UFC 98: Preview and Predictions

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UFC 98: Preview and Predictions
(Photo by Gary M. Prior/Getty Images).

Like always I’m going to put my two cents about the upcoming UFC event.  Originally the main event was going to feature Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir, but Frank’s injury delayed the fight until July.

 

Then we thought we were gonna see Rashad vs. Rampage, but Rampage had an injury and allowed Lyoto Machida to have his long awaited shot at the title. 

 

Regardless this is a solid card with some big names competing.  So with that said lets go to the fights.

 

 

PRELIMINARY CARD

 

David Kaplan vs. George Roop—This fight goes down to who can take a better punch, because I think they equal each other out in the ground.

In seeing these guys fight in TUF, I’d go with Roop because of a height and reach advantage.  Plus Roop has 3 times as many fights as Kaplan. With that, I’ll go with George Roop via TKO in the first.

 

Brandon Wolff vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida—Both of these men looked silly in their last fight and are looking to show their skills here. 

First and foremost, Yoshida has the ground advantage and I’d give the striking advantage to Wolff although not by much.  Yoshida is a Judo player who has some wicked good judo throws.

Add to that his solid submission skills and you have a very good fighter, who has a ton of upside. 

Wolff is a Hawaiian who is an okay overall fighter, with decent hands.  This fight should go to the ground quickly and I hope we see another stellar submission from Yoshida.  Yoshiyuki Yoshida via arm triangle in the first.

 

Andre Gusmao vs. Krzysztof Soszynski—Soszynski is coming off a really good win over Brian Stann at UFC 97.  It seems like a bit much to jump in so soon but what do I know. 

His opponent is Andre Gusmao, who in his last fight lost to up-and-coming fighter Jon Jones, however before that fight he killed dudes in the now-defunct IFL.  

Gusmao is a Capoeira fighter and has some really good standup skills.  I see Soszynski wanting to take this to the ground, but if he can’t it will be a long night of leg kicks and knees. 

Overall, I think that Soszynski is a better rounded fighter and should win this.  Krzysztof Soszynski wins via Unanimous Decision.

Kyle Bradley vs. Phillipe Nover—First and foremost “Feinting” Phillipe Nover better show the fans why everyone was so high on him.  His last fight was the butt-whooping he got at the hands of the TUF winner Efrain Escudero.

Before that fight, Dana White was referring to him as a lightweight Anderson Silva.  I think Nover has big upside, but he better start showing it. 

Bradley has thus far been winless in the UFC but outside of the UFC has shown some solid standup with eight of his 13 wins coming by TKO or KO.  On the downside of that is that four of his six losses have been by TKO or KO. 

I’d look for Nover and Bradley to start early with a flurry of crazy punches then Nover will use his wrestling advantage to get Bradley to the floor and submit him before the round ends. 

Warning to Nover, if you don’t show the star power that many hyped you to be then you may be seeing the door sooner than you think. Phillipe Nover wins via RNC in the first.

 

Pat Barry vs. Tim Hague—So I get why this fight isn’t on the main card, but man do I wish they show this fight. 

Pat Barry has the striking skills to beat anyone in the Heavyweight division, and in like two or three more wins will be considered a contender, mark my words.  His leg kicks are wicked good and under Eric Shaffer his BJJ is steadily getting better.

Hague was a KOTC title holder whose strengths include a good chin and some heavy hands.  This could be a great stand up war, but Hague swings wildly with his punches and has a tendency to get tagged with straight punches which Barry has.

My guess is that Barry is gonna wear out Hague's leg and land the right combo of punches to end this fight early.  Pat Barry wins via TKO (aka decapitation).    

 

Brock Larson vs. Chris Wilson—I’m a real fan of this fight and think it has the making of a "fight of the night"-type fight. 

Larson is a very good wrestler with some good hands, but his biggest strength is his pace and well his strength.  He is country strong and has developed into a damn good BJJ practitioner.

Wilson, like Larson, has been around for some time and is finally getting his due.  The Team Quest fighter was a standout in the IFL, but has two losses in his UFC career.  This is a fight that Wilson has to have and I think that his game plan is to sprawl and brawl as much as he can. 

Wilson can’t let Larson get the takedown because if Larson gets Wilson on his back than good night.  My gut tells me that Wilson can pull off the upset in this one, but my brain is telling me that this should be another win for Larson.

Maybe I’m hoping for a draw, but that hardly ever happens, so I think I’m going with my gut.  Chris Wilson wins via Unanimous Decision. 

