UFC 85 Analysis and Picks
The Octagon is heading back to the mother country tomorrow afternoon with a card that might be light on sizzle, but should deliver enough steak to keep most fans happy. The card has been snake bit with fighters dropping out due to injury left and right, and the main event has changed a few times, but in the end it looks like we're in for a pretty good card.
Antoni Hardonk vs Eddie Sanchez
This is a weird fight in that I don't feel either of these guys are at a level where they should be in the UFC right now. Hardonk is a one dimensional striker who has been utterly lost every time someone has taken him down. That being said, if he's able to keep a fight standing, he does have one punch/kick KO power. This might be a fight where he gets to show that as Sanchez has shown a willingness to bang with strikers, even when he shouldn't. He's got a good chin, but he also has a better all around game than Hardonk. I look for an early takedown after he tastes some of Hardonk's power, then he'll pound out a stoppage.
Winner: Sanchez, TKO, Round 1
Paul Taylor vs Jess Liaudin
Taylor has lost twice in the Octagon, but he's been pretty damned exciting in doing so. He's shown some good power in his fists and a decent chin, so he's the kind of guy who has shot against anyone who's not the elite. Since Liaudin is certainly not one of the elite at 170, he definitely has a chance in this one. Liaudin will likely be looking for the submission early as I don't think he has the power to take Taylor out standing, while Taylor will be looking to stay on his feet and pound on Liaudin to set up the KO. If his sprawl is good, Taylor should be able to pull it out here.
Winner: Taylor, TKO, Round 2
Banha Cane vs Jason Lambert
I really didn't get to see enough of Cane in his UFC debut to see what he's got, but an 7-0 record before that DQ loss with 6 TKO's means he has the requisite skills to handle the glassy chinned Lambert on their feet. The question will be whether or not Cane will be able to handle Lambert's wrestling and ground and pound to have a chance at the KO. After losing all the momentum he had from the Babalu win, I'd look for a slightly more cautious Lambert to ground the fight and methodically pound out a win.
Winner: Lambert, Decision
Roan Carneiro vs Kevin Burns
I don't know much about Burns other than he fought less than a month ago, but I do know that I love to watch Carneiro fight. His jiu jitsu is great and his stand up is good enough to set everything else up. Newcomers to the cage are always a bit of a wildcard, but as long as Carneiro doesn't take Burns lightly, he should be ok.
Winner: Carneiro, Submission, Round 2
Matt Wiman vs Thiago Tavares
I'll just be blunt about this one and say that I don't see any way at all that Wiman pulls this out. He's a talented mid-level fighter, and could probably be a champion in something like EliteXC, but Tavares is a beast and a legit threat to anyone not named BJ Penn at 155 in the UFC. Wiman doesn't have anywhere near the wrestling skills that Tyson Griffin used to frustrate the hell out of Tavares, so I'd look for a nice submission win for the Brazillian in this one.
Winner: Tavares, Submission, Round 1
Jorge Rivera vs Martin Kampmann
I'm really looking forward to this fight as it should answer a lot of questions about both fighters. Rivera looked like a world beater against Kendall Grove, but is that because he's re-dedicated himself to the sport or because Grove didn't really show up? As for Kampman, it's his first fight back after his long injury layoff, so will the rust show or has working with Xtreme Couture sharpened him up? This is going to be a stand up war as both guys have confidence in both their striking and chins, but I give the edge to Kampmann. He was on the verge of contending at 185 before the injury, and starts the road back here.
Winner: Kampmann, TKO, Round 3
Fabricio Werdum vs Brandon Vera
A year ago, Vera was essentially the uncrowned UFC champ and considered the future of the division. Another 5 months of a contract holdout, followed by a broken hand and a loss to Tim Sylvia really took the bloom of his rose, but if you think Vera is anything less than super talented, you're wrong. He's a dynamic striker with an underrated ground game who can beat anyone in either the heavyweight or light heavyweight division. For his part, Werdum looked good in beating Gonzaga, but was it more of a case of an inconsistent Gonazaga rather than a dominating Werdum? This should be an exciting fight as both guys are comfortable in all aspects of the fight game, but I think Vera's wrestling may come into play here more than it has in his other fights as he uses it to set up some heavy hands and knees.
Winner: Vera, TKO, Round 2
Nate Marquardt vs Thales Leites
Leites is good. Marquardt is VERY good. (I wanted to say "Great", but I decided that was just too cheesy.) I don't see Leites taking out Marquardt on their feet as he isn't that big a puncher, but if they go to the ground - where Leites usually has the advantage - he's screwed. Marquardt is a wiz on the ground. If you like ground fighitng, I have a feeling you're going to enjoy all three rounds of this one.
Winner: Marquardt, Decision
Marcus Davis vs Mike Swick
As I'm doing this preview, I'm getting more and more interested in this card. This is another fight that may not be main event quality, but it sure is intriguing. After giving in to the general consensus and dropping down to 170, Swick went out and laid an egg against Josh Burkman in one of the more disappointing fights in recent memory. Doing the cut for a second time and the added incentive of needing to put in a good showing should make for a good action fight, as Davis will be more than willing to oblige. He's on a ridiculous win streak right now, and he finally gets a chance to test himself against a higher level of competition. As long as this isn't a borefest, the winner here can make a case for being a top 10 welterweight in the UFC right now. And for the record, the quarter is picking the winner here.
Winner: Davis, TKO, Round 3
Michael Bisping vs Jason Day
Day made a nice debut in Montreal, and stepped up to take this fight just a few weeks ago after the Chris Leben mess. Nice of him to take one for the team, but I'm afraid my fellow Canuck is going to take it on the chin here. The big question will be whether or not Bisping has the power to put Day out when he puts one on his chin. He looked aggressive against Charles McCarthy, but he landed a lot of big blows that didn't seem to do a lot of damage. Even though this is his second fight at 185, it will be the first time we really see how good he'll be at the weight.
Winner: Bisping, Decision
Matt Hughes vs Thiago Alves
There's two ways to look at this one. First, Matt Hughes is the second best 170lber in the world, and a class above everyone not named GSP. Secondly, Hughes is an aging, over confident fighter who really hasn't looked good in two years (in the Gracie fight). And here's the crazy thing - I subscribe to theory #2 (Penn beat him up for two rounds, GSP schooled him twice and he looked sloppy against Lytle) and I still think he's going to win this fight. Alves is a dynamic striker, and he's coming off a big win, but I don't think he's strong enough to deal with Hughes' wrestling and ground and pound. As long as Hughes doesn't decide that he can kick box with Alves, he should be able to get out of the fight without too much damage.
*Just as I was writing this, news broke that Alves has missed the 170lb weight limit, and the fight will now be a catch weight bout at 174lbs. It's not the first time that Alves has had problems making weight, but really shouldn't effect the outcome here. Either he comes in emaciated from trying to make weight and will be sluggish, or he knew he couldn't make weight and didn't try too hard. Since Hughes usually fights 10-15lbs heavier than he weighs in at, he won't be at any real disadvantage here.*
Winner: Hughes, TKO, Round 2
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