UFC 68: The Uprising Roundtable Preview
Posted by Caleb Newby on 03.01.2007
411's MMA team is back with previews, predictions, and insight on the UFC's Saturday PPV! Check out the details inside!
Welcome back to yet another 411 MMA Roundtable. We've done the impossible and have made this an actual regular, reoccurring feature. Hold the applause.
I'm going to skip the introductions by this point since you should be familiar with who everyone is by this point. That, and there are enough events in the next couple events for me to go through all that again.
And just incase you're wondering who did the best at picking Pride 33, it was Jason Reso of 411's MMA forums. Congrats to Jason on doing well in that wildly chaotic event. But for the record, I (Caleb) did the best of the columnists from the roundtable, so I have something to cling on to for my ego's sake.
Also, Damian had a fantastic play by play live event recap for Pride 33 on Saturday. Check out 411 Sports on Saturday for play by play coverage on UFC 68 as well! It's the fastest detailed coverage you'll find for your live MMA updates.
On with the show!
Randy Couture vs. Tim Sylvia
Brad Jennette: Tim Sylvia is a 30-year-old striker fighting for Miletich Fighting Systems out of Davenport, Iowa by way of Maine. Sylvia is the current UFC Heavyweight champion and this is his second reign as champion. Sylvia has a career record of 23-2 with an 8-2 record in the octagon. Sylvia is a mountain of a man at 6'8" and 280 pounds (he cuts to reach the UFC heavyweight limit of 265). Sylvia debuted in the UFC in 2002 by stopping Cabbage Correira with strikes. Sylvia then won the title knocking out Ricco Rodriguez and defended it by knocking out Gan McGee. Following that successful title defense, Sylvia was stripped of the title for testing positive for steroids. Sylvia came back from his suspension and fought Frank Mir for the heavyweight title, however Mir was victories when an early armbar attempt by Mir left Sylvia with a badly broken arm. Sylvia returned and this time challenged Andrei Arlovski for the heavyweight title. Sylvia was dropped with a big right hand and quickly submitted with a heel hook by Arlovski. After back-to-back submission losses, Sylvia was seen as a bit of an afterthought in the UFC HW division. Tim responded with a knockout win over Tra Telligman and a decision win over Ausserio Silva. Sylvia made the most of his 2nd title shot against Arlovski, knocking out the champion in the first round. Upon winning the title, Sylvia has defended it twice, once in a rubber match with Arlovski and also against Jeff Monson. Both fights followed the same basic formula of Sylvia fighting uber-conservatively and being perfectly content to grind out incredibly lackluster decisions in order to keep his title. Enter Randy Couture. Randy Couture is a 43-year-old UFC hall of famer. Couture is the only man in the history of the UFC to ever win titles in two separate weight classes. Couture has a career record of 14-8 with an 11-4 record within the confines of the UFC. Couture has been retired for 12 months, but is making this comeback because in his words "he saw something". My best guess is that Couture saw the same thing every other MMA fan out there has seen in Sylvia's last two title defenses. The thing Couture saw was that ever since Tim Sylvia become champion, has decided not to fight to win, rather to fight not to lose. Apparently that (and a fat check from Dana White) was all Randy Couture needed to get back into prime shape (although I doubt he ever was out of prime shape) to challenge the giant for the title. Couture is a great wrestler with great clinch work and good dirty boxing. However, the reason why Couture decided to drop from heavyweight (206-265) to light heavyweight (186-205) in the first place is because he couldn't handle fighters that were so much more naturally bigger then him. Can Couture win this fight? He's fricken Captain America. I can never ever ever root against him. However, this is not a fight I feel like Couture should have taken. Sylvia is simply too big, too strong, and too good at avoiding a takedown for Couture to have a chance. Expect the fight to play out a lot like this. Jab, jab, jab, jab, jab, circle, avoid clinch, jab, jab, jab…… well you get the picture. The Pick: Tim Sylvia decision
Michael Huckaby: It's important to remember this isn't a retire match for Couture, he didn't only sign a four fight deal "just in case" he won the title. Nothing is keeping Randy married to the heavyweight division and there could be a big money fall fight to the tune of Couture/Ortiz II. UFC is going to get exactly what they want out of Randy, another Ortiz/Liddell'like huge name to sell PPVs and a guy that will beat who he is supposed to and lose just the same. He's one of those few guys that can still get buys even when they're fighting a Mike Van Arsdale. Why do I keep talking about Randy's future and not Saturday's fight? I think that's painfully obvious. He couldn't beat Liddell and he hasn't defeated a real heavyweight in 5 or 6 years. The only question is whether Big Tim will be able to take it out of the judges hands. I'll be optimistic.... and on a side note if I have to hear Sylvia say "first round knockout" in his pre-fight interview one more time only to stand around and look awkward.... Winner: Tim Sylvia, TKO, 3rd Rd
Damian Sarcuni: People have been calling this a David and Goliath matchup, but in my opinion nothing could be farther from the truth. Couture is legendary for coming up with some of the craftiest gameplans ever seen and I doubt he would be going after the massive Sylvia unless he had something sure fire up his sleeve. People go on about Sylvia's jab like its a veritable fist of the heavens, but Sylvia has been reluctant to move forward with his punches at all lately.
