UFC 109 Overview and Predictions
Strikeforce: Miami could’ve been a mediocre freak-show kind of card with short stoppages and over-hyped talent were it not for two classic battles, including the card’s main event that featured a game but altogether too small Marius Zaromskis, who proved simply not tall enough or experienced enough in the cage for a surprisingly powerful and ever-improving Nick Diaz. Diaz did get caught at one point and that’s what made the fight less than one-sided and a great exchange for one round. In the end though Diaz was simply too much for Zaromskis. But even that fight paled in comparison to what will no doubt go down as one of the year’s best knock-outs as a one-legged and super-disciplined Robbie Lawler suddenly mugged kickboxing talent Melvin Manhoef. Manhoef’s fall was scary and his recovery was to no one’s surprise a very slow one. Lawler showed to be a smart counter-striker and a great survivor in that fight, which was the best fight of 2010 so far in my view. I was off on both of those fights in my predictions and I guess it’s time to take a real close look at two things; one being the possibility that talent coming from Dream is over-hyped by some hardcore MMA fans (myself included), and two being that kickboxers need to adjust accordingly to seasoned American boxers on top of a defense to shots and ground game before embarking on a career in mixed martial arts.
Anyway, the UFC’s next card is a decent one for big fans of the sport but in the next few months the UFC has some serious things happening that I cannot wait for. Below are my predictions for UFC 109 beginning with the prelims, then the two fights that will be aired on Spike television for free, and finally the main card. This card features some really awesome young talent in the under card and obviously some legends on its main card, but I’m watching for my man Nate Marquardt, a guy who gets better every single fight and is forcing the UFC to give him a hard to market rematch with the greatest fighter in the world, Anderson Silva.
- Lightweight bout: Phillipe Nover vs. Rob Emerson: Phillipe Nover was the victim of very bad officiating in his last fight (a TKO loss to Kyle Bradley). He’s way above that fight and should have come out stronger regardless of the legitimacy of the official outcome. He’d better come out stronger against Emerson who looked pretty decent in his last fight, a loss against the very talented Rafael dos Anjos, and is a flash-knockout kind of guy (remember his fight with Manny Gamburyan). Still, I expect Nover to work harder and dominate the fight after wearing Emerson down and neutralizing his power. Prediction: Nover.
- Light Heavyweight bout: Brian Stann vs. Phil Davis: If these guys were bigger names we might see this on the main card. Brian Stann is just not getting the respect he deserves. He’s well-rounded and he’s quietly winning in the UFC lately. Maybe he’s got it together and if he wins this fight he’s got to get the credit he deserves. For those who don’t know who Phil Davis is, here’s the deal. Davis is a former NCAA wrestling stand-out and is a blue-belt under master Lloyd Irvin. Keep in mind that as a blue belt he is just getting off winning the No Gi World Jui-Jitsu Championship and did it against bigger guys. He’s undefeated with four fights in mixed martial arts and even finished two of his opponents with punches. This guy is going to be a very big deal. Prediction: Davis.
- Heavyweight bout: Tim Hague vs. Chris Tuchscherer: Interesting fight with two lower-tier UFC heavweight talents. I’m not sure either guy has staying power but if one finishes the other in impressive fashion then I might change my mind. Tuchscherer is extremely tough while Hague has only really been beaten once. He lost to Todd Duffy in the fastest knockout in UFC history. It will be interesting to see how he recovers. Hague should be big enough to keep Tuchscherer’s game in check and his reach will help him too. Prediction: Hague.
- Heavyweight bout: Rolles Gracie vs. Joey Beltran: Joe Beltran is a late replacement for this fight but he’s just coming off of an absolute bloody mauling of former UFC fighter Houston Alexander. In other words, the guy is no joke. Rolles Gracie is the son of BJJ legend Rolls Gracie and he of course is a 2nd degree black belt in BJJ. He’s starting his MMA career kind of late and only has three fights under him (all wins by submission in the first round). He’s also a 3rd degree black belt in Judo so he will know how to take the fight to the ground. One more thing, he is much larger than Beltran. Gracie is another guy to watch and I really hope to see him on television Saturday night. Prediction: Gracie.
