Top MMA News Breaks Down UFC 105

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UFC THUMBAfter going 3-1 with my predictions for last week’s Strikeforce card, including correctly picking Fedor Emelianenko to finish Brett Rogers, my overall MMA prediction record now stands at 109-60 (64.5%) and 13-4 (76.5%) in main events. Anyone interested in a complete record of my prediction history can email a request anytime to bcmmafan@gmail.com.

Not that I’m complaining, but UFC 105 includes several fights that are really close on paper. The main card is particularly rife with coin flips, but I’m up for the challenge. My under card picks will be posted at B.C. MMA Fan later this afternoon. Ranked fighters at UFC 105 include: Randy Couture (HW #9), Brandon Vera (LHW #16), Michael Bisping (MW #13), Mike Swick (WW #5) and Dan Hardy (WW #13).
(Rankings According to The USA Today/SBN Poll)

MAIN EVENT

Randy Couture (-120) vs. Brandon Vera (-110)

Odds makers have this as the most evenly matched UFC main event in recent memory. If Randy Couture (16-10, 13-7 UFC) wins it will be by pressing Vera  up against the cage, employing some classic Greco-Roman dirty boxing, and eventually scoring with takedowns and some ground-and-pound to seal the decision. If Brandon Vera (11-3, 7-3 UFC) prevails it will be because his own extensive wrestling background neutralized Randy’s grappling advantage and allowed “The Truth” to pick Randy apart on the feet en route to a decision win. There’s an outside chance that Vera could lock up a fight-ending submission, but if “Minotauro” Nogueira couldn’t put Couture away, Brandon’s chances seem pretty weak.

Complicating matters, is the fact that both fighters have huge question marks over their heads. At forty-six years old and after two losses in a row, is Randy Couture’s body finally stifling his desire to compete at the highest level of MMA? Or will a return to light heavyweight be just what “The Natural” needs to get back in the win column? Does Brandon Vera’s heart match his impressive natural talent, or will he break under relentless pressure the way he did against  Keith Jardine at UFC 89? Can Vera recapture the swagger of the brash, young finisher who ran roughshod over the heavyweight division in 2006, or will he remain the guy who half-heartedly outpointed Krzysztof Soszynski at UFC 102 in August?

In such an extremely close fight, when my head simply can’t wrap itself around the numerous intangibles and variables, I have to go with my heart, which tells me that the great Randy Couture has just enough left in the tank to dispatch a solid, if somewhat unaccomplished, contender like Brandon Vera.

Prediction: Couture by Unanimous Decision

MAIN CARD

Dan “The Outlaw” Hardy (+190) vs. Mike “Quick” Swick (-250)

Let me just say that I’m not on board with the winner of this fight getting a title shot because, in my opinion, neither has done enough to warrant a crack at Georges St-Pierre’s belt. If #5 ranked Mike Swick (14-2, 9-1 UFC) wins then #13 ranked Dan Hardy (22-6, 3-0 UFC) will be the best welterweight fighter he’s beaten on his title run. At least if Hardy wins he will have beaten top-5 competition, but, as it stands now, #21 ranked Marcus Davis is the best welterweight that either he or Swick have beaten. Both won by decision. I’d say the winner should face the winner of Carlos Condit vs. Paul Daley to determine the #1 contender. If that means that John Fitch gets another title shot in the meantime, then so be it.

Oh yeah, the prediction! Well, this should be a very entertaining scrap as both men are known to
throw heat and each has scored half of his wins by (T)KO. Unfortunately, they have only one K.O. loss between them, so neither is likely to be finished with strikes. Ultimately, Swick seems to have the edge just about everywhere with faster hands, more octagon experience, and a more rounded ground game. If Hardy somehow has Swick’s number on the feet, I expect “Quick” to counter-intuitively slow things down for a top-control special.

Prediction: Swick by Unanimous Decision

Michael “The Count” Bisping (EVEN) vs. Denis Kang (-130)

In another competitive match, the face of the U.K. MMA scene, Michael “The Count” Bisping (17-2, 7-2 UFC) takes on one of hardcore MMA fans’ best-kept secrets Denis Kang (32-11-1, 1-1 UFC). Every time I decide that one fighter will win, I come up with a compelling counter-argument. Observe: 1) Kang will win because his overall skills are slightly sharper. Yeah but, his execution is often lacking and he’s known to make the biggest mistakes in high profile fights. 2) Alright, then Bisping will win because he’s fought the tougher competition in the UFC. True, but Kang has more experience overall and, besides, Bisping lost to both championship calibre fighters he’s met in the octagon and should probably have lost to Matt Hamill. 3) Fine! Then Kang will win because he is used to fighting overseas and has more knock-out power. Closer still, but Bisping will be fighting in his hometown and Kang hasn’t knocked out anyone that could be considered a contender since finishing Murilo “Ninja” Rua in Pride in June, 2006.

 If public opinion of Bisping’s skills hadn’t been, perhaps unfairly, diminished by the devastating knock-out he suffered against Dan Henderson at UFC 100, both fighters would probably be getting even odds. That said, I’ll go with the favourite here, not because I think he has a much better chance to win, but because Denis Kang is Canadian and, with all else being equal, everyone north of the 49th parallel knows you always go with the Canuck.

