FiveOuncesOfPain.com is back for another edition of The Pain Poll. Come along with us as we tear into every single fight scheduled for this Saturday evening’s UFC 98 card that features a light heavyweight championship match-up with Rashad Evans defending his belt for the first time against the ever-elusive Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida, a long overdue grudge match between Matt Hughes and Matt Serra, a 155 pound shoot out between Sean Sherk and Frankie Edgar and much more.
Rashad Evans vs. Lyoto Machida
Dustin James:Is this a tough fight to pick or what? I’ve honestly been going back and forth on this one since it was announced and now it’s officially time to pick a winner. Usually when I’m stuck on who to pick in a fight I jump to MMAth. Now, I know fighters will always match-up different with other fighters so MMAth doesn’t always work….but at a time like this, it’s all I have! Rashad and Lyoto have each faced Stephan Bonnar, Tito Ortiz, and Sam Hoger. Rashad defeated Bonnar via majority decision, Hoger via split decision, & ended up fighting to a draw with Ortiz. Now, Machida defeated Bonnar via TKO, Hoger via unanimous decision, and Ortiz via unanimous decision. Therefore you haveto give the “MMAth advantage” to Team Machida. Now when I look at how these fighters match-up with each other….I haveto give the advantage again to Machida. I can’t see Rashad finally being the guy who hunts Machida down and knocks him out. I just don’t think that’s going to happen. I also can’t see Rashad taking Machida down very easily. Machida’s “elusiveness” (how many times will Goldberg and Rogan discuss Machida’s elusiveness on the PPV?) should be able to keep Rashad at bay and I believe we will once again see a new UFC light heavyweight champion crowned. In a perfect world, Evans would get the win and then go on to coach the next season’s “The Ultimate Fighter” opposite Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. However, that’s the problem with “long term booking” in MMA….it doesn’t always work out. Winner: Lyoto Machida, Decision.
Bryan Levick: I believe a lot of people are worried that this will be a boring fight but I am thinking the opposite. You have two guys who want to justify their spot and are looking to change the fan’s opinion about them. That doesn’t mean that either fighter will deviate from their game just to please the crowd but it what you will see is two guys who will go toe to toe and put on a great performance. I actually enjoy watching Machida, he is a master at what he does and while I can’t stand Evans he has progressed very nicely in his time with the UFC. Machida put it on a very aggressive fighter in Thiago Silva which nobody expected. Evans has a bad habit of starting off slow but he will not have that luxury here. He can ill afford to give up any rounds to Machida who if given the opportunity to win the early rounds will not let the fight slip out of his hands latter on. I see this going all five rounds and both fighters leaving the fans impressed. Machida by unanimous decision.
Tom Casale: I have gone back and forth on this one. If you breakdown both fighters two things standout: Machida’s unique style and Evans uncanny knack to pull out a fight. I believe Machida is going to be ahead on the scorecards and if it goes to a decision, he will win. He’s too tough to rack up points on and his precision striking is a thing of beauty. The only question is, will Evans find a way to pull out the fight like he did against Forrest Griffin and to a certain extent Tito Ortiz (To get a draw)? I say no this time. Machida is just too smart a fighter to let that happen. He will rack up points early, hurt Evans, and then stay away late, earning a decision win and making Machida the light heavyweight champion of the world. Winner: Machida by decision
Dustin Zuch:In talks with people regarding this fight I’ve learned two things: casual MMA fans think Machida is overrated and hardcore MMA fans think Evans is underrated (Thank you Josh Stein for that realization). The seems to be an accurate portrayal, considering I myself as a hardcore fan have picked against Evans in his last four fights (he ended up going 3-0-1 of course). Evans’s coach, Greg Jackson, has made waves in the MMA community withhis masterful game planning abilities. Evans has a huge strength with Jackson at his side. That being said, I don’t believe this style matchup works out well for Evans at all. Evans will be looking for what he does best: a knockout punch or a takedown. I expect Machida to frustrate Evans with his trademark illusive style, stifling any attempts for Evans to get close enough to display his punching power or wrestling ability. Machida doesn’t make mistakes and I don’t expect him to start now. If Evans still has his belt by the end of this bout, I will never pick against him again. Winner: Lyoto Machida by TKO in Round 4
Brendhan Conlan:Machida and Evans are two sides of the same coin and picking a winner between the two is little more than a flip of it. Bothmen are intelligent, calculating fighters who both possess excellent grappling and a precise, multi-tiered striking attack. Neither has shown more than a sliver of weakness inside the ring. In fact, don’t tell Dana White I said this, but Tito Ortiz has been closer to beating both men than any other fighter drawing a Zuffa paycheck. He’s responsible for the lone flaw on Evans’ near-perfect professional record and had more than a few people thinking Machida’s career “0” was on the brink of extinction courtesy of a Triangle Choke at UFC 84. And yet both “The Dragon” and “Sugar” ‘Shad were still able to avoid defeat against him as they have against every opponent they’ve collectively faced. When it comes to their bout at UFC 98 I think Machida’s kicks/knees will keep the former Michigan State wrestler’s takedownsat bay while Evans will get the best of any striking exchanges that occur. Witha total of 14 decisions in 28 collective fights between them, and the strong possibility each individual will neutralize the other’s offense, I have no problem saying the ringside officials will ultimately decide who walks away with the UFC Light Heavyweight strap. Oh…and that coin-flip I was talking about…it says – Winner: Lyoto Machida, Judges’ Decision
