Thursday, August 23, 2007

UFC 74 Respect

Card and My Picks:

Clay Guida Vs. Marcus Aurelio (Lightweight)

Clay is coming off double decision losses to Din Thomas and Tyson Griffin. Clay is an ultra exciting fighter to watch as his style resembles the Tasmanian Devil after he has had a few too many cups of coffee. Clay is just everywhere during his fights. He is known for good ground skill, awesome submission defenses and cardio for days.

Marcus Aurelio trains out of ATT, and is a submission machine. He shocked the universe by catching Takanori Gomi, then the most indestructible man in Bushido, with an arm triangle choke. He then dropped two consecutive fights by decision, first to Mitsuhiro Ishida, the next to Gomi. Aurelio is almost purely a BJJ fighter. He wins by decision or by submission, his KOs are the exception, not the rule. He is, like so many of the fighters out of ATT, a BJJ black belt.

This is an interesting matchup. Guida was nearly finished by Justin James, held off ATT fighter and BJJ black belt Din Thomas. He showed durability in his fight with Griffin. Aurelio is so hot and cold he could create his own weather patters. When he is hot, he finishes the greatest fighters in the game, when he is cold, he gets beat by guys like Antonio McKee. Guida will go out there with his typical style, and give Aurelio fits. Aurelio will try to slow the fight down, or wait for Guida to tire. If he waits for Guida to tire, he will loose a decision. If he plays the game as Din did in the last two rounds of their fight slow, controlled, good use of the jab, and aggressively working for and keeping top position on the ground, Aurelio should win the decision win. Aurelio by decision.

Frank Mir Vs. Antoni Hardonk (Heavyweight)

Frank Mir is fat. He sometimes gets submissions on guys who really do not know how to defend submissions.

Hardonk is a kickboxer with a little bit of wrestling skill. He likes to kick people's legs.

This fight is made for Mir to win. The UFC is feeding him a kickboxer to try and see if he can get his game on. Hardonk did horribly against Justin McCully, a BJJ guy with great takedowns. Frank has ok takedowns and should be able to get Hardonk on the ground. Frank is definitely a better sub guy than McCully, so he should win this fight by submission. The question is: Has Hardonk worked on his takedown defense? Hardonk has killer leg kicks, and could easily bust up the leg Frank injured in his motorcycle accident. Very tough call... As this is Frank's last chance in the UFC I would guess that he has trained more than normal, so I go with Frank by armbar first round.

Renato Sobral Vs. David Heath (Light Heavyweight)

Babalu lost his last fight by highlight reel KO to Jason Lambert back in March... they are still picking his teeth out of the Nationwide Arena in Ohio. He is back and ready of this fight! Bablu is known as a submission guy, and rightly so. He trains out of Gracie-Barra Rio, and has 14 of his 27 wins by submission.

Heath lost his last fight as well, dropping a decision to Lyoto Machida. To be honest... the guy has fought three times in the UFC, and I still don't know anything about him. He has a good record of 9-2, but has not really fought anybody notable.

I think Babalu wins this one by triangle choke second round.

Ryan Jensen Vs. Thales Leites (Middleweight)

Ryan Jensen is fresh off of his triangle choke win over UFC vet Curtis Stout in May. Ryan trains in Omaha with my team at Mid-America Martial Arts, but he is managed by Matt Lindland, and decided to do his training camp with Team Quest. I got to spar with Ryan just before he left, and he looked as sharp as ever. Ryan has good kickboxing skills and very good positioning skills on the ground. Of all of the fighters at MAMA that have had their shot in the UFC, I think that Ryan is the most likely the one to do the best.

Thales Leites took this fight after Travis Lutter pulled out after hurting his back. Leites has had time for a full training camp, we heard about the situation before Ryan left for Oregon. Leites is a BJJ black belt and trains with one of the best BJJ teams in Brazil, Nova Uniao. Seven of his 11 wins come by submission, of those 4 are arm triangle chokes.

Ryan certainly has his work cut out for him. If I had to choose who to fight between Lutter and Leites, I would have chosen Lutter. Leites has an aggressive ground attack, and a good strong kickboxing background. Ryan tends to be a little loosey-goosey in the clinch, even I have taken him down from there. Ryan will need to fight Leites like Martin Kampmann did, keep the fight standing and make good use of his jab.

Jensen by decision!!!!!!

Patrick Cote Vs. Kendall Grove (Middleweight)

Cote finally caught a break in his last UFC fight, beating Scott Smith by decision. He then went north to knock out Jason Day in TKO. We know Patrick. He has a good ground game, but does not really like to go for submissions. He has a good stand up game, but does not really go for the KO. Patrick is good, but not great. He fights well, but not well enough.

