Saturday, November 16, 2013

UFC 167 Predictions

Since it's the 20th Annivesary card for the UFC, I feel that I can grace the UFC with my picks and maybe give them some publicity to help out their brand. With the massive reach of this blog, I wouldn't be surprised if Dana White decided to send me some swag in gratitude of my effort. I'll review all the fights I have opinions on, so I apologize if you are a big fan of someone like Cody Donovan.

Sergio Pettis vs. Will Campuzano
I'm very excited about this fight, as Sergio Pettis is basically being labeled as a smaller version of his brother, Anthony Pettis. Campuzano is a solid fighter but has struggled against top-level competition. He may have the experience advantage, but I'll take Pettis in the first round via TKO.

Erik Perez vs. Edwin Figueroa
The UFC wants Perez to succeed, so they have given him a favorable matchup. Expect him to bounce back from his loss to Mizugaki with a highly entertaining TKO in the first round.

Rick Story vs. Brian Ebersole
Rick Story is one of the most interesting fighters in the UFC. Not that his style is super exciting, but in that he beat Johny Hendricks and Thiago Alves in back-to-back fights and looked on his way to a title shot. Then he got dominated by Charlie Brenneman, lost to Martin Kampmann, and has then gone back and forth between wins and losses in his last four fights. Ebersole has tremendous size for 170 (and tremendous chest hair for any weight class), and I think he can counter Story's wrestling to take a decision.

Thales Leites vs. Ed Herman
Remember when Leites fought Anderson Silva for the title? You don't? Consider yourself lucky, because it was awful. He got released and won enough on the independent scene to get called back up. Ed Herman isn't the most athletic guy in the world, but he knows how to pressure opponents. I think this match is super boring, and we see a lot of clinch work, but I don't think Leites has what it takes to get the takedowns and finish the fight, so let's go with Herman by decision.

Donald Cerrone vs. Evan Dunham
This is my pick for fight of the night. Both of these guys go all out and are not afraid to fight in all aspects. I would give Dunham the edge on the ground and Cerrone the edge on the feet. Cerrone's wrestling has gotten leaps and bounds better than it was in the WEC. Because of that, I think he does enough to keep distance and outstrike Dunham in an exciting, back and forth decision.

Josh Koscheck vs. Tyron Woodley
I see the exact same fighters in this match. Tyron Woodley is a wrestler who can occasionally land a big right hand and put people out. Koscheck has been doing that for years. But Koscheck is the much more decorated wrestler, and he has been more impressive using his wrestling in MMA. He has lost 5 of his last 10 fights, but one was a split to Hendricks, one was to GSP, and he got caught a couple times by Robbie Lawler and Paulo Thiago. He only really looked bad against Alves, since GSP makes everyone look bad. Meanwhile, everyone started freaking out when Woodley knocked out Jay Hieron, but he looked awful against Nate Marquardt before that, and he lost a decision to Jake Shields who hasn't been all that impressive since coming over to the UFC. I'm not on the Woodley bandwagon, so I'll take Kos by decision.

Rory MacDonald vs. Robbie Lawler
I'm taking Rory in an easy win here. I know that Lawler has looked good since moving to 170. His win over Koscheck is a good win, but it's quite a step up from Bobby Voelker to Rory MacDonald. His only loss was to Carlos Condit, and had the fight been 10 seconds shorter, he would still be undefeated. The dude has just ran through everyone, and I don't expect that to change, as he gets a submission in the second round.

Rashad Evans vs. Chael Sonnen
I'm an unabashed Chael Sonnen supporter. I picked Sonnen in his first fight against Anderson Silva, and I am still bitter over him losing that one. If you recognize that Chael Sonnen is a pro wrestling character and not a real person, he's wildly entertaining and totally fun. I also love wrestlers in the UFC, so Chael has a lot of things going for him in my mind. Rashad Evans is a good fighter. I want to be clear about that, because I am about to tear apart his entire career. It just seems like he has fought everyone at the right time for the best chance to succeed. He fought new era Tito Ortiz twice and manged one win and one draw out of it. He fought Liddell after Chuck had lost a step. He fought Rampage after he lost a step. He won the title by beating Forrest Griffin, who, let's face it, has a lot of heart, but also may be one of the least talented champions in UFC history (he was a champion; that's still amazing). He also fought Phil Davis before Davis had progressed enough in striking. In his last three fights, he's beaten a 42 year-old Dan Henderson, and looked terrible against Jon Jones (everyone looks terrible against him) and Lil' Nog, which is not as easy to explain. Rashad is good and taken advantage of opportunities, so good for him, but I say his luck runs out and Chael gets the victory.

Georges St. Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks
Is Johny Hendricks a legit contender to GSP's title? Yeah, he's earned the shot, but unless GSP treats him like Matt Serra, I don't see a great chance of Hendricks winning tonight's fight. Out of his last five fights, he has won three decisions, two of them split decisions. I do think he has gotten better as time has gone on, especially the two years since he won a split decision over Mike Pierce, but it was just a year ago that he barely beat Josh Koscheck. GSP beats everyone by decision which makes people underestimate how great he is. He is not squeaking by in these decisions, he is dominating, just not finishing. It is another fight where people are doubting GSP, but there's no need to. GSP will outstrike Hendricks on the feet, and the only guy I see having a chance to outwrestle him in the welterweight division just got released by Bellator. GSP is great, and he's still going to be champ after winning all five rounds against Johny Hendricks.

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