Alright folks it's back to the grindstone here at MMAdness after a well deserved New Year's break. January is going to be a great month with two UFC cards, the long awaited Affliction sequel, and a WEC card (not to mention the Sengoku card earlier this month which will be discussed later in the notes section). The first sample on the tasting menu this month is UFC 93 taking place in Dublin, Ireland. This is the UFC's first card out of the US since October 2008 and their first ever trip to Ireland. This is the first of many overseas cards the UFC hopes to put on this year with confirmed events in London and Montreal and a rumered card in Germany (and that's only though July!). The co-headliner is interesting even though no belts will be put on the line. The main event is Dan Henderson v. Rich Franklin. This would've been a dream match up at middleweight about 2 years ago. Now, with both guys being demolished by Anderson Silva (Franklin got beat down twice) both are taking this fight at 205 to see where they stand in the division. Also at stake is a spot coaching on TUF 9 US v. UK (which actually has already begun filming with both guys training the US and after this fight only one will go back to continue coaching while the other fighter gets edited out). The co-main event is Mark Coleman v. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. This is a long awaited rematch for Shogun who lost by a freakish dislocation of his elbow in their last fight in PRIDE. However, there is bad blood here as Coleman (in his typical fashion) continued to go nuts on Shogun even after the fight was called causing the Chute Boxe team to storm the ring. This was a great rematch for the UFC to put on. Coleman is looking to make one last run in the UFC at 205 (even though he's almost always fought at heavyweight). Shogun is saying he's finally healthy again and if he is, look for Shogun to get his revenge on Coleman which would put his career in the UFC back on track in a big way. With the formalities out of the way let's break down the fights:
Nate Mohr v. Denis Siver: Mohr is 8-5, 1-2 in the UFC, with 7 wins by stoppage. He is mostly a striker. Siver is 11-6, 1-3 in the UFC, with 9 wins by stoppage. He is mostly a submission fighter. This will be a good clash of styles. Neither of these guys has been impressive but a loss here would be devastating, most likely sending either of these guys back to the minor leagues for awhile. Siver has more experience and is a better grappler which is where I usually give an edge. But I think Mohr is a better fighter so I'm going to pick him by KO in the second round.
Thomas Egan v. John Hathaway: Egan is 3-0, making his UFC debut, with all 3 wins by stoppage. He is mostly a striker. Hathaway is 9-0, also making his UFC debut, with 7 wins by stoppage. He is also a striker. Egan will have the home field advantage being the only Irish man in the field - especially fighting a Brit. However, I think Hathaway has too much experience. I'll pick Hathaway to hand Egan his first loss by KO in the second round.
Tomasz Drwal v. Ivan Serati: Drwal is 14-2, 0-1 in the UFC, with 12 wins by stoppage. He is a striker. Serati is 10-2, making his UFC debut, with 8 wins by stoppage. He is also a striker. These guys are almost identical fighters. I'll give Drwal the edge in experience, specifically in the UFC. I'll pick him to win by KO in the first round.
Eric Schafer v. Antonio Mendes: Schafer is 10-3-2, 2-2 in the UFC, with 9 wins by stoppage. He is a submission fighter. Mendes is 14-3, 0-1 in the UFC, with 10 wins by stoppage. He is a striker. This should be a good clash of styles. I'll give the edge to "Red" Schafer due to his UFC experience and grappling prowess. I'll pick him by submission in the first round.
Martin Kampmann v. Alexandre Barros: Kampmann is 17-3, 4-1 in the UFC, with 16 wins by stoppage. He is well rounded. Barros is 13-5, making his UFC debut, with 7 wins by stoppage. He is mostly a striker. I think this is a total bounceback fight for "The Hitman" Kampmann who is shifting from middleweight to welterweight in this fight. I think Kampmann rebounds from his loss to Marquardt with a win by decision.
Jeremy Horn v. Rousimar Palhares: Horn is 80-18-5, 6-6 in the UFC, 2-0 in PRIDE, 1-0 in the WEC, with 68 wins by stoppage. He is mostly a submission fighter. Palhares is 8-2, 1-1 in the UFC, with 7 wins by stoppage. He is also a submission fighter. I'm hoping this will be a great ground battle but sometimes these fights turn into stand up wars which I'm ok with too. Obviously Horn has more experience and is probably more well rounded but if we're talking about pure BJJ skills I have to pick Palhares by submission in round 1.
Marcus Davis v. Chris Lytle: Davis is 15-4, 7-1 in the UFC, with 13 wins by stoppage. He is well rounded. Lytle is 26-16-5, 5-8 in the UFC, 3-0 in the WEC, with 22 wins by stoppage. He is a submission fighter. Both of this guys begged for this fight - well actually Davis begged to fight in Ireland and Lytle begged for Davis so everyone wins! I think Davis keeps the fight standing and wins by KO in the second round.
Alan Belcher v. Denis Kang: Belcher is 13-5, 4-3 in the UFC, with 10 wins by stoppage. He is a striker. Kang is 31-10-1, making his UFC debut, 6-1 in PRIDE, 0-1 in DREAM, with 27 wins by stoppage. He is well rounded. Yes Kang is making his UFC debut but Kang making his UFC debut against "The Talent" Belcher is like saying Ben Rothwell would be at a disadvantage making his UFC debut against Heath Herring. In other words, he's not. Kang should give a nice introduction to UFC fans of his multi faceted skills. I'll predict he wins by submission in the second round.
