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Pain Poll: 5 Oz. Staff Picks UFC 79

The “Pain Poll” is back, this time as the staff of weigh-in with their picks for UFC 79.

Georges St. Pierre vs. Matt Hughes for interim UFC welterweight title

Sam Caplan: The short training camp that St. Pierre was subjected to isn’t enough to bridge the gap between he and Hughes. Hughes is a tremendous fighter but GSP just has too much in his arsenal and he proved at UFC 74 that he’s got his mental approach turned around. Furthermore, it will be interesting to see if Hughes was able to get in enough good sparring while training at his new H.I.T. Squad gym for the first time as opposed to MFS. I’m picking St. Pierre via fourth round TKO.

Adam Morgan: There’s nothing that sticks out in my mind as to why this fight would be any different than the last fight between the two. GSP is just too well-rounded for Hughes to contend with. Hughes will look to take it down to the mat early and often because that’s where he excels the most. GSP doesn’t care whether he’s standing or on the ground, he’s proficient in both areas. I see GSP stuffing Hughes’ takedowns and keeping the fight on the feet. GSP via TKO in round three.

Matt Kaplan: Based on their last meeting, as well as how each fighter has fought since, I don’t see this being much different from their second meeting. GSP, in my mind, has the striking and wrestling advantage over Hughes. Plus, I think the crowd will be behind the younger, more dynamic Canadian. I like GSP by ground-and-pound stoppage in the third.

Paul Balsom: Like Matt, I don’t see how this fight will be any different than their previous match last November. There’s no doubt that Matt Hughes is a great fighter, but I think that GSP will have an answer for everything Hughes has to offer. Just like last time, GSP via TKO in round 2.

Sam Cupitt: I think the difference between this fight and the one back in November is that Hughes will be a lot more focused on trying to get the takedown. That still doesn’t change the fact that GSP has probably the best takedown defense in MMA behind Chuck Liddell and B.J. Penn. Hughes may get a takedown early in the fight that may earn him a round but it will only delay the inevitable. St.Pierre via TKO in round 3.

Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva

Sam Caplan: If Wanderlei comes out like a madman and swings wide and leaves his chin exposed, Liddell is going to plant him on the chin. But there’s so much at stake for Silva in his UFC re-debut and he needs the win bad. Liddell will always have a home in the UFC, win or lose. Training at Xtreme Couture, I think Wanderlei fights a more technical fight than we’re used to seeing from him and TKOs Liddell towards the end of the first round.

Adam Morgan: As I’m sure most of you know, this fight is unbelievably hard to pick one way or another. Here we are two days out from the event and I still have no idea who to pick. Part of me wants to say Chuck because Wandy’s style is tailor-made for Chuck’s style. Part of me wants to say Silva because I don’t know where Chuck’s head and his training are at and I think Silva will be the better conditioned fighter having worked at Xtreme Couture. I think the slight edge goes to Silva because of the types of people he’s training with. Wanderlei Silva via TKO, round three.

Matt Kaplan: I’m fired up for this fight. I expect a more tactical performance than usual from the former Chute Boxe icon, whom I see being the aggressor against Chuck. Hopefully, these two will fulfill the potential of this match-up and deliver the excitement we’ve been waiting for! I like Wanderlei by TKO in the second.

Paul Balsom: If only it were 2005, or even 2006. If it were, this would be the biggest fight ever for casual and hardcore fans alike. I’ve always thought that this fight would favor Silva, so I’m going to stick with that. Silva’s only added to his palette in training with Xtreme Couture, while Liddell has stayed the same despite his two straight loses. His trainer, John Hackleman, has mentioned in several interviews since the Jardine loss, that he finds no problem in Chuck’s fighting style and finds no reason to change up anything. I think that will be his downfall. Wanderlei Silva via TKO in Round 3.

Sam Cupitt: I don’t care that this fight is probably little late in arriving, I just want to see it. I’ve been going back and forth on who’s going to win this. My first impression was that Wanderlei might run in wildy and get caught with a looping Chuck punch but having seen videos of Wanderlei train and the dedication he is showing, I think he may fight more tamely. Looking at some of Chuck’s interviews, I am getting the feeling this could be his last fight, regardless of the outcome, so I think he will want to leave with a bang. I’m thinking we are going to see at some stage these guys standing toe to toe and going at it. If that is the case, Wanderlei will have too many tools. Silva via 2nd round KO.

Ryoto Machida vs. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou

Sam Caplan: Everyone counted Sokoudjou out vs. Rogerio. Then, people still counted him out vs. Arona. And now people are still counting him out vs. Machida. A lot of people are scared off by the fact that Sokoudjou once lost to Glover Teixeira in a WEC bout where he got caught. However, Machida isn’t a finisher and really belongs at 185 lbs. There isn’t a big threat of Sokoudjou getting caught, which likely gives him up to 15 minutes to find and catch Machida. Sokoudjou won’t need 15 minutes as he’ll win via first round TKO.