Main Card

Frank Edgar vs. Sean Sherk—I have to admit that I love and hate this fight.  Both men are great wrestlers who have underrated striking skills.  Both men are very high paced with never ending gas tanks. 

Sherk is the second-best 155 in the UFC, and Edgar is one quality win away from having a title shot.  This fight should be a fight of the year candidate and should win fight of the night. These are the reasons why I love this fight.

I hate this fight because it will end with neither fighter taking a real step towards the title shot. 

If Frankie wins, then he would still have to face Maynard in a rematch or the Diego/Clay winner to get a shot.  If Sherk wins, he should be next in line but something tells me that he is probably gonna have to face the Diego/Clay winner. 

It’s a pointless fight.  Yes I’m excited about it and yes it should be a great fight, but pointless. Sherk will have the strength advantage which should garner him the victory.  Sean Sherk wins via unanimous decision.

Dan Miller vs. Chael Sonnen—I’m really hoping this is gonna be Dan Miller coming out party, but Chael Sonnen is a tough fighter and will give Miller problems.  Both men are very good wrestler, with Sonnen probably being better at ground and pound and Miller being a better submission fighter. 

I’d love to give the striking advantage to Sonnen but neither one of them is really other worldly in the standup game.  Sonnen has seven wins by TKO but 52 percent of his wins come by way of decision.  

I can see this fight playing out like Miller’s fight against Rosholt just not ending as quickly, with Sonnen shooting in with a takedown and Miller stuffing it. 

This time I don’t see Miller winning with a guillotine, but with something like an arm triangle.  I hope this fight is as entertaining as it is in my head because if so, submission of the night here we come.  Dan Miller wins via arm triangle in the second.

 

Xavier Foupa-Pokam vs. Drew McFedries—Two heavy hitters will enter the cage and I promise a ton of fireworks.  My issue, though, is that McFedries is a super one dimensional fighter which makes him lose quite a bit in the UFC. He is 3-4 in the UFC and has absolutely no ground game. 

Xavier Foupa-Pokam should be able to use his Muay Thai to his advantage and with no shots to worry about; he should be able to pick apart McFedries.

I will take the guy who is more versed in the standup game and that is Xavier “Professor X” Foupa-Pokam via TKO in the first.

Matt Hughes vs. Matt Serra—I’ve recently did a piece on this fight and argued that the odds are good enough to bet on Matt Serra.  If these guys fought 10 times I would call it a draw with both men winning five times.

This is closer than many are thinking, which why I like Matt Serra in this fight.  Serra is heavier-handed than Hughes, and he has much better submission skills. 

People will argue that GSP owned Serra in their rematch, but GSP is a totally different animal compared to Hughes, and Hughes openly admits that he has lost more than a step in the octagon. 

I think that Serra should be able to stuff Hughes shots and pepper Hughes with his strikes.  I don’t think that Serra TKO Hughes but a submission isn’t out of the question, though the likelihood is that he will out-point Hughes in a decision.  Matt Serra wins via Unanimous Decision. 

 

Champ Rashad Evans vs. Lyoto Machida (for light-heavyweight title)—This match pits two undefeated fighters who have excellent striking and elite-level ground games.  Machida has black belts in BJJ, Sumo, and Shotokan Karate. 

He is a wizard at defense both in standing by avoiding strikes and the ground by being elusive and having a very good center of gravity.  He has very good leg kicks and a very good straight left hand that lands at will. 

To sum up, he is easily the most talented fighter in any division and will be very hard to beat.  Evans is a freestyle wrestler with very quick hands and the best head movement in the game. 

He has one punch knockout power and has very good lateral movement.  He throws a ton of feints which is tremendously underutilized in MMA which leads to a good over hand right or the shot for a takedown. 

The truth is that both men have great fighting styles for MMA but only one can win.  I would love to say that Machida wins this fight easily, but I’d be a biased writer if I did.  I see this being a tough five-round war with one of them being forced to chase the other and getting out pointed.

Going off the past, if this turns into a five-round fight, then Machida wins because he has yet to lose a round in the UFC. 

I could be wrong and it could end in a KO in the first minute of the fight but I don’t see that happening.  With all that I’m going with the Dragon on this one.  Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida wins via Unanimous decision.

My vote for Submission of the Night goes to Dan Miller

Knock Out of the Night goes to Pat Barry

Fight of the Night goes to Frankie Edgar and Sean Sherk.

 

Enjoy the fights!

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