The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

UFC 108 Predictions: I don’t even wanna muzzafughawaaa blaaaah…..

What to say about a show so cursed that fights were falling off the card even into the final week, and the promotional period is concluding with even the card’s matchmaker being injured? I love MMA so I’ll be getting this; but despite the best efforts of everyone involved the result of their labors is a no-buys card of the first rank which has every chance to do 250,000 buys or less, remarkably bad per current UFC standards. The best you can say is that at least the fights themselves will be entertaining, assuming no one else catches fire walking to the cage, sprains their wrists putting their gloves on, parties too much over new years, gets kidnapped by martians, etc.

Ultra-short predictions this time; show’s not so good, and there’s another one on 1/11, believe it or not.

Main Card

Light Heavyweight bout: Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva

A fantastic example of the idea that styles make fights- probably. If Evans recovers mentally from getting KO’d for the first time last time out in fairly brutal fashion (a la Bisping, more or less) and Silva is the same fighter he has been, Rashad should win this easily; if he doesn’t or Silva has really improved, well, Sugar’s gonna die. I suspect this one will be largely to totally a standup fight since both guys are comfortable in that position, and if so then you have a simple matchup of a patient counterpuncher with brutal power against a face-first brawler convinced that he can take your best shot as long as he can get one off afterwards. That is virtually never a good state of affairs for the brawler, and if Evens is right he should be able to time Silva, step back as he rushes in, and abolish him with a giant right hand in the first or second round as he did against Chuck Liddell. If he’s right. If he’s not, it should be fairly obvious- gunshy fighters all look largely the same, either running or turtling when the pressure comes, trying to ride out the flurry until they can move and reset. Evans can’t do that, and he can’t get over-anxious and try to lead either- if he leads he’s not using his best assets and he’ll get countered himself, and if he turtles, eventually Silva will find holes and level him. Patience is the key for Rashad.

Silva has two ways to win the bout even if Rashad is right, one which he will likely try and one which he may or may not. Standing his leg kicks may be the key: Rashad is vulnerable to them, they can throw him off and potentially make him more aggressive than he should be, drawing him out of a counterpunching position and making him give up opportunities to be caught as well as reducing his chances to hang back and land a massive counter of his own. If Silva can control his aggression and use the kicks to draw Rashad out, he can catch him. Alternately, Silva can go for the takedown- he’s not the wrestler Rashad is and a takedown would likely have to be a counter-shot thrown as a changeup move, but there’s probably no position more advantageous for either fighter than Silva getting a chance to work his fantastic top game with Rashad on his back. If Silva tries that early in the second round the fight could be over shortly thereafter.

It should be noted as well that whle I don’t expect Rashad to make much use of his wrestling- the way he fights these days, you’d assume his base was boxing- it’s not unreasonable as a strategy for a guy coming off of a bad KO loss to turn to his wrestling early in his next fight, especially if he’s not wholly mentally right. You can’t get KO’d from top position for the most part, and sometimes the psychologically safest place for a fighter is what he knows best. It’s nto a great sign if Rashad comes out looking for a the takedown, but that’s noit to say he might not use his wrestling to try to control a first round and settle in before going for the kill in the second.

It’s not a main event and as a booking move it looks insane in retrospect, but this should be a very fun fight if nothing else. I suspect Rashad is the sort of mentally strong fighter who will show up as good as ever, so to my mind the real question is just who Thiago Silva is at this point. I think he’s got a higher talent ceiling than Rashad, in some ways a more diverse offense given that he uses his grappling and GnP more effectively, and he should have his own confidence back after the Jardine fight- which may or may not be a good thing if it makes him over-aggressive. In the end I’ll take Rashad by KO2 simply because of the styles.

Welterweight bout: Dustin Hazelett vs. Paul Daley

52,000 “it’s not a grappler vs. a striker” interviews from both men later… yeah, it’s a grappler vs. a striker. I’m taking Daley by KO1 here for two main reasons- Hazelett may be 50 times better on the ground but it’s hard to see how he gets Daley there, and he’s also coming back off of a 13 month layoff partially for a major injury which is never a good sign, especially against a quick starter with power like Semtex. Daley has been made to look intensely clownish on the ground before, but it usually takes at least a decent wrestler to get him there. He’s likely to have a notable strength advantage over Hazelett which will help him shrug off any early takedown tries, and he’s the kind of dynamic go-get-them striker who tends not to give mediocre opposing strikers the time to find their rhythm or try to change levels. If you can’t stop him he rolls over you, and that’s what I expect here.

