The UFC is stacking UFC 96. It looks like Dustin Hazelett will return at UFC 96 in his native Ohio to face Ben Saunders according to Sherdog. Saunders turned heads with his dominating performance over Brandon Wolff at UFC Fight for The Troops. He used vicious knees and great Muay Thai to obliterate Wolff in highlight reel fashion to say the least. Hazelett is very impressive. He seems to be a submission of the night threat every time he fights. His last performance he torked the arm of Tamdan McCrory and forces him to tap.
Ben “Killa B” Saunders has earned the step up in competition because he is 3-0 since TUF 6. He has impressed people and shocked many with how well he has done and how he has improved. Dustin “McLovin'” Hazelett is a much improved fighter. The Team Gurgel trained fighter has highlight reel submissions. This should be a great fight. I hope Saunders is training submission defense.
Josh Koscheck defeats Yoshiyuki Yoshida via knockout (Strikes) Round 1
Mike Swick defeats Johnathan Goulet via TKO (Strikes) Round 1
Steve Cantwell defeats Razak Al-Hassan via TKO (Referee stoppage due to Armbar) Round 1
Tim Credeur defeats Nate Loughran via TKO (Referee Stoppage) Round 2
Jim Miller defeats Matt Wiman via Unanimous Decision
Luigi Fioravanti defeats Brodie Farber via unanimous decision
Steve Bruno defeats Johnny Rees via submission (rear naked choke) in round two
Ben Saunders defeats Brandon Wolff via technical knockout (strikes) in round one
Dale Hartt defeats Corey Hill via technical knockout (leg injury) in round two
Justin McCully defeats Eddie Sanchez via unanimous decision
Official Fight of the Night: Jim Miller vs. Matt Wiman
Official Submission of the Night: Steve Cantwell
Official Knockout of the Night: Josh Koscheck
Josh Koscheck looked to be in a different league than Yoshiyuki Yoshida. What a KO! I hope he isn’t done with the UFC following his AKA troubles. He showed he is improved and well rounded
Mike Swick also impressed in his quick KO of Jonathan Goulet. He is a serious contender ay 170.
Steve Cantwell is known for good Muay Thai and striking, but this submission was sick. If you didn’t see it check it out. I think Al-Hassan’s arm is still in the octagon somewhere
Jim Miller looked really, really good against a tough Matt Wiman. I think Miller can contend one day for the title. Remember, this fight was on very short notice.
Tim Credeur has wild looping punches, but he was effective. He is improving also.
Ben Saunders was most impressive. That was vicious. Brandon Wolff got dominated. I have never seen someone eat more knees and have a bigger knot on their head. Wow. Saunders impressed me.
Prayers go out to Corey Hill who suffered a broken leg in his fight with Dale Hartt. He had to be taken out in a stretcher. More on this as news comes in
The fight for the troops idea was worthwhile and handled well. What a classy event that showed the spirit of MMA. I liked Goldberg’s comments that the UFC is a “sport”, but the soldiers fight real life. There are no ref’s, tapouts, etc. in battle. Very true. Even hardcore fans ought not loose sight of that. Also, Rogan had some good political thoughts at the end about the “bulls***” of the bailouts of GM and AIG vs. the worthwhile cause of the intrepid fallen heroes fund.
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.
Georges St. Pierre defeats Jon Fitch via Unanimous Decision
Brock Lesnar defeats Heath Herring via Unanimous Decision
Kenny Florian defeats Roger Huerta via Unanimous Decision
Demian Maia defeats Jason MacDonald via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) in Round Three
Rob Emerson defeats Manny Gamburyan via Knockout in Round One
Tamdan McCrory defeats Luke Cummo via Unanimous Decision
Cheick Kongo defeats Dan Evensen via TKO (Strikes) in Round One
Jon Jones defeats Andre Gusmao via Unanimous Decision
Chris Wilson defeats Steve Bruno via Unanimous Decision
Ben Saunders defeats Ryan Thomas via Submission (Armbar) in Round One
* I had a good night as far as predictions go, I predicted 8 of 10 correctly.
