Unflappable Penn Has Upper Hand: Spiars' Quick Picks for UFC 107

Sterling SpiarsAnalyst IDecember 11, 2009

Scour through MMA forums across the Internet, you will find numerous complaints of the horrible events, past and future. There are very few fans that are looking on the bright side, looking towards UFC 107 this weekend.

Not only is the lightweight championship on the line, the card is stacked top to bottom, featuring a number of contenders that are merely wins away from a title shot of their own.

Unfortunately, the UFC has decided not to air the preliminary fights live on Spike TV. It's a shame; besides delivering a number of exciting fights, it also gives the UFC an opportunity to build the names of the undercard fighters.

It doesn't matter though, the preliminaries were used to boost PPV buys, something that UFC 107 will have no problem dealing with.

Main Card

Champ B.J. Penn vs. Diego Sanchez (for lightweight title): B.J. Penn

In any fight that features Diego Sanchez, fans can expect to witness a storm of psychotic energy. His pace is at a nightmarish level, often overwhelming his opponents.

In his last fight with Clay Guida, Sanchez stormed the center of the ring and unleashed fury upon him. Guida weathered the storm, exposing a weakness in the game of Sanchez—his power.

His attacks find their mark on frequent occasions, but the majority of his knockouts come from his relentless ground-and-pound, not the power shot.

Sanchez is much more dangerous with his grappling. He holds a black belt in Gaidojutsu, as well as a brown belt in Brazilian jiujitsu.

If Sanchez winds up in a dominant position in the grappling war, there is a good chance he gets a submission or TKO.

As good as Sanchez has shown he is at lightweight, he is going against the most dominant champion in the division: B.J. Penn.

There is no doubt that Penn displays the best striking inside his division, with one of the most brutal jabs in the UFC. His striking is very effective at keeping wrestlers such as Sanchez at bay.

If they are able to get past the striking range and gain the clinch, don't expect Penn to fall down. Unless his opponent's name is Georges St. Pierre, Penn's balance is near impossible to deal with.

On the ground with rubber limbs, Penn's control and flexibility make him perhaps the fiercest force in a grappling battle.

All in all, Penn is a better all-around fighter in every aspect of the game. If Sanchez displayed more power, he might actually have a puncher's chance.

Cheick Kongo vs. Frank Mir: Frank Mir

Cheick Kongo showed his face on the heavyweight radar after his huge victory over Mirko Cro Cop. Since then, he hasn't been able to string together enough victories to earn the title shot.

Most recently, falling prey to heavyweight contender Cain Velasquez. Once again, his biggest downfall—his ground game—was glaring like a tin shed under the sun.

Kongo's threat comes in his hands and feet and, if he gets the clinch, from his monstrous knees. He is well trained in savate and muay Thai, and is proud owner of some of the heaviest hands in the division.

His aggressiveness can be dangerous, but a huge downfall as well. His opponent, Frank Mir, has the knowledge and experience to take advantage of a Kongo mistake.

Mir's game plan will be to take this fight down and use his Brazilian jiujitsu black belt to shatter the kink in Kongo's armor.

Although he struggles to score the takedown from time to time, Mir still has the ability to take just about anybody down, especially now that he's been bulking up.

In his fight against Antonio Nogueira, Mir showed that he could box as well as he can tap fighters out. It isn't the wisest strategy to strike with a striker, but Mir has the potential to take this fight from any position.

Jon Fitch vs. Mike Pierce: Jon Fitch

Back in September, during UFC Fight Night 19, Mike Pierce turned heads with his dominating performance over Brock Larson.

Pierce won the fight with Larson's own game plan: out-striking him on the feet, and out-wrestling him in the clinch, as well as on the ground.

He isn't known for fight-ending victories, but Pierce is a grinder in the sport. He doesn't let his opponent's breathe, which, with rank aside, is a perfect matchup.

It's hard not to take notice of a fighter who fires off 16 straight victories in his career, which is exactly what Jon Fitch did. In fact, he only has one loss in 19 fights.

Fitch did this by using his Division I wrestling past to swamp his opponent's willpower, grinding them down through three grueling rounds. The only fighter that has been able to shutdown the game of Fitch is the current welterweight champion, Georges St. Pierre.

In his most recent fight with Paulo Thiago at UFC 100, Fitch showed drastic improvement in his striking, showing us all that he intends to be more than a one-trick pony.

With continuing work at American Kickboxing Academy, training with Josh Koscheck and Mike Swick, Fitch will likely show off an ever-evolving striking attack this Saturday.

Kenny Florian vs. Clay Guida: Kenny Florian

Despite losing in his last fight against Diego Sanchez, Clay Guida earned a fair amount of respect for his chin, in addition to his already proven heart.

Guida recovered from a vicious storm to turn the fight into a much more even match.

He sported his dominant takedowns and control, as well as his ridiculous cardio, which can't even be measured because it's off the charts.

However, he showed that he hasn't improved in other areas of the game. His striking appeared as if it was the same set of skills that fought in the Nate Diaz fight. Guida better hope that his training at Jackson's MMA will pay off in this fight.

Being a solid wrestler with strong submission defense isn't going to be enough to propel him into the elite level of the lightweight division as his opponent, Kenny Florian, is one of the most evolved fighters in the octagon today.

With every fight, it would appear that Florian is always improving, and his recent move into the Tristar camp alongside Georges St. Pierre will show an extreme improvement in his attack.

As a black belt in Brazilian jiujitsu, it's kind of strange that Florian is known for his deadly elbows. His transition game is difficult to defend against, and Florian often finds himself in dominating positions.

Florian will likely find himself on his back this weekend, which won't necessarily be a disadvantage with his grappling experience, samurai-esque patience, and of course, his brutal elbows.

Paul Buentello vs. Stefan Struve: Paul Buentello

After a devastating loss at the hands of Junior dos Santos in his UFC debut, Stefan Struve has churned out two straight impressive victories.

The tallest fighter that steps inside the octagon, Struve will always have a distinct reach advantage, and while his striking isn't scary, he utilizes it well enough until he can take the fight into his game.

Struve's lanky limbs are surprisingly effective grappling weapons. In 14 of his 18 victories, Struve finished the fight impressively with a submission.

At the young age of 21, Struve has many years ahead of him to fine-tune his flaws, which could make him one of the more dangerous heavyweights of the future.

Once again, in his young career, Struve has been dealt an opponent with the right assets to attack his weaknesses in the form of Paul Buentello.

Once an old school brawler, Buentello has gone on to clean up his striking. In his last fight against Kirill Sidelnikov, Buentello showed a very clean, crisp boxing attack, applying a lovely jab and a beautiful mix of combinations.

Additionally, Buentello proved that his takedown defense has developed drastically, enabling him to keep the fight where he likes it: hunting for his opponent's head.

In the last six years, Buentello's only losses have come from Andrei Arlovski and Alistair Overeem, giving Buentello the experience edge as well.

Preliminary Card (Un-Aired)

Alan Belcher vs. Wilson Gouveia: Alan Belcher

Shane Nelson vs. Matt Wiman: Matt Wiman

Ricardo Funch vs. Johny Hendricks: Johny Hendricks

Lucio Linhares vs. Rousimar Palhares: Lucio Linhares

Edgar Garcia vs. DaMarques Johnson: Edgar Garcia

Kevin Burns vs. T.J. Grant: T.J. Grant


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