The UFC puts on its first "PRIDE" style card with about half of its "on air" fighters coming from that promotion. That said, this is a very exciting card, Arlovski gets back in the ring, Bisping gets to fight on his home turf, and Cro Cop gets his first real test. It is also the first UFC off US soil since 2002, when Frank Mir got his ass kicked by Ian Freeman, and Lee Murray taught Tito Ortiz how fights work in the street.
If anyone wants to host us, that would be fun... otherwise we will all have to sit though all of the commercials. Wouldn't you rather DVR it and have your bestest friends come over an hour later to watch the fights without commercial interruption? You know you would.
Card and My Picks:
Edilberto Crocota Vs. Paul Taylor (Welterweight)
Crocota is a Brazilian fighter, and training partner of current Middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Like Silva, Crocota is a BJJ student of the Nog brothers, and his training pedigree shows by going 10-0-1, winning three by KO, and three by submission. Crocota is well known for his boxing skill, once winning a championship in his home country.
Paul Taylor begins the parade of local boys that all under cards of the UFCs out side of Vegas seem to have. Paul is a Cage Rage veteran, and has never fought off of his native England. A former kickboxer, Paul likes to finish his fights with the crowd pleasing KO, winning 4 of his 7-2-1 record that way. He knows the ground as well, winning 2 by submission.
The losses tell the tale here, both of Paul's losses come by submission (Yuki Sasaki armbar, and Che Mills RNC), wile Crocota has no losses. Crocota trains with one of the best MMA strikers in the business, if that were not enough he trains with the best MMA submission experts in the business. I think this one goes to the ground, where Crocota wins by triangle second round.
Dennis Siver Vs. Jess Liaudin (Welterweight)
Siver is a 10-3 fighter out of Germany. I didn't know they had MMA in Germany. Anyway Siver has fought all over Europe winning most of the time (5 times) by submission. Siver learned his submissions doing Judo, and picked up kickboxing along the way. What gets most attention though is his Tae Kwon Do. That's right, his TKD. It seems that Dennis is fond of throwing multiple kicks with out putting his foot on the ground. Despite that Dennis is a very aggressive fighter, who looks to end the contest early.
Jess is yet another European kickboxer who has made the switch to MMA. He sports a record of 9-9, winning 5 by submission, and 2 by KO. He won his last fight in Cage Rage, and has fought one well known fighter, loosing to Shone Carter by decision.
I really don't know these guys, they have never fought in a large international show, so I have never seen them fight. Tale of the tape has Liaudin with a two inch height advantage, but not much else. I will go with Siver. He has the better record. Siver by decision.
Victor Valimaki Vs. Alessio Sakara (Light Heavyweight)
We last saw Valimaki loose by split decision to David Heath back on the UFC Riggs vs Sanchez card in December. Since then Victor knocked out Jared Kilkenny in his native Canada. A record of 9-3 is respectable, but 4 wins by decision is not (3KOs 2 sub).
Sakara is in a slump in the UFC as of late. He first got choked out by a Dean Lister triangle, then got knocked out in his very next fight by MFS fighter Drew McFedries. Not good. Sakara has to win here, and win impressively, to even be considered for another contract. With Zuffa owning two of the three major MMA orgs, a loss of a contract is essentially the end of your career. Sakara impressed the MMA community with his sharp boxing, but was not able to muster the KO power to end any but Elvis Sinosic nights.
Both guys are on the ropes. Both guys need a win. In the end I think that it is Sakara that has the ability to do it. Sakara by KO second round.
Junior Assuncao Vs. David Lee (Lightweight)
BJJ brown belt Cleuder Assuncao lost his fight to "Batman" Kurt Pellegrino by RNC, back in 10/2006. This took his record to 6-2, no surprise that 4 of his wins are by submission (2KOs). Junior is an exciting fighter who looks to finish, and finish he will need to do to stay alive in the very competitive lightweight division.
David Lee is a BJJ purple belt, who also lost his last fight in the UFC, also by RNC, he lost to Tyson Griffin, though... not Batman. Anyway Lee is a native of London, and will be fighting in front of his home town for the first time since May of last year. All of his 6 wins come by submission... but so do all of his three losses.
Both guys are ground fighters, Junior seems to carry a bit more power in his punches though. In the end this will come down to who is the better submission guy. I think that the better man is... Assuncao. He is from Brazil. All Brazilians are good fighters. Assuncao by RNC second round.
Matt Grice Vs. Terry Etim (Lightweight)
Matt Grice is well... I don't know who the hell he is. His record is 11-0, but he has not fought anywhere, or anyone that I recognize. I do know that he wrestled for Oklahoma, but was always injured.
Terry Etim has the strange honor to have fought in the same ring as Mike Tyson... Mike was the guest ref for one of Terry's fights... Terry won by submission (Diego Gonazles triangle), and had to tell Mike what was going on so that Mike could stop the fight. Anyway Terry loves his submissions winning all but one of his 9 fights that way. The one fight he did not win by submission he won by head kick. My kind of guy.
