After a week off from espousing my knowledge (or lack thereof) when it comes to correctly picking MMA results I’m back once again offering up a little insight and opinion on how I see this weekend’s “UFC 113: Machida vs. Shogun 2” event unfolding. The card includes a number of interesting pairings highlighted by a headlining rematch featuring not only the intrigue of a controversial decision dished out in the combatants’ initial encounter but also that derived from the simple fact Mauricio Rua and Lyoto Machida are among the truly elite 205-pounders in Mixed Martial Arts. Beyond the light heavyweight championship clash, a bout with less-direct title implications is also set to take place in the form of welterweights Josh Koscheck and Paul Daley facing off, as well as the scheduled sophomore appearance of Kimbo Slice in the Octagon, the involvement number of local products guaranteed to amp up the Montreal crowd, and what I feel are some truly excellent stylistic match-ups involving both veterans and prospects.
Before I get into the “pick em” part of this article let me preclude the breakdown of bouts by saying one of the things about Mixed Martial Arts I’ve always loved is its unpredictable nature. I’ll do my best to steer you in the right direction with a little insight/opinion included in the deal, but readers would be wise to avoid laying down money on my attempts to glimpse into the future. Beyond that, please don’t hesitate to share your own thoughts on any or all of the scheduled fights in the “Comments” section below, and let’s get this show on the road…
Jason MacDonald vs. John Salter
Smart move by the UFC brass to have a popular Canadian fighter open the card up against an adversary he should have no problem beating. MacDonald’s primary focus will be on dragging things down to the mat and working his jiujitsu. If successful Salter will find himself swimming in treacherous waters as “The Athlete” has submitted eighteen of the twenty-four of the opponents he’s beaten. I think he’s slick enough on his feet to defend anything Salter will have to offer and as previously stated his grappling is superior. Outside of the old “puncher’s chance” I think it’s safe to say it’s pretty much a given MacDonald will win this match-up.
Winner – Jason MacDonald via Submission Round 2
Johny Hendricks vs. T.J. Grant
This is an evenly matched fight where each man essentially negates the other’s skills based on their respective styles. Grant specializes in jiujitsu while Hendricks is a top notch wrestler, meaning Grant will likely struggle to take Hendricks down and seek out submissions while Hendricks will have to be wary of shooting in because of the threat Grant poses from the bottom. I think it could result in a stalemate of sorts that isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing thing for fans to watch. I’m giving Hendricks the edge to win because I think his grappling will allow him to control in-ring positioning, as well as assist in avoiding mistakes that might result in a submission from the bottom. After all, more than half of Grant’s wins have come by way of armbar, so it’s definitely a technique the former All-American needs to be consciously looking out for.
Winner – Johny Hendricks via Decision
Joey Beltran vs. Tim Hague
Beltran vs. Hague is a guaranteed slugfest that very well may produce the show’s “Knockout of the Night”. Neither is afraid to stand and bang while both possess knockout power. I would be shocked if this bout sees the third round. I’m picking Beltran because he’s been hot as of late, winning seven of his last eight fights by TKO, while Hague is coming off consecutive losses and has the added pressure of knowing a third could equate to a pink-slip from the organization.
Winner – Joey Beltran via TKO Round 1
Yoshiyuki Yoshida vs. Michael Guymon
Yoshida hasn’t lived up to the hype he entered the UFC with, but then again two of his four fights have come against extremely dangerous opponents (Anthony Johnson and Josh Koscheck) so it’s hard to fault him for stumbling a bit along along the way. I like that Guymon has the same number of wins by TKO as he does by submissions, and I won’t be surprised if the diversity of his skills lead way to an upset victory. However, I’m picking Yoshida because I simply think he’s the better overall fighter, and I have more confidence in his ability to finish things with strikes or successfully land takedowns while working his way into position for a choke.
