If you look at UFC 95 on paper it is quick to see that it is not the best UFC card by a mile. I have heard it said that U.K. fans are less than pleased with the card so far. I understand their feelings. However, I am not too upset because it airs free on SPIKE TV. I would be hesitant to spend $44.00 on this card. However, let me say this: UFC 95 is one fight away from being a dynamic card. The problem with UFC 95 is a lack of a main event. Also, for many in the U.K. it may be the absent Michael Bisping. Diego Sanchez’s lightweight debut against Joe Stevenson may be interesting, but it is not main event interesting. Both guys are super talented, but not main event talented. Co-main event? Maybe. So, my theory is that UFC 95 is a main event short of being a great card. Imagine with me for a second that UFC 95 featured a main event with a big name fighter that is main event worthy. Then the televised portion would follow with…
2. Diego Sanchez vs. Joe Stevenson
3. Demian Maia vs. Chael Sonnen
4. Nate Marquardt vs. Wilson Gouveia
5. Junior Dos Santos vs. Stefan Struve or Dan Hardy vs. Rory Markham
If they find a solid main event UFC 95 would stack up against any other card. Here is the importance of this: The UFC has openly seeking to go international. Their largest fan bases outside the U.S. are in Canada and the U.K. They do not want to disappoint those fans. Reward them for their loyalty. Find a good main event. See if you cannot bribe Rashad Evans to fight Quinton Jackson here. See if you cannot get a Randy Couture vs. Nogueira fight chalked up. Bump Liddell up from UFC 96. Whatever it takes. Dana White and Joe Silva must realize that the U.K. is the gateway to the European market. Give them a better main event that Sanchez vs. Stevenson. This is a better card than some will credit it for being, but it does lack a main event. You can breeze by with a solid main event and a less than solid rest of the card, but a solid rest of the card without a solid main event may be tough to sell.
Okay, the UFC 95 card sucks royally (that may be a pun seeing as how the card is in London) but, at least there will be a few good fights. One of those fights that is exciting is going to be a middleweight match up between Demian Maia and Chael Sonnen. Both of these names were tossed around as possible opponents for Anderson Silva. The winner of this fight would surely be considered for a title shot. The problem is the UFC suddenly thickened things a top the 185 lb. division. It is strongly rumored that Thales Leites will leap frog numerous contenders and get a title shot. Meanwhile, Dana White has pretty much assured that Yushin Okami will get a title shot. That makes a contender and one in waiting. We figure that this summer the two TUF 9 coaches will fight, witht the winner getting a title crack by year end. Therefore if Silva fights 4 times in 2009, we know his opponents. They will probably be: Thales Leites, Yushin Okami, The winner of the Sonnen vs. Maia fight, and the winner of the Bisping vs. TUF 9 coach.
Anyways as for the Sonnen-Maia fight that is a good one. Maia is incredible on the ground. Sonnen comes over from the WEC with a great wrestling pedigree and improving stand up. Sonnen surely will want to use his wrestling to keep the fight standing. If he takes it to the ground at any time he is on very dangerous ground even when he is on top.
·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.
·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
·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
WEC 36 was a night full of upsets. If I was a betting man I would have been hurting from this card. If you look at my predictions you can see that. Quite honestly it was not a good night for the WEC.
Let me start with the main event and work my way down. All I can say is…wow! I did not expect that. Urijah Faber has looked unbeatable and finally somebody dethroned the featherweight king. I still think he is number 1 in the world, but what a KO. I will be interested to see how the WEC works this situation out. Will they give Urijah an instant re-match? Will Leonard Garcia get a shot? Will Faber fight a top contender like Garcia, Fabiano, Aldo or Tamura? Honestly, I think he may desere a shot, but I would not be upset if they made him win one and let Garcia get first crack at the new champ.
Mike Brown was innjured in the fight witha broken rib cage and is out a few weeks. So we will not see him defend his title for a bit.
The Sonnen vs. Filho fight stunk. It wasn’t Chael’s fault at all. What the heck was Paulo Filho doing. He looked way out of it. I suspect drugs. Filho may have been drained from the weight drop. He may not have all his personal stuff in order yet. He may have seen this as a senseless fight. I don’t know what the deal was. Sonnen won easily. I scored it 30-26…and that was being nice to Filho. Can you say Kalib Starnes?
Who expected Leonard Garcia to KO Jens Pulver. Urijah Faber couldn’t KO Pulver. Garcia made quick work of Pulver. He made it look easy. I had been a Garcia doubter, but I am believing that he could be a featehrweight champ in the WEC. He has serious knock out power and he rocked Jens.
Aaron Simpson looks like a solid middleweight prospect and he may have punched his ticked into the UFC with his one punch KO of David Avellan. He is worth a shot.
Jake Rosholt is not just a good wrestler. He is the real deal. He is a future MMA star. He looked very good and I think he will do very well in the UFC. I’d love to see him vs. C.B. Dolloway.
I also think Nissen Osterneck impressed. He looked very good and nearly finished Rosholt. The UFC may have lost some in the disappointing performance of Filho, but they may have gained in additions to their roster in the likes of Rosholt and guys like Osterneck and Simpson who emerged from WEC 36 with more respect in the fight world.
Looks like Donald Cerrone will fight Jamie Varner for the title in January. Razor Rob is done.
Mike Thomas Brown ded. Urijah Faber via TKO in round 1
Chael Sonnen def. Paulo Filho via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 20-27)
Leonard Garcia def. Jens Pulver via TKO in Round 1
Jake Rosholt def. Nissen Osterneck via TKO in Round 2
Donald Cerrone def. Rob McCullough via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-27)
Aaron Simpson def. David Avellan via KO in Round 1
Jose Aldo def. Jonathan Brookings via TKO in Round 3
Carmelo Marrero def. Steve Steinbess via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Danny Castillo def. Rafael Dias via TKO In Round 2
Rani Yayha def. Yoshiro Maeda via submission (guillotine choke) in Round 1
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.
Tatame has an interview with WEC middleweight champ Paulo Filho
I’m very happy with WEC. I like what I make there, I’m well paid, the event is great and I’m well recognized in America, maybe it’s better than UFC to be well-known, but I think UFC is the dream of every fighter. I fought in Pride and now I wanna be at UFC so that I could say one day that I fought at the best MMA events of the world. I think Anderson is doing the right thing. He always praises me, wants the best for me, and said we wouldn’t fight me, he’s the best, and I don’t wanna fight him too. I think he’ll go up (to light-heavyweight) and until then I’ll go there and when I get closer to the title, he’d be already retired. He already done a lot for the sport, and we they have a lot of great athletes there and I can’t let this opportunity go away, it’ll be a better motivation, show the Paulão from the Pride GP. The problem in this depression moment was motivation, it was a very complicated moment, but now things are better and I can show my best game.
Filho has an upcoming bout with Chael Sonnen in the WEC. Following that fight both Filho and Sonnen are expected to make their journey into the UFC. Filho is currently the #2 ranked middleweight in the world and could challenge for the belt. However, he and Anderson Silva will not fight one another, but Filho gives some good perspective in this fight. The Filho vs. Sonnen match should be a good one and we will be interested to see how both do in the UFC.