UFC 127: Penn vs. Fitch Predictions and Implications
The UFC is bringing another strong card to Sydney, Australia on Feb. 26, with many of these bouts having serious implications for the lightweight, welterweight and middleweight divisions.
The main card begins with a battle of two The Ultimate Fighter: Season 11 veterans in Kyle Noke (18-4) and Chris Camozzi (14-3).
At only 24 years old, Camozzi may very well have a bright future ahead of him, but the Greg Jackson trained Noke has finished his last two fights, one with a rear-naked choke and the other with strikes. His versatility, the fact that he's fighting at home and his superior camp should get him the win by unanimous decision.
Unfortunately, for everyone except Brian Ebersole (46-14-1), Carlos Condit (26-5) has dropped out of his bout with Chris Lytle (30-17-5). What would have been an amazing matchup that elevates the winner to welterweight contender status should now just be an easy victory for Lytle by whatever he wants.
Ebersole has won 11 of his last 12 fights, but Lytle will probably be too much for him. His ground game is slick, but he'll likely finish this fight by (T)KO.
The lightweight division is looking awfully stacked these days and expect the winner of George Sotiropoulos (14-2) and Dennis Siver (17-7) to be asking for a title shot soon. Although Siver is known for his excellent kickboxing and has shown some improvement on the ground, Sotiropoulos is on a tear.
The 10th Planet jiu-jitsu-trained fighter has some of the best BJJ in MMA. In addition, his striking has been improving dramatically. I expect Sotiropoulos to do well with Siver on the feet until he can get this fight to the ground and finish by submission.
Jorge Rivera (19-7) has been given a great opportunity in his middleweight matchup with Michael Bisping (20-3). A win will propel him high into the rankings, and at 38 years old his time is now.
The charismatic Rivera has mocked Bisping's lack of punching power and his decision wins, but "The Count" is a very technical striker who should be hungry to get back to someone he considers "worthy" of fighting him. This bout will probably spend three rounds on the feet with Bisping winning a unanimous decision.
Finally, the main event is an extremely exciting fight between Jon Fitch (23-3, 1 NC) and B.J. Penn (16-7). This fight could very well determine the next welterweight champion of the UFC, particularly if Georges St-Pierre moves up to the middleweight division.
Penn and Fitch are two guys who have consistently been ranked in the top three of their division and in the top 10 pound-for-pound.
"The Prodigy" is one of the greatest ever. He has a granite chin, knockout power, an amazing ground game, ridiculous flexibility, improved cardio and has held belts at both the lightweight and welterweight division.
Penn will fight anyone. He'd probably take on Cain Velasquez if Dana White asked him to, but he's fighting outside of his proper weight class where he hasn't had much success.
Fitch is the definition of gritty. He has been ranked second in the division for several years with his only loss in his last 21 fights coming to GSP. Although he has never held a belt, he is one of the most dominant fighters in the history of the UFC.
This fight not only affects the welterweight division, but the legacy of both of these fighters.
With that being said, Fitch is the larger, stronger fighter and the much better wrestler. I expect him to use this to grind out another decision victory and make him the No. 1 contender.
If he could manage to finish Penn, he'd probably get a title shot before he could walk out of the Octagon.
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