The FiveOuncesOfPain.com staff is back to break down UFC 92. Enjoy as 5 Oz. staff members preview and predict the entire 10-bout card for tonight. After reading the picks, readers are encouraged to leave their predictions in the comment thread that proceeds this article. Enjoy the fights!
Forrest Griffin vs. Rashad Evans for the UFC light heavyweight title
Gary Herman: This is the main event on a show that also features a heavyweight title match as well as Wanderlei Silva vs. Quinton Jackson. It’s time to give these two guys credit as the top light heavyweights in the world. One is undefeated, and the other has beaten Mauricio Rua and Jackson in the past 15 months. Evans looked incredibly sharp against Chuck Liddell while Griffin took the title from Jackson Neither is awesome in one area, but both are very well rounded, prepare well, and adapt their skills to the opponent. That being the case – Evans is much smoother and better skilled, but Griffin has the Randy Couture game plan edge. After Griffin upset Rua, I find it very hard to bet against him. No bet, but I am taking Griffin by unanimous decision.
Michael Huckaby: This fight is really rough to call because you’re talking about two guys that are the same age and are known for being solid upset underdogs against big name fighters. Now that they’ll face each other I’m trapped in a corner to pick one or the other. As stated in the Duel, I can’t argue with anyone saying Evans has the advantage here. If you look at this bout on paper you see Rashad with the better standup and better wrestling but for some reason I just can’t picture him winning in my head. Actually I can. Forrest seems like the kind of fighter that will have massive wins and disappointing losses up and down his resume by the time it’s all said and done. All of this said I have to go with my gut and say Forrest will find the willpower to pull something out and win three of these rounds. Winner: Forrest Griffin, decision.
Caleb Newby: I’ve swayed on this fight for awhile. The strengths of each should be noted as they are fairly easy to separate into definitive categories. Forrest has the edge in size, a better jab, solid leg kicks, proven cardio, and jiu-jitsu. Rashad has more power, explosiveness, all around more athletic, and a definitive wrestling advantage. With the battle lines drawn, it has all the makings of an even bout. Still, someone must win and I was ready to pick Rashad to catch Forrest standing before pounding out a stoppage. That was before I remembered Forrest’s strong performance against Rampage. Forrest stuck to his gameplan, moving in and out, using range and leg kicks to fight a smart fight. This “new” Forrest can defeat Rashad, although it will likely be via decision. Rashad very well may win the early rounds, but unless he can catch Forrest with a KO punch Rashad needs to avoid damaging leg kicks while pacing himself to keep up his stamina. Meanwhile, Forrest needs to avoid being sucked into a brawl with Rashad. Copious use of the jab and leg kicks to Rashad should wear him out for the later rounds. While it’s likely Rashad will be able to take this fight to the ground early on whenever he wishes, Forrest’s jiu-jitsu should prove to make for an interesting time. And should Forrest manage to sweep Rashad, all bets are off. Winner: Forrest Griffin – Decision
Lee Gerowitz: Sure, UFC big wigs preferred this fight to be Griffin versus Chuck Liddell, simply because of Liddell’s ability to draw on pay-per-view. This fight may lack the hype of a Griffin versus Liddell fight, but one thing it won’t lack is action. This has the potential to be a classic. Griffin may force the action, but Evans, coming off of his highlight-reel destruction of Liddell in UFC 88, will be the one to finish. Evans’ hand speed and power will be too much for Griffin. Rashad Evans TKO Round 3.
David Andrest: Rashad Evans wins this fight. In fact I’m not sure it’s even going to be a particularly difficult for him to do so. Rashad Evans TKO Round 2.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Frank Mir for the interim UFC heavyweight title
Gary Herman: Mir is a great story but so was Romeo and Juliet. Both are obviously great jiu-jitsu fighters, but Noguiera is better. Noguiera has more stamina, and Nogueira has better hands. Noguiera is the jack of all trades, Mir is the master of none. Noguiera by third round TKO.
