It’s that time again for the staff of FiveOuncesOfPain.com to make their picks for the upcoming UFC 84 pay per view event on Saturday. See who we think will win in the Penn vs. Sherk bout as well as the other big matches on the main card and undercard.
Joining us this time around are special guest David Andrest, a contributing writer for our pals over at MMAjunkie.com, as well as the MMA columnist for The Ledger CBS Sports, 15rounds.com and occasional 5 Oz. contributor Gary Herman; our new farmhand Caleb Newby, and of course… myself. Let’s do it.
B.J. Penn vs. Sean Sherk (UFC LW Title Fight)
David Andrest: This is a fight I’m looking forward to. Why wouldn’t I be? The best P4P fighter in the world is defending his title. Yes I said it, B.J. Penn is the best P4P mixed martial artist in the world. This is an interesting fight in that I believe Sean Sherk has a chance to actually win. Again the honest fact is Sherk might be able to lie on top of Penn for 25 minutes. If anyone could do that it would be Sherk. When you factor in he only has to lie on top of Penn for 15 minutes and avoid being finished for an additional 10 minutes his chances seem even greater.
Penn brings multiple ways to win into this and any fight. His skills in MMA are rarely matched, and with his new found dedication to conditioning Penn hold all the cards. I see this fight going to the ground. I can see Sherk attempting the takedown, being stuffed, and B.J. pulling guard and working his magic. Penn via TKO in round 2
Sam Cupitt: There is no trash talk like B.J. Penn trash talk. I’m sure the UFC probably didn’t want B.J. talking about Sherk’s failed drug test, but hell he did it anyway. Like I said in the Duel, I believe Penn will win this fight and he will win by stoppage. I just don’t see how Sherk can survive in this fight if B.J. defends his takedowns and B.J. will defend his takedowns. Penn has defended shots from both St.Pierre and Hughes, and both those guys outwrestled Sherk. I fully expect to see ‘the Prodigy’ licking Sherk’s blood off of his gloves after he knocks down the former UFC lightweight champion and then submits him. Penn via submission in round 2.
Gary Herman: As most people know, the fight will most likely end in two ways: Sherk by decision or Penn by early stoppage. Penn looked awesome in rolling through both Jens Pulver and Joe Stevenson. Sherk always trains hard and will be well prepared for Penn. In the end, Penn’s all around game will be too much for Sherk. Sherk has never tapped so the referee will do it for him. Penn by second round TKO.
Adam Morgan: This is one of those dream matchups that hardcores always talk about. But is it as evenly matched as people think? Sure, Sherk has the cardio, the intensity, the heart, the record of going five rounds before and not being gassed but besides the cardio I don’t see any spot where he has the clear cut advantage. Wrestling? Maybe. But Penn’s wrestling is very good as well and his takedown defense could nullify Sherk’s takedown ability. Penn’s jiu jitsu is top-notch. His striking is top-notch as well. He holds the advantage in almost every facet of the fight and I don’t think he will just beat Sean Sherk, I think he will dominate him. BJ Penn via TKO, round three.
Paul Balsom: I must say, I haven’t been this excited about a matchup like this in a while. I can honestly say that, with the exception of a first round flying head kick win by Sherk, I can’t see myself being shocked by any outcome to this fight. Fantastic matchup.
To break it down though, I really see BJ Penn holding most of the cards in this fight. Penn will best the stand-up portion, his BJJ is insane (as well all know), and his ground game from the top is excellent. The only curious portion of Penn’s game is cardio, of course. I’ve been extremely impressed by Penn’s high pace and aggressiveness as of late. This pick is not just as easy as, “Penn if it’s in the early rounds, Sherk if it’s late.” Penn holds the advantage in most categories, I think he will inflict more damage, he’s motivated, and he has shown improvement in his cardio. Penn via TKO (Ref-stoppage from strikes) in Rd 3.