Lightweight bout: Joe Lauzon vs. Sam Stout

…It’s the same bloody fight, isn’t it, albeit not quite so much so? I actually like Lauzon in this one though- seems to have a higher talent ceiling, and while I realize I’m contradicting myself here by picking the guy coming off of the long injury layoff, there are reasons. Stout is a very good striker; but he’s not dynamic and aggressive the way Paul Daley is, he doesn’t push the pace the same way, and he doesn’t have the same sort of power. Lauzon will have time to settle in, will probably be relatively more compatitive on his feet with Stout than Hazelett will be with Daley, and is probably more likely to get the takedown than Hazelett is at some point- especially since Stout fancies himself a grappler more than Daley does, and may be more willing to take the fight there if presented with an opportunity to do so. Lauzon, decision, in a fun fight.

Lightweight bout: Jim Miller vs. Duane Ludwig

Miller really should win this- younger, more talented, etc. His only two losses are to Grey Maynard and Frankie Edgar, both a class above Ludwig. Let’s say Miller by decision, though he might find a way to get an RNC in the third. Ludwig has the proverbial puncher’s chance, and Miller does leave openings. Should be a VERY fun fight.

Heavyweight bout: Junior dos Santos vs. Gilbert Yvel

Completely ridiculous for a host of reasons, including that Yvel might win in which case they’re stuck with him. Dos Santos has to be the favorite- he’s younger, more well-rounded, has the better recent record; but goddamn if Cro-Cop didn’t touch him up over and over despite being half-shot in their fight, and who’s to say that Yvel might not get the job done with those same opportunities? We’re going to learn a lot about Dos Santos’s chin in this one for good or ill, I fear. And yet, it shouldn’t be- this guy’s a brown belt in BJJ who’s a protege of the Nogueira brothers, and Yvel looks like a ballet dancer trying to play left tackle (or a left tackle trying to do ballet, take your pick) as soon as he’s on his back. The odds are very high that Dos Santos will go out there and throw hands, but for my money it’d be more impressive if he took Yvel down and mauled him on the ground, as he likely can. I’ll take Dos Santos by armbar in 2, more in hope than expectation.

On a side note, UFC should be hoping and praying that Yvel is as much of a reformed man as he claims to be. If he goes nuts in the ring again and assaults a referee, if it’s not Steve Mazzagatti there’s going to be real questions about why they hired this guy and to what degree they’re responsible for any mayhem which may ensue. They can claim he was licensed and that they defer to the commissions, but that’s not really going to wash and the PR nightmare at that point is not going to have been worth the benefits of signing this guy.

Spike TV Card

Welterweight bout: Martin Kampmann vs. Jacob Volkmann

Is Kampmann the oldest 27 year old in history? A slow starter who seems frail at times and looks like he has some sort of horrible wasting disease, it’s hard to know what to make of him. He’s fought a higher level of opposition than Volkmann and is actually younger despite seemingly having been around since UFC -6, but… on a hunch, I like Volkmann. He looked VERY good against Paulo Thiago, and while he didn’t deserve the decision in that one he had legitimate chances to win the fight and took a round off of a high level grappler. I suspect he’s a good enough wrestler to take Kampmann down, a good enough grappler to control from the top without much danger, and a smart enough fighter at this point to know he needs a win to stay in the show and sticking with his best stuff is the surest way to get it. I’ll say he pins down Kampmann for the better part of 15 and wins a decision.

Lightweight bout: Cole Miller vs. Dan Lauzon

Amazingly enough, this is actually a return to the UFC for Lauzon- who last appeared for Zuffa at UFC 64 at the age of 18 (!!!) I’ll go with Miller here, just on experience and the idea that he has one go-to talent where Lauzon does not as much.

Preliminary Card

Middleweight bout: Mark Munoz vs. Ryan Jensen

Munoz really has to win this one. He’s got high-level amateur wrestling credentials and is on paper a superior athlete, but has looked frequently underwhelming so far and at 31 and having already played the drop-a-weight-class card, he’s got to start putting wins together to make a career of this. I think he’ll get it done here by decision against a guy who’s the virtual definition of solid journeyman, but he may need to do so impressively to really get the ball rolling.

Welterweight bout: Mike Pyle vs. Jake Ellenberger

You know what? I really hope this makes air, because this could be a ton of fun. Ellenberger had a great back-and-forth fight with Carlos Condit last time out which was a contender for fight of the night and which he could arguably have been judged the winner in, and Pyle’s experienced grappling is an interesting matchup to Ellenberger’s wrestling. Ellenberger is a decade younger and an impressive physical specimen so I’ll take him, but he could easily gas out and get caught in the third.

Lightweight bout: Rafaello Oliveira vs. John Gunderson

Oliveira, submission.

Looking forward to UFC 109!


January 1, 2010 - Posted by | MMA

1 Comment »

  1. Rashad looked good before he got caught

    Comment by MMA New Zealand | January 15, 2010 | Reply

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