Time to get back in the saddle with my world famous UFC predictions! This weekend will be very special for me as it will be the first time I attend a UFC event. I will give you coverage from top to bottom next week on everything I experienced. Unfortunately I won't be able to attend the weigh ins but everything from fight night will be covered here. I'm so excited I'm almost speechless. I've attended an IFL event which was cool in it's own right but this should be on a completely different level. The venue, the fans, the fighters, the production value should all be something I've never experienced and I don't plan on missing a moment. I'll be there when the gates open until they close. I expect big things from this card. It's stacked pretty much top to bottom and I can't wait to "Get it on!!" With that said I'll leave all my reactionary writing for next week when I've actually experienced it as opposed to telling you what I hope it's like. So without any further adieu here are my predictions:
Roan Carneiro v. Ryo Chonan: Carneiro is 12-6, 2-2 in the UFC, and already has a loss to Chonan on his record back when they both fought in DEEP. He has 7 wins by stoppage and is a BJJ expert. Chonan is 14-8, 4-4 in PRIDE, 0-1 in the UFC with 6 wins by stoppage and he is a fairly well rounded fighter. Both of these guys are trying to bounce back from unimpressive losses and this will be Chonan's first fight in almost a year after recovering from injury. Obviously Chonan wants to keep this fight standing. I think he'll be able to do that and pull out the decision victory.
Tim Boetsch v. James Lee: Tim is 7-2, 0-1 in the IFL, 1-1 in the UFC, with all 7 wins by stoppage. He is a striker. Lee is 13-3, 1-0 in PRIDE, and 0-1 in the UFC, with all 13 wins by stoppage. Lee is mostly a submission fighter. This fight will not go the distance given these two guys records and both of them coming off losses. The question is can Lee get the fight to the ground or will Tim keep it standing? My guess is that Lee takes this fight to the mat and he submits Tim in round 1.
Jason McDonald v. Jason Lambert: McDonald is 20-10, 4-3 in the UFC, with 18 wins by stoppage. He is mostly a submission fighter. Lambert is 23-8, 4-3 in the UFC, with 19 wins by stoppage. He is a more well rounded fighter but is a good striker. This is a do or die situation for Lambert as he has lost 2 fights in a row and another loss could mean saying good bye to the octagon for awhile. McDonald is also coming off a loss which makes this fight dangerous for Lambert as well. McDonald can hold his own on his feet but if he's smart he has to take this to the ground. I think McDonald can get this fight to the ground and submit Lambert. I'll pick McDonald by submission in round 1.
Matt Brown v. Dong Hyun Kim: Brown is coming off the TUF 7 season and a big win in the finale. He is 7-6, 1-0 in the UFC, with all 7 wins coming by stoppage. He's a very well rounded fighter but his strength probably lies on the ground. Kim is 10-0-1, 1-0 in the UFC, with 7 wins by stoppage. He is mostly a striker. I don't think Brown can hang with Kim's striking and Kim will overwhelm Brown. I'll pick Kim by decision.
Thiago Tavares v. Kurt Pellegrino: Tavares is 13-2, 3-2 in the UFC, with 11 wins by stoppage. He is a submission fighter. Pellegrino is 11-4, 1-0 in the WEC, 3-3 in the UFC, with 9 wins coming by stoppage. He is also a submission fighter. Normally when two guys like this get in the ring they both want to stand to avoid the other's strength. Usually this leads to an exciting fight. I'm picking Pellegrino who I think is the better striker. I'll predict Pellegrino by KO in round 2.
Nate Marquardt v. Martin Kampmann: Marquardt is 26-8-2, 5-2 in the UFC, with 18 wins by stoppage. He is mostly a submission fighter. He is coming off a very controversial decision loss to Thales Leites and I'm sure is looking to right his name and get back on track toward a title rematch. Kampmann is 17-2, 4-0 in the UFC, with 16 wins by stoppage. He is also a submission fighter. Kampmann is riding a 9 fight win streak and is becoming a serious challenger for the number 1 contender spot in the middleweight division. I think these guys will both keep the fight standing due to their strength both lying in their ground game. I'm going to give the edge to Kampmann's Muy Thai skills. I think he's coming into this fight with a lot of confidence and although Marquardt is hungry to avenge his loss I don't see it happening against Kampmann. I'll pick Kampmann by TKO in round 1.
