My UFC 85: Bedlam Predictions

Matt Hughes vs. Thaigo “The Pitbull” Alves

This may at first look like a less than spectacular main event, however, I think this could be a good fight.  The story behind this fight is that Matt Hughes is the most dominant welterweight ever, but many say he is on his way down.  Meanwhile, Thiago Alves is on his way up.  Alves is coming off of a knockout win over Karo “The Heat” Parisyan.  Most people consider Alves a top ten welterweight in the world, however he was out classed and out of his league against Jon Fitch.  There is no doubt that Thiago has excellent striking ability.  However, I expect Matt Hughes to take Alves down and ground and pound him.  I don’t expect Alves to be able to get up agaisnt the bigger Hughes.  The worry for me about picking Hughes is first of all he has been busy lately with book signing and opening a new gym.  That could distract him.  Secondly, he is 34 and Alves is 24.  Third, he wants Matt serra and could be looking straight past Alves to Serra.  A win here would make Matt Hughes clearly back in line for contention of the belt and if he beats Alves and Serra, he will get another title shot even if it is against Georges St. Pierre.  I believe Hughes’ experience will be a help and not a hindrance in this fight. Therefore, I pick Matt Hughes by unanimous decision following three round of slamming Alves and laying on him and elbowing him. 

Brandon “The Truth” Vera vs. Fabricio Werdum

This is a hard pick to make.  Brandon Vera was a rapidly rising star before all the disputes with his manager.  He was great in the octagon as well, however, he sropepd his last fight against Tim Sylvia.  Fabricio Werdum has tons of talent too.  He has beaten some good opponents.  He has beaten Gonzaga twice, Aleksander Emleianenko and Alistair Overeem.  Vera is a great Muay Thai fighter while Werdum is a great jiu jitsu guy.  This fight could go either way.  Werdum showed some great striking against Gonzaga.  The bottom line is that the winner of this fight will most likely get the winner of the Mir vs. Nogueira fight late in the year.  For the sake of making a pick, I will pick Brandon Vera to win by TKO in round 2. 

Michael “The Count” Bisping vs. Jason “Dooms” Day

Bisping looked great at 185 in his last fight.  He could content at 185.  This fight will tell a lot about him as a middleweight.  He destroyed Charles McCarthy.  I believe Jason Day is a step up from McCarthy in talent.  Jason Day is a little bit of a late replacement of the incarcerated Chris Leben.  jason Day destroyed a serious contender in Alan Belcher and prior to that beat David Loiseau.  That shows what Day is capable of doing in the octagon.  I think this will be an exciting fight, and honestly Jason Day could take this fight, but I am going to pick Michael Bisping. He will have the home crowd, he will be ready to go.  A win here means Bisping may next get a guy like Leben, Cote or Almeida next.  I pick Michael Bisping by TKO in round 2.

Mike “Quick” Swick vs. Marcus Davis

When Mike Swick dropped to welterweight I thought he could be a serious contender.  I still think he can be, in fact I have him as my 10th ranked UFC welterweight.  However, he didn’t look good at all against Jos Burkman, in fact he very well lost that fight. Marcus Davis on the other hand has looked dominant.  Mike swick will be a real test for the “Irish Hand Grenade” who is coming off of 11 straight wins.  Whoever wins this fight will be in the title mix.  All I have to judge by is Swick’s one performance at welterweight, so I will pick Marcus Davis to win this one in exciting fashion in round 1.

Nate Marquardt vs. Thales Leites

What a ground game this fight could display.  Thales Leites is really good, but Nate Marquardt is underrated.  He realyl did well against Anderson Silva initially.  Marquardt is a contender in this divison.  I think that Marquardt will win this fight by submission in round 3. 

Martin Kampmann vs. Jorge Rivera

Martin Kampmann showed a lot of promise before his injury.  Rivera has been an on and off again fighter who you never know how he will perform.  We will see how Martin does in his return.  Will he have ring rust or will he be hungry for a win?  I think that training with Xtreme Couture is a huge advantage to him and that Kampmann will prove to be too much for Rivera.  I believe Kampmann will win by first round submission.  (Watch for this fight to creep onto the pay per view showing).

Jason Lambert vs. Luis Arthur Cane

Lambert is coming off that disappointing KO from Wilson Gouveia.  Can is coming off of that DQ in UFC 79.  Both guys are quality fighters, but there isn’t much room for failure in the light heavyweight divison.  The loser could essentially be removed from any possibility of contention.  The winner will take a step up.  I believe that Luis Arthur Cane will prove to be the better striker in this one and will KO Lambert in round 2.

