Is there a weekend this summer that has been without an MMA event? It sure doesn’t seem like it. UFC 87 is on Saturday with one of the strongest cards that the UFC has put on all year. Will Brock Lesnar secure his first win in the UFC? Will Roger Huerta prove all the critics wrong? And will GSP be able to successfully defend his title against one of the best welterweights in the world in Jon Fitch? Read below to see what the staff of Five Ounces Of Pain has to say..
Georges St. Pierre vs. Jon Fitch (170 lbs. Title Fight)
Michael Huckaby: Let me start by saying I really love Jon Fitch, he’s one of my favorite fighters. But at the end of the day it’s the Rich Franklin vs Anderson Silva situation where you have to pick one of your favorites to get brutally knocked out. I love Fitch…. he’s from my state, he represents well and he’s my boy. But when the lights go down GSP is simply a much better fighter and he’ll probably knock him unconscious. (Insert Joslin timeout joke.) I just see GSP doing his thang and knocking Fitch down…. I love Fitch, I love GSP, whoever wins is fine by me. Winner: St. Pierre, strikes, Rd4.
Caleb Newby: Huckaby also loves Jake O’Brien, just to put it in perspective. By all reports GSP is taking this with deadly seriousness and we all know going in how dangerous GSP is even when he is his typical self. Amp up the intensity and motivation and this could be brutal. I also am a big Fitch fan (and he’s not even from my state) and hope he makes this a battle but I see him being overwhelmed by the third round at the latest. Yes, this is one of those “everyone picks GSP as overwhelming favorite” type things but the good thing for Fitch is even though he is a big underdog he is a definite live underdog. People don’t doubt the skills Fitch brings — GSP just brings more. Winner: St. Pierre via strikes, Rd3.
Adam Morgan: I like both of these fighters, I really do. But unfortunately one of them has to lose and I have a feeling that it will be Jon Fitch. While Fitch’s size (he’s a monster for 170 lbs.), wrestling acumen, and submission defense present interesting problems for any fighter in the welterweight division, I believe that St. Pierre’s skill set is just too advanced for Fitch to contend with over a five round fight. St. Pierre’s takedown defense is second only to B.J. Penn, which spells doom for wrestlers. Not only that, but GSP has shown that his wrestling for MMA is second to none, as he’s dominated outstanding wrestlers like Matt Hughes and Josh Koscheck with wrestling of his own. Fitch is a game fighter, but he’s put himself in bad situations before and I feel he’ll do the same against St. Pierre somewhere in the third or fourth round. GSP via TKO, round three.
Brock Lesnar vs. Heath Herring
Michael Huckaby: As I told our own Adam Morgan I’m really torn on this fight. Heath Herring can take a butt kicking. But on the other hand he can really take a butt kicking. Heath Herring can really get destroyed about as well as anyone in the business but he has a great deal more experience and a decent submission game. I really want to go with Herring here but the fact of the matter is that Lesnar was impressive to all of us in his minute with Frank Mir and I don’t think Herring has the game to beat him like Mir did. Lesnar will pound the ungodly crap out of him and I don’t think Herring (see O’Brien fight) has the game to get off his butt and do something against the great wrestler. Winner: Lesnar, decision.
Caleb Newby: I live in Minnesota (and no, I am not going to the event, yes, I regret it) and the local ads are telling us that Brock Lesnar has proven himself to be an elite fighter in the UFC. Really? After losing to Mir? That’s all it took to be an elite UFC fighter? But I digress. If O’Brien can lay on Mir for 3 rounds and do nothing yet not get in any real danger Lesnar should have a cakewalk with his wrestling pedigree and physical talents. The ref will have to step in at some point as the giant paws of Lesnar tenderize the face of Mr. Herring. Winner: Lesnar via strikes, Rd2.
Adam Morgan: One thing is for certain, and that’s that the UFC isn’t messing around with trying to bring Brock Lesnar along slowly. Throwing him in against legitimate heavyweights in his first two fights is extremely ballsy on the UFC’s part. Unfortunately for them, they may be ruining their opportunity to build Lesnar into a superstar. This time around, though, I think they know what they’re doing as far as matchmaking goes. Herring’s wrestling is extremely suspect. Cheick Kongo took him down at will at UFC 82 and Kongo is known for his stellar kickboxing, not his wrestling. Lesnar will be able to get the fight to the ground rather easily and will have the top control to stifle Herring’s bottom game and the strength to power out of submissions. I see Lesnar taking this one home and grabbing his first win inside the Octagon. Brock Lesnar via TKO, round three.
Kenny Florian vs. Roger Huerta
Michael Huckaby: As you’ll see with the upcoming DUEL, I believe Huerta is way overmatched here. I really don’t like Florian and I really like Huerta but at the end of the day that means absolutely nothing. Florian is one of the top improving fighters in the world and he shows it on a regular basis with each fight while Huerta continues to stick around with bad fighters for long periods of time. Huerta plays down to their level while Florian goes up to the level of his opponents. I really don’t think this fight is that close, it’s only a matter of if Ken-Flo can stop him or not. I’ll be polite to Huerta and say no though I’m not sure I fully believe that. Winner: Florian, decision.
