UFC 162 Preview and Predictions

Happy 4th of July everyone! Let us not waste a second and get right to the breakdown and picks!

All odds are courtesy Bovada.lv and all confidence picks are from a scale of 1-10 with 1 being the least and 10 being the most.

Anderson Silva (-240) vs. Chris Weidman (+190)

Inarguably the biggest challenge of Silva since Dan Henderson, Weidman is the blueprint for how to beat “The Spider.” A takedown artist (4.47 TApM, 72%) with great defenses both striking (68%) and on takedown attempts (100%), he excels in all of the areas Silva commonly exploits. But those numbers were put up against inferior competition, as only Maia and Munoz could be considered top ten fighters. Silva hasn’t had a real challenge since the first Sonnen fight, but back in the day he made guys like Henderson, Franklin and Belfort look like sparring partners. But he’s 38 years old with 37 pro fights under his belt. Weidman has the youth and athleticism, but Silva has the experience, the calm and the technical striking skills to pick Weidman apart if he can stay on his feet. In what I predict is a fight for the ages, I see Weidman keeping this fight on the ground and either locking in a choke or G&Ping the champion for the win.

Prediction: Weidman via TKO in Round 3 (Confidence = 5)

Frankie Edgar (-550) vs. Charles Oliveira (+375)

In his first non-title fight since the TUF 10 finale, Edgar looks to bounce back after three straight close decision losses to Ben Henderson and Jose Aldo. Oliveira, however, has nothing to lose, being given no shot against the former LW champ. Oliveira had gone to distance once in 20 fights. Edgar had done so in 12 of 20. Expect Oliveira to be the aggressor, throwing unorthodox strikes and looking for a takedown. But Edgar is a strategist, so expect him to time Oliveira, shoot in and grind out a decision. But there’s always a chance Oliveira could convert a takedown attempt into his patented anaconda choke, so be weary.

Prediction: Edgar via Unanimous Decision (Confidence = 7)

Tim Kennedy (-155) vs. Roger Gracie (+125)

This is my upset lock of the night. Roger Gracie has not been submitted in MMA or BJJ competition since he was a blue belt. Only one fighter has even attempted a takedown against him in MMA. He’s a towering 6-foot-4 middleweight with a five-inch reach advantage and improved striking. Kennedy’s only chance is for a KO/TKO (none since 2007) or to get on top and grind out a decision against a superior submission fighter. He’ll try to keep the fight standing, get taken down (56% TD offense) and get subbed.

Prediction: Gracie via Submission in Round 1 (Confidence = 6) 

Mark Munoz (-130) vs. Tim Boetsch (EVEN)

This may be a middleweight bout, but both these fighters will enter the Octagon at well over 200lbs. Both solid grapplers and strikers, Munoz uses his hands to set up his shoot while Boetsch uses his to stay standing and shoots to keep his opponents honest. However, Munoz has the better takedowns, notching nearly half his attempts over his last five fights (9-for-19). Expect Munoz to make up for his loss vs. Weidman by getting Boetsch down and forcing a TKO win. But either man has a legit shot of pulling out a W with that game plan.

Prediction: Munoz via TKO in Round 2 (Confidence = 4)

Cub Swanson (-230) vs. Dennis Siver (+180)

Two fighters who have seen a resurgence in their careers, Swanson and Siver are in line for a FW title shot in the near future. Swanson has reeled off a quartet of wins from 2012 on out, while Siver is 2-0 since dropping to featherweight with a pair of dominating decisions. Both fighters have identical heights and reaches and throw punches in bunches, but Swanson has more pop (three of last four wins by KO/TKO) and is more accurate (46% compared to 32% SA). Expect TKO No. 4 of 5 this Saturday.

Prediction: Swanson via TKO in Round 1 (Confidence = 5)

Andrew Craig (-155) vs. Chris Leben (+125)

If Leben wants to keep his job, he has to beat Craig. The old “Crippler” had all the tools to win this bout easily, but that fighter hasn’t showed up since his 2011 KO win vs. Wanderlei Silva. Still, Craig has some holes in his striking defense (37 percent) and takes too many shots if the fight keeps standing (2.86/min). He’s also got just a 25% takedown rate inside the Octagon, compared to Leben’s 57% defense. Expect Leben to keep this fight on its feet and land some big punches, but take home a decision win.

Prediction: Leben via Unanimous Decision (Confidence = 5)

Norman Parke (-190) vs. Kazuki Tokudome (+155)

Two of their division’s promising young prospects, Parke and Tokudome impressed in their Octagon debuts: Parke winning TUF: The Smashes vs. Colin Fletcher and Tokudome beating BJJ savant Cristiano Marcello. Parke is a grinding grappler with excellent chokes, using his Guillotine and RNC to tear up the UK MMA scene. Tokudome uses his Judo pedigree to toss opponents around and finish with either an armbar or G&P from a dominant position. I see these two’s styles leading to a 15-minute stalemate with neither man doing much to hurt the other. It’s a coin flip in my book, so I’ll take the man with the three-inch reach advantage.

Prediction: Tokudome via Unanimous Decision (Confidence = 1) 

Gabriel Gonzaga (-260) vs. Dave Herman (+200)

This fight presents an interesting clash of styles. Gonzaga has evolved from a knockout artist with submissions to a submission fighter with knockout power, winning his last three fights via choke. Perhaps that’s a response to the six KO/TKO losses of his career. Herman doesn’t have the big names of the guys Gonzaga’s been KO’d by (Carwin, Dos Santos, Werdum etc.) but he’s got 15 KO/TKO wins against mostly lesser competition. Herman is hard to take down (63% TD Def.), but he’s a turtle on his back. I feel Gonzaga has a better chance at getting a takedown than Herman has of a flash KO, so I’ll have to go with the Brazilian by a slim margin.

