UFC 127: Penn vs Fitch Breakdown

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MMA BettingThe UFC is returning to Sydney Australia’s Acer Arena on February 26th and will feature a number one contender bout in the Welterweight division between Jon Fitch and B.J. Penn.

Main event fights will be aired live via PPV at 10:00PM ET. I’ll clarify for anyone who is as confused as I was about the PPV times. The event takes place at 2:00PM on Sunday in Sydney, which, after adjusting for time zones and daylight savings time, works out to 10:00PM Eastern on Saturday in North America.

Here is the Top MMA News breakdown:

Jon Fitch(-140) vs. B.J. Penn(+200)
This is a bout between two powerhouses in the welterweight division. A lot of people have questioned UFC matchmaker Joe Silva’s timing for this fight because it seems like the perfect match up to determine who will be George St. Pierre’s successor if he vacates his belt and moves up to the middleweight division. I, on the other hand, am ecstatic about the match up. Who knows if the aforementioned scenario will ever happen? True fight fans want to see the best fighters in the world face off in the octagon regardless of promotion politics or belt implications.

In my opinion, Jon Fitch is one of the most underrated fighter in the UFC. Fitch has only one loss in seven years and fourteen fights in the octagon and that one loss was a five round decision loss to GSP. His most recent and telling win was against Thiago Alves at UFC 117 where Fitch dominated Alves for all three rounds by repeatedly taking Thiago down and suppressing the striker with his dominant ground game.

Despite racking up back to back losses to Frankie Edgar in 2010, B.J. Penn is still near the top of the heap in the UFC. Penn is a former world Jiu-Jitsu champion with excellent boxing skills and takedown defence who, throughout his entire mixed martial arts career, has only fought at the highest level of competition. His latest bout was against hall of famer Matt Hughes whom he dispatched by knockout in only 21 seconds. While I agree Penn deserves to be matched up against Fitch, unfortunately a 21 second knockout does not tell us much about how Penn will size up in the welterweight division.

Fitch is coming into this fight with an advantage in both size and wrestling prowess. I don’t see Fitch knocking out or submitting B.J. in only three rounds so I think he will stick with his bread and butter which is his wrestling and defensive Jiu-Jitsu in an attempt to grind out another decision victory. Conversely, B.J. has proven time and time again that he can finish the best fighters in the world by submission or knockout but has the sport caught up with the talent of Penn? I don’t think it has, but I’m also not underestimating the Jon Fitch grind.

For my prediction I’m thinking back to controversial decision victory by Wanderlei Silva over Michael Bisping at UFC 110 where the judges in Sydney seemed biased in favour of an effort to finish the fight instead of the typical American bias towards takedowns and maintaining top position. I think in this fight the venue choice will result in B.J. earning a controversial decision victory.
Prediction: B.J. Penn by Split Decision.

Michael Bisping(-455) vs. Jorge Rivera(+280)
Bisping has been improving dramatically as a fighter since his KO loss to Dan Henderson at UFC 100. He has fast hands, great movement, well timed takedowns and excellent ground and pound. Rivera has very heavy hands and the confidence to go with them. Jorge is riding a three fight win streak with his last victory being over notable veteran Nate Quarry.

Bisping is the favourite in this fight for good reason. I think his speed, footwork and wrestling will leave Rivera without any effective offence. I see this fight being an exciting fast paced fight with Bisping earning a TKO victory by ground and pound.
Prediction: Michael Bisping by First Round TKO

George Sotiropoulos(-400) vs. Dennis Siver(+250)
George Sotiropoulos has been on a tear, riding a seven fight win streak in the UFC since his debut on December 8th, 2007. He possesses excellent boxing skills and a ground game that has proven to be on another level than the competition he has faced thus far in his career. That competition includes submission specialists Joe Stevenson, Kurt Pellegrino and Joe Lauzon!

Since Siver’s fight of the night decision loss to Ross Pearson at UFC Fight Night 21 Siver has defeated both Spencer Fisher and Andre Winner. Siver has great submissions, a solid striking game and will likely have the power advantage in this fight.
I don’t see Sotiropoulos wasting a lot of time on his feet against Siver. Look for George to exploit his ground game advantage by taking Siver down and submitting him in the first round.
Prediction: George Sotiropoulos via First Round Arm Lock

Chris Lytle vs. Brian Ebersole
Chris Lytle is one of the most exciting fighters to watch in MMA. Last year in Australia Lytle earned a submission of the night bonus after locking in a slick kneebar against Brian Foster after earning three consecutive fight of the night bonuses. Lytle is a slugger with excellent hands and a ground game to back them up. Brian Ebersole is an experienced American mixed martial arts veteran who has fought almost exclusively in Australia since 2006. Ebersole has racked up a lot of wins in his ten years as an active fighter but he has never fought anyone at Chris Lytle’s level. This really is the chance of a lifetime for Ebersole.

Unfortunately, I think for Ebersole, this fight is a miss match reminiscent of last year’s Mirko Crocop vs. Anthony Perosh debacle. Ebersole is a last minute local replacement for Carlos Condit and his stand up game, wrestling and submissions are just not at Chris Lytle’s level. Look for Ebersole to get punched hard in the face by Lytle after he attempts his signature cartwheel kick.
Prediction: Chris Lytle via Second Round TKO

Kyle Noke(-208) vs. Chris Camozzi(+145)
Ultimate Fighter 11 alumni Kyle Noke and Chris Camozzi are both great prospect fighters in the UFC and are making their first appearances on the main card of a UFC event. Both fighters earned victories over their competitors in the TUF 11 finale and went on to win their next UFC bouts.

Noke is considered a two to one favourite in this fight. I don’t think it’s because he matches up particularly well against Camozzi. They are both well rounded fighters and if anything I would give a slight edge to Camozzi. I think Noke is probably the favourite in this fight because he has both the home team and the Greg Jackson advantage.
Prediction: Chris Camozzi by Unanimous Decision

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