Greetings MMA Supporters:
This Saturday, July 5, 2008, the UFC returns with UFC 86: Jackson vs. Griffin. The world will be watching as this season's The Ultimate Fighter coaches battle for the UFC Light-heavyweight title.
More than just another fight, this war will be the final validation of Forrest Griffin's legitimacy as an MMA fighter. He has proven himself many times in the cage, but has yet to shake the stigma of being somehow less than equal to other UFC competitors because of his ties to the TUF franchise. Oddly, some fans and fighters believe that fighters who ascend to the UFC through the TV show are not as qualified as those who grind their way up from the smaller promotions. Personal jealousy notwithstanding, few if any may argue against Season One champ Forrest Griffin's claim to challenge for the Light-heavyweight Championship. Griffin has shown remarkable improvement since his television debut, and has beaten top contenders, including Mauricio Rua, to earn his shot at Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. A victory for Griffin will silence all critics, and prove that TUF competitors are as equally worthy of respect as other fighters. The following are my predictions for UFC 86: Jackson vs. Griffin.
Corey Hill Vs. Justin Buchholz: I really have no idea who these guys are. Toss-up either way, but the odds would favour Buchholz for his better record. Buchholz
Melvin Guillard Vs. Dennis Siver: Melvin Guillard's impressive 39-8-3 record is proof of his abilities as a fighter; however, two losses against very tough opponents, Rich Clementi and Joe Stevenson, have set him back on his quest to become a contender. Look for Guillard to come out on fire, because another loss could see him out the door. Guillard
Jorge Gurgel Vs. Cole Miller: Jorge Gurgel, for all of his incredible ability, has been getting a rough ride lately. He has yet to finish a fight without going to the judges, and needs to use his brilliant ju jitsu skills to submit his opponents. If Gurgel can avoid Miller's strikes, he'll win. Gurgel
Gabriel Gonzaga Vs. Justin McCully: Gonzaga is coming off of two losses to two of the toughest men in the UFC, Fabricio Werdum and Randy Couture. This fight looks like a confidence booster for Napao, to get him tuned up to challenge for the Heavyweight title sometime next year. Gonzaga
Tyson Griffin Vs. Marcus Aurelio : I've been a fan of Tyson Griffin's energetic powerhouse style for some time now. A win on Saturday will move him into contention for a title shot. Griffin
Josh Koscheck Vs. Chris Lytle: Chris Lyltle 35-15-4 is by far the more experienced fighter, and due for a title shot. I've never liked Koscheck's attitude, but he is an incredible wrestler. I'll give the nod to Lytle because I want to see if he can hold his own against the higher-ranked Welterweights. Lytle
Joe Stevenson Vs. Gleison Tibau: Tibau is a fierce opponent, but I have to favour "Daddy" Joe because I trained with him at a seminar last year. I think Stevenson is too skilled and powerful for Tibau. Stevenson
Patrick Cote Vs. Ricardo Almeida: This one's easy. I always back a Canadian brother (er, except Kalib Starnes). Cote's big hands are going to smoke Almeida. Cote
Quinton Jackson Vs. Forrest Griffin: I had to write this last because I really didn't want to make a prediction. I like Griffin as the emotional favourite, but Rampage is way too dominant a striker. Griffin has a chance if he can absorb Jackson's blows and take him down. I'll take Griffin, and pray for him to show some of that monkey boy magic he pulled off against Rua. Griffin There you have it. Check back on Tuesday for a review and analysis of my predictions. Cheers, Rich