My UFC Fights for The Troops Preview and Predictions

Josh Koscheck vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida

Koscheck is the obvious favorite here, but there has been a lot of drama in his life recently. Koscheck is coming off of a loss to Thiago Silva at UFC 90.  Also, there is all the drama that has been going on at AKA.  Koscheck apparently is right in the middle and will not sign the agreement.  Franklin McNeil, on MMA Live, speculated that this could be Koscheck’s last UFC fight win or loose.  I don’t know about that, but I do know he may have some distractions.  That has to affect him.  If it wasn’t for that I would clearly pick Kos to win.  Yoshida may be a good pick for some of our risky betters out there.  Yoshida is a well roudned fighter who looked very good against War Machine in his debut.  Yoshida is a solid judoka with well rounded MMA skills.  Koscheck is a wretler first, but has much improved striking skills.  Which Koscheck will we see?  There is a part of me which wants to pick Yoshida to win this fight, and he very well could, but the safe pick is still Koscheck.  I will pick Koscheck to win by unaimous decision.

Mike Swick vs. Jonathan Goulet

Goulet has looked better lately than he had before.  However, his lasts two wins came over Kuniyoshi Hironaka and Paul Georgieff.  He has a career 4-3 record in the UFC.  Goulet is a decent fighter who can be very aggressive, however Mike Swick is a legit top ten welterweight and could climb higher.  I do not expect Swick to fall of the horse against Goulet.  When it comes down to it I think Swick is better all around and I think he will take this fight by TKO in round 2.

 Matt Wiman vs. Jim Miller

The original fight was slated to be Wiman vs. Frank Edgar, however last week Edgar was forced to withdraw due to an injury.  Jim Miller is a solid replacement that many feel could really climb into elite status in the UFC.  Miller is a gamer.  He steps in on little notice against a very good opponent in Matt Wiman.  A lot of people forget that Wiman is 4-0 since coming off of The Ultimate Fighter Season 5.  Guys like Maynard, Diaz, and Lauzon have gotten all the attention from that season of TUF, but Wiman is right there with them.  This is a tough fight to pick.  Miller ought to have better wrestling and better jiu jitsu than Wiman.  Whereas Wiman ought to have better striking skills.  When it comes down to it one of the questions would have to be Miller’s cardio in stepping in near last minute.  Will it be a factor?  I see this as a tough fight between two guys climbing the ladder at 155.  In the end I think Miller wins it by decision.  However, watch for the submission and watch Wiman’s hands.

Steve Cantwell vs. Razak Al-Hussan

Cantwell is young and very underrated.  He was not expected to beat Stann in their second fight, but I have to believe that Cantwell got on the radar with his win over Stann.  Cantwell has great striking skills.  Cantwell appears to be fairly versatile as a fighter.  I have a feeling that this fight will stay standing and that Cantwell will win by TKO in round 1.

Nate Loughran vs. Tim Credeur

Nate Loughran is 1-0 in the UFC, with his win coming over Johnny Rees.  Loughran also boasts a 9-0 career record.  However, he is stepping in against a solid veteran in Tim Credeur.  Credeur did very will on the Ultimate Fighter 7, loosing twice in the semi-finals to Jesse Taylor and C.B. Dolloway.  Credeur is best known for his very good ground skills.  Loughran also has some ground skills, 8 of his 9 wins have come by way of submission.  I look for this fight to eventually hit the ground and to become very technical.   I look for Credeur to win by submission in round 2.

Luigi Fiorvanti vs. Brodie Farber

The military fans love Luigi Fiorvanti, the ex-marine.  Fiorvanti is coming off of a disappointing loss to Diego Sanchez.  Farber is also coming off of a heartbreaking loss to Rory Markham.  It appeared Farber was about to finish Markham off when Markham landed a head kick that KO’d Farber is highlight reel fashion.  I think Fraber is a solid fighter.  The loser of this fight very well could be out of the UFC.   I really think that Luigi will come pumped and ready to win for the fans at this one.  That is why I think that Fiorvanti wins this win by TKO in round 2.

Steve Bruno vs. Johnny Rees

Steve Bruno, who trains out of American Top Team is 0-1 in the UFC, with his loss coming to Chris Wilson.  Rees is also 0-1 in the UFC losing his bout to Nate Loughran.  This is another bout of the loser leaves the UFC.  Therefore, I pick Steve Bruno to win by decision.

