UFC 81: Preview and Predictions

Shawn SmithCorrespondent IJanuary 24, 2008

As a relative unknown to the mainstream MMA community, Kyle Bradley is making his UFC debut against MMA veteran Chris Lytle.

Although Bradley’s record is impressive it is hard to find many names on that list of well-known fighters besides Melvin Guillard, who he successfully defeated two times early in his career. This is Bradley’s chance to make a name for himself against a veteran of the sport.

Chris Lytle, on the other hand, is in need of wins if he ever wants to get a shot at the welterweight title. In his last four UFC fights he is 1-3 including a unanimous decision loss to Matt Hughes and a split decision loss to Matt Serra. In his last fight he was stopped against Thiago Alves.

For Kyle Bradley to win this fight, he will have to keep it on the feet and depend on his knockout power. Chris Lytle will look to take the fight to the ground early and keep it their for the duration of the fight. In the end, I don’t see Bradley being able to counter Lytle’s great ground game; he will end up tapping out.

Prediction: Chris Lytle by submission in the first.


Keita Nakemura (13-2-2) vs Rob Emerson (8-6-1)

Both men have had sketchy starts to their UFC careers. Nakemura has had two decision losses and Emerson had a no contest in his one fight. Both men are known for their great technical ground and, in my opinion, Nakemura will be able to control the mat. Emerson may want to keep this fight on his feet as his hands appear to be more effective than anything we’ve ever seen out of Nakemura.

It should be a close fight all the way, but I don’t see either of them being able to finish.

Prediction: Keita Nakemura by decision.


Marvin Eastman (13-7-1) vs Terry Martin (18-2-0)

Marvin Eastman’s UFC career has been anything but good. Although he has done well on the less prominent MMA circuit, he has yet to win in the UFC. He has victories over prominent fighters like Quinton Jackson and Vernon White, however these fights were almost eight years ago and don’t show the quality those two fighters have evolved into.

Terry Martin is still young like Eastman, but has had prominent wins over Ivan Salaverry and Jorge Rivera. In the end, I can’t see Eastman being able to keep up with the young Martin and he'll eventually be over powered.

Prediction: Terry Martin by KO in the third.


David Heath (7-2-0) vs Tim Boetsch (6-1-0)

This fight is very hard to call. Boetsch is coming in with more international experience, but Heath has more octagon experience. Both are well rounded fighters who could finish the other at any time. Because of familiarity alone I will have to choose Heath.

Prediction: David Heath by submission in the second.


Tyson Griffin (10-1-0) vs Gleison Tibau (15-4-0)

This fight is going to be wild. Every time we see Tyson Griffin enter the octagon it's an absolute slugfest and is almost always the fight of the night. Griffin is a slugger with decent ground skills where Tibau is known for his quality jiu-jitsu, but is also no slough on the feet.

This will be a battle of control. The man who can push the pace of this fight will dominate.

Although I expect a decision victory, this fight will not be boring. I think Tyson’s ground game will be good enough to prevent Tibau’s take down attempts, and when Tibau gets frustrated he will try to box it out with Griffin...which is never a good idea.

Prediction: Tyson Griffin by Decision


Alan Belcher (12-4-0) vs Ricardo Almeida (8-2-0)

Another very hard to call fight. Alan Belcher is a great up-and-coming fighter who, with a few more wins, could see himself in title contention. Almeida has a very impressive resume that includes wins over UFC veteran Eugene Jackson and rising Japanese star Rio Chonan, however his last fight was almost four years ago.

The question is: How much ring rust will Almeida have? And how hard has he trained for these fights?

Belcher stand’s almost four inches taller than Almeida so he will have a decisive reach advantage. Belcher does not, under any circumstances, want to get on the ground with Almeida. If he can keep it on his feet and use his size to keep the distance he should be able to pull out a victory.

Prediction: Alan Belcher by Decision


Jeremy Horn (79-16-5) vs Nate Marquardt (25-7-2)

This is the fight I am looking forward to most—two veterans of the octagon that both want to prove that they still have it. Horn has been in more fights than probably any other fighter in MMA history. In 2003 alone he had 10 fights. He has a very strong ground game that few have been able to conquer.

Marquardt is also a veteran with many impressive victories who is also known for a quality ground game. I don’t expect this fight to stay on the feet for more than a minute or two, and from there I expect it to be a ground chess match.

I hope for Horn’s sake that he takes this fight seriously and knows what Marquardt brings to the table. If Horn is on his game he should have no problem finishing Marquardt by submission.

Prediction: Jeremy Horn by submission in the first.


Frank Mir (10-3-0) vs Brock Lesnar (1-0-0)

This fight will have huge implications in the heavyweight division. I expect the winner to come out as either the No. 1 or No. 2 contender. Lesnar has massive strength and is a former NCAA wrestling champion, while Mir is a proven submission expert.

This is really the battle of the unknown. Nobody really knows how good Lesnar is. He has had one fight that lasted 1:09 against a really minuscule opponent who was put in there to lose. This gives Mir a disadvantage as he really has no idea what to expect.

On the other hand, Lesnar can watch many of Mir’s fights and know exactly what he's looking to do. With a weight difference of almost 30 lbs Lesnar may look to mount Mir and pound him into submission, but I think Mir is too good on the ground to let such a thing happen.

Lesnar will come in like a house of fire, but gas quickly and, when Lesnar is swinging stupidly, Mir will catch him in a submission and put all the UFC’s big plans for Lesnar in the toilet.

Prediction: Frank Mir by submission in the second.










Sorry big guy, I just don't see it happening!


Tim Sylvia (24-3-0) vs Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (30-4-1)

What a main event this is going to be! Both fighters come in with impressive resumes and both are coming off big wins. Tim Sylvia is known for using his stand up to minimize his opponent’s offence and pushing the pace of a fight until the end.

Nogueira is most known for his amazing ground skills and will look to use them in this fight. Although Sylvia has some ground credentials, if he tries it against Nogueira he will pay.

This will be your classic matchup of striker vs. grappler with whoever can establish themselves early being able to win. Although both are coming off wins, neither of them were impressive. If Nogueira does not have the urgency he used to in pride this fight will go to Sylvia, but if he can come in and storm Sylvia and take the big man down, he will be able to finish the monster and stop the UFC PRIDE streak.

Prediction: Antonio Nogueira by submission in the third.


There ya go, feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think!


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