Contender: ?

The Next Tier:

·         Yushin Okami

·         Nate Marquardt

·         Michael Bisping

·         Dan Henderson

·         Demian Maia

·         Thales Leites

·         Patrick Cote

·         Chael Sonnen

 

On the Rise: 

·         Demian Maia

·         Michael Bisping

 

Other Notables:

·         Denis Kang

·         Rousimar Palhares

·         Martin Kampmann

·         Chris Leben

·         Ricardo Almeida

·         Nate Quarry

·         Jason MacDonald

·         Wilson Gouveia

·         Goran Reljic

·         Dan Miller

·         Dean Lister

·         Kendall Grove

·         Alan Belcher

·         Ed Herman

·         Jorge Rivera

·         Alessio Sakara

·         C.B. Dolloway

·         Mike Massenzio

·         Matt Horwich

·         Jake Rosholt

·         Amir Sadollah

 

Scheduled Fights:

·         Nate Loughran vs. Tim Credeur at UFC Fight Night 16 on December 10

·         Jason MacDonald vs. Wilson Gouveia at TUF 8 Finale on December 13

·         Yushin Okami vs. Dean Lister at UFC 92 on December 27

·         C.B. Dolloway vs. Mike Massenzio at UFC 92 on December 27

·         Denis Kang vs. Alan Belcher at UFC 93 on January 17

 

Match Ups I’d Like to See:

·         Yushin Okami vs. Anderson Silva

·         Thales Leites vs. Rousimar Palhares

·         Demian Maia vs. Michael Bisping

 

Other Thoughts:

·         The UFC Middleweight division is very, very underrated!  I believe it is because of Anderson Silva’s dominance.  The middleweight division does not have a clear number 1 contender, but from top to bottom I would put this division with any.  Albeit, the UFC’s competitors have some middleweight talents in the likes of guys like Gegard Mousasi, Jacare, Vitor Belfort, Matt Lindland, Jorge Santiago,and  Kazuo Misaki.  Not to mention the few solid middleweights from EliteXC such as Robbie Lawler, Joey Villasenor, Scott Smith, Frank Shamrock and Benji Radach.  The UFC is sure to pick some of those guys up

·         Rumor has it the UFC is in negotiations with top middleweight Yoshihio Akiyama.  I do not know if they call pull him away from DREAM and Sengoku, but that would be a huge add. 

·         The middleweight division is growing with adds like signing Denis Kang, the move of WEC’s division which will add Chael Sonnen and Jake Rosholt as well as guys like Aaron Simpson and Danillo Vilefort likely to come over.

·         Paulo Filho will not be in the UFC…yet.

·         TUF 9 will feature middleweight coaches with Michael Bisping being a lock.  The other names being thrown around are Dan Henderson, Rich Franklin, Nate Marquardt and even Demian Maia

UFC News: Alessio Sakara vs. Joe Vedepo at UFC Fight Night 15

A middleweight fiught between Alession Sakara and Joe Vedepo has been added to the card of UFC Fight Night 15, on September 17th.  MMAjunkie reports about Vedepo:

Vedepo, a part of the Cedar Rapids-based Team Hardrive MMA, won the Midwest Cage Championship middleweight belt with a June victory over Brian Green (15-10). Both fighters entered the bout knowing that a major-league contract offer could be on the line. The bloody, back-and-forth main-event fight ultimately ended via a third-round verbal submission in favor of Vedepo.

The 25-year-old former light heavyweight and stand-out high school wrestler has never gone to decision; he’s won four fights via knockout and three by submission.

UFC News: Matthew Riddle vs Dante Rivera

TUF 7 Dante Rivera vs. Matthew Riddle

Slowly we are learning about the fights which are to take place at The Ultimate Fighter 7 finale on June 21st.  It appears that Matthew Riddle will take on Dante Rivera.  Riddle and Rivera have been shown bickering back and forth on several occasions.  The fight was assumed following Riddle’s elimination when he hinted he would be fighting at the finale in a fight the fans would want to see.  The season is coming quickly to an end.  The fight card features several bouts with non-TUF 7 competitors including the headliners of Diego Sanchez vs. Luigi Fiorvanti and Evan Tanner vs. Kendall Grove.  Also the show will feature fights between non-TUF 7 guys in…Dustin Hazelett vs. Josh Burkman, Spencer Fisher vs. Jeremy Stephens, Jeremy Horn vs. Dean Lister, Marvin Eastman vs. Drew McFedries, and Rob Kimmons vs. Rob Yundt.  Also, we know that TUF 7 competitor Matt Brown will take on TUF 6 competitor Matt Arroyo in a welterweight bout. 

