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UFC on Versus 2 – Previews and Predictions

San Diego is known for a number of attractions – its zoo, its beaches, and the NFL’s Chargers being a few of them. However, folks in the area can witness caged predators, ripped physiques, and countless hard hits in a central location when ”UFC on Versus 2” unfolds at the San Diego Sports Arena tomorrow night. Fans in attendance, as well as tuning in on Versus, should be in for a treat as, among other entertaining offerings, top lightweights Tyson Griffin and Takanori Gomi face off, Yushin Okami attempts to solidify his place as a contender by beating Mark Munoz, and the next chapter in the exciting story of Jon Jones unfolds with veteran Vladimir Matyushenko playing the other central role.

Before I get into the actual “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…


Darren Elkins vs. Charles Oliveira

Perhaps it’s a “Versus” thing, but I have a lot of high expectations for the entertainment-value of this card and Elkins vs. Oliveira is a good example of why. Elkins may be best known as the guy standing opposite of Duane Ludwig when “Bang” sustained a gruesome ankle injury last March, but he’s also 10-1 outside of the injury-based TKO with wins over respectable opposition like Gideon Ray and Pat Curran. Oliveira is 12-0 with eleven finishing performances and a near-even split between knockouts/submissions. The 11-1 Elkins is similar in his well-roundedness and ability to win standing or through jiujitsu. Putting the two together should definitely open up the evening on a positive note. I expect it to be a very close fight, and to be quite honest I’m torn on who to pick. I like Elkins’ experience against superior competition, but Oliveira has impressive stats as well including his slew of single-night tournament wins, including a pair of double-victories and three at his professional debut. In the end I think technique will win out, and with an apparently slick ground-game, knockout power, and even a KO-slam to his credit, that means…

Winner – Charles Oliveira via TKO Round 2

Rob Kimmons vs. Steve Steinbass

Steinbass will be fighting for his UFC career, as a loss would drop him to 4-4 as a professional and be his third consecutive defeat in a Zuffa-based promotion. Unfortunately for him, Kimmons is an extremely experienced opponent who is relatively strong in every facet of the game. He has solid stand-up and is a versed grappler as well. Other than a well-timed strike on Kimmons’ jaw I can’t see Steinbass winning this particular match-up, while I see “The Rosedale Reaper” having more options in terms of ways to come away with a victory.

Winner – Rob Kimmons via Submission Round 1

Brian Stann vs. Mike Massenzio

I think Stann’s middleweight debut should be a successful one given the general skill-set of his opponent. Massenzio has talent to be sure, but he’s a grinder with the bulk of his wins by way of submission. His attack will almost certainly focus on taking Stann down and working his way towards a tap-out. However, I believe Stann’s takedown defense is strong enough to keep Massenzio at bay and his tenure at Greg Jackson’s gym in New Mexico has be confident he’ll be ready on the ground as well. Where I see the difference being made is stand-up. Massenzio has been knocked out a few times in his career by less-than notable strikers and hasn’t fought since December 2008. I think Stann’s power and, what I assume will be, improved speed with the cut to 185 pounds are going to lead to “shock and awe”. Sorry, had to work in SOME military reference with Stann being involved…

Winner – Brian Stann via TKO Round 1

James Irvin vs. Igor Pokrajac

For professional wrestling fans out there, what we’ve got here is a “loser leaves town” match. Both men are coming off a pair of consecutive losses, and though Irvin has a better chance of retaining his employment if he falls based on his history in the organization, “The Sandman” isn’t too far removed from a couple of knee injuries or his suspension after testing positive for illegal painkiller use. There’s a lot on the line for both veterans, so fans should expect them to let it all hang out in the ring when the cage door closes. I think Irvin’s power will ultimately prove to be too much for Pokrajac, especially when considering the Croatian has been dropped multiple times by fighters most fans have never heard of. Look for Pokrajac to catch a taste of Irvin’s fists early, resort to a grappling-based assault, and ultimately go to sleep from a takedown-countering knee or combination of strikes.

