UFC 137: Previews and Predictions
UFC 137 is taking place this Saturday at the Mandalay Bay events centre. The card, despite still being high quality, has been ravaged with injuries and fights being pulled out. Some of these include:
- Sam Stout was scheduled to face Dennis Siver however he was replaced by Donald Cerrone due to injury.
- Nick Diaz was originally set to face Georges St Pierre but after failing to attend several media appearances he was replaced by Carlos Condit. Nick Diaz took Carlos Condit's place in the co-main event against B.J Penn.
- Georges St Pierre pulled out of main event with a knee injury.
Preliminary Card (Spike TV)
Tyson Griffin–Bart Palaszewski
Potential fight of the night material, as always when Tyson Griffin is competing. They both share a favourite MMA technique, putting opponents to sleep. Both have sufficient ground games with Tyson Griffin having a dangerous ground and pound while Bart Palaszewski is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.
Something that may have a big effect on the fight is how the weight cut goes for Palaszewski. Tyson Griffin is a high energy fighter and if the fight is a high intensity one then Palaszewski might struggle with this being his featherweight debut.
Prediction: Tyson Griffin will stop Palaszewski late in the second round
Dennis Siver–Donald Cerrone
This is a fight that I think belongs on the main card. If not this even then it surely could have been moved to UFC 138. The winner becomes a legitimate contender in the Lightweight division.
Since re-joining the UFC Siver has a record of 7-1 while since the merger Cerrone has gone 3-0. Donald Cerrone has dismissed the German saying he isn't too worried about him’ while Dennis Siver reckons it has only motivated him more.
Donald Cerrone is one of the most exciting fighters in the division often involved in Fight of the Nights. Both have good stand up skills with Siver known for his spinning back kick. Dennis Siver is also a good take down artist and while both are good at submissions Siver would probably be wise to avoid Cerrone’s triangle choke.
Prediction: Donald Cerrone edges the striking but dominates the floor game and submits Siver in Round 3.
Hatsu Hioki V George Roop
Hatsu Hioki will make his long-awaited debut at UFC 137. Rated as one of the best Featherweights in the world his record over his last 13 fights is 11-1-1 with the only loss a contentious decision against Michihiro Omigawa. He holds notable win over Marlon Sandro, Jeff Curran and two over Mark Hominick.
A record of 2-1-2 in his last fight perhaps doesn't give George Roop the credit he deserves. The five fights have all been against highly rated fighters. His two wins have been impressive stoppages of Chan Sung Jung and Josh Gripsi, while his losses have come against Mark Hominick and Eddie Wineland.
Hioki proved against top class striker Marlon Sandro that he is willing to stand with anyone and will often come out unharmed. However against anyone he will be looking to get the fight to the ground. He is incredibly active on the ground constantly looking for submissions and transitions. Expect arm bars and triangle chokes coming from Hioki.
George Roop is a huge featherweight at 6'1 with a long reach to match. Roop will be looking to use this to his advantage as he has in the majority of his fights. His concussive strike is usually the big head kick that took out Jung + Gripsi. He is also able to outwork opponents using his long reach.
The fight is interesting for more than just the stylistic match up. How will Hioki's skills translate to the UFC. We have numerous fighters come over from Japan and struggle. Only Yushin Okami has really been a success and it will be interesting to see if Hioki can hack it in the UFC.
Prediction: In a round of the night candidate Hioki submits him at the end of the first round after being rocked in the stand up.
Submission of the night
Scott Jorgensen V Jeff Curran
Scott Jorgensen is generally rated as a top five fighter in the Bantamweight division. However like seemingly all the top fighters in that division, he has a defeat to the champion Dominick Cruz which is likely to rule him out of a title shot in the immediate future.
At 34 with 47 fights, Jeff Curran is a bit of a veteran in the game. With 13 losses the record is not that impressive at first glance, but under deeper inspection the losses come mainly from elite fighters. Mizugaki, Faber, Brown, Benavidez, Hioko, Serra, Menjivar and Kid Yamamato have all defeated Curran.
Scott Jorgensen is a strong wrestler being a former NCAA Division I All-American. His ground and pound is ferocious as last opponent Ken Stone will attest to. Jorgensen also has good stand up excelling at outpointing his opponents rather than big deadly strikes.