     I do not know how many guys on TUF 7 are going to be on the finale card, but it looks like the card is already full.  I am guessing there will only be two or three more fights besides the finalists, leaving several out.  Right now there are 9 fights on the card and only three of those fighters are from this season of TUF.  I like the fights on the card and they will be interesting, but I think the TUF 7 guys should all get their chance as they earned it.  Here are my predictions for who will be on the card from the TUF 7 cast…

C.B. Dolloway

Tim Credeur

Jesse Taylor

Dan Cramer

Amir Sadollah

Matt Brown*

Matthew Riddle*

Dante Rivera*

Gerald Harris

 

(That leaves out: Nick Klein, Jeremy May, Brandon Sene, Pat Schultz, Mike Dolce, Cale Yarbrough, and Luke Zachrich)

 * They are already confirmed to fight at the finale

      

My UFC 82 Predictions

 John Halverson vs. Jorge Gurgel

Jorge Gurgel is tough.  I think Gurgel is an excellent fighter and is good ont he ground.  I think Gurgel will win by submission in round two. 

Luke Cummo vs. Luigi Fiorvanti 

Luigi Fiorvanti is a hard hitting crowd favorite. I don’t think he is a top tier guy, but I think he is going to KO Luke Cummo in the second round. 

Diego Sanchez vs. David Bielkheden 

Diego has lost two in a row.  He chose not to drop to lightweight, which I think is a good decision for him, however if he looses here he better drop.  I doubt he will loose.  He should win this fight and I think he will win it easily.  He will win via ref stoppage in round one.  Again, sometimes fighters overlook guys, but this seems to be a fight the UFC set up to get Diego back on track. 

Josh Koscheck vs. Dustin Hazelett 

Josh Koscheck has looked good in every fight he has been in except the St. Pierre fight.  This is a tough fight for him coming off a loss.  Hazelett is no push over.  He has a lot riding on this fight.  If he wins he climbs the ladder.  Hazelett is coming off a win vs. Goulet.  While Dustin is a good fighter I would be hard pressed to pick against Koscheck.  I pick Josh Koscheck by a rear naked choke late in the second round. 

Andrei Arlovski vs. Jake O’Brien 

This fight is main card worthy.  Arlovski has not looked great lately.  Jake O’Brien hasn’t fought for a while.  I think O’Brien is better than people give him credit for an he is a legit top ten heavyweight.  He has a great record.  However, Arlovski is a former champ.  The question for him is whether or not he cares about winning.  Has he trained hard or is he just fighting here to fulfill his contract?  Is he wanting to leave with a bang?  Is he wanting to convince the UFC that he is worth big bucks in a new contract?  Is he trying to market himself to another organization?  Does he want a quick KO so the fight may get on the televised card?  If I knew those answers I could pick this fight better.  Because Arlovski cannot just coast through this fight.  I am tempted to pick O’Brien, however it is tough to pick against Arlovski.  O’Brien beat Heath Herring in his last fight.  I don’t know how he will look with over a year off.  I am still going to pick Arlovski although a O’Brien win would not shock me and would be great for him.  If Arlovski plans on staying in the UFC I hope he wins.  He will get the next title shot.  If he plans on leaving I hope he gets KO’d. 

Chris Leben vs. Alessio Sakara

This is going to be a war.  I doubt it wil last past one round.  Both guys love to strike. Leben showed a lot in his win against Terry Martin.  He was rocked when he KO’s Martin.  Leben is tough.  This fight is tough to pick because it will come down to who gets rocked first and while there is some skill involved I think there is a lot of luck.  I do not think leben is as good as he or many others think, however he is heavy handed.  Sakara has fought bigger and stronger guys than Leben.  I know that Leben will be the favorite, but there has to be an upset somewhere, so I am going to pick Alessio Sakara via second round KO.

Jon Fitch vs. Chris Wilson

Don’t overlook Chris Wilson in this fight.  I hear rumblings about how good he is.  A win here and Jon Fitch will get a title shot.  Karo Parisyan has to be rooting for Chris Wilson because the only way he gets the nest title shot is a Fitch loss.  It could happen.  I am close to picking Wilson in the upset.  The UFC could use another good welterweight fighter.  However, I cannot pick an unproven fighter over a proven fighter.  I like Jon Fitch and think he will win this fight by split decison.  In loosing I also think Wilson will solidfy himself as a top ten fighter in the UFC’s welterweight divison. 

