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UFC on Fuel 8 Predictions: Main Card Staff Predictions

Scott HarrisMMA Lead Writer March 1, 2013

UFC on Fuel 8 Predictions: Main Card Staff Predictions

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    UFC on Fuel TV 8 will air Saturday from the magical, mythical Saitama Super Arena in Japan. Main-eventing the card is Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann in a light heavyweight brawl.

    So if you're like the rest of the violence-loving world, the question on your mind is, what do a bunch of Bleacher Report MMA writers think will go down in The Land of the Rising Sun?

    Well, you came to the right place, world, because John Heinis, McKinley Noble, Sean Smith, Kyle Symes and I put some predictions and informational capsules together for this main card.

    We are also unveiling a brand-new feature with this slideshow. We're going to list the rankings of how we're all doing with our picks. Because we're accountable to you, the public.

    Almost half the time, the statistics show we're highly accomplished prediction experts. Just check the stats, bro! And we're not just ranking ourselves; we're using The Referee Scale. First place is "Big" John McCarthy.

    Last place is, well, you'll see.

    Everyone among us loved this idea. Loved it. I swear.

    I was writing something. Oh, right, here are the UFC on Fuel 8 predictions.

Our Team and Standings

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    (Weighted for total number of picks and correct picks)

    48-29 / .623 — Scott Harris (@ScottHarrisMMA) aka "Big" John McCarthy
    33-23 / .589 — John Heinis (@JohnnyHardbody)
    27-18 / .600 — Sean Smith (@SeanSmithMMA)
    25-20 / .556 — McKinley Noble (@KenTheGreat1)
    29-13 / .690 — Jonathan Snowden (@MMAEncyclopedia)
    22-17 / .564 — Kyle Symes (@KSymes88)
    04-01 / .800 — Damon Martin aka Kim Winslow (@DamonMartin)

Dong Hyun Kim vs. Siyar Bahadurzada

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    Noble: Remember when Dong Hyun Kim got put to sleep by Carlos Condit during UFC 132? That happened because Condit has a fantastic ground game that complements his one-punch knockout power. Bahadurzada's main advantage is only the feet.

    Kim, Unanimous Decision

     

    Symes: Everyone wants to talk about Siyar Bahadurzada's ability to knock people out, and for good reason: He's pretty good at it.

    With that said, it's pretty hard to knock someone out while on your back, and that's where I anticipate this fight taking place. Kim won't want to stand for very long with "The Great," and I anticipate him looking for takedowns early and often. Bahadurzada is an explosive enough athlete to avoid the early scrambles, but I'm not sure how he'll handle a grinder like Kim for 15 minutes.

    Kim, Unanimous Decision

     

    Heinis: Bahadurzada has some serious punching power, but has pretty average grappling. That's bad news in this matchup, as "Stun Gun" is one of the strongest grapplers in the division with a penchant for holding his opponents on the mat.

    Kim, Unanimous Decision

     

    Smith: Bahadurzada is dangerous. He's knocked out UFC veterans Paulo Thiago and John Alessio in under two minutes, but he's also found himself in loads of trouble when opponents find a way to take him to the ground (see submission losses to Jorge Santiago and Kazuo Misaki). There aren't many welterweights better than Kim at finding a way to drag their foes down.

    Kim, Unanimous decision

     

    Harris: Siyar certainly has his deficiencies on the ground. But every round has to start standing up, and I am guessing Siyar has been working on his takedown defense in anticipation of this one. Sound the upset alarms in emphatic fashion, if such a thing is possible.

    Bahadurzada, TKO, Round 2

Mizuto Hirota vs. Rani Yahya

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    Noble: Hey, Rani Yahya beat Mike Brown, went three rounds against Chad Mendes and choked out Josh Grispi. Mizuto Hirota lost to Pat Healy in his last fight, and I don't think dropping a weight class will change his game much. That's good enough reason for me to pick Yahya here.

    Yahya, Unanimous Decision

     

    Symes: We don't know how Hirota will handle the drop to featherweight, and I'm not sold on his ability to have success against higher-level talent. Yahya is one of MMA's best grapplers yet is unknown to many viewers. I expect that to change with Yahya being able to use his jiu-jitsu skills in this contest. Let's hope we won't have any Shinya Aoki vs. Hirota flashbacks. 

