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UFC 90: Preliminary card in-depth breakdown

UFC 90 PRELIMINARY CARD
Date: Oct 25, 2008
Location: Rosemont, Ill. (near Chicago)
Venue: Allstate Arena

The Fighters: Josh Burkman vs. Pete Sell

The Records: Burkman (18-7 MMA 5-4 UFC) Sell (7-4 MMA 1-4 UFC)
How Burkman got here: Burkman was a two sport star in college as he excelled in wrestling and football. He earned himself a spot on The Ultimate Fighter season 2, received a UFC contract, and came out gangbusters. He has since lost 3 of 4 fights and has gotten more and more conservative as a result. Burkman’s greatest asset is also his greatest obstacle. He is freakishly strong for the welterweight division, but if he cannot win with it in the first two rounds, it usually exhausts him and spends his conditioning. The explosiveness and unpredictability he showed early in his career has given way to a conservative and controlling game.

How Sell got here: Sell is a disciple of Matt Serra and Renzo Gracie and is a superb submission grappler. Unfortunately for Sell and his 1-4 UFC record, he prefers to bang it out on the feet. He has never shown the striking skill to go with his heart. Sell has had over a year off to contemplate actually using his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instead of worrying about making the fight exciting by keeping it standing. Coming off a knockout loss to Nate Quarry, he is debuting at welterweight to get a fresh start.

How they match up: This fight completely matters on which Pete Sell shows up for the fight. Burkman’s striking will be to dynamic for Sell on the feet. If Sell wises up and takes this fight to the floor, he stands a better chance. Burkman is no slouch on the ground but he is still susceptible to a strong BJJ player. Sell taking Burkman to the floor is a whole other matter entirely.

My Crystal Marble says: After a 1-4 record Sell has not shown an ability to figure out his problems and change his attack accordingly. Assuming the Pete Sell of old shows up, I think Burkman is to athletic for Sell on the feet. I see Burkman winning the striking exchanges and getting key takedowns in each round to win a slow and somewhat boring unanimous decision over Sell

The Fighters: Marcus Aurelio vs. Hermes Franca

The Records: Aurelio (16-6 MMA 2-2 UFC) Franca (18-7 MMA 6-4 UFC)

How Aurelio got here: Aurelio is a founding member of American Top Team and former teacher of Hermes Franca. They are on bad terms after Franca was dismissed from ATT for various infractions. To say there is bad blood is an understatement, and a lot of Brazilian pride is riding on this match. Aurelio is an original member of ATT and a BJJ blackbelt. He rose to prominence after his defeat of Takanori Gomi in Pride. Aurelio has made the move over to the UFC after Pride was dissolved and has had mixed results. Aurelio is coming off a loss to Tyson Griffin where he was dominated for all 15 minutes of the fight.

How Franca got here: Franca is a BJJ blackbelt who originally trained with American Top Team before he was kicked out for among other things awarding a blackbelt to Kurt Pellegrino. ATT did not agree with the decision to award the belt to Pellegrino, and after Franca refused to rescind the belt, they ejected him from the team. Since then he racked up an eight fight win streak on the way to a title shot in the UFC against Sean Sherk. The list of victims included Jaime Varner, Nate Diaz, and Spencer Fisher. He lost a grinding decision to Sherk and then tested positive for steroids. After pleading guilty to the Nevada SAC he served his one year suspension and is back in the UFC. He is coming off a loss to Frankie Edgar where he was pretty much manhandled.

How they match up: Aurelio and Franca know each other very well, so there will be very little surprises here. Aurelio will work to take this to the floor where he perceives he has the advantage and Franca will try to keep this on the feet where he perceives he has the striking advantage. Both men are excellent grapplers and will neutralize each other on the ground. This fight will be won or lost in the stand up game.

My Crystal Marble says: I think Franca’s striking makes the difference in this fight and he wins this fight via TKO in the third round over Aurelio.

The Fighters: Matt Horwich vs. Dan Miller

The Records: Horwich (22-10-1 MMA 0-0 UFC) Miller (9-1 MMA 1-0 UFC)

How Horwich got here: Matt Horwich is a journeyman fighter who has made the rounds in the Pacific northwest MMA scene. He more recently attached onto the IFL in 2006 and had a fairly successful run with them. With a few more ups than downs, he briefly owned the middleweight title when he knocked out Benji Radach for it. In his first title defense he lost a grueling decision to Ryan McGivern. As with most Team Quest fighters, he has an amateur wrestling background. This is his first fight in the UFC.