Matt “Handsome” Wiman vs. Thiago Tavares

Matt Wiman has done great since coming off of The Ultimate Fighter.  Wiman very well could be one of the underrated lightweights.  Tavares is a good fighter as well and he is favored to win this fight.  Coincidently, both fighters have recently fought Michihiro Omigawa and both won by unanimous decision.  The cool pick will be Tavares, therefore I will pick Matt Wiman to win this fight by unanimous decision.  Whoever wins here moves into the top 20 of a stacked divison.

Eddie Sanchez vs. Antoni Hardonk

Eddie Sanchez is a late replacement for the injured Neil Wain.  I don’t know how that will affect Sanchez. Hardonk has struggled in the UFC, going 2-2 and losing to Frank Mir and Justin McCully.  Sanchez is 3-1 in the UFC.  I expect Sanchez to move to 4-1 in the UFC.  I don’t expect this fight to last long, maybe into round 2.  Therefore I pick Sanchez to win by TKO in round 2.

Roan Carneiro vs. Kevin Burns

Carneiro is beatable, but I don’t know anything about Kevin Burns.  I have to pick Carneiro by unanimous decision.

Jess Liaudin vs. Paul Taylor

Taylor has already beaten Liaudin once in his career,  Taylor is exciting and if he comes out swinging I expect him to win.  I think Taylor win will by first round KO.

 Upset Watch: Fabricio Werdum over Brandon Vera and Jason Day over Michael Bisping

 

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UFC 83 Thoughts and Comments

Georges St. Pierre when focused and determined is bad news for any welterweight.  That is bad news for Jon Fitch.  St. Pierre proved that the Serra knockout was a fluke.  Perhaps it showed that Matt Serra is good, but not that good.  I look forward to the Serra vs. Hughes fight.  Again, wow GSP is great when he wants to be.

Rich Franklin looked pretty good and is a class act.  He is what MMA is all about.  Rich can hang with most middleweights and win, this is his dilemna.  He can beat anyone in that divison except Anderon Silva.  Rich showed great talent escaping an arm bar and picking apart Lutter.

Travis Lutter, a jiu jitsu great has no cardio.  How in the world can you step into the octagon, get paid as a career to fight, and get tired after one round.  There is no excuse for that.  In my opinion Lutter can submit anyone, but he is not able to hang with strikers.  If he wants to fight in the UFC he needs to improve.

Michael Bisping looked great at middleweight, but come on he wasn’t fighting a top ten guy or even a top 20 guy at middleweight.  He looked like he was in great shape and he did great.  I’d like to see Bisping fight a top 15 type guys maybe Leben, Cote, or Almeida.

Nate Quarry looked fantastic.  If this indicates what he will be he will be dangerous.  Perhaps Quarry could fight Bisping.  He will get a top ten type guy now.  He looked fresh though, but he fought Starnes.

I considered Starnes a decent fighter.  Now I think he is not so much.  I can handle loosing.  I can handle a guy getting submitted or KO’s.  I can handle a guy getting KO’s bad or quickly, but running is ridiculous.  If I was Dana I would can Starnes right now.  He may have punched his ticket out of the UFC.  By the way Nate Quarry making fun of Starnes, doing the running man and the Screech was stinkin’ hilarious.  It made that fight worth watching.  How much do you want to bet Starnes’ leg isn’t hurting him as bad as his pride is?

Mac Danzig looked great.  After a little bit of a tough round 1 Mac came out and showed his experience and versatility.  He ought to get a tough level competitor now.  I’d like to see a Nate Diaz vs. Mac Danzig fight.  Mac will go far in the lightweight divison.  He did great against a good ground fighter. 

Didn’t see the undercard fights, but looks like MacDonald will stay near the 3-9 range in the middleweight divison.  Goultet earned fight of the night with a great fight and show of heart.  That Maia submission was sick, I wouldn’t want to fight him, he is here to stay and he climbed my rankings.  Jason Day impressed Dana White and may have earned a chance to hang around the UFC.  UFC 83 may have been a coronation of Cain Velasquez as the next great heavyweight, but time will tell.  I hear he looked real good.  Rich Clementi keep winning and climbing the rankings slowly.  If I was Dana White or Joe Silva Kalib Starnes, Charles McCarthy, and Travis Lutter would be done with their UFC careers.  Can them and sign someone who will fight. 

