The UFC makes it’s maiden voyage to Australia for UFC 110 this weekend, and they’ve brought some finely balanced fights, such as Nogueira – Velasquez and Bisping – Silva, which should ensure that this is an entertaining card to watch unfold.

(Note:  Elvis Sinosic Vs Chris Haseman has been pulled from the event due to a shoulder injury for Sinosic, while Anthony Perosh steps in to fight Mirko Cro Cop after Ben Rothwell fell ill during the week.)

Main Card:

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira Vs Cain Velasquez

UFC 110’s main event sees the unbeaten Cain Velasquez (7-0) taking a step up in competition to fight one of the legends of the sport, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (32-5-1 1nc).

Velasquez has until now torn through his opponents in the octagon, showing surprising agility for a heavyweight, an unlimited gas-tank, dominant wrestling, and relentless ground and pound.

Nogueira has strived to improve his athleticism in training, though it’s unlikely to be enough to close the gap with his younger counterpart.  He is the far more experience fighter though, and looked good against another wrestler, Randy Couture in his last outing at UFC 102. On that occasion he had a noticeable advantage with his boxing skills, and I believe that will also be the case against Velasquez if this fight plays out on the feet.

I don’t think it will pan out that way however. Velasquez has consistently shown the same game-plan in his previous fights, using his striking to set-up his take-downs at the earliest opportunity, and that’s unlikely to change here. I believe his superior speed, explosiveness, and tenacity will ensure he get’s the fight where he wants it.

From their it’s a matter of whether he can keep  Nogueira on the mat while staying out of his deadly assortment of fight-ending submissions.

Prediction:

This is a very close match-up but I’m going with Velasquez due to his relative youth, conditioning and determination. I think he’ll have difficulty keeping ‘Big Nog’ down, but that won’t stop him from trying over and over again. I don’t see him stopping the Brazilian, but he will earn numerous point-scoring take-downs and demonstrate octagon control, which will help him get the nod from the judges.

It’s far from a certainty, but I’m going with Cain Velasquez to win by decision.

Wanderlei Silva Vs Michael Bisping

It’s fair to say that Wanderlei Silva’s return to the UFC hasn’t went according to plan, recording only one win in four fights, but with a drop down to middleweight he hopes to revive his fortunes against the UK’s Michael Bisping.

Bisping is no pushover, though after being knocked out by Dan Henderson at UFC 100, and then knocked down by Denis Kang in his last fight, he must have some trepidations about facing a tried and tested knockout puncher like Silva.

To be fair the Brazilian’s chin has also seen better days after several knockout losses in recent years.  He has stated publicly that he believes Bisping does not have enough power to knock him out however, and is likely to throw caution to the wind as he attempts to end this fight inside the distance.

On a more positive note Bisping showed good ground skills against Kang, both defensively in the first round, and offensively in the second to get himself back into, and eventually win the fight. If he can keep himself away from Silva’s KO power and take the fight to the ground when the opportunity arises, then he has a potential route to victory.

Prediction:

It’s a tough fight to call. I believe much depends on Bisping’s mental game. If he makes basic errors like he did against Henderson, or comes out tentatively in the opening exchanges as he did against Kang, then I can see him getting KO’d early. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt however. I believe that he will mix up his striking with take-downs and ground n pound to claim a decision against Silva, who will feel the effects of his first cut to 185lbs in the later rounds.

I’ll stick my neck out and opt for Michael Bisping to get the win by decision.

Joe Stevenson Vs George Sotiropoulos

TUF 6 competitor George Sotiropoulos has looked good in his last few fights, but there’s no doubt he’s facing a major step up in front of his home fans as he takes on TUF season 2 winner Joe Stevenson who has looked rejuvenated since joining Greg Jackson’s camp last year.

Stevenson has been working on his striking recently which has helped to round out his game, though he’s far from the finished article in this regard, and his best work still comes on the mat.

Sotiropolous can also strike if need be and will have a reach advantage in this bout, but he too is more comfortable utilizing his ground game, with three of his four victories in the octagon coming by submission.

Experience is undoubtedly a factor here.  Stevenson is well accustomed to fighting on the big stage, and has fought the best the lightweight division has to offer over the years.  Sotiropolous on the other hand has so far spent his time in the octagon facing other TUF leftovers who have since been cut from the promotion.

Prediction:

This fight could well be decided by who can gain a dominant position on the mat. Both fighters enjoy working from top position, and I believe Stevenson has the superior strength and wrestling which will allow him to ensure that he gets the fight there.

I’m going for Joe Stevenson to win by TKO (ground and pound) in the third round.

Keith Jardine Vs Ryan Bader

An 11 fight veteran in the UFC, Keith Jardine is in need of a win at UFC 110 to ensure he still has a future in the promotion after posting back-to-back defeats.

Ryan Bader on the other hand is unbeaten in his three fights in the UFC, and hopes a victory over Jardine puts himself firmly in the mix in the upper half of the light-heavyweight division.

As always Jardine will bring his herky-jerky style of striking to this fight, while Bader has a much more conventional boxing style. Both have the power to rock their opponent, but of the two Jardine has the weaker chin, having been knocked out three times in his last six fights.

I believe Bader will engage with Jardine on the feet to begin with, but if that’s not working then he’ll be happy to revert back to his wrestling, and that may well be the key to winning this fight.

Prediction:

There’s a possibility that Jardine could gain the upper-hand in the striking, but over the course of the three rounds I think ‘The Dean Of Mean’ will be spending much of his time with his back pressed gainst the mat as Bader grinds out a decision victory.

I’m taking Ryan Bader to win by decision.

Mirko Cro Cop Vs Anthony Perosh

After Ben Rothwell pulled out at short notice due to illness, the Australian Anthony Perosh (10-5) finds himself back in the octagon for the first time since UFC 66 facing PRIDE legend Mirko Cro Cop.

Cro Cop has looked a shadow of his former self in recent visits to the octagon, and has suggested that he’s has had something of a mental block in his UFC fights which has prevented him performing to the best of his abilities.

Despite that, Perosh has his work out for him.  He will have only two days to prepare for this bout, and has to make the step up to heavyweight again after having fought at 205lbs in his recent bouts.

His hope is that he can get this fight to the ground and hope to secure a submission that would send the Australian crowd into raptures and earn him the most notable win of his seven year career.

Prediction:

While Cro Cop has struggled against fighters like Junior Dos Santos, and may have had a hard time getting past Ben Rothwell, I still think he’s got enough left in the locker to defeat the likes of Perosh. Rumor has it that Cro Cop has suffered a cut in the lead-up to the fight this week, but I don’t see the fight going long enough for that to become a factor here.

Mirko Cro Cop to win by TKO in the first round.

Prelims: (Predicted Winners Highlighted In Bold)

Stephen Bonnar Vs Krzysztof Soszynski

Chris Lytle Vs Brian Foster

CB Dollaway Vs Goran Reljic

James Te Huna Vs Igor Pokrajac

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