Matt Riddle vs Greg Soto
UFC-newcomer Greg Soto comes into the octagon with a savvy ground game, but faces a nasty style match-up against Matt Riddle. Coming off his first professional loss, Riddle will look to rebound by using his crippling top control to frustrate Soto. Lacking a strong wrestling skill set or a striking perils to throw Riddle off his game, Soto will spend 15 minutes on his back looking for a submission that most likely won’t be there. Long night ahead for Soto….
Prediction: Matt Riddle def Greg Soto by Unanimous Decision
Jared Hamman vs Rodney Wallace
I was pretty disappointed in Wallace’s debut in the UFC, but Brian Stann is no easy task. Stann was able to fight off many of Wallace’s take downs and the one’s that did hit the mat, Stann was back on his feet in no time. That will not be the case against Jared Hamman. Hamman’s tall, lanky frame will serve as target practice for Wallace’s wrestling background. Not only that, Hamman will be swinging away wildly looking for the big KO, leaving himself vulnerable for the double leg take down. As long as Wallace can avoid the big shot, he should spend most of the fight in dominant position on the mat. Eventually Wallace will work a submission to send Hamman back to Strikeforce.
Prediction: Rodney Wallace def. Jarred Hamman by Rear Naked Choke – Rd. 2
Tomasz Drwal vs Rousimar Palhares
Tomasz Drwal has quietly been moving up the ranks of the UFC 185 lbs roster. The Polish middleweight has run off three wins in a row, and now will face the jiu-jitsu ace, Rousimar Palhares. Palhares usually is able to out-muscle his opponents to the mat to make up for his less than average wrestling skills. He will not have that luxury on Saturday night against Drwal. If Palhares is unable to get Drwal to the floor, he will be on the wrong side of heavy punches thrown by Drwal. Palhares struggled immensely against Dan Henderson, who had the better wrestling and the more crisp boxing. This fight should be very similar.
Prediction: Tomasz Drwal def. Rousimar Palhares by TKO – Rd. 2
Ricardo Almeida vs Matt Brown
This is one of the hardest fights for me to call. Ricardo Almeida finally makes his debut at 170 lbs at UFC 111. It’s always tough to predict a fight where one of the combatants fight at a lower weight for the first time. There’s no way to tell how the weight cut has affected their strength, cardio, or overall health. Almeida is a wizard on the ground, but like many jiu-jitsu fighters, he doesn’t have the wrestling skills to get the fight to floor. Matt Brown’s take down defense is good enough to keep Almeida away from his strong suit. On the feet, it’s not even close…. Matt Brown has the superior striking skills that could put Almeida to sleep early. As long as Brown doesn’t give up his back in a scramble, i think this fight is tailor made for him.
Prediction: Matt Brown def Ricardo Almeida by TKO – Rd. 1
Nate Diaz vs Rory Markham
I love this match-making by Joe Silva. On the feet, Rory Markham has the advantage due to his highlight reel KO power while Diaz throws a lot of punches, but nothing really behind them. On the ground, Diaz has the advantage as Markham’s grappling game is nothing to brag home about. The X-factor’s make this fight even more interesting… Markham has the KO power, but Diaz’s chin seems to be made of granite. Diaz’s ground game is impressive, but in Markham’s 21 fight career, he’s never been submitted. I think Diaz will have a tough time getting this fight to the ground, and every minute that this fight is on the feet is a risk for him. I like Markham to keep on the feet long enough to land a big right hand or head kick to send Diaz back down to 155.
Prediction: Rory Markham def Nate Diaz by KO – Rd. 2
Mark Bocek vs Jim Miller
As a big fan of both of these fighters, I am not looking forward to this fight due to the inevitable one-sided affair this will be. Jim Miller’s game is Mark Bocek’s weakness. If this fight stays on the feet, it could be a pretty even fight, but Miller showed great improvement in his striking against Duane Ludwig in his last fight. Miller probably has no intention of staying on the feet very long though. He’ll use his superior wrestling to get take down after take down with relative ease. Bocek’s jiu-jitsu is some of the best in the 155 lb division in the UFC, but he does most of his damage with top position. From his back, i just don’t see Miller getting clumsy leaving his head or arm out there where Bocek can take it.
Prediction: Jim Miller def Mark Bocek by Unanimous Decision
Jon Fitch vs Ben Saunders
A brave move for Ben Saunders to step in for Thiago Alves against Jon Fitch on Saturday. Unfortunately, it will ultimately be a dumb move. Jon Fitch has made a nice living out of utilizing his elite wrestling to overwhelm any opponent who doesn’t have the wrestling background to keep him off you. Saunders’ wrestling skills shouldn’t even be used in the same sentence with Fitch. Saunders may even have the better stand-up, but Fitch is too smart to even think about playing his game. Fitch is known as the decision king, but he may frustrate Saunders so much that he’ll give up an arm or leg for Fitch to snatch up.
Prediction – Jon Fitch def Ben Saunders by Armbar – Rd. 3
Fabricio Camoes vs Kurt Pellegrino
Things don’t look good for Fabricio Camoes heading into Saturday night against Kurt Pellegrino. Pellegrino, who has won three fights in a row, is just a couple more wins away from title consideration. Which means he’s not going to take any chances against Camoes, so expect a heavy dose of ground and pound with jiu-jitsu. The experience favor for Pellegrino should play a heavy role in this fight. I see Camoes spending a lot of time in bad positions, with little to no offense due to Pellegrino’s relentless pace on the floor.
Prediction: Kurt Pellegrino def Fabricio Camoes by Unanimous Decision
Frank Mir vs Shane Carwin
Oh boy.. here we go. Shane Carwin has smothering wrestling capabilities and jaw shattering power in his hands, but his submission defense is still unknown. Frank Mir has some of the best jiu-jitsu in the world for a heavyweight and much improved boxing, but hates getting punched. Mir’s biggest downfall has always been when he gets hit hard for the first time he seems to start making ridiculous mistakes that end up causing him to lose the fight. Since Carwin has never been past the three minute mark in the first round, his cardio is also a serious question mark. If Carwin wins, it’s probably going to be in the first couple minutes like usual. If it goes any longer than that, that leaves too much time for Mir to grab a limb and take it home with him.
Prediction: Shane Carwin def Frank Mir by TKO – Rd. 1
Georges St. Pierre vs Dan Hardy
I’ve seen too many crazy things in my years of watching MMA to say Dan Hardy doesn’t have a chance in the world to win this fight. But, he has a very, very, very small chance to win this fight. Hardy showed much improved take down defense against Mike Swick, but Georges St. Pierre brings a wrestling game like no one else in the divison… ask Thiago Alves. Hardy will be looking for the big KO from the first bell, but will spend most of his time looking up at the celling.
Prediction: Georges St. Pierre def Dan Hardy by Armbar – Rd. 2