Eddie Sanchez vs. Justin McCully

Sanchez will want this fight to stay standing.  McCully may just want to stand and trade as well.  If it stays on its feet I really expect Sanchez to pull out a win by KO or TKO and that is what I think will happen. 

Ben Saunders vs. Brandon Wolff

Wolff is a highly regarded fighter.  Saunder is a solid fighter and TUF 6 alum.  These guys could really go at it on Wednesday.  In the end I pick Wolff to win by decision.

Corey Hill vs. Dale Hartt

Corey Hill was expected to be a very good fighter and that is why the UFC has kept him around despite his inexperience.  He has no ground game, but he does have great Muay Thai.  The loser of this fight will be sent packing from the UFC.   I think Hill’s size will be the difference.  Corey Hill by TKO in round 1. 

Breaking Down the UFC Heavyweight Divison

The Champion: Brock Lesnar

The Top Contender: The Winner of Mir vs. Nogueira

The Next Tier:

·         Frank Mir

·         Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

·         Gabriel Gonzaga

·         Cheick Kongo

·         Fabricio Werdum

·         Randy Couture

 

On the Rise: 

·         Cain Velasquez

·         Shane Carwin

·         Junior Dos Santos

 

Other Notables:

·         Heath Herring

·         Jake O’Brien

·         Antoni Hardonk

·         Mustafa Al Turk

·         Justin McCully

·         Eddie Sanchez

 

Scheduled Fights:

·         Eddie Sanchez vs. Justin McCully @ UFC Fight Night 16 on December 10

·         Frank Mir vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira @ UFC 92 on December 28 (For Interim Title)

·         Cheick Kongo vs. Mustafa Al Turk @ UFC 92 on December 28

·         Antoni Hardonk vs. Mark Burch @ UFC 92 on December 28

·         Dan Evensen vs. Patrick Barry @ UFC 92 on December 28

·         Jake O’Brien vs. Christian Wellish @ UFC 94 on January 31

 

Match Ups I’d Like to See:

·         Heath Herring vs. Gabriel Gonzaga or Cain Velasquez

·         Shane Carwin vs. Junior Dos Santos

·         The loser of Mir vs. Nogueira vs. Randy Couture

 

Other Thoughts:

·         The status of Fabricio Werdum is unknown.  Rumors circulated that he was released from his UFC contract following a breakdown in contract negotiations.  Then it was reported that Werdum was not leaving the UFC.  If he stays he is a serious contender.  I hope the UFC would consider this and want to keep him around

·         The status of ProElite is uncertain, and I mention this because the UFC has the potential to sign a couple of good fighters from the EliteXC heavyweight division such as Brett Rogers and Dave Herman.  It looked like Antonio Silva will head to Sengoku and Kimbo Slice, well….who cares!

·         It is time for Shane Carwin and Cain Velasquez to get more exposure and fight the best.  They are real threats to Brock’s belt. 

·         A 2009 bout between Lesnar and the winner of the Mir vs. Nogueira fight is exciting

·         We are hoping Randy Couture has a few fights left in the tank, and they probably will be at Heavyweight, but don’t expect him to fight no name fighters.

·         Not sure where Mark Coleman fits into the heavyweight picture seeing as how he will be fighting Shogun at light heavyweight

MMABlog’s Heavyweight MMA Rankings

 

Below I posted my heavyweight rankings.  My other rankings will be posted today as well.  Certainly the rankings could change a litte bit following UFC 90.  I’d love to hear your debate and arguments as these rankings are somewhat subjective.

 

Rank

Name

Organization

Next Fight

1

Fedor Emelianenko

Affliction

Arlovski (#4) 1/24

2

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

UFC

Mir (#11), 12/27

3

Randy Couture

UFC

Lesnar (#16), 11/15

4

Andrei Arlovski

Affliction

Emelianenko (#1) 1/24

5

Josh Barnett

Affliction

1/24

6

Fabricio Werdum

UFC

Do Santos (NR), 10/25

7

Gabriel Gonzaga

UFC

Hendricks (NR), 11/15

8

Tim Sylvia

Afliction

 

9

Alistair Overeem

DREAM/Strikeforce

 

10

Cheick Kongo

UFC

Al Turk (NR), 12/27

11

Frank Mir

UFC

Nogueira (#2) , 12/27

12

Ben Rothwell

Affliction

 

13

Aleksander Emelianenko

Affliction

 

14

Mirko Cro Cop

DREAM

 

15

Sergei Kharitonov

DREAM

 

16

Brock Lesnar

UFC

Couture (#3), 11/15

17

Roy Nelson

Affliction

 

18

Cain Velasquez

UFC

 

19

Antonio Silva

EliteXC?

