UFC 90 TELEVISED CARD
Date: Oct 25, 2008
Location: Rosemont, Ill. (near Chicago)
Venue: Allstate Arena
The Fighters: Sean Sherk vs. Tyson Griffin
The Records: Sherk (32-3-1 MMA 5-3 UFC) Griffin (12-1 MMA 5-1 UFC)
How Sherk got here: Sherk is a veteran of almost ten years in MMA. He has a gaudy record but has earned it. Sherk had a sketchy start to his UFC career with two wins at UFC 36 and 39 before bringing his undefeated record into a title fight against Matt Hughes at the height of Hughes power. Sherk impressed many with his gutty five round decision loss to Hughes. Always undersized for welterweight, Sherk still posted some impressive wins after losing to Hughes. After gathering another nice win streak outside of the UFC, he was invited back to face Georges St Pierre. Sherk was dominated in the fight, but when one door closes another opens. The UFC decided to rekindle their lightweight division and Sherk finally decided to make the drop and start a run for the title. Sherk finally got his belt when he defeated Kenny Florian for the lightweight title at UFC 64. Unfortuantely he tested positive for steroids in his first title defense against Hermes Franca and had to serve a 6 month suspension as well as lose his title. Sherk attempted to re-win his title but was thumped hard by BJ Penn in their title fight.
How Griffin got here: Griffin is a very good young fighter who has improved at an exponential rate. Griffin has a strong wrestling background and originally started training MMA and BJJ with Dave Terrell. Terrell would often take Griffin with him to train at his teacher school, Cesar Gracie. Training with the Gracie team definitely improved his game and he continued to win, but give Tyson credit for realizing he needed a change. Griffin decided that Xtreme Couture was the place for him to make the jump to the next level and he has never looked back. Along with an impressive win over Uriah Faber, Griffin has posted huge wins over Clay Guida, Gleison Tibau, and Marcus Aurelio. His only loss is to Frankie Edgar.
How they match up: This is a battle of two similar fighters. Both are strong wrestlers with excellent stand up. Where the difference lies is in Griffin’s BJJ game. Griffin has a definite edge in he submission department, but getting Sherk on the ground to take advantage is another thing entirely. What we often see when to excellent wrestlers fight is a striking war, and that is what I expect here. Although both have excellent hands, I give Griffin the advantage in the leg kicks.
My Crystal Marble says: I seem to be in the minority for the most part, but I think if this stays on the feet Griffin has the distinct advantage. Griffin’s striking game is much more dynamic than Sherk’s and I see Griffin winning a exciting unanimous decision of Sean Sherk.
The Fighters: Rich Clementi vs. Gray Maynard
The Records: Clementi (32-12-1 MMA 5-3 UFC) Maynard (5-0 MMA 3-0 UFC)
How Clementi got here: Clementi is experienced veteran with an excellent ground game. H is a BJJ blackbelt and has an amateur wrestling background as well. Clementi has had an up and down career with some great wins and some horrible losses. Clementi’s big break was when he was invited to The Ultimate Fighter season 4. Having already fought once in the UFC and losing, this was his second shot at the big time. In the beginning it seemed like he was going to let it slip through his fingers as he lost in the season finale to Din Thomas. He spilt his next two fights and the UFC let him get some work outside of the company, and that seemed to do the trick. Clementi kicked off a six fight win streak including four of those in the UFC and is quickly becoming a challenger for the lightweight title.
How Maynard got here: Maynard was a excellent wrestler from Michigan who was brought in to help coach BJ Penn with his wrestling against Matt Hughes. Penn was so impressed with Maynard that when he was offered to coach the lightweight season of Th Ultimate Fighter he immediately recruited Maynard for the show. While not winning the show he has made huge strides in his MMA game. Maynard has made a home at Xtreme Couture and as a result has improved by leaps and bounds. There were rumors that Maynard has improved so much, especially after his most recent win over Frankie Edgar, that no one wanted to take this fight with him. There was even a rumor that Sherk turned this fight down in favor of a matchup with Tyson Griffin.
How they match up: Clementi seems to be the perpetual underdog in all of his MMA fights, and this is no different. Maynard is a big strong wrestler in the lightweight division. And word out of Xtreme Couture is that his striking has improved so much that many of the lightweights do not want to spar with Maynard. Clementi has a ton of experience on his side and a top notch BJJ game on the ground. But Clementi’s strongest part of his BJJ is his top game, and I do not see him getting this position on a wrestler as good as Maynard.
My Crystal Marble says: I see Maynard winning with takedowns and ground control with a unanimous decision.
The Fighters: Fabricio Werdum vs. Junior dos Santos
The Records: Werdum (11-3-1 MMA 2-1 UFC) Santos (6-1 MMA 0-0 UFC)
How Werdum got here: A Brazilian Jiu Jitsu blackbelt and world champion, Werdum has fought some of the biggest names in the sport and held his own. A successful stint in Pride where he racked up wins over Tom Erikson and Alistair Overeem won his am invite to the UFC. After starting off slow with a lackluster performance in a decision loss to Andrei Arlovski, he has won two in a row over Gabriel Gonzaga and Brandon Vera. A win over dos Santos puts him up for a title shot.
