October 24th at The Stapels Center, in Los Angeles, CA, is set to host the UFC 104. Headlining is Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida defending his Light-Heavyweight Championship for the very first time against the devastating striker, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Additionally Top Heavyweights collide as veteran of 36 fights, Ben Rothwell, faces the fast-rising star, Cain Velasquez.
As with Dream 11 I am similarly going to do my predictions. I will go top to bottom, looking at the Preliminary Bouts all the way up to the Main Event; so let’s kick it off and please feel free to disagree with my predictions or post your own, any feedback is welcome.
Chase Gormley vs. Stefan Sturve
Chase Gormley enters the octagon for the first time on the 24th with a 6-0 undefeated record. He has no real preferred way to win, shown with two Knock-Out victories, two Submissions and two have gone the distance. Gormley was an All-American wrestler who is yet to show what he has on the big stage; the UFC looks like his place to start.
His opponent Stefan Sturve is much more experienced with a 17-3 record. Thirteen of these came via decision as well as three KO's. Sturve has been fighting since the age of seventeen, finally making his way to big time –this being his third fight in the UFC. He was thrown into his first fight as bait for the charging bull known as Junior Dos Santos and following in his return, he proved to be impressive defeating Denis Stojnic via Rear Naked Choke.
Originally Chase Gormley was set to face the man Co-Main Eventing this card, Ben Rothwell, at the Affliction: Trilogy Event. However when that was cancelled the fight was picked up by the UFC and slated into this date. Although due to a mix-up in the Heavyweight Division; Rothwell was pushed up to face Velasquez and Stefan Sturve stepped up to face the All-American Wrestler.
This is an interesting bout that is hard to call –I’ve only seen small clips of Gormley and haven't seen him fighting at the elite level up until the upcoming 104. Sturve on the other hand I've seen multiple times, in and out of the UFC. He is someone who poses many threats to fighters of the likes of Chase Gormley. I can see both fighters being reluctant to stand on their feet and wanting this to go to the ground; with Sturve having 76% of his victories come by means of Submission and Gormley being an accomplished Wrestler. However I will give the edge to Sturve there, Gormley will be able to control the fight once they hit the mat, but Sturve is more experienced of a fighter and Gormley will get caught.
Kyle Kingsbury vs. Razak Al Hassan
Kyle Kingsbury returns to the Octagon after his stint in The Ultimate Fighter, Season Eight, with a 7-2-1NC record. Three of his victories have come by Knock-Out, two via submissions and two via decisions to his name.
On the other hand, Razak Al Hassan tries to bounce off his single career loss which he sustained against Steve Cantwell. He sports an impressive 6-1 record with four of his victories coming by means of submission, one by Knock-Out and one via decision to his name.
As noted earlier Kyle Kingsbury was a participant in Season Eight of The Ultimate Fighter on Team Nogueira. In his fight to enter the house, he lost to Ryan Bader but returned when another fighter was injured. On The Ultimate Finale show he dropped a Unanimous Decision to Tom Lawlor; however was kept around by the UFC who evidently have faith in his ability, yet leave him here in a do-or-die situation.
Both fighters have their backs against the wall and both fighters need a victory to remain relevant in the ever-evolving UFC roster. The way I see this one going is Kingsbury will look to keep it standing with him having the edge on feet. He will need to finish early but Al-Hassan will eventually shoot and get a takedown, put him on his back and submit him. This will likely be in the Second Round, which will give Kingsbury a thank you, but goodbye note from Dana White.
Ryan Bader vs. Eric Schafer
The Light-Heavyweight Winner of Season Eight of The Ultimate Fighter, Ryan "Darth" Bader, is making his return to the octagon with his impressively undefeated 10-0 record. Four of those came via Knock Out, three via submission and two going the distance; inside the UFC he has gone back to back with victories over Vinny Magalhães & Carmello Marerro.
Eric Schafer is looking to continue his winning ways, this being his second run at the Elite Level. Additionally he is currently riding a four fight win streak; Schafer has an 11–3–2 record with seven submissions, two coming by Knock Out and one by Decision. In his original run in the UFC he defeated the always-tough Rob Macdonald, but followed that up with back-to-back losses to Michael Bisping & Stephan Bonnar. After two fights outside of the octagon he returned and defeated Houston Alexander & Antonio Mendes.
