Many people have expressed indifference to this card since the main event of Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin was canceled and replaced with a Griffin Vs Ortiz rematch. While disappointing I still feel there’s plenty to look forward to here with a number of close bouts and the potential to reveal future title contenders in both the Koscheck – Johnson and Nogueira – Cain match-ups.
Tito Ortiz vs. Forrest Griffin
I think a lot of the answers to this one still lie in the original fight. I went back and re-watched it recently and though it could undoubtedly have went either way I felt Ortiz looked the better fighter overall. It’s been a common trait of Ortiz in recent fights to start strongly and then fade away in the later rounds, and I believe that was the main reason the fight remained close, rather than what Griffin was able to do.
In the years since I don’t think either fighters game has improved dramatically. Griffin has made adjustments and tightened up his skills but to my mind his striking is still a little slow, quite formulaic / predictable and at times he leaves significant gaps in his defense.
I also think that he struggles on his back. Ortiz was close to finishing him in their first bout when the fight went to the ground, while more recently both Keith Jardine and Rashad Evans have managed to win inside the distance against him via ground and pound. That’s got to be a concern as Ortiz is certain to take him there again on Saturday night.
I don’t believe Ortiz has improved significantly either, particularly since he spent much of the past 18 months out of the octagon and recovering from back surgery. He has worked on his boxing recently with Freddie Roach which is a good move but a few weeks won’t be enough to turn him into a devastating striker.
Despite the negatives I think this should be an entertaining fight. Overall I feel that Ortiz showed in the past fight that he is unlikely to be overwhelmed on his feet, and can give Griffin serious problems on the mat. Up until the last few days I was leaning towards Tito as I still have doubts over Tito Ortiz’s cardio, but I’ve decided to give him the benefit of the doubt on this occasion.
I’m going for Tito Ortiz to win by decision.
Josh Koscheck vs. Anthony Johnson
The big question here is whether Koscheck decides to stand and bang with Anthony Johnson or remembers that he’s a wrestler and takes Johnson to the floor.
Koscheck’s striking has come a long way since his days on TUF and he has recently shown that he possesses K.O power. Unfortunately against Paulo Thiago he also showed he can get knocked out himself. I still believe that Johnson has the heavier hands and will have the advantage in this department in the fight.
Though Johnson has some wrestling ability of his own, Koscheck is a step ahead of most others in this department and I believe this is his best route to victory. Johnson’s athleticism will make it difficult for Koscheck to take him down though.
An important point to note is that Koscheck is one of a number of wrestlers who have traded their core skills in recently and instead opted to become an exciting stand-up fighter.
Considering that he’s on the co-main event of the evening and wants to be the next in line for a title shot I think he’s going to be looking to make a statement here and put on an exciting stand-up war for the fans.
I believe that will be his downfall and Johnson will win by KO in the 2nd round.
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Luis Arthur Cane
This one has the potential to be the fight of the night and whoever wins should find themselves right in the mix at the top of the division.
Rodrigo Nogueira’s brother, Rogerio makes his octagon debut after a string of five victories, defeating the likes of Edwin Dewees and Vladimir Matyushenko along the way. There’s also no doubt that Nogueira has fought at a higher level than Cane so far with further wins over Alistair Overeem, Dan Henderson and Kazushi Sakuraba on his 17-3 record.
Luiz Arthur Cain’s toughest competition has come from the likes of Sokoudjou and Steve Cantwell en-route to a 10-1-1 professional record so Nogueira may well prove to be his biggest challenge yet.
On the feet I believe Cain has a noticeable advantage here with eight of his tens wins coming by knockout and he has been shown to have a solid chin. Nogueira has boxed before but Like his brother Nogueira he is well versed in BJJ and that’s where he will be most dangerous.
It should be noted that Cain is also a black belt in BJJ and though he prefers to keep it standing he won’t be out of his depth on the ground. I think that fact, coupled with his dangerous striking makes him the slight favorite, but it could go either way which makes it an exciting fight to look forward to.
I’m opting for Luiz Cane by 2nd round TKO.
Amir Sadollah vs. Phil Baroni
This one is very much a battle of the old school vs new school UFC fighters. The two fighters do have something in common however in that they both arrived in the UFC early in their careers.
Baroni was 1-0 when he began his rise to fame the UFC partly due to his brash, in your face personality and knockout victories just as the promotion was starting to regain momentum in the early part of the decade.
Sadollah on the other hand took a different path, winning The Ultimate Fighter season 7 without ever having fought professionally. Since then he has suffered a lengthy layoff due to injury and so currently his record stands at just 1-1.
Baroni’s 13-11 record is not particularly impressive on closer scrutiny. His most significant wins comes at the expense of fighters like Dave Menne, Ryo Chonan, Amar Suloev and Ikuhisa Minowa while he has often failed to deliver against stiff opposition in his career like Matt Linland, Joe Riggs, Kazuo Misaki and Frank Shamrock.
Despite being 29 years of age Sadollah is still largely untested aside from his victories in TUF and a couple of visits to the octagon where he has emerged with a win and a loss. His TKO loss to Johny Hendricks after just 29 seconds of his comeback fight after over a year out due to injury must be a cause for concern, though that fight was stopped too early.
What Sadollah has shown in his performances to date is an aptitude for fighting from the floor and that could be crucial here. If he can get Baroni on the deck then he is likely to hold a significant advantage. Also 33 year old Baroni has shown suspect cardio in recent fights, something that will likely be advantageous to his opponent if he can avoid his initial flurries and take the fight into the later rounds.
It’s somewhat of a gamble to pick a relatively untested fighter but I believe Sadollah has the right skill set to defeat Baroni and I predict he’ll do so by submission in the 2nd round.
Paulo Thiago vs. Jacob Volkmann
Promoted to the main card after Karo Parisyan pulled out of his fight with Dustin Hazelett, Paulo Thiago will welcome Jacob Volkmann to the UFC in this welterweight clash.
Thiago entered the UFC with perfect record of 10-0 from fighting on the Brazilian circuit and made his mark immediately with a KO win over Josh Koscheck. Having not been known as a power puncher up until that point however, this could well be a red herring.
In his next fight at UFC 100 he was controlled comfortably by Jon Fitch who won a unanimous decision, leaving the jury out on whether Thiago is a genuine prospect or not.
Jacob Volkmann is also entering into the UFC with a perfect record of 9-0. Like Thiago he has fought relatively unknown competition up until his arrival in the promotion so being on the main card of his first event in the UFC will be a major test for him.
Both fighters are most comfortable on the ground but I give Thiago the edge and believe he will win by submission in the third round.
Undercard: (Predicted winners highlighted in bold)
Marcus Davis vs. Ben Saunders
Kendall Grove vs. Jake Rosholt
Brock Larson vs. Brian Foster
Caol Uno vs. Fabricio Camoes
George Sotiropoulos vs. Jason Dent
Read an in-depth preview of the main event HERE
Feel free to post your predictions and thoughts on the event in the comments section below…