A preview of UFC 135? Really?
I know, I know, be still your beating hearts. Anticipation, excitement—it's alright.
I mean, it's not as though there are a million previews of this card already, are there?
Besides, I have a short attention span, so it will be main-card predictions only and........................
oooh piece of candy......................I apologize.
In any case, to continue the promotion of the great sport of mixed martial arts, I toss my two cents into the cage.
Luckily with this sport, anything can happen, so even if my predictions are horribly off, I can pass blame elsewhere.
Unfortunately, for my 10 readers, your bookies will not accept that as an excuse. You have been summarily warned.
Now, on with the show—err, preview......................
oooh piece of candy.
Ben Rothwell (31-7) vs Mark Hunt (6-7)
I'm going out on a limb here and saying this one doesn't get out of the first round.
I can go out even further and say it really only has two possible outcomes: Either Rothwell gets the takedown and submits Hunt, or Hunt keeps it standing and blasts Rothwell back to Wisconsin. I'm a fan of Hunt, but the former is more likely to happen than the latter.
Rothwell is a tweener. Better than a gatekeeper, but not quite champion material.
The UFC needs to match Hunt with a pure striker to maximize his skill set. Rothwell is not likely to oblige a standup war with the heavy-handed New Zealander.
While Hunt is obviously the better of the two in terms of pure striking (He was the 2001 K-1 Grand Prix Champion.), Rothwell is a solid striker in his own right. Plus, Hunt isn't likely to take the fight to the ground, but Rothwell is, and that will make Rothwell even more effective on his feet.
That being said, Mark Hunt is arguably the worst guy in the sport to try and trade with. He's virtually impossible to knock out, and he hits like the Super C (or the spread gun if you thought that was a Contra analogy).
Rothwell is good, Hunt is better.
Edge: Mark Hunt
Rothwell is a good wrestler, Hunt is not. This is where Big Ben has a huge advantage.
Rothwell is no submission artist, but he can use them.
Hunt has improved dramatically in this department, but his submissions are below average on a good day.
Rothwell by submission Round 1.
Nick Diaz (13-7) vs Takanori Gomi (32-7)
The younger of the Diaz siblings, big brother Nick is better, but Nate is no slouch.
While I don't forsee it happening due to the presence of Georges St. Pierre, wouldn't it be funny to see these guys lock down 170, ala the Klitschkos?
Why did I even mention the other Diaz you ask? Because he beat Gomi in 2007. Yes, it was overturned to a no contest after it was found out that Nick likes the ganja, but he still "won" that fight.
Gomi, on the other hand, is on the downside of a fantastic career.
One of the greatest lightweights of all time, Gomi has had and up-and-down UFC career so far.
It's hard to determine if he's completely done, though, due to the ring-to-cage acclimation, as well as the competition he's faced since he's been in the UFC.
Diaz is becoming a better and better striker every day. His long, lanky frame is perfect for high-volume punching/jabbing and keeping an opposing fighter off his game plan.
That pesky jab won't save him if he gets into a prolonged striking war. His granite chin most likely won't either as Gomi can end anyone's night with one left hand.
Originally a submission grappler, Gomi is a lot like Dan Henderson in that his wrestling has taken a backseat to his KO hand.
His KO hand you ask? With all apologies to The Young Assassin, it's the best in the division.
His wrestling? When he falls back on it. It's pretty good as well.
Nate Dogg trains at Cesar Gracie Jiu Jitsu. Need I say anymore?
Diaz by second-round submission but only after Gomi gasses and has put him on his arse at least once.
Travis Browne (11-0-1) vs Rob Broughton (15-5-1)
Travis Browne leveled Stevan Struve. That doesn't seem significant, but Struve has a helluva chin on him. He'll also figure out his range at some point and take home a belt. Book it. The kid is only 23 and you cannot teach 6'11". Struve + Golden Glory (think about it) = scary.
On that note, Browne, who beat Struve, is a prospect on the rise, and Broughton is supposed to be his sacrificial lamb.
Broughton is a gatekeeper, but he's not a step back from Struve like some people are claiming. Struve is a major work in progress. Broughton is more experienced and will use his talents correctly on the big stage.
I like this fight more than most.
Browne is a pain bringer. Broughton can take a punch and hits hard, but Browne will check anyone's chin.
Browne's wrestling is improving, but Broughton's is a couple of steps above at this stage in their fight careers. Browne has the takedown defense to keep it standing, but Broughton has a solid ground game.
Travis Browne has one victory by submission. Rob Broughton? Five.
Browne by Unanimous decision in a fight that's tougher for the prospect than it looks on paper.
Matt Hughes (45-8) vs Josh Koscheck (15-5)
The most accomplished welterweight in the history of the sport and a colossal jerk taking on the most accomplished collegiate wrestler in the history of the UFC and a colossal jerk.
Tell me God doesn't have a fantastic sense of humor (although motivational speaker Diego Sanchez would have been fun, too).
Hughes's glory days are behind him, but what glory days they were. Unfortunately, he has to fight version 2.5 of himself.
Koscheck is the Rich Franklin of the welterweight division; he'll knock off No.3, but he'll never be No.1.
Kos is as athletically gifted as anyone to ever step in the octagon, but he can't seem to put all his talent together at the same time.
If he does, he'll beat everyone not named Georges St. Pierre, you know, like he does already.
Koscheck has a huge advantage here, especially in the power department. Hughes' striking has leveled out at serviceable.
Hughes is a fantastic wrestler, and Koscheck will be hard pressed to take him down. However, as we sit today, I'll give an advantage to Koscheck.
Like I said earlier, he's Hughes 2.5.
Matt Hughes has a very underrated submission game. Koscheck has never shown a real desire to pick the skill up.
Koscheck by standing knockout in the second round of a fight that ends Matt Hughes's illustrious career.
Jon Jones (13-1-0) vs Quinton Jackson (32-8)
Jon Jones is the next step in the evolution of the mixed martial artist. He's more physically gifted than almost anyone that's ever stepped into the octagon.
Someday, people will be debating whether or not he could have beaten a prime Fedor (which I'm dreading but will be a discussion topic).
The scary thing is, he's only 24. The kid is the future as well as the present.
Jackson, on the other hand, represents the old guard, those guys that put this sport on the map.
He's also enigmatic.
Much in the vein of Vitor Belfort and CroCop, you never know which Rampage will show up.
If a real motivated, I-want-my-belt-back Quinton comes to play, Jonny might be in for a long night.
Digging into my inner geekiness, I'll quote the cover of Fantastic Four issue No. 112: "Hulk vs Thing" (Jones vs Jackson)—'nuff said.
Power goes to Rampage by a pretty wide margin, and his boxing is some of the best in the UFC.
Jones, however, has shown he knows how to use his range as well as anyone. He's never going to be a one-hitter-quitter guy, but he'll end fights by volume punching.
As crazy as this seems, I'm going with Bones.
Edge: Jones (although, I waffled back and forth on this one for a while)
Jones would have been a multiple-time NCAA champion had he gone that route. Rampage is probably the strongest fighter in the LHW division.
Jones's wrestling versus Rampage's strength.
Edge: Rampage, but just barely
Neither fighter is submission oriented.
Jones seems to be picking that part of his game up quickly like everything else he does, so I'll go with him on that route. This fight won't end with a D'arce choke.
Jackson has the skill set to win this, but he won't. Jones by unanimous decision in his hardest fight to date.