Caleb Newby: When this fight was initially announced I was as excited as anyone, full of questions and doubt over who would win. Can Penn manage to keep things standing, is Sherk’s cardio and stubbornness enough to bring him to the final rounds? Indecision and doubt plagued me as I tried to make up my mind… until a couple weeks ago. After sitting down and reasoning things out, I am fully convinced Penn is going to win this, and win it in a surprisingly dominant fashion. If a half-hearted Penn can do what he did to GSP and Hughes, I cringe to think of the havoc a fully motivated Penn can muster. I think Joe Stevenson can attest to what BJ is capable of.Sherk is going to have a helluva time trying to take Penn to the ground and the longer this stay standing the worse it is going to get for Sherk. Should we even make it to the ground I’d be shocked if Sherk was able to mount much damage from top control, he’ll have to focus extensively on maintaining his position. Were that enough, the absolutely worst thing that could happen to Sherk is ending up on his back. Penn has far too many weapons and motivation. I like how Morgan put this, Penn by domination. The only question is sub or TKO. And really, it doesn’t matter. BJ Penn via TKO, round two.
Sam Caplan: I know I said Penn via fourth round TKO in my CBSSports.com head-to-head picks (which is where you can see my picks in greater detail) but I will man up and say what I really believe: Penn via TKO over Sherk late in the first. This will be GSP vs. Hughes III all over again, except worse. I believe Penn dominates this fight so much so that Sherk fans will be forced to re-evaluate their faith.
Keith Jardine vs. Wanderlei Silva
David Andrest: Wanderlei Silva is responsible for many of my favorite moments in MMA, he is exciting every time he fights, and for that I am grateful. Keith Jardine is a star on the rise, and much like his fight with Chuck Liddell there is no downside for him in this fight. If Jardine wins, he has defeated a second legend in a row. A loss does very little to hurt his rise. Silva is in need of a win to continue fighting and being relevant at 205. I think Jardine would best be served to keep Silva at the distance, using his kicks and jab to keep Silva off balance. Silva needs to return to the Wanderlei of old, moving forward, using his clinch, his knees and standing elbows. If we see Silva moving forward he will win the fight, moving backwards and he will not. Silva via TKO round 2
Sam Cupitt: Any night is a good night when you get to see a Wanderlei Silva stare-down, especially when it also features a guy, who as Stephan Bonnar has pointed out, looks a bit like Satan. Provided Jardine doesn’t get the urge to take this one to the mat, this fight should prove to be absolute fireworks. Jardine is less elusive than Liddell which should allow Silva the opportunity to get inside more and work his muay thai game. I swear if Silva grabs that muay thai plum and starts letting those knees fly I’m going to be hard pressed to contain my elation and urine. If Silva wins this fight then I will walk away a happy man from this card. I’m hoping it happens and I think it will. Silva via KO in round 1.
Gary Herman: Keith Jardine has the opportunity to defeat both Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva – arguably the two top light heavyweights of all time – in the span of eight months. On the other hand, Silva really needs a win. Silva has done everything he can to make himself appealing to the UFC fans except get a victory. The two stand-up fighters will trade strikes until someone drops. Unfortunately for Jardine, Silva will do the exact opposite of Liddell in that he will be the attacker and not the counter-puncher. Jardine couldn’t withstand Houston Alexander’s aggressive style. Well, multiply that times ten. Silva by first round KO.
Adam Morgan: This might be the toughest fight on the card to call besides the Ortiz/Machida fight. Wanderlei will stand and throw wild punches while Jardine is more reserved and technical with his striking, using the outside game, kicks , and jabs to his advantage. I truly believe this poses a problem for The Axe Murderer who likes to come in with wild strikes, make the striking game an inside one, and utilize the clinch. Jardine will stay outside of Wanderlei’s range and punish him from there. Keith Jardine via unanimous decision.
Paul Balsom: I think we will see a desperate Wanderlei Silva in this bout. He will press some of the action, while Jardine will use his reach advantage and counter-striking ability. I think we will see a Keith Jardine similar to the one we saw against Chuck Liddell; lots of leg-kicks, jabs, and circling the outside. Part of me thinks that Jardine could stop the fight stemming from a mistake by Silva (a la Jardine’s fight with Forrest Griffin), but I really think that Jardine will use his distinct reach advantage to pull off a decision victory. Jardine via unanimous decision.