Winner – James Irvin via TKO Round 2

Paul Kelly vs. Jacob Volkmann

This is an intriguing match-up in that Kelly and Volkmann have both found a good deal of success in their careers and are coming off winning performances, yet still have struggled to find a way to consistently beat a certain quality of opponent. A victory for either could be a significant step in the right direction as far as building up enough momentum and confidence to make a real run at cracking the upper-echelons of the lightweight division. The battle should be a close one with exchanges on both their feet and on the mat. I’m positive Kelly will win if things remain standing, but in the end I think Volkmann’s wrestling will make the difference and allow him to control the majority of the fight’s positioning. Kelly could land a knockout shot, or Volkmann could latch on a choke, but I think it’s more likely we’ll see this one go a full fifteen due to the parity involved.

Winner – Jacob Volkmann via Decision

DaMarques Johnson vs. Matt Riddle

It’s too bad this bout is positioned where it is on the card because I’m sure the trash-talk between Riddle/Johnson would have been epic had their fight been given a bigger push. Both have entertaining personalities, a sense of fearlessness in the ring, and some respectable skills to offer as well. Riddle started out fairly strong in the UFC but is coming off a loss and DQ win (by illegal upkick) so he definitely has something to prove against Johnson. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he got a pink-slip with his paycheck if he doesn’t turn in a helluva performance, let alone a winning one, against his Ultimate Fighter peer on Sunday. However, Johnson has looked very sharp since losing the TUF 9 season-title to James Wilks a year ago and strung together two finishing performances in the process. I don’t see a lot of ways for Riddle to solve..well..the riddle of Johnson’s diversity in the Octagon. “Darkness” is, in my opinion, the better striker and jiujitsu artist, and I’m pretty sure it will show when the two lock horns in the ring.

Winner – DaMarques Johnson via TKO Round 2


Takanori Gomi vs. Tyson Griffin

Clearly the UFC hasn’t done former PRIDE/Shooto champion Gomi any favors in the match-making department as he’s slated to face his second “Top 10” lightweight is as many Octagon appearances. He hasn’t been anywhere near as dominating as he once was in either Japanese organization, nor has he faced the level of competition he did which makes his decline all the more interesting. My thought is that perhaps he rode on his reputation for too long, believing his own hype in the process, while the world of MMA gradually passed him by. Griffin is part of that evolution and, as such, I think he’ll have Gomi’s number when they face off in San Diego. The XTreme Couture OG is sharp on his feet and should be able to match anything Gomi offers up in that department. He’s a much better wrestler, and though his submissions are probably comparable at best to Gomi’s, he shouldn’t have a problem working top position and raining down punches. It’s possible Griffin could get caught, but, being that he’s never been finished in his 17-fight career while having faced some of the best 155-pounders on the planet for the last three years, I don’t think it’s likely, and I definitely can’t see “The Fireball Kid” doing enough to win the judges’ favor.

Winner – Tyson Griffin via Decision

Jake Ellenberger vs. John Howard

As I said in this week’s ”Grappling with Issues”, I’m looking forward to this bout as much if not more than any other fight on the card. Why? I’ll defer to my words in GWI…

“Ellenberger and Howard are both well-rounded fighters under the age of 30 who are entering the event with a lot of buzz based on their past success and overall performances in the ring. Ellenberger is 5-1 in his last six scraps with the single defeat being a razor-thin split decision to Carlos Condit in his UFC debut last September. He’s only been finished once in 27 professional appearances while having either submitted/TKO’d nineteen of the twenty-two opponents he’s beaten. On the flipside, “Doomsday” Howard is riding a seven-fight win streak including four in the Octagon. He’s coming off a first-round knockout, yet also has the wrestling and submission arsenal to act as a threat on the ground. I expect both men to push the pace, recognizing what’s at stake and either deliver a fifteen-minute war or violent finale in the process. I don’t know how it will end. I just know it’s going to be exciting!”

