UFC 91: Preview and Predictions

Derek BolenderSenior Analyst INovember 11, 2008

UFC 91 is set for Saturday, November 15th at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Headlining the card is Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Couture, which is arguably one of the most publicized fights in MMA history.  It is sure to be yet another great night of fights put on by the UFC.    



Main Card (Televised):

185 lbs. - Demian Maia (8-0 overall, 3-0 in UFC) vs.

Nate Quarry (10-2 overall, 5-1 in UFC)



Maia comes into this fight having won three straight “submission of the night” awards.  He has one of the best ground games in the world.  He is a former jiu-jitsu world champion, Pan American world champion, and ADCC Submission Wrestling world champion.  His stand up game is adequate but still raw.  Six of his eight victories are by way of submission and getting this fight to the ground will be crucial in this fight. 


Quarry, on the other hand, is probably best known for being on the receiving end of a straight left from Rich Franklin that left him briefly unconscious when he was competing for the middleweight championship back at UFC 56.  Since then he has recovered nicely and gone 2–0.  Quarry has the advantage on their feet where six of his ten victories are by way of knockout.  His striking is superior and he will be looking to keep this fight standing.  This is a classic striker vs. grappler matchup.   


I expect Maia to do what he always does.  He’ll be able to avoid any real damage on his feet and secure take-downs of Quarry on numerous occasions.  From that position he will be able to likely move into side control with relative ease and control Quarry’s movements on the ground in order to try numerous submission attempts.  Quarry has never been submitted in his entire MMA career, however, he has also never faced anyone who had a ground game in the same galaxy as Maia.  There is a first time for everything. 



Demian Maia via submission (Round 2)


265 lbs. - Gabriel Gonzaga (9-3 overall, 5 - 2 in UFC) vs.

Josh Hendricks (14-4, 0-0 in UFC)



This is a huge jump in competition for Hendricks who has never competed in the UFC or faced a current top 100 heavyweight in his entire career.  He is also 0–3 against three former UFC fighters in Sam Hogar, Travis Wiuff, and Tom Murphy. 


Hendricks will likely be in for a rude awakening as soon as the referee starts this fight.  This is not Gonzaga’s first rodeo.  He has been inside the octagon with some of the best heavyweights in the world in Mirko Cro Cop, Fabricio Werdum, and Randy Couture. 


He has superior power and strength to Hendricks and a world class jiu-jitsu game to boot.  This combination will simply be too much to overcome for Hendricks.  I expect this fight will go to the ground and it should happen immediately.  Look for Gonzaga to display some of his ground and pound skills and end this fight with relative ease.



Gabriel Gonzaga via TKO (Round 1)


185 lbs. - Amir Sadollah (1-0 overall, 1-0 in UFC) vs.

Nick Catone (5-0 overall, 0-0 in UFC)



Catone will be making his first trip inside the octagon.  He is the current Ring of Combat USKBA Middleweight Champion and just recently signed a multi-fight deal with the UFC.  He is riding a streak of five straight wins to start off his MMA career, however, he has only defeated one fighter (John Howard) with a winning record.  His strength is on the ground where he is a former NCAA division 1 wrestler and he has also achieved purple belt status in jiu-jitsu.    


Sadollah has just one fight in his MMA career under his belt.  It was a submission of C.B. Dollaway in June 2008 that crowned him the winner of The Ultimate Fighter season seven.  Since then he has been training locally at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas alongside some of the best MMA fighters in the world including Randy Couture, Martin Kampmann, Wanderlei Silva, and Forrest Griffin


Look for this fight to be a rather boring one taking place on the ground for the majority of the fight where both fighters are more comfortable.  I expect this fight to go the distance with Sadollah getting the better of the positioning and landing a few more shots on the ground to earn the decision.   



Amir Sadollah via unanimous decision (Round 3)


155 lbs. - Kenny Florian (10-3 overall, 8-2 in UFC) vs.

