MMA Blog’s UFC 92 Preview and Predictions

UFC 92: The Ultimate 2008 is one of the best cards of the year on paper.  This card features what many consider to be 3 super fights.  This card is sure to draw a good crowd and good pay per view numbers.  Also, this will end 2008 with a bang and the outcomes of these fights will dictate many key match-ups in 2009, including Brock Lesnar’s next opponent, possibly Anderson Silva’s next opponent at 205 lbs, and possibly the next contender at 205 lbs. 

Forrest Griffin vs. Rashad Evans

Forrest Griffin

vs.

Rashad Evans

   

Nickname

Sugar

1

MMA Blog Rank

6

205 Lbs.

Weight Class

205 Lbs.

16-4 (7-2 UFC)

Record

12-0-1 (7-0 UFC)

This fight will be Forrest Griffin’s first title defense and a bout between the winner of the Ultimate Fighter 1 and the winner of the Ultimate Fighter 2.   Rashad is sort of a surprise number one contender here.  He earned the title shot with his highlight reel KO of Chuck Liddell.   Evans is an undefeated fighter with a solid wrestling pedigree and very impressive striking.  Forrest Griffin is already a future UFC hall of famer and one of the biggest stars.  He relishes being the undersog.  He was the underdog against Shogun.  He was the underdog against Rampage.  Forrest works as hard as anyone in the sport.  Forrest is also known for his incredible heart.  This is a very interesting match up style wise for me.  Forrest will stand and trade, but Rashad probably has the striking advantage (just ask Chuck Liddell and Sean Salmon).  The heart and toughness advantage would go to Forrest.  The wrestling advantage would go to Rashad, but the submissions advantage would go to Forrest.  Forrest will also have a slight size and reach advantage over Rashad.  Quite honestly I think this is a bad match up for Forrest.  I look for Rashad to use his wrestling to keep the fight standing or to scramble to his feet.  I also think that he may clip Forrest with a good shot.  However, he better watch for those leg kicks which devastated Ramapge.  Forrest would have to have the conditioning advantage.  If he is smart he will want to take Rashad past round 3.  Forrest is a proverbial “cardio machine”.  We saw Forrest win against Shogun due to his cardio.  This could be the achilles heel for Evans.  I think it is highly possible he will gas and that is Forrest’s best chance at winning.  Some people speculate that Rashad could be distracted due to the recent birth of a child.  However, I think that Rashad’s training with the legendary Greg Jackson will more than cover that possible distraction.  I expect Rashad to have a great game plan.  Hidden within this fight is a match up between two great camps Evans and Team Jackson and Griffin and Xtreme Couture.  Whoever has the better game plan will win.  It may be scary to say, but I do not know if we have seen the best of either of these guys yet.  I think rashad has more raw talent, but Forrest has the heart of a champion.  With that said, I pick Rashad to win by TKO in round 3 to become the new UFC light heavyweight champion. 

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Frank Mir

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

vs.

Frank Mir

 

Minatauro

Nickname

 

1

MMA Blog Rank

3

Heavyweight

Weight Class

185 Lbs.

31-4-1 (2-0 UFC)

Record

11-3 (9-3 UFC)

I am just gonna call this one the way I see it.  Nogueira is a legend in the sport.  He is a near consensus number 2 heavyweight in the world.  He has fought the best in the world.  He is nearly impossible to knockout or submit.  He has the best heart in MMA.  Frank Mir has had good days.  He is a former UFC heavyweight champ.  He has solid all around skills and good ground skills.  However, I do not think Mir is near the calibur of Nogueira.  The two Ultimate fighter coaches will pair off for the interim heavyweight title and a chance to fight Brock Lesnar sometime in 2009.  Nogueira holds the interim title and is the first person to be PRIDE and UFC champ.  This fight gained exposure through season 8 of the Ultimate Fighter.  Nogueira was the clear fan favorite of the coaches.  In fact, Mir may have entered the reality show as the fan favorite, but the season ended with Nogueira being by far the favorite coach and becoming endeared by fans.  At the end of the season of TUF, I posted a poll on MMABlog asking about the favorite coach and 88% of the 200 people polled said Nogueira was their favorite coach over Mir.  I say that to say that Nogueira will be a fan favorite in Mir’s hometown.  In fact I cannot think of one area where Mir will have an advantage.  I think the key is mental.  Mir has not been the same since his bike wreck.  I also get the sense that he is intimidated by Nogueira.  Many interviews Mir speaks of Nog as his hero, as a “Frankenstein”, and as nearly impossible to beat.  I think Nogueira wins by submission in round 2…maybe even round 1.