Caleb Newby: I love Huerta but don’t like his chances. Florian’s striking has improved immensely the last couple years to balance out his already strong jiu-jitsu. Short of Huerta turning this into a slugging match full of all out scrambles Florian should pick apart the charismatic Huerta. Really, the best thing I have heard for Huerta coming into this is he has changed up his training camp and is training with GSP among others. Still, not enough for me to pick him, but worth mentioning… Winner: Florian via Sub, Rd3.
Adam Morgan: Huerta is a talented fighter with a lot of heart, a great motor, and excellent power for a lightweight but I truly believe that Florian is just too much for him at this point in his career. Huerta has only had one meaningful fight in his UFC career against Clay Guida, a fight where he was extremely close to being finished. The UFC has brought him along slowly, and to their credit, it has worked. But he’s never faced a fighter like Kenny Florian who has an extremely tight overall game and who seems to improve every single time he fights. Plus, Florian has been in huge fights before and against great fighters, something that Huerta can’t claim. I like Huerta and I think he has a bright future in this sport, but right now Florian is on another level. Kenny Florian via submission, round two.
Manny Gamburyan vs. Rob Emerson
Michael Huckaby: Is Manny Gamburyan the UFC’s latest “let’s protect the hell of this guy” guy? Nate Mohr, Jeff Cox and now Rob Emerson? Really? This is supposed to somehow test him in the least? I’m not for the PRIDE route of throwing someone to the wolves but you also can’t candy this by throwing a bunch of stiffs at someone to make them look better. People don’t pay that close of attention. This should be easy for Manny no matter how he wins but Rob “The Criminal” Emerson isn’t easy to stop. I just hope when he loses he doesn’t beat up my mom at a gas station. Winner: Gamburyan, strikes, Rd3
Caleb Newby: Oh Manny, if only that shoulder would have stayed in place. What could have been. Manny should eat Rob alive in the figurative sense. In the literal sense he should take Rob down repeatedly and lay a beatdown with much fury. Winner: Gamburtan, strikes, Rd1.
Adam Morgan: Rob Emerson showed a much improved game his last time out against Keita Nakamura but I don’t think his game is strong enough to contend with Manny Gamburyan at this point in his career. Gamburyan is extremely strong, possesses great judo, and technical submissions. He has no problem keeping fighters who are bigger than him planted on their back on the ground while he controls position or inflicts damage via ground and pound. Emerson may be game enough to last the entire fight, but I see Manny controlling the fight from start to finish. Manny Gamburyan via unanimous decision.
Jason MacDonald vs. Demian Maia
Michael Huckaby: I love Maia so maybe I’m biased in the thought he can stop a submission guy in MacDonald fairly easily. Maia is the future of the division and I look forward to him getting destroyed by Anderson Silva in the first round via brutal knockout. Maia is a ground wizard and MacDonald is a ground stabilizer. MacDonald can’t play his game against Maia and that should result in his fairly early loss. Winner: Maia, sub, Rd2
Caleb Newby: I like MacDonald a lot. Maia is the bee’s knees these days but I don’t care. Give me MacDonald with his blaze orange hair and spoiler mentality. You guys can have Maia and his slick jiu-jitsu and perfect record. Have fun on your bandwagon jumping. Me and MacDonald will chill and spoil your party. Winner: MacDonald, strikes, Rd3.
Adam Morgan: Unfortunately for MacDonald, his strength is also Maia’s, but Maia is better at it. MacDonald is an accomplished jiu jitsu fighter but Maia is widely recognized as possibly the best pure jiu jitsu fighter in all of MMA. He’ll be far too much for MacDonald on the ground once the fight touches there. MacDonald is game, but Maia is a future star at middleweight. Demian Maia via submission, round two.
Luke Cummo vs. Tamdan McCrory
Michael Huckaby: This is the toughest fight of the night to call if you ask me. I realize no one did but should you ask me that would be my answer. I really like Cummo here because I don’t see much of a way McCrory stops Cummo but I can see a couple of ways that Cummo could stop him. This is fairly rough but I believe Cummo, weird as he may be, is getting better with every fight and McCrory is still a bit of an unknown quantity. Winner: Cummo, decision
Adam Morgan: McCrory was overwhelmed by the experience of Akihiro Gono in his last fight but I doubt the same will be true against Cummo. McCrory is huge for welterweight at 6’4’’ and he will have a distinctive reach advantage against Cummo, something he should be able to use effectively. Cummo’s strength is his muay thai, but he’ll have trouble getting inside of McCrory’s reach to use it. By trying to do so, he may allow McCrory to find his range and start landing on his target. I like McCrory’s upside and I think Cummo will have trouble getting him in the position that he would like him in. Tamdan McCrory via TKO, round three.
