Sup folks? Crazy busy day, crazy quick picks outta me, but Cruelty is SO FIRED UP about being in Philly and covering this for Lethal (LOL) that he brings FIAH.
Fuck my corny intro telling you this card sucks, you know the routine! LETS GO!
Rafael Natal over Paul Bradley – Round 2 Submission (RNC)
Bradley is moving back up to Middleweight for his UFC debut against Sapo Natal, who has been a big disappointment in his UFC tenure so far. Have you ever felt like a disappointment? It can be hard. When you’ve accomplished certain things in your life, say a Gracie JJ black belt, and you think of yourself in a certain way. As a winner. But then you step onto the big stage, and suck. Maybe a good cure is to fight a blown up Welterweight? Maybe that’s like fucking a fat chick after getting dumped. You pull her hair extra hard and it makes you feel like a man again. (Fuck how am I going to segue out of that comment?) So yeah anyway, um, Paul Bradley looks stiff and slow in his standup and lacks finishing ability on the ground. That means there will be plenty of opportunities for Sapo to actually show his jits in the octagon.
Rafael Natal over Paul Bradley – Sub RD 1
Bradley seems like another one of these guys that can fuck up mid level competition but can’t bust through to the other side. Natal has really silly sub skills but Bradley does as well. Leaning Natal early.
Ivan Menjivar over Nick Pace – Round 1 Submission (Triangle Choke)
Pace hit a surprise choke in his UFC debut, but otherwise has not been terribly impressive. Menjivar was highly touted back before his weight-class existed, but retiring for a few years hurt his Q Score. He’s back now but I’m not sure he’s elite, because he doesn’t seem terribly strong. Nick Pace is big for a Bantamweight, so this is a good test of whether Menjivar can still use technique to make up for his being pequeno. I think he will because Pace will attack with subs and get himself tapped in the process.
Ivan Menjivar over Nick Pace – Sub RD 1
I keep getting Menjivar confused with another Ivan, Salaverry, and want to make gay jokes. Don’t think Menjivar is gay, and if he is, he does a better job of shielding it then Salaverry. Menjivar early.
Dennis Hallman over Brian Ebersole – Round 3 JD
Before their latest fights, I thought Hallman was washed up and Ebersole was not much more than a clown. Well they both had surprising wins over decent fighters. Ben Saunders and Chris Lytle are never gonna be champs but I guess wins over these fighters merit another shot in the UFC to show what a fighter can do. Both guys are submission grapplers so I suspect this fight will go to the ground. Ebersole is a long fighter but Hallman is stronger and slightly more talented. I also believe Hallman could win by outpointing Ebersole in a kickboxing match. I’ll be watching live and, for the record, if Ebersole drops Hallman with a cartwheel kick I will freak the fuck out.
Brian Ebersole over Dennis Hallman – JD
I’m wondering if Ebersole is a legit cat or a guy capitalizing on a huge upset win in his hometown a few months back. Sorry, but Hallman has never impressed me. Maybe Ebersole does goofy shit and points to his chest hair if the fight gets boring to keep us interested?
Mike Pyle over Rory MacDonald – Round 3 JD
This is probably the toughest fight to pick on the card. Both guys are very talented and well-rounded, and at times I have thought they flashed greatness. On the other hand they had some puzzling losses, and I have missed on probably half of their fights because I never knew if they were rising or falling. Fuck, this reminds me: Throw pennies at these fighters from the mezzanine. I always talk about getting revenge on fighters for making me pick wrong (external locus of control) and Philly is clearly the right place to do it. We puke on kids, man. That’s how we watch sports. That puking joke is based on a true story from a Phillies game. Omg why do I live here with these savages? Businesswomen eat soft pretzels with mustard for breakfast here. Wtf is that, shouldn’t they be dieting?! Greek yogurt or a Luna bar, bitches. Anyway, the styles here seem to point toward a Pyle victory. Pyle is the slightly better wrestler, so I predict he’ll spend more time on top. On the mat, Pyle will be in danger on top but he should survive. Pyle will also have a small edge on the feet if that’s where the fight takes place for some reason.
Rory MacDonald over Mike Pyle – JD
I’m totally on the MacDonald hype wagon. Crazy camp, crazy ceiling, crazy young, crazy talented. He fucking RAGDOLLED Nate, which isn’t a difficult feat, but isn’t an easy one either. Pyle is game as hell and a vet but Rory is going to pepper him with weird angled strikes and mix in takedowns to win a blowout fight.
