Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard
The general consensus is that this isn’t the most exciting title fight we’ve seen in the UFC, but it will be intriguing to see whether Edgar can gain revenge on the only man to beat him in his career so far.
He’s certainly been firing on all cylinders recently, and has a more well-rounded skill-set than his challenger. On the feet his quick, elusive style should easily eclipse Maynard’s plodding, predictable approach, but ‘The Bully’ is unlikely to exchange with him for long.
Instead his significant size advantage should allow him to stick to the tried and tested gameplan that’s taken him on an eight fight winning streak in the octagon, and that’s to use his wrestling prowess to take Edgar down repeatedly and stifle his offense.
Prediction: Just as Edgar proved to be BJ Penn’s nemesis I believe Maynard will once prove to be his. A five round decision is almost a certainty here, and I expect Maynard will live up to his nickname and ‘Bully’ Edgar on the mat for long enough to ensure he gets his hand raised and becomes the new lightweight champion.
Gray Maynard to win by decision.
Chris Leben vs. Brian Stann
This looks like being guaranteed fireworks with both Leben and Stann being more than happy to stand and trade leather in the center of the octagon.
Leben’s main attributes are well documented – heavy hands and an iron chin, but he’s also more well-rounded than he’s given credit for. His BJJ in particular is noteworthy…admittedly his submission defense isn’t as good as his offense, but against Stann that shouldn’t be a problem.
Stann also has good hands and a decent chin to go along with his wrestling. After spending many years of active service in the Marines his overall skill-set is still a work in progress though so he’s not as well versed as his opponent.
Prediction: I like Leben here. He’s the better fighter, has more experience against better opposition, and if I’m wrong and he can’t get the better of Stann on the feet, he’ll also pose a significant threat via submissions on the floor.
Chris Leben to win by TKO in Rd2.
Thiago Silva vs. Brandon Vera
With both fighters having only picked up one win in their last three fights, the loser of Silva Vs Vera could be at risk of being cut from the promotion, adding further spice to this already competitive light-heavyweight match-up.
Both fighters are very dangerous on the feet, with Vera having a strong Muay Thai base with excellent kicks and a good clinch in particular, while Silva possesses KO power in his punches. Though often reluctant to display it both men are no slouches on the ground either, with Vera having decent wrestling and jiu-jitsu, while Silva is an accomplished BJJ black belt.
A factor to bear in mind in this fight is both men are coming back from tough injuries. Vera has spent much of the past year out due to an orbital fracture suffered against Jon Jones, while Silva has had recurring back problems severe enough to also keep him out of action for a full year.
Prediction: I’m tempted to pick Vera due to his reach advantage and fluent Muay Thai skills, but he’s an inconsistent fighter and often fails to perform to his full potential on the big stage. Silva on the other hand is more ruthless and has the killer instinct. Due to their lay-offs I expect both to be tiring in the final round, but Silva will go the extra mile to get the finish.
Thiago Silva to win by TKO in Rd3.
Nate Diaz vs. Dong Hyun Kim
Nate Diaz has revived his fortunes with two impressive wins after a move to welterweight, but to continue his current streak he’ll have to get past a tough opponent in Dong Hyun Kim who’s unbeaten in 15 pro-fights.
Part of the reason for Diaz success so far at welterweight is that the extra pounds seem to have had the additional benefit of packing power into his punches. When combined with his unorthadox, rangey, volume punching style that’s caused a lot of problems for his recent opponents. He’s also well versed on the mat thanks to his jiu-jitsu skills and has a dangerous guard.
Kim is also a well-rounded fighter, perhaps losing out to Diaz in the striking and BJJ, but gaining ground on him with his wrestling as well as overall size and strength. It’s therefore likely that his best route to victory will be taking Diaz down and attempt to control him while steering clear of his submission attempts.
Prediction: This could end up being a close fight. Kim has been successful in his visits to the octagon so far, but has yet to face someone with Diaz particular set of skills, and I think that the Stockton native can pose ‘Stun-Gun’ some real problems on both the feet and the mat. Diaz also has a more energetic, eye-catching style, and I think that’ll help him get the nod from the judges in a competitive three-rounder.
Nate Diaz to win by decision.
Takanori Gomi vs. Clay Guida
Gomi Vs Guida certainly looks like being one of the most fun match-ups on the New Years Day card.
This is an interesting stylistic match-up. Guida can work at a torrid pace for three full rounds which could pose problems for ‘The Fireball Kid’, but Gomi is undoubtedly the better striker and packs dynamite in his punches. Guida has one of the strongest chins in the sport though, and has never been stopped by strikes in his career.
While Gomi will be happy to stand and trade, it’s likely that Guida will want to take him to the mat and grind him down. If he’s able to do so that could prove to be a fight winning strategy, but Gomi is a reasonable wrestler himself, and if he can stuff the takedowns that will be half the battle.
Prediction: It’s a tough call, but I’m going for Gomi. Guida’s stand-up isn’t the best and he’s often quite easy to hit. He’s proven he can eat big shots in the past, but I don’t think he’s faced anyone with Gomi’s power before. Eventually I think he’ll get caught with something he can’t recover fully from and the Japanese fighter will capitalize on it.
Takanori Gomi to win by TKO in Rd3.
Marcus Davis vs. Jeremy Stephens
Josh Grispi vs. Dustin Poirier
Phil Baroni vs. Brad Tavares
Mike Brown vs. Diego Nunes
Daniel Roberts vs. Greg Soto
Antonio McKee vs. Jacob Volkmann