Prediction: Gonzaga via Submission in Round 2 (Confidence = 3)

Edson Barboza (-550) vs. Rafaello Oliveira (+375)

Barboza is simply one of the sport’s most dynamic strikers, as proven by his highlight-reel spinning back kick KO over Terry Etim and his leg kick TKO wins as well. His only loss came in an epic upset vs. Jamie Varner, showing he may be prone to overlook fighters he’s heavily favored against. However, Oliveira is prone to getting highlight-reel KO’d, like he was against Yves Edwards two fights ago. Stepping in late and having two fights since 2011, the ring rust may result in him going sleepy night-night to a Barboza kick.

Prediction: Barboza via KO in Round 1 (Confidence = 9)

Seth Baczynski (-300) vs. Brian Melancon (+230)

Melancon is a smothering fighter coming out of Ricco Rodriguez’s camp, knowing the submission game well and possessing good top control and G&P. But he’s facing a fighter seven inches taller and who has plenty of Octagon experience. If Melancon were a wrestler, which he is not, I’d smell an upset via decision. But I think he’ll have trouble getting Baczynski down, leading to a difficult striking battle and eventual TKO loss.

Prediction: Baczynski via TKO in Round 1 (Confidence = 7)

Mike Pierce (-650) vs. David Mitchell (+425)

Pierce’s tenacious takedowns will keep this fight on the ground. Mitchell has a lot of submission wins off his back, but Pierce has excellent sub defense (only losses by decision). Expect a lot of ground and pound from Pierce and either a TKO or Decision win.

Prediction: Pierce via TKO in Round 1 (Confidence = 8)

Thanks again for taking the time to read this Cardiac Attack Sports exclusive. Remember to follow me on twitter at @LucasKinser to keep up with whatever my mind comes up with next. Happy 4th and enjoy the fight!

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UFC 160 Preview

Good afternoon to my friends from the Interwebs, this is Lucas Kinser bringing you my first post since graduating from college with a BA in Journalism. Took my 6.5 years, but hey, better late than never!

It’s been many months since a fight card had me as excited as UFC 160. When was the last time a pay per view event featured a pair of bouts featuring current or former UFC Heavyweight titlists as well as a No. 1 contender bout for a different weight class?

UFC 74 on August 25, 2007. Randy Couture defended his belt vs. Gabriel Gonzaga, Frank Mir defeated Antoni Hardonk on his road back to title contention and GSP beat Josh Kosckeck to earn an interim title shot vs. Matt Hughes.

So let’s go through the fight card and prognosticate what may happen, shall we?

All odds are based on Bovada.lv numbers from Thursday, May 23 around noon.

All statistics are based on results from Fightmetric.com  

Cain Velasquez (c, -750) vs. Antonio Silva (+425)

Let’s face it…the last fight between these two was a landslide. When Velasquez and Silva fought at UFC 146, the champ got a quick takedown vs. “Bigfoot” and slammed 28 significant strikes from dominant positions to force Josh Rosenthal to dive in and protect a bloody, beaten Brazilian.

So is there any chance the rematch goes any better? Yes.

Bigfoot has made a career out of winning when the odds are stacked against him. He owns, in my opinion, two of the five biggest upsets in Heavyweight history: His TKO vs. Fedor and brutal KO of Alistair Overeem. He packs serious power in his hands and can knock out just about anyone in the division.

But to do so, he’ll have to catch Velasquez with a lucky punch. Only one man has ever done that (Junior Dos Santos), and he has twice the hand speed of “Bigfoot.”

I think Silva will learn from the first fight and try to say on his feet longer than the few seconds he did at UFC 146. But in the end, it will be Velasquez using his dominant top control to pound out the big man.

Results: Velasquez via KO/TKO

Junior Dos Santos (-450) vs. Mark Hunt (+325)

The ultimate wild card of this event, Dos Santos and Hunt are the most feared strikers of their division, but for two very different reasons. Dos Santos is a talented, technical striker who uses combinations to break his opponents down. In his UFC career, he never lost a bout in which he landed more significant strikes than his opponent, including a 130-40 margin vs. a comparable opponent in Roy Nelson.

Mark Hunt, however, uses is one-punch power and impeccable timing to earn flash knockouts at the drop of a hat. The former K-1 World Grand Prix Champion has only been knocked out once in his career despite battles vs. legendary strikers like Mirko Cro Cop and Wanderlei Silva, both of whom he defeated.

It took one powerful strike from Cain Velasquez to knock Dos Santos off his game en route to a sloppy defeat. If Hunt can replicate that strategy, he may have the same result.

I’m going out on a limb here, but I think Hunt could land that one blow. Remember, despite being six inches shorter than his opponent, he hold just a three-inch reach disadvantage and ranks ahead of Dos Santos in both strikes absorbed per minute and has the takedown defense (70%) to keep this fight on its feet if things go wrong for the Brazilian. Fat guys are on a hot streak the past couple years, so let’s roll the dice and see what happens!

Results: Hunt via KO/TKO

Glover Teixeira (-310) vs. James Te-Huna (+240)

A legend of Brazilian regional MMA, Teixeira takes an 18-fight win streak into the Octagon Saturday, including wins vs. numerous UFC veterans before reeling off three wins inside the Octagon. A powerful striker who trains with Chuck Liddell, he’s also competed at Abu Dhabi and holds a submission grappling win vs. Dean Lister. All in all, he’s a true mixed martial artist.

