‘Tis that time again when the staff here at Five Ounces Of Pain put their crystal balls to the ultimate test when they put forth their predictions for UFC 80: Rapid Fire.Please
Note: 5 Oz. of Pain wishes to state that any similarities in thoughts are purely coincidental and not worth getting ones panties in a knot for.
Sam Caplan’s picks are available on CBSSports.com.
B.J. Penn vs. Joe Stevenson
Sam Cupitt: I am rather looking forward to this fight and I think it’ll be a lot more hard fought than most people seem to think. Mainly because Joe Stevenson has the tools to survive against B.J’s strengths and then has the cardio to perhaps work him over in the later rounds. Also the fact that B.J. seems to be cursed when it comes to the lightweight title. I mean the judges that scored the fight with Uno a draw need to go the way of Old Yella. This fight is definitely a toss up for me, but I’m gonna back B.J. by unanimous decision after he wins the first 3 round and Joe starts coming back in the last 2 rounds.I also believe this is the best outcome for the UFC because I don’t think I’m out of line in saying almost all MMA fans want to see both Penn vs. Sherk and Penn vs. St. Pierre.
Ben Fowlkes: Penn has been called the best two-round fighter in MMA, which is as back-handed as compliments come.He says he’s rededicated himself to the sport and if that’s true, look out. Penn truly is a gifted fighter. The question is, has he developed a work ethic to match his skills? Stevenson has a good all-around game, but he doesn’t do any one thing significantly better than Penn. I’m taking Penn by late submission or unanimous decision.
Ram Maramba: Maybe it’s the hype, but I’ve become a believer in the re-dedication of The Prodigy. BJ Penn looked to be in awesome shape for his fight with Jens Pulver and he’s not taking Joe Stevenson lightly. If there’s any question on what Penn can accomplish when he’s a man possessed, take a look at his rocket to the top in the BJJ world. Stevenson will outwork him, but he’ll have enough gas in the tank to stick with the fight until Joe Daddy is caught slipping. Penn by submission in the first championship round.
Mike MacLeod: I’m not going to believe BJ Penn’s new approach to training until I see the results with my own eyes. Penn will win the first couple of rounds but he won’t overwhelm Stevenson the way he did to Jens Pulver. BJ will gas out again half way through the fight. Joe won’t catch him, but he will win the last three rounds. Stevenson by decision.
Paul Balsom: (I’m going to leave as many MMA fan cliches out of my picks as I possibly can.) I have a slightly different viewpoint having already seen the weigh-ins. BJ looked great, much like he did before he bout with Jens Pulver. This will be an interesting fight to watch because BJ is facing a MUCH more competitive opponent than Pulver in his second bout after his return to the UFC lightweight division. In addition to this, this is the first fight where Stevenson is facing an opponent that is in a higher realm of competition. I think the real determining factor in this fight is BJ’s cardiovascular fitness (“gastank” if you will). “Daddy” is not going to be able to pull off his typical guillotine, but he will definitely push the pace on Penn. Stevenson last and only submission loss was to Chris Brennan via triangle choke at Bas Rutten’s First King of the Cage event in 1999. Therefore, I cannot assume BJ is going to put on a quick submission that Stevenson’s not ready for. Based on that, I think sub attempts might be something that takes Penn over the top. The betting lines definitely are not indicating how close this fight should be. I have money on Stevenson, but I’ll take BJ Penn via unanimous decision for the vacant UFC lightweight title.
Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Fabricio Werdum
Sam Cupitt: I don’t know what it is but for some reason I see this fight going the same way as Gonzaga vs Scherner instead of Werdum quitting he’ll just get dropped and beaten on with elbows that will probably still be a foreign concept to him. Gonzaga via TKO early in the 2nd round.
Ben Fowlkes: Gonzaga got what was perhaps a premature rankings boost after KO’ing “Cro Cop,” but a rematch with Werdum is a good test for him. Werdum can be plodding at times, ever the technician, and knows how to use his size and strength to slow the pace down. Gonzaga will have to win this fight by staying on his feet and making Werdum come to him. In a very tactical encounter, Gonzaga wins by decision.