Wanderlei Silva vs. Quinton Jackson

Wanderlei Silva

vs.

Quinton Jackson

 

The Axe Murderer

Nickname

Rampage

4

MMA Blog Rank

2

205 Lbs.

Weight Class

205 Lbs.

32-8-1 (2-2 UFC)

Record

28-7 (3-1 UFC)

This is the third installment of this particular fight.  Two times Wanderlei Silva has destroyed Jackson.  For those that have not see the previous two fights they are must sees, check them out here and here.  Jackson claims to be in better shape and better prepared than he has ever been.  Jackson also claims that Wanderlei is not the same guy he was in his days of dominance in PRIDE.  Jackson is coming off of a defeat to Forrest Griffin, a bizzare string of events and eventual arrest, and a change in camps which saw him move to England to train at Wolfslair.  Wanderlei is coming off of an impressive win over Keith Jardine at UFC 84.  He looks to build on that.   The winner of this fight could very well be in line for a title shot. 

        I do not know what makes this fight different than the previous two.  I have to wonder if Wanderlei does not just have Rampage’s number.  This fight will answer many questions such as: Is the difference in rules between PRIDE and UFC a big factor?  Is Wanderlei past his prime?  Is Rampage really better now than he was against Forrest?   All I know is that Rampage better avoid the clinch and the knee of Silva.  I do not see this fight going the distance.  I think that we will see this also be fight of the night.  I look for Wanderlei to win by TKO in round 2.

C.B. Dolloway vs. Mike Massenzio

C.B. Dolloway

vs.

Mike Massenzio

 

The Doberman

Nickname

 

27

MMA Blog Rank

28

185 Lbs.

Weight Class

185 Lbs.

7-1 (1-1 UFC)

Record

11-2 (1-0 UFC)

I am not going to defend the placement of this fight on the main card over Yushin Okami vs. Dean Lister, but I will tell you this will be a good fight.  These guys may not be as high up the middleweight ladder as Okami and Lister and they may not have the same name recognition, but both of these guys are solid prospects. 

     C.B. Dolloway burst onto the scene in the Ultimate Fighter 7.  He was the heavy favorite throughout the whole season, but was upset in the semi-finals by Amir Sadollah.  However, he was given a second chance following the booting of Jesse Taylor.  C.B. beta Tim Credeur handily to earn a second crack at Sadollah for the TUF title.  C.B. lost int he same way to Amir int he finale.  However, he bounced back with a highlight reel submission of Jesse Taylor by way of peruvian necktie a submission that many consider a submission of the year candidate.  C.B. is an accomplished wrestler out of Arizona State University who trains at Arizona Combat Sports with other MMA stars like TUF 8 winner Ryan Bader, WEC lightweight champ Jamie Varner, and WEC welterweight champ Carlos Condit. 

     Mike Massenzio is 1-0 in the UFC.  He won is his UFC debut quickly over UFC vet Drew McFedries.  He sunk in a kimura forcing McFedries to tap.  Massenzio is a very good prospect who is very good on the ground.  Massenzio is one of the fighters the UFC picked up from the now defunct IFL. 

        The question for me on this one is can C.B. avoid Massenzio’s submissions.  He couldn’t avoid Amir’s.  C.B. may elect to keep the fight standing if he can.  He also may want to work some ground and pound.  A lot of people like Mike Massenzio in this fight.  However, I think C.B. is going to prove too good standing and too strong on the ground.  I pick C.B. to win by unanimous decision.

  

 

Cheick Kongo vs. Mustapha Al Turk

Cheick Kongo

vs.

Mustapha Al-Turk

   

Nickname

 

5

MMA Blog Rank

12

Heavyweight

Weight Class

Heavyweight

12-4-1 (5-2 UFC)

Record

6-3 (0-0 UFC)

This fight will be the first fight to air on the main card.  Cheick Kongo may be one the most inconsistent fighters in the UFC.  He beats Cro Cop, but eats a loss to Heath Herring.  I do think Kongo is one of the top 10-15 heavyweights out there, but he needs a big win.   Kongo wants a title shot.  He makes no bones about it.  A win here may inch him closer, but it won’t put him next in line.  He still has guys like Carwin, Gonzaga, and Couture ahead of him.  However, rumor has it that a win here could garner him a fight between former UFC fighter Jeff Monson. 

    Al Turk is the former Cage Rage hevayweight champion.  I am sure Al Turk would like to get out of here unscathed.  Either way we could see Al Turk return at UFC 95 in England against new heavyweight signee Neil Grove.  Al Turk seems to be a decent striker, but I do not know if he can hang with Kongo.

