Break it Down! UFC 111: St. Pierre vs. Hardy
Why would anyone want to read Wayguk Fighter’s fight predictions? Good question, I probably wouldn’t and neither would some of the people I watch fights with. At one point I said I wouldn’t make predictions about fights anymore. Around the time that Gonzaga Ko’d Cro Cop, Forrest Griffin finished Shogun and Matt Serra knocked out GSP, I swore I would never make MMA predictions again. My non-fighting friends who took me at face value about the “sure thing” fights I already mentioned were not too happy when their Bodog wagers tanked. That’s not to say I’m the worst MMA prognosticator around. I have won a few fight night pools at our MMA club, although it should be mentioned that that true top dog of those pools is my coach’s wife who makes her picks based on who’s cuter and has nicer fight shorts. Goes to show how unpredictable MMA can be, and that’s one of the reasons people love it. With that said and my disclaimer out of the way here’s how I see the fights going down for UFC:111
Georges St. Pierre (-714) Vs. Dan Hardy (+400)
While GSP has been impressive in defending his title three times since reclaiming it from Matt Serra, he has made it quite clear that he has not been happy about not finishing any of his recent opponents. Dan Hardy is the opponent who gets to bear the brunt of GSP’s frustration. Not an enviable task. While St. Pierre is looking to make a statement, Hardy is looking to convince everybody, including himself, that he is a worthy contender for GSP’s title. The UFC hype machine has done a good job of pumping Hardy up and using his brash talk to convince viewers of the dangers that he poses to GSP. A closer look at Hardy’s record reveals that three of his four UFC victories have been by decision. He is not the KO machine the UFC would like you to believe.
A lot of analysis of this fight has focussed on the fact that Hardy is the best straight up striker that GSP has faced. While this may be true, I do not think GSP fears Hardy on the feet. People have begun to forget that GSP comes from a striking background, not a wrestling one. In this fight I’m going against the grain to say that GSP will stand with Hardy and impose his will on the feet. At the point that GSP begins to dominate Hardy on the feet and Hardy realizes that he’s in a world of trouble GSP will take him down and finish him with a vicious GnP or a submission set up by the strikes on the ground. I’m looking for a second round stoppage after a thoroughly dominating performance that cements GSP as the most well rounded fighter in the game.
Prediction: GSP in Round 2 by TKO (GNP) or Submission
Frank Mir (-164) vs. Shane Carwin (+120)
This heavyweight tilt with the winner taking home the interim heavyweight Championship belt features two fighters with drastically different resumes. Frank Mir has been on the UFC scene since 2001 and has fought the likes of Kongo, Vera, Big Nog and Lesnar (2x). Carwin on the other hand made his UFC debut in 2008 and has been fast tracked to the Interim title shot after only three fights in the big show. Carwin’s TKO of Gabriel Gonzaga was impressive, but marks the first true top tier fight of his career.
Despite the disparity in experience, look for Carwin to stop Mir and take the interim belt. Mir has the stronger Jiu Jitsu and the boxing he displayed against Nogueira is likely better than what Carwin will bring to the table. With that being said, I do not think Mir will be able to handle the pure physicality of Carwin. Carwin will muscle Mir to the ground, show that his jiu jitsu is good enough to not get submitted and beat on Mir until the referee decides he’s seen enough.
There are a few intangible factors that could also influence this fight. One is that while Mir is a full time fighter, Carwin still holds a day job at an engineering firm. Add to that the extra time demands of a newborn baby, like Carwin has, and you have to wonder if Carwin is 100% focused on this fight. These distractions from the fight might not be all bad though. Being 100% focussed on the fight while training and then having other important things in your life could keep Carwin from overanalyzing the fight. As for Mir, his pre-occupation with another Brock Lesnar re-match might be taking the focus off of Carwin. Almost all of Mir’s pre-fight press has revolved around his comments about Lesnar and the possibility of a rubber match. Shane Carwin is not the kind of opponent to look past. Here’s hoping Carwin can finish Mir. I have no desire to see Lesnar vs. Mir III, and I don’t think many other fans do either.
Prediction: Shane Carwin by GNP
John Fitch (+120) vs. Thiago Alves (-164)
Here’s a fight I can not wait for. Fitch will likely turn this into a drawn out grind fest, but do not blink because Alves could end it at any time. Fitch will look to avoid the middle range where Alves is so dangerous. He will use his huge height advantage to keep on the outside as much as possible. When things start to get mixed up he’ll go to the Greco clinch and stay tight to avoid the big knees and elbows that Alves can throw. I suspect Fitch will get tagged once or twice with shots that would knock out most fighters but he’s an intelligent fighter and I think he’ll find a way to buy himself some time and weather the storm on his way to a decision victory.
The bigger question here is what’s next for the winner of this fight? A rematch with GSP seems too early for either fighter.
