(RearNakedNews.com will have UFC 100 Live Results tomorrow night. Don't miss any of the action with our Full Play-by-Plays as the fights happen.)
Mark Coleman vs .Stephan Bonnar
One of my big rules is I never put much stock into a fighter who has had one great camp. It happens all the time. A fighter who has looked bad moves camps and suddenly, "He's working with _____ now and he's evolved so much in the last few months."
One camp is not enough time to makeover a fighter. I don't believe a word of the Coleman hype about how he's a cardio machine now. I also don't believe we're going to see anything different than the Coleman we've always seen.
He's a 44-year-old wrestler who has never had a striking game. When he steps into the cage tomorrow night, he'll still be a 44-year-old wrestler without a striking game.
As for Bonnar, I think he's undervalued in the eyes of most fans. He took some highlight reel punishment at the hands of Jon Jones, but he also looked solid at times on his feet. Everyone forgets the second half of that sentence.
I think Bonnar takes this fight pretty easily. He'll tire Coleman out early then finish him late in the 1st Round. Bonnar by 1st Rd TKO.
Yoshihiro Akiyama vs Alan Belcher
I don't see how anyone can say with certainty how this fight turns out. Working against Akiyama we have the UFC Asian Curse, a size disadvantage, and a long layoff. Belcher must contend with fighting a more experienced opponent and his first real taste of PPV pressure. Let me talk about the UFC Asian Curse first.
For various reasons, Asian fighters do not do well in the UFC. To me it boils down to size in most cases. The UFC is full of huge fighters. They've mastered cutting weight and use every pound to their advantage.
Asian fighters are smaller. They do not come from wrestling backgrounds where weight cutting is a fact of life. It's difficult to compete with someone who outweighs you by 10+ lbs on fight night.
That's the situation most Asian fighters find themselves in. Akiyama will be significantly smaller tomorrow night. Check out the size difference.
Akiyama comes from a judo background, which should help alleviate Belcher's size. Judo guys always fight bigger than they actually are. I'm not too worried about Belcher manhandling Akiyama. His reach is what concerns me. If Belcher fights smart, he should be able to stay out of Akiyama's range.
The question is whether Belcher can remain calm enough to execute such a plan. Again, we're talking about UFC 100 here. Everyone who steps into the cage will have an extra surge running through their body.
With that in mind, I think the excitement gets to Belcher. He'll walk into a bad position following a successful strike and get tossed. Once on the ground, Akiyama makes quick work of him. Akiyama wins by 2nd Rd Submission.
Michael Bisping vs Dan Henderson
It's sink or swim time for Bisping. He's had a very soft slate of opponents since winning The Ultimate Fighter 3. Henderson is an enormous step up in competition. While he isn't the same fighter from his Pride days, Henderson remains one of the best Middleweights in MMA. He knows how to win and is fine with grinding out decisions.
Add in a solid chin and you've got someone who is extremely difficult to defeat. The only thing working against Henderson is his age. He's been competing for a long time (1992 Olympian) and it adds up.
We've seen a string of veterans losing to younger fighters in the past year. Bisping might be the next to take out a legend.
I think the Henderson/Franklin fight is the template Bisping will use to fight Henderson. Franklin came extremely close to winning the fight. I re-watched it yesterday and what struck me was how Henderson faded.
He limped to victory. That was at 205 lbs against a small Light Heavyweight. At UFC 100, he'll be fighting at 185 lbs against a big Middleweight.
Most would agree the fight probably isn't ending early. With that in mind, I'm taking Bisping. I see him dropping the 1st Round due to takedowns. He'll get through it without taking much damage and force Henderson to use more energy than usual to keep him down (crucial point).
In the 2nd, he'll begin to connect more just like Franklin did. By the 3rd, Henderson will be in trouble. He's gonna be desperate for a takedown, but Bisping will be smart enough to avoid the tired fighter. He'll land a good percentage of strikes and impress the judges. Bisping wins by Unanimous Decision.
Thiago Alves vs Georges St-Pierre (WW Title)
To me, this is the best play of the night. Alves isn't in St-Pierre's league. He's too young, too predictable, and not as "strong" as everyone keeps saying. It isn't his time yet and he's facing a beast. He's never fought anyone who could beat him standing or take him down and submit him.
St-Pierre might not be the best pure striker or the best pure wrestler or the best pure jiu-jitsu fighter, but he's near the top in each category. If I had to quantify it on the scale of 1-100, he'd get 90s in each.
The only other fighter I'd say that about is Fedor. This makes St-Pierre incredibly difficult to defeat. Some point to his chin as a weakness. I agree, it's not world class. The issue is hitting him with a powerful strike. He takes guys down when they're balanced. If someone loads up with a power shot, it's even easier to get them down. And once you're down, you're gonna get tagged.
This makes his opponents cautious with their strikes. At this point, I don't think anyone in the Welterweight Division has a chance against GSP. He's gonna have his way with Alves and finish him on the ground with strikes. St-Pierre wins by 2nd Round TKO.
I was very high on Mir after he dismantled Nogueira. Then the news broke about Nogueira's knee injury and his battle with staph prior to the fight. Looking back it makes sense.
I'm no longer of the belief Mir evolved into Lennox Lewis. His striking game is better. It's just not as good as it looked at UFC 92. He's still mostly a jiu-jitsu specialist who can hold his own in the other areas. Is that enough to defeat Lesnar again?
The first time they fought, Lesnar did not get any help from Steve Mazzagatti. The stand-up for striking the back of the head was comical to say the least. If someone throws a punch and their opponent turns their head, it's not the striker's fault. The fact he deducted a point made it even more laughable.
I still wonder what was going through Mazzagatti's head that night. On some level, the point deduction probably fed into Lesnar's aggressiveness. Once he got Mir down again, he went straight for the kill.
At UFC 100, he won't have to even consider points because it's a five round fight. In a three rounder, you can't give away rounds. You're forced to be aggressive.
Championship fights are more methodical. It's not the worst thing to give away a round, if it helps your overall plan. This will help Lesnar avoid another sloppy submission loss.
I think this fight comes down to striking. How clean can Lesnar hit Mir? Can he hit him hard enough to really do damage? Flash knockdowns aren't going to help Lesnar. He needs to knock Mir clean out or hurt him significantly.
Anytime the fight is on the ground, he's at risk of being submitted. Mir's submissions are some of the best in MMA. I believe Lesnar's striking remains underrated. He might only use a big right, but it works. He's dropped everyone he's faced with it.
Unless he secretly has staph and comes into the cage with one working knee, I'm picking Lesnar by 1st Round TKO. Big right, clean shot on the ground, referee stops it.
Actual Picks I'm Making