So it’s been a long time since I’ve been on here and for good reason. 1. I got a job teaching the youth of Angleton Texas US history and so far so good. 2. I’m also a coach for football and if you haven’t coached football in Texas you should know that football is a religion in this state and we take it very seriously. It’s limited my MMA writing but not my fandom of the sport so since my son is home sick I figured that I would have the time to get in some writing. Lucky You. So normally in my heyday of doing this I would write up a four or five page article about the event, but honestly some of the prelims bore me so I give some insight on the ones I like and the main card. Here goes
Yushin Okami vs. Chael Sonnen—Battle of the middleweights who should have done more is a really intriguing matchup. Okami seems to always be one step away from a title belt and yet most casual fans dislike his fights. It the number one reason he is yet to get a shot at Anderson Silva. Let’s face it he has to show big against Sonnen to even be thought of in the division. Chael on the other hand is a big strong wrestler at 185, but is really known for yelling really loud during submissions and beating a mental Paulo Filho who during his second fight with Chael was talking to himself. He fights out of Team Quest and has serviceable standup and good ground and pound. Normally when two wrestlers get together the one with the better hands wins out and personally I think that man is Okami. Yushin “Thunder” Okami wins via TKO in the Second.
Patrick Barry vs. Antoni Hardonk—This should be a very good kickboxing war of two standup giants. Hardonk is a fantastic striker with some seriously good leg kicks. Barry is a K1 champ with good fast hands and leg kicks for days. I see this going one of two ways. Barry winning with a stiff left jab to a right leg kick that cripples Hardonk or Hardonk somehow getting the fight to the floor and rear naked choking Barry. I know the later sounds dumb being that both men are strikers but I’m thinking that Hardonk is smart enough as a fighter to know he has been on the ground and worked some ground and pound, at least enough to know that he as an advantage there. I’m a fan of Barry, but that second ways seems to me to be the only real way Antoni has a chance. Antoni Hardonk wins via first round RNC.
Ryan Bader vs. Eric Schafer—thus far Ryan Bader has looked like he was deserving of the ultimate fighter contract and looks to become 9 and 0 against a very dangerous opponent in Eric “Red” Schafer. Bader had a good performance against Carmelo Marrero in his last fight and will have a wrestling and striking advantage in this one. But don’t be so sure he is going to want to take this fight to the ground. Schafer is a top level Jiu-jitsu player and will use his skills to try and submit Bader if the fight goes to the ground. Look for this fight to stay standing till Bader rocks Schafer and gnp’s him to death or Schafer figures out a way to get Bader to the ground and subs him in the first. Ryan “Darth” Bader wins via second round TKO.
Anthony Johnson vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida—so I’m trying to figure out what Yoshida did to piss off the powers that be in the UFC cause this is a bad matchup for him. If Koscheck craptastic standup put Yoshida to sleep Anthony “Rumble” Johnson may kill the poor man. Where Yoshida is most effective is on the ground and Johnson was a college wrestler and a good one at that so its going to be very hard for Yoshida to get the fight there. Add to that Johnson’s much quicker hands and reach advantage, it could be a bloody night for “Zenko”. Anthony “Rumble” Johnson wins via first round KO.
Spencer Fisher vs. Joe Stevenson—two guys who are always a win or two away from a title shot, Fisher and Stevenson are both still very much important to the 155 division and need this win to have their name in the “ who is BJ gonna beat next” hat. Both have recently made moves from camps although Stevenson’s moved to arguably the best MMA school in the world in New Mexico with Greg Jackson is more substantial. Fisher now has his own gym and sometimes when someone opens his own gym the skills may still be there, but the motivation may not be. Regardless this fight has FOTN written all over it. Fisher should have the standing advantage with Joe Daddy having the ground advantage. If Fisher can sprawl then it will be a long night for Stevenson, but honestly I think Stevenson can get most people to the ground when he feels like it. My feeling is that the first half of the first round will see Fisher getting the better of Stevenson then the rest of the night we will see a fantastic display of ground work by Joe Daddy ending the night with a submission victory. Joe “Daddy Stevenson wins via second round submission.
Josh Neer vs. Gleison Tibau—a fight that will lead to nothing in the way of relevance in the division, pits Neer and Tibau. Honestly I don’t get why this fight is a main card fight, but I don’t run the UFC. The most intriguing part of this fight is that both men seem to work best on their backs and normally when that happens we see a standup war, which favors Neer. Neer has never been considered a KO artist but has good combos and a nice jab that he uses very well. Tibau however has a big size advantage and if he is smart should use it to keep Neer at bay standing and overwhelmed him on the ground. Like the Fisher-Stevenson fight I see a ground game that will be exciting and filled with transitions by both fighters. In the end size will matter as I feel that Tibau will get his shot to shine. Gleison Tibau wins via Unanimous Decision.
Ben Rothwell vs. Cain Velasquez—I may get a ton of hate for this one but Cain Velasquez maybe heading for his first loss in this fight. In his last fight against Cheick Kongo, Velasquez showed his limited punching power and lack of striking skills. He also showed the world that he didn’t have that great of a chin. Ben Rothwell is a big heavyweight with good wrestling and KO power in his hands and legs and has shown it in many fights in the IFL. He has a good chin and showed his heart in his last loss to Andrei Arlovski when it took everything “The Pit-bull” had to take Rothwell out. I think that the UFC wants to promote a Mexican contender so much that they are willing to speed up Velasquez progression in the sport in order to get him into title contention. Regardless I think Cain is way to one dimensional to achieve overall greatness in the division or at least not right now. Rothwell on the other hand is a very well rounded fighter who should be able to stuff enough takedowns to punish Velasquez standing which is how I think he get the nod on this one. I see it being Cain’s early but without the power to finish Rothwell I can see Rothwell stuffing some lazy takedowns in the second and using his good combos to punish Velasquez enough to get a TKO. “Big” Ben Rothwell wins via TKO in the Second.
Champ Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (for light-heavyweight title)—oh how I wish this fight was taking place 6 to 8 months from now. Don’t get me wrong I think this is going to be a great fight, but I still don’t feel that Shogun is 100%. Since his knee injuries he had a lack luster fight against the ageless wonder in Mark Coleman and the well seasoned Chuck Liddell. Yes he won both of them, but he looked like ass against Coleman and KO a way past his prime Liddell. I feel that he needs a fight against a younger, faster opponent before he gets this fight like say Rashad Evans as a number one contender match. Regardless, Shogun maybe biting off much more than he can chew because the Machida era is now and for the foreseeable future. Shogun’s attacking style fits perfect for Machida and I highly doubt that Shogun will be able to get Machida to the ground at all. Hell top level wrestlers couldn’t do it I really doubt jiu-jitsu guy will. Let’s face it there is no aspect of the MMA game that Shogun has an advantage at and I don’t see there being one anytime soon. I think the fight will go into the championship rounds but only because Shogun will be able to with stand the pressure for the first three then he will gas and leave too many doors open for Machida to walk into and end it in the fourth. Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida wins via TKO in the Fourth.