I pick Kongo by unanimous decision.

The Undercard:

Yushin Okami vs. Dean Lister

Lister is a world calss grappler and jiu jitsu player.  Okami is a top 3 middleweight in the world.  Many people (including me) think Okami is deserving of a title shot.  If Okami beats Lister it will be hard to withhold a title shot from him.  There are two reasons Okami has not gotten that shot.  First, he is not very marketable.  Second, he is coming off of an injury.  He would have gotten the shot over Cote, but an injury slowed Okami.  Tehre are tons of people in line at 185 lbs. including Thales Leites, Nate Marquardt, Michael Bisping, and Demian Maia.  I believe Lister could submit Okami, but I have to pick Okami to win this by decision.

Quick Picks:

Matt Hamill vs. Reese Andy – Hamill by Unanimous Decision

Brad Blackburn vs. Ryo Chonan – Blackburn by Unanimous Decision

Antoni Hardonk vs. Mike Wessell – Hardonk by TKO

Dan Evensen vs. Pat Barry – Barry by TKO

Advertisements

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?

 

UFC News: Cheick Kongo vs. Mustafa Al-Turk At UFC 92

It looks like Cain Velasquz has been forced to withdraw from his fight with Al-Turk at UFC Fight Night 16 and now the Former Cage Rage Heavyweight Champ, Al-Turk will face Frenchman heavyweight Cheick Kongo at UFC 92. This from MMAweekly.com

According to his coach and manager Alexis Demetriades, it appears that the fight is off due to injury. “We got word from Joe Silva that Velazquez has pulled out due to injury and will be undergoing knee surgery to fix it. It’s a shame as we had a strategy in place and we were all set to go.”

The announcement of Velazquez withdrawing from the fight will leave many disappointed as the fight guaranteed fireworks. All is not lost, as a replacement has been found in tough Frenchman Cheick Kongo, who is coming off a TKO win over Dan Evensen at UFC 87 in Minneapolis.

“We were offered Kongo by Joe and we accepted the fight. We were just waiting for Kongo to get his signed bout agreement back before we could confirm it,” clarified Demetriades, adding, “Everything else is the same. Mus will be fighting on the main card, on pay-per-view. It’s a good fight.”

For his part, Kongo has been in the press recently, announcing an affiliation with The Wolfslair camp in the U.K. in order to refine his training. Part of that training will no doubt be focused on developing his ground game with the excellent wrestling capabilities available in-house at the ‘lair.

The two are expected to fight on the UFC 92 main card on Dec. 27 in Las Vegas.

UFC News: Cain Velasquez vs. Mustafa Al-Turk

I had heard rumblings that the UFC was having a hard time finding a willing opponent for UFC Heavyweight fighter Cain Velaquez, who is an up and comer and not far from really being on the radar.  The first rumor I heard was he was fighting Antoni Hardonk at UFC 90, but it appears that is not true and that he will fight British Cage Rage Heavyweight Champ Mustafa Al-Turk.  This from MMAmania.com:

Hot heavyweight blue chip prospect Cain Velasquez (4-0) will likely return to action against Octagon newcomer Mustafa Al-Turk (6-3) at UFC Fight Night 16: “Fights for the Troops” at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C., on December 10.

MMAmania.com recently learned of the possible match up between the future the division and the current Cage Rage British Heavyweight Champion.

Velasquez is an undefeated American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) standout who has won all of his UFC bouts (two), building a reputation as a dangerous opponent who many in the division would prefer to avoid. Brad Morris and Jake O’Brien weren’t so lucky, and the former Arizona State University wrestler stopped them both in the first round.

He is widely regarded as a future champion, a distinction his possible opponent already has locked down.

Al-Turk — who fights out of the famous London Shoot gym in the United Kingdom — reportedly just signed a four-fight contract to fight for the UFC after a successful run in Europe on the Cage Rage circuit. In fact, he has six wins in seven attempts for the promotion and is riding a two-fight win streak.

So far the UFC Fight Night card looks good and features:

Josh Koscheck vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida

Mike Swick vs. Jonathan Goulet

Cain Velasquez vs. Mustafa Al-Turk

Steve Bruno vs. Luke Cummo

Eddie Sanchez vs. Justin McCully

Luigi Fiorvanti vs. Brodie Farber

Corey Hill vs. Dale Hartt

Nate Loughran vs. ?

I look for two to three more fights to be put on the main card.