He'll need to, because this is Randy Couture we're talking about. Yes, the man is an old weezer but he hasn't exactly aged that much since his last win in the UFC. His losses to Liddell are a credit to Chuck, not Randy's age. I think that if Sylvia didn't pull the trigger against Monson he certainly won't against Couture, and that is going to be the mistake that finishes him. It could be catching the big man with an orthodox hook or simply holding the champ on the ground to frustrate him, or something else we haven't seen, but Couture has more weapons than Sylvia ever will. This one goes to the underdog. Winner: Randy Couture by decision
Andrew Mellick: The Main event for this card marks the return of a hall of fame competitor. 13 months ago Couture retired from the octagon to pick up announcing duties. In that time off, he claims to have noticed a fatal flaw in Sylvia's game. What that flaw is, is anybody's guess but I think it comes down to Couture wanting to come back and thinking "I can beat this douche bag." However, coming back from a year off is tough and add into that the fact that he is 43, meaning he will have to play some serious catch up if he wants to win this bout.
Sylvia on the other hand is a cocky bastard, but let's face it, he can fight. He has beaten the best of what the UFC heavyweight division has to offer (which isn't saying much). He may fight not to lose but it does work for him, and I don't see Randy being able to get in on him at all if he plays defensive all night. Because the man does have serious knockout power with a big reach and a lot of size to back him up.
Look for Couture to scamper around the giant while Sylvia mutters "fye fi fo fum" before landing the fatal blow and celebrating by separating his jaw and growling before swallowing Couture whole. The man has a giant mouth. Winner: The Maine-iac 3rd Round TKO
Caleb Newby: I'm rooting for Randy here, and keep trying to play this fight out in my head. Each time I do it doesn't bode well for Mr. Couture. I can't picture Randy winning a standup war with Sylvia whatsoever. Not even a flash KO situation. Sylvia's reach, power, and size combined with a decent chin make the stand up game dangerous. Take downs are next, and we saw how that went with Monson. I expect Randy to do better in that department, but how much better? That's why they fight since we don't know until then, but say Randy gets the clinch and takes Sylvia down. Tim's a big guy to hold on the ground, and we've seen his ground work was more respectable than anyone imagined. So that leaves Randy trying to hold Sylvia down for 5 minutes at a time while staying active enough with the ground and pound to bang out a decision victory. That's the only way I see Randy doing it to, is by a GnP decision. Unfortunately, much more likely is a Sylvia decision or KO... which is the real question here. Will Sylvia coast to another decision and make people hate him all the more, or will he KO Randy and still be hated? I'm going with the KO because I have got to believe Sylvia realizes how important it is to finish 43 year old Couture. Winner: Sylvia – Rd3, KO
Larry Csonka: Sylvia is 25-2 and coming off of five straight UFC wins. Couture is 14-8, with his last UFC fight being a loss to Chuck Liddell at UFC 57 at Light Heavyweight. Couture is not believed by most to have a chance, but I think that conditioning and experience will pay off for him here and that he will take the fight and the title. Winner: Randy Couture (Decision)
Chris Lytle vs. Matt Hughes
Brad Jennette: Matt Hughes is a 33-year-old wrestler extraordinaire fighting for Miletich Fighting Systems out of Hillsboro, Illinois. Hughes is a sure fire UFC hall of famer and is considered by most to be the greatest welterweight fighter of all time. Hughes has a career record of 40-5 with a 14-3 record inside the UFC cage. Hughes is a two-time UFC welterweight champion looking to climb the mountain back up towards another title shot. Hughes was once nothing more then a pure wrestler with amazing slams and awesome physical strength. Hughes still has those attributes, but he's added in a deadly submission game from the top position as well as ever improving standup skills. Hughes has defeated a who's who of fighters in his career with guys like Georges St-Pierre, BJ Penn, Royce Gracie, Frank Trigg, current UFC lightweight champ Sean Sherk and Mach Sakurai all falling victim to Hughes at some point in their careers. However, in Hughes' most recent fight, he was knocked out by Georges St-Pierre. That knockout ended Hughes' 6 fight-winning streak and most importantly his welterweight title reign. Hughes wants nothing more then to recapture his welterweight title. Standing in his way is Chris Lytle. Chris Lytle is a 32-year-old well-rounded fighter competing out of Indianapolis, Indiana. Lytle has a career record of 22-13-5 with a 2-5-career record in the UFC. Lytle has good boxing as evidenced by his 13-1 record and by the fact he was slated to compete on The Contender 2 before he got the call to compete on TUF 4. Lytle is also an extremely tough fighter, having never been knocked out or submitted in 40 career fights. That said, I really don't see any way Chris Lytle can win this fight. Lytle struggled to keep Matt Serra from taking him down and Serra is a natural lightweight. Hughes is easily the strongest fighter in the division and should have no trouble taking Lytle down. The real question is will Hughes finish off Lytle with ground and pound, or will he work a submission from the top? However you slice it, Hughes takes this one. Pick: Matt Hughes via round 1 TKO/KO
Michael Huckaby: I like Chris Lytle. He lives about 5 minutes down the road from my parents and his firehouse is down the road from my old high school. Unfortunately I can't figure out a way where either of those notes will help him beat Matt Hughes. I enjoyed the story he told; losing to Shonie Carter and considering retirement when UFC calls him and offers the best welterweight of all-time. He said as soon as he got off the phone he went to work out and was more dedicated than he's ever been. Again, can't figure out a way where said notes help him beat Matt Hughes. Then again, Lytle has never truly been stopped. Making through a 40 fight career without a true knockout or submission loss isn't something to sneeze at.... but again, it's Matt Hughes. This will either go to a disappointing decision win for Hughes or a late ground-and-pound TKO. I'll go ahead and go for the latter but I'm rooting for the former. Winner: Matt Hughes, TKO, 3rd Rd
Damian Sarcuni: Matt Hughes is a cocky son of a bitch, and many fans hate him all the more because he can back up his talk. "Lights out" Lytle is no slouch either, and Hughes is definitely going to underestimate him. Unfortunately for Lytle, it's when Hughes underestimates his opponents that he is most dangerous.