Caleb Newby: Gary got it right. Take Houston Alexander and multiply it by ten and you’ll have Wanderlei Silva’s attack on Keith Jardine. And here’s the thing about Silva’s three fight losing streak. And yes, before I get started, I know it sounds like I am making excuses for Silva. I’m not. I’m just pointing out some facts. Silva first lost to Mirko CroCop who is, lest we forget, a heavyweight while Silva is a small at 205 and may make a move to 185 in the future. Silva’s second loss was to Dan Henderson at PRIDE 33 in Vegas. I was fortunate enough to be there to cover it, and Silva informed the media he had been in the hospital the night before the fight with a 100-something temperature fighting the flu. His third loss was an exciting decision defeat to Chuck Liddell, someone who has been called the worst stylistic matchup for Silva. So no, none of these things absolve the fact he is riding a three fight losing streak, but they should maybe hold off the “washed up” talk for now. Give the man a break and let’s see what happens. I know who I’ve got. Wanderlei Silva via TKO, round two.
Sam Caplan: Chuck Liddell’s reach was too much for Wanderlei as UFC 79. I think Jardine will have a similar reach advantage as well and that we will see a carbon copy of the UFC 79 fight between Liddell and Silva in this one. Jardine via unanimous decision.
Tito Ortiz vs. Lyoto Machida
David Andrest: When I was a child, my parents bought me a Rubik’s Cube. It took me about 5 minutes to become frustrated with it and decide it would be easier to throw it on the ground and smash it. Machida is the 205 lb division’s version of the Rubik’s Cube. Will Tito try to figure it out, or will take the fight to the ground and do the very things that made him a superstar? I don’t think we will see Tito submitted, nor the victim of a KO. The only real question is can Tito take Machida to the ground and drop elbows on the undefeated fighter. Tito needs to end this fight, if it goes to the judges score card he has little to no chance. Early reports are that Judge Dana White scores the bout 30-24 Machida. Machida wins via Unanimous Decision.
Sam Cupitt: It is very hard to tip against Machida. He has managed to baffle every single fighter he has faced inside the Octagon. It must be the most annoying thing in the world to face Machida when he sets his elusiveness and agility dials to 11. You think you have your timing correct and you lunge in only to meet thin air with your fists and a Machida shin to your rib cage. However, during his MMA career he really hasn’t fought a big wrestler who has the intention to take him down and keep him down. When Tito Ortiz was the UFC light-heavyweight champion, he was known for manhandling smaller opponents to the mat and then wailing on them. A focused and driven Ortiz is still a top caliber dangerous 205 lber and there is no doubt that he is both focused and driven for this fight. This is probably the most focused and driven Tito has been in his whole career and if he can close the gap on Machida and get a takedown I think he can solve the enigma that is Lyoto Machida. Tito Ortiz via unanimous decision.
Gary Herman: What a fight this is. The UFC books Ortiz in a fight that he can’t possibly look good in, and the undefeated Machida gets the chance of a lifetime against a name fighter on the biggest stage possible. The UFC needs Machida to win. The last thing Dana & co want is for Ortiz to dominate Machida then take his career and Jenna Jameson over to EliteXC, Strikeforce, or Affliction. Can Machida pull it off? Possibly – but not likely. Ortiz will bring too much size, experience and wrestling ability to the cage against the tactical Machida. Unless White rings the bell before the match is over, Ortiz wins by unanimous decision.
Adam Morgan: Without a doubt the toughest fight to call on the entire card. Machida is untested against a huge 205 lb. wrestler like Ortiz and has been taken down by fighters in the past like Sokoudjou. He swept Sokoudjou, but as Luke Thomas pointed out recently in a discussion about this fight, Ortiz has never been swept. That being said, Tito has lost a step in every facet of his game. His cardio is not what it used to be. His striking has never been anything to brag about. His explosiveness fades as the fight goes deeper. And he can be hurt standing, as we’ve seen many a time. People are saying Machida’s not powerful enough to hurt Ortiz but I think Rich Franklin would beg to differ with that sentiment. Machida will hang around during the early rounds when Tito is at his best and make Tito pay when he fades late. Machida via TKO, round three.
