George St-Pierre vs. Jake Shields
The champion is widely regarded as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the MMA world. He is the consensus best 170 lb. mixed martial artist on the planet. The scary thing about this man is that he constantly states how he wants to be the best of all time and he is further refining his training tactics and his skill set all of the time as well.
Many champions get to the top of the hill and they get lazy. Unfortunately for Jake Shields, St-Pierre is not that guy. He isn’t going to become stagnant and balloon up like the Quinton Jacksons or Anthony Johnsons of the fighting world. He is always in shape and his body is sharper because of it.
That being said, Jake Shields is no slouch. He is a tough challenge for any man. Shields was the winner of the famous 2006 Rumble on the Rock tournament, where he defeated Dave Menne, Yushin Okami and Carlos Condit to win the tournament. Since he has pieced together an amazing 15 straight victories, including winning the Strikeforce middleweight championship.
In his first fight back at welterweight and his first ever trip inside the Octagon, Jake Shields appeared to take a step back. He clearly had difficulty making the weight limit in his fight last October with Martin Kampmann. He looked drained and barely managed to escape with a split decision that many felt he did deserve. Jake has now had six good months to get more acclimated to making the weight limit so I don’t see that as being a problem.
The strength of Jake Shields is his wrestling. He does not have power in his standing strikes. However, he does have great takedowns, submissions and ground and pound offense. Still, Jake knows that GSP is not only better on the feet, but has great wrestling and ground skills as well.
Shields also is very aware of the elite sparring partners that St-Pierre goes against every day in camp. That is why Shields has decided to bring in other top notch wrestlers to help him prepare for the fight such as Chael Sonnen and Matt Lindland. Shields can also be seen training his striking, no one seriously thinks he has anywhere near the striking the Georges possesses.
I see Shields making it a fight for the early rounds, but he will be punished on the feet and overwhelmed by the strength, speed and diverse skill set of the champion. My pick is Georges St-Pierre by unanimous decision.
Jose Aldo vs. Mark Hominick
The co-main event of UFC 129 will be the first ever UFC featherweight championship bout. Since the UFC absorbed the WEC into its ranks in December, featherweight champion and pound-for-pound standout Jose Aldo has been sidelined with a shoulder injury. Aldo has won 11 fights in a row including two defenses of his WEC championship against world-class fighters Urijah Faber and Manny Gamburyan.
Mark Hominick is a top-notch fighter with serious power in his hands that has brought him knockout of the night wins. He is a young and hungry fighter who will have the pleasure of fighting in his home country of Canada.
Hominick is a tough fighter and is challenge for any man. Unfortunately, he is facing Aldo in his prime and Aldo is an absolutely viscious finisher. I see Aldo winning this fight by knockout or technical knockout inside of three rounds.
Jason Brilz vs. Vladimir Matyushenko
This is a battle between two seasoned veterans. Matyushenko was bounced from the UFC years ago, only to dominate in the IFL and eventually earn a return to the Octagon. Brilz is a veteran who has narrowly lost two UFC bouts, with many arguing that he should have won his fight with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
I see this one coming down to two factors: experience and better all-around skill set.
Matyushenko fits as the man with more experience and the better striking. Vladimir will win a hard fought fight that could be the fight of the night.
Randy Couture vs. Lyoto Machida
This may be the most intriguing matchup of the entire and it is relegated to the fourth spot. This light heavyweight fight may be the last fight of a great career and could be a career-defining moment for Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida.
Both of these men are former champions. Machida is a former UFC light heavyweight champion and Couture is a former light heavyweight champion, heavyweight champion, UFC tournament winner and UFC hall of famer.
It is a treat that two such legends are going to do battle in the Octagon. Fans all over the world are salivating at the chance to see this. It is a classic battle of the old savvy veteran squaring off against the younger man. This fight is a matchup of wrestler against karate champion, striker against grappler.
Couture has recently said that he plans to retire after this fight. He has been training hard to come out on top. Likewise, Machida will be doing the same.
Machida will be looking to rush Couture and land combinations and then maneuver out of takedown rang and repeat until the 47-year-old man wilts. Couture will be trying to do what he did to Brandon Vera and so many men before him. “The Natural” will want to avoid the heavy strikes of Machida, clinch him, press him against the cage and maul him until he breaks. The real question is who will be able to execute?
Since this will be his last fight, Couture will be even more motivated and will have a superb game plan. That is why I think that he will control, confuse and dirty box his way to a decision victory in what will most likely be his last fight in mixed martial arts. Whoever wins, it is a great bout for the sport and one that will draw in viewers from across the globe.
Mark Bocek vs. Ben Henderson
Henderson is the former WEC lightweight champion who has a chip on his shoulder. He and others believe the fight with Pettis was a lot closer than most people would think. Ben now trains with a purpose to prove that he is still a championship caliber fighter.
Bocek is a UFC vet of seven fights and nearly four years. He will be a very stiff test for Henderson.
Bocek is a solid wrestler and a durable guy against most foes, however in the UFC he has lost to all top level competition. My pick is Ben Henderson by first-round submission.
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