Both of these guys are unknown, and it is a little embarrassing that they end up meeting in the UFC. However the UFC likes to play on the nationalism of its host countries so there you go. Terry by triangle first round.
Assuerio Silva Vs. Cheick Kongo (Heavyweight)
Silva lost by guillotine to Brandon Vera the last time he set foot in the UFC, but you couldn't tell. Silva has been so lethargic in the UFC that it has been very difficult to tell if he is fighting, performing as a mime, or just sleeping in the ring. Outside of the UFC Silva picked up two wins, one by KO ( Eduardo Maiorino) and the other by split decision (Igor Pokrajac). Silva used to be known for his Muay Thai, and his leg locks, but not so much now.
Kongo showed us what a kickboxer can do, knocking out Christian Wellisch and Gilbert Aldana... he also showed us what happens when a one dimensional striker fights a one dimensional wrestler, loosing by split decision to takedown/lay and pray artist Carmelo Marrero. Knongo is 8-3-1 with 7 wins by KO, and one submission.
If Silva decides to wake up, this should be a fantastic fight. Both guys are heavy legged and heavy handed kickboxers, Kongo gets a slight edge in the power category. Silva is good on the ground, but not good at the takedown. Kongo is terrible on the ground, but ok at stopping the takedown. It makes for an interesting fight. Kongo by KO second round.
Andrei Arlovski Vs. Fabricio Werdum (Heavyweight)
Arlovski is back from his many surgeries (knee, right hand) and is ready to begin the comeback trail. He dropped his last fight, a snoozer, by decision to Tim Sylvia. Arlovski carries C-4 in his right hand and can knock anyone out. During his reign as Heavyweight Champ he knocked out Justin Eilers and Paul Buentello. Both in the first round... Buentello in the first 15 seconds.
Werdum is a BJJ black belt, and the former BJJ coach to CroCop. He wins by submission, and he has faced the best in the world. He tapped out: Tom Erickson (RNC), Roman Zentsov (triangle armbar), Alistair Overeem (Kimura), Kristof Midoux (triangle), and Aleksander Emelianenko (arm triangle). He is a bad, bad man.
If this goes to the ground it is Werdum's fight. If it stays on the feet it is Andrei's fight. The last time Andrei came up against a BJJ expert... he knocked him in to next week (Pe De Pano lasted 3:15). BUT Pe De Pano was not the figher Werdum is. Pe De Pano did not train with the fighters that Werdum has. I think that Werdum will be able to get Andrei against the fence and take him down. From there I think that it will end with a submission. Werdum by arm triangle first round.
Michael Bisping Vs. Elvis Sinosic (Light Heavyweight)
Mike won TUF.
Elvis lost his last two fights in the UFC.
Honestly the ONLY reason Elvis is fighting this fight is because he known in England... He won his last two fights in Cage Rage by armbar (Katsuhisa Fujii & Mark Epstein). He is sort of known in the US, but not really, and that is why he is perfect for Mike to beat on. Elvis is a semi-well known fighter, with not a chance in the world. Bisping by KO first round.
David Heath Vs. Lyoto Machida (Light Heavyweight)
David Heath is on a roll winning his last 9 fights, the last two of those in the UFC. He seems to be a man to be reckoned with in the Light Heavyweight division, and is ready for his first real test. He has a record of 9-1 winning by KO (1), submission (5) and decision (3). He is a well rounded fighter.
Machida won his last fight in the UFC over Sam Hoger by decision. He is mainly known for his unusual fighting style mixing Karate, Judo, and BJJ in to an eclectic style that has toppled Rich Franklin (KO) and Stephan Bonner (KO).
This should be a very interesting fight. Both guys are on the rise in the UFC, winning their last fights. Both guys are hungry and both guys work hard to finish the fight. This is a very tough choice, but I like the way Machida is able to cut EVERYBODY he fights. Machida by decision.
Mirko Filipovic Vs. Gabriel Gonzaga (Heavyweight)
CroCop kicks people's heads off. He owns some of the most brutal one punch/one kick KOs in the sport. For a rundown of his wins just run a YouTube search.
Gonzaga is a BJJ black belt with a very, very heavy right hand. He has won his last three fights in the UFC, two by KO (Kevin Jordan and Fabiano Scherner) then tapped out Carmelo Marrero by armbar in his last. Gonzaga is no joke, he has skills. His record is 7-1.
This is a very interesting fight. The UFC is done throwing CroCop cupcakes and now wants to get their money's worth out of him. They pit him against the one guy in the UFC's roster besides Nog who has a chance against him. Gonzaga is a thicker stronger version of Nog... with out the freakish chin. Gonzaga can knock out Cro Cop, and he also has the ability to tap Mirko out. Mirko's sprawl game worked like a charm in the ring, but can it work against the fence? It is going to be fun finding out.
Gonzaga has had one loss. A KO loss to Werdum, the man who trained Mirko how to fight on the ground. I think that is the telling factor here. Gonzaga will try to get Mirko against the fence, but he will try to do it with punches instead of the clinch where he might have a chance. Mirko by head kick second round.