Paul Balsom: I think Tito, as much as he would disagree with me, is a member of a dying breed. He has failed to evolve with the sport, and it is becoming abundantly clear now. His fight with Rashad Evans shined a spotlight on his weakening cardio (even though Evans was completely gassed out). Against an opponent like Machida, Ortiz’s cardio will be showcased even more. Machida did well in maintaining a good pace while hunting Kazuhiro Nakamura around the cage for three rounds. I think he’ll sprawl and kung-fu his way to a victory and send Tito out into the world of MMA obscurity. Maybe not obscurity, but this loss will hurt the remainder of his career quite a bit. Machida via unanimous decision.
Caleb Newby: If Tito can’t get up for this fight, I don’t think it’s possible. He is a free agent after this and needs nothing more than a victory to stick it to Dana while raising his price tag for the open market. I’m not sure Tito is as washed up as some want to make him out to be. He’s lost to Chuck Liddell (reasonable) edged out Forrest, and beaten Ken Shamrock (a given) while going to a draw against Rashad Evans. Not exactly enough of a sample size to really rate where he is at now. I’m totally in tune with Sam on this one. Tito’s wrestling and famed ground and pound just may be the answer to the Lyoto riddle. I certainly don’t believe Tito will finish him, but he will ride out a win. Tito Ortiz by decision.
Sam Caplan: This could be the most exciting boring fight that we see in a while. There is so much drama behind this fight that the crowd in Vegas will likely be going nuts every time Machida stuffs an Ortiz takedown or any time Ortiz takes Machida down. However, I don’t see the latter happening, which leads me to believe that we’re going to see Machida take care of business on Saturday. Gee, I wonder if Dana White will give him a big bonus when he beats Ortiz via unanimous decision?
Wilson Gouveia vs. Goran Reljic
David Andrest: I find the placement of this fight very curious. Is there a superstar in the making involved in this fight? Is this fight placed here to give people 15 minutes to discuss the Tito vs. Machida fight? I know a few people who are very high on the potential upside of Goran Reljic. He comes into his UFC debut undefeated in his professional career and has showcased some very good BJJ skills. Goran Reljic via submission round 2
Sam Cupitt: This is Reljic’s debut inside the Octagon’s walls while Gouveia is currently riding a four fight win streak within them. Gouveia to me, is like the Thiago Alves of the light-heavyweight division. A very tough striker with good ground skills who is just hungry for success. Reljic has a lot to be nervous about in the fact that firstly it is his UFC debut and secondly he has to face a rising contender on the main card of probably the biggest PPV this year. This should all prove to be too much for Goran as he gets worked over with leg kicks and eventually dropped and TKO’d in the first round. Gouveia via TKO in round 1.
Gary Herman: The undefeated Reljic is untested. Gouveia knocked out Jason Lambert in highlight fashion after being severely pushed around in the first round. Reljic has a chance to make a name for himself quickly, and he’ll do that. His ground skills will be too much for Gouveia. Reljic by second round submission.
Adam Morgan: There’s something to the first time jitters inside the Octagon. We’ve seen many fighter fall prey to their first opponent inside the Octagon and I’m sure we’ll see the same happen to Reljic. Gouveia is on a four fight win streak in the Octagon and is riding high coming off a knockout victory over Jason Lambert. Reljic has potential and I expect to see him do well in the UFC later on but this time around it’s all Gouveia. Wilson Gouveia via TKO, round two.
Paul Balsom: I was a big fan of Gouveia’s ability to survive followed by his display of striking precision in his last bout against Jason Lambert. Reljic is undefeated and will boast a reach advantage, but I see Gouveia pulling out this fight with his heart. Not much more on that. Gouveia via TKO (strikes) in Rd 2.
Caleb Newby: I suppose when you are featuring three amazing fights at the top of the card you can get away with a couple head scratchers for the other two televised bouts. I also have heard good things on Reljic but predict the stiff rise in competition and typical UFC rookie troubles will plague Reljic against a very game Gouveia. I’ll give Reljic the benefit of the doubt and say he can keep from being finished while utilizing his BJJ on the mat. Wilson Gouveia via decision.
Sam Caplan: Reljic’s BJJ is superb and he’s yet to lose a fight. However, I think Wilson Gouvei’s standup will be the difference here, allowing him to win via third round TKO.