Yushin Okami vs. Evan Tanner

The bottom line with this fight is that there are too many unknowns.  How will Evan Tanner do after such a long lay off?  I do not know why he is being thrown in against a top 5 middleweight fighter.  Okami is big and strong.  I think you can bet on a slow paced fight that Okami will control.  He could even capitalize on a mistake Tanner makes.  If Evan Tanner comes out liekt he Evan of old he could win, but he better win early.  The longer this match goes the more it favors Okami.  I predict Tanner will look rusty at best and Okami will get on him and control him for three rounds.  I will pick Okami by unanimous decison. 

 Cheick Kongo vs. Heath Herring

Heath Herring looks refocused.  Cheick Kongo beat Cro Cop.  The question I want answered here is whether or not Kongo can consistently beat top tier fighters.  There is much talk that the next title fight will not be Werdum, but Kongo if he wins here.  Regardless I do not think Kongo is ready for a title shot, but because of the way things have happened he is in the mix with a win.  Heath Herring hit Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira hard and nearly beat him.  The ref could have stopped that fight.   Heath Herring may be a top ten UFC Heavyweight, but I do not think he can beat Kongo.  Checik is so huge and strong that will pose a problem.  I look for Checik Kongo to win via strikes in the first round. 

Dan Henderson vs. Anderson Silva 

On paper this match is one of the best fights you could imagine.  Of course how it plays out in the octagon is a different story.  I believe this fight will live up to hype.  Dan Henderson will be the toughest match up for Anderson Silva in the UFC.  Rich Franklin is a great fighter, but his style seemed perfect for Anderson to walk through.  Dan Henderson is a different story.  Dan Henderson is tough, I mean never been knocked out tough.  He has fought the best fighters in the world, so he has the experience.  Dan Henderson is great in the clinch.  He is a good wrestler and a good ground and pound guy.  However, Anderson Silva can kick hard and he can submit a guy.  This is a tough fight to predict.  I really like Anderson Silva.  He is a class act.  He is tough to beat.  This fight is pivotal for the UFC.  If Anderson Silva wins this fight the UFC will be forced to go out and sign someone else like Fliho, Lindland, Lawler or Jason “Mayhem” Miller.  If Dan Henderson wins this fight I look for Wanderlai Silva to drop down and seek revenge for Dan beating him and taking his belt.  Of course the is a  tough fight to pick because you never know how the fight will go.  I will pick Dan Henderson by third round stoppage.   I do not see Anderson knocking Dan out.  His one chance I see is to submit him a la Travis Lutter.  I will pick Dan because I need to pick someone, but I do not know how anyone can really bet against Anderson Silva.  If he wins he is unstoppable. 

UFC News: Andrei Arlovski on the UFC 82 Preliminary Card

UFC 82 is shaping up to be a good card.  It is so full that last week it was announced that the Josh Koscheck vs. Dustin Hazelett fight would be on the undercard.  A stacked card is not easy to work through.  I imagine it is difficult to determine who will be a main card and who will be an undecard fight for a stacked card.  There is the maine ven of Anderson Silva vs. Dan Henderson.  I agree with the decision to put the Okami vs. Evan Tanner fight on the televised card as both are contenders and there is a good story line behind the return of a former champ.   You cannot put Jon Fitch on an undercard.  So the Jon Fitch vs. Chris Wilson fight will air, and will be a good fight.  Wilson is a good fighter.  Heath Herring vs. Checik Kongo has two big name guys which merita the main card.  Therefore you come down to a choice between three fights for the final spot on the main card: Josh Koscheck vs. Dustin Hazelett, Diego Sanchez vs. David Bielkheden and Andrei Arlovski vs. Jake O’Brien.

My first choice would be Arlovski vs. O’Brien.  They are both top ten UFC heavyweight fighters.  However, Arlovski won a boring fight over Werdum his last fight.  More than that he is not on the card because the UFC is punishing him for not signing with them before this fight.  He plans to test the market and get big time offers from other organizations.  I suspect this indicates this will be his last UFC fight.  The UFC doesn’t want to air this fight because it doesn’t want to market Arlovski.  Too late!  Bad decison.

Andrei Arlovski placed on the undercard.

The second choice would the Koscheck vs. Hazelett.  Why not this fight?  Koscheck is exciting, but perhaps his unpopularity hurts him.  Why did they pick Diego Sanchez vs. David Bielkheden.  The answer:  I cannot give you one.  Now, the UFC has proven to have mde some good choices in the past, but this doesn’y make sense.  I would rather see the Chris Leben vs. Alessio Sakara fight then the Diego Sanchez fight.  The bottom line is Sanchex in one of those guys they are trying to market and sell. 

