UFC 100 Preview and Predictions

ufc100UFC 100 is being billed as the biggest martial arts event in history. On Saturday two UFC titles will be up for grabs. On top of that many entertaining fights will take place. There are not many mixed amrtial events which offer 3 main events which could carry a card alone.  However, UFC 100 will feature a trio of headline-worthy bouts including Lesnar vs. Mir 2, St. Pierre vs. Alves and Henderson vs. Bisping.  The UFC has intentionally put together a significant card to celebrate the 100th UFC. On paper this event should not disappoint and should garner great numbers. The event will air on pay-per view on Saturday July 11th and 9:30 P.M. EST.

Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir

This fight is title unification bout.  Brock Lesnar defeated Randy Couture at UFC 91 to earn the UFC Heavyweight title.  Frank Mir defeated Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 92 to earn the Interim UFC Heavyweight title.  Not only is this a title fight, but it is a re-match.  Brock Lesnar’s UFC debut was a fight he lost to Frank Mir by knee bar in the first round.  The fight was not without controversy though.  Lesnar knocked Mir down with a punch early and got on him and pounded away with hammerfists, but referee Steve Mazzagatti mysteriously stood the fight up citing hits to the back of the head.  The fight went to the ground again where Mir secured a tight knee bar forcing Lesnar to tap. 
This is still an interesting fight. Mir is the more experienced fighter and most assuridly has the better submissions. Lesnar will be the bigger, stronger and more athletic of the two fighters. Several questions come into play when determining how this fight will pan out. First, will Lesnar show continued improvement? Lesnar has shown constant improvement since his UFC debut. There is no doubt he is a better fighter than when he first fought Mir. The question really is not his striking or takedown ability, but rather his submission defense. Has Lesnar learned to avoud submissions? I would say he has. He has a great trainer in Nelson. He has good jiu jitsu trainers and is rumored to be greatly improved on the ground. We will see.
Second, can Mir avoid the big strikes of Lesnar? All it takes is one punch by Lesnar to end the fight. Mir showed great striking improvement against Nogueira, but Nogueira doesn’t hit as hard as Lesnar. I would say that Mir can handle his own on his feet, but no matter what Lesnar is more dangerous when the fight is standing.
Third, where will this fight take place. Mir needs the fight to go to the ground. However, Lesnar’s wrestling ability gives him the likely advantage to dictate where the fight takes place. If Lesnar takes Mir down (which he can whenever he wants) then he becomes vulnerable to Mir’s submissions. If it stands Lesnar has a better chance.
Fourth, where is Mir’s heart and mind? I give major props to Mir for his legendary climb back to the top following a potentially career-ending injury, however the question with Mir has always been the mental game. Right now he appears ready, determined and focused, which can be dangerous for Lesnar. However, what will be Mir’s state of mind come Saturday? Will he show the same heart he has shown of late? Or will he be the Frank Mir who lost to Marcio Cruz and Brandon Vera? If I was advising Mir I would be a little concerned with his apparent cockiness. He talks in interviews as though he dominated Lesnar is their last fight. I do not think think that was the case. I also do not think that it is a good idea to anger someone of Lesnar’s size.
I am not a Lesnar fan by any stretch of the imagination, however I think that he is so big and strong that it will pose major problems for Mir.
Prediction: Lesnar by TKO round 2.

Georges St. Pierre vs. Thiago Alves

Georges St. Pierre will look to defend his title once again against Thiago Alves.  St. Pierre has looked better and better as his career has gone on.  He is a complete fighter.  He has shown great stand up skills, competent jiu jitsu, phenomenal wrestling, etc.  St. Pierre is the prototype of the next generation fighter.  He will get his toughest test against Thiago Alves.  It is very tough to bet against St. Pierre right now.  Greasegate aside, he looked dominant against B.J. Penn at UFC 94 and before that against Jon Fitch. 
Alves is a a phenomenal muay thai based fighter with great stand up skills.  He has great kicks and great knees.  He has shown against the likes of Matt Hughes and Karo Parisyan that he can knock anyone out.  He has also shown the ability to avoid takedowns like he did against Josh Koscheck.  Alves is a big welterweight and this may be the first time we see GSP fight a much larger guy.  Alves is most assuridly deserving of this title shot.  I will be curious about Alves’ cardio and conditioning if he is taken into the championship rounds.  He has shown a struggle to make weight so hopefully he is well prepared.
I believe that is GSP has shown a weakness it is that he can be knocked out. I have struggled with this fight prediction because I do think that Alves could give GSP a problem. I would give Alves the advantage standing up. However, on the ground GSP can work submissions, knees to the body, and some ground and pound. St. Pierre has shown that he can pass the guard of the best grapplers. Alves’ best chance comes with a well placed knee or kick. If he lands it he must learn from Serra and not let GSP recover. I would not have a heart attack if Alves TKO’s “Rush”. However, right now the smart money is on St. Pierre. I think Georges has more ways to win. I also believe his biggest advantage will be in game planning. St. Pierre is a master at finding a good game plan and following it through perfectly.

