The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

UFC On Versus Predictions: I’ve Seen The Future And It Works

Three shows in two weeks y’all, and this is the smallest of the three. Fast work then-

Main Card

* Light Heavyweight bout: Brandon Vera vs. Jon Jones

This is the reason you are watching this show, to see if Jon Jones is what he’s supposed to be- what Brandon Vera was once supposed to be and never quite was. Jones has looked like an unholy terror at times so far in his career, and he’s got the athleticism and the aggressive style to make up for his many, many (MANY many many) technical flaws. Like a Roy Jones if not at that level, he’s athletically gifted enough to break the rules and get away with it- so far. He hits hard and fast, he’s got a solid wrestling background, and his technical issues are almost a gift when combined with his speed; he does the wrong thing so fast that fighters trained to anticipate the right thing often times look blindsided against him. How he does against Vera will go a long way towards telling us how quickly he can be brought along, and whether he’s ready to make the leap from prospect to contender. Many people think he’s the future at 205- me included to be honest- and given the caliber of fighter he’s facing, competing with and at times destroying at only 22 years of age, he’s an easy guy to get excited about.

Absolutely no one is excited about Brandon Vera. It would be unfair to say he sucks, but for someone who was hyped up by himself and others as the future biggest thing to happen to two weight divisions, he’s been a crushing disappointment. Some of it is the record- losses to Fabricio Werdum, Tim Sylvia, Keith Jardine- but a lot of it of late has been the performances. Vera can be a dynamic and scary kickboxer when he’s in the right mood with particularly dangerous leg kicks, but then again he can also be the slow, turgid, do-nothing lump who gave away the Jardine and Couture fights by conceding the initiative for all 6 rounds and fighting only when forced to. 3 of his last 4 performances have been in that vein against Couture, Jardine and Krzysztof Soszynski with only his destruction of Mike Patt being the kind of aggressive and determined showing that Vera needs to get back to. As it stands, this fight pretty well indicates that in the UFC’s collective mind Vera has slipped to gatekeeper status, and it’s hard to argue with them.

For all that though, this one to me is a close fight on paper. Vera is awful to watch and not great by any means, but he’s also arguably far and away the best fighter Jones has ever faced, especially if you buy the suggestion that Matt Hamill actually injured himself very early in his fight with Jones. Vera often refuses to fight unless forced, but Jones will force him and Vera’s sheer obdurate refusal to get off first with anything but leg kicks may actually frustrate Jones by giving him little if anything to counter. That frustration may in turn give Vera countering opportunities, especially if he can control the range of the fight with leg kicks and force Jones into leaping in from too far out. Those leg kicks may be the key to the fight if Vera is awake or motivated enough to use them; we’ve never seen Jones in against someone who was able to use that tool at a high level, and while Jones is more athletic than almost anyone at 205 he’s technically lightyears behind Vera and may find his speed baffled by Vera’s kick-based control of timing and range. Jones is a wrestler, but Vera is as well- good enough to at least hold his own with Jones I suspect, and thus make it a striking contest enlivened perhaps by a bit of clinchwork along the cage here and there- probably more if Jones is losing. For all of the above though I do still think Jones will get the win here, for two reasons- for one he’s clearly the superior athlete of the two, but more importantly this is the kind of fight that a fighter like the current Brandon Vera will find a way to lose simply by not doing enough. He may land more of his shots as a percentage and he may do more damage even, but he’ll never do enough to win against a fighter like Jones who pressures, pressures, pressures and is always working. This is one which Vera will hate himself for giving away.

* Heavyweight bout: Junior dos Santos vs. Gabriel Gonzaga

Why do I have the feeling that “Napao” actually means “gatekeeper” in Portuguese? This is a pair of names big enough for a TV semi-main and a decent matchup to continue the build of Dos Santos, who’s rapidly becoming one of my favorite heavyweights. Dos Santos should win as Gonzaga is usually content to strike these days but will be doing so against a guy who hits harder and faster with shorter and more accurate shots, never a good recipe. 2nd round KO, let’s say.