Thiago Silva vs. Antonio Mendes
David Andrest: Mendes will make his UFC debut against Silva. My opinion is Thiago Silva is the brightest up and coming fighter at 205, and I would like to see the UFC increase the level of competition for Silva. I’m not as familiar with Mendes; however nothing on his record would indicate that he will pose any problems for Silva. Thiago Silva via KO round 1.
Sam Cupitt: I get the feeling there is going to be a fairly substantial upset on this card and this fight to me fits that bill. I am yet to buy into the Thiago Silva hype train just yet. I think the guy is talented for sure, but his fight with Drwal left a nasty taste in my mouth. There’s something to me about a promising up and comer coming off a highish profile victory being put on the main card against a no-name opponent he is meant to beat which screams upset. In saying all that I doubt very much that Mendes is god’s gift to MMA but he does appear to be in the Thiago Silva/Luis Cane mold which should make him a dangerous opponent. I’ll take Mendes via looping hook knockout resulting in Joe Rogan’s head exploding. Mendes via KO in round 1.
Gary Herman: Poor Silva goes from a potential high-profile with Rashad Evans to a match-up with the unknown Mendes. Silva looked fantastic in shattering the myth of Houston Alexander. Mendes will try to make the fight exciting, but unless Silva doesn’t prepare and pulls a Karo Parisyan, Silva will get the get the convincing win. Silva by first round KO.
Adam Morgan: Mendes is yet another newcomer to the UFC and faces a stiff test in Thiago Silva, one of the light heavyweight division’s most promising young up and comers. Silva destroyed Houston Alexander even after getting chokeslammed and I’m pretty sure he’ll do the same to Mendes. His overall game is very good and Mendes won’t be able to withstand his onslaught. Thiago Silva via TKO, round one.
Paul Balsom: I like Thiago Silva to continue his undefeated streak in this bout. He boasts a pretty well round game and if he continues to implement the same type of game plan that he did with Houston Alexander, he could be quite a force in the LHW division. Silva via TKO (strikes) in Rd 1.
Caleb Newby: You know, sometimes there just isn’t much to say, particularly when you are chomping at the bit for the main event. Sign me in with the crowd on a Silva victory. The man has some power in his fists. Thiago Silva via KO, round one.
Sam Caplan: Mendes is on an 11-fight win streak but Silva has been flawless throughout his MMA career thus far. I’m going Thiago via first round TKO.
Ivan Salaverry vs. Rousimar Palhares
David Andrest: I see this fight going to the ground early in the 1st, both fighters are well versed on the ground, however, Palhares will prove superior. Palhares via submission round 1.
Sam Cupitt: Salaverry is that wily old school kind of fighter who has fought everywhere and knows everything. He is basically the guy you give your up and comers to see if they are on their game both mentally and physically. There has been a few rumors going around that this could be Salaverry’s last fight and so there is a question on whether he has checked out mentally or not. He should provide a stiff test for Palhares but I think the Brazilian should be able to achieve positional dominance mid way through the second round and pound out a victory. Palhares via TKO in round 2.
Gary Herman: Salaverry looked bad in a quick loss to Terry Martin. At 37 years old, there’s no reason to think he will have improved. Palhares by second round submssion.
Adam Morgan: Salaverry’s a sacrificial lamb in this bout and Palhares is a great new addition to the UFC’s middleweight roster. He can wrestle, he can submit you, and while his striking isn’t great, it’s certainly serviceable enough to beat Salaverry. Salaverry has looked downright bad recently and after this fight I doubt we’ll see him in the UFC again as he takes another loss to the Brazilian Top Team fighter. Rousimar Palhares via submission, round two.
Paul Balsom: I have nothing new to add to the forementioned predictions. Salaverry has looked weak recently and Palhares will take this one swiftly out of Salaverry’s hands. Palhares via submission in Rd 1.
Caleb Newby: I’ll probably be rooting for Salaverry just for kicks in a futile effort. I wish I had some great insightful reason for what Salaverry has a chance and everyone is overlooking him. Unfortunately, I don’t. We’ll see Salaverry go the way of the JOB Squad with the famous motto “Pin me, Pay me.” Rousimar Palhares via submission, round one.
