First of all, I apologize to all of my loyal readers that this is late, but I guess it’s better late than never. It seems we’ve been getting a little too much UFC lately, considering the weekly Ultimate Fighter episodes (still haven’t seen this week’s episode) and the series of Fox shows. Then again, can MMA fans really get TOO much UFC? Is there such a thing? Before getting too off topic, the UFC pay per views have been really good lately, and this one looks like it’s going to follow suit. The last one is pretty hard to top, but I also felt the same about the one before that.
So without wasting any more time, let’s take a look at the card:
Tim Elliott (10-3-1) vs. Ali “Puncher King” Bagautinov (11-2-0)
The competition in the Bantamweight division is starting to get fierce. This one is pretty tough to call, as these two guys aren’t very well known, but they will probably both be looking to make names for themselves here, at the other’s expense. I think Bagautinov may have surpassed Kenny Florian for having the worst nickname in MMA history. That doesn’t really have to do with anything, but I just couldn’t get past that name. Bagautinov seems like the more well-rounded fighter, and he also won his UFC debut by knockout. However, Elliott has fought and defeated more well known fighters such as Jens Pulver, whom he knocked out, and TUF season 14 fighter Louis Gaudinot. In his UFC debut, Elliott lost a decision to former Bantamweight contender John Dodson, which is nothing to be ashamed of. I think both of these guys will be fighting to finish here, and despite the fact that Bagautinov has never been knocked out or submitted, there’s always a first time for everything. I have to go with the guy who has more big-fight experience, so I pick Elliott to win by TKO.
Josh “Kos” Koscheck (17-7-0) vs. Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley (11-2-0)
It seems like ever since the GSP fight, Koscheck has had a string of bad luck. He did knock out Matt Hughes back in September 2011, but Hughes was well past his prime, and Koscheck was filling in for Diego Sanchez, who was injured. Getting knocked out by Robbie Lawler in his last fight probably didn’t help to boost his confidence either. Woodley has had a pretty successful career thus far, but his UFC record is 1-1, and the two biggest names that he’s fought thus far (Jake Shields and Nate Marquardt) have given him his two losses. Koscheck might get desperate here, because he cannot afford another loss; especially to a guy who isn’t as well known. I’m going to pick Koscheck to finally get a win by Unanimous Decision.
Rory “Ares” MacDonald (15-1-0) vs. “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler (21-9-0)
MacDonald has had some bad luck with injuries lately, so I can’t say I’m not surprised that this fight is actually happening. The fans in the arena are likely going to be GSP fans, so they will probably favour MacDonald by association, which might give him the mental edge here; not that he necessarily needs it. Lawler has been on quite a roll in the UFC lately. Yes he’s only had two fights thus far, but he finished both of them by knockout. Both of these guys are well-rounded and I don’t think either of them can finish the other one. Lawler is probably going to be the hungrier fighter who has more to prove, but at the same time, MacDonald is well on his way to being a top contender in this division, if he isn’t already, so I don’t think he wants to be knocked off his perch. I’ll pick MacDonald to get the Unanimous Decision.
“Suga” Rashad Evans (18-3-1) vs. Chael Sonnen (28-13-1)
Recent history hasn’t been too kind to Evans. An injury in 2011 set off a chain of events, which led to Jon Jones winning the Light Heavyweight Title right from under his former training partner’s nose. Evans fought back and earned his way to a title shot against Jones the following year, but came up short. However, he was one of only two fighters to have gone the five-round distance with Jones, which really says something. Following that, Evans had a very disappointing loss to Little Nog earlier this year and followed that up by barely getting by Dan Henderson last June. Needless to say, Evans really needs a win here. But maybe not as much as his opponent. I still think it was a mistake for Sonnen to move up to 205, and I think it was a bigger mistake for Dana White to just grant him an immediate title shot. I thought Sonnen looked horrible in the Jones fight, but then he really impressed me in his fight with Shogun Rua, where he submitted him. That’s the Chael Sonnen that needs to show up here. Overall though, I think Evans is the better fighter, who has just had an off year. I’m going with Evans by Split Decision.
Georges “Rush” St. Pierre (24-2-0) vs. Johny “Bigg Rigg” Hendricks (15-1-0) for the UFC Welterweight Championship
I don’t need to say anymore about Hendricks that hasn’t already been said. Yes he’s been on an impressive roll lately, and yes he has a unique style. Most fighters are right-handed, so that’s going to give Hendricks a significant advantage in this fight. But if that’s his only weapon, I think GSP is going to be well prepared for that. If memory serves me correctly, I don’t think GSP has ever fought a southpaw before, which may confuse him at times, as he might instinctively block shots from his left side, leaving his right side wide open for Hendricks’ left hand. Carlos Condit seemingly exposed a weakness in GSP last year, and he almost finished him, but not quite. I’m sure Hendricks has probably studied that tape, and knows exactly what he needs to do to win this fight. This is going to be like a chess match, and if I were Hendricks, I’d work on both my ground game and right hand punches, just to confuse the champ before going in for the kill with the left. I think Hendricks is in the same position that GSP was right before he won the title from Matt Hughes back in ’06. With that said, I think it’s time to change the guard in this division, and I pick Hendricks to get the upset and title by TKO.
Until next time…