Jorge Rivera over Constantinos Philippou – Round 3 JD
I watched some low level fights with Philippou and thought he might be something. He’s more Longo than Serra, so he’ll be fun in this striking contest, but he gases easily and Rivera is a gamer. Rivera knows that he won’t have submissions to fear either, so maybe Jorge gets a takedown and piles up some points on the ground. I like Rivera to control the fight, but not put the Greek away.
Constantinos Philippou over Jorge Rivera – KO RD 1
Rivera got another fight in the UFC because……? This has to be a fight to put the young Philippou over right? Philippou has a wicked chest tattoo, so I’m declaring him not only a winner tonight, but a winner in LIFE.
Alexander Gustafsson over Matt Hamill – Round 3 JD
I completely discounted this guy because of the way he was born, and he proved me wrong. As it turns out, being born a non-Dutch European doesn’t automatically mean you are a one-dimensional pushover in modern MMA. Alex Gustafsson is a rising star, Matt Hamill is lost and can’t hear anyone calling him home. Matt probably thinks he can out-wrestle the euro because Phil Davis did it, but he overrates his own wrestling. Hamill is not the dynamic take-down artist that Phil Davis can be, and in his most recent fight against Rampage we saw that a good striker can keep him at bay with a varied attack. Gustafsson probably can’t embarrass Hamill the way Rampage did, but he should do enough to win convincingly.
Matt Hamill over Alexander Gustafsson – JD
My how the mighty have fallen. Going from the top dog headlining a PPV to being on Spike, egads. Has Gustafsson fought a wrestler as good as Hamill yet? I’m not so sure. Will Hamill come in looking 1D again? Probably. But I still think he steals some takedowns and avoids SWEEDISH HAMMERS (Shit is that 1 “E” or 2? Clearly have never had to spell that word before) to grab a JD.
Mike Thomas Brown over Nam Phan – Round 1 TKO
It’s a shame that Nam got robbed in his fight with Leonard Garcia, but that doesn’t mean he’s a good fighter. He is a bit slow in both his kickboxing and his bjj, and he doesn’t have KO power to balance the lack of speed and slickness. Mike Brown is also a bit slow but he has MAJOR power for this weight class. Brown will manhandle Nam and batter him badly on the ground. On the bright side for Nam, though, pho is fantastic. A nice spicy bowl of pho is my favorite hangover cure and I recommend it all of my readers whom I presume to be white trash from terrible parts of the country where you’re raised to distrust foreign foods. Yes, the Vietnamese killed our countrymen not too many years ago, but what do you care… most of those who fought were poor blacks. They make great soup OK? GREAT soup. Be brave and check it out.
Mike Brown over Nam Phan – TKO RD 3
If Brown keeps it standing, here’s your FOTN winner. HOWEVAH, I think Brown grabs takedowns and Phan spends all of his energy fighting to get back up. IF Phan can avoid takedowns and land those heavy body shots he throws he could totally steal this fight. Assuming by this fight Cruelty will be liquored up and have his “HOLY SHIT IM ACTING LIKE A SPAZZ AND I’M LOVING IT!!!!” moment of clarity during this match. Brown finishes Phan late in the fight with G & P.
Mike Pierce over Johny Hendricks – Round 3 JD
Hendricks surprised me a bit with his punching power. I rolled with a few wrestlers back in the day and in grad school I used to lift weights at the same time as the undergrad wrestling team. It’s a special kind of strong that belies their size. Punching power is its own thing, too. I remember watching Todd Duffee vs Mike Russow in a sports bar and I’m struggling to explain (I had very brief striking training and limited knowledge… plus I was drunk) how Duffee’s crazy action figure body wasn’t generating the power he needed to stop Russow. Then Russow lands something wild and it’s over. Picture ASilva dropping Forrest with a jab, picture the Diaz brothers shredding peoples’ faces with little pitty-pat, that’s power from technique. Hendricks has a little of the natural kind, but I still think he’s mostly relying on wrestler power to finish fights. Pierce is at a high enough level that I don’t see Hendricks landing what he needs. Hendricks gets wild when he tries to mix his grappling and striking, and Pierce is veteran in a way that he can take advantage. I expect a great deal of dirty boxing as these guys take turns stuffing shots, but I like Pierce as the tested veteran who can pull it out in a close contest.
Johny Hendricks over Mike Pierce – TKO RD 2
Gotta love Johny Hendricks. Rocks a crazy beard, knocks fools out, spells his name with only 1 “N”. That’s my type of cat. Mike Pierce has mastered being a stubby fighter. Very well rounded, but I think Johny catches him with his crazy strong G & P when Pierce gets lazy off of his back.