As Hughes walked out to the octagon to defend his title against GSP for the second time, his face gave away his emotions. Gone was the smug, confident Hughes we've all known. Forget the useless trash talk that came out of his mouth, Hughes knew what he was in for and it broke him. Confidence is everything and in this match Hughes will have all of it. Lytle will impress however, landing solid strikes but unable to stop Hughes' dominating take down. While Hughes is capable of ending the fight anywhere, I will say that his title loss will affect him enough to take away his finishing power. Winner: Hughes by decision
Andrew Mellick: The last time we saw Mr. Hughes, he lost his belt and had his ass handed to him by GSP. I imagine, he wasn't too found of that and I expect Mr. Lytle will suffer the brunt of that frustration.
Hughes was a dominant champion beating such notables as BJ Penn, Royce Gracie, Frank Trigg and Sean Sherk. With an incredible 40 and 5 record he is both experienced and extremely dangerous.
Chris Lytle is an Ultimate fighter who lost to Matt Serra in the finals. While he has been in many fights, he hasn't faced nearly the caliber of opponents Hughes has, let alone beaten them. I think Lytle does have talent but he is far too green to expect any kind of upset going against a guy like Hughes. I see this one ending quick. Followed by a hoe down. Winner: Hughes Round 1 TKO
Caleb Newby: First time watching I didn't feel Serra necessarily beat Lytle. Instead he's facing Matt Hughes, former dominate welterweight champion. And here's the intriguing thing to me here. Everyone respects Lytle and his toughness, but he's going against Hughes. Normally that would be an automatic loss for Lytle, and many are saying it still will be. The real interesting thing comes from Hughes and how he's coming into this fight. How hungry is he? Does he have something to prove? Where is his head at after getting destroyed by GSP? If we don't have the Hughes of old we might be in for a real interesting fight. Unfortunately for Lytle, I'm going with we will have the Hughes of old. Winner: Hughes – Rd2, TKO
Larry Csonka: Lytle is 32-13-4, losing to Matt Serra at TUF 4 Finale. Hughes is 42-5, and is coming off of the TKO loss to GSP. Lytle will put up a good fight, but in the end Hughes will be ready for him. In the end Hughes needs the win to get back on track and back into the title picture, as a loss would be devastating for him here. Winner: Matt Hughes (RD 2 Submission)
Jason MacDonald vs. Rich Franklin
Brad Jennette: Rich Franklin is a 32-year-old well rounder fighting out of Cincinnati, Ohio. He is the former UFC middleweight champion and he is one of the hardest working and smartest fighters in the world today. Franklin has a career record of 20-2 with 19 of his 20 wins coming via TKO/KO or submission. Franklin has a career UFC record of 7-1 with a middleweight title victory and 2 successful defenses to his credit. However, all is not well in the Franklin camp. In his most recent fight, Franklin was brutally knocked out by Anderson Silva. Franklin ate literally some 25 odd knees and got his nose badly broken in the process. Franklin has already shown in the past that he can bounce back from a knockout loss, seeing as how he rattled off 8 straight victories after being knocked out by Lyoto Machida. Because of this past experience, I don't think Franklin's confidence will be a factor. Jason MacDonald is a 31-year-old submissions ace fighting out of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. MacDonald has a career record of 18-7 and a UFC record of 2-0. MacDonald, simply put, was brought in by the UFC to be a showcase victory for TUF 3 runner up Ed Herman. However, MacDonald refused to be anyone's stepping-stone as he easily defeated Herman with a picture perfect triangle choke. MacDonald was then matched up against another TUF veteran, this time the always-tough Chris Leben. After dropping the first round, MacDonald stormed back to choke Leben out with a ridiculous modified guillotine choke. After being brought in to lose to two former TUFers and choking them both out, MacDonald is being given a prime opportunity to earn himself a title shot. Whoever wins this fight will likely receive the next shot at the winner of the middleweight championship fight between Anderson Silva and Nate Marquardt. I think MacDonald is a tough fighter and he's proven me wrong in the past, but I just can't see to shake the fact that MacDonald was being out struck by garbage brawler Chris Leben. Franklin should be too much for MacDonald on the feet and I can see this fight ending early. Pick: Rich Franklin via round 1 TKO/KO
Michael Huckaby: MacDonald is getting a little too much exposure at this point, which I suppose is good for both himself and the UFC. He's like Brandon Vera with a little less potential. Don't get me wrong, it wouldn't in any way shock me if MacDonald pulled off a second round submission victory but Rich Franklin remains one of my favorite fighters and I'll just assume he'll take it. I just fear Franklin has spent the last 5 months working on Muay Thai defense and he'll again have a piss poor strategy. "I'm going to trade with him, at least until I feel he's winning it and then I'll take him down." REALLY? Against Anderson Silva? REALLY? I can't let this go. You don't get to decide if you're losing the standup or not against a striker like Silva, once the realization hits you you're in the hospital being medically suspended for a few months. Winner: Rich Franklin, TKO, 2nd Rd
Damian Sarcuni: Show me a UFC patron who dislikes Jason MacDonald and I'll show you a statue in fan's clothing. In his wins over TUF alumns Ed Herman and Chris Leben, "the athlete" has shown that he is one of the most explosive, dangerous, and entertaining fighters on the UFC roster. I dare say that if he had been put against anyone in the middleweight division besides Rich Franklin or Anderson Silva, Macdonald would destroy them.