Cory Brady:Now this is the epitemy of what a mixed martial arts contest is all about. Not a lot of holes in either of these men’s games. I would much rather just call this fight a draw but that would make a super weak prediction. I’ll tell you guys what, if one fighter has an advantage anywhere it’s going to be Rashad in the wrestling department. Now I don’t expect for Rashad to take Machida down at will by any stretch of the imagination, but I do think that the threat of the takedown will keep Machida off balance throughout the fight. I said it. Machida and his elusive style will be given fits by Rashad’s ability to keep him guessing. Winner: Rashad by Decision
Matt Hughes vs. Matt Serra
Dustin James: Wasn’t this fight suppose to happen back before the dinosaurs got wiped out? It sure seems like it. Either way, I’m still pretty psyched to see it. Why? Because there’s nothing like seeing two enemies battle it out in MMA. It seems like forever and a half ago that we have seen either Hughes or Serra fight therefore it’s a little difficult to pick the winner here. Do either of these guys still have “it”? Does Serra still have that punching power that knocked out Georges St. Pierre a few years back? Will Hughes be able to muscle Serra to the ground and control the fight? It’s hard to tell how these fighters will do due to their inactivity over the last year…but it should be a good “farewell” fight for the loser….who will more than likely be named “Matt”. Winner: Matt Hughes, Decision
Bryan Levick: The ultimate grudge match, it doesn’t matter that it is almost 18 months after their initial bout was scrapped. The hatred these tow have for each other is real and time has not healed any of the wounds. We all know what each fighter’s strengths are. Hughes is a powerful wrestler who is as smart as any fighter alive today. He knows how to exploits his opponents weaknesses, but being that he has slowed down a bit and fighters have evolved he can no longer rely solely on his wrestling. With subpar stand up Hughes will look to take Serra down and control him from the top. Serra has awesome BJJ, better standup and has pretty powerful hands but he is smaller and does not possess the strength that Hughes does. Call me crazy but Hughes has shown a penchant for being able to get hit in his last few fights and I believe Serra will catch him at some point and while Hughes is down Serra will submit him. Serra by 2nd round submission.
Tom Casale: I see a lot of people picking Matt Serra in this fight and I just don’t get it. Matt Hughes is one of the greatest MMA fighters ever and by all reports this is not only his final time in the octagon, but he really doesn’t like Serra. No way will Hughes lose this fight. While it’s true that Hughes wasn’t himself against Thiago Alves his last time out, keep in mind that’s the only man other than GSP and B.J. Penn to beat Hughes in the UFC since 2000. You won’t be adding Matt Serra’s name to that list. Hughes eats him up and dominates this fight. Winner: Hughes by 1st round TKO
Dustin Zuch:In a vast majority of MMA bouts I have a particular fighter that I’d like to see win. In this bout, I simply do not care who wins. I’m personally not a big fan of either of these guys. If they both put the same effort into the development of their fight game that they do into trash talking and being pompous… they’d both still be world champions. One of the big things that stands out in my mind when picking this fight is Serra’s TKO of GSP. Maybe there is a possibility he can test Hughes’s recently weakened chin (After the Thiago Alves knee, it’ll never be the same again). However, I think the concept of Serra being able to pull of an upset like that again is a bit far fetched. He has very little to offer offensively. Hughes’s cardio and strength is far superior and his defensive wrestling is too good to get submitted by Serra. Keep in mind that despite being known as a world class grappler, Serra has not submitted anyone in a bout since 2002. I think we’ll see Hughes rely on his trademark takedowns and ground-and-pound ability en route to a very one sided decision. Winner: Matt Hughes by Unanimous Decision
Brendhan Conlan:I’m sure Serra fans everywhere are frustrated by the overwhelming number of people picking Hughes to take home the dubya on Saturday night. However, I see the bout as being much closer than the majority seems to think, so in the infamous words of your beloved former UFC Welterweight Champion from the East Coast, “Breeeeeeathe!!!! Breeeeeeeathe!!!!” The only real thing Hughes has going for him in this bout is strength. Yes, his wrestling is clearly superior to Serra’s, but “The Terror” is a skilled enough submission-grappler to fend off any half-hearted takedown attempts Hughes throws his way. The brash New Yorker also has a mixture of decent power and accurate hands so he’ll be able to make everyone’s favorite farmboy pay if things go that route. All that being said, and this is coming from someone who is not personally a fan of Hughes, I think the best case scenario involves a Serra loss. It would likely mean Hughes’ retirement, as he’s stated this will be his last fight (and I don’t see him hanging up his gloves on the heels of a loss), as well as the Ultimate Fighter Season 4 champ possibly dipping his toes back into a lightweight pool better suited to his body frame. Winner – Matt Hughes, Judges’ Decision
