Haven't done picks in a while so I might be rusty...
Stefan Struve Vs. Chase Gormley (Heavyweight)
Stefan is 1-1 in the UFC. He is coming off of a RNC win over Denis Stojnic. It is no secret that Stefan likes the ground game, 13 of his 17 wins come by some sort of submission. His three losses tell an interesting story as well, two come by KO, and one by submission. Can he win if the fight is NOT on the ground?
Chase is new to the UFC, and this is his first fight in over a year. He last fought Eric Pele, winning by decision. Chase is 6-0
Chase is going to have first time jitters AND a bad case of ring rust, not good coming in to a fight with a two time UFC vet. What Chase does have going for him is... well I don't see anything Chase has going for him. Stefan is seven feet tall... Chase is 6'3". Stefan has had over twice as many fights as Chase, and fought better opposition. Stefan by RNC first round.
Kyle Kingsbury Vs. Razak Al-Hassan (Light Heavyweight)
Kyle dropped his UFC debut to Tom Lawlor back in December of ought 8. He has been idle since.
Al-Hassan looked... very strange losing to Steve Cantwell by armbar. Al-Hassan kept his hands out in front of him during the stand up, had very little movement, and despite having several wins outside the UFC by submission looked like he had never ever been on the ground before once Cantwell very easily took the fight there.
I am not sure what the UFC was thinking when they signed Razak to another fight. Maybe they just wanted to hear Bruce Buffer announce his name again. That alone is worth the fighter's show money. IF Al-Hassan comes out against Kingsbury they way he came out against Cantwell, good night Razak. Kingsbury by KO second round.
Jorge Rivera Vs. Rob Kimmons (Middleweight)
"El Conquistador" won his last fight in the UFC beating Nissen Osterneck by split decision. Jorge shows all of the skills it takes to succeed in the UFC, except winning consistently. For some reason he just falls apart in his fights. Jorge has shown very good stand up, and brilliant ground skill... He has also made boneheaded mistakes on the feet, and incomprehensible decisions on the ground.
Kimmons... He is a goofy guy. This Victory Fighting Championship vet is 2-1 in the UFC. How? I don't know. I don't understand how this guy is the same guy I saw, and talked with at the VFC events. He had such a weak grasp on fighting concepts and almost no ground skill... I am glad that he has improved. Rob won his last fight over Joe Vedepo by Guillotine Choke.
I know that Jorge is very hot and cold in the UFC. I don't think that he will have any problems with Kimmons though. Despite Rob's improvement, he does not have the chops to take out Rivera. So, again, this one is Rivera's to lose. Jorge by armbar first round.
Yushin Okami Vs. Chael Sonnen (Middleweight)
Okami won his last fight by decision over Dean Lister. That statement really does not honestly convey what that fight was. Okami beat Dean Lister, a man who won nearly every ADCC match he ever had by submission, a man who fierce competitors would withdraw from competition once they heard Dean was competing, a man known worldwide for his ground skill, by controlling him on the ground. Impressive. Most impressive. Okami is a beast.
Sonnen beat Dan Miller by decision in his last fight. Sonnen is a well known wrestler with very little in the way of submission defense. That shouldn't be an issue in this fight.
Both guys are wrestlers, both guys look to control and pound their opponents. I don't see Sonnen out wrestling Okami. Okami by decision.
Antoni Hardonk Vs. Pat Barry (Heavyweight)
Hardonk is back! I just like his name. It makes me think of Crocodile Dundee. Member the guy? "I don't need a gun. I have a Donk." Member that??? Anyway Hardonk is a kickboxer from the very famous Vos Gym in Holland. Outside Thailand, this is where you want to go if you want to be a Thai Boxer. Hardonk has some of the best leg kicks out there, if it stays on the feet, cover your ears. The "thuds" from him landing those kicks will eventually sicken even the toughest of constitutions.
Pat Barry won by leg out against Dan Evensen.... Then Tim Hague taught him that if you can't fight on the ground, you can't fight. Pat is a kickboxer. He has very little in the way of wrestling or ground skill.
I am actually looking forward to this fight. Both of these guys are kickboxers, and both are very skilled in landing the leg kick. We should see both guys getting more adventurous with their kicks as the fight progresses and both guys learn that the other guy will not be trying any of that ground nonsense. I think that Hardonk has the advantage on the feet. Antoni by KO third round.
Ryan Bader Vs. Eric Schafer (Light Heavyweight)
Bader is a bad ass wrestler.