But Te-Huna is no pushover, either. The New Zealand native has never been knocked out despite going toe-to-toe with Hector Lombard. A winner of four straight in the UFC, his only defeat came against top prospect Alex Gustafsson via submission. In fact four of his five losses have come from subs, including a pair of RNC’s.

Four of Teixeira’s five submission wins have come via choke, so if the Brazilian can’t knock out the iron-chinned Pacific Islander, he’s got a second out to make this a short fight, aided by his 80% takedown success.

Results: Teixeira via Submission

Gray Maynard (-210) vs. T.J. Grant (+170)

This one doesn’t need much explanation. Maynard’s goal is to get this fight on the ground and smother his opponent, looking for opportunities to strike while advancing his position on top.

Maynard has recorded at least one takedown in nine of his 12 fights, including at least five in three bouts. On the contrary, Grant has been out-taken down 18-1 in his three UFC losses to Dong Hyun Kim, Johny Hendricks and Ricardo Almeida, all decision losses.

Expect Maynard to take a similar approach and ground out a cautious decision.

Results: Maynard via Decision

Donald Cerrone (-325) vs. K.J. Noons (+250)

An intriguing bout between a pair of fighters at the crossroads of their careers, Cerrone and Noons are both coming off losses (despite most of the media saying Noons should have won his decision vs. Couture). These former title contenders are looking to work their way back to the top, but they stand in each other’s ways.

Both men are accomplished strikers with different backgrounds: Cerrone utilized a dangerous combination of Kickboxing and BJJ, often wearing his opponents down with his striking to set up a choke. Noons, on the other hand, possesses crisp boxing and Kempo karate skills, holding a combined 23-4 professional record in both. Not known as a submission fighter, he does have excellent defensive skills both on his feet and on the ground.

While evenly matched on the feet, this fight should come down to the ground game. Cerrone rarely attempts takedowns, but a telling stat is that he’s never lost a fight where he landed two or more takedowns, resulting in three subs and two decisions. However, Noons in 4-3 in fights he allows just ONE takedown, dropping those three by decision. That’s enough evidence for me.

Results: Cerrone via Decision

Other predictions:

Rick Story (-150) vs. Mike Pyle (-120)                                     Story via KO/TKO

Dennis Bermudez (-275) vs. Max Holloway (+215)           Holloway via Decision

Colton Smith (-225) vs. Robert Whittaker (+175)               Smith via Decision

Khabib Nurmagomedov (-285) vs. Abel Trujillo (+225)   Nurmagomedov via Submission

Stephen Thompson (-160) vs. Nah-Shon Burrell (+130)  Thompson via KO/TKO

Brian Bowles (-280) vs. George Roop (+220)                        Bowles via KO/TKO

Jeremy Stephens (-230) vs. Estevan Payan (+180)             Payan via Decision

For more updates and info about the world of sports, follow me on twitter at @LucasKinser. Looking forward to a great weekend of fights!

Judging in MMA

A lot has been said in recent years about the way bouts are scored under the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts. But few legitimate solutions have been offered. Sure, it’s easy to complain when your favorite fighter drops a close decision. But who is to blame? The judges? The system? The fighters for “leaving it in the hands of the judges” as Dana White frequently says?

My stance is that the judges are doing the best they can with the steaming pile of crap we call the parameters laid out in the Unified Rules: effective striking, effective grappling, control of the ring/fighting area, effective aggressiveness and defense.

A full copy of the rules can be found at http://www.ufc.com/discover/sport/rules-and-regulations. Section 14 contains the judging criteria.

Effective striking is simply defined as “the total number of legal strikes landed by a contestant.” That is about as straight-forward as you can get, but it lacks much detail. Is this total strikes or significant strikes? What about damage, knockdowns, etc.?

Effective grappling is a bit more detailed. “Effective grappling is judged by considering the amount of successful executions of a legal takedown and reversals. Examples of factors to consider are take downs from standing position to mount position, passing the guard to mount position, and bottom position fighters using an active threatening guard.” This also leaves plenty of holes to consider. How much more weight should be placed on a reversal if the fighter was mounted? Going back to the effective striking, what if a fighter lands 100 strikes from the bottom? Also, effective grappling says nothing about submission attempts or escapes.

As for Octagon control, “Fighting area control is judged by determining who is dictating the pace, location and position of the bout. Examples of factors to consider are countering a grappler’s attempt at takedown by remaining standing and legally striking, taking down an opponent to force a ground fight, creating threatening submission attempts, passing the guard to achieve mount, and creating striking opportunities.”

So basically, little pieces of all the other four categories combined? And submission attempts fall under the “Octagon Control” category? Yeah, that makes perfect sense…

“Effective aggressiveness means moving forward and landing a legal strike.” Ah, the Leonard Garcia category. However, how frequently have we seen fighters do the exact opposite and still win fights? (See Sanchez-Gomi)

“Effective defense means avoiding being struck, taken down or reversed while countering with offensive attacks.” I didn’t even know there was a fourth category until I did some research. Basically, the ability to keep from having the first four things done to you.

What none of these parameters take into account is what was considered the No. 1 criteria in the Pride FC days: effort to finish a fight by way of submission or knockout. Isn’t that the goal of any fight? Hopefully the athletic commissions will refine these decade-old rules. But for now on, if judges make a bad call, don’t boo them. Boo the California State Athletic Commission for coming up with this backwards list nearly 13 years ago.

