Holy crap! The UFC puts together an end of year card that rivals PRIDE end of year blowouts. Interestingly enough PRIDE fighters make up 4 of the 10 bouts (Nog, Rampage, Lister, Chonan, and Silva).
The name "Ultimate 2008" also implies that there may be more "Ultimate" events in years to come. Awesome!!
Dan Evensen Vs. Pat Barry (Heavyweight)
Dan is a BodogFight vet who lost his last, and debut fight in the UFC by KO to Check Kongo. Like most Heavyweight fighters Dan likes to knock people out.
Pat Barry out of Eric Schafer's Roufusport camp makes his debut in the UFC. Showing that the UFC is magnanimous and kind, Barry makes the biggest card of the year with just three fights under his belt... Kind of makes you wonder if Heavyweights are hard to come by or if a deal was made by Schafer to get his buddies in to the big show...
Dan lost to a good kickboxer in Check Kongo, and has been in big fights before in the UFC and Bodog. Pat has only fought in a small show in the Northern Midwest. Pat is going to have some jitters for sure.
Dan by KO first round.
Ryo Chonan Vs. Brad Blackburn (Welterweight)
Chonan won his last fight by boring split decision over Roan Carneiro. Before that he lost a decision to Karo Parisyan. Ryo can be a very exciting fighter, he is just choosing not to be of late.
Ryo is living in the US now and training with Eddie Bravo at 10th Planet, as well as training at Extreme Coulture in Vegas.
Brad is an IFL vet and won his debut in the UFC in exciting fashion, knocking out James Giboo with a flying knee.
This should prove to be a very entertaining fight... Provided the Chonan shows up to fight. If not, Chonan could turn the fight in to a fence leaning clinch snoozefest. Brad needs space to work, and Chonan would be an idiot to give him that space... Let's hope for idiocy.
Brad by KO second round.
Matt Hamill Vs. Reese Andy (Light Heavyweight)
Matt is on again and off again in the UFC. His last fights showed he has greatly improved his stand up, and his wrestling remains very strong. I think that he ran in to some bad luck in his last fight, fighting Rich Franklin tends to hand fighters bad luck.
Andy Reese lost a decision to Brandon Verra in Brandon's first fight as a light heavy. Andy does have a win, all be it by split decision over TUF alum Krzysztof Soszynski.
Both guys are coming off tough losses, but Matt Hamill obviously has more experience and has fought better guys. I think that Reese gives Matt some confidence back. Matt by KO second round.
Antoni Hardonk Vs. Mark Burch (Heavyweight)
Antoni is on a roll winning his last two fights over Colin Robinson, and Eddie Sanchez both by KO. Hardonk likes to smash people, but has shown flashes of a ground game beating two of his opponents by submission.
Mark Burch is a new comer to the UFC, after successful bouts in BoDog and other smaller shows. Like most heavies he wants to knock you out.
Mark really has his work cut out for him against Hardonk. Hardonk has fought better opposition, been in the UFC longer, and has more than just KO wins.
Hardonk by ground and pound KO first round.
Yushin Okami Vs. Dean Lister (Middleweight)
Okami won his last fight by KO. It would be his opponents very last fight, as Evan Tanner was found dead in the desert a few weeks later... Like most Japanese fighters, Okami is focused on his ground game. He methodically picks apart his opponents with a strong top game, and usually ground and pounds his way to victory by Decision. A rare KO or even rarer submission dot his record.
Dean Lister is a ground wizard. But he is a fickle wizard. He is hot and cold. Showing amazing skill on the ground by taping Jeremy Horn by Guillotine Choke and Alessio Sakara by triangle. But then looking like a novice by losing to Nate Marquardt by decision. Dean has very little stand up skill, and I don't think he is really working on it much.
Either way this is ending in a decision. I don't think that Lister can finish Okami, and I am sure that Okami can not finish Lister. What this fight comes down to is who can attain and hold the top position to get the JD. I think that Lister is all too willing to put Okami in his guard and simply hold him there. Certainly, Okami has the edge in wrestling, and Lister is horrible at taking anybody down. So Okami will get the top position. From there, Okami will prevent the sweep and do just enough to keep from getting stood up.
Okami by decision.
Cheick Kongo Vs. Mostapha Al Turk (Heavyweight)
Kongo got back to his knock out ways in his last fight against Dan Evensen. Kongo has shown that he is learning the ground. He showed that he could use his weight and size to prevent someone from moving very much in his decision win over Heath Herring. I guess that is improvement...
Mostapha Al Turk? Seriously? Wasn't that the villain in Aladdin? Bad cultural jokes aside, Al Turk is another export from England's Cage Rage. His record shows that he likes to knock people out... Surprise surprise. He has won his last two fights, amassing a record of 6-3.
I don't really know how Al Turk fights, so I don't know what kind of a fight Kongo can expect. If Al Turk stands and tries to bang with Kongo, it will be lights out Mostapha. If Al Turk has some ground skill, he might be able to secure the top position and get the JD or G&P KO. But I think that Mostapha will do the typical new UFC fighter thing and rush forward for the quick KO.
