When an event like St. Pierre vs. Penn II rolls around the anticipation and excitement seem to overshadow almost everything else going on in the world. While I’m simply happy to be able to witness what should be a truly epic battle, it just wouldn’t be a proper fight weekend without the usual predictions. Enjoy.
Welterweight Title Bout
Georges St. Pierre vs. BJ Penn
Prediction: St. Pierre via TKO, Round 5.
Let me begin by stating that anyone who claims they can predict Saturday night’s main event with any real certainty is either lying to you or on drugs. That being said, I’m going with Georges St. Pierre. I’m picking GSP simply because he is the better- nay, the best 170lb fighter in the game today. BJ Penn is undoubtedly the very best 155lb fighter in the world, but that all goes right out the window once you decide to jump weight classes to face the most physically gifted and hardest working man in all of mixed martial arts.
At welterweight, we know that St. Pierre has the gas tank, the skill set, and the sheer will to conquer whatever challenge emerges from the other side of the octagon. Can the same be said for Penn? At lightweight, absolutely. But I just don’t trust Penn’s conditioning at 170lbs (despite all of the neato rock walking), nor am I completely confident that Penn is thoroughly prepared for the GSP 2.0 of today compared to the version he first met nearly three years ago.
St. Pierre’s wrestling and submission defense were strong enough in 2006 to nullify most of what “The Prodigy” had to offer, and his skills have only improved leaps and bounds since. Even if GSP starts to get tuned up standing and trading with BJ a la their first round at UFC 58, the aggressive takedowns and constant pressure should still be enough to earn GSP plenty of points on the scorecards. Of course, there is always the possibility that BJ puts an immediate halt to the Canadian’s infamous “riddum” with a well placed power shot, but I really don’t see that happening. St. Pierre should be smart enough to fully employ his world class wrestling and ground n’ pound in the event that boxing with the Hawaiian proves unsuccessful yet again.
I hypothesize St. Pierre to ultimately outwork Penn and quite literally beat him into submission. TKO, final round.
Lyoto Machida vs. Thiago Silva
Prediction: Machida via unanimous decision
This match up is far less complicated compared to our main event, which is largely due to the fact that no one on the face of the earth has been able to crack the secret code of how to defeat Lyoto Machida. Though an impressive and extremely promising fighter, undefeated Thiago Silva really hasn’t faced anyone nearly equal to Machida’s caliber in his previous outings. Factor in Machida’s patented ability to “elude” and frustrate nearly all of his opponents, and you have a fairly one sided bout.
If Silva can remain patient he might just be able to slip in a few good strikes here and there, but Lyoto always finds a way to make you miss and he does not care about grinding out decisions. I don’t suspect Silva to get picked apart, but I just don’t see how he can win either. Machida via yet another unanimous decision.
Karo Parisyan vs. Dong Hyun Kim
Prediction: Parisyan via TKO, Round 2.
No offense to Matt Brown, but honestly if Dong Hyun Kim couldn’t finish Brown at UFC 88 back in September (many thought Brown actually won that fight), then I don’t particularly like his chances against a much tougher Karo Parisyan this Saturday night. Though Kim should prove to be a legitimate test for Karo, I really cant envision him posing any serious threats to the Armenian judoka. Karo has been dealing with some personal issues as of late but I believe that will all fall by the wayside once he steps back into the octagon. Expect a very game Karo looking to re-establish himself as a welterweight contender. Given Kim’s highly suspicious cardio, I’ll say “The Heat” scores a TKO inside the second frame.
Nate Diaz vs. Clay Guida
Prediction: Diaz via submission
Regardless of who ends up winning this one, it may very well contend for fight of the night honors alongside GSP vs. Penn. Clay Guida’s biggest strength has always been his glaring weakness: A menacing tenacity and aggression. I feel like Diaz has the edge given his high end jiujitsu and above average striking, not to mention a significant height/reach advantage. Guida will surely look for the takedown early, but I worry that once he gets Diaz down he will either get swept and mounted or caught in a submission from the bottom. I have to go with Diaz via some type of sub.
Jon Fitch vs. Akihiro Gono
Prediction: Fitch via TKO, round 1.
Back when Fitch was originally slated to face Gono I had him picked to win a decision. Now that he’s undergone a beating from GSP and UFC brass alike, I’m thinking Fitch might come out with a tad more intensity than usual and look to finish “The Magic Man” as quickly as humanly possible. Akihiro Gono has always proved to be an “interesting” opponent, but his most recent loss to Dan Hardy really doesn’t leave me with an abundance of confidence in his chances against a top 5 welterweight. Expect Fitch to score a takedown early and end things with some old fashioned ground n’ pound.
Stephan Bonnar vs. Jon Jones
Prediction: Bonnar via submission, Round 3.
This match has upset potential written all over it, but I’m not going to take the bait…at this time. Jon Jones has looked very dangerous in the few fights of his I’ve seen and Stephan Bonnar hasn’t competed since October of 2007. If Bonnar isn’t sharp he could get caught with a goodnight shot before you can even spell ring rust. It’s a tough call, but I’ll say that Bonnar perseveres through early danger and wears Jones down to the canvas for a nice submission victory.