UFC on Fuel TV 8 Predictions

With just 10 weeks to go before I graduate college, this borderline intrepid reporter decided to start posting a little more. For now on, each UFC event (and maybe a few non-UFC ones) will get their own prediction post by yours truly. Hopefully my first installment of 2013 will help my readers win a few dollars in the new year.

Wanderlei Silva (+220) vs. Brian Stann (-280)

After seven years away from Japan, Silva returns to the nation where he became a legend with a few more gray hairs, wrinkles and losses. But that’s not to say he isn’t a threat to every man in the Middleweight and Light Heavyweight ranks. The author of 24 knockout victories and three Fight of the Year honors has never been this big of an underdog, so he’ll certainly have a chip on his shoulder when entering the ring. In fact, the last time he was +150 or worse was against Cung Le: his last win.

Stann has accomplished more outside the ring than anyone in UFC history. A Silver Star recipient during the Iraq war, he’s one of the best fighters ever produced by the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. The former WEC Light Heavyweight Champion has heavy hands and hasn’t been knocked out since 2008, so he’s got more than a puncher’s chance in a standup battle. But he’s lost three of his last five bouts at Light Heavyweight, including that KO loss in ’08.

Odds are this fight won’t go to the ground, but if it does, neither fighter is easy to submit. This one will probably go three rounds with both fighters bloodied and bruised in the end. This is a much closer bout than the betting odds dictate, but with Silva returning to Japan, I give him the nod.

Stefan Struve (-190) vs. Mark Hunt (+155)

The UFC’s talent fighter, Struve’s towering physique is overshadowed only by his elite skills both standing and on the ground. A disciple of PRIDE veteran Bob Schrijber, he’s a skilled kickboxer with a brown belt in BJJ and 16 submission wins to his name. Perhaps just as impressive is his finishing ability: only one of his 30 fights has ended at the final bell. All in all, a true Mixed Martial Artist.

Hunt is less well-rounded, but no less dangerous. The 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix Champion has arguably the best chin in MMA history, while his punching power has dropped the likes of Stefan Leko and Jerome LeBanner. His takedown defense is superb (70%) and he’s the only man to beat both Mirko Cro Cop and Wanderlei Silva in PRIDE.

All the physical measurements favor Struve. He’s 14 inches taller, has a nine-inch reach advantage and is 13 years younger that the “Super Samoan.” But the last time Struve fought a short, fat heavyweight, he was knocked out by Roy Nelson. A repeat performance is possible, but Hunt’s six submission losses hint toward No. 7 coming tonight.

Takanori Gomi (+200) vs. Diego Sanchez (-260)

A legend of Japanese MMA, Gomi dominated in his PRIDE FC days, the PRIDE and Shooto champion has used his slick boxing and excellent takedown defense to dominate his competition for years in the Far East. He knocked out a who’s who of lightweights through his career, including Tyson Griffin, Jens Pulver, Hayato Sakurai and Luiz Azeredo. However, he’s been susceptible to submissions through much of his career, dropping six fights via sub, including his last four losses.

Sanchez has never fought in Japan, but has been successful from Day One in the USA. The TUF 1 Middleweight winner and former UFC Lightweight contender saw most of his success as Welterweight, earning Fight of the Night honors in his last three contests at that weight. Outside of a fight stopped by a cut, he has never been finished. however, he hasn’t won a fight by submission (outside of submission via strikes) since 2004.

This has all the makings of an exciting decision win for either fighters. Sanchez missing weight concerns me, since that might affect his cardio in the later rounds. Despite having a slight advantage in reach and height, I feel “The Dream” will wear down and allow Gomi to do what he does best: pick his opponent apart from the outside. Sanchez’s excellent chin should give Gomi a nod from the judges.

Yushin Okami (+170) vs. Hector Lombard (-210)

Arguably the most successful Japanese fighter in UFC history, Okami has notched a dozen wins inside the Octagon, including decisions over Mark Munoz, Alan Belcher and Nate Marquardt. The Judo and Wajyutsu practitioner usually racks up points either in the standup or on the ground and rarely gets finished…expect in his last trip to Japan vs. Tim Boetsch at UFC 144.

Lombard’s gargantuan win streak was broken up by Boetsch at UFC 149, but the Olympic Judoka rebounded with a knockout over submission artist Rousimar Palhares. He rarely hears the final bell, notching 25 finishes in his 32 career bouts. But his record in Japan features decision losses to Gegard Mousasi and Akihiro Gono in PRIDE.

Okami has never lost a fight where he outstruck his opponent, so keeping active on his feet and staying on top on the ground will be key to his success. Lombard has the power to knock out the Team Quest product, but barring a one-punch KO, I see Okami dictating the pace and location of the bout and grinding out a decision win.

Mizuto Hirota (-135) vs. Rani Yahya (+105) 

A veteran of 19 bouts in Japan, Hirota makes his UFC debut holding credentials as a Sengoku, DEEP and Cage Force Lightweight titlist as well as a Shooto title contender. The well-rounded judoka has good hands on his feet and has only been finished once: a hammerlock loss to Shinya Aoki in 2009. He’s coming off a decision loss to Pat Healy in Strikeforce.

Yahya may not have any MMA belts in his collection, but the title he earned may be more impressive than all of Hirota’s success: an Abu Dhabi Submission Wrestling title in 2007. The grappling wizard takes being called a choke artist as a compliment, as 12 of his 15 submission wins come by way of choke.

The deciding factor in this bout will be takedowns. Yahya has a distinct disadvantage on his feet, but has only landed 27 percent of his takedowns in 10 UFC and WEC fights. Expect Hirota to pick him apart, rock the Brazilian and finish the fight with ground and pound for his first UFC win.