Prediction: St. Pierre by submission in round 4.

Dan Henderson vs. Michael Bisping
This is a match where the two Ultimate Fighter 9 coaches finally square off. There is a little bit of bad blood, but the animosity is not great in this one. Don’t get me wrong they want to beat each other up and things have been said, but this is not a case of Tito vs. Shamrock of Hughes vs. Serra. However, this is a case of two proud fighters squaring off and in some ways representing their respective nations.

Bisping is the pride of U.K. mixed martial arts. He has shot to stardom since winning the Ultimate Fighter 3. He has even looked better since he dropped down a weight class into the middleweight division. It is no secret that a win over Henderson will guarantee Bisping a title shot, most likely before the year is over and most likely in England. Therefore for Bisping this is a big fight.
Dan Henderson is one of the legends of the sport. He has huge wins in his career. He is a two time former PRIDE champion. He is a former U.S. Olympian. He has a powerful right hand that has knocked out guys like Wanderlei Silva.
I think these are two well match fighters, but I think one danger for Dan Henderson is his cardio. He knows that. I think this fight will go all three rounds. Henderson simply has more skills right now. It is hard to pick against Henderson if we go by the careers so far. Henderson by far has the mroe storied career. However, the other question with the Team Quest fighter is his age. Can he still do it at 38 or 39 years old?  I think he can.  He wants another shot at Silva and a win over Bisping is essential for him if he is to get that shot. 

Prediction: Dan Henderson by Split Decision

Jon Fitch vs. Paulo Thiago

This fight is much less complicated than the other before it.  The question that dominates this fight is: was Paulo Thiago a one hit wonder? He holds a big knockout over Josh Koscheck and following that win he ascended into most top 10 rankings for the welterweight division.  I have to say that prior to the blow that took out Koscheck I was not impressed with Thiago.  His striking looked very, very elementary.  Obviously, he packs some power, but he did look to be getting picked apart in that fight.  I am not suggesting that Thiago is a scrub, I am just saying what we have seen of him was not that impressive besides a knockout punch.

Jon Fitch is a concensus top 3 welterweight in the world.  He is one tough dude who gained tons of respect for the heart he showed in his decision loss to Georges St. Pierre.  Prior to his loss to GSP, Fitch won 8 fights in a row to begin his UFC career, tying a UFC record held by Royce Gracie.  Among those wins were victories over Brock Larson, Thiago Alves, Josh Burkman, and Diego Sanchez.  One of the stories going into this fight is that Fitch will look to avenge a loss that Koscheck, his American Kickboxing Academy teammate took at the hands of Thiago. 

I just cannot pick Thiago in this fight.  Fitch is way too well rounded, tough and talented.  He always has a punchers chance, but I doubt Fitch will make the same mistakes as Koscheck.  I’d like to see Fitch finish a fight and he very well may do it here, although percentage wise he will go the distance.

Prediction: Fitch by unanimous decision

Alan Belcher vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama

The last bout on the main card may not sound all too appealing to casual fans, but the UFC debut of Yoshihiro Akiyama is a huge event.  Akiyama is one of the most popular fighters in Japan.  The Korean fighter who was born in Japan is exciting and talented.  He will come into the UFC with a great judo pedigree.  Many people feel that Akiyama can contend for a title and he will enter his first bout with a lot of hype surrounding him.  He has definite knockout power, however 7 of his 12 wins have come by way of submission.  Dave Meltzer suggests that Akiyama’s carreer was really ruined by an illegal kick he received to the head by Kazuo Misaki.  A win here would be huge for Akiyama.  The UFC would certainly liked to see Akiyama do well as they expand into international markets.  Akiyama would be a huge draw in the Asian market.  However, he has to get past Belcher before we can talk about that.

Alan Belcher seems to be a guinea pig who the UFC keeps feeding debuting fighters.  Belcher derailed the debut of Denis Kang at UFC 93 and now he hopes to do the same to Akiyama.  Belcher is well-rounded, but certainly excels in muay thai.  Belcher’s problem (besides his horrible Johnny Cash tattoo) is consistency.  He goes from beating Jorge Santiago to losing to Jason Day. 

Prediction: Akiyama by submission in round 2

Mark Coleman vs. Stephan Bonnar

This light heavyweight bout is one that many people thought could have made it onto the main card, however this will indeed be a prelim fight. 

Mark Coleman, the 44 UFC legend and Hall of Famer will look to rebound from a loss to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.  Coleman has a storied career that he is looking to buil upon.  He is looking to show that even at his age he cans till fight.   He earned the reputation of the being the “godfather of ground and pound” in the early days of the UFC.   He has been in there with some of the best throughout his career. 