Cory Brady:I’m not going to sit here and lie to you. My gut’s telling me the same thing that these guys are telling you. Hughes should be able to win a unanimous decision. But come on, everyone seems to be picking Hughes and I don’t think it’s unreasonable that Serra could clip Hughes at some point in the space of fifteen. I know a country boy can survive, but just to make things interesting I’ll say that he won’t tomorrow night. There are a lot of people that forget about the huge punch that Serra decked Karo Parisyan with in the opening moments of their bout. The bottom line is that Serra can bang at 170, the GSP fight was no illusion. Winner: Matt Serra by Knockout
Dan Miller vs. Chael Sonnen
Dustin James:Doesn’t it suck that Yushin Okami got hurt? I don’t got anything personal against Chael Sonnen, but a Dan Miller/Yushin Okamifight was looking DAMN good from my perspective. Oh well. The main question going into this fight is, how prepared is Sonnen? He took this fight on just a few weeks notice and getting a win against Miller is not going to be an easy feat. Miller may be one of the best submission fighters in the UFC’s middleweight division and that could spell trouble for Sonnen. I honestly see Sonnen putting up a good fight against Miller, but in the end I keep seeing him struggle against Miller’s submissions. Winner: Dan Miller, Submission, Round 2
Bryan Levick: I like both guys and Miller has a great future ahead of him. Sonnen is an outstanding wrestler but has shown a weakness against guys who have good submission skills. Miller has won his last 10 decisions and just tore through Jake Rosholt who is a great wrestler in his own right. Sonnen is coming off a disappointing performance against Demian Maia at UFC 95 where he fell once again to a submission. Out of his 10 career losses 6 have come by submission and with the way Miller has been fighting I have to go with him in this one. Miller by 2nd round submission.
Tom Casale: Miller is 3-0 in the UFC and has won nine straight fights overall, including a decision over Matt Horwich at UFC 90. Sonnen lost his last bout to Demian Maia and is a late replacement for Yushin Okami in this fight. Sonnen is a dangerous fighter and not the kind of guy you want to see as a replacement but with the way Miller is fighting right now, it shouldn’t matter. Miller runs his streak to 10 straight. Winner: Miller by 1st round TKO
Dustin Zuch:Folks, I havea confession to make. Ever since I saw Dan Miller submit Dave Phillips in an IFL bout back in 2007, I have been a self-proclaimed Dan Miller nuthugger. I guess it’s no secret now as to who I’m ultimately going to pick to win this. But seriously, for all the right reasons! Dan Miller is a fantastic grappler and an adequate enough striker to keep his opponents where he wants them. Sonnen has good wrestling and solid striking ability, but has shown a lack of submission defense as of lately and is also not too comfortable off his back. Six of Sonnen’s ten losses have come via submission. Against a slick grappler like Miller, the odds are certainly against him. Winner: Dan Miller by Submission in Round 1
Brendhan Conlan: Fans of ADCC should be stoked about UFC 98 as this bout is yet anothergrappler-centric affair on the televised portion of the card. Bothmen are above-average wrestlers with Sonnen slightly edging Miller out in that department. However, I think Sonnen’s striking leaves a lot to be desired as does his submission defense, and unfortunately for him Miller is sharp on the ground and willing to keep things standing if need be. More than half of Chael’s losses have come via tap-out, plus who can forget his inability to knock Paulo Filho down/out (while Filho was busy conversing with Harvey the Rabbit)? The elder Miller brother may not have the same tools as the Team Quest fighter when it comes to taking an opponent down or advancing into a mounted position, but he uses his abilities more fluidly and should be able to use his well-versed jiujitsu arsenal to take advantage of the holes in Sonnen’s game. Winner – Dan Miller, Submission, RD 3
Cory Brady: I’ve never been completely sold on Sonnen belonging in the UFC. I’m sure there are plenty that would disagree with me, but either way Miller will win this fight and who knows what will happen to Sonnen after that. I definitely do not expect this fight to have a remote chance of winning Fight of the Night honors. Winner: Dan Miller by Decision
Sean Sherk vs. Frankie Edgar
Dustin James:Sean Sherk is a scary fighter. There….I said it! Not only does Sherk have great wrestling skills, but the dude truly is a MUSCLE SHARK and really gives the majority of the UFC lightweights match-up problems with his size and ability. Edgar is one of the most underrated fighters in the UFC. He’s 9-1 with his only loss coming at the hands of Gray Maynard. Maynard is one of those great wrestlers who has the ability to control a fight. Unfortunately for Edgar, Sherk is the same way. I keep replaying this fight over and over again in my head and I just can’t see how Edgar can get a win here. Hopefully these two will at least keep us entertained for three rounds….because the fight is more than likely going to the judges. Winner: Sean Sherk, Decision
Bryan Levick: A battle of two great wrestlers where a win will probably grant Sherk a title shot and a win will send Edgar flying up the ranks in the lightweight division. I see one of two things happening here. They either keep the fight standing the entire time much like Sherk-Griffin or Sherk uses his size and strength advantage to lay on top of Edgar for 15 minutes. As much as I like Edgar he really is too small to keep up with the bigger lightweights in the UFC. He would be a monster at 145. Sherk by unanimous decision.