Adam Morgan: First round TKO? You guys are crazy. Even though Sokoudjou has knocked out Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona in the first round, he’s still an unknown in the world of mixed martial arts. We haven’t seen him off his back. The one time he got rocked, he lost. We haven’t even seen the guy’s sick judo yet. What do we know about him? He has rocks for hands, period. What do we know about Machida? A lot. He can make you fight his pace, he is an incredibly strong counter puncher, and he’s undefeated with victories over the likes of Stephan Bonnar, Rich Franklin, B.J. Penn, Kazuhiro Nakamura, and Vernon White. Machida grinds out a trademark unanimous decision.

Matt Kaplan: Sokoudjou is the stronger, more explosive athlete, and he’s made quick work of better light heavies that Machida, who’s had a good run on his way to 11-0. Machida is a karate fighter who’s shown that he loves to stand and strike, but that might not be the best plan of attack against “The African Assassin.” Judo Thierry by Rd. 1 TKO.

Paul Balsom: Even though I think Sokoudjou is great, I will follow the masses and pick Machida. Sokoudjou may get some of that “Octagon Shock (trademarked)” that Rogan talks so much about, and Machida will pull out the win despite being judo-tossed a number of times. Machida via unanimous decision.

Sam Cupitt: This fight’s outcome will be determined on which Machida turns up. If we get the Machida that fought David Heath, Sokoudjou is in for a long and frustrating night. If we get the Machida that fought Nakamura who was willing to exchange, Sokoudjou could be adding another top quality Brazilian to his growing resume. Sorry to say, but I think Machida will know what he has to do win and will pick his shots and evade the”The African Assassin’s” offense. Machida via Unanimous Decision.

Melvin Guillard vs. Rich Clementi

Sam Caplan: Guillard is the better athlete but Clementi is the better fighter. For all of his potential, what has Guillard proven? There’s no way to know for sure whether he properly prepared for this fight. I don’t have to wonder about Clementi, which is why I am going with him via unanimous decision.

Adam Morgan: I have never been impressed with Rich Clementi as a UFC fighter to be quite honest. He’s decent on the ground and not very good with his hands. Melvin Guillard, on the other hand, has shown flashes of brilliance with his hands and his athleticism but hasn’t lived up to potential. Under the proper guidance, Guillard could be a force to be reckoned with at 155. I’d like to think that the cocaine bust has cleared Guillard’s mind and allowed him to focus his energy 100% into fighting. Guillard via TKO, round two.

Paul Balsom: Guillard is energenic and athletic but careless. Clementi, like Sam said, is a better fighter and it will show in this fight. Guillard will attack Rich early because of all the pre-fight drama, and Rich will take advantage of the craziness. Rich Clementi via submission in round 1.

Sam Cupitt: I see this fight showcasing the main points of both these fighters. Guillard, who is coming off an enforced 8 month lay off due to a drug suspension will be fired up and come in swinging. He will connect a few times and Clementi will whether the storm after being knocked down late in the first round. The second round will begin and Guillard will be frustrated and will slam Clementi who will in turn lock up a triangle choke early in the second round. Clementi via 2nd Round Submission.

Soa Palelei vs. Eddie Sanchez

Sam Caplan: Palelei is a big, strong Pacific islander who trains out of Team Quest. He’s competed in Australia and since he’s originally from that corner of the world, he could be a draw there for them. This match was made for Eddie Sanchez to lose. My pick is Palelei via second round submission.

Adam Morgan: Soa Palelei is new addition to the UFC who has been training out at Team Quest Temecula. Sanchez seems to be in another situation where he’ll collect a paycheck to run around for a few minutes and then finally get overwhelmed by Palelei. Soa “The Hulk” Palelei via TKO, round one.

Paul Balsom: I pretty much agree with what Sam said, so I’m not going to waste your time. Palelei via submission in round 1.

Sam Cupitt: I spoke to Elvis Sinosic about Soa Palelei. He seems to think if the Australian were to win it would be GnP. Sanchez has shown nothing to me that would suggest that “The King of Rock n Rumble’s” prediction wouldn’t come true. Palelei via TKO in the 1st Round.

Luis Cane vs. James Irvin

Sam Caplan: Admittedly, I’ve never seen Cane fight but I’ve heard a lot about him the past few months. I also know he’s 7-0 with all seven victories having ended early. The UFC usually only promotes Irvin in fights they don’t expect him to win so I’m going with Cane via first round submission.

Adam Morgan: Irvin is the light heavyweight version of Eddie Sanchez. He usually gets thrown against the newer acquisitions to give them a quick test. There’s been a bit of a buzz surrounding Luis Cane coming into this fight. He’s got a knockout victory over Damien Stelly, a very good Army fighter. Stelly took Tim Kennedy to decision, so that should tell you something about Cane, which is why I’ll take Luis Cane via TKO, round two.