Jeff Curran will want this fight to be on the ground. He has a second degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He is good at attacking off his back as shown in his fight against Mizugaki. As well as this he has heavy hands and will be looking for big shots while the fight is standing.
In a standing fight I believe Scott Jorgensen will be dominant, avoiding Curran's heavy hands, getting in and out. However on the ground is a different matte. Scott Jorgensen is not a fighter you want on top of you as you will have bombs raining down on your head but Curran might find it an advantage being on the bottom.
Prediction: Scott Jorgensen wins a unanimous decision
Mirko 'Cro Cop' Filipovic V Roy Nelson
Mirko Cro Cop was a legend in PRIDE, however since joining UFC his record is 4-5.
Since 2007 Cro Cop has not had a win over a significant opponent. Now he has two losses in a row, one away from getting cut. Both were deadly knock outs in the third round which have left some people thinking he is more susceptible to blows than ever before.
Roy Nelson, also coming off two losses, is expected to come into the Octagon a different man this weekend! After his last performance against Frank Mir, Dana White criticised Nelson's lack of conditioning which has led to Nelson planning to cut weight.
Cro Cop's only chance in this fight is keeping it standing. He has some of the most feared kicks in the business. He will be looking to find his range keeping the fight at distance. If Cro Cop gets his hands and feet going then he is probably favourite.
Roy Nelson will be looking to avoid fighting at distance. He can do this by clinching with Cro Cop or getting Cro Cop to the ground. Roy Nelson has often used his weight in the past to tire his opponent, but he also has good Brazilian jiu jitsu which could trouble the Croat.
Potential game changers in this fight are the fighters chins. Roy Nelson have proven during his stay with the UFC, especially against Junior Dos Santos, that he can take shots. Whereas Cro Cop seems to lack the same resilience to big punches.
Prediction: Roy Nelson savagely sends Cro Cop into retirement halfway through the first round.
Knock out of the night
Matt Mitrione V Cheick Kongo
Matt Mitrione was part of Ultimate Fighter season 10 which Roy Nelson won. Many people now rate Mitrione as the best fighter to come out of the series after his five consecutive wins in the UFC.
A win against Kongo could realistically send him into the upper tier of the division.
Cheick Kongo considered as a gatekeeper by many. Over the last three years he has only lost to Cain Velazquez and Frank Mir two highly rated heavyweights.
Kongo's last fight was perhaps his most memorable. Dropped twice by Pat Barry close to being stopped, he landed a huge right hook and uppercut knocking Pat Barry out.
Matt Mitrione is one of the best athletes in the division and is becoming a top class striker. He has power in both hands and is a crisp striker. He lands a lot of punches and has real good footwork.
You would expect that Cheick Kongo will want to keep the fight standing due to his pedigree in the stand up. He is probably the better technical striker and the better kicker. However, Kongo might look to put Mitrione on his back where he has struggled before.
Mitrione has never faced anybody on the same level on Kongo and it will be interesting to see how Mitrione handles it and whether he can make the step up.
Prediction: Matt Mitrione takes a unanimous decision after rocking Kongo in the third round.
Nick Diaz V B.J Penn
Nick Diaz is on a roll. Ten wins on the bounce and only one loss in five years which he later rectified by defeating Noons. He has defeated some top level fighters including Scott Smith, KJ Noons, Evangelista Santos and Paul Daley. However his UFC record of 6-4 isn't so great.
B.J Penn is a legend of the sport. His current run with the UFC has not been as successful on paper as his first. A record of 6-5-1 is perhaps unfair on B.J as all his losses have been in either title fights or title eliminators.
Nick Diaz is trained by Cesar Gracie so as you would expect he is a jiu jitsu black belt. Diaz doesn't just rely on getting to opponents though. His striking is of a real high standard as he proved when he stopped renowned striker Paul Daley in the first round.
B.J has a similar skill set. Originally signed due to his prowess in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, B.J earned his black belt after only three years of training. B.J is now just as good standing. He has become a real good boxer, rated as one of the best in MMA.
Nick Diaz may try and expose B.J Penn's stamina issue. B.J is known to gas, as he did against Jon Fitch while Diaz has a high energy style. If Diaz can split the first two rounds he might gas B.J and dominate the third round.
Prediction: It's such a tough fight to call they seem so evenly matched up but I'm going for B.J Penn by decision.
Fight of the night