Dong Hyun Kim (-310) vs. Siyar Bahadurzada (+240)

The last time Kim fought in Japan, it was for the DEEP Welterweight title in 2007. He’s seen plenty of success in the Land of the Rising Sun, going 7-0-1 with five KOs, including one via slam. The high-level judoka has shown excellent defense with a 60% striking and 81% takedown defense in 10 UFC bouts.

Bahadurzada, on the other hand, has displayed only offense in his short UFC career with a 42 second KO of Paulo Thiago in his debut. The Afghani striker also saw success in Japan, winning the Shooto Middleweight title in 2007 and going 1-2 in three bouts for Sengoku.

Expect Kim to weather the early storm from “The Great” and force the fight to the ground, where “Stun Gun” should have a distance advantage en route to a ground and pound victory.

Undercard bout predictions:

Brad Tavares (-125) def. Riki Fukuda (-105) via decision

Bryan Caraway (+175) def. Takeya Mizugaki (-225) via submission (probably a rear-naked choke)

Cristiano Marcello (-130) def. Kazuki Tokudome (EVEN) via submission (either a RNC or triangle choke)

Alex Caceres (-120) def. Kyung Ho Kang (-110) via decision

Hyun Gyu Lim (-285) def. Marcelo Guimaraes (+225) via KO/TKO (ground and pound)

Preview of UFC 148: Silva vs. Sonnen II

Good afternoon my muchachos, welcome back to Cardiac Attack Sports, you’re No. 1 source for my opinion on the world of sports.

Saturday is one of the UFC’s most anticipated rematches of all time, possibly surpassing some of the sport’s most awaited second bouts like Couture-Liddell II. The UFC’s most dominating champion of the last 10 years, Anderson Silva, takes on a trash-talking wrestler in Chael Sonnen. It’s Brazil vs. America in a bout between a pair of bitter rivals. It doesn’t get much better than that for a main event. Add that to the retirement fight of one of the UFC’s most successful fighters in Tito Ortiz, plus a bout featuring the San Shou legend Cung Le, and this should be one heck of a Saturday night.

All statistical information is courtesy of Fightmetric.com unless noted otherwise.

Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen

Generally speaking, Silva has always dictated where his fights will take place. If he feels comfortable in his ability to submit an opponent, he’ll allow a takedown and work from the bottom. If he feels he can out-strike an opponent, he keeps the fight on its feet. However, that all came crashing down when Sonnen fought the Brazilian at UFC 117 in August of 2010.

Sonnen wanted the fight on the ground, got it there and kept it there. He out-landed Silva 89-29 on significant strikes, landed three takedowns and performed six guard passes as he out-wrestled Silva for 4 ½ rounds. Then he made a mistake, left his arm and head too close to Silva’s chest and got choked out with less than two minutes to spare. It was the closest Silva had come to a non-DQ defeat since Ryo Chonan’s flying heel hook victory back at Pride Shockwave 2004.

For Silva to win, he has to have worked on his takedown defense over the past few months. He could theoretically use his elite BJJ to land another sub, but it’s no sure bet against any high-caliber grappler in the UFC. His best bet is to keep the fight on its feet and use his UFC-record striking accuracy try and wear Sonnen out. He’s tough to hit as well, averaging just .91 strikes absorbed per minute, but it’s probably Silva’s best bet to win.

For Sonnen, this fight is all about backing up your mouth. You talked the talk and said you were the best fighter in the world, not it’s time to fight the No. 1 ranked pound-for-pound fighter to see if you can cash that check. His key to success is simple: takedown, takedown, takedown! Force Silva to relive his UFC 117 ordeal and wear him down. Silva has never been knocked out or TKO’d, so try and grind out a decision victory over 25 minutes. Don’t go for submissions, don’t try to trade with him. Keep doing what got you here and wrestle.

This fight has kept me up at night. I know, I’m a UFC geek but hey, this is what I do. The significance of Silva’s rib injury in their last fight could be minimal, but I feel it played enough of a role to reduce his core strength and, inevitable, his takedown defense. If he’s 100% for this fight, he should have less trouble in scrambles. However, Sonnen can do serious damage if he gets you on the ground just once, so it’ll be interesting who can win this war of attrition.

Expect this to go to distance with no loving embrace at the end. I have Silva eeking out a 48-47 decision by doing enough damage on his feet to prevent Sonnen from closing strong. Sonnen may well win two of the first three rounds, but I feel the passion Silva has displayed leading up to this fight is heartfelt, so he’ll do his best to inflict as much bodily harm as possible. But Sonnen is a tough SOB and won’t go down quietly.

Prediction: Silva by Decision

Tito Ortiz vs. Forrest Griffin

It’s finally come down to this. The original Ultimate Fighter in Griffin takes on one of the sport’s most dominating champions in Ortiz. This rubber match features two legends past their prime, but ready to rumble at a moment’s notice. Ortiz wants to exit the Octagon with not only a place in the UFC Hall of Fame, but a win to top off his stellar career. On the other hand, the author of three Fight of the Year selections wants to keep from getting knocked out for the fourth time in his last six fights.

Ortiz has been plagued with injuries for the better part of five years, but appears healthy and ready to give it one last go. He’s posted a 1-6-1 record since late 2006 with three TKO and three decision defeats. Nobody has ever questioned this guy’s heart, but many question his continued fight career. We the fans don’t want him ending up like Gary Goodridge (for those who don’t know the name, he was one of Pride FC’s toughest fighters who had some brutal wins and took some bloody losses before retiring in 2010. Now he is 46 years old and suffering from Dementia).