Tom Casale: Sherk is now 35 but when you are as well-conditioned as he is, age isn’t a huge factor. Both Sherk and Edgar come from a wrestling background but Sherk has the edge in regards to strength and power. However, give Edgar the nod in the speed and quickness department. Edgar is used to having his way with opponents on the ground, so it will be interesting to see how he reacts early on if he’s being controlled by the stronger Sherk. Edgar is 4-1 since entering the UFC in 2007 and if he can withstand Sherk’s early onslaught, I think “The Answer” pulls the upset Saturday night. Winner: Edgar by decision
Dustin Zuch:Both Sherk and Edgar are well-rounded with strong, solid roots as wrestlers. The major difference here is that Sherk is a much bigger, stronger wrestler who certainly beats Edgar in the experience factor of this fight. Edgar has shown lots of heart in previous bouts and even ousted other solid wrestlers such as Tyson Griffin. We’ve seen first hand, however, that Edgar has a lot of trouble dealing with bigger, stronger wrestlers in his loss to Gray Maynard where he was basically tossed around for three rounds. Look for this to be a three round domination with Sherk exhibiting the power of his dominant top game that once made him the lightweight champion. Winner: Sean Sherk by Unanimous Decision
Brendhan Conlan:I have a suggestion for anyone reading this breakdown who wants a more-realistic preview of the fight than what I can offer in text. Find your favorite blanket, soak it in water, and then lay it on top of you for fifteen minutes. In doing so you will have likely performed an accurate simulation of what Sherk vs. Edgar has the potential of being (withthe role of the wet blanket played by either man). Neither man is known for finishing fights while both are recognized as being high-level wrestlers. I believe“The Muscle Shark” will be too strong for the kid from Jersey and plod his way to a decision win. If that’s the case I hope Edgar will finally bite the bullet and drop to 145 pounds. While the lights might not shine as bright in the WEC, Edgar is too small to be a competitive lightweight in the UFC and could do huge things as a featherweight. Winner – Sean Sherk, Judges’ Decision
Cory Brady: I am a newly converted Sherk fan. I’ve been a fan of stand-up fighters since I can remember, and that was always my largest criticism over Sherk, no stand-up. That was before his recent boxing match with MMA gloves against Tyson Griffin where he totally redeemed himself. I give Sherk the slight edge in the boxing and the wrestling. This will be an amazing fight between two phenomenal athletes. Winner: Sean Sherk by decision
Phillipe Nover vs. Kyle Bradley
Dustin James:Nover really needs to be careful here. He was the lightweight runner-up on last season’s “The Ultimate Fighter”. The light heavyweight runner-up on the show (Vinny Magalhaes) lost two straight fights in the UFC and was sent packing. If Nover drops this fight to Bradley, it will be his second straight loss in the UFC and we may very well see him gone as well. The only problem there is, I don’t see that happening. Bradley is currently 0-2 in the UFC and will more than likely be unemployed by sometime next week. Winner: Phillpe Nover, Submission, Round 3
Bryan Levick: I have been a big fan of Nover’s since his time on TUF and because he was absolutely one of the classiest guys I have ever interviewed. The guy put me on hold to administer an IV to a patient!! He really is a tremendous talent possessing very good submission skills, good stand-up and great conditioning. He is susceptible to a good wrestler but he has been working on that a lot since his lost on the live finale of The Ultimate Fighter. Bradley has lost two in a row to Chris Lytle and Joe Lauzon. He seems to have good hands but does not excel in one skill that he can rely on to dig himself out of a hole. He has been knocked out 4 times in 6 losses and I think this one will be number 5. Nover by 1st round TKO.