Chad Mendes over Rani Yahya – Round 3 JD
Yahya shocked me with his ability to get the fight to the floor in his fight with Mike Brown, and gave me real pause when considering this fight. His striking is still bad, but it’s not terrible. Chad Mendes is elite in the Featherweight division, and I believe he’s the best of the Alpha Male team. He’s very very quick compared to Mike Brown, and that’s where I think he’ll find his edge. He should work in-and-out, focusing on striking to score points, but he’ll be willing to go to the ground and I think he’ll lose a round there. Yahya has great sweeps and can be pretty aggressive with submissions, so decent judges (do we have them in PA?) should probably give him a round for some catches. Mendes will ultimately win based on boxing and takedowns, and solidify the number 1 contender spot.
Chad Mendes over Rani Yahya – JD
I’ve BEEN on the Mendes hype ma-cheen, and am glad he’s getting a showcase fight here. Yayha is a bit tailor-made for Mendes, he’s going to attempt subs from his back and Mendes is going to power out of them and crush Yahya and look all impressive and shit. The Asian guy who rocks the sunglasses and works Alpha Males corners will be very impressed.
Yoshihiro Akiyama over Vitor Belfort – Round 3 TKO
One of the things I am most looking forward to, and I know this is weird, is seeing Akiyama’s entrance live. He comes out to “Time to Say Goodbye” and prays partway down the aisle. He kneels and prays in his judo gi, and there is opera playing. You don’t see TOO much of that shit in MMA these days. If he loses this fight he probably gets cut for having three straight losses. Meanwhile, I don’t really know what to expect from Vitor. He’s had a crazy up-and-down career, and we’re forced to look back to his fight with Rich Franklin in 2009 to try to get an idea of what he is … that was two years ago. After making his name by roiding up and blitzing guys, he has become a somewhat tentative fighter. Akiyama will bring it to him and make this frantic, because he always moves forward. Akiyama is pretty durable, and I can’t see him catching a one-shot KO for any reason other than to ruin my night. This should be a rowdy one, and Vitor struggles when can’t get a quick win. Akiyama will mixing boxing and throws before he finally secures a dominant position on a beaten Vitor late in the fight, and forces a stoppage.
Vitor Belfort over Yoshihiro Akiyama – KO RD 1
Akiyama has been asking for a huge name opponent since he came into the UFC, well he got one. Is Belfort is going to bring his inconsistency? Has he been getting by wrecking cans and an off-focused Franklin , and Anderson exposed him? And the biggest question, and what makes the difference in this fight, will Akiyama stand in front of Belfort and trade like he has everyone else recently? I’ve always thought Akiyama was a bit overrated after Misaki kicked his head into the first row back in Japan. If he loses this one it’s three in a row, and even if it’s versus legit competition you know what happens in Zuffa now. YOU GONE. Are we forced to pull for Akiyama the same way we felt forced to feel ok for Japan’s Woman’s Soccer Team? I think we see flashes of the old Belfort, Akiyama gets flat footed during an exchange, and has his chin detonated.
Rashad Evans over Tito Ortiz – Round 3 JD
The first UFC I bought after the dark ages was UFC 40, where Ortiz took on Ken Shamrock. Nostalgia had the better of my analytical mind and I thought Ken was going to take it. Not so much. It’s sorta poetic that the first UFC-brand event I attend in person will feature Tito. It comes full circle? Here I am picking against Tito again. This time, though, I have decent cause. Rashad is younger, quicker, and has more impressive kickboxing at this point. Tito should still get a takedown or two, but Evans will pop-up and go back to landing punches on the flat-footed Mexican. Their first contest was very close, but since then Rashad has surpassed Tito. I’m curious to see who the crowd will favor in this fight, and I’m not sure who I’ll favor myself. I don’t appreciate Tito’s brand of showmanship, but I now understand that he loves this sport and helped – back in 2001–solidify my love for it, too.
Rashad Evans over Tito Ortiz – TKO RD 2
Great fight 5 years ago, two totally different fighters at different points in their careers now. It would be awesome if we could get that fairy tale story continuing with an Ortiz victory. And it’s not impossible, Evans is coming off of a LOOONG layoff, was taken down by Tito before, who is still the bigger guy, and we cant forget that Evans is chinny. With Tito working with the Kings MMA guys and dropping Bader he now has a new confidence in his hands. Maybe Ortiz steals two of the three rounds? I think Evans plays the spoiler and finishes Tito with his quick hands. Tito will underestimate Evans and get caught with a hook and get wobbled. Evans will finish. Philly will be sad. Fuck ‘em, they still got the Eagles and Phillies.
Enjoy the fights.