UFC 137 Insights, Analysis and Predictions of the Entire Card
UFC 137 comes to you live from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada this Saturday, October 29.
With the main event seemingly changing with the tides, Georges St. Pierre recently pulled himself off the card citing a knee injury.
Moving into the main event will be a welterweight matchup between disgruntled Nick Diaz and UFC veteran, BJ Penn.
Matt Mitrione squares off in his toughest challenge to date as he enters the Octagon against the hard-hitting and skilled kickboxing veteran Cheick Kongo.
Mirko Cro Cop will attempt to provide the thick-skulled Roy Nelson with his first knockout defeat as the two heavyweights square off inside the cage.
In featherweight action, Hatsu Hioki will battle George Roop. Rounding off the main card will be a very exciting lightweight bout between stand-up specialists Dennis Siver and Donald Cerrone.
Please follow along as I provide analysis, insights and predictions for all the fights on the card at UFC 137.
Facebook Fight No. 1: Chris Camozzi vs. Francis Carmont
Kicking off the action at the Mandalay Bay Events Center will be a middleweight bout featured on Facebook between Chris "Kamikaze" Camozzi and Francis "Limitless" Carmont.
Camozzi is a Muay-thai specialist sporting a 15-4 overall MMA record. 2-1 under the UFC banner, Camozzi recently defeated veteran Joey Villasenor in the Shark Fights promotion.
Known for his striking prowess, Camozzi has landed 72 percent of his strikes from his feet. A threat to knock out his opposition, "Kamikaze" will be looking to make Carmont his fifth knockout victim.
Carmont is riding a successful five-fight win streak, all by stoppage, outside of the UFC. Making his debut in the famed Octagon, this Frenchman possesses an overall MMA record of 16-7.
Looking to weather any Octagon jitters during his debut, "Limitless," will want to keep this fight standing and earn a (T)KO victory.
Camozzi has avoided 59 perent of the total strikes attempted by his opponents. Carmont is a solid stand-up striker, training with the likes of Georges St. Pierre at the Tristar gym in Montreal.
The sparring work developed at Tristar is second-to-none and excellent strikers are manufactured at this camp.
"Limitless" will be provided his opportunity to shine on the sport's biggest stage this Saturday and he will not disappoint.
This excellent middleweight bout will be a back-and-forth affair. Carmont's training camp will provide the Frenchman the advantage in the end.
Carmont will secure his first UFC victory with his sixth successive win inside the cage.
Winner: Francis Carmont via unanimous decision victory
Facebook Fight No. 2: Ramsey Nijem vs. Danny Downes
In lightweight action, Ramsey Nijem will battle Danny Downes.
Nijem was runner-up on The Ultimate Fighter: Team Lesnar vs. Team dos Santos, losing in the final fight to Tony Ferguson after being caught in the first round by a vicious left hook.
Overall, Nijem has compiled a professional record of 5-2.
More of a submission specialist than a stand-up striker, Nijem is continually developing his overall fight game to remain balanced inside the Octagon.
Like Nijem, Downes is also 0-1 under the UFC banner.
A veteran of the King of the Cage and Gladiator Challenge promotions, Downes has competed against excellent competition including Chris Horodecki and Bruce Johnson.
Balanced in his skill set, Downes does not excel at any one aspect of the fight game.
Both competitors are relatively green with their overall skills. Nijem holds an advantage in the striking department and is blessed with a solid chin and good cardiovascular conditioning.
Downes, however, is better versed on the ground and can secure submission victories off his back.
Nijem's striking prowess will prove to be too much for Downes to overcome. Enduring a three-round fight, Downes will earn his second defeat inside the Octagon.
Winner: Ramsey Nijem via unanimous decision victory
Facebook Fight No. 3: Brandon Vera vs. Eliot Marshall
The evening's first light heavyweight bout features the UFC veteran Brandon "The Truth" Vera stepping into the Octagon against Eliot "The Fire" Marshall.
Vera's decline in the UFC has been ominous. Storming onto the promotion's front page after victories over heavyweight competitors Frank Mir and Assuerio Silva back in 2006, Vera's prominence inside the cage has taken a turn for the worse.
He has three consecutive losses in the light heavyweight division to Jon Jones, Randy Couture and Thiago Silva [later overturned when Silva falsified his urine sample].