Dustin Zuch:This may be a must-win situation for both of these lightweights. Nover’s early domination of opponents on The Ultimate Fighter made him an early favorite to win the show last season. That is until he faced the wrestling-bred Efrain Escudero. Nover was afflicted with what could be described as an embarrassing display of takedown defense, which made him doomed from the very first takedown. That being said, I believe Nover is a bit more well-rounded than Kyle Bradley, withhis strength being in Muay Thai. Bradley is a dangerous boxer with one punch knockout ability. Nover needs to be patient and lessen his aggression. Getting on the inside of a boxer like Bradley could spell trouble. Nover should be smart enough to have worked on his takedown defense in case that comes into play. I think this bout will be contested with Nover playing it Machida-style. Winner: Phillipe Nover by Decision
Brendhan Conlan:May 23 could very well be Kyle Bradley’s swansong in the UFC. He’s 0-2 in the Octagon, succumbing to strikes on both occasions. Couple that statistic withNover’s aggressive style and Muay Thai skills and you’re looking at a recipe for a release from MMA’s premier organization. Phillipe’s TUF 8 Championship loss to Efrain Escuderono doubt left a taste in his mouth as sour as a Balutthat’s been sitting in the Texas sun for a week. As a result, I expect the world’s baddest nurse to come out strong in the first round in an attempt to finish things as quickly as possible. Bradley has good hands but I don’t think he’ll be able to weather Nover’s attack for three full rounds. Winner – Phillipe Nover, TKO, RD1
Cory Brady:I mean no offense to Kyle Bradley, but why is he in this fight. I’m calling shenanigans on this one. I know you don’t want to match up Phillipe with Tyson Griffin or Joe Lauzon just yet but Bradley is 0-2. There is no place for a fighter that has been unsuccesful in two chances with the UFC when there are hundreds of deserving lightweights that would gladly lop off a finger or toe to have a chance to shine in the worlds largest fighting promotion. Besides that, I’d have to disagree with my compadre D-Zuch. This is without a doubt a must win fight for Bradley but not for Phillipe. I know, I know, Vinny Magalhaes, but Phillipe is a much more wel rounded fighter with potential that Dana White firmly beleives in. Bottom line, Phillipe is going to dominate this fight. His weakness is a strong wrestler and Bradley isn’t Escudero on the mat. Winner: Phillipe by TKO
Chris Wilson vs. Brock Larson
Dustin James:One of the big questions going into this fight is….how focused is Chris Wilson? Last week it was revealed that Wilson and his family were victims of a home invasion in Brazil. Could this have come at a worst time for him? He honestly could be fighting for his UFC career here. A loss to Larson would make him 1-3 with the company and very vulnerable to being released once Dana White decides to trim the roster again. Larson on the other hand is looking to keep his “hot streak” going. He’s riding a 5-fight win streak right now and is looking to become a contender in the UFC’swelterweight division. If Larson is able to pull off an impressive victory here against Wilson, it may not be long before we start whispers of a possible Brock Larson/GSP fight. Winner: Brock Larson, Decision
Bryan Levick: Everyone will be wondering what will Wilson be like mentally come fight night after being robbed at gunpoint last week in Brazil. To be honest it doesn’t matter as Larson should be able to control Wilson with his superior wrestling. While Wilson may hold the edge in striking it will only be a matter of time before Larson is able to take him down and submit him. Larson is 25-2 with his only losses coming against Carlos Condit and Jon Fitch. He has 17 submissions in his 25 wins that is an outstanding 68% We can add number 18 here with a 1st round submission.