Schafer is a not so bad assed BJJ guy.
Bader smashes Schafer in to little red pieces. Bader by G&P KO first round.
Anthony Johnson Vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida (Welterweight)
Ruble Johnson!! Here is a guy who sold his soul to the devil, Gorge Sorros, for raw power. Not since Pete Sprat showed up have I been so excited about a fighter's stand up. Crisp strong punches, and kicks... wow. I have been working on my kicks for nearly 20 years now. I could work for another 20. I STILL won't have kicks like Anthony Johnson.
Yoshida, is another Japanese Judo star coming to the US to fight. Yoshida's game is to wait for you to make a mistake then exploit that mistake.
Yoshida is in for a beating. His style does not do anything to counter Johnson's "overwhelm with power" approach. Yoshida will not have time to take advantage of Johnson's mistakes, because Johnson will have already knocked him in to next week. Johnson by KO first round.
Joe Stevenson Vs. Spencer Fisher (Lightweight)
Joe managed to control the ground game and win a tight decision over Nate Diaz in his last fight out. Joe is a ground guy who likes to play around standing up first. He has very little power in his stand up, but he does have good wrestling and a very good ground game.
Spece beat Caol Uno by decision his last time out. We all know Spence. They guy is a very sharp boxer and a good ground guy. Not so good with the control game, but very good at slapping on submissions from his back, especially the triangle choke.
This is going to be a tough fight for Spencer. Spencer has shown that he does not do well once someone has passed his guard, and Joe is very good at passing guard. After he passes guard, Joe will likely stay in the half guard or side control positions. Joe by decision.
Gleison Tibau Vs. Josh Neer (Lightweight)
Gleison lost to Melvin Guillard by decision in his last fight. Gleison is a smart strong ground guy, but he is very lazy. He really does not work very hard for submissions, and gets them only when he has frustrated his opponent enough to give up something.
Josh Neer is one of my absolute favorite fighters to watch. He fights every second of every round. He tries to finish the fight every second of every round... Josh lost his last fight by decision to Kurt Pellegrino. Kurt was able to slow the fight way down and smother Josh on the ground. Not the game Josh likes to play. Josh's game is to smash your face, or triangle choke you. That is what he does.
This should be an interesting fight. I think that heart will play a major role here, and who has the bigger heart? Josh the freaking Dentist Neer. Gleison may be able to smother Josh the first round, but after that the lazy Tibau will not be able to stop the aggressive Neer. Neer by KO mid third round!!
Cain Velasquez Vs. Ben Rothwell (Heavyweight)
Cain is the new up and comer in the UFC. He is 6-0 with 5 fights ending in KO. Cain took apart Cheick Kongo by decision last time he was in the cage, and looks to do more of the same.
Ben Rothwell was a stand out in the IFL, as well as any other promotion he fought for... except Affliction. He was dropped by Andrei Arlovski there. Ben is a well rounded fighter from MFS. He wins mostly by KO, but has some submission sprinkled in there.
I don't see how Ben wins this one. Cain is more athletic, a better wrestler and seemingly sharper on the feet. Despite the HUGE gap in experience, 6-0 to Ben's 30-6, I think Cain wins this one. Cain by G&P KO second round.
Lyoto Machida Vs. Mauricio Rua (Light Heavyweight Championship)
Machida won his last fight by knocking Rashad Evans completely out. Machida has raised Karate's flag in MMA. Not just Karate, but the super traditional Shotokan style of Karate. His use of foot sweeps has made kickboxers stop kicking, and his power on the ground forced wrestlers to stop going for takedowns. He is a new conundrum that the MMA world, so focused on BJJ and Muay Thai, has yet to figure out.
Rua is a kickboxer who knocked out Chuck Liddell in his last fight out. Shogun used to be the quintessential Chute Boxe fighter, but no longer. Ever since the injury to his arm in his first fight with Mark Coleman, Shogun has not been the same man.
This fight should end very quickly for Machida. He will first put Shogun off balance, take the fight to the ground and finish it with a submission.
I have been one to make fun of Karate, mainly because of the rigid adherence to silly rules and restrictions that its practitioners love. It has made the art stale, and worse, useless in a fight. The Machida form of Shotokan keeps the forms, and the tradition, but opened up to all of the other styles out there. Now Machida's base is Karate, but he is a true Mixed Martial Artist.
Machida by arm triangle choke first round.