Michael Huckaby: I haven’t seen a lopsided co-main this big since GSP and Serra. Yes, even Anderson Silva and Cote I pictured going into the third round. While this might last that longer and probably longer I don’t see how it’s going to be very competitive. I just see this as an easier Nog/Werdum fight. We all expect Mir to gas at some point and no one thinks he’s going to finish Nog so that only leaves the question of whether he’ll go the distance or get pounded out. I’m a glass half full kind of guy so I’ll predict a ground and pound finish late. Winner: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, TKO, Rd4.
Caleb Newby: This fight is the most overlooked of the “big three” fights by most hardcore fans. The reasons are fairly simple. For everything Mir can do, Nogueira can do it better. Striking? Big Nog’s boxing is superior. Chin? Nog has made a career out of taking punishment and recovering quickly. Jiu-Jitsu? Nogueira is one of the best at MMA jiu-jitsu. Cardio? Nog has been in so many championship fights it isn’t worth listing. He can go the distance where as Mir is a giant question mark. The only thing working in Mir’s favor is Nogueira’s battle worn body. Nobody knows when it will finally give out on him, and perhaps Mir will be the lucky man in the cage with Nog when that finally happens. If so, good on Mir, but I put it more on being in the right place at the right time. Winner: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira – Submission, Round 4
Lee Gerowitz: If this were a battle of looks, Mir would win, hands down. Fortunately, it’s not. I do not want to see a Mir versus Brock Lesnar rematch, end of story. And I don’t think we will. Of the “big three” fights on the card, this is no doubt the biggest mismatch. No way Mir catches Nogueira making a Lesnar-like mistake. No way Mir beats Nogerira in the stand-up department. No way Mir wins. Antonio Rodrigo Nogeira via submission, Round 2.
David Andrest: Everything Mir can do Nog can do better…………sing it with me people. The only thing that worries me about this fight it the certainty everyone has that Nogueira is headed for victory. Kinda feels Gonzaga vs. Cro Copish in a way. Winner: Nogueira KO round 2.
Quinton Jackson vs. Wanderlei Silva
Gary Herman: What a huge fight this is – Jackson and Silva III. Silva has the mental advantage with the two devastating knockouts, but Jackson has looked slightly better in the UFC. This fight is guaranteed to be an all out slugfest and the early favorite for both fight of the night and knockout of the fight. Jackson’s personal turmoil with the car chase and trainer switch will hurt him against a fully focused and motivated Silva. Silva by third round KO and KO of the night.
Michael Huckaby: I still haven’t seen anything unexpected out of Wanderlei Silva in the octagon…. and that includes killing Keith Jardine in 30 seconds. Just from a pure style point of view and strategic point of view this fight doesn’t really look great for Wandy, history in PRIDE or not. This is even a bigger fight in Wanderlei’s career than it is Jackson’s but Quinton will control the pace, land some shots and get his pick of where he wants this fight. I don’t think Rampage’s personal problems get in the way as he has a score to settle with Wandy and no matter what the circumstances you can’t say Rampage doesn’t come ready to fight. I say Jackson gets that elusive win and moves on with his career. Winner: Rampage Jackson, decision.