Dustin Zuch: In recent fights Larson he has shown a penchant for ending fights quite quickly and I think the same will go for this fight with Wilson. Unfortunately for Wilson, he will be facing an opponent with the majorly explosive style that he seems to have trouble with (i.e. John Howard). Wilson’s well-rounded skills will be overshadowed quite quickly, and I expect to see Larson chalk up another tally in the quick win column. Winner: Brock Larson by TKO in Round 1
Brendhan Conlan:On paper this bout favors Larson and is one of the least competitive match-ups of the night. That’s not to say the Wilson doesn’t have a chance. He’s comfortable on his feet, has solid wrestling, and has no qualms about allowing the action to hit the mat. He has wins over talented opponents like Jay Hieron, Pat Healy, Derrick Noble, and Rory Markham. However, the “other Brock from Minnesota” is a different animal. In 27 pro fights he’s only lost to Carlos Condit and Jon Fitch. That in itself says quite a bit. His wrestling is top notch, as are his submissions, and he pushes the pace of the fight from start to finish. I think he’ll stuff Wilson’s takedown attempts while scoring a few of his own along the way (which he’ll take advantage of in terms of procuring dominant positions in order to deliver strikes/sub-attempts). Winner – Brock Larson, Judges’ Decision
Cory Brady: Both of these guys are well rounded mixed martial artists. Really tough fight to call. On paper it looks like Larson should have the edge but that can mean nothing in the fight game. Winner: Larson by Decision
Patrick Barry vs. Tim Hague
Dustin James: Wow, Tim Hague’s UFC debut is slipping under a lot of people’s radars. For those of you who have never heard of Hague, before his loss to Miodrag Petkovic back in February of 2008 he was widely considered one of the top 15 heavyweight fighters in MMA. Since that loss, Hague has fought four times and went 4-0 during that stretch….including a “revenge” win over Petkovic! Needless to say the UFC came knocking on his door after seeing him go 4-1 in 2008. However, they aren’t doing him any favors by throwing him in against the hard hitting Pat Barry. I honestly hope this fight makes the main card because it’s sure to be a stand-up war with someone getting KO’d! Winner: Pat Barry, KO, Round 2
Bryan Levick: Barry made quite an impression in his UFC debut against Dan Evensen at UFC 92 in December. He basically kicked the crap out of Evensen with leg kicks causing an injury to his knee. Hague is 9-1 with victories over Sherman Pendergast and Ruben Villareal to his credit while fighting for King of the Cage. He seems to have good power in his hands but I really like Barry and his potential. I see a nice slugfest here with Barry coming out on top. Barry by unanimous decision.
Dustin Zuch:Hague is making his UFC debut and can be described as a relatively one-dimensional brawler. He is a massiveheavyweight and loves to stand up and bang. Barry is somewhat reminiscent of a Brandon Vera at heavyweight (relative to size). He is slightly small for the division but has already proved himself as able to hang with the big guys. He performed a lumberjack routine on Dan Evensen, chopping him down with leg kicks until forcing a TKO. Hague will more than likely lack the sort of leg kick defense that Dale Harrt shattered Corey Hill’s leg with. Withthe technique so effective the first time around I’m pretty sure Barry will stick to the same sort of plan. Winner: Pat Barry by TKO
Brendhan Conlan:I’m not sure if it’s due to Barry’s powerful striking or his opponent’s relative obscurity on the “big show” scene, but quite a few people seem to think Hague is going to be a walk in the park for the 4-0 kickboxer out of New Orleans. However, I happen to believe“The Thrashing Machine” is going to be a major test for Barry and I won’t be surprised if Hague hands him his first professional loss. He’s fiveinches taller, 20-30 pounds heavier, has never been knocked out or submitted, and boasts an equally impressive 9-1 record with wins over notable fighters like Ruben Villareal and Sherman Pendergarst. Barry has admitted he has a lot of work to do when it comes to being competitive on the ground and Hague appears to have the skills necessary to test that theory given the two submission wins he can lay claim to. I expect Barry to do his best to keep Hague at bay with low kicks but I’m not sure how long he can keep it up before things hit the canvas. Winner – Tim Hague, TKO, RD2
Cory Brady:I agree with my boy Brendhan when he says that people are looking past Hague in this one. His size and experience make him a hazard. It’s not going to matter though. Barry trains his jits with “Red” Schafer so he’s no newborn on the ground. Hague is going to have to deal with the bright lights and the big show for the first time, and going up against a vicious striker like Barry could just add to the pressure. Pat needs to win this one because he’s not going to do his techno-viking entrance until he makes the main card. Winner: Pat Barry by Knockout
Drew McFedries vs. Xavier Foupa-Pokam
Dustin James:This fight is on the main PPV card, but is more than likely a “loser leaves the UFC” fight. How can you NOT love these fights? Two guys fighting for a job….in today’s economy, now that’s a selling point baby! Anyone who follows McFedries’ career knows how one-sided of a fighter the man truly is. When he faces someone who has a good submission game (Martin Kampmann, Thales Leites, etc) he’s in big time trouble. While “Professor X” isn’t a submission wizard by any means….he’s still good enough to take McFedries down and submit him. I totally expect to see Foupa-Pokamcome out looking impressive and submitting McFedries in the first round. Winner: Xavier Foupa-Pokam, Submission, Round 1
Bryan Levick: The loser of this bout will probably be shown the door. Pokam looked nervous in his loss to Kang last month at UFC 97 which was his first fight inside the octagon. He seems to have good all-around skills with 11 of his 20 victories coming by knockout and 7 coming by submission. McFedries is 3-4 in the UFC and has lost his past two in less than three minutes combined to Thales Leites and Mike Massenzio. I see the younger Pokam continuing that trend with a first round knockout.