Alas, Macdonald is fated to take on the former, which means he'll face his greatest challenge to date. Franklin's striking is second only to A. Silva's in the UFC, and having just lost his not-so-coveted title you can bet ol' Ace will be thinking with more strategy and less aggression. MacDonald is gonna have a hell of a time getting this one to the ground in the first place, but if he does somehow, then the situation will do a full 180 and god help Rich Franklin. Winner: Franklin by KO, round 3
Andrew Mellick: Jason MacDonald is quickly becoming one of my favorite fighters. He was brought in to lose to Ed Herman, who he beat and he was brought in to lose to Chris Leben who he beat. He is incredibly athletic and is very skilled in submissions.
Rich Franklin is the smartest fighter in the UFC. He is quick powerful and an amazing strategist. He is coming off a loss where, in a rare lapse in judgment, he chose to battle Anderson Silva in the clinch, which he paid dearly for.
I expect Franklin to stalk MacDonald like a lion after a gazelle. Macdonald will hold his own for a while, but Franklin will be able to pick him apart before too long. Winner: Franklin 2nd round TKO
Caleb Newby: I really like MacDonald but I love me my Rich Franklin. Rich is a smart and talented guy that seems like he'd rebound strong from a loss. Other than being tentative early in the fight, I imagine Rich will take control and keep this on the feet where he'll score a KO. Even if we do get to the ground Rich isn't SOL as he is more than competent in that arena, but against MacDonald, why tread those waters unless you have to? Really want to risk getting caught by a gogoplata? Tis the season… Winner: Franklin – Rd2, TKO
Larry Csonka: MacDonald is a 19-7 fighter coming off of a win over Chris Leben @ UFC 66 via TKO. Franklin is 22-2 and coming off of the devastating loss to Silva @ UFC 64. In the end, much like Hughes, Franklin needs the win to get back on track and back into the title picture, as a loss would be devastating for him here. Winner: Rich Franklin (RD 1 TKO)
Jason Lambert vs. Renato Sobral
Brad Jennette: Jason Lambert is a 29-year-old with a wrestling and jiu-jitsu background fighting out of Apple Valley, California for the North County Fight Club. Lambert holds a career record of 22-6 and is 3-1 in UFC competition. Lambert quickly submitted Rob MacDonald in his UFC debut, and then stopped both Terry Martin and Branden Lee Hinkle with strikes. However, in his most recent UFC contest, a rather flabby looking Lambert was takedown, mounted, then pounded into unconsciousness by TUF 2 winner and undefeated Rashad Evans. Lambert is looking to bounce back into relevancy in the UFC light heavyweight division but this isn't likely going to be the opponent he is going to be able to bounce back against. Renato "Babalu" Sobral is a 31-year-old submission expect with good wrestling ability and improving standup. Babalu fights for the Gracie Barra Combat Team out of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Babalu has a career record of 27-6 and he is 5-3 in the UFC. Babalu made his UFC debut 7 years ago at UFC 28 winning a decision over Maurice Smith. Babalu then dropped a decision to Kevin Randleman and won another decision over Elvis Sinosic. A fight with Chuck Liddell then took place at UFC 40 and Babalu fell victim to a vicious head kick and lost via knockout. Babalu then disappeared from UFC competition and racked up 7 consecutive victories, including a one-night tournament where he defeated Jeremy Horn, Shogun Rua, and Trevor Prangley. Babalu then returned to the UFC in 2005 and racked up three consecutive submission victories over Travis Wiuff, Chael Sonnen, and Mike Van Arsdale earning him a title fight (and rematch) with Chuck Liddell. No offense to Babalu, but his game plan for his title shot against Liddell pretty much went against anything and everything anyone could have possibly advised him to do. Babalu immediately chased Liddell, throwing wild haymakers with no real semblance of a plan. That style of fight suits Liddell perfectly and he quickly TKO-ed Babalu again, thus eliminating the possibility of another Babalu-Liddell match up for a long time. While Lambert is an extremely tough and dangerous opponent, this fight should help get Babalu back on the right track and eventually back in title contention. Pick: Babalu via round 2 submission
Michael Huckaby: With a loss here is Jason Lambert officially enrolled in the Chris Leben School of Gatekeeping (CLSG)? This will obviously be a ground battle, unless Babalu wants to pull his "lob arm punches while running forward with my chin up" strategy out of the bag again. When he does that he looks a bit like someone in an asylum desperately trying to shake off his straight jacket. Picture it.... seriously, do it. Anyway, even if Lambert gets him to the ground I think Babalu will find a way to stay more active. While it's certainly a possibility I wouldn't give it over 50% that Sobral can finish it so.... Winner: Babalu Sobral, decision. Actually as I typed that I convinced myself Lambert would win a decision.... I'm glad this isn't for money or I'd have to think long and hard about my prediction. As it stands? Not so much.