For Ortiz to make it a W to end his career, he’ll have to utilize his wrestling prowess and stay in dominant positions. Griffin can escape from his back, so the best recipe for victory is a conservative approach with plenty of Lay & Pray. Do some damage with strikes and go for a finish if he sees one, but don’t make any stupid mistakes and get reversed.

For Griffin, he needs to stuff Tito’s takedowns and try to get the former champion to gas out. He’s come on strong early in fights just to lose stamina midway through the second round, so weathering the early storm is a must. If he can get top position, use a similar strategy to Ortiz and work for dominant positions to score some points. Ortiz is a crafty veteran that has plenty of escapes.

If these two pieces of advice look similar, it’s because they are. I feel these two former Light Heavyweight champions are almost identical in skills at this stage of their careers. The main difference is that Griffin hasn’t had the amount miles on his body as Ortiz, and therefore should be able to execute his gameplan best and earn a decision win.

Prediction: Griffin by Decision

Cung Le vs. Patrick Cote

One of the best all-around strikers in the world today in Le faces off against a formidable kickboxer in the Canadian Cote, both coming off far different paths. Le is coming off a loss to aging legend Wanderlei Silva at UFC 139 while Cote has won four in a row after being cut by the UFC in late 2010. This is sure to be a candidate for both Knockout and Fight of the Night as Le has never won (or lost) a fight by any method other than KO/TKO and Cote has the knockout power to oblige the Taekwondo Black Belt.

Le has a number of factors working for and against him in this fight. For one, he knows Cote will be willing to trade with him, which naturally gives the world-class striker an advantage However, Le is also 40 years old and doesn’t have the Octagon experience of most fighters his age, having only fought nine times in MMA. Le’s best bet is to make this a kickboxing bout: keep the fight standing and unleash you’re whole bag of tricks in hopes of a first-round KO. At his age, the later the fight goes, the more danger he’s in of gassing out. It’s a risky approach, but it’ll also make for an epic bout.

Cote has a serious chip on his shoulder since being cut by the UFC just two bouts after fighting for the Middleweight title. The last time he fought a striker of Le’s caliber was that aforementioned title bout in which Anderson Silva landed 73 percent of his significant strikes while Cote failed on all three takedown attempts. He’ll have to change that if he want to beat Le, whose takedown defense isn’t as up-to-par as Silva’s. Cote has an advantage on the ground and can certainly steal a win with ground and pound, the recipe for success against a pure striker like Le.

However, I feel the level of competition that Le presents is simply too much for Cote. He’s one of those fighters who’s excellent on the smaller circuits (14-0 in non-UFC fights) but average in the big show (7-7 in UFC bouts). Expect Le to baffle him with his unorthodox striking game and take a KO victory in round 1 via highlight fashion.

Prediction: Le by KO

Dong Hyun Kim vs. Demian Maia

A classic matchup of Judo vs. BJJ pits the 4th Dan Black Belt Kim up against a 3rd degree Black Belt in Maia. Both fighters are excellent representatives of their respective disciplines and should give the fans a taste of the classic style vs. style bouts of yesteryear.

Kim gives his opponents a formidable combination of martial arts kicks and judo throws, a winning combination so far as his only legitimate defeat came against interim Welterweight champion Carlos Condit. “Stun Gun” also is fighting in Las Vegas, the home of each of his last six bouts, so he’s used to the surrounding and atmosphere of a bout in the city. Kim should use his Judo to his advantage, stuff any takedowns from Maia and utilize a few Judo throws, finishing up with strikes in dominant top positions.

However, Maia is no slough on the ground. The 2007 Abu Dhabi Submission Wrestling champion has notched four Submission of the Night honors in his career, including a triangle choke win over Chael Sonnen. But he hasn’t won by submission since 2009, instead mostly winning and losing by decision. To defeat Kim, he’ll have to break that trend and take more risks on the ground. He can’t lie in his guard and wait for an opening, he has to create them or else end up beaten and bruised then the final bell sounds.

With Maia coming off a rough performance against Chris Weidman, I feel that Kim should win this fight if he sticks to a grapple-first gameplan and grinds out a decision or TKO. However, since Maia has only been finished once in his career, I feel inclined to give Kim the fight by decision.

Prediction: Kim via Decision

Chad Mendes vs. Cody McKenzie

Poor Cody McKenzie: he was one of my favorite fighters on that season of TUF, but he’s in way over his head in this bout against Mendes. I’m not going to go into many details except to say his only chance is a “McKenzietine,” something Mendes, something an All-American wrestler who’s never been submitted probably won’t fall for. Mendes will get a takedown, take a dominant position and ground and pound McKenzie until the ref steps in. It’s an unfortunate mismatch that the UFC shouldn’t have put together.

To be fair, if McKenzie wins I’ll post a video apology online and send it to his twitter account. You have my word.

Prediction: Mendes by TKO

Ivan Menjivar vs. Mike Easton

In a bout between a pair of passionate brawlers, “The Pride of El Salvador” Menjivar takes on a well-rounded mixed martial artist in Easton. Both men have solid BJJ backgrounds, but have utilized their striking most in the Octagon, averaging 3.52 and 4.66 significant strikes per minute in the UFC bouts.

Menjivar has two significant disadvantages in this fight. His reach is four inches shorter than Easton, despite being the same height, and he lands only 27 percent of his takedowns while Easton had defended all attempts in his UFC career.

