After a long summer of non-stop MMA action we have had a little break here the past few weeks following UFC 87. The action is going to pick right back up, however, with UFC 88 this weekend. Will Chuck Liddell gain a title shot by beating Rashad Evans? Will Dan Henderson win for the first time since returning to the UFC? Will Rich Franklin gain a victory over childhood friend Matt Hamill in his return to 205 lbs.? Read below to see what the staff of 5 Oz. has to say about this weekend’s fights!
Chuck Liddell vs. Rashad Evans
Caleb Newby: This is pretty easy. As numerous MMA pundits have said, Evans is the perfect stylistic matchup for Liddell. The only way Evans wins is either A) Liddell’s age catches up with him or B) Rashad runs the same gameplan as Jardine did to a tee without Liddell adjusting. Frankly, I don’t see it happening. This has the perfect makings for a setup fight for Liddell to get back into the title picture. Not a bad idea from Zuffa’s perspective. Get their money man into the limelight ASAP with about as safe a fight as they can book. While there are no gimmies at this level, this is about as close as one can hope for. Winner: Liddell – TKO, Rd2.
Adam Morgan: As Sam detailed in his article yesterday, Rashad Evans doesn’t stand a chance in this fight. As good a fighter as he is and as good as his wrestling skills are, he will not come close to putting Liddell in trouble. Liddell has made a living in the UFC off of beating the piss out of grapplers, some better than Evans. Liddell’s sprawl is top notch, he won’t be taken down, and if he does get taken down he will get right back up. He is so hard to get down and keep down. Evans will have a very tough time doing either. That will force him to stand and trade with Chuck and that is a losing battle. Chuck Liddell via TKO, round one.
Gary Herman: Rashad Evans is tailor made for Liddell. He is not a threat on his feet, and his only real strength is his wrestling. But Liddell’s wrestling defense is among the best in the game. The people that gave Liddell trouble: Wanderlei Silva, Keith Jardine, and Rampage Jackson all did so on the feet. The mat fighters like Randy Couture, Babalu Sobral, and Jeremy Horn all were beaten soundly by Liddell. I don’t see how Evans wins. Therefore, Liddell does. Liddell by 2nd round KO.
Rich Franklin vs. Matt Hamill
Caleb Newby: I have to hand it to Matt Hamill. He has impressed far more and exceeded all expectations I had of him. I am a bit Bisping guy, but Hamill was all over him in that fight and should be sporting a slick, undefeated record. That being said, people are too quick these days to get all over Franklin as a mediocre fighter or some such nonsense. Franklin still possesses one of the most well rounded skillsets in all of MMA. Franklin’s striking prowess and lack of weaknesses in wrestling and jiu-jitsu will cause problems for Hamill all night, handing the popular fighter his first legitimate loss of his career. Winner: Rich Franklin – TKO, Rd3.
Adam Morgan: This has to be the toughest test of Hamill’s career so far. Rich Franklin is no pushover at 205 lbs. even though it’s not his normal weight class. Hamill’s only option to come close to winning the fight is to put Franklin on his back and lay on him for a good while. I have a feeling that he’ll get Rich down a couple of times but won’t be able to hold him there or won’t be able to do much from there and will have the fight stood up. When it’s standing it’s all Franklin. I expect Franklin to expose Hamill’s weakness standing with a big overhand right and put Hamill to sleep. Rich Franklin via TKO, round two.
Gary Herman:The Hammil vs. Franklin fight is an intriguing match-up. Hammil is a gutsy fighter who will stand with Franklin even though his stregnth is wrestling. Franklin’s going to look to bang it out as well. That could make this an exciting fight. However, when the going gets tough, Hammil will use his size and wrestling skill to control Franklin. More importantly, I hope Hammil comes out to “Born in the U.S.A. again”. Nevertheless, Hammil by unanimous decision.
Karo Parisyan vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida
Caleb Newby: I *really* want to take Yoshida here, but I don’t think I can, and here’s why. For years, all we heard about from Karo was how he is the best fighter ever, every one of his fights he won or was screwed in therefore didn’t really lose, and that he is SO good that he doesn’t need to train or try… ala BJ Penn. Karo, I trained with BJ Penn. I know BJ Penn. BJ Penn is a friend of mine. Karo, you’re no BJ Penn. If he needs to train and take this sport seriously you certainly do. So with Karo singing a new tune now that he realizes he needs to take this seriously and he is focused, I tend to think we’ll see a better and more dominant version of “The Heat” than we ever have. And while I’d love to see Yoshida spoil this party, I just can’t take him to win in good faith. Side note: I actually never have met or trained with BJ Penn. Winner: Karo Parisyan – Decision.
Adam Morgan: Two world class judokas going at each other inside the cage? This has Fight of the Night written all over it. Parisyan has supposedly rededicated himself to training and preparing for a fight the right way and I truly hope that’s the case. He has a ridiculous amount of talent and if he puts the work in he could be one of the best welterweight fighters in the world. That being said, Yoshida is one of the best Japanese talents the UFC has and will be a serious test for Parisyan in his return. This should be a battle but I expect Karo to be the more aggressive fighter and look for him to eke out a decision. Karo Parisyan via unanimous decision.