If any of my readers paid attention, they will see how great I did at picking these fights.  I was 10 of 11.  I missed the Maia vs. Herman fight and I nearly picked Maia.  This is not to brag because i usually am slighlty better than 60% or so.  At least for once I picked a card accuratley.  Can’t wait till UFC 84!

The effect of the Ultimate Fighter on the UFC

ultimate-fighter.jpg

There is a lot of talk about which UFC divison is the stongest.  I have discussed my opinion before, but I was curious which divison has been best bolstered by TUF. Below I listed each current UFC fighter and their current divison.  Some guys have fought in the UFC and left for other organizations so I did not include them.  Some guys have fought at one weight and dropped down recently like Michael Bisping.  I made my decison based not solely on numer of fighters, but quality fighters and number of contenders in the divison from TUF. Here is my evaluation…

The least bolstered is the Heavyweight divison, because there are no current UFC TUF alumni in that divison.  Evans and Jardine comepeted in Heavyweight and then dropped to lightheavyweight.

The fourth most bolstered is the middleweight divison.  There are 11 TUF alums in the middleweight divison currently and none are real contenders right now.  You have a bunch of second tier guys in: Travis Lutter, Ed Herman, Kendall Grove, Nate Quarry and Patrick Cote.  Some of those guys are close to breaking through to contender levels.  I would say your most succesful guy has been Chris Leben and I believe Michael Bisping will be a contender, but contender is a tough word in a divison where Anderson Silva owns the belt.  I don’t think these guys could beat the top 4 or 5 in that divison.

The third best divison is the lightheavyweight divison.  However, these five guys are all above average guys.  I consider three of them legit contenders in the divison (Griffin, Jardine and Evans) and I consider Bonnar and Hamill the best of the second tier guys.  Bonnar and Hamill are slated to fight in April, the winner will become a serious contender threat and break into the top 12 in that divison.  I put them below the others sheerly because they don’t have as many alums in the divison now.

To be honest the second and first was a toss up between the welterweight and lightweight divisons who have both benefited from TUF competitors dropping to their weight classes.  Here are my arguments for both.  The welterweight divison has a champ in Matt Serra.  Also one could argue that they have 2 other top five fighters in Koscheck and Sanchez, making TUF alums 3 of the top five in that divison.  If you throw Marcus Davis, who is a serious contender is the mix you have some good fighters, not to mention guys like Mike Swick who have just dropped down.  The jury is still out on the TUF 6 guys.  We will have to wait and see who will stick around the welterweigh divison.  I look for Speer, Sotiropplous, and Arroyo to make a little splash. 

The lightweight divison has the most TUF alums by far.  Obviously, Joe Stevenson has been the most successful and could get a title shot.  They also have another top five guy in their divison in Kenny Florian.  Joe Lauzon is set to fight Kenny and could move into seriosu contention if he pulls out a win.  I wouldn’t overlook guys like Mac Danzig, Nate Diaz, Cole Miller, Manny Gamburyan or Gray Maynard.  Din Thomas has proven himself well and Rich Clementi and Jorge Gurgel are no scrubs.

If you made me pick the most benefited from TUF I would say the lightweights, with the welterweights close behind.  It is kind of interesting to note that in 2008 at least 3 guys from TUF will get a title crack (Serra, Stevenson, and Griffin) and possibly more. 

TUF will continue to have an impact on the UFC for the good.  They hope to help out the middleweight divison, but likely good welterweights will bulk up to get on the show and the best of the next season will help the welterweight divison most.  In my opinion, they need to help out the middleweight, but in order to do so the show has to feature light heavyweights.  I look forward to see the new twists and turns of TUF 7, and to see the impact of the future TUF alumni on the UFC.  Ultimate Fighter has been Dana White’s best move and he admits is helped the UFC greatly.

Heavyweights:

None!

Light Heavyweights

  • Stephan Bonnar
  • Forrest Griffin
  • Keith Jardine*
  • Rashad Evans*
  • Matt Hamill

Middleweights

  • Chris Leben
  • Nate Quarry
  • Michael Bisping
  • Ed Herman
  • Kalib Starnes
  • Kendall Grove
  • Rory Singer
  • Travis Lutter
  • Charles McCarthy
  • Pete Sell
  • Patrick Cote

Welterweights

  • Diego Sanchez*
  • Josh Kosheck*
  • Mike Swick*
  • Josh Burkman
  • Luke Cummo
  • Marcus Davis
  • Matt Serra
  • Chris Lytle
  • Tommy Speer
  • George Sotiropolous
  • Matt Arroyo