Prediction: John Fitch by Decision
Jim Miller (-500) vs. Mark Bocek (+300)
After three straight UFC victories, it’s good to see Mark Bocek on the main card against a very tough opponent. Bocek has been able to use his solid wrestling and dominant Jiu Jitsu top game to out grapple other BJJ black belts in the UFC so far. Look for Bocek to do more of the same with Miller, who is a great grappler but not on the same level as Bocek in my humble opinion. Miller is as tough as they come and dangerous in every facet of the game but isn’t world class in any one area. Bocek is becoming very well rounded as he has shown in his last fights, but the difference will be his dominant top game. Bocek is one of the few high level BJJ players with a wrestling game dangerous enough to get the fight where he needs it to be. I’ll take Bocek by decision, but won’t be surprised if his stifling top pressure yields a stoppage late in the fight.
Prediction: Mark Bocek by Decision (Editor’s Note: Go Canada!)
Nate Diaz vs. Rory Markham
Diaz has been in the cage with the tougher opposition by far, but Markham has a boatload of experience. Diaz always comes to fight and looks to hurt his opponent at every opportunity. Markham is a sturdy opponent but I don’t see him hanging with Diaz for the entire fight. Markham may have his moments, but short of running him over with a cement truck, Diaz is near impossible to stop (he hasn’t been finished since his arm-bar loss to Hermes Franca four years ago). Diaz will eventually find a situation to exploit, probably on the ground, and finish the fight via submission or TKO.
Prediction: Nate Diaz by Submission
Ricardo Almeida vs. Matt Brown
Almeida faltered in his biggest opportunity – a number one contender fight against Patrick Cote. In that fight, he looked passive and without a solid game plan. Since then, he has defeated Mat Horwich and Kendall Grove via decision on his way back to contendership. Brown has a similar story; after dropping a split decision to Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 88, Brown has rattled off three straight victories.
Brown’s last fight vs. James Wilkes was a barn burner and a crowd pleaser for sure, but looked very sloppy. There is no questioning Brown’s toughness as he managed to get out of some very bad situations in that fight but over and over again it looked like Brown was doing everything in his power not to win the fight. On repeated occasions, Brown missed finishing opportunities and gave away good positions to find himself in heaps of trouble. He managed to escape against Wilkes, but those mistakes will be costly against a fighter of Almeida’s calibre. Almeida by submission in the first round.
Prediction: Ricardo Almeida in Round 1 by Submission
Rousimar Palhares vs. Tomasz Drwal
Both guys come into this fight with very solid records and a win could put either fighter into the top tier in this weightclass. I do not see Drwal being able to handle Palhares’ ground game and I do not think he is strong enough or has the technique to keep from getting taken down. There is always a chance that he could catch Palhares as he comes in, and that might very well be his game plan, but I think the percentage money is on Palhares by submission.
Prediction: Rousimar Palhares by Submission
Kurt Pellegrino vs. Fabricio Camoes
Pellegrino is on a three fight winning streak while Camoes fought to a rare draw against Caol Uno in his UFC debut. I am taking Pellegrino based on experience and having fought better competition in his career. Pellegrino has great ground skills and is no slouch on the feet. He will likely get the fight to the ground and control the fight from that position. I don’t see him putting away Camoes though and would take him in a dominant, unanimous decision win.
Prediction: Kurt Pellegrino by Unanimous Decision
Ben Saunders (-175) vs. Jake Ellenberger (+125)
Both of these guys looked really good in their last fights. Saunders brought his UFC record to 4-1 with a dominant display of clinch work against the heavily favoured Marcus Davis. Ellenberger also looked sharp earning a TKO over Extreme Couture’s Mike Pyle in his last fight. I’ll take Ellenberger by TKO, bringing his total stoppage wins to an impressive 20.
Prediction: Jake Ellenberger by TKO
Rodney Wallace vs. Jared Hamman
I do not know much about either of these guys. This is a coin toss as far as I know. Both fighters come in having very good records, but having both lost their UFC debuts. I’m calling Wallace by TKO based on his slightly better record that includes a submission of Antwain Britt and a decision loss to Brian Stann. Look for him to use his college football background to tackle Hamman, a heavy striker, to the canvass and pound out the win. Don’t expect to see the loser of this fight back in the Octagon until they rack up some wins in other shows.
Prediction: Rodney Wallace by TKO(GNP)
Matt Riddle vs. Greg Soto
This fight will showcase the two of the least experienced fighters in the UFC. Soto will make his UFC debut sporting a perfect 7-0 record, but without having fought any UFC calibre opposition. Riddle on the other hand comes in with an official record if 3-1, but with all of his fights having come in the UFC. How does someone get their pro debut in the UFC? Get on the ‘Ultimate Fighter’ and be impressive enough in not winning to earn a contract anyways. While he has not exactly fought the murderer’s row of UFC welterweights, his experience in the big show will be a significant advantage. Knowing little about either of these guys, I’ll take Riddle by decision based on his Octagon experience alone.
Prediction: Matthew Riddle by Decision