Kendall Grove won his last fight by D'Arce choke over Alan Belcher. Kendall has a good ground game, who can pull some interesting submissions out of his bag of tricks. He also has a decent stand up game, as Kendal Grove found out on TUF.

This looks to be an unexciting back and forth battle, with little offence. Kendall does not have Travis Lutter's ground skill, and Cote does not have Hector Ramirez or Joe Rigg's KO power. Patrick by decision.

Kurt Pellegrino Vs. Joe Stevenson (Lightweight)

Kurt won his last fight over the hapless Nate Mohr by a very nasty ankle lock, putting Batman at 14-2. Kurt is very well known as a submission guy, with 8 wins by submission, and his two KOs from GP from position. Kurt has a lot of sneaky submissions that he slaps on very quickly. Kurt trains with Hermes Franca at The Armory.

Joe Stevenson, out of Marc Lamion's Cobra Kai dojo, is also a submission guy, winning his last fight over the coked up Melvin Gulliard by guillotine. Joe is known for a very powerful submission game supplemented by strong G&P. Joe is 28-6.

I think that Kurt is out of his element here. Joe knows the ground game very well, will be bigger and stronger than Kurt, and will have a better stand up game. I don't know why the UFC wanted this fight, it has mismatch written all over it. Joe by KO first round.

Josh Koscheck Vs. Georges St-Pierre (Welterweight)

Kos is riding high after his decision win over Diego Sanchez. Kos is a very very good wrestler. He has excellent takedowns and steady, but not especially powerful G&P. His team, the excellent AKA, has given him a very strong stand up game to round him out.

GSP suffered the greatest loss of his young career in his last fight, loosing by KO to Matt Serra. GSP is well known for his powerful stand up, and his sharp ground game. What became apparent in his fight against Sean Sherk (KO win) was that GSP has serious wrestling skills. He sprawls better than anyone I have seen in the game, including Chuck Liddell. Despite all his considerable talent, we are now seeing that GSP has mental problems that cost him dearly in the Serra fight and in his first fight with Matt Hughes. When he has his head together, no one can touch him.

I think that Koscheck will have his attitude seriously adjusted in this fight. GSP stuffed every wrestler that has come at him. He knocked out Matt Hughes. He choked out Frank Trigg. He pounded out Sean Sherk. He decimated Jason Miller. Koscheck's game is no different, and nothing that GSP has not dealt with in the past. GSP by G&P KO second round.

Roger Huerta Vs. Alberto Crane (Lightweight)

I don't think you can call it an official UFC event if Rodger Huerta is not on the card. The SI cover model knocked out Douglas Evans back in June at the TUF final. Rodger has been training with Dave Mene out of Minneapolis. Rodger is your quintessential MMA fighter... He has excellent stand up, knocking out several opponents, and a very strong ground game, submitting many opponents. He is a well rounded eclectic fighter.

Crane is your typical BJJ fighter, winning all but one of his fights, a split decision win over Javi Vazquez, by some sort of submission. Crane has a perfect 8-0 record. Crane's ability on the ground is stunning. He finds chokes and locks out of seemingly nowhere. This is the Santa Fe BJJ fighter's first fight in the UFC.

Very fun fight. Huerta will try to keep this fight standing, while Crane will be busy trying getting it on to the ground. Both will be successful, and we will get to see a pitched battle with everything that makes MMA fun to watch. Huerta by KO third round.

Randy Couture Vs. Gabriel Gonzaga (Heavyweight)

Randy just had the fight of his career dismantling a lumbering and hapless Tim Sylvia. Randy is known for his dirty boxing, clinch work and G&P. While Randy has never been known as a KO artist or a submission guy he has wins by both methods. Randy really chooses to take you down and pound on you until the ref or you decide to make him stop.

Gabe Gonzaga has been on a non stop KO and submission train ever since his lack luster, but spectacular finishing first fight in the UFC over Kevin Jordan. His last fight was the incredible Cro-Copping of... well Cro-Cop. Before that he had a text book armbar on Carmelo Marrero, before that he KOed Fabiano Scherner. His combination of heavy hands and quick submissions have marked him as a future belt holder.

I like Randy, but he does not do well against big BJJ guys who can hit hard. He folded against Ricco Rodriguez, he was KOed by Josh Barnett, he tapped to Valentijn Overeem, and Enson Inoue. In all instances he could not impose his will, and got caught. Gabe is a stronger, more experienced, and more dangerous version of Barnett and Rodriguez. Gabe by KO first round.

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