I was similar to Squabbles in the way I did my write-up. There are plenty of other sites (see his predictions post for links) that cover each fighter’s entire career, I just tried to quickly sum up what I thought of each fight and give my picks.
Follow after the jump to read ’em:
Alan Belcher (9-3) vs. Sean Salmon (9-2)
It’s a battle of guys coming off losses to former TUF contestants as Belcher lost a one-sided fight to Kendall Grove and Salmon took a highlight reel headkick from Rashad Evans after looking fairly good early on. I’ll take Salmon here as he is the naturally bigger and stronger man with Belcher moving up a weight class. Alan also took the fight on short notice after an injury sidelined Eric Schafer. Most likely this will go to the scorecards after three rounds of Salmon getting takedowns and controlling the action on the ground. Salmon by decision.
Thiago Silva (9-0) vs. James Irvin (12-3 1 NC)
This is possibly the undercard bout I am most excited about as I see it being a short but hard hitting affair. Both Silva and Irvin like to stand up and bang, both have a lot of power and they both tend to engage in exciting bouts. In their combined 24 fights (disregarding Irvin’s no contest with Bobby Southworth) only 3 have gone to a decision with 17 of the fights ending in KO or TKO. I almost want to pick the underdog here and go with Irvin, but I just can’t bring myself to lock it in. Look for the Chute Boxe fighter to win via stoppage toward the end of a very entertaining first round.
Din Thomas (19-6) vs. Jeremy Stephens (8-1)
Stephens has been a force at lightweight in Iowa but making the leap from the local scene to one of the most experienced fighters in the division for the UFC is a tough task. I don’t see Stephens being able to show Din anything that he hasn’t already seen in fights against names like Penn, Uno, Serra, Pulver, Iha…etc. I don’t want to discount the fact that Stephens supposedly packs a lot of power into his punches but I just don’t see it happening. Thomas by decision.
Wilson Gouveia (8-4) vs. Carmelo Marrero (6-1)
I do not like Carmelo Marrero’s fighting style, especially in this match-up. I don’t want to spend a lot of time on a fight that I expect to be a little on the boring side. Look for a submission victory for Gouveia in the second round.
Chris Leben (16-3) vs. Kalib Starnes (7-1-1)
I like Chris Leben “the dude” but there are times where I become so frustrated with Chris Leben “the fighter” that I don’t think I can stand it. Come to think of it I feel almost the exact same way about Kalib Starnes. This, to me, is a battle of two guys who tend to almost beat themselves more than get beaten. My gut says split decision here…with Leben controlling the first, Starnes getting a takedown or two in the second and then a fairly close third (pretty specific on the prediction I think). I’ll take Leben by split decision.
Keith Jardine (12-2-1) vs. Houston Alexander (6-1 1 NC)
Call me crazy if you want but I’m going with Alexander in the upset of the night. Jardine is a tough dude, and he looked damn good knocking out Forrest Griffin…but something about this fight just seems right for the Nebraska based Alexander. I have seen a lot of people give the edge to Keith in striking, but they seem to be overlooking that Houston was a boxer for a long time before getting into MMA, Jardine’s biggest mistake would be thinking he should stand with him to get another KO. If this one goes past the second round I see Jardine winning, but I am going on record here as calling a Houston Alexander win via round 1 KO.
Ivan Salaverry (12-4) vs. Terry Martin (15-2)
This fight has only 2 outcomes that I can see…either Martin KO’s Salaverry in the first round and a half of Ivan gets the win via submission. I am going to pick Martin via KO, but it may be my ol’ Chicago bias flaring up again.
Karo Parisyan (16-4) vs. Josh Burkman (8-3)
I don’t see this fight as being as close as a lot of people (especially the betting public) do. Karo is a top 5 level talent at welterweight and I don’t think anyone would really make that argument when it comes to Burkman. As far as I can tell, Karo should be able to pressure Josh enough standing to make him go in for a clinch…and clinching with Karo is a losing game as he will just plain throw your ass. My prediction is a second round submission (an armlock of some sort probably) and a Karo victory.
Quinton Jackson (26-6) vs. Chuck Liddell (20-3)
I’ll just copy what I said earlier on this site as to how I think this fight will go:
“I’ve been picking Rampage since the rematch was announced. I like Jackson’s boxing skills as the nullifier to Chuck’s looping strikes. I also think that the cage will actually help Jackson more than Liddell. In most of Chuck’s fights he is amazing at using the cage to stand up, but Rampage will use the cage to assist in his takedowns when he decides to go for them in ways that I don’t think work for a lot of other wrestlers.
I see the fight playing out with Jackson using his jab early and often to dictate the pacing and distance of the fight, starting in the second round he will start to get inside and work a more clinch oriented game using body punches and knees to the midsection. The clinch will work toward the fence where he will be able to prevent Chuck from sprawling and he will get the fight to the ground (big slam?) and do good work. The one thing that Rampage did in the first bout that I wish more people would do with their ground game was throw elbows and forearms to the body as a MAIN WEAPON…not just a distraction to open up the head. If he focuses a constant attack on the body he can win this fight the same way as he did the first time around.
I’m looking for a Jackson TKO probably late in the fight…lets say the fourth round.“
So yes, I am going against the conventional wisdom that the fence helps Chuck in that Quinton’s takedowns are different from guys like Tito and Randy (and the fence even helped Randy in the first fight), I think a lot of people will be surprised by the way the fence plays into things.
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