Gary Herman: Should be a very technical match-up. Parisyan can be very exciting when his throws hit their mark. Yoshida looked awesome in quickly finishing off War Machine (by the way, I wonder if War Machine will refer to Brock Lesnar as just another “fake wrestler” like he did Rhyno – somehow, I think we know the answer to that). This should be a fun fight but I’ll take Parisyan as he knows it’s a must-win if he has any title aspirations at all. Parisyan by unanimous decision.
Dan Henderson vs. Rousimar Palhares
Caleb Newby: This fight is ten shades of interesting. Can Palhares submit the near unsubmitable Henderson? Will Henderson be able to stop his recent skid and end his losing streak? How will Henderson’s change of his training camp affect his performance? Will Palhares be able to take this fight to the ground? What does his striking look like? This is a very tough one to call. When pressed to the wall, I have to take the veteran Henderson in a tight, close fight. Henderson knows this fight is huge to him as he is yet to record a win in the UFC. A three fight losing streak, even one that includes losses to Rampage and Silva, isn’t going to go over well when it comes to negotiations for a new contract. I’ll take Henderson to use his wrestling to keep it standing and win via his slightly underrated striking. Winner: DECISION DAN – Decision.
Adam Morgan: Rousimar Palhares is being considered the “next big thing” in the middleweight division but I’m not buying it right now. Palhares is talented and one of the best jiu jitsu fighters in all of MMA but he has not faced anyone the caliber of Dan Henderson. Henderson will be hungry, looking for his first win in the UFC, and has the wrestling and the standup prowess to contend with whatever Palhares throws at him. The only reason Henderson was submitted by Anderson Silva was because he was rocked. Palhares won’t be able to touch Dan’s rock hard chin and Henderson should be able to defend his takedowns, keep it standing, and put Palhares to sleep with his granite right hand. Dan Henderson via TKO, round two.
Gary Herman: What a great fight this is. The submission specialist against one of the toughest fighters on the planet. Palhares is going to look to take this fight to the ground early and often. Henderson’s been around long enough to know how to defend against that. When Palhares gets frustrated, Henderson will connect with the right hand. Palhares will eventually have his time in the spotlight, but his lights will be turned out on Saturday. Henderson by 2nd round KO.
Martin Kampmann vs. Nate Marquardt
Caleb Newby: What can I say, I am still of the opinion that Marquardt is a top 5-6 in the world at middleweight. That Leites fight was all sorts of bizarre and I would welcome a rematch as I still believe Marquardt to be the better fighter. Still, that is not here or there as Kampmann is back and on fire. This is one of those fights I am struggling with, but leaning towards Marquardt. A quick check in with Adam Morgan shows he is taking Kampmann, making my pick of Marquadt seem a little bit better. Still, I’m going to wimp out and go without a definitive pick using ye ol’ decision. Winner: Marquardt – Decision.
Adam Morgan: Martin Kampmann is highly underrated going into this bout. Marquardt might be able to give him trouble in the wrestling category but Kampmann’s jiu jitsu is strong enough to defend his submissions. If the fight stays on the feet then it’s Kampmann’s game. Marquardt has recently taken a liking to showing people that his standup is improved. If he does the same against Kampmann, Kampmann will turn his lights out. Martin Kampmann via TKO, round three.
Gary Herman: This is a very even fight. Kampmann’s been largely overlooked in the UFC while Marquardt has established himself as a top 5 middleweight. Kampmann’s got a chance to really make his mark with a win. The way he can do that is by beating Marquardt standing with good technical striking. One factor that cannot be overlooked is that Kampmann’s now training with Randy Couture. No one – absolutely no one – gameplans better than Couture. Kampmann by unanimous decision.
Thiago Tavares vs. Kurt Pellegrino
Caleb Newby: This should be a good one that hopefully we will get to see later on the card. Both Thiago and Kurt have been impressive in their UFC run despite having a few losses along the way. Still, I find Thiago to be more impressive with his jiu-jitsu and pace. Winner: Tavares – Sub, Rd2.
Adam Morgan: Thiago Tavares is a fighter who has been so hot and cold, so inconsistent, that you don’t know which Tavares is going to show up. The Tavares who fought Matt Wiman and Omigawa? Or the Tavares who fought Tyson Griffin? Pellegrino is sort of the same way. He was mauling Nate Diaz for the majority of their fight before getting caught in a triangle. Tavares seems to fold when he faces the better competition and Pellegrino presents a serious challenge in all areas of the game. Pellegrino via unanimous decision.
Gary Herman:Tavares could really use a win after dropping two of his last three (Tyson Griffin & Matt Wiman). Pellegrino is basically a gatekeeper that puts on good fights. I don’t see how Pellegrino wins the fight. Tavares is better in pretty much every area of the game – including size. Size matters. Tavares by 2nd round submission.
