UFC 129 Preview: Georges St. Pierre Vs. Jake Shields, All Main Card Predictions
The countdown begins as we have a little more than a week left until the UFC invades Toronto for the first time.
There will be close to 60,000 screaming mixed martial arts fans on hand to witness what on paper looks to be a fantastic card full of exciting match-ups.
Hometown hero and UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre will defend his title against Jake Shields in what could be an all out ground war between two superb grapplers.
Another Canadian will be in a high profile bout as Mark Hominick will battle UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo. Two Canadians in title bouts in front of all the rabid MMA fans from up north should lend to the excitement.
In what may be the last time we see Randy Couture grace us with his presence inside the Octagon, the 47-year-old wonder will take on a dangerous and quite possibly desperate Lyoto Machida in a light heavyweight match-up.
Former WEC Lightweight Champion Ben Henderson will make his UFC debut against the always tough Mark Bocek. The American Top Team-trained Bocek will look to make Henderson's entry into the UFC a rough one.
Last but not least is a light heavyweight showdown between Jason Brilz and Vladimir Matyushenko.
Personally I would have thought the Nate Diaz-Rory MacDonald bout would have made more sense for the main card, but at least we will get to see it on Spike.
Five bouts, five predictions, how many will I get right? I think I may start keeping track.
UFC 129 Light Heavyweight Bout: Jason Brilz vs. Vladimir Matyushenko
Matyushenko is 3-1 since he returned to the UFC in September of 2009 at UFC 103. His lone loss came against Jon Jones in the main event of the second UFC on Versus card.
Jones took the Janitor down and landed a ton of unanswered elbows before the referee stopped the bout at 1:52 of the first round.
Brilz is 3-2 since making his debut in the UFC in September of 2008 against Brad Morris. One of those losses came against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 114. The end result was a split decision, but many fans and Dana White himself felt as though Brilz won that fight.
Both men come from a wrestling background and have the ability to end the fight with their hands or on the ground.
Brilz has gone to the judges scorecards in four of his five bouts in the UFC while Matyushenko has finished one bout against Alexandre Ferreira via TKO, been TKO'ed by Jones and won by decision twice.
Matyushenko has the experience, but at 40 years of age you have to wonder what he has left in the tank. Brilz is no spring chicken at 35 and hasn't faced the caliber of opponents Vlad has.faced in his career. When you have two wrestlers face off you can usually expect a battle on the feet.
This one is tough to call as I see no real clear cut advantage for either fighter. I liked what I saw from Brilz against Lil Nog and I haven't been impressed with Matyushenko since he returned to the UFC. I think I am going to go with the younger fighter here.
Jason Brilz via unanimous decision.
UFC 129 Lightweight Bout: Mark Bocek vs. Ben Henderson
This will be the 10th bout for Bocek in the UFC. During his time inside the Octagon he has amassed a record of 5-3 with victories over a list of middle of the road lightweights.
Two of his three losses have come to UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar and Jim Miller while his third loss came at the hands of Mac Danzig.
Another interesting note about Bocek is that this will be his fifth time fighting on the same card as GSP. In those events he has gone 2-2.
He is coming off a submission win over Dustin Hazelett at UFC 124 last December. There is no doubting his grappling skills, but it seems when the UFC ups the ante, Bocek can't come through with a win.
Henderson was involved in one of the most exciting bouts in all of 2009. Although he lost a hotly contested bout and the WEC Lightweight Championship to Anthony Pettis last December, he once again showed why he is a fighter to be taken seriously.
He has a lot of potential and could make a big impact in the UFC lightweight division.
Henderson has an impressive 12-2 record with wins over former WEC Lightweight Champion Jamie Varner, Donald Cerrone (2X) and Shane Roller.
He has very good chokes including a very strong guillotine that he used against Varner and Cerrone.. He has finished Half of his wins have come by either the rear naked choke or the guillotine.
WIth Bocek being such a high level BJJ practicioner it is highly doubtful Henderson will be able to choke him out. I give Henderson the edge in stand-up and he works very well off of his back as evidenced in his first bout with Cerrone where he fought off numerous submission attempts.
This bout will come down to who scores more points with their striking and if Henderson can stop Bocek's takedown attempts.
I think Henderson will be able to do just enough to defeat the tough veteran and make his UFC debut a successful one.
Ben Henderson via unanimous decision.
UFC Light Heavyweight Bout: Randy Couture vs. Lyoto Machida
It wasn't long ago that Joe Rogan was declaring it "The Machida Era," in fact it was just two short years ago when Machida dominated and disposed of the then undefeated, reigning UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans.
He needed less than two rounds to put the Team Jackson fighter on queer street. It was a dominating performance that was to be the beginning of a long and storied career.
Here we are two years and two losses later and people are questioning whether or not this is a must win situation for the Karate and BJJ black belt. After his defeated Evans he would defend his title once in very controversial fashion against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC 104 in a fight many felt he had lossed.
Rua gained his revenge and the light heavyweight title seven months later at UFC 113 when he knocked Machida out in the first round.
Up next was a showdown with another former champion in Rampage Jackson at UFC 123. This time Machida was on the wrong end of a controversial decision as he lost via split decision and had now suffered two straight losses.
Enter "The Natural" a freak of nature in every way, shape or form. At 47-years-old Couture is stepping into the Octagon once again to test himself against one of the very best the UFC has to offer.
Captain America has won his last three bouts with wins over Mark Coleman, Brandon Vera and former boxing champion James Toney.