Easton, a Taekwondo Black Belt, should use that reach advantage to his advantage and stay on the outside, peppering his short-armed opponent with strikes and waiting for the right moment to unload a knockout blow. All signs point to Easton taking this fight by knockout.

Prediction: Easton by KO

Now for the quick predictions on this event’s undercard:

Gleison Tibau vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov

Don’t try to pronounce their names, just enjoy this entertaining matchup. Tibau is a large lightweight with excellent BJJ skills while Nurmagomedov is an unbeaten Sambo expert and military hand-to-hand combat champion. While the Russian has some great credentials, he is very untested against high-caliber competition, while Tibau has made 15 trips inside the Octagon. Expect that experience to put the Brazilian over the edge via decision in an exciting ground battle.

Prediction: Tibau by Decision

Melvin Guillard vs. Fabricio Camões

A pair of veterans will grace the cage here as the hard-hitting Guillard takes on a 3rd degree BJJ and former Vale Tudo fighter in Camões. If there’s one thing Guillard hates, it’s submissions. Nine of his 10 career losses came via submission, including eight via some form of choke. Luckily for Camões, who lasted over 25 minutes against Anderson Silva in a bare-knuckle Vale Tudo match in 1997, five of his seven submission wins have come by choke. It’s just too hard to ignore, so I’m going with the Brazilian

Prediction: Camões by Submission   

Constantinos Philippou vs. Riki Fukuda

In a war between the decedents of two island nations, the well-rounded Philippou takes on former Japanese pro wrestler and DEEP Middleweight titlist Fukuda. This fight will come down to takedown defense, as Philippou posts a 79 percent defense while Fukuda attempts an average of three takedowns per 15 minutes. Eight of Fukuda’s last 10 wins came by decision, mostly due to his ground control and excellent top-side grappling. With Fukuda’s experience in both professional and amateur wrestling, I feel the Cyprus native will most likely succumb to a lay and pray bout, with Fukuda taking a decision win.

Prediction: Fukuda by Decision

John Alessio vs. Shane Roller

An elder statesman on the MMA scene despite being just 33 years of age, Alessio is taking on a former WEC star and D-1 wrestler in Roller. How elder is Alessio? He fought Pat Miletich for the UFC Lightweight (170lbs) title at UFC 26 in 2000. As for Roller, he starred at the MMA breeding ground for wrestlers in Oklahoma State, earning three All-American selections. Alessio has an impressive 75 percent takedown defense, while Roller only brings down 33 percent of his attempted shots. With that in mind, Alessio should be able to keep this fight standing. Also, Alessio has 10 wins via rear-naked choke, while most wrestlers are more than willing to give up their backs when on the ground. Expect Alessio to dictate the fight and sink in the hooks for a submission victory.

Prediction: Alessio by Submission

Rafaello Oliveira vs. Yoislandy Izquierdo

In what will certainly be an interesting fight, a BJJ Black Belt in Oliveira will take on a former Cuban military veteran turned defector in Izquierdo. The young Cuban is a high-level Karate and San Shou fighter with devastating strikes, but little submission defense at this stage in his career. He was dominating his last opponent in Reza Madadi before getting taken down and submitted. Therefore, expect the grappler to take down the striker in what may be a very short fight.

Prediction: Oliveira by Submission

Thanks for making it through all 2,500 words. If you actually read the whole article, give yourself a pat on the back and go buy an ice cream cone to reward yourself. I’m Lucas Kinser signing off for Cardiac Attack Sports. Be sure to follow me on twitter at @LucasKinser or find me on Facebook. Take care and enjoy Saturday’s action!  

Preview of UFC on FX 4: Maynard vs. Guida

It’s been a while my friends, did you miss me? I haven’t posted for a couple months due to the insane stress of final exams as well as a minor heart surgery, but now I’m back to 100% and ready to give you my two cents on this weekend’s upcoming UFC card.

Joe Silva and the rest of the UFC’s matchmakers have done a solid job putting together a number of exciting bouts in a Cable TV broadcast, which has been a challenge in the past. If you can’t watch this showcase live on Friday, DVR it because it might be the best free card of the summer.

Let’s start from the top and move down, shall we?

Gray Maynard vs. Clay Guida

A battle between two of the division’s top wrestlers pits a powerful All-American out of Michigan State in Maynard against a tenacious takedown artist in Guida. Both combatants have faced top competition and produced amazing fights, including a combined seven Fight of the Night and three Fight of the Year honors.

While both men will surely give it their all, I feel Maynard is superior in most all facets of his game to Guida. His 85 percent takedown defense shows he can keep off his back, which is where Guida will try to plant the former lightweight title contender. If Maynard can take Guida down, his superior top control should lead to a solid unanimous decision triumph.

Prediction: Maynard def. Guida via decision

Sam Stout vs. Spencer Fisher

The all-important rubber match of a classic trilogy matches Canadian kickboxer Sam Stout against a high-pace brawler in Spencer Fisher. The pair is 1-1 with two decisions going to either man, including an epic bout on UFC Fight Night in 2007 that was selected one of the 100 greatest fights in UFC history. The two haven’t faced off since that date while cementing themselves as the division’s gatekeepers.

This will surely be another standup war between the two fighters, but father time has made its impact on Fisher. A loser of four of his last five bouts, the 36-year-old is near the end of his career while the 28-year-old Stout still seems to be going strong. If Fisher has one good fight left in him, he’ll give it here against a foe he respects. However, Stout’s superior youth, reach, and takedown defense should provide this striker from north of the border his seventh win inside the Octagon, most likely going to distance for the ninth time since 2008.