    Yahya, Submission, Round 2

     

    Heinis: Another striker vs. grappler contest, Hirota could always score a flash knockout, but he probably won't have a chance to throws bombs on his feet. He's going to be too busy fighting off submission attempts from the elite Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt.

    Yahya, Submission, Round 2

     

    Smith: Coming down from 155 pounds, Hirota brings a lot of knockout power to the featherweight division. However, we've never really seen the former Sengoku champion put that power to use against elite competition. Yahya will be one of Hirota's toughest tests to date and can put the Japanese fighter in some bad spots early with his world-class grappling.

    Yahya, Submission, Round 1

     

    Harris: Hmm…a Brazilian submissions ace coming off a submission win against a guy coming off a decision loss best known for being on the business end of one of the sport’s most graphic submission losses. Not sure why the oddsmakers have this one so close.

    Yahya, Submission, Round 3

Yushin Okami vs. Hector Lombard

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    Noble: Hector Lombard surpassed my expectations against the one-dimensional Rousimar Palhares, and Yushin Okami's chin hasn't been much better lately. Lombard is the smaller guy, but he should be better in the clinch. This one probably ends in a finish once Lombard gets comfortable.

    Lombard, TKO, Round 2

     

    Symes: Dear God, please let Hector Lombard come in at 100 percent for this fight. I don't know if I can handle another 15-minute snoozer by Okami. The Japanese star is very good at what he does, I won't take that way from him, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

    Lombard's judo skills and takedown defense will be key in this, as I don't see Okami shooting for any double legs in this one. Lombard's right hand is powerful, and if Tim Boetsch can finish Okami after being beaten up for two rounds, I have to believe the former Bellator champ can do so as well.

    Lombard, TKO, Round 1

     

    Heinis: Okami is a great wrestler, but he scores most of his takedowns from the clinch, and that probably isn't going to happen against a fellow high-level judo black belt. Lombard is also as aggressive as they come on the feet. Couple that with Okami's suspect chin, this one seems pretty much academic.

    Lombard, TKO, Round 2

     

    Smith: There aren't many middleweights out there who can stifle Okami's takedowns, but Lombard is one of them. A high-level judoka, Lombard's low center of gravity and serious upper-body strength make him hard to deal with in the clinch, where Okami is usually at his best. If Lombard comes out aggressive and keeps this fight standing, he can make a big statement with a quick finish.

    Lombard, TKO, Round 1

     

    Harris: I want to predict the Lombard knockout because that’s what I actually want to see. Lombard loves to come forward and smash whatever is in his path; his world-class judo base gives him the confidence to do so. But Okami is a smart competitor and no slouch on the ground. Ultimately, Okami uglies this one up to keep Lombard guessing and fans booing. Mild upset alarms on this one.

    Okami, Unanimous Decision

Takanori Gomi vs. Diego Sanchez

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    Noble: Diego Sanchez is going to put Takanori Gomi on his back and beat him up. That's exactly how the fight is going to go as long as "The Dream" doesn't try to turn this into a stand-up brawl. And even if that happens, Sanchez's jaw is pretty darn strong.

    Sanchez, Unanimous Decision

     

    Symes: For those fans having a wet dream about this lightweight contest being a slugfest, don't bet on it. Sanchez's coaches won't allow it. Gomi is a shell of his former self and will have a long night ahead of him as he faces Sanchez. Gomi will throw those wild looping punches, and I expect Sanchez to either walk through them or shoot for the takedown. Look for some powerful ground-and-pound in this contest.

    Sanchez, TKO, Round 2

     

    Heinis: Sanchez is as tough, aggressive and relentless as they come, and I don't think a surging "Fireball Kid" is going to be able to stop him. The former Pride star can knock just about anyone out, but Diego's chin is made of titanium. Plus, Sanchez has a huge grappling advantage here.

    Sanchez, Submission, Round 2

     

    Smith: Rushing forward into Gomi's powerful shots isn't usually the best of ideas, but one guy who can get away with it is Sanchez, who has only been stopped by a cut in a bout with BJ Penn. Sanchez should take this fight to the ground quickly and will have a chance to show off his underrated jiu-jitsu for the first time in a while once he does.

