Only a mere 4 days after an exciting UFC 80 in England, the UFC heads back into the United States and invades The Pearl in Las Vegas, Nevada for Ultimate Fight Night 12. The main event will feature Mike Swick, recently dropping down and beginning a new career at Welterweight, and Josh Burkman who will be trying to secure an impressive victory to get back on track. Also on the card will be Canadian Patrick “The Predator” Cote vs. heavy handed Drew McFedries, trash talking Nate Diaz vs. Alvin “Kid” Robinson, Kurt Pellegrino vs. Alberto Crane, Thiago Tavares vs. Michihiro Omigawa, and four other fights featuring TUF alumni.
Let’s take a brief look at each battle, and we’ll give you our predictions.
Mike “Quick” Swick vs. Josh Burkman
This will be Mike Swick’s first mixed martial arts bout at 170 pounds. After a stint on the original Ultimate Fighter reality show, he dropped down to Middleweight with some success, but ran into a roadblock in Yushin Okami at UFC 69. Swick decided it was time to stay away from the upper-echelon of the Middleweight elite and drop down for a better chance at using his hands against the Welterweight’s top competition. Swick will have a firm test in Josh Burkman in his first bout.
Burkman hasn’t been exactly impressive in his performances. He narrowly defeated Forrest Petz at UFC 77, looked silly trying to land haymakers against Karo Parisyan, and won decisions against Chad Reiner and Josh Neer after losing to Jon Fitch in dominating fashion.
Stylistically, Burkman doesn’t offer much as far as finishing opponents. His standup has lacked technical prowess in many of his bouts, and simply throwing huge haymakers will not earn him a big win. Swick, on the other hand, has a good amount of finishes in his MMA career. He has some heavy hands, but with better competition comes closer bouts. He wasn’t able to overcome Okami’s power, but Burkman definitely doesn’t offer anything near what Okami was bringing.
Personally, I think Burkman’s performance against Parisyan was the epitome of what he offers. He tried to hard to put Karo out with the big haymaker and not enough time trying to control him to the canvas. Karo has unbelievable skill, but I grew tiresome of seeing Burkman simply loop huge, slow haymakers that Karo dodged easily. Swick should have an easy time avoiding those blows. He’ll also be taller, and a bigger Welterweight since he will be cutting from a much higher weight.
Leland’s Prediction: Mike Swick via TKO, Round 2
This is Swick’s first fight at welterweight. He will have an enormous reach advantage on Burkman, and will use that advantage to avoid the ground. Look for Swick to pepper Burkman from the outside and he may even have a chance at the infamous Swickatine if Burkman takes an ill-timed shot. Swick will control the pace of the fight from start to finish and won’t give Burkman any breathing room.
Joe’s Prediction: Mike Swick, unanimous decision
Patrick “The Predator” Cote vs. Drew McFedries
This is definitely one of the more even matchups of the evening. Cote is the more experienced fighter sporting an 11-4 record with big wins over Scott Smith, Kendall Grove, and Jason MacDonald. Cote is all-around well skilled fighter who has shown some power in his hands recently, but he’s more of a battler along the fence with his clinch work and ground game.
McFedries is an interesting prospect. He’s what many consider to be a Robbie Lawler type of puncher. He has huge power that he’s shown in the past, but he’s also been criticized for his cardio. He currently holds a 6-2 record, recently coming off a horrible staph infection that caused him to pull out of his last fight. There’s no doubt that McFedries will be looking to drill Cote.
Will that happen? It’s a possibility, but I see it as the only way McFedries can win this one. Cote is more well-rounded, has better clinch work and can do some damage on the ground where McFedries hasn’t shown much of any type of defense. McFedries is also low in the gas tank, which could prove to be his Achilles Heel.
Leland’s Prediction: Patrick Cote via TKO, Round 2
This is going to be a tough test for Cote. He has shown in the past, particularly against Leben, that he has a strong chin. Look for McFedries to test it early and often. I think eventually McFedries’ power will overwhelm Cote and he’ll finish him with strikes.
Joe’s Prediction: Drew McFedries, TKO, Round 2
Nate Diaz vs. Alvin “Kid” Robinson
A tough pick indeed. Alvin Robinson has been a favorite upset pick of mine in the past. Although he lost against Kenny Florian, Florian impressed me with the level of skill he showed against Robinson’s onslaught. He came back and pounded Gurgel into a bloody pulp, and now is looking to knock off Nate Diaz, who was very impressive against Junior Assuncao at UFN 11.
Styles are what make this fight. Alvin is a powerful ground and pound fighter. He has deceptive power and strength, and he has a great submission game on the ground that revolves around choking opponents out after pounding their skulls in. Diaz has the perfect game to combat this game.
Diaz has unbelievable jiu-jitsu skills, even if he is only a purple belt under Cesar Gracie. Many say having a black belt under Cesar is a feat beyond itself, but fighters practicing under him definitely have an advantage on the ground. He also dominated a BJJ brown belt in Junior Assuncao in his last fight. The other factor is his standup. It is well known that both Diaz brothers train under Luisito Espinosa, former WBC and WBA boxing champion. A combination of improving boxing, great jiu-jitsu, and the Diaz iron chin coupled with a “never say die” attitude, I can’t go against Nate here.