Damian Sarcuni: It can be argued, albeit weak, that nobody in the UFC's current light heavyweight lineup can beat Renato Sobral except for Chuck Liddell. Even weaker, though also possible, is the idea that no one can beat Lambert except Rashad Evans. Both of these men are in an interesting position. They both dominated the UFC middle cards until suffering big losses in the fall of last year. Babalu is the Darth Vader of Jiu Jitsu and is unsurpassed on the ground while Lambert is a bit more well rounded, but certainly not nearly as good as Sobral when the fight hits the mat.
Thus, despite both men working on all the cross training in the world, we have ourselves a classic striker vs grappler matchup! I don't want to say it but the reality is this fight is Sobral's to lose. Lambert is going to have to be sneaky to get his hits in on the feet and even then he's going to be highly susceptible to a Sobral takedown. This match will go in bursts. 1 minute of stalling, 30 seconds of the most amazing action you've ever seen, back to a minute of stalling, etc. Winner: Renato Sobral by submission, round 3
Andrew Mellick: This is a fight I am looking forward to. Lambert is an up and comer in the UFC with a strong wrestling background. He is coming off a loss to Rashad Evans and looking to get back his momentum.
Sobral is a very well rounded fighter. He has beaten some formidable opponents, but like so many in the light heavy weight division he had his championship hopes shattered via Chuck Liddell. So he'll be looking for an opportunity to start that long road back into title contention.
Both these guys are good on the ground, so I expect most of the fight to take place there. From there it will be like two frat guys getting drunk and wrestling over a girl who left the party half an hour ago. A virtual deadlock but with a slight advantage to… Winner: Sobral Decision
Caleb Newby: I'm looking forward to Babalu getting back into the cage and racking up some wins to get into title contention once Liddell is finally dethroned. It's bound to happen soon… right? Regardless, there are many matchups that are interesting to throw him into. Lambert's looking to rebound post Rashad where he was manhandled by the rising star. Babalu's just to good to lose one to Lambert, or so I'm going to believe. Nothing against Lambert, but Babalu just feels like he has the tools to be a star, and if that's the case, he'll need to win this on his way to a showdown with Tito. Winner: Babalu – Sub, Rd3
Larry Csonka: BABALU is 27-6 and is coming off the loss to Liddell. Lambert is 22-6 coming off of a loss to Rashad Evans at UFC 63 via KO. I know I sound like a broken record here, but much like Hughes and Franklin; BABALU needs the win to get back on track and back into the title picture, as a loss would be devastating for him here. Winner: BABALU (Decision)
Drew McFedries Vs. Martin Kampmann
Brad Jennette: Drew McFedries is a 28-year-old striker fighting out of Bettendorf, Iowa by way of the legendary Miletich Fighting Systems. McFedries has a career record of 5-1 and is 1-0 in his octagon. McFedries UFC debut was a terrific standup battle with former boxer Alessio Sakara. McFedries was able to withstand some serious bombs from Sakara before finally stuffing a takedown (more like Sakara just laying down, but I digress) and forcing a tap out after some ridiculous haymakers to Sakara's body and head. Martin Kampmann is a 24-year-old fighting out of Las Vegas, Nevada by way of Denmark. Kampmann is a good striker, but also has a solid and improving ground game. Kampmann has a 14-2 career record as well as a 2-0 mark in the UFC. Kampmann's UFC debut was against fellow striker Crafton Wallace. Kampmann showed off his ground game by quickly dispatching Wallace with a rear naked choke. Kampmann then stepped in against the very hyped Thales Leites. Leites won round 1, but Kampmann came back strong and dominated rounds 2 and 3 and won the well-earned decision. Many are calling this fight as the early favorite for fight of the night. In my opinion this fight seemingly can only go one of two ways. The first option is both guys stand in the middle of the cage and throw massive bombs at each other until one guy gets knocked the fuck out as they say. Option two (the more likely option in my opinion) is Kampmann comes out and takes McFedries down and submits McFedries in the first half of the fight. Pick: Martin Kampmann via round 2 submission
Michael Huckaby: "Hey, these guys like to go in and punch each other in the face like maniacs! Make it happen and put it on the live show!" *pan to a lone, sad man in a chair sitting on the other side of the room.... this man is Jon Fitch* :-( I don't doubt this will be an entertaining fight, in fact with a win Kampmann puts his name out there as a contender. But poor Jon Fitch, he should be fighting Burkman or Alves.... OH WAIT, he already beat them. How about Karo or Koscheck? No? Undercard again? You win again UFC, you win again. Oh, Kampmann vs McFedries you say? Meh, Kampmann is better and I can't help but think he'll win. Prediction you say? JON FITCH! Winner: Not Jon Fitch, sadness, undercard.
