Friday, April 20, 2012

UFC 145 Quick Picks

Well, we've finally arrived at the long awaited grudge match. Here are my UFC 145 Quick Picks.

Jon Jones vs Rashad Evans
I am beginning to see Jones as the next Anderson Silva. He's complete destruction of Shogun, Rampage and Machida leaves me wondering if anyone on the current roster can actually dethrone him. But, I do believe that Evans is the only man who can beat Jones right now. He's trained with him, doesn't have any illusions about his invincibility and is a smart fighter that will implement his gameplan. However, until Jones actually loses, I won't bet against Jones. My pick is for Jones to win by 3rd round submission.

Rory MacDonald vs Che Mills
What an interesting matchup. Che Mills another in a long line of excellent British strikers takes on Rory MacDonald, a well rounded fighter. Although I believe MacDonald is more than comfortable on his feet against Mills, I believe the Tri-Star product will fight a smart fight and force this to the ground. My pick is MacDonald via 2nd round submission.

Ben Rothwell vs Brendan Schaub
Rothwell vs Schaub is a matchup of two men coming in off losses. Rothwell lost a boring, who is more out-of-shape fight against Mark Hunt at UFC 135. Schaub is coming in off a vicious KO loss to Big Nog. Although neither man is in danger of being cut at this juncture, a loss could devastate both careers. Since Schaub is already beginning to show a suspect chin, I believe his biggest worry is getting KO'd. But Rothwell isn't really know for have tons of power. So, I believe Schaub will begin to pick Rothwell apart and eventually land that big right hand. My pick is Schaub by 2nd round TKO.

Miguel Torres vs Michael McDonald
What a step up in competition for McDonald. Although he is 14-1 in his career, he has yet to face a top level fighter. Insert Torres, the former Bantamweight champion with a ton of experience. Torres is getting his first taste of action since his release and re-signing by the UFC for his inappropriate twitter comments. I expect Torres to feel a sense of urgency to get a victory to help erase that moment in his life. McDonald has the majority of his victories by TKO/KO and most of Torres' submissions are usually off of his back. Since I don't think McDonald will be forcing takedowns, I expect this fight to be a striking battle. My pick is Torres via unanimous decision.

Mark Hominick vs Eddie Yagin
Hominick will be trying to rebound off a disappointing KO loss in 7 seconds to the Korean Zombie in his last outing. In Yagin he'll find a solid well-rounded fighter who relies heavily on his submission game. I expect Yagin to try and force this fight to the ground. Hominick has a good ground game and will be able to fend off submission attempts and possibly work for his own. My pick is that Hominick will out-work Yagin in route to a unanimous decision win.

Mark Bocek vs John Alessio
I have a feeling that this fight will be a ground war. Both men possess good ground skills and will look for a finish on the ground. Bocek is a good up-and-comer, Alessio is a veteran who has fought a multitude of top welterweights. However, he's lost to the top level guys. I expect this to be a back-and-forth battle. My pick is Bocek by unanimous decision.

So there are my UFC 145 Quick Picks. Now let the fights begin!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Five Reasons Dos Santos vs. Fedor Makes Sense

The future looks grim for UFC 146: Dos Santos vs. Overeem. Though Alistair Overeem's failed drug test comes as no surprise to those who have followed him since his lanky K-1 days, the timing couldn't be much worse. Desperate fans have taken to lobbying via Twitter for journeyman Mark Hunt as a potential replacement to face Junior Dos Santos (a rumor summarily quashed by UFC President Dana White.)

With the short list of suitable replacements looking very short indeed, a novel idea would be for White to sign Russian legend Fedor Emelianenko to challenge Dos Santos for the UFC heavyweight title.

Given White's acrimonious history with Fedor's management, the possibility seems as unlikely to ever become a reality as it is intriguing, but there is real logic behind it. Considering White's promotional savvy and history of confounding expectations, one should never say never.

Here are five reasons why Dos Santos vs. Fedor actually makes a lot of sense.

#1: Contention Doesn't Matter, It's a Business

Although Fedor's recent record may not seem to warrant an immediate UFC title shot, the determination of UFC contenders historically seems more academic than quantitative. From Forest Griffin and Brock Lesnar to Dan Hardy and more, many fan favorites have been given a fast track to the title shot as matchmakers strategically select the most marketable and stylistically interesting fighters from their pool of candidates.

While the UFC's "black box" title contention algorithm may not satisfy purists or statisticians, their fan-driven approach to matchmaking has paid off with record pay-per-view sales, and there's no question Dana White has done a great job selling fans the fights they want to see.

#2: Marketability

Whether you consider him the world's greatest or completely overrated, Fedor Emelianenko is without question responsible for some of the most exciting moments in mixed martial arts history. With a fearless style that keeps fans around the world on the edges of their seats, Fedor's star power gives him the unique leverage to repeatedly pass on a UFC contract and yet still maintain a lucrative fighting career.

