With the UFC making their Middle Eastern debut in Abu Dhabi Saturday, it’s time to make some predictions again.
Anderson Silva vs. Demian Maia
Silva’s advantage at striking is greater than Maia’s advantage on the ground, and every round starts standing, so I have to pick Silva to win by T/KO, likely first round because Maia’s chin is suspect, but it wouldn’t surprise me if this went to the second.
BJ Penn vs. Frankie Edgar:
I really don’t think Edgar has much for Penn, we may see Penn get taken down by a lightweight for the first time in six years, but I still think Penn is the better fighter both standing and on the ground and will probably choke Edgar out in the third round.
Matt Hughes vs. Renzo Gracie:
Renzo is a more complete MMA fighter than his cousin Royce, but I think Hughes will show the same kind of dominance in this fight as he did against Royce previously, but Renzo could draw this fight to a decision, which Hughes will win unanimously.
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Terry Etim:
This fight is a potential “Fight of the Night” candidate, both men have excellent ground games, and both men are good strikers. I think that Etim, though, will use his reach and better striking to get dos Anjos and try to avoid the ground, earning a unanimous decision.
Mark Munoz vs. Kendall Grove:
Munoz has a very similar background to Grove’s last opponent, having wrestled at the same college, Oklahoma State, as Rosholt, but I expect him to perform better against Grove. Munoz trains with the Nogueira brothers at Black House and should have strong submission defense. Grove has shown weakness against strong wrestlers in the past, and will do so again Saturday. Munoz has finishing power in his hands from top position, and will likely pound out Grove in the second round.
PRELIMINARY CARD QUICK PICKS:
- Alexander Gustafsson vs. Phil Davis: Davis ground ‘n pounds a 2nd round TKO.
- Paul Taylor vs. John Gunderson: Gunderson via 2nd round TKO. Not really sure why, just feels right, I’m not very confident in this pick.
- Rick Story vs. Nick Osipczak: Story over powers Osipczak to win via 2nd round submission.
- DaMarques Johnson vs. Brad Blackburn: Johnson rocks Blackburn early and finishes him via 1st round submission.
- Paul Kelly vs. Matt Veach: Veach will get beat up early then get a “come from behind” 2nd round TKO.
- Mostapha Al Turk vs. Jon Madsen: Madsen is the bigger, better wrestler and will grind out a unanimous decision.
Anderson Silva vs. Demian Maia
Justin stole my thunder. I don’t see too many ways for Maia to win this fight. Of course, A.Silva has lost to submissions that have come out of nowhere (yes, I’m looking at you, Ryo Chonan), but I don’t see that happening. With that having been said, though, I think Maia makes it to the second round before A.Silva stops it a la Forrest Griffin.
BJ Penn vs. Frankie Edgar
I see this being a better fight than people think. If Edgar is going to win, he’s going to have to do something to force Penn to respect his striking. Whether that’s by landing a couple heavy shots early or mixing kicks and strikes is up to him, but everything he does has to set up his takedowns. Once he gets Penn down, he has to do something more than lay and pray because staying in one place too long is not in his best interests. While GSP is much stronger than Edgar (not to mention twenty-odd pounds heavier), he beat Penn by staying active and hyper-aggressive and didn’t give Penn any time to think about what submission he wanted to attempt. Edgar must do the same thing. I think Edgar’s wrestling will be strong enough to earn himself a respectable unanimous loss.
Hughes vs. Gracie
I will be the first to tell you that there is nothing I like more than making fun of people. Alright, that’s not entirely true. I also like eating, beer, long walks on the beach, hitting on cute waitresses, and general shenanigans. I’m not a big fan of mornings, people invading my personal space without asking, standing bodies of water, and vacuuming. I also don’t really like this fight. If you saw Hughes vs. Royce Gracie, you know how this fight will end.
Rafael Dos Anjos vs. Terry Etim
This fight, on the other hand has the potential for real fireworks. Etim will stand and throw some wicked leather and Dos Anjos will probably want a more technical grappling type of fight. I think Etim will use his striking to keep Dos Anjos outside more than he would like and get the UD.
Mark Munoz vs. Kendall Grove
In a little trivia note, this is the second time The Spider has deemed Da Spyder worthy of sharing a card. Kendall Grove should be better than he is. He’s taller than many in the division, which should mean better angles for striking. His grappling is supposedly really strong (assisted by long arms and long legs). He’s a pretty good striker. And yet, he still hasn’t risen out of the pack to be relevant to the top of the division. Maybe it’s the terrible back tattoo and stupid victory dance. I see Munoz grinding out the first round before wearing Grove down and pounding out a TKO.
PRELIMINARY CARD QUICK PICKS:
- Alexander Gustafsson vs. Phil Davis: Davis will rock Gustafsson and pound him out in the first.
- Paul Taylor vs. John Gunderson: Taylor is most famous for his wars with fellow Brit (and fellow Paul) Kelly and Chris Lytle. The first cut to 155 is the toughest for Taylor, but enough power follows him down to grind out a UD.
- Rick Story vs. Nick Osipczak: Osipczak continues his winning ways and chokes out Story in the first.
- DaMarques Johnson vs. Brad Blackburn: My choice for fight of the night. Johnson by TKO
- Paul Kelly vs. Matt Veach: Kelly brings it. All the time. Including tonight (today?) with a ref stoppage in the third.
- Mostapha Al Turk vs. Jon Madsen: Do-or-die for Al Turk. He won’t do it, though. Madsen will wrestle out a UD.
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