Winner – Jake Ellenberger via Decision

Yushin Okami vs. Mark Munoz

Okami and Munoz are both underrated middleweights who should open some eyes if they both fight to their abilities at the show. Okami is a huge 185-pounder with nice stand-up, although I’ve always found it to be a little bland. Not quite “vanilla” perhaps, but “French Vanilla” at best. Munoz is also relatively big for the division and has fought at light heavyweight before. He’s a two-time All-American wrestler who packs a lot of power behind his punches and has seemingly progressed as a fighter each time he steps in a ring. I don’t think he can necessarily knock Okami out on his feet, but then again I don’t think he’ll have to. Chael Sonnen took “Thunder” down with ease when the two fought at UFC 104 and the same can be said in Okami’s decision-loss to Jake Shields a number of years ago as well. I expect Munoz’s wrestling prowess to produce the same results and finally eliminate the debate on Okami’s status as a championship contender.

Winner – Mark Munoz via Decision

Jon Jones vs. Vladimir Matyushenko

This is Jones’ toughest fight to date for a few reasons. As I pointed out in GWI, “Matyushenko is a solid grappler with knockout power who isn’t afraid to grind out a victory, as indicated by the near-even split between submissions/TKOs/decisions in his win column, meaning he doesn’t necessarily have any glaring weaknesses while also being a threat from most positions. The lone person to have beaten him in the last five years is “Top 10” light heavyweight Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, while former UFC champs Andrei Arlovski and Tito Ortiz are the only other losses on Matyushenko’s record if going back a full decade rather than half of one. Meanwhile, during that same span, the soft-spoken MMA veteran has knocked off a number of respectable foes with stints in the Octagon including Pedro Rizzo, Jason Lambert, Tim Boetsch, and the afore-mentioned Nogueira. While Jones has definitely fought a handful of tough guys, none have been as fully-rounded as Matyushenko or nearly as experienced.”

However, as tough as “The Janitor” may be, I don’t think Jones will struggle to finish him. Jones’ wrestling and athleticism should allow him to stuff the bulk of Matyushenko’s takedown attempts and likely dish out damage in the process. His striking is vastly superior to Matyushenko’s, as are his speed and power. I think he’ll catch Vlad on his chin a few times after a feeling-out process, then pounce on top and unleash a barrage of strikes. As long as 1-2 of them isn’t a downward, vertical elbow then the finish should finally merit Jones’ ascension into the UFC’s group of apex light heavyweights. Starting Monday, expect “Bones” to only be facing names like Lyoto Machida, ”Rampage” Jackson, Rashad Evans, Forrest Griffin, and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua from here on out. I’d personally love to see him fight Anderson Silva but that’s a story for a different column.

Winner – Jon Jones via TKO Round 2

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    I think Jon Jones is one of the best 205ers in the world. I also believe that by the time Jones challenges for the title he will be the best in the world. I think he will beat Matyushenko but in rd 3 after he has been behind on the cards for the majority of the fight.
    Okami via submission against Munoz but it could easily be Munoz who has his hand raised at the end (of 3 rds mind you).
    Gomi needs to raise his game or it will be “see you later” to the fireball kid. I think he will lose and it will be Griffin via dec.
    As for Howard vs Elllenberger, it could go one of 2 ways due to the apparent skill set and skill level similarities. It could be a barn burner or it could be a fight in which they cancel each other out. I hope it goes the way that the last Santiago vs Khalidov fight went and becomes a real to and fro fight.

  • bigbadjohn says:

    MMA logic, you are quite logical. Aside from having Bones down 2-0 going into the 3rd, i agree with all of the above. Im not discounting Vlad but Jones has that swagger now that I cant see him losing a rovnd to anyone outside the top 5 at 205. BUT i do respect yovr unique prediction, youll no doubt be The man if jones does get a come from behind win

  • Jak says:

    Okami was coming off long injury lay offs against a hungry Sonnen who had been quite active prior to that fight.