Junior Dos Santos has more in common with Fedor than perhaps any other professional fighter. The Brazilian's jovial, everyman personality and sense of humility stands in ironic contrast to the reputation he has earned as the world's most feared heavyweight striker.

For a young sport still struggling with an image problem, a main event pairing two world-class fighters and exemplary sportsmen gives the UFC an opportunity to make inroads into markets their current brand cannot reach.

#3: Personnel Shortages

The recent departure of pay-per-view goliath Brock Lesnar leaves a gaping hole in the UFC's heavyweight division. With main event regulars Shane Carwin and "Minotauro" Noguiera out due to injury and younger prospects Brendan Schaub and Matt Mitrione ostensibly out of contention due to recent losses, the UFC is short on any obvious choices for a replacement for Overeem.

The addition of Fedor Emelianenko to the UFC's heavyweight division not only gives Zuffa an instant replacement for Overeem but a monopoly on MMA's heavyweight superstars. Although Fedor is undersized compared to the UFC's heavyweights, he has made a career of fighting and beating bigger, stronger opponents (including two former UFC heavyweight champions, Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski.)

#4: The Timing is Perfect

This spring's run of twelve consecutive weeks without a pay-per-view event represents the longest UFC pay-per-view drought in recent history. With The Ultimate Fighter TV ratings on a steady decline, the undoing of Dos Santos vs. Overeem threatens to slam the brakes on the UFC's summer momentum.

Meanwhile, Fedor Emelianenko has been training all spring, ostensibly in preparation for a tentative early summer match up with a yet-unnamed opponent from a short list of mid-tier fighters. After three consecutive losses in Strikeforce - the first of his career - Fedor's two most recent victories show improvement upon his exciting but arguably reckless style.

At a time when MMA is getting most of its publicity for the wrong reasons (see: TRT, pro wrestling,) the addition of Fedor to UFC 146 would bring much-needed appeal and instant legitimacy to the event.

#5: It's a Win-Win Situation for Dana White

Since walking away from tedious and protracted negotiations with Fedor's management two years ago, White has gone on the record to remind the world just how "overrated" he believed the Russian fighter always was. In considering Emelianenko as a last-minute replacement for Overeem, therefore, White may seem to be faced with a dilemma and risk looking like a hypocrite.

As a savvy business promoter, however, White probably knows he can't lose. If Dos Santos wins, White was right about Fedor all along, but conversely if Fedor manages to upset Dos Santos, the world's greatest is now the exclusive property of Zuffa, LLC. Either way, there's no risk here for Zuffa. Everyone wins.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

UFC on Fuel TV 2 Quick Picks

The spring break for the UFC is finally over and I am looking forward to seeing some fights! Here are my UFC on Fuel TV 2 Quick Picks.

Alexander Gustafsson vs Thiago Silva
I believe ring rust will play a factor for Silva in this fight. He's coming off a year long suspension and facing an up-and-comer in Gustafsson who is not only riding a 4 fight win streak, but is fighting in his home country. I expect Gustafsson to come out strong. My pick is Gustafsson via 2 round TKO.

Brian Stann vs Alessio Sakara
This is a nice rebound fight for Stann who always has trouble with good wrestlers. In this matchup with Sakara he won't have to worry about that. Both men will walk to the center of the octagon and throw bombs until one of them falls down. My pick is that Stann will win this war via 2nd round KO.

Paulo Thiago vs Siyar Bahadurzada
Thiago has already faced a who's who of upper talent in the UFC. Now he gets to welcome newcomer Bahadurzada to the octagon. Bahadurzada likes to rush and throw bombs. Thiago should be well prepared for this barrage with crisp counters. I also believe Thiago will be the dominant force on the ground and will look to take the fight there early. My pick is Thiago via 3rd round submission.

Dennis Siver vs Diego Nunes
Siver is making his first appearance at featherweight. Nunes is a top contender in the featherweight division. Both men possess strong standup skills and I don't believe this fight will go to the ground. Now Siver is the bigger name here but Nunes is slightly favored. I expect this to be a back-and-forth battle going to the end. My pick is that Siver will pull off the minor upset via Split Decision.

DaMarques Johnson vs John Maguire
I think this matchup is a bit harder to pick. You just never know which Johnson will show up. His performances are hit-or-miss. Maguire is still a relative unknown but is riding a 6 fight winning streak heading into this fight. Maguire in his UFC debut showed good cardio in his unanimous decision victory but this is a step up in competition for him. I expect this fight to go everywhere. Both men have good ground games and decent standup. My pick is that Maguire will outwork Johnson and win via unanimous decision.

Brad Pickett vs Damacio Page
Pickett is coming in off of a loss. Page is riding a 2 fight losing streak and is in danger of being cut if he loses a 3rd straight fight. I expect Page who is already known for being a rampaging berserker early in his fights to come out all guns blazing. If Pickett survives the early onslaught, I expect he will break Page down and eventually submit him. My pick is Pickett via 2nd round submission.

Alright, there are my UFC on Fuel TV 2 Quick Picks. Now let's see some fights already!