Leland’s Prediction: Nate Diaz via submission, Round 3
This is Diaz’s fight to lose. Robinson hasn’t show much in his two UFC fights. Diaz has some underrated striking and power to go with his good submission game. I think Diaz will actually stop Robinson from strikes late in the second round.
Joe’s Prediction: Nate Diaz, TKO, Round 2
Kurt Pellegrino vs. Alberto Crane
Alberto Crane is an impressive BJJ Black Belt with credentials that line his resume. He has an unbelievable ground game, but his striking is non-existent. Pellegrino, on the other hand, is a very tough fight for anyone. He went to decision against Joe Stevenson at UFC 74, and dominated Nate Mohr and Junior Assuncao with his ground tactics.
The matchup here is BJJ black belt vs. an excellent wrestling ground game. Pellegrino has strength, but Crane has BJJ technique that is supposed to counter power. Will Crane pull a Royce Gracie over Kurt Pellegrino?
Leland’s Prediction: Kurt Pellegrino via unanimous decision
Both guys have excellent grappling credentials, but as we saw in the fight against Huerta, Crane is a notch or two better. However, I think Pellegrino will have enough defense to potshot Crane from the outside and avoid his submissions on the ground.
Joe’s Prediction: Kurt Pellegrino, unanimous decision
Thiago Tavares vs. Michihiro Omigawa
After his recent loss to Tyson Griffin at UFC 76, Tavares will be looking to get back on track against the less than impressive Michihiro Omigawa. Tavares has excellent submissions, and has a good win over a very good wrestler in Jason Black.
Omigawa hasn’t been impressive. His judo is decent, but he has losses to less than stellar competition. Tavares should pick up another good win to get back on track to move up in the division again.
Leland’s Prediction: Thiago Tavares via submission, Round 2
Omigawa is well rounded, but he’s not great at any one thing. These attributes help him in lasting through fights, but they don’t get him very many victories. Look for Tavares to thoroughly handle him and come close to stopping him several times throughout the fight.
Joe’s Prediction: Thiago Tavares, unanimous decision
Gray Maynard vs. Denis Siver
I’m not too confident in the German MMA scene right now. There are some good fighters out of Germany, but in a newer scene comes a lot of wins against low-level competition. Siver has a good submission game nonetheless, but can he handle Maynard’s power and wrestling ability?
Maynard trains out of Xtreme Couture, so he’ll have able opponents to mask Siver, great wrestling instruction, and more than enough solid technical training to help him out for this matchup. His wrestling gives him impressive top control, and he should be able to punish Siver from the top.
Leland’s Prediction: Gray Maynard via TKO, Round 2
Maynard has great wrestling and some underrated power. He should be able to man handle Siver and take the fight wherever he wants. I predict it will go to the ground early where Gray will overpower Siver and finish him with strikes.
Joe’s Prediction: Gray Maynard, TKO, Round 1
Matt Wiman vs. Justin Bucholz
This was a tough pick. Wiman has some good standup, but always covers his entire head when in defensive mode. It seems odd to me that he would limit his vision that much to defend punches. Even with the faults in his defense, he has some decent striking, but fighters who take chances seem to capitalize on Wiman’s chin.
Bucholz seems to be light on his feet and tries to calculate his shots. I’m looking for the upset.
Leland’s Prediction: Justin Bucholz via TKO/KO, Round 1
Bucholz comes into this fight on an impressive KO streak. Only 1 of his 8 fights has made it out of the first round. Look for this one to make it to the second, but just barely. Bucholz will sprawl and brawl his way to a stoppage from strikes in the second round.
Joe’s Prediction: Justin Bucholz, TKO, Round 2
Corey Hill vs. Joe Veres
Maybe this is a long shot, but Joe Veres being KO’d early by Gray Maynard in his first fight in the UFC seems to be a fluke. Veres has unbelievable wrestling credentials, and Hill never fought a MMA battle until his appearance on The Ultimate Fighter. Hill supposedly has awesome skill from the words coming out of MFS in Bettendorf. We’ll find out if he can withstand top control and pounding.
Leland’s Prediction: Joe Veres via TKO/KO, Round 1
Hill is coming into this fight with plenty of hype. He is a very tall and very lanky fighter for 155lbs. He has a good background in wrestling, but his wrestling is not on the level of Veres. I expect Hill to sprawl effectively and keep Veres away with his long jab. Eventually, he will connect with a well-timed punch or kick and finish Veres off.
Joe’s Prediction: Corey Hill, TKO, Round 1
Cole Miller vs. Jeremy Stephens
Cole Miller has the reach and jiu-jitsu skills. Can he avoid Stephens power? I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. He hasn’t been knocked out yet, hopefully he can continue to avoid it.
Leland’s Prediction: Cole Miller via submission, Round 2
Miller is extremely tall, and his long limbs help him standing and on the ground. Stephens likes to brawl and has good power. Look for Miller to get the fight to the ground as soon as possible. Stephens will show an improved submission defense and will ground-and-pound Miller for 3 rounds earning himself the unanimous decision victory.
Joe’s Prediction: Jeremy Stephens, unanimous decision