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The Calm Before The Storm: UFC 106

Anthony JohnsonRight off the bat, mad respect to Anthony Johnson for coming in at 170 pounds on the dot during yesterday’s weigh-ins that took place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

I was not alone in questioning the massive welterweight wrecking machine’s motivations in attempting to stay at a weight that he may not be able to make ever again. But AJ defied modern science again yesterday, somehow constricting his 220 pound frame down to a bone dry 170 pounds for what was likely no longer than 5-10 minutes.

Let’s not forget that “Rumble” fought less than a month ago, literally, and he wasn’t anywhere near weight for that fight. For him to make the weight limit just four weeks required the type of will power, self control and dedication that has allowed him to totally redeem himself in my mind. Fool us once, shame on you; Fool us twice, shame on us. Now don’t let it happen again.

I’m expecting a full blown war between these two with both Johnson and Josh Koscheck coming in at full strength looking to make an exclamation mark out of the other. Johnson is never more than a punch or head kick away from finishing any scrap, and it’s going to be Koscheck’s job to not allow him the space that would afford him that luxury. At the same time, let’s not pretend that Koscheck is anything less than lethal on his feet as well. His striking game has evolved to a point where could currently be considered a top ten striker in his weight class. Don’t blink.

As a side note: I fully expect for the future of Johnson’s weight division participation to lie in the balance of tonight’s bout. If AJ pulls it off, of course he stays at 170 pounds because a title shot is undeniably right around the corner. Cutting down to welterweight is tough for Johnson, but worth it if cutting means becoming a champion. However, if he loses there’s no reason for Anthony to continue to make the sacrifices required to make the welterweight division when he’s looking at a minimum of three or four wins to get back into title contention.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Tito Ortiz‘ fighting style. He’s great at what he does, don’t get me wrong, but pinning someone down, maintaining position and chipping away with elbows has never been my cup of tea. Regardless, I’ll be the first to admit that I get pumped when “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” makes his entrance, 60% of the time, all the time. Whatever “it” is, Tito has “it” in abundance. Love him or hate him, you just have to watch him; Tonight will be no exception.

Now whether Tito comes out on top in this rematch with Forrest Griffin is a huge question mark. There are a multitude of question marks surrounding this bout when you take a closer look. Has Tito recovered properly from his nagging injuries? How will Forrest handle coming back from the most embarrassing loss of his career? Is Ortiz suffering from Octagon rust? Can Griffin stop Tito’s takedowns? The list goes on and on. When the dust clears we should have a clear cut vision of where both of the longtime crowd favorites stand in their decorated careers. One man will make a push for the title when it’s all said and done, while the other will continue to draw large crowds regardless of the outcome.

Be on the lookout for Jacob Volkmann to turn a lot of heads tonight as he will likely put a beating on the Paulo Thiago that will leave the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt between a rock and a hard place with the UFC. I had a chance to speak with Chris Tuchscherer yesterday who told me that Volkmann more than holds his own with fighters such as Nick Thompson and Sean Sherk at Minnesota Martial Art, going as far as to state that Jacob can push him when they grapple, regardless of the 100 pound size difference. Volkmann is the goods. I’ve had my eye on this guy and tonight will be his coming out party.

If Rogerio Nogueira can drag Luiz Cane to the canvas and keep him there, there’s no question in my mind that he should be able to secure some form of submission, but I don’t feel like he’s going to be powerful enough. That being said, expect to see a slugfest in this one, that could very well end up being the fight of the night.

The Best Eva!!! is back and Amir desperately needs to show that his prior TKO defeat at the hands of Johny Hendricks was the fluke that many of his supporters believe it to have been. The deciding factor in this fight has to be the fact that I firmly believe Phil Baroni to be the better wrestler of the two. He’s going to use that advantage in the wrestling department to keep this fight standing up while transforming Amir Sadollah‘s head into a pinata.

Make sure to check back with all day and all night as we will have all of the latest live updates from UFC 106 as they take place, and most importantly, enjoy the fights!!!

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