Clearly "The Truth" needs a victory this Saturday to remain employed by Dana White and the UFC.
This victory for Vera will not come easily. Looking to send "The Truth" packing with a pink slip is the talented Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Marshall.
With a 10-3 overall MMA record, "The Fire" has secured a 3-2 UFC record with hard fought matchups against Vladimir Matyushenko and Luiz Cane.
Earning five submission victories, Marshall excels off his back and within the grappling transitions.
Exposed for his limited stand-up striking in his knockout defeat against Cane, Vera will want to replicate Cane's game plan and keep this fight standing.
Utilizing his Muay-thai background to dominate Marshall on his feet, Vera will have a distinct advantage in the exchanges.
Very talented on the ground as well, "The Truth" is well-equipped to defend Marshall's submission attack.
A back-and-forth matchup, Vera will secure a victory in this light heavyweight duel by controlling the tempo in the stand-up striking and defending any attempt by Marshall of securing a tap out victory.
Winner: Brandon Vera via round 3 TKO
Facebook Fight No. 4: Brad Tavares vs. Dustin Jacoby
The final preliminary Facebook fight features a middleweight contest between Brad Tavares and Justin Jacoby.
Brad Tavares is quickly becoming known for his toughness, solid chin, excellent wrestling ability and Octagon aggression. With raw punching power, Tavares possesses four knock out victories in his eight wins inside the cage.
Landing 43 percent of the strikes from his feet, Tavares is balancing out his wrestling pedigree with an ever-evolving stand-up game.
Making his Octagon debut this Saturday in Las Vegas, Jacoby sports an undefeated 6-0 professional MMA record.
Jacoby, a former collegiate football player, stands a hefty 6'4" and has earned five knockout defeats in his six career victories.
A potential Knockout of the Night recipient could come from this middleweight contest. Both competitors are excellent strikers and both have savage power.
Tavares's wrestling pedigree will be the difference in this matchup. Taking the tall and lethal Jacoby to the mat and delivering brutal ground-and-pound will provide Tavares the edge in this thrilling fight.
Winner: Brad Tavares via round 3 (T)KO
Spike TV Fight No. 1: Tyson Griffin vs. Bart Palaszewski
Live on Spike TV, Tyson Griffin will challenge the WEC veteran Bart "Bartimus" Palaszewski in a featherweight matchup.
Griffin possesses a 15-5 overall MMA record. However, the seasoned UFC veteran was on a three-fight losing streak prompting his committal to the featherweight division.
Defeating Manvel Gamburyan in May, Griffin will want to keep his momentum rolling when he enters the Octagon against "Bartimus."
Palaszewski has an astounding 49 professional fights to his credit. Surprisingly making his UFC debut this Saturday, the boxing and jiu-jitsu specialist will want to add Griffin's name to his list of 35 victories.
Griffin is an aggressive competitor on his feet, always looking for the take-down. Successful in 45 percent of his take down attempts, Griffin's strategy of delivering ground-and-pound on his opposition will remain the same against Palaszewski.
Needing to cover the distance in the stand-up exchanges, Griffin will utilize Randy Couture's strategy of driving "Bartimus" up against the cage, working some dirty boxing and then dropping levels for the take down.
Palaszewski is an excellent striker with 16 knockout victories. Hampered with his take down defense, "Bartimus" will need to stay at arm's length to keep this matchup on their feet.
If the fight does go to the ground, Palaszewski's black belt in jiu-jitsu and 11 submission victories will provide the Polish fighter with a potential submission threat on the mat.
In the end, Griffin will weather the stand-up battle of Palaszewski. Griffin's wrestling background will come into play as he will repeatedly take his opponent to the mat and grind out a victory.
Winner: Tyson Griffin via unanimous decision victory
Spike TV Fight No. 2: Dennis Siver vs. Donald Cerrone
The final Spike TV matchup is a tremendous lightweight contest between two kickboxing specialists, Dennis "The Menace" Siver and "Cowboy" Donald Cerrone.
Potentially earning Fight of the Night honors, both competitors are excellent strikers who look to defeat his opposition standing up.
Siver has an overall MMA record of 19-7, riding a four-fight win streak inside the UFC. 7-1 in his last eight UFC matchups, Siver has defeated tough talent during his successful run.
Opposing Siver will be his toughest competition to date. Cerrone is a tremendously talented Muay-thai specialist with lethal kicks, knees and punches.