Preliminary Card (Spike TV)
- Lightweight bout: Mac Danzig vs. Justin Buchholz: Mac gets on television despite three losses in a row. He did lose to some very tough competition but I hasten to say that if he loses here he will be the first winner of The Ultimate Fighter to be cut by the UFC. That is not gonna happen. Buchholz is not Clay Guida or Josh Neer and he certainly isn’t Jim Miller (a super-talent who Danzig went the distance with). Look for Danzig to tear this guy down fast and dominate thoroughly. Prediction: Danzig.
- Lightweight bout: Melvin Guillard vs. Ronnys Torres: Torres could get Guillard down and disappoint us all by exposing the exciting and lovable Melvin Guillard’s lack of ground game, but he’ll have to avoid taking some damage first. Torres has fifteen fights with just one defeat, a fast knockout. Has he learned from that? Can he he handle Guillard’s power long enough? Torres has not faced any talent near this level but hopefully Guillard doesn’t see this as a break from his usual marquee fights. Torres is trained to beat guys like Guillard but I’m going with Guillard’s experience and a quick finish so we can see some of those under card battles on free television. Prediction: Guillard.
- Welterweight bout: Mike Swick vs. Paulo Thiago: These AKA are thick as thieves and Mike Swick is stepping in for his injured teammate Josh Koshcheck, who I definitely think would’ve brought his A-game to avenge his prior loss to Thiago. Thiago has not really impressed since that win but who knows, maybe we will see a little more of his strengths against Swick. Swick just lost a fight on his feet and he doesn’t lose much so I’m expecting him to come out and smash Thiago. Even if the fight goes to the ground I really can’t see Thiago having much of an answer. He does have that off-chance of a fast submission if Swick attacks from the top but I expect Swick to enjoy standing with this guy. Prediction: Swick.
- Middleweight bout: Demian Maia vs. Dan Miller: Maia is an extremely talented BJJ fighter and he knows how to get the fight to the ground. He could make that happen quickly here but Miller is durable enough that he could survive for a while. Maia needs to be more savvy on his feet to at least give the illusion that he can avoid taking damage. I expect Dan Miller will want to expose that Maia can’t stand with him, but I’m not sure that’s entirely true. I think he could surprise Miller long enough to get him down and control the fight. Maia has beaten some really tough guys in this division and he will be looking to come back strong after getting crushed by Marquardt in his last fight. Prediction: Maia.
- Welterweight bout: Matt Serra vs. Frank Trigg: Couple of old school style fighters that you either love or hate. I like them both a lot and I hope they manage to put on a show. If one finishes the other quickly then this fight might actually mean something but I expect this to be a close duel between two warriors past their prime. Serra is the most likely to evolve with the sport and I actually felt the decision in his fight with Matt Hughes could have gone either way. Serra can finish a fight on his back and he can do it standing up as well. If the fight doesn’t go to one of those positions then it should be in the other. I expect Serra to lay out a solid game plan and maybe even finish Trigg. Prediction: Serra.
- Middleweight bout: Nate Marquardt vs. Chael Sonnen: Sonnen is resourceful and durable. He tends to keep enough control of his fights to win, whether he control it with his strength or whether he control it by simply keeping busy with his strikes. His conditioning is extremely underrated. However, Sonnen is walking into as powerful and as intense a fighter as there is in this division. Marquardt could possibly underestimate Sonnen, but even then his power and experience should get him through it. I don’t see Marquardt overlooking him. He will come out strong and make one statement: Nate Marquardt is more deserving of a title shot than Vitor Belfort. Prediction: Marquardt.
- Light Heavyweight bout: Randy Couture vs. Mark Coleman: I don’t like this as a main event because it actually cheapens the legitimacy of Couture’s recent accomplishments. Coleman has hardly fought anyone near the caliber of the guys Couture has fought. Coleman needs to get Couture on his back and stay there, and that simply won’t happen. Couture will force Coleman against the cage and wear him down. After he’s done with that he’ll finish the old man with strikes. Prediction: Couture.
Predictions Record: 66-28 total, 4-2 for Strikeforce: Miami
Predictions Percentage: 70.2%