 

20

Shane Carwin

UFC

 

21

Heath Herring

UFC

 

22

Dave Herman

EliteXC?

 

23

Pedro Rizzo

Affliction?

 

24

Brett Rogers

EliteXC?

 

25

Ricco Rodriquez

EliteXC?

 

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

 

Two More Changes to UFC 85 Card

UFC 85 is a mess. First, it seems that Ryo Chonan will be replaced by Kevin Burns in his fight with Roan Carneiro

UFC newcomer Kevin “The Fire” Burns (4-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) will likely replace Ryo Chonan (14-8 MMA, 0-1 UFC) at UFC 85, where he’ll meet Roan Carneiro (12-6 MMA, 2-1 UFC) on the night’s preliminary card.
Sources close to Burns today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that the Iowa-based fighter has agreed to be a late replacement at next weekend’s pay-per-view event. The reason for Chonan’s likely departure from the card isn’t immediately known. However, if the fighter swap does take place, it would be the latest of numerous changes that have plagued the fight card since it was first announced. Chuck Liddell, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Chris Leben and James Irvin have all been scratched in recent weeks, and the televised main card has been in a constant state of flux.
Burns, who boasts solid Brazilian jiu jitsu skills, has posted stoppages in all five of his career victories — three by way of submission. Recently, he’s competed for the Victory Fighting Championships and Glory Fighting Championships organizations. In fact, earlier this month, he knocked out Bobby Voelker for the VFC interim welterweight title.
Although he’s a relative newcomer on the professional scene, Burns fought a number of times as an amateur. He is reported to have delivered UFC veteran Josh Neer the only loss of his amateur career.

I am slighlty saddened by this one as I thought it would make a good fight.  I have no idea what is wrong with Chonan.

Secondly, UFC newcomcer Neil wain will be replaced by UFC vet Eddie Sanchez in his heavyweight bout with Antoni Hardonk.  Honestly, I think this makes for a more interesting fight on paper.

Eddie Sanchez (8-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) will step in to replace Neil Wain (4-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) in a UFC 85 preliminary bout with Antoni Hardonk (6-4 MMA, 2-2 UFC).
The organization updated the event’s fight card earlier today.
No reason was giving for the departure of Wain, an undefeated English fighter who recently signed a four-fight deal with the UFC.

UFC’s Competition

I have been critical of Dana White’ abilitiy to sign the free agents in the MMA world.  I think the bottom line is that Dana is unwilling to bend.  I just heard that Jacare, an excellent jiu-jitsu guy signed with DREAM.  The negotions broke down with the UFC because Dana felt they wanted too much money.  Maybe he is right, but nevertheless Jacare is now in a competitong organization.  Furthermore, it seems the UFC fails to sign top notch fighters especailly Japanese guys like Ishida, Ayoki or Sakurai.  There are other top level fighters that the UFC couldn’t sign.  Worse than that there are several top tier guys I don’t know if the UFC even cares about (Jakes Shields, JZ Calvancante, Gilbert Melendez).  He won’t sign Fedor.  He won’t sign Lindand.  In my opinion UFC will never be a monopoly and has some serious competition. With some of the internal problems and some of the UFC stars upset we could see another organization become the “big dog” in MMA.  In my opinion here is UFC’s biggest competitors.

1. EliteXC.  Dana’s feud with Shaw hasn’t helped.  Shaw is a much more typical commissioner than White.  The CBS deal will bring them in a lot of viewers, but will also help all MMA.  They have some stars in EliteXC (Nick Diaz, Jake Shields, Cung Le, Robbie Lawler). They are willing to take chances as seen by the future star Kimbo Slice.  They offered Fedor, and may get him.

2. WEC – I know it is Zuffa owned, but they have some great fighters that the UFC should bring over to the UFC.  I don’t know why you have another organization with top level fighters.  They have some great guys that would translate well anywhere (Paulo Filho, Carlos Condit, Urijah Faber, Miguel Torres, Doug Marshall, Brian Stann, Rob McCullough, Jamie Varner, Chael Sonnen, Leonard Garcia and Jens Pulver)

3. DREAM – Not much competition now, but has some good fighters (Sakurai, Cro Cop, Calvancanti, Ishida, Aoki, Denis Kang, Yamamoto, Joachim Hansen, Eddie Alvarez and Mark Hunt).  The American market is next to nothing though.