Obliterating Charles Oliveira in August earning Knockout of the Night honors, "Cowboy" will look to maintain his huge wave of momentum come this Saturday.
This lightweight battle will go back and forth. Both Siver and Cerrone are fantastic stand-up strikers. Both are well-versed on the ground as well.
A tough duel to determine a victor, Cerrone's momentum will carry him through. "Cowboy" will earn his fourth consecutive victory in the famed Octagon.
Winner: Donald Cerrone via unanimous decision victory
Main Card Fight No. 1: Hatsu Hioki vs. George Roop
The first bout on the main card is a featherweight matchup between Japanese sensation Hatsu Hioki and America's own George Roop.
Hioki will be making his UFC debut this Saturday. Competing mainly in Japan to this point, Hioki possesses an impressive 24-4 overall MMA record.
A black belt in jiu-jitsu, the Japanese star has 12 submission victories throughout his career.
A developing stand-up striker, Hioki has spent time at the Tristar Gym in Montreal, Quebec honing his skills on his feet with the likes of Rory MacDonald and Georges St. Pierre.
Opposing Hioki is the Team Tompkins disciple, Roop. In and out of the UFC over the past few years, Roop will need to make a statement against Hioki to ensure his future with the promotion.
12-7 as a professional, Roop quickly disposed of Josh Grispi in June in his last UFC matchup.
Roop will have the height advantage over Hioki come this Saturday. However, Hioki has proven that he can maximize his strengths inside the Octagon and capitalize on his game plan.
Hioki is somewhat of an unknown. However, his talents and his vast experience speak for themselves. In the end, his overall abilities will be too much for Roop and Hioki will secure his first victory inside the UFC.
Winner: Hatsu Hioki via round 3 submission
Main Card Fight No. 2: Scott Jorgensen vs. Jeff Curran
A tremendous bantamweight matchup features two seasoned veterans of the cage, Scott "Young Gun" Jorgensen versus Jeff "Big Frog" Curran.
Jorgensen, a hard-hitting WEC veteran, has an exceptional 12-4 overall MMA record. The No. 5 ranked bantamweight competitor in the world took current UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz the distance in 2010, losing by unanimous decision.
An outstanding collegiate wrestler with excellent cardiovascular conditioning and an aggressive mind set inside the cage, "Young Gun" is always looking to finish his fights by knockout.
Conversely, a second degree black belt in BJJ, Curran has recorded 19 submission victories in his 33 total wins as a professional mixed martial artist.
Not known for his knockout prowess, Curran has claimed only one knockout victory in his 47 total bouts.
Even though Curran lacks punching power, he is more than versed in the stand-up striking exchanges and is tremendously lethal off of his back with submission attempts.
Both bantamweights are exceptionally conditioned. Jorgensen holds the advantage in the stand-up department whereas Curran's jiu-jitsu background provides the "Big Frog" with an advantage in the submission game.
This entertaining bantamweight clash will leave no fan in his seat. In the end, Jorgenesen's stand-up prowess will be to much for Curran and the "Young Gun" will claim his second UFC victory.
Winner: Scott Jorgensen via unanimous decision victory
Main Card Fight No. 3: Mirko Filipovic vs. Roy Nelson
This heavyweight matchup features two hard-hitting veterans of mixed martial arts. Both Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic and Roy "Big Country" Nelson are no strangers to the Octagon.
Filipovic's success this Saturday depends on which Cro Cop enters the cage. Does the devastating Croatian that was a rabid knockout master within the Pride Fighting Championships arrive in Las Vegas?
Or does the shell of the former kickboxing great continue to plague Cro Cop's abilities under the UFC banner?
On paper, Filipovic has an advantage in the stand-up department. If he keeps away from Nelson's brutal knockout power and delivers his savage leg strikes, Cro Cop's attack will open up a devastating head kick to "Big Country's" iron skull.
Conversely, if Nelson can survive moving inside on Cro Cop, drive the Croatian up against the Octagon wall and take him to the ground with his 40-pound weight advantage, he can grind out a victory and exhaust the Croatian.
This game plan will not be what Nelson initially follows, however. "Big Country" will ultimately stand in the center of the Octagon and exchange with Filipovic, attempting to knock out Cro Cop in the process.