Paul Balsom: Luis Cane via TKO in round 1.

Sam Cupitt: Haven’t seen Cane before but on paper he seems like a clone of Thiago Silva. James Irvin can hurt you if he hits you but if you take him down and you know some submissions, he won’t last long. I think Irvin will connect a couple of times, then Cane will realise that he wants no part of the exchanges and will take Irvin down and submit him quickly. Cane via Submission in the 1st round.

Manny Gamburyan vs. Nate Mohr

Sam Caplan: Beware of the body lock! Even as a lightweight Gamburyan is usually giving up height and reach. He tries to neutralize that advantage by rushing his opponent and closing off the distance between them. From there, it’s usually all Manny. Gamburyan via unanimous decision.

Adam Morgan: Gamburyan will take this fight to the ground quickly and stay active enough to grind out a standard Manny Gamburyan decision. Manvel via decision.

Paul Balsom: I’d like to see Manny stay aggressive, just like he has in his fights on TUF 5, and in the finale. Gamburyan via TKO (ground and pound) in round 2.

Sam Cupitt: Gamburyan has been promised by Joe Silva that if his fight is exciting it will be televised. He must already be pretty filthy that he’s been put on the undercard behind Eddie Sanchez and an unknown heavyweight, so I’m expecting Manny to go mental and take Mohr down and pound him out pretty quickly. Gamburyan via TKO in round 1.

Dean Lister vs. Jordan Radev

Sam Caplan: When we last saw Radev he was on the mat staring at the lights after getting planted by Drew McFedries. He won’t have to worry about in this fight but he will have to worry about Lister’s world class jiu-jitsu and underrated wrestling. I am going with Lister vs. second round submission.

Adam Morgan: I don’t see how this fight doesn’t end up on the ground. Once it reaches the ground, it won’t matter if Lister is on his back or on top, he will submit Jordan Radev in round two.

Matt Kaplan: Radev is a powerful, compact middleweight with strong wrestling, but I don’t think it’s good enough to neutralize Lister’s submission arsenal. Both need a win, but I think Lister is the better striker and submission fighter. Lister by early guillotine.

Paul Balsom: Lister via submission in round 1.

Sam Cupitt: If Radev takes Lister down he will get submitted. If he tries to stand up with Lister he will get taken down and then submitted. Lister via submission in round 1.

Roan Carneiro vs. Tony DeSouza

Sam Caplan: I’ve dubbed this fight “Abu Dhabi in a cage” but the reality is that the fight probably won’t finish via submission. When you have grapplers of this caliber fighting each other, usually 15 minutes isn’t enough for the outcome to end in a submission. Since the points system used in competitive grappling won’t be used here, I think the fight will come down to who can excel the best in the non-grappling aspect of the fight. In that regard, I give the advantage to Carneiro who really impressed me with his MMA skills against Jon Fitch. I’ve got Carneiro via split decision.

Adam Morgan: Another terribly hard fight to pick on this card. These two are outstanding grapplers. DeSouza trains with B.J. Penn in Hilo, HI. Carneiro trains with American Top Team. Both have strong training camps. Both have strong jiu jitsu. So hard to pick a winner, but I think Roan’s move to ATT combined with his MMA experience and caliber of opponents will be the deciding factor. Roan Carneiro via unanimous decision.

Matt Kaplan: Both bring top-shelf jiu-jitsu in to this fight, but I think that Carnerio’s move to American Top Team and DeSouza’s inactivity will be the difference. Expect Carneiro to press the action and damage DeSouza with a much improved striking arsenal. I like Carniero after three.

Paul Balsom: DeSouza via unanimous decision.

Sam Cupitt: Both have great jiu jitsu which will cancel out. That should mean whoever is superior in the other aspects should walk away with this. I feel Carneiro has the superior MMA skill set but not the power to stop DeSouza. Carneiro via Unanimous Decision.

Mark Bocek vs. Doug Evans

Sam Caplan: Bocek has better submissions but Evans is more well-rounded. I think his ground skills are good enough where that Bocek won’t be able to finish him, leaving Evans to earn some points on the feet. I like Evans via second round TKO.

Adam Morgan: Evans has the better wrestling and Bocek has the better jiu jitsu. If Evans can control Bocek from the top like Frankie Edgar did, it will be a long night for Bocek. I don’t think Evans’ wrestling is anywhere near the level of Frankie Edgar, however, and I think Bocek will give him a rough time when the fight hits the ground. Whether or not it be from his back or on top, I’ll take Bocek via submission, round one.

Paul Balsom: Evans via submission in round 1.

Sam Cupitt: Bocek has submissions, Evans has the wrestling and better striking. This points to Evans being able to dictate the proceedings. Evans via unanimous decision. For some more in depth analysis of UFC 79’s matchups head over to my website, The Sam Blog.