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Predictions For UFC 91: Couture vs. Lesnar

UFC 91 PosterUFC 91 is just around the corner so let’s get right to it with some predictions.

Randy Couture vs. Brock Lesnar- Heavyweight Championship Bout
Lesnar via TKO, round 3.

I could go on and on dissecting the strengths and weaknesses between Brock and Randy. But you all know them already. Even the casual fan can easily tell that Brock, the freakish looking man-child, has superior size, strength, and perhaps even speed. Randy on the other hand is old but crafty, smaller but smarter, and has proved on several occasions that one probably shouldn’t bet against him when the odds aren’t in his favor. So let’s get real for a second, it is damn near impossible to make a solid prediction with any certainty regarding Couture vs. Lesnar. The gambling lines are all over the place, and they will probably continue to fluctuate until the last minute. But I have to choose because that’s what judgmental people like me do, and I choose Lesnar.

Lesnar will be coming into the cage somewhere around 275-280lbs. Randy on the other hand will be lucky to tip the scales at 225lbs in wet clothes. You see where I’m going with this? Sure Couture is a master technician but he hasn’t fought in a year and a half, has looked fairly gaunt and weathered in photos these past few months, and really cannot train for Brock the way Brock can for Randy. There simply isn’t anyone who can that closely mimic Brock Lesnar’s physical attributes, I just don’t think that person exists. I’m sure Randy got as close as possible in terms of training partners, but he will nonetheless run into something he has not seen before when he meets Brock on Saturday night.

Lesnar, on the other hand, already has a solid wrestling base and has only gotten sharper with respect to submission defense and controlling positions. I doubt Randy will be able to put Brock in any trouble that Lesnar will not be able to either defend technically, or simply overpower. Clinching, using the fence, setting up trips, and that famous dirty boxing are all great weapons in Randy’s arsenal, but will that be enough against someone who can throw you around like a rag doll before the first knee even lands?

With respect to stand up, I say Couture has a sizeable advantage simply because he has been honing his striking game for so much longer. But here is what stops me from predicting a Couture KO- It seems much more likely that Randy will be on the defensive end of the striking game for the majority of the stand up, not the offensive. I do not think he will have enough power in any counter shots to seriously damage Lesnar’s block-like dome piece. Indeed, Couture uses great head movement and can definitely avoid Lesnar’s power, but will he be able to mount any threatening combinations of his own? I doubt it.

I would certainly enjoy a Couture victory on Saturday night as Randy has always played the underdog role very well, but I just don’t see it given the variables on the table. “The Natural” might have a great strategy and game plan in store for Brock Lesnar, but as Mike Tyson famously said “Everybody has a plan…until they get hit.”

Kenny Florian vs. Joe Stevenson
Florian via unanimous decision

Joe Stevenson is very hungry and fired up since his brutal loss to BJ Penn, but I just don’t know that Florian is the appropriate rebound guy. Florian is patient, smart, and extremely tactical. He doesn’t really let his hands and feet go until he absolutely has to, but that might not matter much as this bout looks to be one that goes to the ground awfully quickly. I suspect Stevenson shoots for the takedown first and ends up defending Kenny’s submissions from the guard for a good while. I don’t know that Florian will be able to secure a sub or land enough ground and pound due to Stevenson’s strong base and submission acumen, but it should be more than enough to grant him the unanimous decision.

Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Josh Hendricks
Gonzaga via TKO, round 1.

Like most of you, I haven’t a clue about this Josh Hendricks kid. I know that he is a promotional journeyman who looks a bit soft from his available photos. His record doesn’t tell me anything impressive, though you might recognize a couple of his losses to former UFC veterans Sam Hoger and Travis Wiuff. So I have to go with the guy whose fights I have actually seen, and that’s Gonzaga. I think Gonzaga will somehow get this fight to the ground where he looks to pound the crap out of Josh Hendricks face.

Nate Quarry vs. Demian Maia
Quarry via split decision

My underdog pick for the night, as I always try to have at least one. In general Demian Maia should be able to win this fight, so long as he continues to shoot and keep Quarry on the defensive. If Quarry gets suckered into staying on the ground with Maia for too long, it will only be a matter of time before he gets caught in any number of the Brazilian’s highlight reel submissions. But Quarry is no dummy and will likely sprawl and brawl as much as humanly possible to keep this fight on his feet, where he has a definitive striking advantage. I also feel like Quarry is all shades of eager to get back into the cage and prove something to the fans after that sad Kalib Starnes fiasco. But let’s not start rehashing that affair.

Dustin Hazelett vs. Tamdan McCrory
Hazelett via unanimous decision

I was almost ready to pick Tamdan McCroy in this one because he looked very strong in his last showing against Luke Cummo, and sports a very sizeable height and reach advantage that poses problems for anyone. But Dustin “McLovin” Hazelett has really started to hone his skills as a complete mixed martial artist, and I think he can control McCroy long enough to secure the decision victory. Though if McCrory isn’t careful enough he could get one of his long limbs caught in a submission, but all in all I see him staying away from any real danger and simply losing on points.

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