Winner – Yoshiyuki Yoshida via Decision
Marcus Davis vs. Jonathan Goulet
I have high hopes for this match-up as far as entertainment value goes. Like I said in this week’s Grappling with Issues, “Though neither is within a stone’s throw of title contendership or is likely to dramatically improve their standing in the immediate future, both are veteran fighters who prefer to strike and may be in a ‘loser leaves town’ situation.”
Also, the fact Goulet will be fighting in front of his fellow Quebeccers should introduce additional elements of excitement and energy into the bout. Ultimately, I think Davis will win based on his superior boxing and the fact he’s been consistently active in the ring as opposed to Goulet’s recent absence from it. The New Englander may not be “Top 10” material in the welterweight division but he’s definitely skilled enough to beat most opponents, especially journeymen like “The Road Warrior”. He should be able to win the stand-up battle while stuffing the bulk of Goulet’s takedowns and scoring a few of his own if need be.
Winner – Marcus Davis via Decision
Tom Lawlor vs. Joe Doerksen
The Bell Center’s custodial staff may deserve a bonus after the dust settles and these two exit the Octagon given that their nicknames are “The Filthly Mauler” and “El Dirte”. It seems all the bout needs is Peanuts’ “Pig-Pen” acting as referee.
On a serious note, I think it’s actually a very interesting pairing, and I can see the end result going to either since each individual has a few things working for and against him. Doerksen’s experience eclipses Lawlor in as severe a fashion as you’re likely to ever see in the Zuffa era. The 50-fight difference between them is a remarkable stat, and I’d wager it’s the largest gap in the promotion’s history minus a bout or two involving Jeremy Horn (a veteran of more than 105 professional matches). Doerksen has won his last five fights, and his grappling ability makes him a threat on the ground to submit most foes or occasionally work his way into a TKO-friendly position.
However, as good as Doersken can look at times, he’s also inconsistent. He splits decisions against lesser competition and has shown himself to constantly be at risk of losing by submission or knockout instead via one specific method of attack. I think Lawlor’s energy, power, and steadily improving skills will prove to be too much for the eleven-year MMA veteran and earn him the win though it won’t necessarily be pretty. Unlike Doerksen, Lawlor has the ability to severely hurt opponents while standing or when postured up over their downed form. I also feel he’s strong enough, and smart enough, to handle Doerksen’s ground game…and gosh darnit people like him!
Related to that final note, it will be interesting to see if the UFC makes an effort to show this fight specifically because of Lawlor’s status as sort of a cult hero in the MMA community. The Ultimate Fighter Season 8 contestant endeared himself to many while on the show due to his antics and sense of humor while also being a regular member of popular MMA forum “The Underground” and delivering two of the most entertaining entrances in the UFC’s recent history. Since it’s expected another memorable walkdown will take place on Saturday night (rumors range from a theme involving classic World Wrestling Federation tag-teams “The Mounties” or “The Hart Foundation” to the use of an American-centric theme song) it would make sense for the UFC to capitalize on his popularity/behavior as long as the PPV’s running time and the actual quality-of-fight permit it.
Winner – Tom Lawlor via
Entrance TKO Round 3
Alan Belcher vs. Patrick Cote
First off, major credit to Cote for taking on such a difficult opponent in his return to action after almost a year-and-a-half on the sidelines recovering from a severe knee injury. Belcher continues to improve on a per-bout basis and is polished enough to earn a “W” from any position. Only two of his fifteen career wins have come via decision, so he definitely knows how to seal the deal rather than eek out victories, and he’s equally tricky to finish as well based how infrequently he’s been taken out in less than fifteen minutes. Cote has a similar knack for avoiding the judges’ scorecards, but he’s primarily reliant on striking to merit his hand being raised at the end of the night instead of being comfortable in all areas of the fight. He may have physically recovered from knee surgery but I wonder if he’s mentally recovered from it. I’ve heard it takes awhile for athletes to fully trust their joints and ligaments after major reconstruction and I wouldn’t be surprised if “The Predator” is a bit hesitant to go 110% in the ring. The outcome of the contest may rely on what goes through his mind when he digs in to sprawl, takes a few vicious leg kicks to the once-damaged area, or tries to plant and put his full force into a punch. I don’t think the psychological aspect involved can be denied, and coupled with ring rust from the extended hiatus I think it means Belcher is going to break thousands of French-Canadian hearts en route to a win tomorrow night. Expect him to clinch whenever possible to negate Cote’s ability to throw power-punches, test his fitness, and even sneak in a takedown or two along the way.