Caleb Newby: I may be more excited for this fight than any on this card. In fact, I am. On a scale of 1 to 10, how awesomely intense will this prefight stare down be? The correct answer is 10 or any number above. As for the fight itself, I am hard pressed to find a distinct reason to pick either. When fights are this close it’s tempting to make the case for who you want to win, but there too I am against a wall. I don’t like people saying that Silva has lost his edge, it’s too early to say for certain. He had a three fight losing streak. First to Mirko Cro Cop, a heavyweight. Second to Dan Henderson in Las Vegas with no soccer kicks or knees… and having been in the hospital the night before with the flu (Yes, yes, I know. Excuses. Still worth pointing out.) Finally, a loss to Chuck Liddell by decision… someone who had long been said to possess the perfect style to beat Silva. Three losses is three losses, but not all are created equal. We saw a glimpse of the Wanderlei of old in his destruction of Jardine. Rampage’s personal problems are well known and I feel no need to get into them here. Jackson has improved his striking by leaps and bounds since his last meeting with Silva four years ago and is a different person. Rampage should know what to avoid this time (the clinch) and be fighting a smarter fight. I want to pick that both men have a good time, but I don’t think that would go over well. I guess I’ll take Silva and his training with Couture by the slightest of margins. Winner: Wanderlei Silva – TKO, Round 3
Lee Gerowitz: Some trilogies simply suck. Free Willy, Look Who’s Talking, The Fast and the Furious…I mean, really? REALLY? Regardless of the outcome, this trilogy will never fall into the crap-a-licious category of the aforementioned ones, but facts are facts. Silva owned “Rampage” in their first two fights. Silva is coming off of a destruction of Keith Jardine at UFC 84. “Rampage,” meanwhile, lost his light heavyweight belt to Griffin at UFC 86 and was arrested 10 days later. So where exactly will Quinton’s head be for this fight? At the receiving end of a vicious TKO, that’s where. Silva by TKO, Round 2.
David Andrest: Interesting fight, I would prefer this one in a ring. I want to pick Wanderlei Silva, he is my favorite fighter to watch and the previous two fights with Jackson are a large part of why. Time has passed, many things have happened and as much as every single thing points towards Wanderlei winning for a 3rd straight time, I can not make that pick. I wouldn’t mind being wrong here. Winner Rampage via KO round 2.
Mostapha Al Turk vs. Cheick Kongo
Michael Huckaby: I don’t know why al-Turk is probably going to try and stand with him but he shouldn’t. Kongo is going to be relegated to a life of beating up anyone that will trade while losing to any average wrestler that can hold him down. If al-Turk is smart he’ll take this to the mat and get himself an easy victory. I don’t think he’ll do that. Winner: Cheick Kongo, strikes, Rd3
Caleb Newby: This is a “on hold” fight for Kongo. Joe Silva and the UFC brass obviously have more use for Kongo as a name to co-headline or raise the bar of an otherwise substandard event against another prominent heavyweight. And Mustapha al Turk is not that heavyweight. Mustapha al Turk has faced very limited competition over in England, no one of the level of Kongo. Kongo wins, most likely via an impressive KO that can be used for future video packages. Winner: Cheick Kongo – TKO, Round 2
Lee Gerowitz: Al Turk is making his UFC debut. I have never seen him fight. And after this fight, I may never see him again. All I know is, if God built a mixed martial artist, he’d come out looking like Cheick Kongo. Kongo is the Tyson Beckford of MMA. He was even named the “Black Man of the Day” on August 31st, 2007 on www.hotchocolatefinder.com. An article on the UFC’s website described Al Turk in the following manner: “Mostapha Al Turk’s daily routine consists of the following: waking up, showering, brushing teeth, eating breakfast…” BO-ring. Kongo by KO, Round 1.
David Andrest: This could be a big money fight for Kongo. Should Kongo win this fight and look impressive while doing so, he is setting himself up for a payday against the champ. Kongo looks unstoppable, now if he can translate that into an exciting fight with an impressive finish. The screams for Lesnar vs. Kongo by the mainsteam will be loud. Winner Kongo by KO round 2.
C.B. Dollaway vs. Mike Massenzio
Michael Huckaby: I think this fight is the UFC determining whether Dollaway has a future in the organization or not. Massenzio is a very talented fighter and a bigger step up than the UFC is known for giving it’s TUF alumns. Dollaway’s wrestling still leaves him wide open for submission attempts and he’s too green to have improved it that much in the last six months. I’m a big fan of Massenzio but that aside I just see Dollaway controlling a bit of the fight before Massenzio pulls something off. Winner: Mike Massenzio, sub, Rd2.