Submission of the Night: Demian Maia Knockout of the Night: Rob Emerson Fight of the Night: GSP & Jon Fitch ($60k each)
My Disappointment of the Night: Manny Gamburyan or Andre Gusmao
The Maia McDonald fight was a great battle in round one especially. Maia is awesome. I am seriously a believer. I think he is a top flight middleweight and can contend for the belt. His submissions are sick, he showed some great ground and pound skills. He stood toe to toe. Maia is a real deal fighter and he will get some respect now.
The Huerta vs. Florian fight was a good fight, but it wasn’t the fight of the year that it was billed to be. I scored the fight 30-27 Florian as did the judges. I believe the score doesn;t show how close the fight was, but Florian was clearly more technical and better all around. Florian is now officially the number one contender in the UFC lightweight divison
Who would have predicted Emerson to KO Manny in 12 seconds? I was disappointed with that.
Cheick Kongo is huge and I am glad his fight made it onto the card. He looked good againt Evensen. He is a top ten maybe top 5 heavyweight. However, why call for the belt after you beat Dan Evensen? Sorry Cheick get in line behind Werdum and beat someone of note. You need some type of win streak to get a title shot.
Brock Lesnar silenced any doubters. He showed he has the skills to fight, and not just fight, but to win. And not just to win, but to win against top tier fighters. He has a lot of areas to improve upon. He need to improve his submission skills. He had a dominant position countless times and did nothing with it. That comes from his wrestling background. He needs to learn something about keeping the mount and dropping elbows. He is strong as an ox. He hits hard. Man was that first punch hard! I thought it was funny in the countdown Herring said, “I have fought bigger, stronger, better and more accomplished wrestlers.” He was wrong. He has not fought a wrestler of Brock’s calibur and strength and Brock dominated him.
I was disappointed with Lesnar’s WWE antics and unsportsman like conduct. He shoved Herring away after round 1. He acted like Herring at the end of the fight. He pointed at him and laughed afterwards. He acted like he was lasoing him. I don’t have a problem with some of that. I know adrenaline gets pumping and I know other fighters do things like act like the are burying a guy or the Barnett throat cut, but Lesnar needs to learn respect for his opponent.
Speaking of respect for opponents how about the St. Pierre vs. Fitch fight. A possible fight of the year candidate. Fitch was out of his league. He looked good a few minutes during the fight, but St. Pierre dominated. The story following this is not as much St. Pierre winning and keeping his belt as it is Fitch’s toughness. Fitch is one tough dude. I gained respect for him. How about the show of class between these two after the fight? That is why I like St. Pierre.
It looks like Penn vs. St. Pierre will indeed happen, hopefully in December. Wow! What a fight that will be.
As I have said before there are certain guys that it isn’t smart to pick against. St. Pierre is one of those right now. There is no doubt that he is the favorite in this fight. However, do not count out Jon Fitch. Fitch is no doubt the number 2 welterweight in the world and a loss to St. Pierre may not even change that. St. Pierre has readily admitted that Fitch is his best opponent to date. The question with St. Pierre has always been the mental side of things. Georges seems to be focused and ready. He has been training hard and will be ready for Fitch. I think St. Pierre is too well rounded and too strong for Fitch. I think the fight could go a while and could be very technical. It is possible that Fitch could catch Georges in some type of submission. The worry I have in picking St. Pierre is that the UFC has virtually assured us that a St. Pierre win would merit a fight with B.J. Penn and year’s end. Fitch wants to play spoiler. I think Georges will be focused and will win by ref stoppage in round 3.
Brock Lesnar vs. Heath Herring
I respect Lesnar and here’s why. He came into the UFC relativley inexperienced in mixed martial arts and he debuts against one of the world’s best in Frank Mir. Then he agrees to fight hall of famer Mark Coleman. That didn’t pan out and then he agrees to fight a veteran in Heath Herring. I think Lesnar may have been better suited to get a win or two under his belt before fighting the top fighters. However, he is game. I know he is 0-1 in the UFC and Herring is a proven fighter, however in his loss Lesnar showed he is for real. He has awesome wrestling and he can pack a punch. Herring is a different opponent stylisiticlly than Mir was. Herring can win by submission, but he is not the jiu jitsu threat that Mir was. If Lesnar gets this down he will ground and pound Herring. If it stays up the question will be can Lesnar take a hit and how crisp is his boxing and striking. Herring has been in there with the best of the best in MMA. He is no slouch. Many people may pick Herring. I am sure the UFC is pulling for Lesnar. He is a gold mine and he needs a win. He is in his hometown and he is prepared. Herring is apparently re-focused and a changed fighter from what he has been. I still have to pick the stronger, bigger, more athletic Brock Lesnar is this one. I could be wrong, but I am picking him anyways and say he wins by TKO in round 2.