    Not saying that Okami will take it, but that’s a poor fight to make a judgement about Okami…

    Muonz seems to get dropped in his fights as well. i can’t remember which one it looked like he was almost done in round 1, but it wasn’t that long ago and it wasn’t to a top MW.


    I see Howard winning via stoppage and Jon Jones winning by blowing our minds with elevated skill level

  • Makington says:

    It was his fight with Kendall Grove Jak, and you’re right, he was nearly knocked out cold with a flush uppercut. His only loss is a devastating ko loss to Hamill too, but I still think he has a solid enough chin for Okami. Should be a good fight, but I think Munoz’ wrestling game is a little too strong and he’ll grind a decision.

    I don’t think Jones will have too hard a time with Vlad. O’brien, Hamill, and Vera never even came close to taking him down and the way he’s gotten better in between fights makes me think he’ll toss Matyushenko as he pleases.

    I’m also really pumped for Demarques’ fight. He missed weight by a pound but Riddle is one of the most boring fighters I have ever watched and I think(hope) Johnson has the skills to put him away and send him walking.

  • MCM says:

    I’m gonna spoil everyone’s hopes here but I think all Main Card fights are going to a decision.

    Gomi v Griffin
    Gomi may be a shell of his former self but he’s still tough as hell to finish, same with Griffin (aside from the shell part.) This is gonna go three rounds of Griffin GNP for the UD.

    Ellenberg v Howard
    I love Jake in this but Doomsday has only been put to sleep once in his career. Ellenberg does major damage from the top and should be able to take Howard down almost at will but Doomsday is one tough fighter and should be able to keep fighting on his way to a loosing a UD.

    Okami v Munoz
    Munoz is getting a ton of hype lately for some reason but he’s still pretty untested. Yes, he’s a great wrestler and it’s easy to look at Chael’s domination of Okami as evidence that Mark should take wins this. But let’s not forget that for all his great wrestling, he only got a Split Dec against Nick Catone and KO’ing Okami hasn’t happened in past 7 years even though 21 people have tried. We do know that Munoz is not a fan of large blunt objects against his head and if Okami can land one of those knees he landed against Tanner (rip), he could put him to sleep again. But I don’t think so. This one is gonna go the distance too, and I think Yushin is gonna get his hand raised at the end.

    Jones v Matyushenko
    Jones is another guy with a ton of hype but his is at least deserved. He’s flashy, classy, and is a blast to watch. He also couldn’t put away Bonnar or Gusmao and as much fun as he is, I don’t see how he’s gonna put the Janitor down. Matyushenko is tougher than a coffin nail and, as pointed out, has been in there with the best in the business and had his hand raised more often than not. This too will go the distance but I’m thinking it’s gonna be a lot closer than most are thinking. Jones by Split Dec.

  • BigDave says:

    Jon Jones is possibly the most gifted athlete fighting in MMA today. His speed and power are going to be tough for anyone to get past. We also need to realize he is still in his early 20’s and just a sponge when it comes to learning and wanting to get better each time out. He will likely be a champ at 205 by end of 2011 if he fights 3 more times by then. With all that being said it safe to assume that I am picking Bones(no pun intended :) ) To come out smart and technical and just overwhelm the vet on way to a ground and pound victory either late in the first or early in the second.

    I’m still having a hard time seeing the why there is all this hype behind Munoz. He has done nothing yet in his 8-1 record that was showing he can step up to the next level. The one fight he had with a guy who is truly legit was Matt Hamill and he still hasn’t got the plate number of the truck that ran him over in that one. Okami on the other hand has by far the more experience and has beat guys like Tanner, Dean Lister, Mike Swick, and Alan Belcher, not to mention going to Decision with Rich Franklin. I see Okami being able to land shots on Munoz and just grind him out, and if he leaves his chin exposed Okami will have no problem putting Munoz to sleep with a knee to the chin. I pick Okami by tko round 3

    Now on to the fight I am most looking forward to, Gomi vs. Griffin. Have you ever played rock’em Sock’em Robots? Well that is what i see happening in this fight. Both these dudes are just gonna come out head hunting. the first guy to fall down losses. This will be fight of the night and possibly ko of the night as well. I’m taking Griffin by ko round 2.

