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Fight Night 22 Preview and Predictions

Read ahead as Five Ounces of Pain‘s Jeremy Lambert breaks down the card from tomorrow night’s “Fight Night 22″ event in Austin, Texas…

This card may lack star power as only Nate Marquardt has been prominently been featured on PPV and he’s coming off a loss but when it comes to free MMA, I’m never one to complain and you shouldn’t be either. Sometimes the overlooked events are the best because there is less pressure on the fighters and they’re usually eager to put on a show.

Middleweight Fight (Main Event): Rousimar Palhares vs. Nate Marquardt

Marquardt was one win away from once again challenging Anderson Silva for the Middleweight title but then he ran into Chael Sonnen, lost a unanimous decision, and is now trying to get back on track. Palhares is fresh off a 90 day suspension (which is really a joke considering he fought more recently than Marquardt) for not letting go of a heel hook quick enough and is looking to improve on his 4-1 UFC record.

On paper this fight looks a lot like Marquardt vs. Demian Maia from UFC 102. Marquardt is more well-rounded and brings multiple tools to the fight but Palhares’ main strength and one large tool might be enough to trump his opponent. Marquardt has the advantage striking and wrestling but if Palhares can get the fight to the ground, Marquardt will be in trouble. Marquardt’s biggest weapon on the feet is a quick right straight, which Palhares will have to look out for when he moves in. Despite being at a wrestling disadvantage, Palhares isn’t afraid to clinch and pull guard. He’s a heel hook specialist and there aren’t too many positions when you’re tied up where a heel hook isn’t possible. Marquardt is a veteran and it’s usually tougher to pull off a heel hook against someone who has been around as long as him but if anyone can do it, it’s Palhares. The biggest concern I have about Marquardt is that he might be overlooking Palhares and if he is, he could slip up and get caught.

This is Marquardt’s fight to lose. As long as he stays off the ground and out of the clinch, he should be able to batter Palhares on the feet. Even if the fight does hit the ground, Marquardt has good submission defense and should be able to avoid anything as long as he’s on top. Palhares is tough to finish but Marquardt should win a decision as long as he sprawls and brawls and stays sharp mentally.

Prediction: Nate Marquardt by Decision

Lightweight Fight: Efrain Escudero vs. Charles Oliviera

When you win The Ultimate Fighter, a lot of expectations are placed on your shoulders. Escudero is 2-1 since defeating Phillipe Nover with his only loss coming to top contender Evan Dunham. Oliveira may not have survived a house full of crazy people but there is a lot of hype behind the Brazilian prospect and even more after he won submission of the night honors with a 41 second armbar victory over Darren Elkins back in August.

Escudero is a good wrestling and Oliviera is a jiu-jitsu phenom. That means we could end up seeing a striking contest. Escudero has good, basic boxing with power but Oliviera is the better striker. He’s a more diverse striker, he has more power, and he’s taller so he’ll be able to keep his opponent at bay with the jab and leg kicks. If Escudero gets in trouble on the feet, he may revert to his wrestling where he’ll have to trust his submission defense against the crafty Oliviera. Escudero has a very good and controlling top game but Oliviera is very active off his back and transitions quickly and smoothly from one submission to another. Escudero needs to get things going on the feet early and force Oliviera to be uncomfortable standing. If he can find his rhythm on the feet, he could frustrate Oliviera and control the fight.

It seems like no matter where this fight goes, Oliviera will have the advantage. Look for Oliviera to throw a lot of leg kicks, bait Escudero into a takedown, and get a submission off his back. Escudero might not tap but an arm will snap or he will nap.

Prediction: Charles Oliviera by Submission in Round 2

Lightweight Fight: Gleison Tibau vs. Jim Miller

Jim Miller looks to continue his Lightweight run at Fight Night 22. He’s 6-1 in the UFC with his only loss coming to Gray Maynard and he’s won four straight fights. He’s taking on Gleison Tibau, who might be the largest Lightweight in the world.

I never know what to expect from Tibau. Sometimes he looks like the best Lightweight in the world and other times he looks like he doesn’t even belong in the company. His striking looked much improved in his last fight against Caol Uno but at the same time, it looked like he and Uno belonged in different weight classes. Miller has solid boxing and overall he’s the better striker. Both men are good wrestlers with Miller having the technical advantage and Tibau having the size advantage. On the ground, Tibau has the advantage. Both are jiu-jitsu black belts but Tibau is Brazilian, which means his umbilical cord was a purple belt. Something worth mentioning is that Tibau trains with Mark Bocek, who was recently defeated by Miller by a close and somewhat controversial decision. I know styles make fights and Bocek and Tibau are different type fighters but I’m sure Bocek was able to relay a couple of things to his training partner to use to his advantage.

This is a tough fight to call. They’re relatively even on paper but in the end look for Tibau’s size and strength to give Miller some problems, especially on the ground. If Miller can keep it standing and use his speed, he could out-strike Tibau en route to a decision but that will be easier said than done.

Prediction – Gleison Tibau by Decision

Lightweight Fight: Ross Pearson vs. Cole Miller

The Ultimate Fighter 9 Lightweight winner Ross Pearson looks to remain undefeated inside the Octagon against Cole Miller, who is coming off an impressive submission victory over Dan Lauzon.

This is a classic striker vs. grappler battle. Pearson is an excellent striker, who believes he has better boxing than BJ Penn (although I don’t know if he believes he has better boxing than Frankie Edgar) while Miller is relatively well-rounded but is primarily known as a jiu-jitsu artist. Pearson, being British, has poor wrestling although he does have a brown belt in Judo. Miller isn’t a world-class wrestler but that doesn’t mean that he won’t be able to put Pearson on his back. Remember, Pearson is British. Miller needs to use his reach on the feet to keep Pearson away, set up his takedowns, and avoid the big punch. For Pearson, he needs to sprawl and brawl and batter Miller with leg kicks.

Although Miller isn’t the greatest wrestler in the world, it’s tough to pick any British fighter against a grappler. Pearson doesn’t have the most power in the world but Miller’s chin is a bit suspect. Eventually though, Miller will get a takedown and on the ground he’ll make short work of Pearson.

Prediction – Cole Miller by Submission in Round 2

Preliminary Quick Picks:

*Yves Edwards to defeat John Gunderson by TKO in Round 1
*Kyle Kingsbury to defeat Jared Hamman by Decision
*Tomasz Drwal to defeat Dave Branch by TKO in Round 2
*Rafael Natal to defeat Rich Attonito by TKO in Round 1
*David Mitchell to defeat Anthony Waldburger by Decision
*Forrest Petz to defeat Brian Foster by Submission in Round 1

Remember that this event leads right into the premiere of The Ultimate Fighter 12: Team GSP vs. Team Koscheck. That means there is no shortage of MMA action on Wednesday.

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