UFC 133: Main Card Predictions and Insights
Hello, everybody! These will be my official picks for UFC 133: Evans vs. Davis, and I do hope you enjoy! Please note that none of the articles will be anywhere near this short!
It looks like it's going to be a great event, so remember to express your opinions on the event and my article in the comment section.
Rory MacDonald vs. Mike Pyle
Most would anticipate an easy victory for Rory MacDonald after his win over Nate Diaz at UFC 129, but people really shouldn't sleep on Mike Pyle.
When you look at Pyle's career, you see a plethora of submission wins, including a rear-naked choke win over Jon Fitch in 2002. Sure, it's been a very long time since that fight, but he remains to this day the only fighter ever to submit Fitch.
With wins over other fighters, including Shonie Carter, Dan Hornbuckle, John Hathaway, Ricardo Almeida and obviously Fitch, he isn't exactly a stepping stone.
As for MacDonald, to say he's been dominant is an understatement. The only loss of his career came against Carlos Condit (arguably top five in the welterweight division,) in a fight he was winning until he was knocked out.
MacDonald is the proud possessor of both King of the Cage Lightweight belts, for Canada and the U.S., respectively. He holds wins over fighters like Jordan Mein, Diaz and Mike Guymon. Based off his previous fights, he clearly hasn't fought at the competition level Pyle has, but despite this I believe he can win the fight.
Throughout his career, MacDonald has shown skill with submissions—more than half of his wins have come via submission. I believe that will negate Pyle's excellent submissions for the most part. Not to mention a number of Pyle's losses have come via submission, so I think it could very well end with him tapping out.
However, my official prediction will be a different type of finish. I foresee "Ares" doing what Jake Ellenberger did and getting the (T)KO win.
MacDonald defeats Pyle via second-round (T)KO.
Jorge Rivera vs. Alessio Sakara
Both of these fighters are among the lesser-known in the middleweight division, but both have shown quite a bit of talent. Despite their age gap, they're both exciting strikers with power, so this looks like it can be one hell of a fight.
Sakara's career has been a very impressive one, with a number of finishes. Eleven of his 15 wins have been by stoppage. If you count his boxing record, six of those eight wins were by stoppage as well. He isn't undefeated or anything, but I don't see any weaknesses he has compared to Rivera.
Speaking of Rivera, he has shown an affinity toward knocking people out as well. With 13 of his 19 wins coming by knockout, I think this fight has Knockout of the Night written all over it.
He doesn't have the best game in the world, but I seriously doubt he would win on the ground. Sakara is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, whereas Rivera is only a purple belt. Despite the fact that Sakara is almost guaranteed not to get a submission, he would have excellent defense against it.
That means this fight stays standing, and if I have to go with any stand-up vs. stand-up matchup, I'll almost always go with the one who has fought professionally in a striking-only sport. That's the reason I will take Sakara by knockout in the second round as well.
Sakara defeats Rivera via KO in the second round.
Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Vitor Belfort
To me, this is the fight I'm most excited for. It has so much to it.
Will "Sexiyama" fall to the dreaded three-loss streak and risk being let go by the UFC? Will Vitor Belfort rebound from his disappointing KO loss to Anderson Silva this year? There are so many questions surrounding this fight, I think it should have at least been the co-main event.
But anyway, to the fight preview. Belfort has a lengthy and storied career that has quite a lot of ups and downs over the years. He's never been able to keep a winning streak going long enough to maintain a belt. He's always had the talent, but injuries and inconsistency have hurt him. If he comes into this fight perfectly healthy and prepared, I think he might be Yoshihiro Akiyama's biggest test yet.
As for Akiyama, his career has been defined by excitement. He's never really been in a boring fight, and it's got a lot to do with his stellar chin. He can take a ton of damage before a fight is stopped, so it allows him to do whatever he wants, like use his world-class judo skills in the clinch.
He is also not a bad striker. He can dish out a lot of damage, and while he isn't the most technical striker in the world, he is still solid. He's obviously not on Belfort's level, but it's not as big of a mismatch as people have made it seem.
