Oh man, I can’t wait for this fight card. The sole reason being the grudge/hate match between Rampage and Rashad. These guys were at each other’s throat then entire time they were coaching the heavyweights on The Ultimate Fighter. In my opinion, I think Rashad ran his mouth too much and can’t wait to see if Rampage can close it. More on this later. Other notable fights include Diego Sanchez’s return to the Welterweight Division and Todd Duffee’s return to the cage. Of course Bisping and “Lil’ Nog” are part of this event, but their opponents aren’t what I would expect. Nogueira had drawn Forrest Griffin, but Griffin hurt his shoulder and had to withdraw. What a shame. Now, on to the picks. My overall record is 44-28, still riding my above .500 streak. You can congratulate me later. I’m pretty sure I’m going 11-0, so head over to Bodog and place your bets. And, as always, I expect half. Or at the very least, some recognition. As in, recognize me as your king and as your god. Fair enough? Good. Let’s see what we have…
Middleweight bout: Ryan Jensen vs. Jesse Forbes
Before his close fight with Nick Catone, Forbes was on a nice five fight win streak. I think he beat Catone but I’m not a judge so I couldn’t score it. I think Jesse walks away with the win in this fight simply because Jensen tapped to strikes against Mark Munoz. “Who taps to strikes?”–Chuck Liddell
My Pick: Forbes, Round 3, Decision
Lightweight bout: Aaron Riley vs. Joe Brammer
Riley has a ton more experience. And based on his performances, he’s due for a win. Won, lost, won, and lost. Win is due. Of course that’s not how it happens, but I still think he’s going to win this. Riley loves the submission game and Brammer’s only loss was in his UFC debut by submission. That makes for a victory for Mr. Riley.
My Pick: Riley, Round 2, Submission
Light Heavyweight bout: Luiz Cane vs. Cyrille Diabaté
Luiz Cane was “the next big thing” before being smashed by “Lil Nog” at UFC 106. Still, he’s a talented fighter. He gets to rebound against a UFC newcomer and fellow striker, Cyrille Diabate. This has all the makings of “Fight of the Night.” Of course it could end quickly because both of these guys can strike with the best of them. I don’t think either will land the killing blow, but I think Cane will get the better of the exchanges.
My Pick: Cane, Round 3, Decision
Lightweight bout: Melvin Guillard vs. Waylon Lowe
Melvin Guillard looked real good in his win against Ronnys Torres. He didn’t finish him but he dominated that fight. I always thought Guillard could be something. He has a lot of potential, but he always seemed to fall short before the Torres fight, and I credit that to him joining Greg Jackson’s camp. He’s more patient and his submission defense has increased. Add that to his power and he could finally become the force he should’ve been long ago. I really don’t think Lowe will have anything for Melvin and I see this being over quickly.
My Pick:Guillard, Round 1, KO
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Lightweight bout: Efrain Escudero vs. Dan Lauzon
Both guys are coming off of losses, but I think Escudero is winning this. I like Lauzon’s game but I think Escudero’s striking game has improved and his wrestling is top-notch. Lauzon’s wrestling is pretty good as well, so I think this fight will be fought on the feet. Lauzon is a little faster, but not by much. Escudero is the stronger of the two and I think that will be the difference. As long as Efrain learned from his first loss against Evan Dunham and doesn’t get caught in a submission, I think he’ll take Joe down and get the ground-and-pound victory.
My Pick:Escudero, Round 1, TKO
Welterweight bout: Amir Sadollah vs. Dong Hyun Kim
Sadollah is so unassuming. Never would I think this guy was a fighter. But he is and he continues to improve. I thought he was going to lose to Phil Baroni, but he outlasted “The New York Badass” and proceeded to beat him down. I think his gas tank will be the deciding factor in this fight as well. Amir is great on the ground but I don’t think he’ll be able to submit DHK. He’ll get some takedowns and go for a few submissions and may even out-strike DHK. But however he outpoints him, he outpoints him.
My Pick:Sadollah, Round 3, Decision
Welterweight bout: Diego Sanchez vs. John Hathaway
Sanchez returns to the 170 pound division. I think it’s for the best. Cutting all that weight to make 155 had to affect him adversely. Joe Silva didn’t do him any favors though, giving him undefeated John Hathaway. Hathaway is 12-0 and 3-0 in the UFC, but he’s never fought anyone like Diego Sanchez. Sanchez is aggressive, accurate, can take a punch, and has a gas tank for days. I’d probably be a friend if it wasn’t for his ridiculous walk-out routine. He walks out yelling “YES!” over and over while pumping his fists. I can’t stand it. Anyway, I think Sanchez will overwhelm Hathaway and take him down and work for a submission in the second. Probably a Rear Naked Choke.
My Pick: Sanchez, Round 2, Submission
Light Heavyweight bout: Antônio Rogério Nogueira vs. Jason Brilz
This fight would’ve been way more interesting if Forrest Griffin wouldn’t have hurt his shoulder. Brilz is a decent replacement but I highly doubt he’ll be able to pull this off. “Lil’ Nog” is just better in every aspect of the sport. His submission game is top tier and his boxing might be the best in the division. Brilz will have to be on guard even if he’s able to take Nogueira down because Rogerio is a black belt in BJJ and he’ll have to pick and choose when to strike because Rogerio is faster on the feet. All this points to an easy victory for Nogueira.
My Pick:Nogueira, Round 2, KO
Heavyweight bout: Todd Duffee vs. Mike Russow
Duffee is a great prospect. He looks like a tank and is undefeated. All six of his fights have resulted in a (T)KO victory, so he definitely has power. And training with Randy Couture only makes him more dangerous. This will be his second fight inside the Octagon, his first being a UFC record 7-second knockout victory over Tim Hague. Russow is not slough by any means, but he’s mainly a submission guy and that’s not good. Duffee’s wrestling and strength will equalize that and he’ll deliver a devastating blow.
My Pick:Duffee, Round 1, TKO
Middleweight bout: Michael Bisping vs. Dan Miller
This fight will definitely be going the distance. Miller doesn’t have the power to finish Bisping and neither is going to be submitted. I could see a scenario where Bisping gets a TKO victory, but I only give that about a 5% chance of happening. Bisping is the better striker of the two and will outpoint Miller for the nod. Not good for Dan, because it’ll be his third straight loss.
My Pick:Bisping, Round 3, Decision
Light Heavyweight bout: Quinton Jackson vs. Rashad Evans
And so it comes to pass, the grudge match to end all grudge matches. Well, maybe not all that, but there is some real dislike going on in this fight. Like I said in the opening paragraph, these two have been at each other’s throats since coaching the heavyweights on The Ultimate Fighter. In my opinion, it was Rashad who opened his mouth too much. Now Rampage gets a chance to close it. I would imagine Rashad will try to fight Rampage like he fought Thiago Silva, because standing with Rampage is suicide. However, unlike Silva, Rampage’s base is wrestling and he has great takedown defense. So if Rashad’s takedowns are negated, it’s going to be a quick night for him. Rampage’s defense coupled with 1800 pounds of pressure per punch equals lights out for Rashad.
My Pick: Jackson, Round 2, MDK