Top MMA News UFC 121 Breakdown
Oh well, it’s the UFC again! Just a few years ago, the mecca of mixed martial arts held an event every six to eight weeks and competed for televised audience with Japanese extravaganza Pride. One reality show, two Forrest Griffin books and countless smart marketing moves later, we are blessed with a very important evening of MMA action, just one week after a show in England. Thank you Dana White, you pusher of exciting moments! Here is our take on Saturday’s fights.
Brock Lesnar (-172) vs Cain Velasquez (-123)
Don’t ask me why, but there was a huge buzz around the Lesnar Vs Carwin last summer. Defend Carwin’s explosive power all you want, but the man fought something like sixteen minutes prior to the Brock fight and it showed. He looked like a shark in the first round and like a gold fish in the second. Now the buzz around Lesnar versus Velasquez is lesser. The champion just had a strong performance, so every reason is good to dismiss the challenger. What are those reasons? He’s too small…and…he’s too small. That’s it.
Truth is, Cain Velasquez is a 240 lbs of solid, driven athlete with an impressive baggage of experience in competition sports. Watching him display his wrestling against behemoths like Ben Rothwell and Cheick Kongo was nothing short of kinetic poetry. If you think Velasquez is going to try and take Lesnar down, you are in for serious disappointment. Velasquez is a well rounded mixed martial artist. Velasquez will show patience and use his amazing footwork to dance around Lesnar and play bullfighter, a bit like Mark Hominick does. Then, when Lesnar’s big frame will start playing against him and he starts gasping for air, Velasquez is going to close in for the kill.
Ben’s Prediction: Velasquez by TKO, Round 2
Martin Kampmann (+195) vs Jake Shields (-286)
I’m not sold on Jake Shields. He is indeed one of the greatest grapplers to compete in MMA. Remove the strikes from the equation and I think he can be competitive on the mats with the likes of Ronaldo “ Jacare” Souza and Marcelo Garcia. Put in an opponent that can punch, kick, elbow, knee and defend the takedown like Martin Kampmann and you have another ball game. I know what you think. “But Shields just beat down Dan Henderson, Ben, you don’t make any sense.” First of all, Dan Henderson is old. Endurance is one of the first thing that leaves you as you grow older. Segundo, Henderson made a living out of “setting the pace.”
Now enter Martin Kampmann, a young and relentless cardio machine who, more than once, accepted fights where he was over his head and found ways to win. Thales Leites and Drew McFedries come to mind. He lately dispatched jiu-jitsu ace Paulo Thiago in impressive fashion. Thiago is not half of Shields on the ground, but he is bigger and more well rounded. Expect Kampmann to use his
hyperactive footwork and pepper Shields from a distance. He’s a smart fighter so he will not take any chances with a jiu-jitsu phenom like Shields and be more than happy to hit his face for fifteen minutes.
Ben’s Prediction: Kampmann by Unanimous Decision
Paulo Thiago (-118) vs Diego Sanchez (-118)
My first observation would be that it’s a very good fight to go refuel on peanuts, beer or hit the bathroom. Most of Sanchez’s exciting fights came where he exercised physical dominance over his opponents. It’s not exactly the case here. Thiago is this hulking Welterweight with a knack for setting up a slow and suffocating pace. I know Sanchez is back with Greg Jackson and that only good things can come from there, but I can’t help to think he’s over his head at Welterweight.
I think Thiago will stuff Sanchez’s early onslaught and establish top control over him. Don’t count “ The Nightmare” out from there as he will be very aggressive from the bottom and provoke a few scrambles, but as the fight will drag on, Thiago will wear him out the way Jon Fitch did. It’s going to be slow and ugly display of physical dominance.
Ben’s Prediction: Thiago by Majority Decision
Tito Ortiz (+125) vs Matt Hamill (-175)
This fight is going to be entertaining in so many ways. It embodies what the UFC does best, draw, make things emotional. Hamill was Tito’s pupil on The Ultimate Fighter’s 3rd season and as Tito’s career declines and Hamill tries to recover from Jon Jones’ domination, they meet and try to re-ignite the spark of their career. Move away Sylvester Stallone and your convoluted Rocky plots, this is as good as it gets.
I don’t see this being competitive at all. Ortiz always based his style on his wrestling dominance and this advantage being negated, I do not see how the injury-ridden fighter will manage to keep things interesting. Hamill is a mammoth wrestler with an iron jaw that has a complete lack of fear and a taste for punching people in the mouth. I see him walking Tito down, stuffing a few takedowns and ending the fight with a spectacular display of ground and pound. Oh, and I also think it’s going to send Tito into retirement.
Ben’s Prediction: Hamill by TKO 1
Brendan Schaub (+130) vs Gabriel Gonzaga (-182)
I’m torn. I hated Schaub’s jock personality on The Ultimate Fighter and exulted at Roy Nelson’s victory in the final. I am also unsure I like Gabriel Gonzaga…let alone think he still has the tools to beat someone like Schaub. The Brazilian made his name by ironically knocking out Mirko Filipovic with a high kick, but since his defeat to Randy Couture, he’s never been the same. Even more alarming, in the last two years he’s showed a glaring weakness against big punchers like Shane Carwin and Junior Dos Santos.
Brendan Schaub fits the mold. He’s a massive heavyweight, football transplant whose hands are his best ability. He’s fast, athletic and very mobile. Gonzaga has every reason to be scared and the UFC audience has every reason to think Gonzaga is fed to Schaub for experience purpose. “Napao” still has a wrestler’s chance, but I think Schaub is well prepared for that eventuality. He’s going to circle around the Brazilian, carefully pick his shots and end the fight in definitive, yet anti-climactic fashion.
Ben’s Prediction: Schaub by TKO 2
The Undercard In A Nutshell…
Court McGee (-270) by Submission 3 (Guillotine Choke) over Ryan Jensen (+185) : The difference in that fight is McGee’s ability top control ability. Jensen will scramble back up a few times, but will gas out and fade eventually.
Paul Taylor (+140) by Split Decision over Sam Stout (-196): This will be…GOOD! I’m just flipping a coin here, both guys are basically identical strikers. Taylor packs more power as Stout is in a better shape. Fight Of The Night
Daniel Roberts (-167) by Submission 2 (Kimura) over Mike Guymon (+120): Don’t let the John Howard fight fool you, Roberts is a good prospect and Guymon is starting to get too old for the game. Submission Of The Night.
Chris Camozzi by Unanimous Decision over Dongi Yang: I have no clue who Yang is, but Asian fighters tend to fade in the UFC. Plus, Camozzi is a brute.
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