Tom Casale: So does Dana White just not like Brock Larson? How does this fight get on the main card over Larson-Wilson? McFedries has lost 3 of his last 4 and none of his fights have seen the 2nd round since 2003. Meanwhile, Foupa-Pokam lost to Denis Kang by unanimous decision in his UFC debut just a month ago. On the bright side, both fighters are aggressive strikers, so it should at least be an exciting bout. I’ll go with “”The Professor” By knockout here. Winner: Foupa-Pokam by 1st round KO
Dustin Zuch:Despite a recent decision loss to Denis Kang, Foupa-Pokam appears to be ready to silence the haters and prove why he is in the UFC. Foupa-Pokam without a doubt has much more well-rounded abilities than his straight-up striking foe McFedries. In an effort to capitalize on a relatively one dimensional opponent, I have a feeling that Foupa-Pokam will come out of the gate a bit too overzealous and get caught early. McFedries, however, must be on his complete guard and avoid at all costs going to ground– a place which we all know resonates with TAP TAP TAP for him. This will be my highlighted underdog pick of the night and quite possibly one of the only deep-in-sleep knockouts of the night. Winner: Drew McFedries by KO
Brendhan Conlan:McFedriesis one of the UFC’s more-interesting cases. He’s only slightly above .500 in his career and a losing record inside the Octagon. However, while those statistics would likely earn most Zuffa employees a pink slip, McFedries keeps getting invited back to the dance because of his rock-em-sock-em style of fighting. The uncanny Foupa-Pokam, otherwise known as “Professor X”, is a tough draw for the Miletich product. Foupa-Pokam is well-rounded and has finished 18 of the 20 opponents he’s beaten. Save for a perfectly timed punch from McFedries I don’t see any way the Frenchman loses this fight. Foupa-Pokam would be wise to take Drew down from the get go, thus avoiding the possibility of a powerful strike connecting, and utilize his submission skills to take home the “W”. Winner – Xavier Foupa-Pokam, Submission, RD1
Cory Brady:I think “professor X” is going to have a lot more trouble getting McFedries to the mat than a lot of people are thinking. Winner: McFedries by Knockout
Brandon Wolff vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida
Dustin James:Brandon Wolff is in a lot of trouble here. I still consider Yoshida one of the best welterweight fighters in the UFC and I totally expect him to come out here with guns blazing! Winner: Yoshiyuki Yoshida, KO, Round 1
Bryan Levick: Yoshida was last seen asking for the license plate of the truck that had just run him over after Josh Koshcheck planted him on the canvas in December. Wolff was also on that card as he was the recipient of about 50 knees to his face courtesy of Ben Saunders. Yoshida is the more experienced of the two and is considered a good finisher so I will go with Yoshida by 1st round submission.
Dustin Zuch:Put your chairs and table in their upright positions and prepare for landing. Yoshida will be returning from a recent trip to Mars compliments of Josh Koscheck’s right hand. Wolff is a classified striker and will look for one thing: sending Yoshida back up into space. Yoshida will rely on what he never had time to rely on in his bout with Koscheck: his far superior judo and submission grappling. In this case I believe that Wolff will be left dumbfounded when he is thrown to the mat like a rag doll and given a lesson that he could normally only learn from a stint in a NAGA tournament. Winner: Yoshiyuki Yoshida by Submission in Round 2
Brendhan Conlan:December 10th, 2008 is a date both Wolff and Yoshida would likely rather forget. It was “UFC – Fight for the Troops” and the last time either man set foot inside the Octagon. Wolff had his face tenderized by Ben Saunders’ knees and Yoshida was rendered into roadkill thanks to a well-timed strike from Josh Koscheck. Expect each man to leave it all in the cage at UFC 98 in hopes of finding himself back on the right end of a highlight reel moment. I think Wolff’s grappling is good enough to contend with Yoshida but I don’t see him utilizing it in a way that allows him to finish “Zenko” off. Contrarily, I believe Yoshida’s striking and submission techniques are of a high enough quality to earn victory before the third round expires. I think he’ll tire Wolff out in the first round and pound out the victory somewhere in the second frame. Winner – Yoshiyuki Yoshida, TKO, RD 2
Cory Brady: Anyone else ever wonder why fights like this one are made? Or why Yoshida would even sign a fight like this? Sigh, whatever, enjoy the highlight reel Yoshida and I look forward to your real UFC debut. I apologize if I expect competetive fights from the biggest fighting promotion on the planet. Winner: Yoshida by….whatever
David Kaplan vs. George Roop
Dustin James: Two former “Ultimate Fighters” battling it out to save their UFC careers. SMELL THE DRAMA! Still, I’m not interested in the slightest. Winner: George Roop, Submission, Round 1.
