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
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My UFC 79 Predictions

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On paper UFC 79: Nemesis looks like one of the best fight cards of the year.  There are at least three main-event worthy fights on this card and I am excited about this fight night.  I will slowly work on my predictions as I am tired of eating crow.

Doug Evans vs. Mark Bocek

I am gonna pick Doug Evans simply because he fought Roger Huerta and went past round one.  Perhaps no logic in the pick, but I am going with my gut.  Evans by unanimous decison. 

Roan Carneiro vs. Tony DeSouza

These guys careers are fairl similar.  Both have a good win this past year.  Roan beat Clementi and DeSouza beat Hazelett.  Both are coming off losses.  Roan to Jon Fitch and Tony to Thiago Alves.  I think Roan Carneiro’s experience will be the edge.  He has fought some quality guys.  Carneiro by submission.

Dean Lister vs. Jordan Radev

Radev got killed by Drew McFedries.  I think Dean Lister will win this fight and win it by submission.  I look for this to be the submission of the night.

Manny Gamburyan vs. Nate Mohr

Manny is a good fighter.  I will pick Manny, but this is all hinging on how his injury has healed.  The last guy he fought named “Nate” he was beating until he hurt his shoulder.  Manny will have trained hard and prepared well for this fight.  I assume he wants to prove himself here.  Nate Mohr is not a push over though.  This is Manny’s big chance.  I pick Manny by split decision.

Eddie Sanchez vs. Soa Palalei

I pick Sanchez, who was the one to be greet Cro Cop into the UFC.  Palalei is unproven.  If this wasn’t for having Liddell and Silva on the card this could be knockout of the night.  I look for a first round TKO.

Rich Clementi vs. Melvin Guillard

Melvin Guillard is dangerous, if you don’t believe me ask Gabe Rudeiger or watch the knock out to Gabe’s abs.  However, I think Clementi will be in better shape.  Guillard can be good, but I don’t think he wants it.  I pick Clementi in a second round stoppage.

Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou vs. Lyoto Machida

This one is interesting to me.  I got to give Dana props for landing Sokoujou.  Dana has landed most of the most popular pride guys (Big Nog, Dan Henderson, Cro Cop, Wanderlai, and Shogun).  Sokoudjou is still unproven because he hasn’t fought many guys.  He beat Nogueira and Arona, which is huge.  I say this will be fight of the night.  This is the hardest pick for me, because I believe these guys are top ten UFC light heavyweights and this fight has as much title contention implications as the other light heavyweight fight, maybe even more so.  I think the winner will be in line to face the Griffin/Jackson winner or worst case scenario one fight away.  Machida is impressive.  Sokoudjou is dynamic.  I refuse to make a definite pick.  If it ends in round one Sokoudjou will be the winner, if not then I suspect Machida will be.  I have to say that Sokoujou is where I am leaning and he has definite star power in the UFC with some crazy kick boxing skills a la Cro Cop. 

Chuck Liddell vs Wanderlai Silva

Being billed as the most anticipated fight in MMA history.  3 years ago would have been a better fight.  Chuck is on his way down I think, don’t get me wrong he has knockout power and he has something to prove coming off of two losses, but Silva is coming off of two losses also.  A win for Chuck may get him another chance at Jardine, a loss throws him way down the mix for the title.  A win for Wanderlai may mean he is fighting the Sokodjou/Machida winner for the Griffin/Jackson winner.  I think Wanderlai is a harder worker and a better trained fighter, he is more well rounded.  Chuck can knock him out any time.  Wanderlai should have learned something about kicks from Keith Jardine.  I think we will see Wanderlai Silva hurting Chuck in round one.  Knockout of the night.  The one disadvanatge is PRIDE guys haven’t faired well yet in the octagon.  However, look for Chuck’s confused, just been KO’d face. 

Matt Hughes vs. Georges St. Pierre

Perhaps this is wishful thinking.  TUF made me a Hughes fan.  He has tons of character.  St. Pierre is tough.  I am picking Hughes against my better judgment. I want Hughes to win so he can hurt Serra and take his belt.  Cardio won’t be a probelm for either guy.  The lack of training may hurt St. Pierre.  Hughes seems awful occupied with other things also.  I think if Hughes can get the fight on the ground and work for another submission then he can win.  Hughes via submission in round 4.

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.