Dan Henderson v. Rousimar Palhares: Henderson is 22-7, 13-5 in PRIDE, 2-2 in the UFC, with 11 wins by stoppage. He is a great ground and pound guy with a wicked right hand. He is coming off two tough title losses to Anderson Silva and Quinton Jackson. Finally he won't be fighting a top ten P4P candidate and I think the results will be much better. Palhares is 8-1, 1-0 in the UFC, with 7 wins by stoppage. He is a submission fighter. Dan has a world of experience on Palhares and I expect him to use it all to his advantage. I expect him to try and keep it standing but if Palhares forces it to the ground Henderson with keep control and impose his will on Palhares. I expect a big win for Henderson to get back on track. I'll predict Henderson wins by decision.
Karo Parisyan v. Yoshiyuki Yoshida: Karo is 18-5, 8-3 in the UFC, with 9 wins by submission. He is a submission fighter. Yoshida is 10-2, 1-0 in the UFC, with 8 wins by stoppage. He is well rounded but is mostly a striker. Karo is trying to come back from a loss while Yoshida tries to keep his ball rolling. Karo, for all his wins and posturing, is nothing more than a gate keeper. He can fend off all the mid level fighters from number one contender status but when it comes to fighting for the title he'll always fall to the bigger dogs. However, Yoshida is not one of those dogs. I see Karo getting the victory here. I pick Karo to win by decision.
Rich Franklin v. Matt Hamill: Franklin is 23-3, 10-2 in the UFC (with his only losses coming to Anderson Silva), with 21 wins by stoppage. He is a striker. Hamill is 4-1 overall with all his fights coming in the UFC, with 3 wins by KO. He is a great wrestler and ground and pound artist. His one loss was very controversial and I personally believe he should be 5-0. This fight is very interesting considering this is the first time Franklin will fight at 205 since he fought Ken Shamrock over 3 years ago. Franklin is a huge 185 so I don't think he'll have trouble with Hamill's power. However, he may have issues with Hamill's wrestling ability. If Franklin can keep this fight on its feet he should win. But if Hamill can impose his will on Franklin all bets are off. I think Franklin has too much experience and is too good of an all around fighter to lose to someone who is still on the way up like Hamill. Hamill is a tough kid though and I think he can stand in there but ultimately I'm picking Franklin by decision.
Chuck Liddell v. Rashad Evans: Liddell is 21-5, 2-1 in PRIDE, 16-4 in the UFC, with 15 wins by stoppage. He is a pure counter striker with serious wrestling ability. Evans is 13-0-1, 6-0-1, in the UFC, with 6 wins by stoppage. He is a great wrestler with ground and pound skills and a developing striker. This is a very interesting fight. Liddell is coming off possibly the biggest win of his career against Wanderlei Silva and thinks if he wins this fight he will probably get the next shot at Forrest Griffin for the title. Evans is coming off two very controversial decisions against Michael Bisping and Tito Ortiz. Evans needs a really good showing here and if he wins this fight he can also probably claim a shot at the title given his undefeated record and the list of people he's beaten. However, I don't think that's in the cards for Evans and I'll tell you why. Liddell is a much better wrestler than people give him credit for. He's gone in the cage and beaten guys like Couture, Ortiz, and Randleman. Evans is in that same mold and will most likely look for the take down and if not then he will initiate the striking which is exactly what Liddell wants to create angles and counter strike. This fight was tailor made for Liddell and I see him taking full advantage. Evans is a tough kid and I think he'll hold his own but I definitely see Liddell winning this by decision. It's not what people came to see (including myself) and I hope I'm wrong but in my heart of hearts that's how I see it going down.
My pick for submission of the night goes to Jason McDonald. My pick for KO of the night goes to Martin Kampmann. And my pick for fight of the night goes to Chuck Liddell and Rashad Evans. There you have it folks my big UFC 88 predictions. I can't wait to fill you in on everything that happened in ATL. So stay tuned for that next week and today is a special Labor Day doubleheader as I'll be back to preview WEC 36 which goes down next Weds. Until then,
Soccer kicks and head stomps...