How dos Santos got here: Cigano as he is called by his teammates is a prize pupil of Nogueira and Anderson Silva. He has an impressive record and an even more impressive recommendation by two of the best fighters in the world. Although he has yet to really impress in a fight, he is said to have all of the skills necessary.
How they match up: This is meant to be a win for Werdum and strengthen his case for a shot at the heavyweight title. Cigano is no one to sleep on though, as word out of Nogueira’s camp is this guy has some serious stand up skills and lord knows Werdum will not be confused for a K1 kickboxer. Cigano has knockout power but no one knows about his ground game, and Werdum will surely test it at some point in the fight.
My Crystal Marble says: If Werdum doesn’t treat this as a real threat, dos Santos has the stuff to upset Werdum and take this fight. That being said, if Werdum comes out and takes care of business, he should be able to drag down Cigano to the ground and submit him. I say Werdum via submission round 2.
The Fighters: Thiago Alves vs. Josh Koscheck
The Records: Alves (15-3 MMA 8-2 UFC) Koscheck (11-2 MMA 9-2 UFC)
How Alves got here: Alves is a talented Muay Thai specialist with fantastic power in his hands and potentially the most devastating leg kicks in all of the UFC. Alves started out rough with a come from ahead loss to Spencer Fisher where he was winning the fight right up to the moment he was submitted. He rebounded with 2 more wins before getting knocked out by Jon Fitch. Since the Fitch loss, he has won six fights in a row on the way to this number one contender fight. Alves comes into this fight carrying consecutive wins over Karo Parysian and Matt Hughes.
How Koscheck got here: Koscheck was a 4 time All American division one wrestler and National Champion. He carried his pedigree into MMA and continued his winning ways. As a member of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter series, he lost a razor thin decision to Diego Sanchez but redeemed his loss to Sanchez later at UFC 69. Koscheck comes into this fight winning seven of eight fights. Koscheck’s only loss is a unanimous decision loss to Georges St Pierre in his last eight fights.
How they match up: Koscheck and Alves are polar opposites in my opinion. This will be a fascinating contest of wills. Who will dictate where the fight takes place will win this fight and the next crack at GSP for the title. Although Koscheck’s striking has improved dramatically, he holds a huge edge on the ground. Alves trains with some of the best BJJ blackbelts in the world, but its no secret that the strength of his game is his striking. Alves showed dramatically improved takedown defense in his win over Matt Hughes, but Koscheck is on another level in that department.
My Crystal Marble says: This fight comes down to who dictates where it takes place. I believe Koscheck has that ability to dictate the location of the fight. But Koscheck’s biggest obstacle is going to be his own ego. Koscheck likes to test his striking with better strikers to prove something to himself. But coming in short notice to this fight with a striker the caliber of Alves may prove to be his undoing here. If Koscheck plays to his strengths, he wins this fight via unanimous decision.
The Fighters: Middleweight Champ Anderson Silva vs. Patrick Cote
The Records: Silva (22-4 MMA 7-0 UFC) Cote (13-4 MMA 4-4 UFC)
How Silva got here: How much of your time do I waste here explaining the pound for pound best fighter in the world? Silva is a Muay Thai specialist who has fought for several big promotions over his career, including Pride where he had his most trouble. When Silva was signed to the UFC he was looked at as a guy who could present a new challenge for Rich Franklin, but no one saw the Juggernaut that began his march towards the Hall of Fame. Seven Knockout wins later Anderson Silva is the best fighter in the UFC, if not the entire world.
How Cote got here: Cote is a true reclamation project. He started out with 4 straight losses in the UFC, but for some reason Joe Silva refused to give up on him. And it paid off. After becoming a cast member of The Ultimate Fighter season four, he lost on the finale to Travis Lutter. Something switched after that loss as he has run off five straight wins including four in the UFC. Coming off a dominant win over Ricardo Almeida, he was offered and accepted a shot at the best fighter in the world and his belt.
How they match up: They don’t. Anderson Silva is better than Patrick Cote in every single aspect of MMA. Where Cote has to hope to hold an advantage over Silva is in the intangibles, heart and fighting spirit. That remains to be seen as Silva has yet to show any signs of mental weakness.
My Crystal Marble says: From listening to most of Cote’s pre fight interviews, I think his big strategy is to trust in his chin and push forward and lure Silva into a brawl. I do not think Cote can win 15 minutes of exchanges on the feet with Silva. Cote will need to either fight Silva from the outside and use his footwork to out-point him, or test him on the ground. I don’t think Cote can push either gameplan for long. Cote will lose via TKO in round 2.