The UFC comes out with its latest UFC, featuring many TUF fighters, but also a lot of new talent from RINGs and other Japanese shows. Speaking of TUF, don't forget that TUF 5 begins right after the show. BJ Penn, and Jens Pulver are the coaches, with Joe Lauzon and company in the house.
Card and My Picks
Naoyuki Kotani Vs. Thiago Tavares (Lightweight)
Naoyuki Kotani trains with his brother Hiroaki Kotani at the famous Kz Factory in Tokyo. The last time we saw him do anything, was when he got knocked out in 11 seconds vs Luiz Azeredo. Naoyuki is a journeyman fighter in the Rings and ZST shows in Japan; amassing a record of 17-5-4. Like most Japanese fighters, Kotani is a ground fighter, winning 13 of his 17 by submission. Like most ground specialists, if he doesn't tap you, it goes the distance, owing for his 4 draws.
Kotani has fought in the US, and in a cage, before back in December of 2004, he beat Vito Woods by armbar in the Xtreem Fighting organization.
Thiago is 6-0, and comes out of American Top Team. His record is impressive, but made more so when you know that none of his fights have gone the distance. Thiago finished them all with 5 submissions and one KO. What is not so impressive is when you find out that only two of his opponents have winning records. Of the four that do not have winning records, half were making their debut when they fought Thiago.
This looks to bee a ground battle with two good ground guys from two good ground schools facing off. Kotani has the edge in experience, and in opposition (he lost to Yves Edwards KO, Roger Huerta KO, Rich Clementi Decision, and Luiz Azeredo KO). I don't know enough about either fighter to say who is better standing up, but if you pressed me I would give the edge to Thiago, because his team is so well rounded. In the end, I think that Thiago gets the W. Thiago by KO second round.
Roan Carneiro Vs. Rich Clementi (Lightweight)
Roan fights out of the famous Brazilian Top Team and has a record of 10-5. His wins come just as you would expect from a ground fighter, by submission (6) and decision (4). He has fought mainly around Brazil, with occasional bouts in Japan, and elsewhere.
Rich Clementi has gotten his wish of fighting again in the UFC... but has not done much with it. He was beaten by Shone Carter by decision on the show, then was choked out by Din Thomas. He then tapped the hapless Ross Pointon, but not until late in the second round. Rich seems to be a good "B" level fighter, but he just can not quite step in to the "A" level. He is primarily a BJJ guy, preferring to tap his opponents out, his 10 of 27 wins by submission speak to that.
The real telling stat here is that Rich has 11 wins by knock out... really 10, cause he knocked out Brian Dunn once, and Brian once knocked him self out while eating Cheetos, anyway of Roan's 5 losses 3 of them come by KO, and to guys who have much less experience than Rich... Well, not really. Roan was knocked out by Anderson Silva, Ryo Chonan and Leonardo Nascimento ( I don't know who he is either). Both guys are tough and have good ground games. Rich tends to fold when he does not have the upper hand, and it will be tough on the ground. Carneiro is a BJJ black belt, and trains with one of the best teams in the world. Rich trains by himself. I think that this one will go to the ground, and then be decided there. Roan by decision.
Seth Petruzelli Vs. Wilson Gouveia (Light Heavyweight)
The Silver Back returns to the Octagon. The last time we saw Seth, he lost a decision to deaf fighter Matt Hamill in October of 2006. Seth is known for his kickboxing, especially his powerful leg kicks. His record is 9-4, with 7 wins by KO, the rest decisions. Seth is not really known for his ground work, loosing two of his four by submission.
Wilson Gouveia is a 7-4 fighter out of American Top Team. He is a BJJ black belt, and yet only has won 2 of his fights by submission. The knock out is his favored way to end a fight winning 4 in that manner. Wilson has had trouble with his stand up, and tends to submission wrestle when he is on the ground. It makes for a messy MMA fight, because he gets hit a lot on the ground.
Seth is a good wrestler, but not very good from his back. Wilson is a good BJJ fighter, but tends to absorb too much punishment on the ground. Both have their advantages, but I think that Seth wins this one.
Forrest Petz Vs. Kuniyoshi Hironaka (Welterweight)
Forrest beat Sam Morgan, then lost to Marcus Davis... How do you beat Sam then loose to Marcus??? Anyway, Forrest is a tough guy with a good record of 15-3. He has been in with some very heavy hitters and came out respectably loosing by triangle to Josh Neer, and beating Krazy Horse Charles Bennett by forearm choke.
Kuniyoshi is a Judo and BJJ black belt out of Tokyo's SSS Academy. He is also the guy who knocked out, and made Renato Verissimo go in to retirement the first time. Before that he held a decision win over Nick Diaz, but lost his UFC debut by decision to Jon Fitch.
Kuniyoshi is a ground guy, but has knocked guys out before. His record is 10-3
Petz is a replacement for Jeff Joslin, who dropped out due to a training injury. Petz seems to be more the MMA jack of all trades, where Hironaka is certainly a ground guy who punches. The deciding factor is this: when Petz was fighting in front of hundreds at Absolute Combat Challenge, and Fightfest, Kuniyoshi was fighting in front of thousands at Shooto. This is not Petz's first rodeo, but I don't think he has what it takes to beat Kuniyoshi. Hironaka by decision.
