Genetic freak Brock Lesnar will be looking for revenge against the man that holds the lone defeat over his head as he faces off with Frank Mir for the undisputed UFC heavyweight championship.
Georges St.Pierre will be entering one of the most dangerous challenges in his fighting career as he takes on the Brazilian knockout artist Thiago Alves.
Also on the card will be the TUF 9 coach showdown between Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping, Jon Fitch will be looking to avenge his teammate Josh Koscheck’s loss to Paulo Thiago, “Sexyama” Akiyama will be throwing down with the ever-dangerous Alan Belcher and much more.
Come along as I take a closer look at one of the most significant cards in the history of the UFC.
Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir
I’m not making excuses for Lesnar but the fact of the matter is that he just flat out made a rookie mistake in his first fight in the UFC against Frank Mir, and I’m not expecting him to be as careless this time around.
You create your own luck in this sport, and Mir did just that in the first bout between the two as he spun around and caught Lesnar in a leg lock that you normally only get away with during a light grapple, against someone that has no idea that it’s coming. Mir had to be a little surprised with his ability to pull off such a telegraphed maneuver, and I’m sure he knows he will have to be a lot more precise and explosive in this bout with Brock.
He won’t though. For as spectacular as Mir’s submission game is, he has a history of being ground and pounded out by lesser fighters.
People forget that Mir was being groomed as the next UFC heavyweight champ long before his arm snapping victory over Tim Sylvia at UFC 48. He was 4-0, 2-0 with the UFC going into his UFC 38 bout with Ian Freeman. The match-up was widely viewed as a tune-up bout for a future championship match-up but Freeman spoiled those plans in dramatic fashion as he pinned Mir to the canvas and pulverized him with punches in the very first round.
Granted, that was almost exactly seven years ago and a lot has changed since then, but what about the dismal ground and pound defeat at the lanky hands of Márcio “Pé de Pano” Cruz at UFC 57? I understand that the bout was Mir’s first return to action since his devastating motorcycle injury but that doesn’t mean that it never happened.
Of course Mir was clipped by Brandon Vera at UFC 65 just prior to being stopped on the ground with a series of punches, but he was still stopped on the ground with a series of punches. Do you see a pattern developing here?
All three of Mir’s losses have ultimately come by ground and pound.
On paper Lesnar is a terrible match-up for Mir. Massive, incredibly strong, phenomenal wrestler with bone crushing punches from the top position.
However, Lesnar’s only loss in his professional fighting career came to Frank Mir, of course, you can’t completely throw that out the window.
While Mir looked impressive against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in his last bout I firmly believe that that wasn’t the best Nogueira we’ve ever seen. As heavyweight title contender Shane Carwin pointed out recently to FiveOuncesOfPain.com, Nogueira’s head movement was next to non-existent that night. I seriously doubt Brock will give Mir that same readily available target. He may be humongous, but he’s explosive and quick. Shockingly explosive and quick.
There will be no rookie mistakes this time around.
Winner: Brock Lesnar – TKO – Round 1
Georges St. Pierre vs. Thiago Alves
I feel like many give St. Pierre’s loss to Matt Serra entirely too much weight when looking at this welterweight championship match-up. Let’s not forget that the punch that initially left GSP wobbled clipped him directly in the back of the head. Anyone that has done their fair share of sparring will tell you that being hit with a good amount of force to the back of the head has a funny way of messing with your equilibrium.
To St. Pierre’s credit, he stayed conscious as he managed to absorb what seemed like a hundred flush punches to the chin before the bout’s inevitable conclusion.
I honestly feel like GSP has a much better chin than he is given credit for.
However,none of that really matters as I have no expectation of the current welterweight champion exchanging with Alves for any extended period of time. St.Pierre is a smart fighter. Definitely smart enough to understand that Alves has just one way to in this fight. He won’t be given that chance.
Alves has pulverizing leg kicks but they will be completely nullified by the constant threat of a GSP takedown, leaving Alves to try to turn the fight into a boxing match against one of the most well rounded fighters in the sport today.
Alves will be smothered by GSP and left exhausted after a few solid rounds of trying to get back to his feet unsuccessfully.
Winner: Georges St. Pierre – TKO – Round 3
Jon Fitch vs. Paulo Thiago
Not taking anything away from Thiago, but he had no business winning his last bout with Josh Koscheck. As I’ve described earlier, you create your own luck in this sport. He threw a big uppercut, it landed, he created that luck. However,it was luck. Koscheck was beating Thiago upon the feet before he got caught.
Fitch will not make the same mistake Koscheck did. He is among the very best in the welterweight division and I fully expect to show Thiago that he is way out of his league with the big boys in the UFC.
Thiago is a dangerous ground fighter, and the reality is that is all that he is, a dangerous ground fighter. I expect for Fitch to expose him while avoiding any submission attempts while pounding the Brazilian to a pulp as an act of revenge in the name of AKA.
