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Trading Punches: UFC 103 Predictions

ufc-103-posterUFC® 103 FRANKLIN vs BELFORT takes place Saturday, September 19, live on Pay-Per-View at 10 pm EST  from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.  This card also features two undercard fights that will be broadcast live on Spike TV starting at 9p.m. EST. will have continuing coverage of the weekends MMA action so stay tuned for up to the minute coverage of all the weekends MMA action.

Come along as Five Ounces’  very own David Andrest digs into the card with reckless abandon, while managing editor Cory Brady chirps in to tell him what he did wrong.

MAIN CARD (pay-per-view starting at 10p.m. EST.)

Vitor Belfort vs. Rich Franklin

This fight is being billed as the fight the entire mixed martial arts world is talking about when “The Phenom”, former UFC® light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort, makes his long-awaited return to the Octagon™ to face UFC superstar Rich “Ace” Franklin”.  It’s certainly the biggest fight of the weekend and should be entertaining.

Franklin enters the fight coming off a hard fought victory against Wanderlei Silva. Franklin if nothing else is consistent.  Every time we see Rich Franklin he is fighting a top name and bringing his best.

Belfort is coming off an absolute beating of Matt Lindland, which caused the Team Quest fighter to resemble a new born baby deer  rather than one of the more feared middleweights in the game.  The wrap on Belfort has always been mental. Some have called his mental preparation into question.  But honestly I have to wonder if it were anyone other than “The Phenom” if this would have ever been asked.  With  names like  Couture, Liddell, Henderson, Overeem and Sakuraba accounting for Belfort’s only losses one quickly realizes that perhaps mental preparation didn’t have as much to do with it as the pundit’s would have us think.  Vitor Belfort is the goods.

The Prediction: As much as I want to pick Rich Franklin to win this fight, I simply can’t.  Rich is more consistent, has faced better fighters recently, and other than Anderson Silva, has not lost in a very long time. ( Yes, I know, You can call the Hendo fight a loss, but you would be wrong) .   Belfort is on a roll with four straight wins, and has been looking better than ever.  What it comes down to for me is who is the better fighter.  An in shape and focused Belfort is the best fighter Franklin will have ever faced ( write that one down).  With the fight taking place at 195 I have no choice but to think Belfort will be in shape.   And last but not least, the UFC didn’t bring Belfort in to lose.

Winner:  Belfort  KO round 1

Cory Brady: Wow…. I don’t know where to begin with this one. First off, an in shape and focused Belfort doesn’t beat an out of shape, unfocused Anderson Silva, or Lyoto Machida nine times out of ten in my opinion. For me, yeah Vitor’s a scary dude, but when people say he has returned to his old form, just try to keep in mind that his old form was back in… well, when was Belfort really at his peak? Was it when he racked up four wins in PRIDE in between losses to Kazushi Sakuraba and Chuck Lidell? Or was it when he first burst onto the scene in the UFC back in 1997, beating up fat guys like Tank Abbott and Scott Ferrozzo? I’m not trying to say that Belfort isn’t an extremely talented fighter, he is, but I think history has proven that he wasn’t really the “Phenom” he was originally hyped up to be. With that being said, you may not think that the UFC brought Belfort in to lose, they really have no say in the matter once that cage door slams shut. Belfort has been on a role lately, but trust me, Franklin is no Terry Martin or Matt Lindland. For as much that has been made of Belfort’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt throughout the years, I hardly think of him as any kind of expert on the ground. He’s submitted two guys on the ground, ever, and Franklin will not be the third. The best bet for Franklin will be to dictate the pace of the bout by landing punches and kicks, taking Belfort to the ground and working his ground and pound… and rinse and repeat.

Prediction: Franklin via unanimous decision (Quite possibly FOTN material)

Junior Dos Santos vs. Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic

Dos Santos, has been impressive thus far in the UFC, as a young fighter who has never entered the second frame in the Octagon, his confidence is at an all time high.  With a young fighter like Dos Santos my biggest concern is always the skill set.  Is Dos Santo better than Croatian Superstar at this point of his career.  Buy all recent accounts Dos Santos will be quicker, more explosive, and more aggressive. CroCop will be the larger of the two fighters, and bring the experience.  Unfortunately he will bring the experience of a slowing fighter who has not appeared in top form in quite some time.   It’s actually sad to watch a man who was once the most feared striker in MMA become a stepping stone riddled with excuses for bad performances.

The Prediction: It’ll be simple to impress your friends during this fight.  If Cro Cop is moving backwards and being stalked by Dos Santos, it’ll be another quick night for Dos Santos.   Cro Cop’s only chance is to be patient without being pushed around by the smaller Dos Santos and being accurate when he strikes.  Dos Santos has bad habits ( see a right hand carried very low) but if Cro Cop is slow to discover them, he holds little chance of pulling off the victory.

Winner: Dos Santos  KO  late round 1 early round 2.