Tim Boetsch vs. Michael Patt
Caleb Newby: I admit I am making this pick solely based on what I want to see. That’s because I barely know who Michael Patt is. He’s one of those guys I’ve seen fight, but can’t remember much of anything about. Really, I’ll just be happy if Boetsch manages a chokeslam, powerbomb, or some such ridiculous maneuver again. Winner: Boetsch – TKO, Rd1.
Adam Morgan: Tim Boetsch vs. who? Patt is being brought in to build the Boetsch mystique back up. Boetsch is like Houston Alexander in the fact that he ragdolls David Heath and then everyone is on his bandwagon, picking him to beat Matt Hamill. Well that’s just not right. Boetsch is a manchild and he’ll beat Michael Patt but don’t expect him to contend for the 205 lbs. title any time soon. Boetsch vs. Alexander. Make it happen. Boetsch via vicious ragdolling, round one.
Gary Herman:Has anyone seen Mike Patt fight? Has anyone even seen anyone that Mike Patt ever fought against? … waiting… I’m sure someone has. Well, if there’s one thing we’ve learned from watching the UFC it’s that they don’t bring in no-name stiffs (see Tim Boetsch & Houston Alexander). Regardless, it’s hard to pick a fighter that I’ve never seen him. The fight is basically Boetsch against someone wearing a mask. I’ll take Boetsch. Boetsch by 2nd round tko.
Dong Hyun Kim vs. Matt Brown
Caleb Newby: Here’s the thing, Dong is pretty much a super hero in South Korea (and maybe North Korea too, but how are we supposed to know) and the UFC needs to milk that as much as possible. Step in Matt Brown. For as much as we heard about how Brown was terrifying during The Ultimate Fighter, knowledge of the business end alone should lead one to pick Dong. Then arm yourself with a bit of knowledge about the fighters and there is no way not to pick Dong. Winner: DONG – TKO, Rd1.
Adam Morgan: Dong Hyun Kim is a massive 170 lbs. fighter and I don’t think Matt Brown is ready for the Korean. We all know Brown is aggressive and tough as nails but he’ll go the same route that Jason Tan did which is Kim’s elbows in his face all night. Matt Brown is a mediocre fighter who puts on exciting fights. Kim is a great fighter, a top foreign talent, and is going to be climbing the welterweight ladder to more high profile fights. Dong Hyun Kim via TKO, round two.
Gary Herman:Kim is a good fighter. Brown’s a guy with a little notoriety coming off the Ultimate Fighter show. Kim put on an awesome display in brutalizing Jason Tan at UFC 84. I hope Matt Brown doesn’t watch the footage of that fight, or this fight will never take place. Kim by 1st round KO.
Jason Lambert vs. Jason MacDonald
Caleb Newby: Finally, Lambert decides to shed some poundage and move to 185. Unfortunately, MacDonald is a fantastic competitor trying to smash through to the upper echelon of the 185 pound division. While he is still unsuccessful in that quest, he is a dangerous and game opponent for anyone. Lambert needs this and is better than your casual fan may think, but I can’t go against MacDonald here. It sure isn’t going to be easy, but I think he’s game for this one and hungry to rebound. And hey, who’s to say how the cut will treat Lambert? Winner: MacDonald – Decision.
Adam Morgan: Jason Lambert via unanimous decision.
Gary Herman: Crazy to see Lambert coming all the way down to middleweight – he was a pretty big light heavyweight. MacDonald’s a very talented fighter that hasn’t been able to breakthrough to the upper echelon of fighters. Lambert’s style is very opposite of MacDonald’s – Lambert will be looking to stand and brawl. If the fight goes to the third round, I think Lambert’s massive weight cut will deplete his stanima. MacDonald will make sure it does. MacDonald by third round submission.
Roan Carneiro vs. Ryo Chonan
Caleb Newby: I pretty much can’t pick against Ryo Chonan here, the man known pretty much to most fans as Mr. Flying Heel Hook. It’s hard to feel overly convicted one way or another as this is a tough call, so I feel the need to take the guy I want to see win and make it to TV. Sorry, but that’s all I got for this one. Viva la Piranha! Winner: Chonan – Decision.
Adam Morgan: Roan Carneiro surprised all of us in his submission loss to Kevin Burns and he’ll certainly be looking to get back on track after being embarrassed by the blue belt. Ryo Chonan hasn’t fought since his decision loss to Karo Parisyan but he looked very sharp in that fight against a tough opponent in Parisyan. I don’t think we’ve seen the best Ryo Chonan yet in the UFC and I think we’ll see the real Chonan come out in this fight. Ryo Chona via unanimous decision.
Gary Herman:I haven’t seen too much from Chonan over the past few fights that has impressed me much, but the same can be said about Carneiro. I think Carneiro’s on the way up and Chonan’s heading down. Carneiro by unanimous decision.