I don't usually do prediction articles, but it's a slow day at work and I'm thinking, "Why not?"
I'm going to start low and work my way up, leaving the main event for last. Feel free to leave your comments agreeing or disagreeing with me. That's what the comment box is for.
Tyson Griffin vs. Hermes Franca
First off, both have lost to Frankie Edgar and Sean Sherk in their careers. While there's no shame to losing to anyone in UFC's stacked lightweight division, those two losses tell me that both guys have been given the chance to move up and have simply not been able to.
Both guys are hungry and not only do they want a win, but they need a win to stay relevant in the division and move up to better competition once more.
Looking at both men's records, it becomes apparent that Franca does not do well when the fight goes to a decision. Of his seven losses, six have come after going the distance. He does his best work on the ground, where he's twisted, choked and otherwise incapacitated his opponents 11 times in his career.
Tyson Griffin only has two losses in his career, which were given to him by the aforementioned Edgar and Sherk. Otherwise, he's been on a roll in the UFC, with his biggest win probably coming over Clay Guida back in 2007.
One of the main reasons Tyson has not been pushed into even bigger matches yet is because, even in winning, his performances can be drawn out affairs. He's gone to decision in his last 7 fights. He hasn't had a (T)KO or Submission victory is roughly three years. Franca is in the same boat, his last three fights having gone to a decision, as well.
Both men don't just need a win. They need a dynamic win. They need something that makes UFC brass stand up and take notice. Something on the level of a knockout or submission in the first round.
By my estimation, this fight is Franca's to win or lose. For the past three years, Griffin has been willing to leave all of his fights in the hands of the judges. Franca has to do his very best to keep that from happening. Because if the fight goes the distance, Griffin will likely come out on top.
Franca by submission
Josh Koscheck vs. Frank Trigg
Twinkle Toes is back, baby! I've always liked Frank Trigg, win or lose. I'm slightly partial to his personality just because I used to watch him and Jay Glazer host the old PRIDE show that used to come on FSN. Good times, my friends. Good times.
But enough about that. On to the fight!
Koscheck has been hot and cold as of late. In his last fight, he was burned by the rising star of Paulo Thiago when he got TKOd for the first time in his career. Before that, he was 3-2 in the Octagon since his Diego Sanchez win.
All in all, he's settled into a comfortable gatekeeper role in the welterweight division. He'll probably never hold the belt, but he can give almost anyone a good match with his superb wrestling and ever improving stand-up.
Frank Trigg hasn't been with the UFC in over four years. His last match in the Octagon was a loss to GSP by (you guessed it) rear naked choke. At 37 years of age, he's riding a four-fight win streak coming back into the UFC.
The main difference between the men is their age. They have similar win percentages with Trigg at 19-6 and Koscheck at 12-4. They have similar fighting styles with strong wrestling backgrounds and have shown that they can put you down with strikes if they catch you.
Personally, I'm pulling for Trigg. I've never really liked Koscheck personally and have never found him all that exciting as a fighter. Also, though Trigg hasn't been in the Octagon in a while, he's been in more high-profile fights than Koscheck (two seperate title shots in his last UFC run) and has more experience overall.
Trigg by UD
Martin Kampmann vs. Paul Daley
As we all know, this match was originally supposed to feature Mick Swick opposite Martin Kampmann. Swick, however, has been injured and English fighter Paul Daley will be taking his place.
Although this fight is not what was originally planned and is no longer for a title shot, I don't think it will be any less exciting.
Paul Daley, while not known to many people, has knockout power. His hands have given him 16 knockout victories in his career, which is just over half of his win total. Nothing to sneeze at, regardless of whether he's fought in the UFC or not. Both of Kampmann's career losses have been by knockout, so Daley's hands might give him some trouble on Saturday night.
Daley's record indicates that submissions are not his forte. He will definitely try to keep the fight standing so that he can tee off on Kampmann's face. Martin is no slouch in the standup, either, but if he feels he's not winning there, he has the option of taking it to the ground to get the win. I don't think Daley has that option.
The thing about this fight is that it doesn't mean very much anymore. Kampmann will likely win, but unless it's in dominating fashion, he probably still won't be the consensus No. 1 contender. And if Daley knocks Kampmann's mouthpiece into the first row, they've got an unknown who just beat one of their best guys.
Things might get a little muddy.
Kampmann by submission
Co-Main Event: Mirko Filipovic vs. Junior dos Santos
Mirko hasn't looked great in the UFC. Getting knocked out by Gonzaga. On the flipside, Dos Santos has had a Shane Carwin-esque run up until this point in his career (besides one submission loss back in 2007).
Mirko has more experience in big shows and I think he realizes this is his last shot at any type of MMA glory. I don't think he'll ever hold a title again. But I love him as a fighter. Soft-spoken, humble and his old PRIDE footage still gives me chills. For sure, my heart is pulling for him.
But my head is saying Dos Santos.
He's on a roll right now and considering how poor Mirko has looked as of late, I think Dos Santos is going to roll through him and put a fallen legend on his resume.
Dos Santos by TKO
Main Event: Rich Franklin vs. Vitor Belfort
I'm not going to spend much time analyzing this one. I think it's pretty simple.
Rich Franklin only has four losses in his career. Dan Henderson, Lyoto Machida and Anderson Silva (twice). Simply put, Rich only loses to the best. He's always in shape, he always come to fight and he has the heart of a champion, regardless of whether he is ever champion again.
This fight all hinges on whether plain, old Vitor Belfort shows up or if The Phenom does. By "plain, old Vitor Belfort", I mean the Vitor that lost to Randy Couture back in the early part of 2004 and couldn't get a meaningful win to save his life.
By The Phenom, I mean the Vitor that has been knocking heads since April of 2007, beating progressively bigger names on progressively biggest stages.
If The Phenom shows up, Rich Franklin might get the Anderson Silva treatment by Belfort and get his lights turned off somewhere in the first or second round. If not, Rich Franklin will outlast yet another opponent.
Personally, even though I'm a big fan of Franklin's, I think The Phenom is going to show up and tear through Franklin. Next stop for Vitor: A middleweight title shot against Anderson Silva or maybe a rematch with Wanderlei at 185.
Belfort by TKO