Prediction: Stout def. Fisher via decision

Brian Ebersole vs. TJ Waldburger

One of the night’s more intriguing matchups puts Brian Ebersole, an MMA veteran with 65 bouts in six different countries, against TJ Waldburger, a BJJ brown belt coming off a pair of first-round submission wins. Both fighters have taken on their share of tough competition, with Ebersole beating a who’s who of former UFC talents and Waldburger holding submission victories over Pete Spratt and Shannon Ritch.

This fights matches up a fighter in Ebersole who has never been KO/TKO’d against Waldburger who has never been submitted. Another interesting matchup to look at is Ebersole’s 85 percent takedown defense vs. Waldburger’s 77% takedown success rate. This bout is a coin flip in my book, but I feel Ebersole’s nine submission losses are too much of a liability against a submission artist. If Waldburger gets Ebersole to the mat, look for him to finish the bout quickly.

Prediction: Waldburger def. Ebersole via submission

Ross Pearson vs. Cub Swanson

This cross-Atlantic showdown matches an excellent striker who can grapple in Pearson against an excellent grappler who can strike in Swanson. Both fighters have had their share of success, with Pearson being the TUF Season 9 lightweight winner and Swanson as a three-time Fight of the Night winner during his time in the WEC.

Swanson showed an improved standup game in his KO win over George Roop in January, but Pearson is a well-rounded striker with a black belt in Taekwondo. He also holds the rank of brown belt in Judo, which shows in his 79 percent takedown defense. If Pearson makes this into a kickboxing match, which I feel he will, expect Swanson to succumb to strikes in an action-packed bout.

Prediction: Pearson def. Swanson via TKO

For the undercard, I’ll provide a brief summary of how I feel the fight will play out along with my picks.

Hatsu Hioki vs. Ricardo Lamas

Hioki’s superior ground game should help propel Japan’s top pound-for-pound fighter to victory over a solid BJJ specialist in Lamas. Prediction: Hioki by decision.

Ramsey Nijem vs. C.J. Keith

TUF 13’s runner-up faces a tough test in Army veteran C.J. Keith, but Nijem’s solid wrestling should help bring down his lanky opponent and lead to a gritty ground victory. Prediction: Nijem by TKO

Steven Siler vs. Joey Gambino

Siler, who is 15-2 since mid-2007, should be a tough test for unbeaten prospect Joey Gambino. He’ll be a mainstay in the UFC’s featherweight division someday, but Siler is too experienced and long for the young New Yorker just yet. Prediction: Siler by submission

Rick Story vs. Brock Jardine

“The Horror” Story has had success against wrestlers in the past (see his win vs. Johny Hendricks), but the power-punching grappler Jardine will should put up a good fight in a losing effort. Prediction: Story by decision

Nick Catone vs. Chris Camozzi

Catone hasn’t fought in 15 months, so the layer of ring rust should be fairly thick. Look for Camozzi to use his Muay Thai skills and land a knockout blow on the former D-1 wrestler. Prediction: Camozzi by KO

Matt Brown vs. Luis Ramos

Brown may have an iron will to go along with his iron chin, but the veteran has had cardio issues in his last few fights. Ramos is a Nova Uniao trained fighter who has worked with Vale Tudo legend Marco Ruas in the past, so I see him being prepared for his return to the Octagon. Prediction: Ramos by decision

Dan Miller vs. Ricardo Funch

UFC title contender Jim Miller’s older brother is an excellent gatekeeper for his division, defeating lesser talent regularly while falling to the sport’s better fighters. Funch is hoping to earn his first Octagon win, losing his first three tries. Make it four. Prediction: Miller by TKO

Ken Stone vs. Dustin Pague

Stone is a tenacious grappler who has shown excellent takedowns and chokes in his previous fights. On the other hand, Pague fought just a few weeks ago and has the lanky body type that lends itself to being taken down easily. Score one for the wrestler. Prediction: Stone by submission

Thanks everyone for reading my blog. You can follow me on twitter for more prognostication at @LucasKinser or look me up on Facebook. Have a great day and keep the sport growing!

 

The Rise and Fall of Alistair Overeem

On Nov. 16, 2007, Dutch kickboxer Alistair Overeem won the Strikeforce Heavyweight title in dramatic fashion, tipping off a 12-fight unbeaten streak. The behemoth took out seven fighters inside of 90 seconds, won multiple titles in MMA, and earned top honors in the K-1 World Grand Prix. Arguably his 2010 campaign was the best of any combat sports heavyweight in history.

Now, his name is a punch line among mixed martial arts aficionados…and we all knew he was doping. Earlier in his career, Overeem fought between 185 and 205 pounds with mixed results. From Aug. 2003 to Feb. 2007, he went 8-7. In his UFC 141 victory over Brock Lesnar, he tipped the scales at 263 pounds.

Not that every pro athlete who mysteriously bulks up 60-80 pounds in five years is a cheater, but it certainly raised some eyebrows. Especially when the Dutchman skipped a mandatory PED test before his last bout, leading the Nevada State Athletic Commission to grant him a “conditional” license with more random tests.

Surprise! Random Test!

Overeem’s T/E ratio was 14-to-1, whereas the legally allowed amount to fight is just 6-to-1.

Here’s hoping the UFC does the right thing and cuts Overeem immediately. If he wants to come back, he’ll need to earn his spot after a public apology, a few years fighting overseas and a promise to the MMA faithful not to F us over again.

Thanks for following my blog. Please follow me on Twitter at @LucasKinser or find me on Facebook.