Ram Maramba: Werdum suffers from Salaverry-torso, but he’s deceptively strong and highly-skilled. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as a counter-grappler, but the title suits him. Regardless, Gonzaga is too strong and will set too fast a pace for Werdum to keep up. Gonzaga has a similar skillset on the ground and has a slight advantage on his feet. In his contender-bout against Randy Couture, Gonzaga showed some nice combos with power equivalent to his size. Werdum seems to prefer those Chute Boxe-style wingers even before he joined their camp. If Gonzaga powers through his takedowns, it’s just a matter of time. Napao by GnP stoppage in the 2nd round.
Mike MacLeod: This won’t be the fight of the night, but it won’t be the snooze-fest that many are predicting. Werdum will be not be able to handle the combinations and elbows from Ganzaga and will be counting the lights before the second round ends. Gonzaga by HO in the second round.
Paul Balsom: Everyone seems to be going with Gonzaga. While “Napao” weighs a bit more, Werdum is a bigger guy in build. Aside from Gonzaga trying to continue the “Cro Cop killer” kick, like he tried to recreate with Randy, I will go ahead and give Werdum the nod by some solid strikes in the clinch, as well as some takedowns with ground and pound. Maybe the Chutebox training will give Werdum the edge. Werdum over Gonzaga via unanimous decision.
Marcus Davis vs. Jess Liaudin
Sam Cupitt: This to me is one of those fights where one guy is just a bit better than the other guy in every single facet of the game. I believe Davis will just beat Liaudin up every where the fight goes. I know we’ve seen “The Joker” sub Dennis Siver at UFC 70 and then knockout a walking ‘roided up punching bag in Torres but Davis is just a different kettle of fish and I predict Davis by TKO late in the 1st round.
Ben Fowlkes: Davis, “The Irish Hand Grenade”, is almost a given on any UFC card in the U.K. at this point. Guess why. In addition to his awesome nickname,
Ram Maramba: I’ve only seen Jess Liaudin in action against “German Fighter of the Year” Dennis Siver, but came away a bit impressed for a dark-matcher with a mediocre record. Marcus Davis however is on a different level. If Davis has learned how to check kicks, the advantage is all his. Liaudin’s ceiling and Davis’ floor bump up against each other though, so I wouldn’t be surprised by an upset. All streaks come to an end, but I see a 2nd round KO by Davis.
Mike Macleod: This one is going to be short and sweet as Liaudin is going to be out-gunned. Davis by first round knockout.
Paul Balsom: With all the bickering around UFC 79’s Pain Poll, I’ll continue some devil’s advocate picking. Jess Liaudin is on a mad streak of first-round KO’s and subs, so he can use this momentum into a huge win against Marcus Davis. Paul Taylor was able to show Davis had a slight chin and Jess Liaudin will take advantage. “Joker” will get Davis to the ground, possibly with a punch, then throw on a submission technique. Jess Liaudin via submission in Round 1.
Kendall Grove vs. Jorge Rivera
Sam Cupitt: Grove learned a valuable lesson in his fight with Patrick Cote. You play with fire you get burned. I remember the whole time I was watching that fight I just had this feeling it was a matter of time before Grove was gonna get dropped and Cote did not disappoint. Rivera on the other hand spent last year repairing his jaw after a big Terry Martin right hand so he’ll be a little rusty and a little over-matched by the once again hungry Grove. Grove via Submission in the 2nd round.
Ben Fowlkes: Grove needs a victory here to prove he’s not some flash-in-the-pan reality TV fighter. His improvement in every aspect of the sport has been rapid, but his loss to Cote really set him back. Rivera has the tools to be dangerous even if his ground game is suspect. If Grove fights smart, this is his night all the way. Grove by submission.
Ram Maramba: Ugh. Jorge Rivera, a Puerto Rican version of Elvis Sinosic, is being fed to a guy the UFC wants to recover from a really bad loss. Kendall Grove has shown a nice ground game, and that’s where he needs to take it to conquer the Conquistador. Grove by submission in round 1.
