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UFC 99: The Crystal Ball Of Pain

UFC 99 may go down in history as the little card that could. A UFC without a championship fight, yet still stacked to the brim with some of the best and most intriguing match ups put together so far this year.

You have Wanderlei and Rich putting it all on the line at 195 pounds in a main event that is impossible to dissapoint, Velasquez and Kongo in a heavyweight dream match, one of the nastiest grudge matches in the history of the sport between Marcus Davis and Dan Hardy, the list just goes on and on.

Come along with me as I dive headfirst into what promises to be a blood soaked, action packed night of fights in Germany.

Rich Franklin vs. Wanderlei Silva

I absolutely hate that I love this fight. This bout is a catch 22 for me, I win and lose no matter how the fight ends up. I’m not going to lie, Silva has been my favorite fighter for eight years running. It doesn’t matter who he fights, I will always be routing for “The Axe Murderer”. With that being said, Franklin is hands down one of the genuinely nicest fighters I have ever had the privilege to speak with. Anyone that has met Rich will tell you the same thing, he’s a class act. So like I said, this fight’s a catch 22. Wanderlei wins, I’m happy that he’s back on track but that means that Franklin loses, which really just sucks. The same can be said if the scenario is reversed, I hate to love this fight.

On a positive note, who doesn’t like back and forth wars with one guy winding up in an unconscious stupor? God knows I do. There is no other way that this fight ends up. Someone will need the smelling salts. At some point in this fight it’s going to get really ugly really quick, this is when Wanderlei will catch Franklin. Whether it be in the clinch or just with a signature Silva bomb, when the pace turns up in this fight it will favor Wanderlei.

At the same time, if Franklin fights a perfect fight it’s not out of reach for him by any stretch of the imagination. He would be best served to keep Silva on the outside of his sharp jab, big left hand and paralyzing liver kicks en route to a hard fought decision victory. Fifteen minutes is just a very long time to employ that type of gameplan against a finisher as fearsome as Wanderlei.

Winner: Wanderlei Silva – TKO Round 2

Cain Velasquez vs. Cheick Kongo

Kongo is the better striker and Velasquez is the superior wrestler, there’s not a whole lot of argument currently raging about those two facts. Don’t get me wrong, Velasquez is more than capable on his feet and Kongo has shown in recent fights that he too can employ takedowns and ground and pound as one way to obtain victory, but both of these guys have their strengths, make no doubt about it.

The thing to me is this; I think Kongo is a beast on the feet but he’s not the best striker in the UFC. He demonstrated this in his last fight with Antoni Hardonk when he took the K-1 veteran to the canvas and proceeded to batter him there for the TKO stoppage. He’s not going to be taking anyone down in his fight with Velasquez. I honestly wouldn’t be shocked if Velasquez is able to stop Kongo standing. I feel like his striking is often overlooked because of his wrestling credentials. However, there’s no way Velasquez will be playing that game with Cheick at UFC 99. He knows his strengths and he’s going to use them right away as he drags Kongo directly to the canvas and turns his face into hamburger.

Winner: Cain Velasquez – TKO Round 2

Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic vs. Mustapha al Turk

Although it has been nearly two years since Cro Cop showed his face in the Octagon, the knockout artist from Croatia has been staying relatively busy in Japan. In his first fight back after losing to Cheick Kongo at UFC 75 Mirko assaulted a hopelessly outmatched Tatsuya Mizuno at the inaugural DREAM event in March of 2008 before having his testicles kneed into his stomach courtesy of Alistair Overeem at DREAM 6. Most recently Filipovic layed a beatdown on Korean giant Hong Man Choi at K-1 Dynamite on New Years Eve of 2008.

It’s been a long time coming for Cro Cop, the question is; Has the time away from the Octagon and the most recent six month break hurt or helped Mirko. Which Cro Cop will we see this Saturday night against al Turk, the one that looked completely out of his league while being decisioned by Kongo in 2007 or the guy that fought Fedor Emelianenko for five hard rounds in 2005?

This fight is Mirko’s to win or lose quite honestly. Not taking anything away from Mustapha, he’s a warrior, but a guy with a 6-4 record has no business beating a fighter of Cro Cop’s caliber. We’ll just have to wait and see who shows up.

Winner: Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic – Knockout Round 1

Mike Swick vs. Ben Saunders

I really like Ben Saunders. From his “Why so serious” 24-7 grin, to his tenacious never say die style in the cage. I’m just having a really hard time seeing him walking out of the¬†Octagon with a win on Saturday night over Mike Swick.

Swick represents a massive step up in competition for Saunders. Massive. Swick is a far cry from Brandon Wolff, or even Ryan Thomas for that matter.On the other side of that coin I personally don’t feel like Saunders is a step up from some of Swick’s most current victories with the UFC over guys like Josh Burkman and Marcus Davis.

