Friday, April 20, 2012

UFC 145 Preview and Predictions

After a 6 week hiatus the UFC returned to our lives last week with the UFC on Fuel 2 card. The hype only grew Alexander Gustaffson after his win but ultimately that show was nothing more than a pre-game show for UFC 145.

It seems the build up to the Jones-Evans fight has lasted years and Saturday night cannot come soon enough.  The drama between the two has been much publicized as the world waits to see these training partners turned enemies fight for the belt.

But before I go into the predictions and preview section I encourage everyone to check out the Eddie Alvarez-Shinya Aoki rematch taking place at Bellator 66 tonight.  They are two of the best lightweights in the world outside the UFC and for me, is the second most anticipated fight this weekend.

Year record: 18-11

John Alessio returns to the octagon for his third stint in the Octagon. He is 0-3 all-time in the UFC but he did experience some success in the WEC going 4-1 back in 2007. After spending 13 years as welterweight he made the cut to 155 pounds last year and has gone 2-0 at the new weight. He comes from a good camp in Xtreme Couture and with 34 wins he definitely has experience necessary to contend in this fight.

Bocek is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt with 7 of his 10 career coming from submission.  There is no doubt that he is looking forward to this grappling match up. Bocek possesses a 6-4 record in the UFC but with 3 of those losses to Jim Miller, Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson it’s not as bad as you would think. 

While Bocek may never reach the top of his division he should be able to handle the journeyman Alessio no problem.

Bocek Submission (Rear Naked Choke) Round 2

What a difference a year makes for Mark Hominick. A year ago at this time “The Machine” was riding a 5 fight win streak into a title fight against Jose Aldo. After dropping that bout by decision and then getting KOd in his home country by Chang Sung Jung in just 7 seconds, Hominick will be looking to get back in the win column.

At first glance it may look like Yagin will be overmatched by Hominick. But Yagin has played spoiler before when he defeated Joe Soto in the finals of the Tachi Palace Fights tournament and subsequently cost Soto a spot in that season’s Bellator tournament. Yagin did lose by decision debut in his UFC to Junior Assunção, and will need to be much more aggressive in this fight if he hopes to see a third fight in the Octagon.

Hominick TKO Round One

Miguel Torres was a star in the WEC three years ago. He was the reigning Bantamweight champion and you were guaranteed to be entertained in every one of his fights. He had a wreckless style that worked out for him. But since his war with Takeya Mizugaki at WEC 40, one of my personal all-time favorite fights, Torres is just a pedestrian 3-3. He fights much safer now but still remains a force in the division.

Mayday is in the position Torres used to be.  He is only 21 years old and currently riding a 7 fight win streak.  Many people look at him and see a future champion. He has finishing power with 8 KOs and 4 submissions among his 14 wins but Torres is easily his toughest opponent to date.

The way to beat Torres is with a strong wrestling base (Benavidez, Johnson fights) and McDonald has not shown that elite skill set yet. If Torres goes back into his old brawling days he’ll be in trouble but he is too smart of a fighter to engage in that style with Mayday.

Torres Unanimous Decision 29-28

Schaub was cruising to a title shot before falling to Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira in Brazil last summer. Despite the loss, I still Schaub as a top 10 guy in the division who is only 2-3 wins away from a title shot. I hope the former NFL player used his time off to improve because a highlight reel win here could fast track him to a title shot in a shallow heavyweight division.

Rothwell lost his last fight to Mark Hunt in a bout that many will remember for his poor cardio. The high altitude of Denver can only take so much blame and you have to imagine that’s sponsored the Wisconsin native. Rothwell does possess strong ground and pound and a tremendous chin but outside of a one punch KO I don’t see how he wins this fight.

Schaub 3rd round KO

Just like the other McDonald of a different spelling, “Ares” has the makings of a future UFC champion. In his four fight stint in the UFC he holds wins over Mike Guymon, Mike Pyle and Nate Diaz. His only loss is to interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit and MacDonald had that fight in the bag before being TKO’d with 7 seconds left.

Mills is coming off a knockout of the night win over Chris Cope in his UFC debut. He possesses strong striking skills and has a ton of potential himself. Unfortunately for him, I don’t see his striking as that big of an advantage and think MacDonald has the edge in every other skill set. Like Rothwell, Mills needs to hope for a one punch KO to win this one.

MacDonald Submission (Arm Bar) Round 2

This fight has been waiting to happen since their days sparring at Greg Jackson’s. Rashad feels like Greg Jackson was shady and not loyal to him while Jon Jones thinks he’s just a whiner. Despite a more relaxed approach from the two this week, it is always exciting when there is legitimate bad blood between two guys in a fight.

Jones has been a wrecking ball through the light heavyweight division since he debuted in 2008.  Every fight he gets better and his hit list includes stoppages of the top guys in his division except one guy…

Rashad Evans is a fighter I think is constantly underrated by fans that seem to dislike him without a legitimate reason. He has his own hit list of UFC legends (Ortiz, Liddell) and is 12-1-1 all-time in the Octagon.

Evans has only been stopped once before, in hilarious fashion against Lyota Machida but he has been dropped in three of his last five fights. The wrestling skills match up close to me but the fight gets very interesting if Evans can get Jones on his back, something we have not seen happen yet.

Jones may have had the best year of anyone in MMA history in 2011.  He defeated Ryan Ryan Bader, Shogun Rua, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Lyoto Machida. Knocking off three former champions in one career is impressive, let alone one career.

Jones’ length is the key to this fight. If Evans can get inside he has a shot but no one has quite yet. The fact that Jones is a 4-1 favorite is ridiculous to me, if there is anyone in this division that can stop him its Rashad. Unlike the other fights where I cannot imagine the underdogs winning when I close my eyes I see Evans’ hand raised.

Rashad Evans TKO Round 4

Look for this to happen Saturday night
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