Damian Sarcuni: Martin Kampmann is most known for his appearances at UFC's Ultimate Fight Nights, where he racked up two wins against Crafton Wallace and Tahles Leites on the undercard. McFedries' claim to fame is that he beat a guy who lost to Dean Lister and Assuerio Silva. Though he has a good mix of submission and knockout wins on his 12-2 record, the odds are stacked in Kampmann's favor simply by pure experience alone. This is only McFedries' seventh professional fight, his first and only loss being a TKO courtesy of Nate Quarry. Although McFedries did beat Alessio Sakara, it was for the stupidest reason in the world...Sakara stopped fighting, squatted down, and got knocked out. McFedries won't get an opportunity like that again. God willing, no one will. Winner: Martin Kampmann, 2nd round TKO
Andrew Mellick: Both relative new comers to UFC, Kampmann comes in with more experience under his belt as well as the ability to finish fights via submission or strikes. He is riding an impressive 7 fight win streak into this match.
McFedries is an impressive newbie with just one loss to his name. He is a powerful fighter training in the famed Militech camp. Plus, he has a kick ass last name; it sounds like some kind of Irish amphetamines.
I look for McFedries to come out strong in this one, as he still has something to prove. So I'm going to go with the upset in this fight, I could be wrong, but I just got a feeling and we all know good gamblers always have a "feeling". Winner: Drew McFedries 2nd Round Sub
Caleb Newby: Sometimes, you just don't have a lot to say, this is one of those times. It's expected to be a slug knock'em out war, and it probably will be. I think I'll toss my support behind the more experienced and seasoned Kampmann. I didn't expect him to beat Thales Leites before, so it's only fair I take him now. Winner: Kampmann – Rd2, KO
Larry Csonka: Kampmann is an 11-1 fighter with a lot of knockout power, coming off of a TUF 4 Finale victory over Thales Leites. McFedries is 5-1and likes to stand up, and coming off of a victory over Alessio Sakara at UFC 65. A real toss up for me, both guys will benefit greatly from the win. Winner: Drew McFedries (RD 3 TKO)
Rex Holman Vs. Matt Hamill
Brad Jennette: Rex Holman is a 37-year-old wrestling expert fighting out of Columbus, Ohio. Holman has a career record of 4-1 and he is making his UFC debut. Holman is one of the better wrestlers to ever step foot in the octagon as he is a former NCAA wrestling champ for Ohio State, Big Ten Champ, and Pac 10 champ for Arizona State. Holman also placed 3rd and 4th at Freestyle Final Olympic Trials. Matt Hamill is a 30-year-old wrestler from Loveland, Ohio and he is also a veteran of the reality show The Ultimate Fighter 3. Matt Hamill is also the only deaf fighter in the history of the UFC. Hamill officially joined Tito Ortiz's Team Punishment following TUF 3. Hamill has a career record of 2-0 with both fights coming within the confines of the UFC cage. Hamill most recent victory was a very dull decision win over a visibly out of shape Seth Petruzelli. Despite the fact Petruzelli was gassed early, he was still able to badly rock Hamill during their fight and nearly stop Hamill with strikes. Hamill does has the luxury of having one of the best fighters in the world in Tito Ortiz as his mentor and training coach, however I have just never been terribly impressed with Hamill as a fighter. His wrestling is very good, but his standup consists of an ugly rock em' sock em' robots style and his submission game up until this point has been proven non-existent. How will Hamill react when Holman puts him on his back with a takedown? Add in the fact that Hamill can't hear Ortiz shouting instructions his way while he is in a tight predicament and I get the feeling this fight is ripe for an "upset". However, I have no testicular fortitude so I'm picking Hamill. Pick: Matt Hamill by decision
Michael Huckaby: Allow me to share something that tickled me.... figuratively of course. I read an article discussing both men and their great wrestling backgrounds. They made a direct comparison between their NCAA accomplishments, with Holman being an Ohio State national champion and Matt in Division III for National Technical Institute for the Deaf. I'm not saying Hamill isn't a spectacular wrestler, he most certainly is, but something about comparing NTID and (The) Ohio State University just stuck out. Anyway, all of Holman's wins have come against .500 competition at best while Hamill is training with some of the world's best. I don't know enough about Holman to really hit the ending on the head but this has never stopped me from acting like I know what I'm talking about before. The age of the pure born wrestler, at least in the big leagues, is dead. Winner: Matt Hamill, something
Damian Sarcuni: Damian Sarcuni: DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE!!! Matt Hamill was on The Ultimate Fighter, overcame his hearing handicap and yes he is Tito Ortiz's golden boy. It doesn't matter. With excellent wrestling skills and poor performance in every other facet of the MMA game Hamill's overall skill level is mediocre at best. Holman has finished every one of his fights and it won't take much for him to finish Hamill either. Winner: Rex Holman by KO round 1
Andrew Mellick: Holman is making his UFC debut with only a few fights to his name. He has never let a fight go to decision and he only has one loss. Rex will have to settle those butterflies as he is taking on one of the UFC reality show darlings.
Hamill is everyone's hearing impaired hero. He debuted on the Ultimate Fighter season three and won his two bouts on that show before having to bow out due to medical reasons. Ortiz swears by the guy and quickly brought him onboard with team Punishment. Matt is a very strong wrestler with an oversized heart, but sadly he lacks educated feet which could hurt him (that's a bad Xpac reference).
