Friday, December 31, 2010

FIGHT BLOG: UFC 125 Preview

I know New Year's Eve is a busy time for people, but for MMA fans this is especially true. Sengoku and DREAM just completed cards and now it's time for the big one: UFC 125. This is the first event of 2011 and it looks like a fun one. I'll try to keep this one brief, though, for those who need to get back to New Year's stuff:

Prelims: Lightweight bout: Jacob Volkmann v. Antonio McKee - And so the weeding out of lightweights post-WEC begins. McKee is a prospect making his UFC debut while Volkmann is on a multi-UFC fight win streak. I tend to go with prospects in these fights because Dana White obviously saw something in them, and I'll maintain that here. McKee by decision (unanimous).
Welterweight bout: Daniel Roberts v. Greg Soto - Soto's only loss in the UFC was DQ by illegal upkick, so I'm expecting him to slip Roberts his second loss in the UFC. Soto by submission, Rd. 2.

Featherweight bout: Mike Brown v. Diego Nuñez - Ok, mini rant here. UFC signs the 145-pounders to show them off on a large stage and then put a top-five featherweight on the untelevised portion of the prelims? Disgraceful. I expect Brown to put on a show to make people care and get back in the title picture. Brown by KO, Rd. 1.

ION prelim card: Middleweight bout: Phil Baroni v. Brad Tavares - Baroni's lost two straight while Taveres' only loss came in a tough Ultimate Fighter semi-final. Baroni won't last against this prospect. Tavares by TKO, Rd. 2.

Featherweight bout:  Josh Grispi v. Dustin Poirier - It's got to sting to be Grispi right now. He earned a title shot against Aldo, was set to be a co-main eventer, and then Aldo get hurt, sending him to the prelims. Expect no mercy from him. Grispi by submission, Rd. 1.

Lightweight bout: Marcus Davis v. Jeremy Stephens - This is a battle of two guys coming off a loss, but Davis has lost three of his last four. I expect the Irish Hand Grenade's desperation to save him here. Davis by decision (split).

MAIN CARD: Lightweight Bout: Clay Guida v. Takanori Gomi - The only LW champion in Pride's history meets the Caveman. I expect fireworks and blood, but no knockouts from this bunch of wild men. I give Gomi's more technical skill the win in a fun bout. Gomi by decision (unanimous).

Welterweight Bout: Nate Diaz v. Dong Hyun Kim - Could I just say for the record that I wish the Diaz brothers were in the UFC together? Good for Strikeforce keeping one of those loose cannons, but it keeps us from a fun potential fight. Kim, however, is undefeated in the UFC and has looked impressive in most of his bouts. He's a fun guy to watch and I look for him to take advantage of his PPV card debut. Kim by submission, Rd. 2.

Light Heavyweight Bout: Brandon Vera v. Thiago Silva - For some reason Vera seems a lot older than he really is (33). Vera is one loss away from the deadly three straight, but I can't see him getting over this hump. Silva by decision (unanimous).

Co-Main Event: Middleweight Bout: Chris Leben v. Brian Stann - This is a fun bout: The final WEC LHW Champion moving down in weight to face the man who won twice in a 15-day span this year. Both are stand-up guys, so I expect some fireworks.

I know Leben wants a shot at Anderson Silva, but his momentum stops here. Stann's military background makes him a perfect contrast to Leben's freestyle fighting, and I feel that his more reserved stand-up and wrestling give him the edge wherever the fight goes. Leben has an advantage in grappling, but I don't see Stann making a huge mistake. Stann by decision (split).

And with that we come to the main event. Here we go!

UFC Lightweight Championship Bout: Frankie Edgar (c) (13-1) vs. Gray Maynard (10-0)

In their first meeting, Maynard layed and prayed his way to Edgar's only defeat. I expect him to try to stand a little more this time, while I'm sure Edgar will be working on beating Maynard's wrestling. Edgar has a strong background in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Maynard has boxing skills.

Maynard knows he needs to fight a more complete fight to win, and I expect him to blindside Edgar with an improved stand-up game. Ultimately, I think the biggest surprise will be Maynard earning his first finish since his UFC debut. My pick: Maynard by TKO, Rd. 3.

This will set up a fight between Maynard and Pettis to unify UFC's and WEC's titles. Hopefully Maynard doesn't revert to his old ways when he faces the man with the Showtime Kick.

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