I've been tossing up over who will leave with the W against their name for this one since I first heard of it. Who wins this fight? Well that all depends where it goes; Bader has real power on his feet and could Knock-Out Schafer –who already has two KO losses to his name. So, I think that is the smartest move for him. But if he were to take it to the ground it becomes very interesting, as Bader is a great wrestler no doubt and I think many would give him the edge –but Schafer is great off his back and could submit him from there. It’s all very questionable, but I am going to go with Bader to pick up a TKO victory in the Second Round.
Jorge Rivera vs. Rob Kimmons
Jorge Rivera makes his return to the octagon with a 16-7 record; ten of those victories Knock Out, two Submissions and four have Gone the Distance. Rivera was a participant on Season Four of The Ultimate Fighter and has gone with a lacklustre 5-6 inside the octagon.
His opponent Rob Kimmons has been a star on the rise for a while now. Kimmons has a 22-4 record including fourteen submissions, five KO's and three decisions to his name. He has gone 2-1 inside the octagon with every win and loss coming via submission.
I think that if the fight stays standing, it’s here that Rivera may be able to pull out a TKO victory. However he doesn't have the best takedown defence and also Kimmons really has the size edge. I think Kimmons will be able to take him down, use his far superior wrestling and submit El Conquistador.
Yushin Okami vs. Chael Sonnen
Yushin Okami returns to the UFC holding a 23-4 record with ten decisions, eight Knock Outs and four submissions to his name. Inside the octagon he has gone 7-1 with victories over Mick Swick and the late Evan Tanner. His only loss was to Rich Franklin.
Chael Sonnen is a seasoned veteran with a 23-10-1 record; thirteen having gone the distance, seven KO's and three submissions. Inside the octagon he has gone 2-3 and in fellow Zuffa promotion WEC, he has gone 3-1 and holds victories over Paulo Filho, Renato Sobral and most recently Dan Miller.
It baffles me as to why Okami and Sonnen are on the undercard here; these are established fighters that have been in the UFC for a while now and furthermore this is one of the most intriguing fights on the card. Though it will likely not make Pay Per View; this should be on the Main Card, or at least be given to us on a Fight Night or something but regardless, lets get into it.
Both of these fighters have gone the distance in their fights more than any other way of winning and I can see this one going to a decision also. If it stays on feet Okami certainly has the edge with much better striking than Sonnen; but Sonnen only has one TKO loss to his name which was due to a cut. If it goes to the ground Okami is in big danger of being submitted since Sonnen is great on the ground as well as off his back. I think though this one will go the distance with Okami coming out on top.
Antoni Hardonk vs. Patrick Barry
Antoni Hardonk comes back with redemption in mind, an 8-5 record with six KO’s and two Submissions; he’s also a former Kick-Boxer an overall record of 2-4 in Kickboxing before making his move into MMA. His last fight saw him lose to Cheick Kongo.
Pat Barry also returns with redemption in mind, he holds a 4-1 record with all four of his victories coming via Knock Out. Barry also had a Kick-Boxing record being much more successful than his opponent and going 9-6-1 before making the move into MMA. In his last MMA fight he lost to Tim Hague.
These are two big men looking to bounce back in a devastating fashion; this is a recipe for a first round Knock Out if I've ever seen one! Both men are great on their feet and it all comes down to who will make the first mistake –and if their opponent is quick enough to capitalize on it. Personally I'm giving this one to Pat Barry who is a much more accurate striker with absolutely huge power in his hands.
Anthony Johnson vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida
Anthony "Rumble" Johnson returns to the octagon riding a two fight win streak; his overall record is 7-2 with five Knock Outs and two submissions to his name. He has gone 4-2 inside the octagon with wins over Tommy Speer & most recently Luigi Fiorivanti.
Yoshiyuki Yoshida holds an 11-3 record with six Knock Outs, three Submissions and two have gone the distance. During his career in the UFC he has gone 2-1 with victories over Jon Koppenhaver and Brandon Wolff with also one loss to Josh Koscheck.
This one is another hard call –I think Yoshida will be counted out by the vast majority of viewers, but I think there is an element of surprise here because he poses many threats to Johnson. Despite this I am still going with Rumble Johnson, he has power and speed in his hands and will be able to keep it standing and use that to his advantage. Yoshida has a great chin and I don't see him going down so I'll give it to Johnson via Decision.
Joe Stevenson vs. Spencer Fisher
The Ultimate Fighter, Season Two Winner Joe Stevenson, makes his return to the Octagon sporting a 30-10 record with fourteen Submissions, ten Decisions and six Knock Outs to his name. In his last fight he broke his two fight losing streak with a victory over Nate Diaz.