Mike MacLeod: The UFC is letting another one of their TUF stars build back his rep by giving him some fresh meat. Da Spider is going to take Rivera down and methodically move him into submission attempts. Grove by submission in round 2.
Paul Balsom: Not too much room for a devil’s advocate here. Jorge Rivera is going to get overwhelmed. Kendall Grove via submission in Round 1.
Jason Lambert vs. Wilson Gouveia
Sam Cupitt: I’m actually really looking forward to this fight. It just seems like the strengths of either fighter are the weakness of the other one and just anything could happen. I like Gouveia as a fighter ever since he gave Jardine all he could handle on the TUF 3 final so I’m going to back him here to score a victoryvia triangle choke in the 2nd round.
Ben Fowlkes: Lambert is an old-fashioned tough guy who is at his best when he can grind away at opponents. The question, however, is whether his standup game is technically sound enough to match up against Gouveia’s. If Lambert can put Gouveia on his back and keep him there all night, he stands a good chance. I have to think that Gouveia’s expecting that. If he isn’t, he doesn’t deserve to be in there. Gouveia by late TKO or decision.
Ram Maramba: Gouveia is one of those more underrated fighters in the game. He’s riding a three-fight submission streak, but he’ll have a hard time climbing Jason “Cowbelly” Lambert (not an official nickname). Lambert proved he can handle a submission fighter with a poor gameplan when he KO’d Babalu. Unless Gouveia stays calm in the face of the intimidating Punisher, I call Lambert by decision.
Mike MacLeod: This is a really good contrast in styles. It has the potential for fight of the night. In the end, I think that Gouveia’s standup is better than Lamberts ground and pound. Both fighters will give out their own share of punishment but in the end, Gouveia wins by decision.
Paul Balsom: Lambert showed lots of endurance and “gameness,” if you will, in his last fight against Babalu. It’s possible that this fight could go the same way. Gouveia is much larger than Lambert, and will bring an early barrage of attacks, but if Lambert survives, I’ll give him the puncher’s chance. Lambert via TKO/KO in Round 2.
Sam Stout vs. Per Eklund
Sam Cupitt: It seems that after the war with Spencer Fisher, Dana White has a bit of a man crush on Sam Stout and I have a feeling this fight was set up for Per Eklund to lose. Whether or not this turns out to be the case is the question. With 5 out of 12 wins by submission Eklund could disappoint the country of Canada early if he gets a takedown early but I don’t think this will be the case. Sam Stout by TKO in the 1st round.
Ben Fowlkes: Eklund’s going to have a hard time with Stout, who’s seen better competition than the Swede has ever faced. Stout’s a tough guy and he seems to improve with every time out. He needs to garner another UFC win to get him back on track, and I suspect Eklund is being brought in with that in mind. As long as Stout doesn’t get careless, look for him to get a first-round TKO victory.
Ram Maramba: I’m the n00b contributor on this site for a reason. I’d never seen Per Eklund fight until I looked him up on the various video sharing sites. Looks like the man has a nice ground game and stays pretty heavy on top for his stature, but that’s all I can say about him. Stout, on the other hand, is a known commodity in North America with crazy kickboxing skills. I’m not a fan of the one-dimensional fighter, but hopefully Stout has picked up his ground game by working with Xtreme Couture and training with Joe Stevenson’s camp. If Stout can keep it standing, he’ll KO Eklund late in the 2nd round.
Mike MacLeod: Dana White isn’t the only one with a man-crush on Sam Stout. I love this guy. In order to have a chance, Eklund will need to take Stout down early and keep him there, but that’s not going to happen. Stout by first round KO.
Paul Balsom: Per “Jack of All Trades” Eklund has the potential to get Stout to the ground. Sure, he’ll have to eat a few to get in close, but Stout is totally lost on the ground. If Eklund gets him down, he may not get a TKO win, but I think he can score a decision with some takedowns and ground and pound. Eklund via unanimous decision.