Swick wins this fight with his hand speed and superior wrestling ability.

Winner: Mike Swick – Unanimous Decision

Dan Hardy vs. Marcus Davis

I am just a sucker for grudge matches from way back. If two guys genuinely despise each other, that’s a fight I’m interested in seeing. Davis vs. Hardy is without a doubt a fight I’m interested in seeing.

Hardy has been enlisting people to photoshop and post unfavorable photos of Davis all over the internet, questioning his Irish heritage, while Davis has been questioning Hardy’s sexuality along with simply stating “I hate Dan Hardy”.

Let’s throw the grudge factor right out of there and what you’re left with is a fight with a whole lot of potential to end up as the “Fight of the Night”. These guys hating each others guts has nothing to do with the fact that both of their big swinging styles match up perfectly to create fireworks one way or the other.

Hardy is exciting and has a world of potential, but Davis is just better. Expect for him to make “The Outlaw” eat his words at UFC 99.

Winner: Marcus Davis – Knockout Round 1

Spencer Fisher vs. Caol Uno

Everyone keeps talking about the return of Uno, well what about the return of Fisher? I understand that this fight will be the first return to the UFC in ages for Uno, but neither fighter has seen any action since 2008. Fisher’s last appearance saw him catch Shannon Gugerty in a triangle choke at UFC 90 while Uno was last seen on the losing end of a unanimous decision to Shinya Aoki at DREAM 5.

I would personally be shocked if this fight ends any other way than going the full three rounds. Both men are as tough as nails and as well rounded as they come. You have to give an edge in the striking department to Fisher while Uno may be a little slicker on the ground. This fight will be action packed, there’s no way around that.

Winner: Spencer Fisher – Split Decision

Terry Etim vs. Justin Buchholz

This is a tough fight call so I will bust out my dusty MMA calculator to figure this one out MMAth style.

Etim recently beat Sam Stout who beat Matt Wiman who beat Bucholz in 2008 = Etim should have the tools necessary to beat Bucholz. However, we all know how reliable MMAth can be.

Winner: Terry Etim – Unanimous Decision

Stefan Struve vs. Denis Stojnic

I’m sorry but there’s no reason for this fight to be taking place in the UFC. There’s plenty of other capable and deserving fighters that would give anything for an opportunity to shine in the Octagon. However, this event is going down in Germany and you just have to throw some international talent in the mix.

Regardless, I do believe that this fight ends up as one of the more exciting bouts of the evening.

Winner: Stefan Struve – Submission Round 3

Dale Hartt vs. Dennis Siver

This fight is pretty interesting in the respect that both men should know a great deal about the other going into Saturday night. Siver recently spent his training camp at Hartt’s old home, Xtreme Couture, while Hartt has been spending his time at Greg Jackson’s MMA with old friends for Xtreme Couture (spies) reporting back to Hartt on how Siver’s training is progressing.

This is going to be a good fight, no doubt about that. These guys match up pretty evenly in most aspects of the game. I feel like Hartt’s recent move to Albuquerque to train and live with the likes of Leonard Garcia and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is going to pay off in a big way for him.

Winner: Hartt – Submission Round 2

Paul Taylor vs. Peter Sobotta

Sobotta’s 8-1 record is a little bit deceiving in the respect that he has never faced anyone near the caliber of Paul Taylor in his career. Taylor, on the other hand, is a human highlight reel that has been in there with some of the best welterweights the world has to offer in his most recent bouts with the UFC.

If it’s a Paul Taylor fight you should be expecting a “Fight of the Night” performance but Sobotta won’t have the tools to make it competetive enough.

Winner: Paul Taylor – TKO Round 1

Paul Kelly vs. Roli Delgado

While I feel as if Delgado was underestimated for his stint on The Ultimate Fighter and still may be to some extent, there’s just no way he gets past Kelly in my eyes. Kelly is just too compact, powerful and well rounded.

Delgado always has a shot at pulling out the rabbit from his hat in the form of a submission if Kelly decides to utilize his superior wrestling ability, but I think Kelly will use his wrestling to keep the fight standing as opposed to taking the fight to the ground. Look for Kelly to drop a big bomb on Delgado early in this one.

Winner: Paul Kelly – Knockout Round 1

John Hathaway vs. Ricky Story

Both of these guys are bright, bright prospects right now. This is just one of those bouts where one rising star will shine a little brighter. Although Hathaway has already been succesful once in the Octagon and has ammased an unblemished record of 10-0 as opposed to Story’s 7-2, Story has beaten the tougher fighters during the course of his career. Extremely tough fight to have to predict. Hathaway hasn’t lost yet, and I’m not going to bet against him in this one.

Winner: John Hathaway – Unanimous Decision

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