    Sanchez, Submission, Round 1

     

    Harris: Sanchez certainly has an edge on the ground. But I don’t think he’s going to leverage it. Though I think it eventually goes ground-ward and fence-ward, I see this one being punctuated by heavy exchanges before the same fans who watched the Pride legends play. Both men will fall down at some point, but I believe both chins hold up for the duration. Fight of the Night right here.

    Sanchez, Split Decision

Mark Hunt vs. Stefan Struve

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    Noble: Mark Hunt is going to fight for the title one day. And it's going to be a glorious thing when that happens. Stefan Struve should use a long jab to win this easily, but he gets rattled too easily for me to pick him here.

    Hunt, KO, Round 1

     

    Symes: As with all of Stefan Struve's fights, I'm intrigued to see if he's learned to use his reach on the feet. We've seen him mature as a fighter on the ground, as he pulled guard against Lavar Johnson to get the quick tap out, but he's been dropped numerous times by powerful punchers while on the feet.

    Mark Hunt is the type of powerful puncher who can drop Struve with ease, but I'm banking on Struve continuing his maturity and getting this fight to the ground. If Sean McCorkle can get a tap out from Hunt while on the ground, Struve sure as hell can too.

    Struve, Submission, Round 2

     

    Heinis: Realistically, this matchup is a lot like Sanchez vs. Gomi. The difference is that "The Super Samoan" Hunt has a realistic chance of knocking out Struve, who has a questionable chin, but I don't think "The Skyscraper" has any intention of keeping this fight standing for long.

    Struve, Submission, Round 1

     

    Smith: Struve has been knocked out by lesser strikers than Hunt, but the towering Dutch heavyweight seems to have finally figured out how to use his long reach to his advantage. That's not to say he should get into a kickboxing match with Hunt, but Struve should be able to survive long enough to get this fight to the ground. That would spell disaster for his opponent.

    Struve, Submission, Round 1

     

    Harris: I like Mark Hunt, but I’ve thoroughly loved watching the evolution of Stefan Struve. Though his army-sniper standup is nothing to sneeze at, it’s the grappling phase that offers the best showcase for Struve’s long trunk and limbs.

    Struve, Submission, Round 3

Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann

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    Noble: Poor Brian Stann. His striking power is underrated to begin with, and he's going to shake Wanderlei Silva's brain more than it needs right now. If "The Axe Murderer" loses badly by knockout, it's irresponsible if Dana White doesn't force him to retire on the spot. 

    Stann, KO, Round 1

     

    Symes: This fight will certainly have some fireworks in it. Both Silva and Stann won't shy away from a fight, and we could see both men go punch for punch with one another. However, I see Stann employing a similar game plan that he used against another big striker in Chris Leben by working angles and footwork. Stann is the quicker fighter, and if he can avoid Silva's flurries, he should be able to take the victory in this battle of fan favorites.

    Stann, TKO, Round 1

     

    Heinis: Everyone is basically assuming this is Stann's fight to lose, which seems pretty fair given that "The Axe Murderer" is a measly 3-7 in his past 10 fights. There is the vaguest of notions that Silva could try to lay and pray his way to victory given Stann's complete absence of a ground game, but when's the last time you saw that happen?

    Stann, KO, Round 1

     

    Smith: Most seem to anticipate a slugfest here, and that would almost certainly be bad news for Silva, whose chin seems to be getting more fragile with every appearance. However, Silva has a significant advantage in the grappling department against Stann, so he could exploit that as long as he enters this fight with any semblance of a game plan.

    Silva, Unanimous Decision

     

    Harris: Silva seems to be in a sad (and all too familiar) career phase in which he wanders around to all his old haunts in search of one more glimpse of the glory days. But he can’t take two to give one anymore, and Stann will be the latest to expose that.

    After the fight, I believe Silva will retire in the same ring that witnessed his most spectacular career accomplishments. The latest crowned head of MMA’s golden age will ride into the sunset.

    Stann, TKO, Round 1

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