Spencer Fisher makes his way back to the octagon riding a three fight win streak and holds an impressive 23-4 overall record with eleven Knock Outs, eight Submissions and four of his fights have gone the distance. Inside the octagon he has gone 8-3; in the UFC at his last fight he defeated Japanese sensation Caol Uno.
This one would be my pick for Fight of The Night; it’s such an interesting fight! On the feet there is no question, the edge goes to Fisher. He is more of a powerful and technical Striker than Joe Daddy. But if it goes to the ground Stevenson could use his wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game to control the fight and consequently pick up a decision which is my prediction.
Gleison Tibau vs. Josh Neer
Gleison Tibau sports a 19-6 record with nine Submissions, eight Decisions and two Knock-Out victories to his credit. Inside the Octagon he holds victories over Jeremy Stephens & Rich Clementi and has a 5-4 overall record inside the Octagon. In his last fight he dropped a Split Decision to Melvin Guillard.
Josh Neer is an experienced wrestler with a 25-8-1 record with ten Knock Outs, eleven Submissions and four Decisions to his credit. But inside the Octagon he has gone a very lacklustre 2-5 with his biggest victory being over Mac Danzig; in his last outing he lost a controversial Decision to Kurt Pellegrino.
Both fighters have their backs against the wall here; as they both need a win to stay relevant in the always-expanding Lightweight Division. I think the key to this one will be that Tibau is superior on the ground. Whether it is with his Ground N Pound or with his Submission abilities; he is much better than Neer on the ground and I think that will be the difference in his Decision victory over Neer.
Cain Velasquez vs. Ben Rothwell
Co-Main Event time! With potential Title implications on the line, Cain Velasquez sports an impressive 6-0 undefeated record with five coming via Knock-Out and only one making its way to a decision. Inside the Octagon he has gone 4-0 with his biggest victory in this past June where he defeated the devastating striker Cheick Kongo.
His opponent is a man making his debut into the Octagon with a world of experience behind him; Ben Rothwell sports a 30-6 record with seventeen Knock-Outs, eleven Submissions and only two have Gone the Distance. He is a man Dana White had his eye on long ago but big money being thrown around kept him with Affliction. In his last fight he defeated Chris Guillen.
This one is hard to call; the majority will be right on the Velasquez Express expecting him to make quick work of the Miletich alumni. But I really don't see that happening, Velasquez is a great wrestler with a solid chin who can throw down with the best of them. Rothwell though of course is no push over. Ben is a big powerful man who can handle himself both on the feet and the ground and has won fourteen of his last fifteen fights with his only loss coming to then Top Heavyweight in the world, Andrei Arlovski.
The way I see this one going is Velasquez will dominate this one for the most part similarly like he did in the Kongo fight. In the mean time though he will take some punishment from the power that Rothwell possesses. In the end I can see Velasquez doing enough to get him across the line in a tight Decision victory.
UFC Light-Heavyweight Championship: Lyoto Machida (c) vs. Mauricio Rua
Lyoto Machida is to defend the Light-Heavyweight Championship for his very first time when he enters the Octagon; with his perfect 15-0 record. This includes five Knock-Outs, two Submissions and eight Decisions to his name. During his career in the UFC he has sustained the least amount of damage than any other fighter, defeating the likes of Rashad Evans, Tito Ortiz & Thiago Silva.
His opponent Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua is a legend of the now-defunct Pride FC promotion. Winner of the PRIDE Fighting Championship's 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix and holds notable wins over such fighters as Chuck Liddell, Quinton Jackson and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira; he sports an 18-3 record with fifteen Knock Outs, two Submissions and one Decision. During his career in the UFC he has gone 2-1 with victories over legends of the sport in Chuck Liddell & Mark Coleman and one loss to Forrest Griffin.
Nobody has ever defended the UFC Light-Heavyweight Championship successfully since 2007 when Quentin Jackson defeated Dan Henderson. Since then both Forrest Griffin & Rashad Evans have failed to pull out a victory when defending the Elite Championship in the UFC.
The way I see this one going is that Lyoto Machida will simply pick Shogun apart until he gets an opening and finishes him. This one will not go twenty-five minutes in my eyes. Shogun is a great striker and could potentially Knock-Out anybody if given the chance but Machida's style is so unique and his technique is so different that I don't think Shogun will be able to damage Machida. Shogun will likely get caught in the Third Round via TKO.