·Chael Sonnen – Chael Sonnen is coming off of a win over WEC middleweight champ Paulo Filho, but he never got the official title because Filho failed to make weight.Sonnen looks very good lately and will certainly challenge for the belt right away.He could be in consideration for the TUF 9 coaching gig as well alongside Dan Henderson, Rich Franklin, Nate Marquardt and Demian Maia.
·Jake Rosholt– Rosholt won his WEC debut against Nissen Osterneck, but he looked very vulnerable standing.Rosholt will certainly get a shot in the UFC and many think Rosholt could be a champ some day.He is training now out of Xtreme Couture, so his striking should improve.I would say it won’t be long and he will have his first opponent in the octagon.
·Nissen Osterneck – This is somewhat of a surprise, but it is being reported that despite losing his WEC debut to Rosholt that Osterneck will get a chance in the UFC.His loss to Rosholt was his first professional loss, but he did look pretty good in that fight.
·Steve Cantwell – Cantwell will be the first WEC fighter to make the move over.He is the champ.A rubber match was slated for him and Brian Stann, but Stann withdrew due to injury.Cantwell will make his UFC debut against Razak Al-Hussan at UFC Fight Night 17: Fight For the Troops on December 10th. “The Robot” is a very young fighter with great striking and kickboxing and is sure to improve.
·Brian Stann – Stann made a move to Team Jackson and sustained an injury, but he should be recovered soon and may have an opponent sooner than later.We still could see Cantwell vs. Stann III if Cantwell wins next week.
·Steve Steinbeiss – Steinbeiss is coming off of a split decision loss to Carmello Marrero at WEC 36, but it is being reported he will fight in the UFC anyways.
·Mark Munoz– He fights December 3rd in the WEC and then is expected to make his move to the UFC.He is a solid prospect who may be competitive in the UFC.
Note: Paulo Filho has been dropped from his Zuffa contract and will not make the move to the UFC. Also, I am note sure what the contract status is of Carmello Marrero. It looks like Doug Marshall will not be with Zuffa. Danillo Vilefort looks to be dropping to 170 lbs.
·Steve Cantwell vs. Razak Al-Hussan at UFC Fight Night 16 on December 10
·Forrest Griffin vs. Rashad Evans @ UFC 92 on December 28 (For Title)
·Quinton Jackson vs. Wanderlei Silva @ UFC 92 on December 28
·Matt Hamill vs. Reese Andy @ UFC 92 on December 28
·Rich Franklin vs. Dan Henderson @ UFC 93 on January
·Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Mark Coleman @ UFC 93 on January 17
·Andre Gusmao vs. Antonio Mendes @ UFC 93 on January 17
·Ivan Serati vs. Tomasz Drwal @ UFC 93 on January 17
·Jon Jones vs. Stephan Bonnar @ UFC 93 on January 17
·Lyoto Machida vs. Thiago Silva @ UFC 94 on January 31
Match Ups I’d Like to See:
·Luis Cane vs. Keith Jardine
·Brandon Vera vs. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou
·There are rumors of a Anderson Silva vs. Chuck Liddell match up at UFC 95
·There are a lot of light heavyweight contenders and the match ups are being set.The winner of Wanderlei vs. Rampage should get the next title shot, although the winner of Lyoto Machida and Thiago Silva should be considered as well.
·We are waiting for the debut of rumored UFC signee Glover Teixeira who has been having visa troubles in Brazil.
·The UFC could sign former EliteXC light heavyweight Rafael Feijao, which would be a big time contender.
·The UFC has a clear monopoly on the light heavyweight division.There are only a few fighters worth adime in this division not in the UFC (Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Vladimir Matyushenko, Ricardo Arona, Tito Ortiz, and Renato “Babalu” Sobral)
·I looks like two solid light heavyweights have dropped to middleweight in Goran Reljic and Wilson Gouveia
·The Ultimate Fighter 8 which featured light heavyweights is sure to place a few good fighters in the divison, but it will take time for them to climb the ladder.Watch out for guys like Ryan Bader, Vinny Magalhes, Kryztof Soszynski, and Eliot Marshall.
·It is somewhat possible to see Randy Couture take a few fights at light heavyweight and also to see Anderson Silva fight at 205 more often in 2009
This is a great fight with a great story line. The two guys fought for the title last December and the fight ended in controversy. Sonnen was winning the fight and suddenly Filho locked in an armbar. Viewers could see the armbar was tight, Sonnen grimaced and even let out a scream. The referre called a stop to the fight, but Sonnen thought it was unwarranted because he never tapped. There was a lot of controversy concerning the stoppage, but Sonnen’s arm would have been broken if it wasn’t stopped. This fight is a whole new fight. Sonnen is no longer a huge underdog, although he probably is the underdog. Filho is coming off of some serious personal issues including depression and drug rehab. The fight vey well may be determined by Filho’s mental state. Sonnen is no push over, he is a great wrestler with solid ground and pound skills. He will have had a good training camp and plenty of time to prepare. Filho ought to be ready to go. Hopefully, he is back in the swing of things and has his problems straightened out. Following this fight both Filho and Sonnen should fight in the UFC with the WEC folding their middleweight divison along with their light heavyweight divison. The two guys should contend for the belt right away win or lose here. Filho has said he will not fight his good friend Anderson Silva and Anderson said the same. Saddly, it looks like we will neve rsee the #1 vs. the #2 middleweights in the world. Filho will be a solid competitor in the UFC. I think a Sonnen vs. Silva match would be very interesting, but for Sonnen to get that match he has to win here. This fight is hard to pick because Sonnen is improving so much and we do not know what Filho we will see. My prediction may be risky, but I will pick Filho to win. Why? Because Filho is still the number 2 middleweight in the world. I think that Filho will win by submission in round 2.
