Saturday is upon us, which means two things: (1) it's Fight Night, and (2) it's time for another edition of the Punch Drunk Predictions. No-no, don't all applaud at once. Try to keep it to a dull roar.
After wiping the slate clean for last Saturday's Strikeforce: Miami event, my first as a full-fledged member of the Five Knuckles family, I put up an okay 4-2 record. Basically, I got the fights that were impossible to get wrong right, and went 0-2 with the fights that actually took some handicapping to predict.
Though this will probably be the highest my prediction percentage will ever get, the same size is too small to consider this anything more than dumb luck. Proving my mettle means making more predictions, so that is just what I'll do.
Gave this one away a little bit in The Weigh-In yesterday, but I don't think anyone is actually expecting the guy taking the fight on super-short notice to come in and defeat the next generation of Gracie UFC fighters.
Following in the family tradition, expect Rolles to earn a submission victory in his UFC debut, spoiling the fact that Joey Beltran has one of the better nicknames out there. "The Mexicutioner" should get a second chance with the company just for being ready to take this fight so quickly...
It's hard for me to not pick Tim Hague. In addition to being Canadian (like me), he's been kind enough to speak to me on a couple occasions is a very personable and likable fellow (like me?) and has a respectable all-around game.
On the other hand, Chris Tuchscherer wants to prove to everyone that the only reason he lost his last fight was because Gabe Gonzaga kept kicking him in the pills. Unless the ref is willing to give you 45 minutes and an ice pack, you're not coming back from multiple mashings of the man-bits, especially not against a quality heavyweight like Gonzaga.
Ultimately, a decision has to be made and I'm siding with the Canadian. Not because of our shared nationality, rather because he has the better all-around game and should be able to do enough to eek out a win.
I wouldn't fault Phil Davis if he lost this fight.
Going from fighting relative nobodies to taking on a former champion on a two-fight winning streak in your UFC debut is a big step up. Fortunately for Davis, he's facing an opponent who looks like the right kind of matchup for him on paper.
Though fights take place inside the cage and not on paper, this one should go the way many envision it, with Davis getting inside, wrestling Stann to the canvas and working hard to find an opening to end the fight. It won't be a walk in the park, but "Mr. Wonderful" should remain undefeated.
Rob Emerson (17-8-1) vs. Philippe Nover (9-2-1)
Emerson has never really impressed me, and despite his unwavering belief in himself and insistence that Nover is too confident heading into this bout, my money is on the Filipino "murse" to get the win.
Nover has a more complete all-around game; while Emerson is solid in the stand-up, Nover matches him there and trumps him on the ground, where his BJJ will be the difference-maker in the fight.
Look at it this way: Emerson got beat standing by Rafael dos Anjos, not exactly a vaunted striker. Nover has the power to knock "The Saint" out and the submission skills to make him tap on the ground. One of the two will happen.
Tomorrow morning, a bunch of people are going to be talking about Ronnys Torres, at which point, I'll remind them that I was talking about him at the start of the year when he made my 10 for '10 Prospects list.
Anyone that can compete at 155 and has a victory over light heavyweight (and Black House associate) Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante gets my attention. Add in that Melvin Guillard is extremely allergic to submission defense and you have the makings for a minor upset in Torres's long-awaited UFC debut.
This feels like another TUF 6 fight for Mac Danzig to me, which is good, because he steamrolled through TUF 6 to get to where he is now.
Everything Buchholz does, Danzig does a little better. He's bigger, stronger, a more sound technical fighter, and has faced better competition.
In all honesty, I don't know why many of us are so hard on Danzig. His fight with Jim Miller was a war, and his two losses before that are a questionable split decision with Josh Neer away from being the same as Nathan Diaz, and no one is calling for Diaz to get dropped.
Every time people tell me that Serra is going to win this fight, I can only muster one word: Really?
Trigg's wrestling is strong enough to defend any takedown attempts Serra has to offer, his boxing is solid, and, unlike Serra, he's actually won a fight or two in the last two years.
Here's the other thing: Matt Serra is in no way going to get cut if he loses this fight. He might hang'em up, but the dude is too much of a personality and character for Dana & Co. to drop him. Trigg, on the other hand, has been dumped before, and might be dumped again if he loses this fight.
Who really has more to prove: the guy who can ride the greatest upset in MMA history into the sunset, or the guy who has been cut before, and was almost cut after his last loss?
This one will be a lot more difficult than some of the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructional classes Maia's taught inside the Octagon so far, but the end result is going to be the same: Winner, Demian Maia, by submission.
Miller has a great ground game of his own, which will make Maia work harder; think more like his fight with Jason MacDonald than his demolition of all three Team Quest members or Nate Quarry. We'll certainly see the second round (I think) and perhaps even some of the stand-up Maia has been working on.
Tough draw for Miller, who will be looking at consecutive defeats after this one.
This one is easy, as I don't pick Mike Swick. Ever. Never have, never will.
It's nothing personal, I just don't have the same affinity for a guy who has never beaten anyone higher up on the food chain than Ben Saunders. Running through a bunch of below-the-middle-of-the-pack guys isn't that big an accomplishment to me.
Beat Thiago and we can talk. Until then, I'm picking the Brazilian to take his trilogy with AKA 2-1.
Nate Marquardt (29-8-2) vs. Chael Sonnen (23-10-1)
Sonnen is a grinder who relies on being the strongest wrestler in the cage. That's how he beat Dan Miller, and that's how he beat Yushin Okami.
Tonight, he's not the strongest wrestler in the cage. Nate Marquardt is two-steps ahead of Sonnen in every category and shows why he deserves another shot at the middleweight title with a dominant win.
Whoever wins the takedown / positional battle wins the fight.
In bouts like this where things are relatively equal, I don't pick against Couture. He's got the better boxing of the two, great takedown defense to counter Coleman's shot, and enough skills off his back to keep himself out of serious trouble.
An upset for Coleman would be huge, but I don't see it happening.
Punch Drunk Predictions
Rolles Gracie by Submission, Round 1
Tim Hague by Unanimous Decision
Phil Davis by Submission, Round 2
Philippe Nover by Unanimous Decision
Ronnys Torres by Submission, Round 1
Mac Danzig by Unanimous Decision
Frank Trigg by Unanimous Decision
Demian Maia by Submission, Round 3
Paulo Thiago by Split Decision
Nate Marquardt by T/KO, Round 1
And in the Main Event of the evening...
Randy "The Natural" Couture over Mark "The Hammer" Coleman by Unanimous Decision.
Knuckle up - it's Fight Night!
Originally posted at FiveKnuckles.com
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