Sam Caplan: How committed to competitive MMA right now is Ivan Salaverry? That’s a big question that needs to be answered. I see Palhares winning via unanimous decision.
Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou vs. Kazuhiro Nakamura
David Andrest: There has been a lot of talk lately about “win or go home” fights. In my opinion this is one of those fights, Sokoudjou needs this victory to prove himself as more than a few flashes of brilliance. Kaz Nakamura is the perfect barometer for any light heavyweight fighter. Nakamura has an 11-7 professional record with losses coming to names such as Machida, Shogun, Silva, Henderson, and Nogueira. Many feel this is a “gimme” fight for Sokoudjou to get him back on track. As long as Sokoudjou doesn’t feel that way he should be fine. Sokoudjou via TKO round 2.
Sam Cupitt: I’m a bit dissapointed that this fight didn’t make it to the main card. With a possible future heavyweight contender in Shane Carwin as well as Dana White’s latest man-crush in Rich Clementi on the undercard it’s probably unlikely that we’ll see this fight televised even if there is time remaining. It is not often you see a battle between two top class judokas in the UFC but that is exactly what we have here. I think that part of the game will cancel out and the bout will be decided on the skill set possessed by the two fighters in the other aspects. Although Sokoudjou looked completely out of his element against Machida, but he should be able to handle Nakamura. Nakamura also looked even more so out of his element against Machida and his supreme lack of offensive abilities even managed to put our own Sam Caplan to sleep in that fight. Sokoudjou via unanimous decision.
Gary Herman: Sokoudjou has a lot riding on this fight. A win over Nakamura legitimizes himseld in the UFC and helps to erase the bad performance against Machida. But a loss could spell the end of his UFC run. Nakamura will use his experience to survive the first round, but Sokoudjou will have too much power for Nakamura. Big, highlighr win for Sokoudjou that hopefully sets up a fight with a true striker like Houston Alexander. Expect this match to make TV. Sokoudjou by second round KO.
Adam Morgan: A clash between top caliber judo players is something that we all love to see but it won’t be judo that wins this fight. It’s going to come down to the other facets of the game, like striking, wrestling, and submissions. Sokoudjou has to know that his UFC career is on the line in this bout and I think he wins it with his heavy hands. He knows he looked bad on the ground against Machida and certainly has to have worked with his partners at Team Quest to make that a non-factor in this fight. Sokoudjou’s heavy hands and overall athleticism will be too much for Nakamura. Sokoudjou via TKO, round two.
Paul Balsom: If Sokoudjou can actually trap Nakamura into one area of the cage, I say he gets a nice judo throw takedown and is able to mash his way back on the winning track. Sokoudjou via TKO (strikes) in Rd 2.
Caleb Newby: How about a fun Sokoudjou story? At the previously mentioned PRIDE 33, the prefight press conference introduced Sokoudjou to the media. He had a translator speak for him, saying that his English was very bad and he was embarassed of it. So his translator gives a little statement and Sokoudjou just sits there with a charming smile on his face while we in the media section are assuming him to be the sacrificial lamb for Antonio Rogrio Nogueira. After the conference ended, I decided to go looking for Sokoudjou to ask a few questions and grab a picture of the guy that was going to be destroyed the next day. I ask his translator, who is standing right next to him, to ask if we can take a picture of him and ask a few questions. So we take the picture and ask the translator a question for Sokoudjou… only for him to respond in perfect English and making me feel like an idiot for never addressing him directly to that point. To this day I don’t know why he had that translator with him, I assume just to screw with the media.
As for a fight prediction, Sokoudjou has legit skills and has sounded relaxed and collected in recent interviews. The UFC debut jitters get almost everyone so I’m not going to hold that against him. Nakamura may be the man who finds himself without a UFC contract after the weekend. Besides, I’m not going against a guy who wears a Predator mask to the Octagon. Sokoudjou via TKO, round two.
Sam Caplan: I am really upset that we aren’t guaranteed to see this fight on TV. With all the money they are paying Nakamura and Sokoudjou, you’d think they’d want to have this fight shown? In all probability, the loser of this fight leaves the UFC. I have been on the Sokoudjou “war wagon” for quite some time and will continue to remain a part of it. As such, I am picking Sokoudjou via first round TKO.