  • Jak says:

    I don’t know that Jones is the most “gifted”… it wasn’t that long ago i 100% gassed against Bonnar and lost the last half of the fight.

    Solid skills, sure. most “gifted” fighter… let’s see him face a top 5 LHW before he gets that distinction.

  • MickeyC says:

    I agree with JA K & MCM. Jones has talet and a definite future but he has not fought anyone I would consider a gate keeper or anyone better than 7th or 8th in the weight class. Depending on the match ups I can see him fight 3 or even 4 more timesbefore a shot. I can also see this going the distance if Vlad can keep from being over welmed.

  • Dufresne says:

    – Don’t have a clue. Going with Elkins because he got “heads” and that’s how my coin landed. Should be a good scrap though.

    – I’m also going with Kimmons here via sub, but I think he’s gonna get it in the early part of the 2nd round.

    – Agreeing with Brendhan here; Stann TKO round 1.

    – And agreeing with Brendhan here too; Irvin via TKO Round 2.

    – Going with Johnson via sub, Round 3

    – Griffen by UD

    – Great fight. Probably my pick for fight of the night. I’m gonna take Ellenberger via UD. I was originally going with Howard by decision, but but when I double checked everything I realized he’s got 2 split decision wins in his last 4 fights and I personally don’t think he’s as good as the only guy to have a split decision win over Ellenberger.

    – Hopefully someone via TKO, but realistically someone by boring me to death. They’re both pretty talented fighters, and hopefully their wrestling will cancel out and we get a stand up war. Otherwise it looks like a lay-n-pray snoozefest to me. Munoz may have good GnP, but I think Okami is just good enough off his back to prevent him from doing much of it.

    – This is the other fight I’m looking forward to. Jones has faced a few tough guys so far, but “The Janitor” is by far the toughest yet. If I hadn’t seen how Jones absolutely ragdolled Hamill before getting DQ’d I have put this at probably a 60:40 Jones:Matyushenko, but after that dominating wrestling display followed by a win due to a broken face (literally ) against Vera, I’m putting it more at 75:25. I just can’t completely count out a dude as tough and skilled as Matyushenko.

  • Swing Em says:

    Main Card Predictions

    Jones by FRBD (First Round Beat Down) , it’s gunna be violent!

    Okami by Submission (armbar or triangle) , I just have a funny feeling Munoz is going to get careless from the top & have to tap.

    Griffin by TKO , he’s just too strong for the former Pride FC champion

    Ellenberger by Decision , both men are well rounded & haven’t been finished by an opponet since 2007, (both lost in September of that year ironically enough) However Jake is the bigger stronger fighter & i think that will get him the win.

  • stone says:

    The Vlad vs Jones fight is such a given “W” for Jones it’s almost not fair! I’m hoping somehow, someway Vlad can pull off the upset… Nothings worse than a gift-wrapped win! OUCH just felt a thumbs-down

  • BigDave says:

    to correct people that seem to think i said Jones is the best fighter, that is clearly not what i said. I said he is one of the most athletically gifted. Meaning alot of his talent you can’t teach. He has the ability to hang in there with anyone as far as raw talent goes the one question mark is weather or not he will have the heart and fortitued to get through a tough fight against a top tier guy. So as a fighter he still has alot to prove but from a purely athletic stand point I stand by what I said before.

  • Dufresne says:

    I agree that he’s freakishly gifted, but like Jak pointed out, unless he’s improved his cardio I don’t see how you can call him one of the most athletically gifted fighters. After all, endurance is a critical part of athleticism.


    I have got Jones by stoppage in the second round-Okami by stoppage in the first-Howard by decision-Gomi by stoppage in the third-and Johnson-Irvin-Stann-Volkmann-Oliveira all by decision

  • Brendhan Conlan says:

    I enjoyed reading your picks. Should be a great show tonight!


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