Kurt Pellegrino Vs. Nate Mohr (Welterweight)
"Batman" Pellegrino is 1-1 in UFC competition beating Cleuder Assuncao by RNC, but loosing to Drew Fickett by the same submission. Kurt is currently 13-2, with 7 wins by submission and 2 by KO. Kurt is a prodigious submission wrestling competitor. He is a BJJ black belt who used to train at ATT, but left with Hermies Franca to start the Armory. Both camps are excellent MMA schools with a heavy emphasis on BJJ.
Nate Mohr is 8-3 and makes his debut in the UFC. John Strawn is the only guy who Nate has fought that I know of... that is because Justin James beat John by armbar to take the VFC light weight title. Nate lost to John by RNC... Nate hits hard, all but one of his wins are by submission due to strikes or KO. He has one Guillotine Choke to his credit.
Nate took this fight on very short notice, less than a week. The telling statistic is all of Nate's three losses have been by submission. Kurt is a BJJ black belt who trains at one of the best submission academies in the US. Not a good thing if you are Nate. Kurt taps out a game Mohr by RNC first round.
Keita Nakamura Vs. Drew Fickett (Welterweight)
K-taro lost his opening fight in the UFC by decision to Brock Larson. That was his first loss. His record is 13-1-2. He has fought in some cage fights in Japan, but mostly fought in the Shooto organization. He is a ground guy, winning 8 by submission, twice winning three consecutive fights in a row by RNC.
Drew Fickett lost his last outing in the UFC by decision to Karo Parisyan. It was a very very entertaining fight. Drew always gives it his best. Drew is now 29-5.
Drew is primarily a ground guy, winning 17 by submission. He has been adrift lately with his training, he trained with Ivan Salavary last fight, but I am not sure who he was with this time. Ivan had him in such terrific shape for his last fight, I can not think why he did not go back.
This will be another very tough fight for Drew. K-Taro is a very tough ground guy, not as tough as Karo, but very tough none the less. I have a hard time picking against Drew, but I just don't know how his training has gone this time through... Drew by decision.
Dokonjonosuke Mishima Vs. Kenny Florian (Lightweight)
MISHIMA!!!! Dokonjonosuke lost his last outing to Joe Stephenson by guillotine choke. A choke he simply handed to Joe. Mishima is Shooto, DEEP, and PRIDE veteran, going 17-5-2, and is currently the only fighter to have won a fight by "Cobra Hold." Mishima is a ground fighter, but you can't really attach any style to him. He is very unorthodox. Eight of his wins are by submission.
Kenny Florian lost a very tough decision to Sean Sherk in his last UFC outing. Kenny is known in the UFC for his amazingly sharp elbows, winning fights vs Alex Karalexis and Chris Leben by cut stoppage. Kenny is a BJJ black belt and was a very active submission wrestler in the lighter weight classes, much lighter like 145lbs. As a MMA fighter Kenny fought in the 170lb class, officially going 1-1. His over all record is 6-3.
Mishima has trouble with big strong wrestler/punchers. Kenny tends to have problems with powerful wrestlers. Neither one is the other's nemesis. Mishima is a slick submission guy. Kenny is a methodical kickboxer/ground fighter. Mishima throws out submissions like Nick hands out STDs. Kenny picks his shots, like Warren finding a girl who he is not "just friends" with. This should be an entertaining fight, and I don't think that Mishima will mess up like he did last time. Mishima by decision!!!
Justin McCully Vs. Antoni Hardonk (Heavyweight)
McCully is a Team Punishment fighter with a respectable 7-3 record. Ummm... Evan Tanner beat Justin by submission back in 1998. Ummm... Justin fought last in Valor Fighting beating Ruben Villareal (Warpath) by Front Choke. Ummm... yeah that's it.
Antoni last his UFC debut over Sherman "The Tank" Pendergarst by destroying "The Tank's" left leg with crushing leg kicks. Antoni's over all record is 4-1, with a nearly impossible submission (Keylock) victory over Wes Sims. Antoni is known as a kickboxer and trains Muay Thai at Bas Rutten's old gym Vos in Holland. Isn't that weird???
Justin is just like Sherman; a big wrestler who will look to shoot and G&P. I very much doubt that Justin will want to trade with Antoni after what happened to "The Tank." I think that Antoni stuffs the shot and imposes his will on Justin. Antoni by KO second round.
Joe Stevenson Vs. Melvin Guillard (Lightweight)
Joe is coming off a gimme win over Dokonjonosuke Mishima. Joe has had mixed results in the UFC beating Mishima and Yves Edwards, but loosing a decision to Josh Neer. After the loss to Neer, Joe moved down to light weight to beat the other two. Joe is a very good submission wrestler, who fancies himself a kickboxer. It is a good thing that after getting hit a few times, he remembers that he is a ground guy. Joe's record is 27-6, winning 13 by submission, 6 by KO.
Melvin is a very athletic, powerful kickboxer/wrestler. That really sums up his game. He is 21-6-1, winning 15 by KO, and 2 by submission.
Melvin will knock your teeth right out of your head, then slam you on the ground, then finish you with elbows. He is big, strong, and powerful. The problem is that he is not very smart. Joe likes to trade, but then takes you down to submit you. Joe is a bit smarter than Melvin. Again the telling stat is that all but two of Melvin's losses are by submission. Joe has not lost a fight by submission or KO since Chris Brennan caught him in a triangle in 1999. Melvin will try to slam and power his way out of the Stevenson submissions, but I don't think that he can avoid them forever. Joe by RNC second round.