Rich Clementi vs. Terry Etim
David Andrest: Terry Etim is the perfect example of a guy who loses to Rich Clementi; he is young, athletic, and less experienced. Etim is a good young up and coming fighter with a better than average ground game, but I think that will only allow him to delay the outcome of the fight for 15 minutes. Clementi via unanimous decision.
Sam Cupitt: Terry Etim is a tough and solid fighter but he showed against Tibau that a bigger and stronger fighters are able to control him and nullify his offense. Rich Clementi fits the Tibau mold enough to be able to dish out the same sort of result. Clementi via unanimous decision.
Gary Herman: Clementi is on a roll. Etim is the next fighter to lose to him. Clementi by first round submission.
Adam Morgan: Clementi has been on a tear recently and I don’t think Etim is the kind of fighter that will stop him. Etim has looked good recently but Clementi is going to be bigger, stronger, and better on the ground. He’s shown that he can take good strikers to the mat and once he gets you there he’s going to take advantage and submit you. Rich Clementi via submission, round one.
Paul Balsom: Even though Terry Etim seems to have a great capability to survive long enough for his opponent to slip up, I do not think he will find that opportunity against Rich Clementi. Clementi will best Etim in the stand-up, but when the fights eventually hits the ground, Etim will not be able to survive against the far-superior ‘No Love.’ Rich Clementi via submission in Rd 2.
Caleb Newby: On my way to the cage, were I Rich, I’d be looking out behind my back for Melvin Guillard. You never know what that dude’s gonna do. Clementi via submission, round one. (provided Guillard doesn’t hop the Octagon).
Sam Caplan: Rich Clementi has been on a role lately and has been in there with some of the toughest 155 lbs. and 170 lbs. fighters in the sport. Terry Etim has a good record, but really hasn’t been tested. I think Clementi walks away with a second round submission.
Jon Koppenhaver vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida
David Andrest: This fight could prove to be one of the most entertaining of the night. Yoshida comes in with an 8 fight win steak, 6 coming via TKO. War Machine enters the fight coming off a very dramatic TKO victory of Jared Rollins. I see this fight staying on the feet with two game competitors swinging for the fences. Yoshida via TKO round 2 in a very entertaining bout.
Sam Cupitt: This should be a fairly entertaining scrap. To me it basically feels like Rob Emerson vs. Keita Nakamura 2. That fight was fairly entertaining even if I wasn’t really concentrating on it after the euphoria that was Nogueira choking out Sylvia. Yoshida is a lot more willing to enforce his gameplan and I think he should be able to score enough inside leg trips and rabbit punches to walk away with a decision. Yoshida via unanimous decision.
Adam Morgan: I don’t see how Yoshida loses this fight. He beat Dan Hardy badly and has some great experience under his belt. Koppenhaver is an extremely game fighter but he doesn’t sound like the brightest bulb in the box and certainly doesn’t have the overall skill level that Yoshida possesses. I expect him to be game but for Yoshida to eventually overwhelm him, whether it be on the feet or on the ground. Yoshiyuki Yoshida via TKO, round three.
Paul Balsom: Though Yoshida has more experience and has fought more competent opponents, Koppenhaver, however, has lots of heart and will be game for this bout. Whatever. I’ll take Koppenhaver via unanimous decision for the sake of being different.
Caleb Newby: The nice part about going last on these things is you can just point at the people you agree with before you. In this case it’s Sam. It should be entertaining, and if Penn/Sherk goes the way I think it will, we might get to see this and one or two other undercard bouts. Yoshiyuki Yoshida by decision.
Sam Caplan: I just don’t think Koppenhaver is on Yoshida’s level. I see Koppenhaver more as an aggressive brawler who fights with too much emotion and Yoshida as more of a well-rounded mixed martial artist with poise. Yoshida via first round TKO.
Jason Tan vs. Dong Hyun Kim
David Andrest: Kim is a DEEP veteran, and has won his last five fights via KO or TKO. The last time I watched Jason Tan, he was being KO’d by Marcus Davis. Kim has the experience of twice as many fights and obvious KO power with his only loss coming via Decision in his professional debut in 2004. Dong Hyun Kim via KO round 2.