Heart aside I think Matt's talent combined with the grooming Ortiz has been giving him will prove to be too much for Holman. Winner: Hamill decision
Caleb Newby: I'm with the crowd that hasn't been all that impressed with Hamill. Then you consider that Hamill's strong suit is wrestling and look at the comparison Huckaby pointed out… and you start to wonder how Matt will handle Rex's wrestling. Now I know nothing else about Rex other than what was already mentioned here, but this could be as good a place as any for an upset. So taking Damian's lead, I'll do the same. Probably should take the decision here, but oh well, I like to be optimistic. Winner: Rex Holman – Rd2, TKO
Larry Csonka: Hamill most will remember from TUF and is 4-0, with his last UFC win over Seth Petruzelli. Holman is 4-1 making his UFC debut. UFC would love for Hamill to win as he is a TUF guy, and makes a great story with his disability. Hamill will want this to be on the ground, and I expect a largely uneventful battle. Winner: Matt Hamill (Decision)
Luigi Fioravanti Vs. Jon Fitch
Brad Jennette: Jon Fitch is a 29-year-old wrestler from Fort Wayne, Indiana fighting out of the highly regarded American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California. Fitch has a career record of 12-2 and he is a very impressive 4-0 in the UFC. Fitch's UFC victories include a decision over Brock Larson (Larson's only career loss to date), a submission over Josh Burkman, a TKO over Thiago Alves, and most recently another decision win over highly touted Japanese fighter Kuniyoshi Hironaka. Fitch has not taken too kindly to the fact that the UFC is not televising this fight live after televising his last fight live. He sees it as a demotion of sorts and plans to prove to the UFC brass that he should never fight on any undercard ever again. Luigi Fioravanti is a 26-year-old striker fighting out of Orlando, Florida. He is a member of American Top Team and holds a professional record of 10-1 and a UFC record of 2-1. Fioravanti made his UFC debut at 185 lbs, dropping a lackluster decision to then unbeaten Chris Leben. Fioravanti then followed that loss with two consecutive knockout victories over Solomon Hutcherson and Dave Menne, the last of which being at his more natural 170 lbs. This is your classic "styles make fights" type fight. Fitch is clearly a better wrestler and should look to take this fight to the ground early and often. Fioravanti has heavy hands, good footwork, and overall better all-around standup then Fitch. My heart tells me to pick the hometown Fioravanti, but my brain tells me to pick the wrestler to keep the striker grounded. However, don't be surprised to see Luigi put Fitch to sleep during a standup exchange. Pick: Jon Fitch by decision
Michael Huckaby: And after all of my talk about Fitch, I really don't like this matchup for him. I don't mean he shouldn't win, just that if you have a fighter that could be a contender you should put him on television against someone he can show his skills off against. This avoids the situation they were when they announced Liddell/Babalu II and the casual viewing audience had no idea who Sobral was. This fight should be what it is, two guys that are okay at everything all around. Fitch is just better at this point. Winner: Jon Fitch, decision
Damian Sarcuni: Jon Fitch is another UFN alumn who has been on a tear in the UFC lately, winning his first PPV event match by decision at UFC 64. One can't help but notice the many decision victories on Fitch's record, most of which came unanimously. His actual finishes are a mix of subs and strikes as well. Fioravanti is also a UFN alumn (anyone seeing a pattern here?) who's only loss came at the hands of the part-time impressive Chris Leben. Fioravanti's wins over Solomon Hutcherson and Dave Menne weren't any laughing matter though, and he's got the finishing power to stop this one suddenly and early. Winner: Luigi Fioravanti by KO round 2
Andrew Mellick: Fioravanti is a strong fighter with plenty of knockout power. However he is squaring off against Jon Fitch, a man with a well rounded skill set and a few big wins as well. I don't know much about either of these fighters but I have a feeling this should end with Fitch the victor. Unless, of course, Mario can hitch a ride on Yoshi to the pipe that takes you from the Mushroom Kingdom to Ohio with a fire flower in tow. That would change the outcome of this match dramatically. Winner: Fitch 2nd round Sub
Caleb Newby: I respect Luigi as a fighter, but Fitch is becoming the rallying icon for internet MMA types who search out injustice in the current landscape of the MMA scene. With Fitch's underground support from all of the internet experts who have been around since UFC 1, I am sure Fitch will have the best gameplan known to man. I'd make a Mario joke here if Andrew hadn't already just done it. Winner: Fitch – Decision
Larry Csonka: Fioravanti is 11-1 and comes off of a TKO victory over Dave Menne at Ultimate Fight Night: Sanchez vs. Riggs. Fitch is 17-2, coming off of a win at UFC 64 over Kuniyoshi Hironaka. He'll want to keep it to the ground but is more well rounded I feel than mot realize. Should be a pretty good bout. Winner: Jon Fitch (RD 1 TKO)
Jason Dent Vs. Gleison Tibau
Brad Jennette: Gleison Tibau is a 23-year-old ground specialist fighting out of Coconut Creek, Florida by way of Brazil. Tibau has a career record of 11-4 and is 0-1 in the UFC. Tibau's UFC debut was a very competitive loss to Nick Diaz. Tibau and Diaz both exchanged numerous submission attempts, including a particularly nice kimura attempt by Tibau, in an exciting first round until Diaz was finally able to put Tibau away with a TKO stoppage in the 2nd round. Jason Dent is a 26-year-old muay thai specialist fighting out of Cincinnati, Ohio. Dent has a career record of 12-7 and is also 0-1 in the UFC. Dent's lone octagon appearance was back in September 06 where he dropped a decision to highly regarded lightweight prospect Roger Huerta. Dent is a natural 155er, whereas Tibau is dropping from 170. However, I feel like the weight loss will work to Tibau's advantage and he will be able to catch Dent with a submission early. Pick: Gleison Tibau via round 1 submission
Michael Huckaby: Jason Dent fights Muay Thai, is a black belt in karate, and studies BJJ under a Gracie. That's pretty impressive, I sometimes wonder when guys like that eat or shower. On the other hand I don't know that much about Tibau other than the obvious so that naturally means I'll just pick Dent and tell you why as to avoid you knowing that. Dent is the better striker and at least an equal on the ground. This fight will probably remain standing until someone takes a good shot and then it will remain on the ground until the winner is known. I'll be specific, I like Dent with a choke. I know this paragraph included absolutely no insight but it's Gleison Tibau vs Jason Dent, cut me some slack. Winner: Jason Dent, sub, 3rd Rd.