Joe Stevenson (29-8 overall, 6-2 in UFC)



Stevenson comes into this fight as a stepping stone for Florian who is simply biding time until he can get a rematch with Sean Sherk, who just defeated Tyson Griffin at UFC 90, for the no. 1 contender spot in the lightweight division.  If current champion BJ Penn defeats Georges St. Pierre for the welterweight championship he may be forced to vacate his lightweight belt if he cannot defend it in a timely manner.  That means a fight with Sherk could turn into a title match instead of a no. 1 contender match.


Either way he cannot overlook Stevenson who is a legitimate top tier lightweight contender.  He has also fought for the lightweight crown in the past losing a bloodbath to BJ Penn at UFC 80.  


Almost half (14) of Stevenson’s wins have come via submission and his black belt level jiu-jitsu skills give him the best chance to end a fight.  The only problem is that Florian’s jiu-jitsu is equal, if not more advanced that Stevensons.  This should result in a standup battle that is surely to be won by Florian who will likely slowly and cautiously pick him apart like he did to Roger Huerta at UFC 87.   



Kenny Florian via unanimous decision (Round 3)



Main Event:


265 lbs.–UFC Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture (16-8 overall, 13-5 in UFC) vs.

Brock Lesnar (2-1 overall, 1-1 in UFC)




This is certainly one of the most intriguing UFC fights of all-time pitting two of the most marketable fighters on the payroll against one another.  It pits the 45 year old champion and beloved hero versus the 31 year old up-and-coming star in the making. 


I think the biggest factor in this fight will be the physical superiority of Lesnar.  His size, strength, speed, and athleticism has never been seen before by Couture and cannot be easily simulated in the gym in training either. 


Couture’s success in the past has hinged on his ability to get in close, control his opponents in the clinch, and either dirty box or take his opponents down from that position.   


The problem is that Lesnar’s physical tools will not allow Couture to control his movements in the clinch.  Couture will likely be around 50 pounds lighter than Lesnar on fight night.  If he has no success in the clinch he will have to be opportunistic and shoot in for take-downs from outside, which will give Lesnar plenty of time to demonstrate his world class take down defense.


I expect Lesnar to use his physical tools to be able to take down Couture with relative ease numerous times in this fight.  He can essentially throw caution to the wind on the ground as well because we have never seen any real submission game from Couture who only has two career victories by submission. 


I also believe Lesnar will be able to finish Couture even though he wasn’t able to finish Heath Herring in his last fight after repeatedly taking him down.  Couture is not nearly the size of Herring and Lesnar’s punches will inflict much greater damage on Couture.     


Lesnar will overwhelm Couture and the torch will be passed.  We will have a new heavyweight champion come late Saturday evening. 



Brock Lesnar via TKO (Round 3)


Under Card (May Not Be Televised):


170 lbs.–Dustin Hazelett (11-4 overall, 4-2 in UFC) vs.

Tamdan McCrory (9-1 overall, 2-1 in UFC)


155 lbs.–Jorge Gurgel (12-4 overall, 3-3 in UFC) vs.

Aaron Riley (25 -10 -1 overall, 0-2 in UFC)


155 lbs.–Jeremy Stephens ( 13-3 overall, 2-2 in UFC) vs.

Rafael dos Anjos (11-2 overall, 0-0 in UFC)


155 lbs.–Alvin Robinson (9-3 overall, 1–2 in UFC) vs.

Mark Bocek (5-2 overall, 1–2 in UFC)


170 lbs.–Matt Brown (6-7 overall, 0–1 in UFC) vs.

Ryan Thomas (7-2 overall, 0-1 in UFC)








–"UFC Countdown" to UFC 91: Couture vs. Lesnar will be broadcasted November 10th on Spike TV at 11 p.m. (ET).  It will replay on Wednesday, November 13th at 12 a.m. (ET) and again on Saturday, November 15th at 6 p.m. (ET).


–Weigh ins are Friday, November 14th at 7 p.m. (ET) and will be at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.  They are free and open to the public.


–Weigh ins will be broadcast live online at UFC.com and ESPN.com at 7 p.m. (ET) via streaming video.







Derek Bolender covers mixed martial arts exclusively for TopGunMMA.  Send Derek a question, comment, or suggestion to dbeastbo@yahoo.com