Kongo by KO first round.
Wanderlei Silva Vs. Quinton Jackson (Light Heavyweight)
Wanderlei was back in style vs Keith Jardine. SMASH SMASH SMASH!!! Awesomeness. Silva has never been very good in the cage, but he seems to be finding his grove now that he can no longer soccer kick and stomp on heads.
Jackson looked OK in his decision loss to Forrest Griffin. He allowed so many leg kicks though, it really took a toll. Quinton does not look like the same fighter that lost to Silva back in 2004. BUT Quinton's mental state does seem to be in the same place before the Silva fight. The loss to Griffin really hurt Quinton, can he come back?
This is a tough call. This will be Quinton's first fight with out the man who improved his boxing to the top of the MMA class, Juanito Ibarra. Ibarra also forced Rampage to train, something that Rampage has repeatedly said is a problem for him. Jackson is now training with Michael Bisping in England... The problem is that Bisping is not well know for his striking. That is not really true... He is known for poor striking.
Silva is training with the group of guys that helped him to win big over Jardine. If Quinton has not fixed the issues that he had during the Griffin fight, Silva will definitely, and brutally exploit those weaknesses, especially that outside leg kick.
I don't think that Quinton is getting the training that he needs, but I do think that Silva is getting the training he needs. Silva by KO second round.
CB Dollaway Vs. Mike Massenzio (Middleweight)
CB is coming off of an amazing Peruvian Necktie win over Jessie Taylor. CB is a solid fighter, but has definite holes in his game. He has submissions, but he tends to defend submission attempts predictably, like the wrestler he is. CB's stand up is very solid.
Massenzio is a BJJ guy that won his last fight over Drew McFedries by a very nasty Kimura. Massenzio seems to be more of a control tight submission guy. He likes bent armbars and chokes.
Interesting match up. CB is known to be susceptible to submissions, but the UFC puts him up against a guy who likes tight submissions, while CD seems to be susceptible to the longer submissions. CB is a good wrestler, and getting to a position for a tight submission on him will be difficult.
CB by decision.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira Vs. Frank Mir (Heavyweight)
NOG!! Nog is awesome. BUT the UFC has been stupid and have kept him on the shelf for nearly a year. Nog beat Tim Sylvia way back in February. Nog's biggest weakness is his tendency to just stand there and let his opponent tee off on him. Sure he has a chin like Larry Holmes, but why take the punishment?
In his last fight Frank Mir beat Brock Lesnar by kneebar after getting beat around. Frank also has a tendency to take a lot of punishment before getting to the ground to work his game. The problem there is that Frank really does not have a very solid chin. In the past conditioning has been a problem too. It seems now that Frank has improved that section of his game. I hope so. A bulbous out of shape Mir is not fun to look at.
I don't see where Frank wins this one. Nog has a better ground game. I think that Frank could be caught in the later rounds with a submission. Nog has better conditioning. Have you ever seen Nog gas? Mir has yet to go in to the third round without gassing. This fight is a "Championship" fight, so it goes 5 rounds. Bad for Mir good for Nog.
Nog also has vastly superior stand up game. He is vulnerable to the typical boxer problems, head kicks, and leg kicks, but overall Nog has sharp heavy punches. If Frank wants to stand the KO comes in the third or fourth round.
I think Nog will secure the top position after felling Mir with a punch in the mid third round. From there Nog gets the mount and rains down elbows for the win.
Nog by KO third round.
Forrest Griffin Vs. Rashad Evans (Light Heavyweight)
Forrest took a decision win over Quinton Jackson to secure the Light Heavyweight Championship. Very good for Forrest. Forrest has a solid stand up game with very under rated kicks. Forrest kicks very hard, and nearly all of his opponents report that they were hurt by Forrest's leg kicks. Griffin's ground game is also very sound. He has beaten the best on the ground and is nearly immovable from the top position.
Rashad Evans has shown a vastly improved stand up game knocking out Chuck Liddell and nearly killing Sean Salmon with a head kick. In between he drew with Tito Ortiz and took a split decision win over Michael Bisping. Rashad has a wrestler's ground game dominating from the top position, however he has not really shown anything from his back.
This one ends in a KO for Evans, or a decision for Forrest. I think that the longer the fight goes the more frustrated Evans will become, and that will cause him to make mistakes that will allow Forrest to eak out the win. That is unless Evans doesn't turn out Forrest's lights with that big right hand, not out of the question. While Forrest has an awkward style, he tends to catch those straight rights right on the button. Not good, just ask Chuck Liddell.
Fun match up, but I think that this fight will look a lot like Bonnar Evans. Rashad on top punching with Forrest trying to get the sweep. Stand-ups galore with Evans taking Forrest down to avoid the kicks.
Evans by decision. I hate that pick... I like Forrest and I hope he wins. I do not like Rashad and I hope he looses, but I don't think that Forrest has what it takes to beat Rashad. Thiago Silva however might have the right combination of standup and ground to do the trick.