Receiving punishing leg kicks and the occasional head strike, Nelson will ultimately react with his instincts, taking Filipovic to the ground and securing a victory on the mat.
This will be an exciting matchup with fireworks from both competitors. In the end, Nelson's weight, along with his impenetrable skull will be too much for Cro Cop to handle. "Big Country" will defeat the Croatian star.
Winner: Roy Nelson via Round 3 TKO
Main Card Fight No. 4: Cheick Kongo vs. Matt Mitrione
The second heavyweight matchup mirrors the duel between Cro Cop and Nelson. Both Cheick Kongo and Matt Mitrione are known for their heavy hands and their propensity to stand and trade in the center of the Octagon.
Kongo, a world class kickboxer, is coming off a come-from-behind devastating knockout of Pat "HD" Barry back in June.
Competing on that same card in Pittsburgh, Mitrione dismantled Christian Morecraft with a second round knockout.
Like Filipovic, Kongo is lethal in the stand-up department. Possessing excellent kicks, devastating punches and a lifetime of kickboxing experience, the Frenchman is one of the top strikers within the division.
Entering the biggest matchup of his early career, Mitrione has shown a well-balanced skill set with excellent strikes, good take-down ability and a solid cardiovascular conditioning foundation.
Kongo will look to keep this fight standing and pick apart Mitrione on his feet. Mitrione, like Nelson, will want to stand and trade with Kongo even though he is at a disadvantage in the striking department compared to the world-class striker.
Exchanging fireworks at the onset of this bout, it would benefit Mitrione to take Kongo to the ground. Kongo has shown very limited ground defense and has a very suspect jiu-jitsu game.
The reality, however, will be that Mitrione attempts to knockout Kongo and does not capitalize on his advantage in the ground game.
Playing into the strengths of Kongo, Mitrione will realize what competing against a world-class kickboxer is like and suffer his first defeat inside the Octagon.
Winner: Cheick Kongo via round 2 knockout
Main Card Fight No. 5: Nick Diaz vs. BJ Penn
The main event of the evening features a welterweight bout between the disgruntled Nick Diaz and "The Prodigy" BJ Penn.
Both competitors bring a lot of baggage into the Octagon. Their tirades and personal chaos outside of the cage will be analyzed extensively prior to this Saturday.
I will spare you the theatrics of each competitor and focus on each individual's skill sets and overall mixed martial arts abilities.
Diaz is a unique competitor. Provided accolades for his stand-up skills, Diaz truly is a very weak boxer. The Stockton, California native is more of a slap-style striker integrating a variety of kicks into his attack.
Because of this slap style, Diaz lacks decisive one-punch knockout power. That said, however, his technique is very effective and he has decimated a wide variety of opponents including the hard-hitting Paul Daley.
In addition to his slap style offense, Diaz lacks any form of boxing defense. Known for taunting his opposition by keeping his hands down and chin out, Diaz provides a target to his opponent urging them to swing as hard as possible allowing Diaz to counter-strike and gain an advantage.
Blessed with an iron chin and a tremendous cardiovascular conditioning reservoir, Diaz has no problems standing and trading in the center of the Octagon with any opponent.
Like Diaz, BJ Penn is also blessed with an iron jaw and will stand and trade in the center of the Octagon as well. Unlike Diaz, however, Penn is more of a traditional boxer.
Penn's stand-up striking offense has evolved exponentially over the years and he is a consistent threat on his feet.
Come this Saturday, Diaz will repeatedly bait Penn by dropping his hands and providing his jaw as a target.
Keeping his distance, Diaz will pepper Penn with his jab and mix in a variety of body shots, testing the suspect conditioning of the former champion.
Working his way inside, Penn will counter Diaz's slap punches with dirty boxing as well as hooks and uppercuts from close counters.
If this matchup goes to the ground, both competitors are excellent ground technicians and can essentially cancel out one another's attacks, sweeps and defenses in the jiu-jitsu game.
The variable in this welterweight clash will be Penn's conditioning. Diaz will continually batter Penn with a variety of strikes, wearing down "The Prodigy."
Taunting Penn into a stand-up battle, Diaz will ultimately wear down the Hawaiian native with repeated body shots and a multitude of strikes from various planes and angles.
This fight strategy will eventually secure Diaz with a decision victory over Penn, providing the disgruntled welterweight another opportunity at championship gold.
Winner: Nick Diaz via unanimous decision victory