Urijah Faber vs. Mike Brown
This is another interesting fight that many are excited to see. Some people think that Mike Brown could be a serious threat to Urijah Faber. Faber very well could be Zuffa’s most dominant champion, and that is saying something when you consider guys like Anderson Silva, Georges St. Pierre, and B.J. Penn have nearly cleaned out their respective divisons. The reality is that Mike Brown is a big featherweight, he is very experienced and he is very well rounded. He has fought in the UFC and many other places and has some good wins over guys like Jeff Curran and Yves Edwards. Brown has good submissions, having won 11 of his 19 wins by submission, however he also seems suseptible to submissions. All four of his wins he lost by submission. Faber has also shown improvement. His fight against Pulver showed incredible boxing skill. In the end I think Faber is too well rounded. I believe Brown could be a good fight, but Faber is the best featherweight in the world. In the end I think Faber will hit him hard a few times. I do not know if Brown can endure what Jens Pulver did for 5 rounds. If it goes to the ground Faber is comofrtable there and not to mention crafty. Either way I pick Urijah Faber to win by a rear naked choke after a few hard hits in round 3.
Leonard Garcia vs. Jens Pulver
Both Pulver and Garcia enter the WEC featherweight divison via the UFC’s lightweight divison. Pulver debuted in the WEC by winning quickly and easily over Cub Swanson. That win earned him a shot at featherweight champ Urijah Faber. While Faber dominated Jens, I gained respect for Pulver as he showed true toughness in that fight. Garcia debuted with an impressive KO win over highly touted and top ten featherweight Hiroyuki Takaya. Therefore, this makes a good fight. Garcia may be a good fit at 145 lbs. Pulver is certainly a good fit here. The winner of this fight would certainly be once again at the top of the heap along with the winner of December 3rd’s featherweight clash between IFL champ Waggney Fabiano and Japanese fighter Akitoshi Tamaura and the winner of the Josh Grispi vs. Diego Nunes fight. I do not know what the difference will be in this fight, but I will base my pick on the experience. Pulver is very experienced. He has fought better competiton and beaten better guys. On paper Pulver has the far better resume. I know that may not be the best way to pick a fight, but I think Pulver’s toughness will out last Garcia and Jens will win by unanimous decision.
Rob McCullough vs. Donald Cerrone
The winner of this fight will almost assuridly get the next title show against champ Jamie Varner. “Razor” Rob McCullough is the former lightweight WEC champ, but he lost his title to Varner. McCullough has not looked very good in his last few fights including a split deicsion win over Kenneth Alexander. Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone looked very impressive in his debut over Danny Castillo. He is 8-0 and I believe he will be a tough match for “Razor” Rob. Cerrone has won all 8 of his fights by submission, so I am pretty sure he will want this fight on the ground. If he can get McCullough down then the fight will be over. If it stays standing, Rob could get a KO. Judging by how bad McCullough looked in his last fight I will pick Cerrone to win by a submission in round 1.
Jake Rosholt vs. Nissen Osterneck
The fight was originally supposed to be Rosholt vs. Danillo Vilefort. Vilefort withdrew due to injury and Osterneck stepped in. Both these guys are prospects. Rosholt is more than justa stand out college wrestler. He is a 3 time divison I champion out of Oklahamoa State University and a 4 time All-American wrestler. He may be one of the most decorated wrestlers to enter mixed martial arts. Rosholt began training out of Xtreme Couture and has really stepped up his game and looked impressive. He is expected to be a future contender. We most likely will see him in the UFC in 2009. I do think Osterneck poses some challenges in this fight and has great submission skills, but in the end I think Rosholt will use his wrestling to control the fight and work some ground and pound. I pick Rosholt to win this fight by TKO in round 3.
Carmello Marrero vs. Steve Steinbeiss
This fight has seemed doomed from the begining for Steinbeiss who has lost two opponents. First he was supposed to fight up and comer Mark Munoz, but Munoz withdrew tih injury. Then he was supposed to face TUF alum Alex Schouenauer who also withdrew with injury. This might be good news for Steinbeiss who wants to be one of the 205ers moved over to the UFC. Marrero is a UFC vet who went 1-2 posting losses to Wilson Gouveia and Gabriel Gonzaga, but he did score a win over Cheick Kongo. This is a tough fight to call. Marrero has good skills, but I look for Steinbeiss to win this one by decision.