Thursday, March 17, 2011

UFC 128 Picks

* Nate Marquardt over Dan Miller, decision
I noted last month that Jorge Rivera is one of those perfect gatekeeper fighters, and Dan Miller is another example of the type. He only loses to upper-tier opponents, and even then, he gives them a tough go; his recent three-fight losing streak to Bisping, Maia and Sonnen were all via decision. Marquardt is another upper-echelon middleweight who is in BIG need of a win to prove he's not a choking dog. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see Miller win, especially given this fight's thrown-together status (it was originally Miller vs. Nick Catone and Marquardt vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama, but Akiyama pulled out after the earthquake and tsunami in his native Japan). It's interesting that both Marquardt and Miller were prepping for different foes so they're on equal footing, but I'll give Marquardt the nod just because he has the most impressive resume. For now.

* Urijah Faber over Eddie Wineland, submission, R2
Man, how much would the UFC hate an Eddie Wineland victory here? They're counting on Faber to be the poster boy of the bantamweight division and if Wineland wins, Dana White probably flips the closest table. While Wineland is on a four-fight roll, he's been prone to submissions in the past, so I see Faber sneaking in a rear-naked choke at some point and winning his official UFC debut match. What were the odds on Faber debuting in the UFC and the event isn't even in California? Will the East Coast rap aficionados in Jersey boo his Dre/Tupac entrance? Does the coastal rap feud even exist anymore? I'm such a white square.

* Brendan Schaub over Mirko Cro Cop, decision
Good lord, RETIRE MIRKO. This is like watching Michael Jordan play for the Wizards, except there was never a grim spectre of seeing MJ get his face caved in on a basketball court.

* Jim Miller over Kamal Shalorus, decision
I can't go against both Miller brothers, lest the family declare war on me. Did you realize Jim Miller's UFC record is 8-1, with the only loss coming to (arguably the best lightweight fighter in the world) Gray Maynard? Miller might be the most underrated quality fighter in the UFC. A win over the unbeaten Shalorus will run Miller's win streak to seven in a row and give him a great argument for a title shot, once Maynard gets his rematch with Frankie Edgar and once the Anthony Pettis/Clay Guida winner gets his bout. So yeah, Miller might be given the option to sit out until, say, December until the LW picture is clear, or he could take a fight in the interim as a true #1 contender's bout. This is all presuming, of course, that he actually gets past Shalorus, who is no slouch. I'll say that unlike most UFC build-up matches in the LW division, this one actually goes to plan and Miller is victorious again.

* Shogun Rua over Jon Jones, KO, R2
What a rough fight to predict. It would be one thing if it was just the established top LHW in the world defending his belt against the young upstart challenger; in that case, I'd pick Rua based on experience. But when you factor in Rua's 10-month layoff from knee surgery, and Jones' rather sudden insertion into this bout (he was offered the shot literally on the spot after he whupped Ryan Bader at UFC 126 and then it was revealed that Rashad Evans was injured), it adds even more x-factors into the equation. Jones has been drubbing everything in sight, and as you recall from the last time Rua had major knee surgery, it took him a long time to shake off the ring rust. And, hell, it's his second major knee surgery, those will take their toll. In the end, though, I have to go back to my original prediction. Shogun has had the benefit of better doctors and treatment this time around, and Jones is still just a wee bit too raw to dethrone the top dog. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest to see Jones win, but I can't ignore someone with Shogun's track record.

*Kurt Pellegrino over Gleison Tibau, submission, R3
*Raphael Assuncao over Erik Koch, decision
*Edson Barboza over Anthony Njokuani, TKO, R2
*Mike Pyle over Ricardo Almeida, submission, R2
*Joseph Benavidez over Ian Loveland, submission, R1
*Constantinos "Not Istanbul" Phillippou over Nick Catone, decision
*Eliot Marshall over Luiz Cane, decision

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