Antoni Hardonk vs. Colin Robinson
Sam Cupitt: Well, seeing how Wes Sims and Sherman Pendergarst have left the UFC and Eddie Sanchez beat Colin Robinson, it appears this fight will be for the unofficial tag of “worst heavyweight in the UFC”. Harsh…but true. As you can tell I don’t really have an interest in this fight, so I guess I am hoping for simultaneous KO but the safe bet would be Antoni Hardonk via TKO in the first round.
Ben Fowlkes: Something tells me the UFC would like to keep Hardonk around as a stepping stone for other fighters, but I’m not sure Robinson has it in him to take that step. This one smacks of putting local talent on a card to benefit ticket sales. Hardonk has the superior experience, but is inconsistent. Robinson has yet to show us anything against anyone who matters. Hardonk by TKO.
Ram Maramba: Something tells me Hardonk would be an exciting fighter if he could keep his opponents off his legs. He won’t have to worry about that against Robinson. Hopefully this match won’t disintegrate into and eye-drying Sanchez-Palelei mambo. I’m calling Hardonk by decision.
Mike MacLeod: I’ll be taking a restroom break during this fight. When I get back, my wife will tell me that Hardonk knocked the Irish guy out.
Paul Balsom: I may be in the bathroom, but this fight won’t be on my TV, because this is an undercard fight. Hardonk is awesome… in the category of disappointing viewers no matter how easy his matchup is. Robinson has a few wins via submission, and Hardonk is a blind man on the ground. If Robinson plays it smart and gets him there, Colin Robinson via submission in Round 2.
Paul Kelly vs. Paul Taylor
Sam Cupitt: Paul Kelly probably has the submission game to defeat Paul Taylor but according to his interviews that’s not what he likes to do. It sounds like he is going to want to stand, but it wont be long before he is outclassed on his feet and then has to hit the takedown. Getting outclassed on his feet, is not something you want to do against Paul Taylor who showed against both Crocota and Davis that he is nasty with both hands and feet and for that reason, Paul Taylor via TKO in the 1st round.
Ram Maramba: Yet another guy I’ve never seen. All I know about Paul Kelly is that he trains with Michael Bisping at Wolfslair and can finish scrubs with a collective 27-44 record. Taylor’s standup looked nice against Marcus Davis at UFC 75 and he seems like a marketable fighter the UFC wants to keep around as a backup if Bisping fails. Look for Taylor to open a can on the can via TKO in the 1st round.
Mike MacLeod: So Kelly says his strength are ground and pound and submissions but he won’t be going for any takedowns? What good is being a good grappler if you don’t grapple? I guess he’ll be happy to headbutt Taylor’s fists for a few minutes before being knocked out in the first.
Paul Balsom: …. Paul Taylor via KO in Round 2.
Alessio Sakara vs. James Lee
Sam Cupitt: Sakara is a boxer who seems not to be able to handle brawlers. James Lee is not a brawler, James Lee is looking for a submission and I think that Sakara’s brown belt from Big Nog will keep him out of trouble if the fight hits the mat and his boxing skills will put Lee in trouble if they stand. Sakara via TKO in Round 1.
Ben Fowlkes: The best thing I can say about Sakara is that he has awesome Ancient Roman tattoos and fast hands, but not much else. He’s stuck around in the UFC for longer than expected, considering his mediocre results. Lee is on quite a win streak, even if he hasn’t beaten anybody of note lately except Travis Wiuff. Lee should manage a submission or TKO win here.
Ram Maramba: You can’t say Sakara doesn’t look like a fighter. Whether he can actually put it all together will always be in question until he strings together some victories and gets above .500 in the UFC. For a former pro-boxer, he sure gets knocked out a lot; hopefully Legionarius will avoid the smelling salts against a ground-fighter like Lee. I’ll go out on a limb and predict a good showing by Sakara via 2nd round TKO.
Paul Balsom: After Sakara and Hardonk both lose tonight, they should fight at UFC 85-ish at a catch-weight to determine MMA’s version of The Biggest Loser. God… I suppose James Lee is a breathing human being, which may be tough for Sakara to beat. James Lee via TKO (referee stoppage when Sakara jumps to the ground while pretending to be KO’d) in Round 2.