Lightweights

  • Kenny Florian**
  • Joe Stevenson*
  • Jorge Gurgel*
  • Melvin Guillard*
  • Rich Clementi*
  • Din Thomas*
  • Gray Maynard
  • Matt Wiman
  • Joe Lauzon
  • Rob Emerson
  • Corey Hill
  • Nate Diaz
  • Manny Gamburyan
  • Cole Miller
  • Mac Danzig*

*Is now fighting in a different divison than he competed in under TUF

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

UFC Fighter Rankings

Where do fighters rank in the UFC?  I’ve seen all sorts of thoughts on rankings, so I will chime in and give my rankings, which of course are the best and most accurate.  I am using a few guidelines.

  • This is strictly UFC, not including fighters not yet signed in UFC from Pride.  For example, Fedor would be on or near the top of the Heavyweight rankings, but he is yet to sign so he is not included
  • This is based not on popularity or even record, but purely on who I perceive to be the best fighters
  • I am putting the title holders at number one in each weight class, even though they might not be the best in that class, for example, I would not have Matt Serra as the best fighter in his class, but he is the belt holder.
  • Some fighters are rising quickly and others are falling quickly (i.e. Tito and Cro Cop)

HEAVYWEIGHTS

1. Randy “The Natural” Couture

2. Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski

3. Gabriel Gonzaga

4. Cheick Kongo

5. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

6. Tim Sylvia

7. Mirko “Cro Cop”

8. Brandon Vera

9. Frank Mir

10. Jeff Monson 

11. Heath Herring

12. Fabricio Werdum

13. Assuerio Silva

(Note: Fedor, Josh Barnett, and even Aleksander Emelianko may have made the list had they signed. )

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS

1. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson

2. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

3. Dan Henderson

4. Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell

5. Wandelai Silva

6. Rashad Evans

7. Houston Alexander

8. Tito Ortiz

9. Keith “The Dean of Mean” Jardine

10. Forrest Griffin

11. Rogerio “Minotoro” Nogueira

12. Matt “The Hammer” Hamill

13. Micael Bisping

14. Ryoto Machida

15. Jason Lambert

16. Stephan Bonnar

17. Renato “Babalu” Sorbal

18. Wilson Gouveia

19. Marvin Eastman

(Note: I put Hamill above Bisping because I believe he beat Bisping in their fight.  Even though Bisping got the win, Hammil looked better.)

MIDDLEWEIGHT:

1. Anderson Silva

2. Rich Franklin

3. Yushim Okami

4. Terry Martin

5. Nate Marquardt

6. Dan Henderson

7. Jason MacDonald

8. Patrick Cote 

9. Kalib Starnes

10. Chris Leben

11. Martin Kampmann

12. Thales Leites

13. Ivan Salaverry

14. Nate “Rock” Quarry

15. Evan Tanner

16. Kendall Grove

17. Ed Herman

18. Travis Lutter

19. Dean Lister

20. Alessio Sakara

WELTERWEIGHT:

1. Matt Serra

2. Georges St. Pierre

3. Matt Hughes

4. Diego Sanchez

5. Karo Parisyan

6. Josh Koschek

7. Jon Fitch

8. B.J. Penn

9. Marcus Davis

10. Mike Swick

11. Thiago Alves

12. Josh Burkman

13. Luigi Fioravanti

14. Nick Diaz

15. Chris Lytle

16. Edilberto “Crocota” de Oliveira

17. Jonathan Goulet

LIGHTWEIGHT:

1.  Sean Sherk

2. B.J. Penn

3. Joe “Daddy” Stevenson

4. Roger Huerta

5. Kenny Florian

6. Hermes Franca

7. Nick Diaz

8. Joe Lauzon

9.  Din Thomas

10. Marcus Davis

11. Clay Guida

12. Spencer Fisher

13. Frank Edgar

14. Melvin Guillard

15. Drew Fickett

16. Kurt Pellegrino

17. Terry Etim

18. Tyson Griffin

19. Marcus Aurelio

20. Sam Stout

21. Tiago Tavares

22. Nate Diaz

(Note: I listed to 22 because there are so many quality fighters and the last 12-15 of these guys are not far from one another in ranking,  Some rankings have my number 19 Marcus Aurelio much higher, but come on, whose he gonna bump down?)

 Let the disputing begin.  I’d love to hear comments.  Perhaps I left someone off included someone I shouldn’t have.  Perhaps I have someone overrated or another underrated.  Let me know what you think.