It’s certainly clear by now that Zuffa has decided to push UFC 94 hard and fast while pretty much phoning it in for this Saturday’s big Dublin show. Nonetheless, UFC 93 still has a few interesting match ups that should, if nothing else, answer a few nagging questions such as: Who will finally be the unlucky soul to coach the other half of TUF 9? Can Mark Coleman really compete in the UFC as a 44 year old light-heavyweight? Will Shogun bring back his A game or is he just another Pride burnout? And of course, is Jeremy Horn really that terrible now? We find out all that and more in less than 24 hours. For now, please enjoy the predictions after the jump.
Rich Franklin vs. Dan Henderson
Prediction: Henderson via split decision
Either fighter could really take this contest and if it stays standing, I think Rich Franklin would be that person, given the better foot work and the combinations and so forth. But Dan Henderson will never let things get so terrible on the feet before closing the distance with some type of body lock or takedown and from there, Franklin is all but neutralized. Don’t get me wrong, Rich Franklin can very well be considered an “Ace” on the ground (hiyo!) but Hendo’s unparalleled ability to control opponents with his next level wrestling is well documented, and I doubt that even Franklin could escape once Hendo’s ape-like grasp is fully applied.
Dan Henderson also much prefers fighting at light-heavyweight compared to middleweight, and I think that his physical strength and confidence will play a significant factor in this weekend’s performance. Lastly, I can’t shake the feeling that Henderson wants this one just a little bit more than Franklin, who knows exactly what wonderful prize is in store for him should he defeat the former Pride dual-title holder. Vegas baby, Vegas….
Mark Coleman vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
Rua via TKO, round 2.
In case you haven’t read anything at all regarding this fight, it’s a rematch from a 2006 Pride bout which saw Shogun break his arm while posting out of a Coleman take down. Insanity briefly ensued inside the ring as members of both fight camps started going at it while Shogun lay crippled on the canvas, thus beginning the relatively underwhelming Hammer House/ Chute Box feud.
The problem with picking this contest is we have no idea which version of either combatant will show up to play. Logic picks Shogun to win since he is younger, faster, and a superbly better striker. However Shogun looked like absolute garbage in his UFC debut loss to Forrest Griffin, and who really knows if that performance was only a freak accident or a dark omen of what is to come of Rua’s career. Not to mention the double dose of knee surgeries- which is plenty for anyone to battle back from.
A lifetime heavyweight, Mark Coleman has never had to make weight for an MMA fight until just yesterday- though he has apparently done so successfully at the 206lb limit. The issue with Coleman however is that he still only has one reliable weapon in the arsenal: Wrestling domination. If Coleman can bully Shogun down to the canvas and keep him there long enough, he will be able to snag a decision and maybe even surprise us with a ground n’ pound TKO. After all, he did sort of help invent the term, right? I’m also a bit concerned as to whether Coleman’s inaugural weight cut will effect his gas tank. At 44 years old and without the aid of some old Japanese friends (cough cough steroids there I said it cough cough) I have a difficult time justifying a pick for “The Hammer”, who hasn’t defeated a notable opponent since Don Frye in 2003.
I’ll say that Shogun shows us some of that old school spirit and picks Coleman apart on the feet before the final bell. TKO, Round 2.
Alan Belcher vs. Denis Kang
Prediction: Belcher via TKO, round 1.
That’s right, I’m going upset on this one. UFC newcomer Denis Kang is a tough competitor and has a depth of experience, but I’ve always felt that he was somewhat overrated throughout his career. As we have seen in the past making your octagon debut can be a rather nerve-rattling experience, and I worry that Belcher is just comfortable and talented enough to let his hands go and catch the French-Korean with a few well timed shots to the noggin. Belcher via upset TKO.
Marcus Davis vs. Chris Lytle
Prediction: Davis via unanimous decision
These two welterweight gatekeepers have talked so much about how their fight will be an action packed boxing bloodbath, I almost don’t want to make a prediction for fear of jinxing what should be an exciting match. Nevertheless, if both of these guys indeed come out to bang and only bang (that doesn’t sound right at all) then I’ll say that Marcus Davis scores the crisper shots as well as the unanimous decision.
Jeremy Horn vs. Rousimar Palhares
Palhares via submission, round 2.
Jeremy Horn used to get the nod in my predictions most of the time, but now…well things just aren’t so. Maybe it’s because Jeremy’s had over 100 fights in 13 years, and doesn’t really care about winning anymore so long as he gets to hear his name announced in front of large crowds. Whatever the reason, Jeremy Horn hardly resembles the same man who once defeated the likes of Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin. Despite his recent lackluster performances, the UFC seems to be okay with keeping “Gumby” on the payroll, but I don’t know if it’s a smart investment. I hate to say it, but if his last two fights were any indicator, then Horn will probably get choked out by the submission specialist Palhares in the first or second round. Sigh.
Alexandre Barros vs. Martin Kampmann
Prediction: Kampann via TKO, round 3.
Looking at Alexandre Barros’ record you might recognize a few of the names he’s lost to, but past that its hard to really tell if the guy is a stud waiting to blossom or just another random Brazilian import. Martin Kampmann on the other hand has been humming along quite nicely since joining the UFC some three years ago, and shows even more promise as a lean mean welterweight down from the 185lb class. I suspect Kampmann to give this Barros fella a charming five finger octagon welcome that he won’t soon forget. Kampmann via TKO.