Predictions for UFC 110
On Saturday the Ultimate Fighting Championship brings us a matchmaker's dream -- a card filled with evenly-matched fighters.
Starting with the main event between Cain Velasquez and Antonio Rodrigo “Big Nog” Nogueira, both fighters are comfortable on their feet and on the ground. Nogueira is one of the best jiu-jitsu-fighting heavyweights in the world.
Velasquez ranks second only to Brock Lesnar when it comes to wrestling in the heavyweight division.
Velasquez's game plan should be to stay off his back and ground and pound Nogueira. The key will be to see Velasquez's reaction when he is on his back and Nogueira is in his guard.
It will be interesting to see Nogueira's face when he feels the punching power of Velaquez for the first time. “Big Nog” has taken some big punches over the years from guys like Fedor Emelianenko, Heath Herring, Dan Henderson and Frank Mir. But none of the aforementioned guys can hit like Velaquez.
When the final horn sounds, I see Velasquez suffering his first loss, with Nogueira winning on a close decision, 29-28 on all three score cards.
The co-main event fight between Wanderlei Silva and Michael Bisping is what you call a snack fight -- you step into the next room to get a snack and this one may be over. “The Axe Murderer” Silva swings for the fences from the opening bell, and his intensity is unmatched. These are two of the most exciting middleweights in the division.
Bisping's strategy must be to take this fight to the ground, because he cannot stand toe-to-toe and take another punch like Dan Henderson delivered to him. Silva hits like a heavyweight, but may have taken too many punches over the years. His inability to take a punch has weakened his reputation among UFC fans.
But, I still give the edge to Wanderlei by knockout in the first round. He needs this fight more than Bisping to remain in the UFC. As long as there are fight cards in Europe, Bisping should have a contract with the UFC.
Joe “Daddy” Stevenson takes on Australian-born George Sotiropoulos in a lightweight battle.
Stevenson has become a stepping-stone for any fighter looking for a title shot. With 46 fights (36 wins, 10 losses) under his belt, this cagey veteran's losses have come against some of the elite fighters of this division. Guys like BJ Penn, Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez are just some of his toughest opponents.
Sotiropoulos' only two losses were to Shinya Aoki, which was a disqualification for a groin strike, and a loss to Kyle Noke which he later avenged. He will have the home crowd cheering him on.
Sotiropoulos is right at the doorstep for a title shot with Penn, but it will be contingent on him winning this fight with Stevenson. He is a well-rounded fighter with good stamina, a black belt in jiu-jitsu and an amateur boxing background.
So, I’m going with Sotiropoulous by a unanimous decision over Stevenson.
As for the remaining fights, Ryan Bader will remain undefeated with a win over Keith Jardine by decision.
Ben Rothwell is fighting Mirko Cro Cop in a matchup of heavyweights. Rothwell seems to get nervous when going against big-name fighters. Cro Cop needs to win this by a knockout if he ever wants a title shot. Cro Cop's next opponent is likely to be the winner of Velasquez-Nogueira. I’m taking Cro Cop by TKO.
Chris Haseman and Elvis Sinosic first fought in 1997 in Australia. Haseman won that fight, but Sinosic will win this one by submission.
Krzysztof Soszynski is a very aggressive fighter with good stand-up. Stephan Bonnar would be better off not to stand and brawl with him, but this is Stephan Bonnar. He won't back down and is a 'forget-my-game-plan' type of fighter. This will be the “fight of the night” with plenty of blood. In the end, I give the edge to Soszynski, because he will dictate the fight.
Chris Lytle vs. Brian Foster is a pretty evenly-matched fight. I give the edge to Lytle because of experience.
Croatia Goran Reljic takes on CB Dollaway in a middleweight match. Reljic is a well-rounded fighter and will be too much for Dollaway. I see the fight only going two rounds with Reljic winning by submission.
New Zealand's James Te Huna is making his UFC debut against Igor Pokrajac, who is one of three Croatians on the card along with Cro Cop and Reljic. I haven’t seen many of Te Huna's fights -- just a couple Internet matches that didn’t impress me. Te Huna is fighting out of Penrith, Australia, so someone has to sell the local tickets. Pokajac wins by TKO.
Those are my picks. What are yours?