I think this fight really isn't as close as people make it seem. I have a feeling that since Belfort has had only one fight in two years (which was a loss), it's is going to affect him mentally. With less confidence, it'll only make this stylistic problem even worse.
Akiyama will be able to take Belfort down pretty much at will, I think, if he chooses to do so. From there, I think he'll pretty much just use ground and pound to either finish late or get the unanimous decision victory. Also, I expect this to be the Fight of the Night.
Akiyama defeats Belfort by unanimous decision.
Rich Franklin vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
This is a battle of two of my favorite light heavyweight fighters. They both come out to fight every time. While they aren't exactly in their primes anymore, they definitely aren't bad fighters either.
If you take a look at Rich Franklin's career, you can see how dominant he once was. At one point, he was 26-3, and he's had the middleweight title before. But since then he has alternated wins and losses in his last six fights, which really shows he is beginning to decline.
However, when you take a look at his skill set, you see a fighter who has the technique to continue fighting for years to come. His stand-up game is very technical and his power is underrated, especially considering 15 of his 28 wins have been by some form of knockout. His ground game has been proven, as he is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and holds 10 submission victories. Speaking of submissions...
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira is often thought of as one of the best Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in the world, along with his brother and the Gracies. Despite the preconception that he may get a lot of submissions, he only holds six submission wins in his 24 professional fights. This is not to say he isn't good, but I don't think there will be any submissions in this fight.
Nogueira has held a Super Heavyweight Championship belt in boxing in Brazil three separate time— twice in 2006 and once in 2007. Many consider him to be among the best boxers in the division due to his accomplishments in the boxing world.
But having said that...I believe Franklin will win this fight handily. He can defend anything Nogueira tries to bring, as far as submission go. His stand-up game is significantly more diverse than Nogueira's, so I could argue he's even better standing up in this fight. I see no reason why Franklin can't win this fight.
Franklin defeats Nogueira by unanimous decision.
Phil Davis vs. Rashad Evans
And here we go with the main event!
Based purely off of my picture selection, one can deduce I am not the biggest fan of Rashad Evans. However, my dislike of him does not influence my opinion of him as a fighter. As for his opponent, I am very high on him, but he remains only a prospect. And while undefeated, I think this just might be too much of a step up in competition.
People have a strong tendency to forget things. One of the best examples of this would be how everyone has forgotten just how good Rashad Evans is. In his entire career, his only loss is to Lyoto Machida. He has wins over fighters like Stephan Bonnar, Michael Bisping, Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin, Thiago Silva and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. I think that's quite a list of fighters to have beaten, no matter how you look at it.
His wrestling is among the best in the division, and his striking is very crisp. He also proved he has legitimate knockout power in his fists in his fights with Jason Lambert and Liddell. He is also a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, but I personally would say that was more of an "honorary" belt than an earned one.
As for Phil Davis, you have a very exciting fighter who is only matched athletically by Jon "Bones" Jones. His wrestling is arguably top three in the division, as he has taken fighters down consistently throughout his tenure with the UFC.
He also has very underrated defense, as he has never been taken down. Another aspect of his game that most consider to be a negative would be his striking, but he is only hit by 19 percent of the strikes sent his way, according to UFC.com. That is a pretty safe number, in my opinion.
His Jiu-Jitsu game is also stellar, especially for someone of his ranking (the second-lowest rank, a blue belt), as he has three submission wins in nine career fights.
I think this fight really comes down to who will have the better grappling. I feel like that is a wash, so I'd have no choice but to lean toward experience. That means, of course, Evans. He has out-grappled the likes of Silva and Jackson, and while they aren't the best on the ground in their division, they're significantly better than Davis' past fighters.
I trust Davis' chin and striking to keep him alive for the fight, but I'll say Evans gets this one.
Evans defeats Davis by unanimous decision.
Me posing with the Ring Girls in-cage at Tuff-N-Uff: Browning vs. Postma
Even if my picks may or may not be right, this looks like it's going to be one hell of a night of fights.
Thank you for reading my article. Please check out some of my past articles after leaving your opinion in the comments section below!