MY UFC 80 Predictions

Colin Robinson vs. Antoni Hardonk

Hardonk lost to a uninspired Frank Mir and Justin McCully.  Robinson has been fighting very well of late.  These two are virtually the same size, but I look for Robinson to pull out a win, possibly by decision.

Jorge Rivera vs. Kendall Grove

The question is was Grove’s loss to Cote a fluke or is Cote a better fighter? Grove has beaten some good fighters in the UFC and I think he is better than he showed against Cote.  Rivera has been around for a while.  I suppose the size will be a factor, especailly if it stays standing.  I pick Kendall grove by TKO or Ref stoppage in round 1.

Marcus Davis vs. Jess Liaudin

Perhaps Davis is the fighter who has been fighting the best in the UFC.  Liaudin is not a push over, but his record is unimpressive.  I look for Davis to continue to climb up the welterweight rankings and right into that top tier of fighters.  A win here is a must in order to do that.  I pick Marcus Davis by sumission.

Paul Kelly vs. Paul Taylor

I will pick Paul Taylor simpyl because of how well he fought Marcus Davis.  I predict him to win by submission. 

James Lee vs. Alessio Sakara

I just think Alessio Sakara was beaten too bad by Houston Alexander to win.  He has lost numerous fights.  I just expect the unknown James Lee to pull out a win, unless they are just handing him to Sakara to make him feel better.

Jason Lambert vs. Wilson Gouveia

Experience goes to Lambert and size goes to Gouveia.  Lambert has a lot of quality wins (Terry Martin, Rob MacDonald, Babalu, and Marvin Eastman.  He lost to Rashad Evans, which is a tough opponent.  I think in the end Wilson Gouveia will win by ref stoppage in round 3. 

Sam Stout vs. Per Eklund

I know nothing of Per Eklund.  I looked up his fights and I know nothing of anyone he has fought.  He appears to have a submissions game, which could be bad for Stout, but Sam Stout has more heart than most people.  I am basing this on the Spencer Fisher fight basically.  This could be one I am dead wrong on.

Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Fabricio Werdum

Gonzaga got beat down by Randy Couture, but he is still a top notch heavyweight.  That kick to Cro Cop still hurts to watch.  He had some devestating kicks to Randy.  He has a ground game, he is big, he is strong.  Werdum coudl catch him, but I look for Gonzaga to win by TKO in round 2.

Joe Stevenson vs. B.J. Penn

What to expect in MMA in ’08

  • I expect to see new title holders in every division but one and that is the middleweight.  All though Anderson could be challenged by Dan Henderson.  My picks for the title holders: Nogueira, Not sure about lightheavyweight, Anderson Silva, St. Pierre, and B.J. Penn.
  • I expect to see a few more fighters signed to UFC contracts.  Highlighting the list: Matt Lindland, Gilbert Melendez, Jake Shields, and some other big name surprise
  • I expect TUF to be a disappointment with Rampage Jackson getting a lot of camera time saying his crazy off the wall things
  • I expect the middleweight division to get tougher
  • I expect a few UFC stars to retire (Matt Hughes and Rich Franklin)
  • I expect Sean Sherk to get another title shot, but B.J. Penn to beat him badly
  • I expect the light heavyweight division to get crazier with guys like Machdia, Thiago Silva, Rashad Evans, and Shogun in the title mix.
  • I expect Chuck Liddell to avenge his loss to Keith Jardine by summer
  • I expect that Shogun is still only one fight away from a title shot, I think that my top ten in the lightheavyweight at the top ten at light heavyweight, perhaps not in that order.
  • I expect Dan Henderson to try Anderson Silva like he hasn’t been tried in a while
  • I expect Jon Fitch, Kenny Florian, Sean Sherk, Roger Huerta, Matt Lindland, and either Arlovski or Cro Cop to get a title shot. 
  • I expect the former PRIDE guys to turn it around in the octagon
  • I expect another solid fight from Wanderlai Silva, can you say rematch?
  • I expect the Fedor vs. Randy fight to happen
  • I expect other organizations to become more of a competition to the UFC
  • I expect Dana White to say many more expletives on national television
  • I expect TUF alums to suceed this year even more
  • I expect Diego Sanchez to drop to lightweight
  • I expect Brock Lesnar to be a middle of the road fighter
  • I expect Brandon Vera to drop to lightheavyweight
  • I expect Bisping to cry when he gets beat in middleweight
  • I expect Tito to loose in the Apprentice