Mark Coleman v. Mauricio Rua: Coleman is 15-8, 6-3 in the UFC, 8-5 in PRIDE, with 12 wins by decision. He is a wrestler with ok ground and pound. Rua is 16-3, 0-1 in the UFC, 12-1 in PRIDE, with 14 wins by stoppage. He is a striker. "The Hammer" Coleman is making his first appearance in the UFC since the dark ages of UFC 18 almost 10 years ago! (back when they still had only one 15 minute round!) He is on his last legs at 44 years old. He is hoping that cutting down to 205 will extend his career by getting him in better shape but Coleman is one of the few fossils left from the ancient days. His age actually isn't even the biggest of his problems. He is so one dimensional it's not even funny any more. Rua is coming off a tough loss to Forrest Griffin after losing only one match in almost 4 years (to Coleman - which some wouldn't count). Rua was injured at the time of his loss to Griffin and he finally says he's healthy. If he's healthy Coleman is in for a world of hurt. Rua is young, strong, agressive, and more well rounded than his record indicates. If he is hurt though... all bets are off as we saw in the Griffin fight. I'm going to assume that with all the time he took off he is finally ok. I'll pick Rua to win by KO in the first round. I'm not sure if this will end Coleman's career but it probably SHOULD. If he wins though... who knows where it goes from here.
Rich Franklin v. Dan Henderson: Franklin is 24-3, 11-2 in the UFC, with 22 wins by stoppage. He is a striker. Henderson is 23-7, 3-2 in the UFC, 13-5 in PRIDE, with 12 wins by stoppage. He is a wrestler with heavy hands. This should be a great fight though I think Franklin is in a tougher spot than Henderson. Henderson still has options at 185 and is only doing this fight to gain some exposure on TUF as well as re-establish himself as a contender in two weight classes. Franklin on the other hand can't go back to middleweight until someone takes out Anderson Silva and a loss to Henderson here would kill his chances at a title shot at 205 leaving him with almost no options. I hope Franklin comes into this fight with that sense of urgency because he'll need it against a bully like Henderson. Obviously Henderson wants to get inside and get Franklin to the mat or land some heavy hands from the clinch and Franklin wants to keep him at bay with crisp striking and maybe getting a lucky shot in at some point for the KO. I think either guy will take a decision victory which will probably not make this the war everyone wanted two years ago when both of them were unofficially tied for best middleweight in the world. Because of Franklin's situation I'm going to pick him by decision but this is really a toss up here.
This should be an interesting night with what is promising to be some interesting fights (though if my predictions stack up the main event might be an anti climax). My pick for fight of the night goes to Marcus Davis v. Chris Lytle. My pick for KO of the night goes to Shogun. And my pick for submission of the night goes to Palhares. Can't wait for Saturday! Anyway, let's move on to some New Year news and notes from Japan.
K-1 and DREAM put on their annual (well, what used to be K-1 and Dream Stage's) New Year's eve show. Here are noteworthy results:
Ikuhisa Minowa def. Errol Zimmerman by submission in round 1 - "The Punk" keeps rolling
Kiyoshi Tamura def. Kazushi Sakuraba by unanimous deicsion - Is this the end for the "Gracie Killer" ?
Bob Sapp def. Akihito Tanaka by growling at him in the stare down... just kidding (though that's what would happen if him and I ever fought) Sapp won by KO in round 1 - "The Beast" delights the Japanese fans again
Semmy Schilt def. Siala Siliga by submission in round 1 - A dutchman winning by submission? Would Bas be excited or dissapointed? Probably dissapointed no one won by liver kick...
Hayato Sakurai def. Katsuyori Shibata by KO in round 1 - "Mach" stays at top speed
Melvin Manhoef def. Mark Hunt by KO in round 1 - Manhoef substitutes for Jerome Le Banner and gets the win anyway
Shinya Aoki def. Eddie Alvarez by submission in round 1 - Aoki becomes the first WAMMA lightweight champion
Mirko Cro Cop def. Hong Man Choi by KO in round 1 - Choi is starting to make a habit of losing on NYE to eastern Europeans
Note: Joachim Hansen was supposed to fight Gesias Calvancante but it was canceled at the last minute when Hansen did not pass his medical exams
There were also some interesting matches from Sengoku 7 on Jan 4th:
Antonio "Big Foot" Silva def. Yoshihiro Nakao by TKO in the first round - Was that really worth it to snub the Cali State Athletic Comission on your steroid ban Big Foot?
Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal def. Yukiya Naito by KO in the first round - King Mo is starting to get some serious attention at 205
Sanae Kikuta def. Hidehiko Yoshida by split decision - An unexpected setback for Japan's national Judo treasure
Jorge Santiago def. Kazuo Mizaki by submission in the fifth round - Santiago, after a turbulant UFC career, is really gaining momentum after a strong Striekforce showing and now winning the Sengoku middleweight title
Satoru Kitoaka def. Takanori Gomi by submission in the first round - Gomi has really fallen off the map losing his last two fights in Sengoku after owning PRIDE. Everyone thought a title fight would get him focused again but I think until he sees the level of competition rise he will continuously fight down to his opponent
Alright folks you are now officially caught up on all things MMA. Stay tuned for my UFC 93 review as well as my Affliction 2 and WEC 38 previews. Until then,
Soccer kicks and head stomps...