Winner – Alan Belcher via Submission Round 2
Kimbo Slice vs. Matt Mitrione
Slice has definitely shown improvement since his days in EliteXC but there’s one thing I haven’t seen – devastating power. He couldn’t flatten Houston Alexander or James Thompson even though both are known to have jaws made of Ming Dynasty china rather than glass. If Kimbo isn’t able to leave his opponents seeing stars with every looping blow he launches then what else does he really have to use against them?
On the other hand, “Meathead” has decent stand-up and heavy hands. He’s a better grappler with a greater chance of taking Kimbo down to work a submission than having the same done to him in return. His striking is a bit more technical than the former street fighter’s, so I believe he’ll find a few opportunities to land jabs and work in a couple nice combinations. If Seth Petruzelli could finish Slice while walking backwards I’m confident Mitrione can at minimum do the same.
Winner – Matt Mitrione via TKO Round 2
Sam Stout vs. Jeremy Stephens
This particular bout has serious “Fight of the Night” potential. Stout and Stephens are both fearless strikers who could use the momentum a memorable win on a stage like UFC 113 would provide. I expect them to stand and bang until someone falls down. I’m giving the nod to Stout because I think he packs a little more power in his punches, plus he’ll have the entire support of the arena being yet another popular Canadian fighter on the card.
Winner – Sam Stout via TKO Round 3
Josh Koschek vs. Paul Daley
I don’t disagree with the general structure most people seem to be assigning to Daley vs. Koscheck. Tell me if this sounds familiar. “Kos” will likely see what his British adversary has to offer in the stand-up department while trying to avoid any of the knockout blows Daley is known for. As soon as he no longer feels comfortable risking the proposition of staring up at the arena lights he’ll shoot in for a takedown. At best he’ll work towards either a submission or ground-and-pound TKO and at worst he’ll grind out a decision win. “Semtex” will clearly have a few knees loaded up to unleash when the takedown attempt comes. If he lands one or even a solid punch he could end things immediately but other than that he’s in trouble. It’s a pretty simple scenario and one I subscribe to. While Koscheck has definitely been rocked before, I think his chin is durable enough to absorb a little damage if it means latching on and dragging Daley down to the canvas. He’s smart enough to recognize the opportunity a win at the event would provide and as such I don’t think he’ll waste a lot of time tempting fate on his feet.
Winner – Josh Koscheck via Submission Round 2
Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
Based on their first fight I’d say the result of the rematch is an equivalent coin-flip. Both Machida and Rua are of such quality as Mixed Martial Artists neither has a significant advantage or overwhelming hole to exploit. Each has knockout ability, mainly due to precision and technique rather than pure power, while also possessing the necessary jiujitsu skills to latch onto limbs or procure choke holds on the mat. Conditioning was a gray area for “Shogun” after his slew of injuries in 2006-2008 but he looked to be in excellent shape against Chuck Liddell and in the initial bout with Machida so I don’t think cardio will be an issue. I’m only picking the champion to retain his belt because I feel Rua may be a little more aggressive this time out which could open him up to making uncharacteristic mistakes. If Machida can score a few clean punches, or possibly even land a trip or takedown, he should be able to mix in enough offense along with his standard defense throughout the bulk of the bout to come away with another win.
Winner – Lyoto Machida via (More Tolerable) Decision