Damian Sarcuni: The octagon looks more and more like a roman coliseum as fighters battle it out for a scrap of bread victory in UFC's undercard. Both Tibau and Dent are coming off losses to Nick Diaz and Roger Huerta, respectively. Surprisingly, Dent seems more comfortable in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu game than the native Brazilian Tibau does. Tibau is probably a little bigger and has a better chance on the feet, but I've heard the murmurs about Dent's ground game and there's no way you get a record like that without the ability to take a larger opponent down. Winner: Dent by submission, round 2
Andrew Mellick: Tibau comes into this fight looking to build up his shaky reputation in the UFC, coming off his debut loss. He is well versed in submissions and can hold his own on the ground. His opponent Jason Dent is also knows his way around a submission hold with nine wins via sub in his resume.
I'm going against the odds here and putting my money on Dent. This fight will go to the ground quick and both fighters will look for their chance to sink in a fight ending hold. But how can you go against a guy named Dent? Dent or Tibau, just on name alone you have to go with Dent. I feel this methodology of picking can't lose. Winner: Dent 1st round sub
Caleb Newby: I have no idea. I really don't. But Andrew says the Vegas oddsmakers are going with Tibau. And if I know anything, it's that the oddsmakers always get it right. Just ask Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou. Winner: Tibau – Decision
Larry Csonka: Another 155lb fight, with Dent walking in at 12-7, his last UFC bout was a loss to Huerta @ UFC 63. Tibau is 23-3 with a loss to Nick Diaz @ UFC 65. Both men need the win here big time. Tibau is strong in BJJ while Dent is more the well-rounded fighter. Winner: Gleison Tibau (Decision)
Jamie Varner vs. Jason Gilliam
Brad Jennette: Jason Gilliam is a 34-year-old fighting out of Muncie, Indiana making his UFC debut. Gilliam has a perfect 9-0 record since his career began back in 2003. Gilliam has never gone to a decision in any of his 9 professional fights and has only once even gone past the 2nd round. Gilliam has fought mainly in the smaller shows in the Midwest, with his most recent fight being a victory for the KOTC promotion in January. Jamie Varner is a 22-year-old wrestler fighting out of Arizona. Varner has a 11-2 career record is making his second appearance in the UFC with his first being a submission loss to UFC Lightweight #1 contender Hermes Franca back in August 06. Most people remember that fight because of the fact UFC referee Big John McCarthy deducted a point from Varner for literally turning his back and running away from Franca after being struck with a knee in the third round. What most people don't remember is that Varner was likely winning the fight up until that point. Gilliam is likely to experience the UFC jitters in his octagon debut and because of that I'll go with the younger Varner. Pick: Jamie Varner decision
Michael Huckaby: Gilliam is still far too inexperienced for me to pick him over someone I watched put on a hell of an effort against Hermes Franca. This is a vote of no confidence, Gilliam may be the best thing since porn on the internet (which was the best thing since sliced bread btw) but he's going to have to go out there and show he can compete first. Winner: Jamie Varner, decision. I actually put by early submission but I realized I haven't picked nearly enough decisions on this card and I like playing odds.
Damian Sarcuni: Gilliam is undefeated and looked impressive in King of The Cage, whereas Varner holds a mere two losses on his record, one to the big name Hermes Franca. Varner is all about the ground game, but Gilliam looks big, mean, and well rounded. I smell wrestling skills. Winner: Gilliam by decision
Caleb Newby: I don't want to do this twice in a row, but I have to. I don't know. Not at all. I just know that I have to pick someone here. When that's the case I'll go with experience and familiarity. So Jamie Varner… COME ON DOWN! Winner: Varner – Decision
Larry Csonka: In this 155lbs fight Gilliam rolls into this bout at 11-0 against Varner's 9-1 record, that loss coming to Hermes Franca at UFC 62. Varner is 12 years younger that Gilliam, which doesn't always mean something, but I think this card is about redemption for some fighters, and Varner is looking to get back in the winning track. Winner: Varner (RD 2 Submission)