Here we go again folks. For the third weekend in a row we have another big MMA card on tap and this time it's UFC's annual Super Bowl weekend blowout. This year features a long awaited rematch between two top five pound for pound fighters in GSP and BJ Penn for the welterweight championship. This fight alone is worth the PPV buy but this card is pretty well put together top to bottom. I'm getting all excited here so let's dig right into the fight predictions:
Matt Arroyo v. Dan Cramer: Arroyo is 3-2, 1-1 in the UFC, with all 3 wins by submission. Cramer is making his pro debut and his UFC debut but he was 3-0 in amateur bouts with one win by KO. Arroyo should take care of business here on the ground. I'll pick him by submission in the first round.
Jake O'Brien v. Christian Wellisch: Jake is 10-2, 3-2 in the UFC, with 8 wins by KO. Wellisch is 8-4, 2-2 in the UFC, with 7 wins by stoppage. Wellisch is more well rounded but he is prone to being KO'd and O'Brien has good stand up so I'm going to pick O'Brien by KO in the first round. No matter who loses though it spells bad news for their UFC career.
John Howard v. Chris Wilson: Howard is 10-4, making his UFC debut, with 8 wins by stoppage. Wilson is 14-3, 1-1 in the UFC, with 11 wins by stoppage. I think Wilson is more well rounded and should be able to keep the fight standing where he has the advantage and win by decision.
Thiago Tavares v. Manvel Gamburyan: Tavares is 13-3, 3-3 in the UFC, with 11 wins by stoppage. Manny is 8-3, 2-2 in the UFC, with 7 wins by stoppage. This will either be a very technical ground fight or a war on the feet. My guess here is technical ground fight which I think favors Tavares. I'll pick him by submission in the second round. Again, both of these guys really need this win.
Jon Fitch v. Akihiro Gono: Fitch is 19-3, 8-1 in the UFC, with 12 wins by stoppage. Gono is 27-12-7, 6-3 in PRIDE, 1-1 in the UFC, with 12 wins by stoppage. I think Gono is a little over the hill and Fitch is an incredible fighter who will overwhelm Gono with his wrestling and ground and pound. I'll pick Fitch by TKO in the first round. It's a shame the UFC's beef with AKA has relegated Fitch to the undercard after fighting for the title. Hopefully an impressive win here will get him back on the main card where he belongs.
Nate Diaz v. Clay Guida: Diaz is 10-2, 3-1 in the WEC, 1-0 in Strikeforce, 5-0 in the UFC, with 9 wins by stoppage. Guida is 23-9, 1-0 in the WEC, 1-1 in Strikeforce, 4-3 in the UFC, with 14 wins by stoppage. Both of these guys are good grapplers but Diaz would have the advantage on the ground with his BJJ so I think Guida will try to keep it standing and I think his wrestling will allow him to keep it there. That along with his experience advantage will stop Diaz's roll in the UFC with a win by decision.
Karo Parisyan v. Dong Hyun Kim: Karo is 18-5, 1-0 in the WEC, 8-3 in the UFC, with 9 wins by submission. Kim is 11-0-1, 2-0 in the UFC, with 7 wins by stoppage. This is a great clash of styles but I think Parisyan, who has much more experience against top competition, will use his Judo to get the fight to the mat where he can use his grappling skills to control Kim on the ground and hand him his first loss. I'll pick Karo by decision.
Stephan Bonnar v. Jon Jones: Bonnar is 12-4, 5-3 in the UFC, with 9 wins by stoppage. Jones is 6-0, 1-0 in the UFC, with 5 wins by stoppage. I like Bonnar to use his grappling skills to get the fight to the mat and hand Jones his first loss by submission in the first round.
Lyoto Machida v. Thiago Silva: Machida is 13-0, 5-0 in the UFC, with 5 wins by stoppage. Silva is 13-0, 4-0 in the UFC, with 13 wins by stoppage. Both of these guys are great strikers but I think Silva's style plays right into the hands of Machida. Silva will come forward and Machida will use his elusive karate style to avoid and counter strike and pull out the decision. Unfortunately a decision will not do anything to get Machida a title shot soon. Eventually the UFC will have to pay attention to the undefeated fighter but he doesn't put butts in seats so I think it might take another fight or two for Machida to get the title shot he deserves.
Georges St. Pierre v. BJ Penn: GSP is 17-2, 11-2 in the UFC, with 12 wins by stoppage. Penn is 13-4-1, 8-3-1 in the UFC, with 10 wins by stoppage. This is a classic match up between the naturally talented fighter and the premier athlete.
The question about both guys is whether their head is in the right place as this has proved problematic for both of them in the past. Judging from their countdown show I like where GSP is at mentally. He looks at this as a chance to prove that he can beat Penn again and hang with the best pound for pound fighters in the world. He doesn't look cocky like he did against Matt Serra because he knows how good Penn is.
Penn is coming off like a world beater, like he really has something to prove here. Anyone that needs to get that psyched up for this magnitude of fight I think has doubts and is not in the right frame of mind to win the fight.
Both of these guys are on rolls and looked dominating in their last fight. So to me, the only difference I can make between the two is who has the better mind set and who really seems to have what it takes in the heart and will category to finish a five round fight. So with that I'm going to stick with GSP on this one. I think GSP's superior athleticism will carry him into the later rounds and Penn will gas out. I'm going to pick GSP by TKO in the fourth round.
My pick for fight of the night goes to GSP v. BJ Penn. My pick for KO of the night goes to Jake O'Brien. My pick for submission of the night goes to Thiago Tavares. This should be a great card folks. I wouldn't miss this for the world! Stay tuned for my WEC review. Until then,
Soccer kicks and head stomps...