Prediction: Kang by Split Decision

Matt “The Immortal” Brown (-150) vs. James “Lightning” Wilks (+125)

Wrestler and submissions-ace James Wilks (9-2, 1-0 UFC) may have won The Ultimate Fighter 9’s welterweight tournament, but the field was fairly weak. The runner up, DaMarques Johnson has a 9-7 record against, other than Wilks, only relatively unknown, low-level competition. Records aren’t always what they seem, though. Take Matt Brown’s (10-7, 3-1 UFC) unimpressive 58.9% win ratio, for example. It doesn’t show that he’s one of the most improved fighters of the last year, nor does it indicate how easily he obliterated tough-as-nails Pete Sell in his last fight. A lot of myth and hyperbole surrounds Matt Brown, some claim he’s actually a highly-advanced MMA android sent from the year 2067, but he backs most of it up with his performances in the octagon. It’s possible that Wilks could out-wrestle Brown, but “The Immortal” put on a grappling clinic with undefeated, welterweight prospect Dong Hyun Kim not too long ago in a razor close loss, so I think he’ll be able to handle “Lightning” on the mats long enough to put fist to face with devastating results.

Prediction: Brown by KO, Rd. 2

Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson (+165) vs. Aaron Riley (-205)

It wouldn’t be right not to pick a single Brit on the main card at UFC 105. With that in mind, and also the fact that Ross Pearson (9-3, 1-0 UFC) appears to be a younger, possibly better version of grizzled veteran Aaron Riley (28-11-1, 2-2 UFC), I’ll take the upset here. Riley has been made the favorite mainly, I think, because his work rate is incredible and he’s fought much tougher competition than Pearson. However, Riley holds noticeably few signature victories and seems to come up short whenever he reaches the pinnacle of the sport as he did against Eddie Alvarez, Spencer Fisher, Chris Lytle, Robbie Lawler, and Yves Edwards. Now,  Riley’s extensive record and numerous losses to name-fighters also mean his body has paid a toll that could slow him down enough for a surging young gun like Pearson to impose his will. Basically, I’m willing the bet that Ross Pearson really is “The Real Deal.”

Prediction: Pearson by Unanimous Decision

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One Response to “ Top MMA News Breaks Down UFC 105 ”

  1. Sunday Morning Reactions:

    * After taking some time to cool down, I’ve concluded that my full-card picks for UFC 105 weren’t all that bad. Despite just staying above .500, I still finished well into the top half of all the thousands of prognosticators on MMAPlayground. Basically, it ended up being a tough night for a lot of people with six upsets in eleven fights. On top of that, I did win money at Bodog Sports with a two-fight parlay bet on Matt Brown and Ross Pearson. So at least I knew which calls were worth laying down on.
    * Speaking of Ross Pearson, man did he ever look legit last night? Arron Riley does lack signature victories, like I said before, but he’s definitely an experienced and crafty veteran. So it’s downright freaky how Pearson basically used him for target practice. That flying knee, that caused the cut and subsequent TKO finish, was an absolute beauty. The UFC will have to be careful not to rush Pearson into the deep waters of the lightweight division, but, that said, he looks like he could contend for the title one day if he continues to improve at this rate.
    * That Matt Brown victory was way more stressful than it needed to be. Brown was rocking James WIlks every time the two were separated, but he inexplicably kept letting Wilks cling to him and do nothing. In Wilks’ defense, he did an amazing job of soldiering forward after being clearly rocked so many times. His resilience was reminiscent of slasher-movie villians like Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers. Then Zombie-Wilks managed to lock up that painful looking kimura in the third round. I wasn’t to concerned though. I knew he’d have to actually rip Matt Brown’s arm off and start beating him with it before “The Immortal” would even begin to consider tapping out. That guy’s so mentally strong that his psychological fortitude could beat your personal best bench, believe it.
    * As I said above, I knew Mike Bisping was being overlooked and undervalued in his fight with Denis Kang and I really should have thought about it more carefully before picking the Canadian based on his nationality. It was the kind of sentimental error that I hope not to make ever again. Of course, Kang did rock “The Count” in the first round and was ahead on the cards going into the second, but, even at the start of the second, Denis looked to be questioning himself and I felt pretty sure that Bisping would take him out. Then, of course, he did. I still don’t think Bisping will ever be able to handle top guys at middleweight like Belfort, Marquardt, Maia, or Sonnen– much less Anderson Silva– but the Bisping haters out there are going to have to accept that he’s definitely top-ten.
    * I still don’t think Dan Hardy deserves a shot at Georges St-Pierre’s welterweight belt, but his defeat of Swick did raise his stock in my mind. Then again, Hardy could have swarmed Swick a couple times to put the fight away and I’m really not sure why he didn’t. Still, it was clear that Hardy has tightened up his striking technique without losing any of his vaunted power. His takedown defense was impressive as well, but it won’t be enough to stop GSP’s TD’s and G’n’P: I predict a vicious second round stoppage via knees on the ground.
    * I’ve had just about enough of Joe Rogan’s editorializing during the coverage of the fights. Asking Brandon Vera leading questions like “Do you think you were robbed?” and saying that MMA judging needs to be overhauled while standing right there in the octagon is unprofessional. It’s also unfair because it hampers MMA fans’ opportunity to make up their own minds about the quality of a decision. I still like Rogan and most of his opinions are fine, he should just keep them to himself until after the broadcast, or at least until after the post-fight interviews. Personally, I thought the decision was correct. Brandon Vera clearly won the second round, but, outside of the first thirty seconds of the first round and the last thirty seconds of the third round, he spent the rest of the fight getting controlled and pummeled by Couture. I also find it odd how little credit Couture seems to be getting for lighting Vera up with repeated strikes to the head from the clinch. Did Randy look like the “Natural” we remember from his victories over Belfort, Ortiz and Sylvia? No, but that’s because he’s like three-and-a-half years away from turning fifty. Give the guy a break and accept that decisions via dirty boxing are now his only viable avenue of success.
    * Speaking of Tito, if he gets by Forrest Griffin, I think the UFC should set up Couture vs. Ortiz II with Couture getting a light heavyweight title shot if he wins and Ortiz being one more win away if he gets his revenge on Couture.

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