Caleb Newby: C.B. isn’t a huge underdog by any means and is capable of coming away with a W, but I’m not going that way. While Massenzio may pull out a sub on Dollaway, who is susceptible to being caught, I’ll give C.B. the benefit of the doubt. Massenzio wins with a solid performance by controlling the fight on route to a definitive decision. Winner: Mike Massenzio – Decision
Lee Gerowitz: These two actually wrestled each other in junior college, with Dollaway winning that match. This isn’t the Junior College Nationals, though. Assuming Massenzio learned his lesson, let’s assume their grappling skills are even. Massenzio has won 10 of his last 11 fights, including his last fight, a first-round submission of Drew McFedries at UFC Fight Night 15. Dolloway may have the exposure from appearing on The Ultimate Fighter 7, but if he loses, is it really an upset? I think not. Massenzio by submission, Round 3.
David Andrest: Lot’s of time and money placed into Dollaway. He was supposed to win TUF 7. On an unrelated note, am I the only person who has noticed he could be the Bizarro Matt Damon? The entire crew is picking against him, and I can just say this. If Dallaway doesn’t win this fight, perhaps he has an issue with presure. File this one under Joe Silva books fights with purpose. Winner: Dollaway via Sub
Yushin Okami vs. Dean Lister
Gary Herman: The fact that this fight is not scheduled for televsion will hopefully tell these fighters all they need to know. This has to be an exciting or it could seal the fate for one of if not both of the fighters. Okami has gotten some whispers as a possible title challenger for Anderson Silva. All that tells me is the UFC has no middleweights, and it’s time to sign someone (Robbie Lawler? Cung Le? Yoshihiro Akiyama?). As for the fight itself, Lister’s only chance is to bring the fight to the ground. Okami’s going to look to keep it standing. Their styles do not mesh well. This fight can’t be good. Both fighters lose by decision. Ok, Okami stays away from Lister’s guard long enough to win. Okami by split decision.
Michael Huckaby: This is simply a slightly less lopsided Lister/Marquardt fight. Okami’s biggest weakness is the fact he can only control one aspect of the game no matter how good he is at doing so. Lister is going to be on his back taking mainly the body weight of Okami as his biggest damage between some strikes. I think we could have 15 people do this Pain Poll and all fifteen would have the same result. Winner: Yushin Okami, decision.
Caleb Newby: Follow me here, it’s pretty simple. Lister has only been defeated by decision. When Lister loses, it is to fighters of a certain caliber. Okami is of that caliber. Same result, different methodology of arriving there. Winner: Yushin Okami – Decision
Lee Gerowitz: Okami is looking for that title shot against Anderson Silva, while Lister is looking to prove that he’s nobody’s stepping stone. The submission specialist in Lister will want to take this fight down to the ground. No way Okami goes there. This fight might be more boring than that Al Turk description I mentioned. Okami by unanimous decision.
David Andrest: Can’t argue with anyone here. Okami via Decison.
Matt Hamill vs. Reese Andy
Gary Herman: For Matt Hammil, this is a very winnable fight. I’m not sure why Reese Andy got another fight coming off the incredibly boring loss against Brandon Vera. Andy’s a decent wrestler, but Hamill is world’s better. Hopefully, Hammil comes out to Born in the U.S.A. again. Was there ever a better entrance song? Oh and Hamill by 1st round TKO.
Michael Huckaby: I see this going down quite a bit like the Reese Andy fight against Brandon Vera. I think it’s rude at this point in his career to say Hamill is a gatekeeper but I see a future where he always beats the guys he’s supposed to beat and can’t take on the likes of Rich Franklin, Anderson Silva or Gegard Mousasi. Hamill will control the pace and get 75% or more of the damage but Andy isn’t easy to finish. Winner: Matt Hamill, decision.