Cheick Kongo vs. Dan Evensen
Michael Huckaby: If you’ll excuse me I’m still trying to figure out the Kongo/Herring fight but I’ll try to get over it. This is one of those fights that will be completely determined on where it ends up. Kongo is better on his feet but I’m not sure if even Evensen wants it to go down. One of those fights where I wish I could see their pre-fight interviews so I could judge gameplans other than guess them (ie: Rich Franklin saying he’d stand with Anderson Silva and if that didn’t work he’d go to plan B). Winner: Kongo, strikes, Rd2
Caleb Newby: Is Kongo one of the most physically intimidating fighters out there or is he not? The correct answer is he is. Another interesting thing about Kongo is how he has continually improved since his loss to Carmelo Marrero. If he’s kept his same rate of progress alive here we will see a nice and victory for the man who beat Cro Cop long after it was cool to do so. The real question is will Kongo go to anything besides a decision. I say no. On the plus side, it doesn’t really matter as he is one of about four or five UFC heavyweights with any sort of name value. Winner: Kongo via decision.
Adam Morgan: Cheick Kongo is being set up to get back on track in the heavyweight division after a disappointing split decision loss to Heath Herring at UFC 82. Dan Evensen has said that he’s going to try and take Kongo out on the feet, something that is extremely dangerous against a striker of Kongo’s caliber. If Evensen keeps it on the feet, he may realize too late that he’s in over his head. Evensen hasn’t fought a fighter of Kongo’s caliber ever in his career and his UFC debut is going to be spoiled by the Frenchman. Cheick Kongo via TKO, round one.
Andre Gusmao vs. Jon Jones
Michael Huckaby: Is Jon Jones not one of the dumbest names in the world? I’m sorry, I’d talk about something else but this is the second person on the card I’ve never seen fight. Is there a more generic name out there? Steve Smith thinks Jon Jones is silly. If a cop pulled you over how could you pull off saying you are Jon Jones? Sorry, I’m ranting because I literally have nothing to say. Winner: Gusmao, strikes, Rd1
Caleb Newby: I’ll do you one better. Winner: Jon “THE BEAST” Jones via strikes, Rd2.
Adam Morgan: Andre Gusmao is one of the better fighters to come out of the now defunct IFL and he makes his debut against another young up and comer in Jon Jones. Gusmao has been in with good competition and dominated some of the better fighters that the IFL had to offer. He has great power, good striking, and a solid jiu jitsu game. He’ll be far too much for Jon Jones. There’s a reason the UFC signed him and it wasn’t because they wanted to showcase Jon Jones. Andre Gusmao via TKO, round two.
Chris Wilson vs. Steve Bruno
Michael Huckaby: Chris Wilson is going to destroy Bruno. Wilson is a hard, rough dude who will make an impact in the UFC and Bruno really doesn’t have much right being in the cage with him. Maybe if Wilson’s name was Hung Jon Kim, Bruno would have a chance but this isn’t SpiritMC and this isn’t fantasy island. Winner: Wilson, strikes, Rd1
Caleb Newby: Chris Wilson was very impressive in his loss to Jon Fitch however many months back and definitely won this guy over. I really don’t know much on Steve Bruno, but I doubt I need to. This fight screams a Joe Silva match-up designed to showcase Wilson and build him some momentum after a tough loss. Winner: Wilson, strikes, Rd1.
Adam Morgan: Chris Wilson gave Jon Fitch everything he could take in their last fight and I look for him to give Steve Bruno the business. Wilson proved that he belongs in the best league with the best welterweights and a victory over Bruno will go a long way toward cementing his place at 170 lbs. in the UFC. Wilson is extremely talented and only going to get better. Bruno is a stepping stone. Chris Wilson via TKO, round one.
Ben Saunders vs. Ryan Thomas
Michael Huckaby: Great, another TUF vs guy I’ve never seen fight before matchup. How am I supposed to analyze this? Frankly it’s embarassing even admitting I haven’t seen a guy fight, I’m putting it all on the line out there. I know Saunders so I’ll go with Saunders…. and I’m not happy about it. Winner: Saunders, decision
Caleb Newby: Yeah, like I’ve seen Thomas fight either. You know all everone is doing is picking Saunders because we’ve seen him. Sadly there is no more glory to it than that. The good thing is no one really cares about this fight anyway so it’s more or less a wash. Winner: Saunders via Random Method.
Adam Morgan: God bless Ryan Thomas for taking this fight on such short notice, but he’s going to get his face beat in. Saunders has been training with American Top Team and will be ready. He would have beaten Rollins, now he just gets to beat on someone who’s not as prepared as Rollins. Credit to Thomas for stepping up, but Saunders will destroy him. Ben Saunders via submission, round two.