Tonight is Ultimate Fight Night 22: Marquardt vs. Palhares.
This card is highlighted by a bout between former middleweight top contender Nate "The Great" Marquardt, and the scary Brazilian, Rousimar "Toquinho" Palhares.
The other main card bouts all feature lightweight fighters:
-Efrain Escudero* vs. Charles Oliveira
-Jim Miller vs. Gleison Tibau
-Ross Pearson vs. Cole Miller.
Escudero weighed in at 159 lbs.
So without further ado, my quick picks for Fight Night 22.
(All UFN 22 weigh-in pics courtesy of combatlifestyle.com)
This fight features two lightweights who are alumni of the Ultimate Fighter. Miller competed in Season 5, losing to Joe Lauzon in the quarterfinals, while Pearson was the lightweight winner in Season 9.
Both of these lightweights are coming off wins, and the winner here should really propel himself in to the title contention picture.
Pearson (14-3, 3-0 UFC) is coming off a Unanimous Decision over Dennis Siver at Fight Night 21, a fight that earned both fighters Fight of the Night.
Miller (20-4, 5-2 UFC) beat Dan Lauzon by a combination triangle-choke/inverted kimura at UFC 108, a submission which earned him Submission of the Night.
Both fighters have shown an array of finishing skills, but I like Pearson in this bout. Miller certainly has the advantage on the ground, but Pearson is more technical and precise with his striking, and should have the skills and the gameplan to avoid being submitted by Miller.
Pearson via Unanimous Decision.
The next fight on the undercard features UFC veterans Jim Miller and Gleason Tibau.
Miller (17-2, 6-1 UFC) defeated Mark Bocek by Unanimous Decision at UFC 111, a fight that many people though Bocek deserved to win. Regardless, he has proven tough to beat, and impossible to finish, as his only two losses are decision losses to current UFC lightweight champion Frank Edgar and current #1 contender Gray Maynard.
Tibau (21-6, 7-4 UFC) defeated Caol Uno at UFN 21, winning by TKO just 4:13 in to the fight. He has only been finished three times in his career, and only by Nick Diaz and Joe Stevenson in the UFC. Making 155 has never been easy for Tibau, though he weighed in at 154 on Tuesday- perhaps to prove a point. He is one of the largest lighweights in the UFC, having weighed in the neighborhood of 180 pounds come the fight.
This fight is tough to call, but I'm taking Tibau. Miller has never really impressed me with his striking. He does have a good wrestling background, but Tibau has slick BJJ. Given that and his power advantage, along with Miller being impossible to finish, I'm left with this:
Tibau via Unanimous Decision.
The co-main event of the evening features the lightweight winner of Season 8 of The Ultimate Fighter, Efrain Escudero fighting Brazilian sensation Charles Oliveira.
Escudero (13-1, 3-1 UFC) suffered his first career loss at UFN 20 to Evan Dunham, but rebounded at UFC 114, defeating Dan Lauzon by a Unanimous Decision. Escudero has a strong wrestling background but has solid submissions to supplement his wrestling.
Oliveira (13-0, 1-0 UFC) made his UFC debut at UFC Live: Jones vs. Matyushenko, defeating Darren Elkins by armbar just 41 seconds in to the bout. Oliveira has shown to be flexible in his ways of winning, winning by several different types of submissions and (T)KOs.
I've never been one to get too hyped about prospects like Oliveira who never fought outside of their own country before making their UFC debut, but Oliveira is legit. Escudero has tremendous wrestling, but Oliveira's skills off his back are undeniable. On top of that, Escudero came in at 159 pounds, so he could be extremely depleted. His only loss is also by submission as well, so I have to go with the young Brazilian in this fight.
Oliveira via Submission, 2nd Round.
Tonight's main event features two middleweight contenders, Nate Marquardt and Rousimar Palhares.
Marquardt (29-9-2, 8-3 UFC) lost a top contender fight to Chael Sonnen at UFC 109. Sonnen dominated Marquardt for three rounds with wrestling and ground-and-pound. Nate is a former middleweight King of Pancrase, and has proven to be one of the toughest, most well-rounded middleweight fighters in the UFC. He gained a title shot in 2007, but was disposed of by Anderson Silva in the first round.
Palhares (11-2. 4-1 UFC) defeated Tomasz Drwal by submission due to a heel hook at UFC 111. Palhares was subsequently suspended for 90 days by the UFC for holding on to the submission for what they deemed to be too long (if anyone else remembers Joe Rogan quickly counting 1-2-3-4-5 while the video showed the heel hook in slow motion) after Drwal tapped. Regardless, Palhares is a scary fight for anyone in the middleweight division, a brutally strong fighter with great submissions, most notably his vicious heel hooks. He's Thales Leites with balls and Demian Maia with an iron chin, his only loss in the UFC being a decision loss to Dan Henderson in which he took many hard shots, but stayed in the fight.
In my upset pick of the night, I'm taking Palhares in this bout. Nate has serious power and serious jiu-jitsu skills of his own, but if Palhares gets the right position, nothing but tapping is going to get Palhares to stop trying to rip Marquardt's leg off.
Palhares via Submission, Round 2.
Thanks for reading my article, given that I'm submitting it just a couple hours before the fights. I'll be sure to post an article or two about UFC 119 by the end of the weekend.