Sam Cupitt: Jason Tan ran into a very determined Marcus Davis at UFC 72 and I think he’ll run into just a more all around savvy opponent in Kim. Dong Hyun Kim via unanimous decision.
Adam Morgan: Kim has only lost once and that was in his professional debut in Korea. Since then he’s been tearing it up in DEEP and looks to bring his hot streak into the Octagon. Yes, it will be Kim’s first time in the Octagon but I don’t think Jason Tan poses any sort of threat to Kim’s winning streak. Dong Hyun Kim via unanimous decision.
Paul Balsom: I haven’t personally watched any of Dong Hyun Kim’s fight, but I have seen a couple of Tan’s and I am not impressed. We all saw him get his face knocked off against Marcus Davis, and his big comeback was a decision victory at Cage Gladiators 4 in Liverpool. I’ll go with Kim via unanimous decision.
Caleb Newby: Hmm… Dong Hyun Kim, the guy who hasn’t lost since his debut bout and finished the majority of his opponents over in DEEP? Or Jason Tan, the fellow we all seem to remember from his loss to Marcus Davis? Not to sound like a broken record, but I have no choice here. Dong Hyun Kim by unanimous decision.
Sam Caplan: Kim via second round TKO.
Christian Wellisch vs. Shane Carwin
David Andrest: Carwin enters this fight with a perfect record. Out of eight fights, none have reached round two. Wellisch last fight was at UFC 76, a heel hook victory over Scott Junk. By all accounts Carwin is an absolute monster, and is being viewed by most as one of the hottest up and coming prospects in the UFC Heavyweight division. This is no secret to UFC management, and I don’t see them viewing Wellisch as a threat to Carwin. Fact of the matter neither do I. Carwin via submission Round 1 (guillotine).
Sam Cupitt: Wellisch is a good starting point for Carwin in what should be a very fruitful and successful UFC career. Wellish poses a decent threat with his submission ability but I think he prefers to work from top position, barring a slip or an unlikely sweep I doubt he will get that luxury. Shane Carwin via TKO in round 1.
Gary Herman: Carwin is one of the top prospects in the sport, but Wellisch is a more than capable opponent. Wellisch looked very good defeating Scott Junk back in September. This is definitely not a showcase fight for Carwin. In fact, with the current state of UFC heavyweights right now, I don’t think they should be matching Carwin so tough right off the bat. They’d be better off lining up tomato cans for Carwin to give him some highlight reel wins and get a bit of an undefeated strike going. They need to build heavyweights and not risk a top prospect in his first UFC fight. That being said, I still like Carwin in the fight but not by a lot. Carwin by split decision.
Adam Morgan: What else is there to be said that hasn’t already been said about Carwin? He’s one of the sport’s best prospects, comes into the UFC undefeated, and, as you may or may not know, he’s a purple belt under Nate Marquardt. Marquardt says he’s the fastest student he’s ever had reach that level. Think of Carwin as Mark Coleman but with a more advanced skill set. Wellisch is a solid fighter who poses problems for Carwin on the ground, but Carwin has the acumen to stay out of trouble and control from the top. I expect it to be a long night for Wellisch on the bottom. Shane Carwin via TKO, round three.
Paul Balsom: I’ll take a little hop onto the Shane Carwin hype-train here and go with a Carwin victory via TKO (strikes) in Rd 2.
Caleb Newby: You can tell when we’ve reached the extent of our expertise when we start quoting fighter records and types of victory from the fight finder. With that being said, Shane Carwin is a perfect 8-0 fighter who has finished each of his opponents. Meanwhile Wellisch has been keeping a leisurely MMA schedule, last fighting on UFC 76 last September (and to think we are already on UFC 84). I’ll buck the “UFC jitters” pick’em trend I’ve been using for much of this event on the basis of this being an undercard, low profile fight against reasonable competition. Shane Carwin by TKO, round two.
Sam Caplan: Christian Wellisch is no joke, but I think he will be physically over-matched by Shane Carwin — one of the most athletic heavyweights we’ve seen in quite some time. Carwin’s standup is still a work in progress, but I think he will get this fight to the ground and finish Wellish via ground and pound. Carwin via second round TKO.