Cory Brady: Wrong again you are Skywalker, because Dos Santos’ perceived strength on the feet will only serve to be his undoing. Flat out, CroCop is the better striker of the two. That’s something you’re going to have to deal with. A Brazilian kickboxing championship, a knockout over an incredibly flabby and out of shape Fabricio Werdum, a recent win over Stefan Struve, and all of a sudden Mirko is at some kind of disadvantage on the feet? Not going to happen. Dos Santos isn’t as physically large and powerful as most of the men that have beaten Cro Cop in the past, and his not being a threat on the ground allows Filipovic to concentrate on doing what he does best.

Prediction: Cro Cop via head or body kick

Paul Daley vs. Martin Kampmann

Martin Kampmann was scheduled to fight Mike Swick in this spot, but an injury sent the UFC in search of a replacement.  Who they found was Paul Daley, a British striker with exceptional power. With that said, I find it hard to believe this fight will not make it to the floor with Kampmann is far superior to Daley.

Winner: Martin Kampmann via submission

Cory Brady: I’m with you on this one. Daley is an explosive knockout artist, and I really hope the UFC does the right thing and matches him up with a fellow striker as a reward for taking this fight on such short notice. With that being said, the submission attack has been an achilles heel for Daley in the past, and it’s going to be then end of him in this one too.

Prediction: Kampmann via submission

Josh Koscheck vs. Frank Trigg

This is the fight I am most looking forward to on this card.  Koscheck is without a doubt better on the feet, and a better wrestler. In fact Koscheck is better everywhere. Trigg on the other hand has had a good career, and the better portion of his losses come against absolute top level fighters.  This fight is interesting to me, as I feel Koscheck may not be as good as many think, and Trigg may not be as mediocre and past his prime as many may believe.  This has potential to be FOTN, but with the wrestling pedigree involved it could also turn out to be a real snoozefest.

Winner: Josh Koscheck via decision

Cory Brady: While I agree with you on the outcome, I definitely don’t feel like this fight has any potential to be FOTN. You’re right, Kos is better everywhere. This fight ends one of two ways; either Koscheck comes out and runs through Trigg like a derailed freight train or he plays it safe and grinds out a three round decision. Either way you slice it, Koscheck returns to the winners circle tomorrow night.

Prediction: Koscheck via TKO

Hermes Franca vs. Tyson Griffin

This fight is Tyson Griffin’s to lose.  Better boxing, wrestling, and bigger wins.  Franca is always dangerous on the ground, but I think we will be watching a one sided fight that will be part kickboxing, part good old American wrestling.

Winner:  Tyson Griffin via decision ( I know I went out on a limb there)

Cory Brady: This is absolutely my front-runner to get the FOTN bonus. What a great match-up! Griffin’s never been tapped but I’ll tell you what, if anyone can do it, it’s Hermes. He won’t though. Griffin is a better wrestler and he’s going to keep it standing. I personally love to watch Tyson fight. I look forward to watching his stand-up arsenal evolve. This will be another step in that evolution.

Winner: Griffin via decision (FOTN)

PRELIMINARY CARD (Spike TV starting at 9p.m. EST.)

Efrain Escudero vs. Cole Miller

Laughable, I know Cory will disagree, but Cole Miller is on such a higher level than Escudero I question the commission even allowing this fight to happen. Escudero has one way to win this fight, Miller has countless.  Miller is the bigger stronger fighter and will show the ability to shake off the wet blanket should the need arise.

Winner: Cole Miller Triangle

Cory Brady: You question the commission even allowing this fight to happen? You have to be kidding me, right? When did Cole Miller become the next coming in the lightweight division? Was it when he beat Andy Wang? Or maybe it was when he edged out a smaller Leonard Garcia by unanimous decision. It couldn’t have been when he was TKO’d by Jeremy Stephens, but perhaps wins over Jorge Gurgel and Junie Browning are cause for such high praise. I’m not saying Cole’s not a good fighter, he’s a damn good fighter, but to say Efrain is out of his league is nothing short of crazy talk. Escudero is 11-0 with wins over Shane Nelson, Phillipe Nover and Junie Browning. Does that make him a shoe in for the winner of Penn/Sanchez? No, but he’s hardly out of his league in this bout with Miller. Quite the contrary I would argue. Nine submissions out of eleven victories tell you that Efrain’s not going to get trapped in every submission attempt that is thrown at him. He is the better wrestler, and a much more powerful striker. It may not be pretty, but Escudero remains undefeated in this fight.

Prediction: Escudero via decision

Tomasz Drwal vs. Drew McFedries

Neither of these two fighters will dazzle you with their ground game. I’m expecting a stand up war, Drwal is the bigger of the two guys, however McFedriesis the better striker with a noticeable advantage in power.

Winner: Drew McFedries via KO round 2.

Cory Brady: You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that this one is going to be fireworks while it lasts. My kind of fight. I predict a lot of violence in this one. I know Drwal was stopped recently by Thiago Silva, but being knocked out isn’t something he’s made a habit out of during is career. A recent “Knockout of the Night” performance over Mike Ciesnolevicz, and a past TKO victory over a fighter I have a lot of respect for, Lucio Linhares, makes me want to make this one my gut pick of the night.

Prediction: Drwal via TKO

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