Bryan Levick: I don’t understand this bout at all. I don’t see any real potential in either one of these guys and both of them lost in their first official UFC bouts in the Ultimate Fighter Finale 8. Kaplan made Junie Browning look like an actual professional that night while Roop lost via unanimous decision to Shane Nelson. I don’t know. I will go with Roop by 2nd round submission.
Dustin Zuch:Both fighters come into this bout with relatively similar skill sets, Roop possibly having the slight advantage over Kaplan with his Jiu Jitsu from the bottom. It’s extremely hard to pick Roop in this fight because he is incredibly small for the division and can be easily outwrestled by the stronger Kaplan. I don’t expect to see any real fireworks come out of this fight and will look for this one to grind out the first two rounds with Kaplan on top. However, I have an inkling that Kaplan will be incredibly gassed by the third round and get caught in a submission as he attempts to grind out a decision from the top. Winner: George Roop by Submission in Round 3
Brendhan Conlan:When did UFC 98 become the Ultimate Fighter Season 8 Finale Part Deux? Look, I like good MMA on any level and I will gladly watch Kaplan vs. Roop if it makes the broadcast, but I have no interest in who actually wins the fight because I have zero expectations for either man’s long-term prospects in the UFC. Kaplanis 0-2 in his last two fights and was submitted in both bouts. Roop is a submission specialist withsolid wrestling. He’s never been knocked out in a career spanning twelvefights, whereas “Diamond Dave” has never won via any other method. I expect more of the same come Saturday night. Winner – George Roop, Submission, RD2
Cory Brady:This is going to be an exciting fight one way or the other. Roop is from Tucson, Arizona, I’m from Tucson, Arizona….Winner: Roop by submission
Andre Gusmao vs. Krzysztof Soszynski
Dustin James:Just one year ago, Andre Gusmao was considered one of the top up-and-coming light heavyweights in MMA. After starting out his MMA career on a 5-fight win streak, the UFC finally came calling. However, Gusmao ended up losing his UFC debut to another UFC newcomer named Jon Jones. Now, Gusmao is trying to remind us why he’s still considered one of the top up-and-comers in MMA. His opponent, Krzysztof Soszynski, is a veteran of “The Ultimate Fighter” and is currently tearing up the MMA world by KIMURAING (I just made that word up!) anyone he comes across! While Gusmao has the talent and ability to defeat Soszynski, Krzysztof is currently on a hot streak right now. This is a pretty difficult fight to pick so I guess I’ll just use a coin flip! Winner: Andre Gusmao, KO, Round 2
Bryan Levick: I like how Soszynski has progressed. He has some good submissions for a big guy but Gusmao will be a lot harder to submit that Brian Stann was. Gusmao hasn’t fought since last August, that is a lot of time to be on the shelf while Sos just fought last month at UFC 97 but finished his fight in the first round. I see Soszynski winning this bout by unanimous decision.
Dustin Zuch:Gusmao will need to be moving quickly on his feet at all times and needs to avoid being caught flat footed. He has relatively good hands and has the ability to beat up Soszynski from the inside. Given Soszynski’s recent track record, the former statement is a moot point. Personally, I think this will go much similar to Soszynski’srecent bouts. The powerful Polish warrior will display superior strength and work a dominating top control. When the smoke clears you’ll see Gusmao tapping from a Soszynski submission (maybe even another Kimura!) Winner: Krzysztof Soszynski by Submission in Round 1
Brendhan Conlan:With previous professional outings against Mike Ciesnolevicz and Wotjek Kaszowski it seems only right that Andre Gusmao should be paired against another fighter with a Scrabble-friendly name in the form of Krzysztof Soszynski. Gusmao is a bit crisper on his feet than the former Ultimate Fighter, but Soszynski makes up for any athletic shortcomings withbrute strengthand a powerful ground attack. I think I also give “The Polish Experiment” an edge due to his experience and professional activity. He has more than 4X as many in-ring appearances as Gusmao and has fought eight fights since January 2007 in comparison to only three for the similarly aged Brazilian. I expect Soszynski to neutralize Gusmao’s stand-up with wrestling, wear him out on the mat, and eventually grind out a decision win. Winner – Krzysztof Soszynski, Judges’ Decision
Cory Brady: This fight can go two ways in my head. Either it ends in the first round or it winds up being one of the more lackluster bouts on the card ending in a decision. I like to think that the glass is always half full. Winner: Soszynski by Decision