In the words of Bruce Buffer, "Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit's (big inhale) TIIIIMMMMEEEE!"
UFC 106 is upon us and despite numerous injuries, illnesses and last minute decisions, this is still a pretty solid fight card and one that will help to bring clarity to some muddied divisions moving forward.
As has now become custom, before the picks comes the quick hit coverage of the preliminary fights, including Paulo Thiago and Jacob Volkmann which will now be on the PPV portion.
Enjoy the fights!
George Sotiropoulos (10-2-0) vs. Jason Dent (19-9-0)
Dent was a member of Team USA on Season 9 of the Ultimate Fighter and is getting his second go round with the UFC. Sotiropoulos is also a TUF alum (Season 6... yikes!) who looked very good in his debut at 155 last time out in a battle of the Georges.
Sotiropoulos is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a fairly large lightweight, standing 5'10" and having competed previously at welterweight. While Dent is a submission guy as well, he simply isn't on the same level as the fluid Aussie.
Caol Uno (25-12-4) vs. Fabricio Camoes (10-4-0)
The debuting Camoes is a BJJ black belt under Royler Gracie and apparently once went 27 minutes with Anderson Silva in a bare-knuckled fight when he was 17-years-old. No word on whether he's killed a bear with a knife and fork like Aleks Emelianenko...
Uno is a long-time veteran and one of the most respected lightweights in the game. He has four losses in his last seven fights, including a difficult decision against Spencer Fisher in his return at UFC 99. The others are against some of the best the sport has to offer: Shinya Aoki, Gesias "JZ Calvan" Cavalcante and Andre "Dida" Amade.
If you like grappling, you'll love this fight, as these two will surely transition through attempts and reversals for the majority of the fight.
Brock Larson (26-3-0) vs. Brian Foster (12-4-0)
Going to keep this one short and sweet.
Brian Foster lost last time out to Rick Story, who secured an arm triangle from inside Foster's half guard, while Larson is coming off a decision loss to Mike Pierce and has more submission wins than Foster has professional fights.
Please, feel free to do the math.
Kendall Grove (10-6-0) vs. Jake Rosholt (6-1-0)
Let the requisite "Will Kendall Grove be the first Ultimate Fighter winner released if he loses this fight?" discussion begin. Just ignore the guy in the background yelling something about Travis Lutter.
Jokes and speculation aside, Grove needs a win here in a bad way, as four losses in six fights usually doesn't help you maintain employment, Ultimate Fighter winner or not.
Rosholt looked okay against Chris Leben last time out and is still a good-looking prospect at 185 thanks to a great wrestling pedigree and strong training camp led by Boba Fett, Team Takedown's Mark Laimon, who promises to break out more from the Ecko Star Wars collection tonight.
Ben Saunders (7-1-2) vs. Marcus Davis (16-5-0)
This one is intriguing because it could go one of two ways.
Option 1: Davis smashes on Saunders the way Mike Swick did in Germany, pummeling the big man into submission under a flurry of precision boxing and power shots.
Option 2: Saunders uses his massive height and reach advantage, keeps Davis at bay and then locks in that deadly Thai clinch we saw against Brandon Wolff and turns the face of the "Irish Hand Grenade" into Sheppard's Pie.
Either way, this should be a slugfest.
Paulo Thiago (11-1-0) vs. Jacob Volkmann (9-0-0)
It's always a risky proposition picking fights involving fighters you don't know much about. It's no help when the only interesting information that can be gleaned about Volkmann's career to date is that his ring name is "Christmas" and he trains with Brock Lesnar & Co. at Minnesota Martial Arts.
On the other side of the cage, Paulo Thiago has been extremely impressive in two trips into the Octagon, knocking out Josh Koscheck in his debut and going the full 15 with Jon Fitch at UFC 100.
What impressed me most is the combination of those two fights, as we've seen a deadly uppercut drop of Koscheck and some slick submission work against Fitch, neither of which bode well for the newcomer.
Punch Drunk Predictions
George Sotiropoulos over Jason Dent - Submission, Round 2
Caol Uno over Fabricio Camoes - Split Decision
Brock Larson over Brian Foster - Submission, Round 1
Jake Rosholt over Kendall Grove - Unanimous Decision
Marcus Davis over Ben Saunders - TKO, Round 2
Amir Sadollah over Phil Baroni - Submission, Round 2
Antonio Rogerio "Minotoro" Nogueira over Luis Cane - Unanimous Decision
Paulo Thiago over Jacob Volkmann - Submission, Round 1
Josh Koscheck over Anthony "Rumble" Johnson - Split Decision
And in the Main Event of the evening...
"The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" Tito Ortiz over Forrest Griffin via Unanimous Decision.
Now touch gloves and come out swinging!