How Miller got here: Miller is a wrestler from the Northeast who is relatively new to the sport. Miller also has a brother, Jim, who signed with the UFC as well. He is a brown belt in BJJ and combines it with his wrestling for an overwhelming ground game. Miller’s stand up is a work in progress but he can hold his own. Miller had a successful regional show run until early this year when he got a shot in the IFL and posted an impressive win over Ryan McGivern. Once he got the invite to the UFC he made the most of it as he submitted Rob Kimmons at UFC Fight Night 15.

How they match up: Horwich is a very unorthodox fighter with a methodical approach to MMA. Horwich will take a lot of punishment but keep coming at you and is very hard to stop. As a result he is susceptible to losing decisions to other fighters. Miller should absolutely dominate Horwich on the floor with his combination of aggressive BJJ and wrestling. Horwich has decent takedown defense but Miller should be able to get the fight to the floor.

My Crystal Marble says: I think Miller eventually takes down Horwich and gets the stoppage. I see it as a second round submission win for Dan Miller.

The Fighters: Spencer Fisher vs. Shannon Gugerty

The Records: Fisher (21-4 MMA 6-3 UFC) Gugerty (11-2 MMA 1-0 UFC)

How Gugerty got here: Gugerty is a strong young fighter who made his name in the regional California scene with wins over Cub Swanson and Johnny Torres. A decent BJJ player with good wrestling, Gugerty’s striking is average at best. He received this big jump up in competition by volunteering to be a late replacement for Melvin Guillard. Gugerty comes into this fight with Octagon experience having won his debut over Dale Hardt at UFC Fight Night 14.

How Fisher got here: Fisher is a veteran from the Militech camp in Iowa. As with all Militech fighters he has excellent stand up and good wrestling with adequate submission defense. Where Fisher differs from most of his Militech partners is he has an active guard and can submit opponents. Fisher has had a successful run in the UFC but has had several title runs stopped by key losses. Recent loss to Frankie Edgar has Fisher starting from the bottom again, but with key wins over Thiago Alves and Sam Stout, he may only be a few wins out of the mix at lightweight.

How they match up: Unfortunately for Gugerty, this is not a favorable matchup for the youngster. Fisher’s takedown defense is way too good and Gugerty’s wrestling is not good enough to force Fisher to the ground where he may be able to push the fight. On the feet, Fisher is much too dynamic of a striker for Gugerty.

My Crystal Marble says: This was a late replacement for Fisher and he reiceved a gift fight and an easy paycheck. He is too much for Gugerty no matter where the fight goes. Gugerty has a bright future, but it isn’t starting here. Fisher wins via TKO round 2.

The Fighters: Thales Leites vs. Drew McFedries

The Records: Leites (13-1 MMA 4-1 UFC) McFedries (7-4 MMA 3-3 UFC)

How Leites got here: Leites is a BJJ blackbelt and world champion who converted to MMA in 2004. Leites has a dominating submission attack. He received his big shot at the UFC when he submitted Brazilian MMa legend Pele in 2006. Leites start in the UFC was rocky as he opened with a decision loss to Martin Kampmann. Regrouping he has rattled off 4 wins in a row in the octagon, capped off with a huge win over perennial contender Nathan Marquardt at UFC 85.

How McFedries got here: McFedries is a boxing and Muay Thai specialist who has had an up and down career in the Octagon. A true slugger with knockout power in both hands, his lack of ground game and conditioning has cost him more than a few fights in his career. Seems every time McFedries comes in after a loss he redeems himself with a quick and decisive win. McFedries comes in off a quick submission loss to Mike Massenzio at UFC Fight Night 15.

How they match up: This is not a favorable matchup for McFedries. McFedries’ kryptonite is fighters with excellent ground games and excellent conditioning. McFedries, meet Thales Leites. Leites should be able to quickly submit McFedries and go home with submission of the night bonus to boot. The only chance McFedries has is that Leites sometimes likes to test his striking against better standup opponents.

My Crystal Marble says: If McFedries can lure him into a few exchanges, he could catch him and end this before he gets taken down. I still see this as Leites’ fight to lose. Leites via submission in round 1.

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