Roger Huerta vs. Kenny Florian
Fight of the night right here. One thing you can count on is that Huerta and Florian always put on a good show. They are unquestionably the top contenders now in the UFC’s lightweight divison. I do not know if they are Stevenson are Sherk good, but they deserve the shot to fight for the title shot. I do not know when they will get the title shot, but the winner will get one. In other words, someone on this card is going to fight B.J. Penn before year’s end. White would like to see Penn fight the winner of this bout and then admit that B.J. has cleaned out the divison. Anyways, this fight will be great. Huerta is no doubt a solid fighter, but I do not know if he is Florian level. Kenny has beaten some great guys. Don’t forget Huerta was getting beat up by Guida before he pulled out a come from behind win. I know a win is a win. Standing up I give the edge to Florian. Jiu jitsu I give the edge to Florian. These two fighters are close in talent, but I think Florian is all around more talented. I pick Kenny Florian to rain down elbows and open up Huerta and eventually end the fight early in round 3.
Cheick Kongo vs. Dan Evensen
This undercard fight features a heavyweight that beat up Mirko Cro Cop. I looked up Evensen’s fight record and he seemd to be a fair fighter. His only losses have come to Christian Wellish and Dan Bobbish. I am sorry to say that Evensen is not the fighter that Kongo is, or seems to be. Kongo is big and strong. I think Kongo wins this fight by unanimous decision.
Demian Maia vs. Jason MacDonald
Demian Maia has some of the best jiu jitsu in the UFC. The winner of this fight is looking to climb into contention in the middleweight divison and could be considered a top 5 guy with a solid win. Jason MacDonald has tons of talent and he could easily KO Maia. However, I think if this fight gets to the ground it won’t last long. Maia doesn’t want to mess around. Demian’s performance against Ed Herman at UFC 83 was impressive. I forsee something similar here. I pick Maia to win this by submission in round 1.
Steven Bruno vs. Chris Wilson
I believe Chris Wilson is underrated in the welterweight divison. He looked very good against Jon Fitch. Wilson has fought against much better guys in his career than Bruno and I would have to think that will help him. I predict that Wilson wins this fight by decision.
Andre Gusmao vs. Jon Jones
I don’t know a think about Jones except that he is a last minute replacement. This is a huge chance for the undefeated Jones. He is facing a veryy highly touted Andre Gusmao. Gusmao is also 5-0, but he is highly favored here. We will see if Gusmao is as agood as some say he is. I think Gusmao will win by KO in round 1.
Manny Gamburyan vs. Rob Emerson
Why in the world this fight is on the main card is beyond me. There are at least 3 fights better deserving of that than this one. I’d rather see the Gusmao vs. Jones fight or the Wilson vs. Bruso fight or even the Kongo vs. Evensen fight than this. I have said before I do not like Emerson. He is a punk. I can’t get over his gang and him beating up innocent people. He is a loser. I hope Gamburyan hurts him bad. I think Manny is a very good fighter and will have no problem with Emerson. I hope Emerson’s ticket is punched out of the UFC. I pick Manny to win by submission in round 1.
Luke Cummo vs. Tamdan McCrory
McRrory hasn’t fought since his loss to Akihiro Gono in November ’07. McRrory is very talented and is good on the ground. Cummo has a sub par record with really struggling against premiere talent. I think McCrory pulls this one out with a submission in round 2.
Ben Saunders vs. Ryan Thomas
I don’t know anything about Thomas, but I think Saunders pulls this one out. Saunders willbve ready for this. Thomas is a late replacement for Jared Rollins. I pick Saunders to win by unanimous deicison
Fight of the Night Prediction: Roger Huerta vs. Kenny Florian
Submission of the Night Prediction: Demiam Maia
KO of the Night Prediction: Andre Gusmao
Upset Watch: Herring over Lesnar, McDonald over Maia