The UFC bandwagon rolls into Dallas, Texas tonight just days after the highly entertaining Ultimate Fight Night 19 card wowed the crowds in nearby Oklahoma. A repeat performance of that level of excitment would suit everyone and there’s certainly some potential for an enjoyable night of fights to be had here.
UFC 103 Main Card Predictions:
Rich Franklin Vs Vitor Belfort
For me this is a fight that has the potential to go either way. A key difference between the two fighters is consistency. Franklin is one of the UFC’s most consistent and dependable performers with a 26-4-1 record against a string of good quality competitors and with his only defeats coming at the hands of some of the sports top stars – Anderson Silva (humbled twice), Lyoto Machida (before we knew quite how good he was about to become) and Dan Henderson (in a split decision that could have went either way).
Belfort (18-8) on the other hand is notorious for inconsistent performances and a certain weakness to his mental game. Those who point to that will have been concerned with his slightly less chiseled physique than normal at yesterday’s weigh-ins’ as a potential early warning sign. To be fair his losses have come at some of the sports biggest names in Randy Couture (twice), Chuck Liddell, Alistair Overeem (twice), Tito Ortiz and Dan Henderson and Kazushi Sakuraba. On the other hand his victories haven’t always been of the same caliber though memorable vitories in his early days of the UFC include Randy Couture (in the 2nd of their 3 fights) and an explosive demolition of an, at the time, up and coming Wanderlei Silva.
Despite his inconsistencies, on his day Belfort is an impressive fighter with strong, quick hands and a killer instinct when he sees his opponent in trouble. These attributes were clearly demonstrated in his last fight with veteran fighter Matt Lindland, when he caught him with a hard punch that sent him to the floor and then swarmed on him with some brutal ground n pound that produced one of the most disconcerting knockouts in recent memory as Lindland lay out cold for what seemed like an eternity. It was a clear reminder that Belfort is still a very dangerous man and the win helped pave the way for a return to the UFC.
Rich Franklin will look to use good movement to weather a potential early storm from Belfort and if he can take the match into the later rounds, as he often does, then he will likely take a decision victory. Perhaps a safer strategy for the well rounded Franklin is too look to clinch and take this fight to the ground nullifying Belforts early onslaught and this would be another potential route to victory for him. Belfort has good all-round skills too but is more likely to be looking to take Franklin out on his feet and he has the tools to do it. Even in his last win over Wanderlei Silva there were times when Franklin looked somewhat overwhelmed when Silva hemmed him in and threw flurries of punches and Belfort could do likewise with a better end result. In the end though only one fighter can win and I think Franklin has enough experience to keep Belfort at bay.
Mirco Cro Cop Vs Junior Dos Santos
Another tough fight to pick considering we don’t know which version of Cro Cop will show up. On the evidence of his fights in the UFC thus far, it is likely that it’ll be a less impressive version than the one that attained legendary status head kicking his way to the very top of the heavyweight division in the Pride Fighting Championships. Meanwhile his opponent at 25 years of age, and with victories in his first two bouts in the UFC is on an upward spiral. The heavy hitting Brazilian has so far steam-rollered over his adversaries en-route to a 8-1 record with none of his fights lasting beyond the first round. As impressive as that is, it does also point to the fact that he is an unknown quantity should the fight reach into the later rounds. Clearly Cro Cop will be the far more experienced competitor. As much as we would all love to see a return to form for the Croatian it’s hard to shake the feeling that his best days are now behind him and so I’m going with a win Dos Santos, though I believe Cro Cop will hold out at least until the 2nd round before succumbing to the Brazilian’s knockout power.
Martin Kampmann Vs Paul Daley
Originally scheduled as an intriguing title eliminator between Kampmann and Mike Swick, an injury to Swick forced the UFC into a late change that sees the UK’s Paul ‘Semtex’ Daley move up from the undercard to face a tough matchup in his first appearance in the octagon. Daley is unlikely to be overwhelmed by the occasion as the 26 year old is already a seasoned competitor having 31 fights under his belt with 21 victories and 16 KO’s / TKO’s in his record. An exciting stand-up fighter with an explosive punch, Daley is a worthy addition to the welterweight division but in this instance it is likely that he is staring down the barrel of a first defeat as Kampmann is a talented and shrewd competitor who will be well aware that Daley’s weakness is on the ground. Expect Kampmann to take him down early to avoid Daley’s power and lock in a submission.
Josh Koscheck Vs Frank Trigg
Both fighters have plenty to say but I suspect Koscheck will have the last word here in a solid match-up. As Trigg himself has aknowledged on the UFC Countdown show, Koscheck is like a younger, faster version of himself. I think it’s fair to say this is a fight that he would rather not have taken in his first fight back in the UFC but a convincing win would put him back into the spotlight so he’ll be looking to put the experience gained from a 12 year pro fight career to good use. What he says is true though, in perhaps more areas than he mentioned Koscheck looks to have the edge and I suspect he will show this on his way to a late victory by ground n pound (though a unanimous decision would not be too surprising either).
Tyson Griffin Vs Hermes Franca
It’s not hard to pick a competitive match-up in the talented lightweight division and this is certainly one of them. With Tyson Griffin holding a record five ‘Fight Of The Night’ awards to his name the hope is that this fight will set the tone for an exciting main card. A relatively safe bet here is that it will go to a decision considering that Griffin’s last 5 fights have ended in that fashion, whilst Franca’s last 3 have done likewise. Based on that fact the winner is more likely to be Griffin who is a master at grinding out decision victories using his strong wrestling base. Franca on the other hand will be hoping to pull off the 12th submission of his career but I see Griffin being smart enough to stay out of danger and nullifying that threat.
UFC 103 Undercard Predictions:
Efrain Escudero Vs Cole Miller
Drew Mcfreddries Vs Tomasz Drwal
Jim Miller Vs Steve Lopez
Rafaello Oliveria Vs Nik Lentz
Rick Story Vs Brian Foster
Elliot Marshall Vs Jason Britz
Vladimir Matyushenko Vs Igor Pokrajac
Rob Emerson Vs Rafael Dos Anjos
Fight of The Night Prediction:
Franklin won the award for his last fight with Silva and if this one with Belfort does go the predicted full 3 rounds then I can see it going the same way.