4. World Victory Road — Josh Barnett and Takanori Gomi enough said.  A few more big names and they have something good.

5. Strikeforce.  Not great competition, but still have a few guys any monopoly would want (Frank Shamrock, Josh Thompson and Gilbert Melendez)

6. ICON.  They have Jason “Mayhem” Miller and a future star in Kala Hose.

 Right now the UFC is doing fine.  They have a few competitors, but they are still the big leagues.  They have the best fighters.  Some divisions they are better than others.  For example at Light Heavyweight they have a near monopoly and at welterweight they are doing pretty well.  There are several key free agents out there (Fedor, Arlovski, Couture).  If EliteXC or someone else picks up the other guys they can really compete.

The UFC Heavyweight Title

There is a huge mess for the UFC heavyweight title.  Right now Randy Couture is still the UFC Heavyweight champ, but he says he is not coming back.  All the litigation and the news of him signing with HDNet fights and Mark Cuban seems to verify that.  Therefore, the UFC Interim Heavyweight Champ is Antonio Rodrgio Nogueira.  It is reported that Randy Couture has been offered the fight with Nogueira.  I don’t know why he would take it.  I would say there could be a few motivating factors to accept the fight for Randy.  First would be to get the UFC off his back and fulfill his contract.  Second,  many people rank Randy as the third best heavyweight behind Fedor and Nogueira.  If he really is concerned about fighting the best he could prove himself against Nogueira.  Third, the Fedor fight is still possible in the UFC.  With the news of Fedor becoming a free agent, the UFC could sign him.  If the UFC signs him I look for Randy to have two more fights.  One with Nogueira and one with Fedor. What a way to end his career.  A much better ending than the chaos and controversy of lawsuits.  He could end his career beating the number one and number 2 guys in the world to solify himself as the best. 

   Previously, Dana White indicated that Fabricio Werdum was next in line for a title shot.  At first it sounded maybe one win premature.  However, if you run through the division who else will it be?  Arlovski’s contract is over.  Tim Sylvia just lost to Nogueira.  Kongo was the apparent other option, but he just loss to Herring.  Vera is coming off a loss.  Mir is still a few fights away from the title shot. Therefore Werdum seemed like a decent option.  However, werdum is going to fight Brandon Vera this summer.  The winner will be a contender.  I would assume that before that fight the UFC will book a fight for Nogueira.  Since Werdum is fighting someone else that only leaves me to conclude the UFC has someone else in mind.  They could have counted on Kongo, but his loss blew that.  I think that leaves just four options…

1. Randy Couture could fight Nogueira.  That all hinges on Fedor being signed.  This is the firsdt option for the UFC.  However, if the UFC signs Fedor and Randy first fights Nogueria, a loss would make it hard to make the Fedor vs. Randy fight work.  Fedor is bound to get a title shot right away.

2.  Andrei Arlovski could fight Nogueira.  Event hough his contract has expired and he is a free agent, he could still get the fight.  He is the best heavyweight in the UFC besides Randy and Nogueira.  However, he has to sign first.  If he signs this is a good possiblity and could come with Randy’s belt beign stripped. 

3. Fedor could sign and fight Nogueira.  We would assume Fedor would win and then Randy would be offered this fight.  That is very possible.  However, I remember when everyone planned on the Chuck vs. Wanderlai fight and Rampage messed that up. I don’t want Nogueira to spoil that fight, even thoguh I like Nogueira. 

4. Werdum could fight Nogueira.  The fight with Brandon Vera could be scratched and he could fight Nogueira if all the above doesn’t work out.  Or the UFC could hold off until Fall sometimes on any title defense in the division and Werdum could beat Vera and still be the next to fight Nogueira. 

5.  It could be someone else to fight Nogueira.  Not likely.  Who would it be?  Kongo lost.  Herring just fought and lost to Nogueira.  Sylvia just lost to Nogueira a re-match would be a horrible idea.  Gonzaga is coming off two losses.  Jake O’Brien lost.  Frank Mir is a possibility, but he still seems a fight or two away from contention.  Brock Lesnar?  Ha!  Eddie Sanchez?  Haha! Cro Cop left and went to DREAM for now.  Another guy not currently in the UFC?  Who?  It won’t be Josh Barnett.  It won’t be the other Emelianenko.  It won’t be someone like Kimbo…yet.  It won’t be Ricco Rodriguez.  It won’t be Ben Rothwell.   That exhausts the MMA heavyweights….

The bottom line is the only realistic options are Randy, Fedor, or Werdum, with Vera and Mir standing on the outside looking in.