Winner: Jon Fitch – TKO – Round 2
Michael Bisping vs. Dan Henderson
Bisping’s best chance to obtain victory will ultimately be his undoing in this bout.
Trying to play the wrestling game with Henderson is a bad match-up for most and Bisping is no exception to the rule. I expect for him to attempt to out-maneuver Henderson on the feet and pick him apart standing.
Not going to happen, trying to use fancy footwork with Hendo is like playing with fire. Dan possesses one of the most devastating right hands in the business,a tremendously underestimated left hook, and a chin of absolute granite. Henderson has yet to be knocked out in over thirty professional bouts against some of the meanest men on the planet. Bisping will not be the first.
Henderson could very well use his wrestling to win this bout, and just maul his way to victory, I just feel it’s more likely that he catches Bisping with a ridiculously hard punch early on.
Winner: Dan Henderson – KO – Round 1
Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Alan Belcher
I’m just going to come right out and say it; I feel like Akiyama is tremendously overrated and will be completely exposed in his first fight with the UFC.
Sexyama’s most recent wins have come over a couple of unrecognizable fighters with a combined record of 4-8, hardly impressive.
Just prior to those stunning victories Akiyama was pulverized by a soccer kick at the foot of Kazuo Misaki. The bout was later ruled a “no contest” after Akiyama protested that he was still downed upon receiving the kick,but he still got blasted,there’s no going back and changing that.
Outside of that, there’s a knockout victory over Denis Kang in 2007,and a submission win over a horribly one dimensional Melvin Manhoef in 2006.
The Japanese Judo expert is not used to fighting men as large as he will face in the UFC, and Belcher is as big as they get for a middleweight.
Regardless of the size differential, Belcher is a much better striker than Akiyama and he will prove it if given the opportunity, which he will.
Winner: Alan Belcher: KO – Round 1
Stephan Bonnar vs. Mark Coleman
I truly feel like we have seen the last of a competitive Mark Coleman in the UFC and this bout will do nothing more than add an exclamation mark to my opinion.
Coleman has a good chance of scoring a couple of takedowns in this fight but I don’t feel like he will have the stamina and endurance to keep him there.
I expect for “The Hammer” to keep it competitive for a little while, but for him to gas out somewhere around the end of the second where Bonnar will turn it up a notch and overwhelm the UFC Hall of Famer.
Winner: Stephan Bonnar – TKO – Round 2
Mac Danzig vs. Jim Miller
Danzig really needs a win in this one coming off of back to back defeats. His key to victory will be to keep the fight standing and out-strike Miller.
This is one of the most evenly matched fights of the card and either man could come away with the win if they fight their fight.
Miller should have the slight edge in the wrestling department and I expect this one to eventually turn into a grappling match. Tough fight to call.
Winner: Jim Miller – Unanimous Decision
Jon Jones vs. Jake O’Brien
If there was one guy with the tools to knock Jones off his undefeated course in the UFC it could very well be O’Brien.
This fight will tell a lot more about Jones than it will about O’Brien. Will Jones be able to stop the takedowns is the question at hand.
This will be the toughest wrestler he has faced to date. If Jones manages to avoid the takedowns, which I feel he will, he should be able to pick O’Brien apart handily on the feet with his unorthodox and highly effective striking arsenal.
Winner: Jon Jones – TKO – Round 3
C.B. Dollaway vs. Tom Lawlor
Both of these men share many of the similar strengths. The key to this match-up is that both men are strong wrestlers, but Dollaway is a lot more technical and powerful on the mat.
With that being said, I feel like C.B. has a slight edge on the feet as well. Simply put, this is a bad match-up for Lawlor.
I expect for C.B. to drag Lawlor to the canvas and proceed to work him over with a variation of elbows and fists to make it three in a row with the UFC.
Winner: C.B. Dollaway – TKO – Round 1
Matt Grice vs. Shannon Gugerty
Another closely contested match-up. Grice will hold an advantage in the wrestling department while Gugerty is known for his ability to force the tap out.
The difference maker in this fight just boils down to which man will be able to implement their game plan.
I expect for Grice to utilize his wrestling advantage by avoiding the ground with Gugerty as the submission is undoubtedly Shannon’s best chance at victory.
Winner: Matt Grice – Unanimous Decision
T.J. Grant vs. Dong Hyun Kim
Grant will be Hyun Kim’s toughest opponent to date. The Korean had his hands full in his last bout with Parisyan and he will find no sanctuary in an opponent as well rounded and relentless as Grant.
I expect a hard fought battle from both men, I just feel like Hyun Kim will be neutralized in the areas in which he is the strongest. Grant will not play victim to the Judo players top game. Instead he will keep the fight standing as much as possible on his way to the unanimous decision victory.
Winner: T.J. Grant – Unanimous Decision