The UFC continues their barnstorming tour this Wednesday as they hold their third card in 10 days.
UFC Fight Night returns as a lead-in to the new The Ultimate Fighter season also beginning this Wednesday. In the main event, lightweight contender Kenny Florian will take on PRIDE legend Takanori Gomi in his UFC debut.
Florian is looking to start a run at 155-pounds to get another shot at the title. Gomi makes his first appearance in the octagon after a long run in Japanese promotions and hasn't fought on American soil since losing to Nick Diaz at PRIDE 33 over three years ago. Let's break down the fights:
Kenny Florian vs Takanori Gomi
Florian is 12-4 with 11 wins by stoppage. He is a jiu-jitsu artist first but with very strong Muay Thai skills. Florian has fought for the UFC belt twice and has fought against the best in the world in that division.
Gomi is 31-5 with 17 wins by stoppage. He is a boxer with good wrestling to implement his sprawl and brawl. He is the former PRIDE lightweight champion and has faced off against the best the division has had to offer.
Gomi has won his last two fights against no-name opponents but lost the two fights before that. He hasn't shown his best form within the last year plus, and I'm not sure his striking is what it once was. I think there are other factors that are also going to hamper Gomi.
The first being the weight cut. Gomi isn't used to fighting at 155 lbs. In Japan the lightweight division tops out at 160 lbs or over (Pride was 163 lbs) so I'm not sure how that will affect him.
Also, this will be his first time in a cage. Hopefully he has trained diligently how to work the angles in a cage and how to work against the cage in the clinch or on the mat.
You might think I would say that this fight is going to come down to whether Florian can get Gomi down, but I'm not.
This fight comes down to who has the better striking. The reason is that I think Florian is going to have to beat Gomi to the punch, not take him down.
With all that said, Florian has a lot in his favor to go along with his superior jiu jitsu game. I think Florian is primed to wear down Gomi with strikes until Gomi crumples and Florian goes in the for the kill with a submission in the third round.
Roy Nelson vs Stefan Struve
Nelson is 14-4 with 11 wins by stoppage. He is a boxer with a surprising jiu jitsu game. He has fought some tough guys at heavyweight, but his resume isn't overwhelming.
Struve is 19-3 with 17 wins by stoppage. He is a jiu-jitsu artist with a developing kickboxing game. This will be his toughest fight since fighting Junior Dos Santos in his UFC debut over a year ago.
Nelson definitely has the advantage standing assuming he can get inside Struve's insanely long reach.
If the fight goes to the ground, I would expect Nelson to be on top and his jiu jitsu to be good enough to stifle Struve's submission attempts.
All in all, I think Nelson has the edge in this fight, so I'm picking him by TKO in the first round.
Nate Quarry vs. Jorge Rivera
Quarry is 12-3 with nine wins by stoppage. He is a Muay Thai striker with a wrestling background. He once fought for the UFC middleweight title and has faced some tough guys in the division.
Rivera is 17-7 with 13 wins by stoppage. He is a boxer with some grappling ability. He has faced the best in the division but with limited results.
Both guys have two wins in a row and are desperately seeking another one to establish themselves as a contender. That, combined with their striking pedigrees, makes this a Fight of the Night candidate.
Rivera has a penchant for getting caught up in exchanges that he isn't tough enough to survive.
Quarry, outside of his devastating KO by Rich Franklin, is actually very tough to put away, and Rivera doesn't have the ground game to submit him. That's why I'm picking Quarry by TKO in the second round.
Ross Pearson vs. Dennis Siver
Pearson is 10-3 with seven wins by stoppage. He has a good ground game with some striking power. He hasn't faced many top fighters yet.
Siver is 15-6 with 13 wins by stoppage. He is a kickboxer with a solid ground game. He has faced some tough guys at lightweight but not many of the upper echelon fighters.
This should be a very evenly matched fight. I really don't know who has the overall advantage but I'm guessing Siver is better on the feet and Pearson is the better grappler.
So unless Siver lands something to end the fight I'm going to take a shot in the dark and say Pearson will win by decision.
Andre Winner vs. Rafaello Oliveira
This is another tough fight to call but I'm picking Winner by decision. I think Winner will find a way to grind it out no matter where the fight goes.
Jacob Volkmann vs. Ronnys Torres
Both guys are fighting for their UFC lives here. Torres is probably the better fighter but I'm not sure he'll have an answer for Volkmann's wrestling. I'm picking Volkmann to ride top control to a decision victory.
Rob Emerson vs. Nik Lentz
Neither of these fighters are particularly impressive, but Lentz should be able to control the fight with his wrestling. I'm picking Lentz to grind out a decision victory.
Caol Uno vs. Gleison Tibau
The problem with both of these fighters is that they both beat guys they should and lose to guys they should. So when you match them up which category do they fall into?
They're both going to want to grapple and I think Tibau is the more active fighter at this point in their careers. So I'm picking Tibau to win by decision. This might be the end of Uno's return to the UFC.
Yushin Okami vs Lucio Linhares
Linhares is a great jiu-jitsu fighter but I don't think he can compete with Okami's wrestling and ground and pound. I'm picking Okami by decision.
Gerald Harris vs Mario Miranda
I think Miranda will have a tough time in his UFC debut taking down Harris with his wrestling background. Harris should have the better striking, so I'm picking him to win by TKO in the first round.
Charlie Brenneman vs Jason High
Both are tough wrestlers, so I think it'll be tough for either to take the other guy down. I think this puts the pressure on High, who likes the ground game more than Brenneman, who likes to strike.
Both fighters are making their UFC debut which is always tough, but High has more big promotion experience. So assuming Brenneman can handle the pressure, I'm picking him to win by KO in the first round.