Stephan Bonnar gained fame on the first season of the Ultimate Fighter and especially in his classic fight with Forrest Griffin at the finale.  Bonnar is a well roudned guy who is not afraid to brawl.  He too is coming off of a loss to rising star Jon Jones. 

I think this could be a bad match for Coleman.  I look for him to have a better showing, but for his cardio to still be a problem.  I think Bonnar needs this win too badly. 

Prediction: Bonnar by TKO in round 3

Mac Danzig vs. Jim Miller

I don’t like this match up.  I mean, I like it, but it is bad for one of these guys.  Danzig has lost two in a row and Miller is coming off of a loss to Maynard at UFC 96.  The loser of this fight is really in trouble, especially if it is Danzig.

Danzig is the Ultimate Fighter 6 winner.  He looked really good to start his UFC career, but losses to Clay Guida and Josh Neer have really set him back.  Danzig is a very well roudned fighter who has shown great improvement, however he has had some bad breaks inside the cage. 

Jim Miller, the former Virginia Tech wrestler and IFL veteran is also coming off of a loss.  He is a great prospect and very well could be a household name one day.  He has really good cardio and good submission skills. 

I think Danzig will have too much to loose in this one.  I predict this to be fight of the night as neither fighter will quit easily.

Prediction: Danzig by decision

Jon Jones vs. Jake O’Brien

While Jon Jones has a lot of hype, let’s not sleep on Jake O’Brien.  O’Brien has had a solid UFC career so far.  His only losses have come to Andrei Arlovski and Cain Velasquez.  I don’t think the ceiling is as high for O’Brien, but he certainly is no push over. 

“Irish” Jake O’Brien is a very good wrestler who has shown good grappling skills.  He has also shown that he can be outwrestled.  However, that was in the heavyweight division.  O’Brien made a wise choice droping to 205 lbs and should be bigger than most guys.  However, he will fight a big light heavyweight in Jon Jones who is rumored to have the longest reach in the UFC. 

Jon Jones was impressive in his wins over Andre Gusmao and Stephan Bonnar.  He showed great creativity, good throws and greco-Roman wrestling skills, good striking ability, and a great clinch game.  Many forget that Jones has just been training mixed martial arts for a little over a year.  Guys like Franklin McNeil have said that one day Jones could challenge Machida and is a bad style match-up for the UFC light heavyweight champion. 

I look for Jones to utilize the clinch like he did with Bonnar and dominate O’Brien from there. 

Prediction: Jones by Decision

Dong Hyun Kim vs. T.J. Grant

I think this is a very interesting bout.  Perhaps one that will slip through the cracks. 

Dong Hyun Kim lost a razor close decision to Karo Parisyan at UFC 94, but the loss was overturned following Karo’s positive steroid test.  Therefore, Kim, the Korean welterweight is still undefeated.  Kim showed against Karo that he can hang with the big boys.  He has shown that he can be an exciting fighter.  He has good ground and pound and he is very big and strong. 

T.J. Grant won his UFC debut against Ryo Chonan.  Grant is a great well-roudned fighter who ends most of his fights by submission.  I would expect Grant to take Kim down and look for submissions.  If Kim is to win this fight he needs to avoid the submissions of the Gurgel trained Canadian. 

Prediction: Kim by Split Decision

C.B. Dolloway vs. Tom Lawlor

C.B. Dolloway came onto the scene via the Ultimate Fighter 7 where he was the runner-up.  He has since inked wins over Jesse Taylor and Mike Massenzio.  Dolloway is widely regarded as a solid prospect.  He has very good striking mixed with above average submissions.  The former Arizona State all-american wrestler will have a definite wrestling advantage.  Dolloway also has great training at Arizona Combat Sports where he trains under the Lally brothers with guys like Ryan Bader, Carlos Condit, Jamie Varner, and Aaron Simpson. 

Tom Lawlor followed Dolloway on the Ultimate Fighter season 8 where he fought as a light heavyweight.  Lawlor lost on the show to eventual winner and teammate of C.B. Dolloway, Ryan Bader.  Lawlor perhaps games the most fame for knocking out Dave Kaplan inside the house upon Kaplan’s request.  Lawlor won his fight at the Ultimate Fighter finale against Kyle Kingsbury and will look to make it two in a row.  The American Top Team fighter will be the underdog in this one.

I honestly think C.B. is a really good fighter and an solid up and comer.  If he can deal with Lawlor’s size and avoid submissions (he has shown a weakness in submission defense) he should be able to use his wrestling to win the fight. 

Prediction: C.B. “The Doberman” Dolloway by decision

Matt Grice vs. Shannon Gugerty

Matt Grice is coming off of a disappointing loss to Matt Veach.  I honestly do not know why the UFC has kept him round.  Grice is a tough guy who has good skills, but he has struggled in the UFC.

Gugerty has faired slightly better in the octagon and his submission skills should be enough to earn him a victory.

Prediction: Gugerty by submission in round 2.

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