* Heavyweight bout: Cheick Kongo vs. Paul Buentello

Kongo, in an entertaining match so long as it goes. Not much to analyze here; Kongo’s just better at everything. Might make it to the cards since Kongo may be tentative after getting waxed quickly last time out, and Buentello’s a tough guy.

* Middleweight bout: Alessio Sakara vs. James Irvin

Yeah. If you remember Saqqara from exciting kickboxery against Chris Leben and Houston Alexander, or Irvin from the Terry Martin battle or his fight with Alexander, you might be pretty excited for a fun standup war. You’re not getting it. I saw Sakara’s last fight, I and everyone else who attended UFC 101, and you did not- because there was 0.0% chance that UFC was ever going to televise that complete actionless abortion of a waste of time against Thales Leites. “But wait” you say, “it was Leites- isn’t he at fault”? No, no he was not, as amazing as that sounds; 90% of the fight was Sakara backpedling and circling aimlessly like an overmedicated Kalib Starnes. Maybe Sakara was just injured or temporarily insane or something last time out and will be back to normal this time- let’s hope- or maybe he’ll have confidence facing a man who hasn’t fought since the middle of 2008 due to drug and injury issues, but if not this could be God-awful. You’ve been warned. Irvin should win if Sakara is anything like he was last time, probably by decision.

Preliminary Card

* Lightweight bout: Clay Guida vs. Shannon Gugerty

This really should be on the main card in place of Sakara/Irvin, for promotional reasons. I like Guida in this one- he’s a higher level of competition than Gugerty is used to, and he can outwork most anyone but the top guys. Decision.

* Light Heavyweight bout: Eliot Marshall vs. Vladimir Matyushenko

I don’t buy Marshall much and never really have. Matyushenko’s a million years old, but he’s also only had one loss in the last 5 years, and that to mini Nog. Marshall’s best stuff is his BJJ, and Vmat’s never been tapped. Take the Belorussian by decision.

* Welterweight bout: John Howard vs. Daniel Roberts

I know nothing about Roberts really, but as a late fill in he’s interesting: a 9-0 fighter with a bit of a wrestling background and some BJJ experience. I like Howard’s aggression and I’m always loathe to go with a late fill in, so I will take Howard, but it could get interesting if their ground games nullify- Howard’s standup is uninspiring and he’s giving up 3 inches in height.

* Heavyweight bout: Brendan Schaub vs. Chase Gormley

Spooky: I share a first name with Schaub, but Schaub physically looks a LOT like an old friend of mine named Peter- which is Schaub’s middle name. I admit that this is a terrible reason to pick a fighter, so I’ll claim to be picking Schaub based on his athleticism. I’m lying though- it’s totally about the name.

* Welterweight bout: Mike Pierce vs. Julio Paulino

Hmm, the accomplished collegiate wrestler who’s competed against the likes of Brock Larson and Jon Fitch, or the guy who starred in the Alaska Fighting Championships? Pierce, decision.

* Light Heavyweight bout: Eric Schafer vs. Jason Brilz

Speaking of personal attachments, here’s the guy who looks eerily like my grandfather. And guess what, I’ll pick him- like I said before I don’t really rate Eliot Marshall, and he’s A) fairly similar to Schafer in having a strong BJJ focus and B) Brilz sure did lose to Marshall in his last fight.

* Lightweight bout: Duane Ludwig vs. Darren Elkins

Not sure if this one’s confirmed yet or not. If it is I’ll take Bang- he wins one/loses one and is due, and the other guy’s a late replacement.

This could end up as either a very good card or a crap card, depending largely on whether or not Sakara and Vera stink the place out or not. Mostly I just hope that the main event is entertaining; UFC could use a good show to establish themselves on a new channel, and Jon Jones has star potential with the right performances in the right fights. He’s about a win or so away from a featured semi-main event slot as it stands I think, and if he can run Vera out his next fight could be a very big deal indeed.

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March 16, 2010 - Posted by | MMA

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