Couture is not only a highly trained athlete he is also one of the very best when it comes to drawing up and implementing a game plan. We all know where his best shot at winning this bout lies, against the fence where he can wear Machida down with some dirty boxing.
He will try and take "The Dragon" down, but I am not sure how successful he will be when doing so.
Each man has his own reasons for wanting to win. For Couture it's an opportunity for him to either end his career with another big win as the underdog or a chance for him to make some noise and possibly line himself up for one last run at the light heavyweight title he has held on two previous occasions.
Machida wants this win to stop the bleeding and to prove that he is the fighter that many thought would be the kingpin of the 205lb division for the next few years. Machida is hungry and quite possibly very desperate.
When a fighter gets desperate they either put on the fight of their life or they make a mistake and wind up losing another bout.
I would love to see Couture win and hang up his gloves once and for all. What better way to go out than to have beaten a former champion in front of 60,000 fans?
Machida for all intents and purposes could have just hit a rough patch, maybe he had some nagging injuries or maybe fighters need to lose once in awhile to remember what got them to the dance to begin with.
What I want to happen and what I think will happen are two totally different things. I believe Machida will prove to be too elusive for Couture and will eventually impose his will upon the graceful former two division champion.
Lyoto Machida via 2nd round TKO.
Thanks for the memories Randy, you will never be forgotten!
UFC Featherweight Championship: Jose Aldo (Champ) vs Mark Hominick (Challenger)
Jose Aldo makes his long awaited debut in the UFC and his first defense of the UFC Featherweight Championship.
Aldo has been a terror ever since joining the WEC in June of 2008. He is an astonishing 8-0 with seven of those wins coming by way of KO/TKO. His possesses great hand speed and his striking is crisp and powerful.
He also has a nasty Muay Thai skillset that left Urijah Faber's legs all different shades of colors for weeks after their bout in April of last year. What we have yet to see is any form of ground game from Aldo.
What we hear is that his BJJ is just as good if not better than his striking. That is one hell of a scary thought for his opponents to have to deal with.
An injury to his neck postponed his UFC debut and also changed his opponent as Josh Grispi lost to Dustin Poirer at UFC 125 causing Hominick's bout against George Roop at UFC Fight Night 23 to become a top contenders bout. Hominick stopped Roop via punches in the first round and earned a shot at the title.
Hominick trains under Shawn Tompkins at The Adrenaline Training Center in Ontario, Canada. To say he has the home field advantage is a complete understatement.
"The Machine" as Hominick is called due to his relentless style, utilizes a strong kickboxing background as well as some Muay Thai to win the majority of his bouts.
He has won his last five bouts since losing to Grispi at WEC 32 in February of 2008. Don't sleep on his ground game as he has six wins by way of submission.
While it is nice to fight in front of your hometown fans it may be a detriment as there tends to be a ton of pressure on you to perform. Hominick needs to be able to drown that out and concentrate on the task at hand.
Expect this fight to remain standing as both fighters like to trade punches. Hominick has only been knocked out once and that was caused by a slam not a punch.
With that being said, it is my belief that Aldo is just on another level. That is no mark against Hominick it is just my way of saying that Aldo is an incredible fighter. Look for him to defend his title for the third time.
Jose Aldo via 2nd round KO.
UFC WW Championship: Georges St. Pierre (Champ) vs Jake Shields (Challenger)
Jake Shields has made a career of bucking the odds and winning fights he wasn't supposed to. How many other fighters can you name have won 15 fights in a row and has won four title in four different organizations?
Along the way he has defeated Dan Henderson, Robbie Lawler, Paul Daley, Carlos Condit, Mike Pyle, Nick Thompson, Jason Miller and Yushin Okami.
What Shields lacks in the striking department he makes up for with his grappling and jiu-jitsu. He out-wrestled Henderson who had a decided size advantage and was a former Greco-Roman Olympic wrestler.
He showed a tremendous amount of heart after being knocked silly by a crushing Henderson right hand in the first round. He recovered and went on to dominate the next four rounds.
St. Pierre is one of the newer breed of mixed martial artists who not only excels in many different areas, but uses state of the art training to increase his strength, speed and stamina. The man just doesn't know the meaning of the word quit. He will practice until he gets everything done properly.
Shields isn't the only one who has been on a tear. GSP has won eight fights in a row and an amazing 30 straight rounds. He has been given the most 10-8 rounds than any other UFC fighter and has done this while fighting the absolute best mixed martial artists in a row.
His victims include BJ Penn (2X), Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck, Matt Hughes (2x), Matt Serra, Dan Hardy, Thiago Alves, Sean Sherk, Jason Miller and Frank Trigg.
GSP has also developed into quite possibly the best wrestler in the UFC while having no formal background in the sport. He has become so good that there was talk of him taking time off to try out for 2012 Canadian Olympic team. He is a superb athlete than can beat you anywhere the fight goes. A BJJ blackbelt himself, St. Pierre will be at a disadvantage in that area against Shields.
St. Pierre much like Shields rises to the occasion, when Koscheck challenged him to stand and trade with him, St. Pierre broke his orbital bone by jabbing The Blond Bomber for 25 straight minutes. Shields has very weak stand-up and will look to get the fight to the ground as early and as often as possible.
I think this will be a very competitive bout that will cater to the fans who love watching a good battle on the ground. A lot of take-downs, submission attempts and reversals will be seen next Saturday.
Shields will prove to be very game and he will show that he is definitely worthy of being a top contender in the UFC, but someone's winning streak has to end on April 30. When Shields wakes up on Sunday morning he will have an L next to his name for the first time in six years.
Georges St. Pierre via 4th round TKO.