Caleb Newby: You know what? I’ll come clean. Matt Hamill has exceeded my expectations and done much better than I thought he would. Glad to have such a nice guy to prove me wrong too. That being said, I was shocked at the people picking him over Rich Franklin. Franklin is a top 3 middleweight (and just as well could be a light-heavyweight) who just can’t beat the number one guy. Because of that, and the well rounded nature of his game, (some) people seem to equate Franklin as a so-so fighter. There is no shame in Hamill losing to Franklin. In fact, it provides a good measuring stick to see where you are at in the grand scheme of things compared to the elite. Hamill’s not there yet, but he’s better than Reese Andy. I say he’ll surprise some people with a finish t’boot. Winner: Matt Hamill – TKO, Round 3
Lee Gerowitz: Two wrestlers, both of coming off of loses. As someone who lived in Cincinnati for 13 years, it’s hard not to root for Hamill, especially because of his amazing personal life. However, Hamill looked awful against another one of my Cincy favorites, Rich Franklin, in his last fight at UFC 88. Hamill must get back to his wrestling roots in this fight. Another loss, and it’s hard to wonder how long his personal story alone will justify his being kept in the UFC. Hamill must fight as if his UFC career is on life support. I expect Hamill to bounce back. Hamill by unanimous decision.
David Andrest: I have to disagree with Lee here, Hamill looked young and inexperienced against Rich Franklin, oddly enough most everyone with the exception of Anderson Silva has fallen into that category recently as Franklin is better than everyone in the division with exception of the champion, and maybe Dan Henderson. Winner Matt Hamill decision.
Ryo Chonan vs. Brad Blackburn
Michael Huckaby: This is probably the hardest fight for me to call outside of the main event. I can actually see either guy dominating most of the fight and taking home a unanimous decision. Chonan is quite hit and miss but you pretty much know what you’re going to get. This is just a fight between two journeymen and the loser probably won’t have the UFC to call a home come their next fight. I think the sick part is I could see either guy finishing it fairly easily or winning a lopsided decision; I really have no idea where to come at this from. I’m going to pick what I think is an upset by saying Blackburn dishes out a majority of the damage, atleast enough to grab the judges’ favor. Winner: Brad Blackburn, decision.
Lee Gerowitz: Chonan’s experience includes his sick Flying Heel Hook submission against Anderson Silva in 2004. Yeah, yeah, it was 2004, but who cares? He’s also faced some of the best fighters around. Blackburn can punch, so I expect Chonan to get him down to the ground and submit Blackburn. Chonan by submission, Round 1.
David Andrest: I’m with Huckaby on this one. Could be a great fight, could be utter crap. Either guy could win, and get the great chance to fight someone who will crush them in their next fight. Winner Blackburn via decision.
Pat Barry vs. Dan Evensen
Michael Huckaby: I don’t know enough about Pat Barry to pretend I’m making an informed decision. Winner: Dan Evensen, TKO, Rd1.
Caleb Newby: If Huckaby isn’t going to pretend to know Barry, I certainly am not either. I just hope his nickname really is “Get Hype”. Winner: Dan Evensen – TKO, Round 1
Gary Herman: I read an interview where Barry is determined to win the fight. Winner: Barry by 2nd round TKO
Lee Gerowitz: Barry can punch Barry, Barry hard, but the key here is whether he can get off against Evensen, who has about four inches in height on him. I’ll go out on a limb and predict a KO of the Night right here. Barry by KO, Round 1.
David Andrest: The kid is going to make a “mega-ridiculous” statement in his UFC debut. Barry by KO Round 1
Antoni Hardonk vs. Mike Wessel
Michael Huckaby: Antoni Hardonk is like that SNL sketch of ESPN’s Steven A. Smith where he says, “I can say whatever I want cuz ESPN loooooves me.” Winner: Antoni Hardonk, TKO, Rd1.
Caleb Newby: I am sorry if you are looking for a real breakdown of this portion of the card. Antoni Hardonk – TKO, Round 1
Gary Herman: If Hardonk would have beaten Frank Mir last year, would he have fought Brock Lesnar? No. Wessel by 1st round TKO
Lee Gerowitz: Hardonk has won three fights in a row and is more of a known name, while Wessel is a last-minute replacement for Mark Burch and has heavy hands. I see a slugfest coming, but it won’t last long. Hardonk by TKO, Round 1.
David Andrest: Did Gary Herman just accuse Hardonk of ducking Brock Lesnar? WOW….. that was way more interesting than this fight is going to be. I really do feel bad for last minute replacements, it’s almost a no win for them. Hardonk by TKO Round 2