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Rashad Evans v. Phil Davis
Doctor Law: As you will also read in the prediction below mine, Kid Presentable and I are huge fans of Phil Davis. We met the guy after the infamous Fedor v. Werdum card in June 2010. He was the ONE black guy leaving the HP Pavilion among a sea of Vietnamese people (San Jose, CA…look up the demographics). No one else noticed Mr. Wonderful and he was wearing a shirt that said “I’m a keeper” on the front. Combine that with the fact that he wears pink fight shorts and took his nickname from a cat he had while he was in college and we were sold. I hate to pick against him, but I think Rashad is going to absolutely murk him. It’s true, Phil Davis has the advantage in terms of amateur wrestling credentials. That being said, Rashad is arguably the best “MMA wrestler” in the light heavyweight division. He has been able to take down anybody he’s wanted to. Phil Davis, on the other hand, had way too difficult a time getting Lil Nog down. Additionally, Phil Davis' striking is still fairly rudimentary and it’s unlikely that he has made huge strides in that area. Rashad has a few highlight reel KOs on his record and has been the #1 contender since May 2010. He’s going to finally get that shot after this win. Rashad by 3rd round TKO.
Kid Presentable: Mr. Wonderful is one of my favorite fighters on the planet straight up. Ever since I met him a little bit back, I've rooted major for the guy. That said, this fight is too much too soon. Of course it is possible that Davis has taken a Daniel Cormier like leap in striking ability in his time off since his last fight, but on paper it just doesn't seem like a great matchup. Rashad while not as credentialed a wrestler as Davis, has been one of the best MMA wrestlers in recent history. In his fight with Tito Ortiz, Rashad had also put on some noticeable size and strength and savaged Ortiz with a knee to the abdomen. Rashad had been notoriously on the smaller side of fighters at light heavyweight and many calls were made that he should think about middleweight, but he's now walking around rocking him some Overeem shoulders. Davis is a tremendous wrestler and ever-improving in his overall game, but I see this fight playing out by there being a cancelation of wrestling between these two for the most part and it coming down to Rashad's greater speed and striking with Rashad ultimately ground and pounding his way to a victory. On one last note though, Davis is a very reasonable underdog as the universe and Jon Jones like to spit on Evans' hopes of ever getting another title shot. So there is a reasonable chance for Davis winning by karmic screw job. Rashad by TKO round 3.
DJ Mark with a “K”: Rashad looked awesome in his last fight with Tito Ortiz. That’s not saying too much considering how Tito looked during the last few years (Bader win #dealwiththedevil). Phil will be a tough challenge, but I still think the kid's a bit too raw to pull out a win over the always #1 contender Rashad Evans. It’ll be interesting to see where the fight takes place. I think we might be seeing a lot of stand up as the wrestling from each fighter might cancel each other out. I think Rashad’s stand up has evolved more than Davis’s and I think he might be able to pull off a couple round sealing takedowns as well. Rashad by Decision.
Lavender Gooms: Alright UFC, here’s chance #2. You’ve already learned from your first foray in televising fights on broadcast TV by airing MORE THAN ONE FIGHT. I’m not sure why people are always booing Evans at UFC cards. He doesn’t really talk a lot of crap and he always seems respectable and articulate in his interviews. The tale of the tape tells one story. While Evans was good, Davis was a better college wrestler, possesses more natural talent, and is larger and is likely stronger than Evans. Where Evans holds an edge is in his experience. Compared to Evans’ amount of experience, Davis is still a neophyte when it comes to MMA. Rashad has become a much better striker since entering the UFC and holds a clear advantage there. Evans has also fought many more high level opponents and this will be Davis’ toughest challenge yet. If Evans tries to turn this into a wrestling match, I believe Davis will dominate, but Evans is smarter than that and will pick his spots in the stand up. Evans by decision.
Picking Evans: Dr. Law, Kid P, DJ Mark, Gooms
(More predictions and highlights from Thursday's press conference after the jump)
Chael Sonnen v. Michael Bisping
|Image via mmamania.com
Doctor Law: This was originally supposed to be a matchup between Mark Munoz and Chael Sonnen. Unfortunately, Munoz injured his right arm about a week ago. Bisping jumped at the opportunity to slide into the co-main event and fight for a shot at Anderson Silva’s middleweight title. That’s right…Anderson Silva is the middleweight champion. I didn’t think that was up for debate, but Chael Sonnen is rolling around Chicago with a replica UFC title belt. Seriously. The man is going to media events with the belt and is claiming to be the middleweight champion. I know it’s all an act…and I love it. I’m an old pro wrestling fan and listening to Chael basically rip off “Ravishing” Rick Rude and Jessie “The Body” Ventura is hilarious. Anyways, Chael is an unreasonably high favorite in this fight. The oddsmakers clearly don’t like Bisping, despite the fact that “The Count” is a pretty good defensive wrestler. Bisping also has great technical striking, but no power. I think if Bisping had a longer camp to prepare for Chael, I may have picked him for the upset, but 10 days is not enough time to prepare for Sonnen’s world class double leg takedown. It’ll be closer than people think, but I’m going with Sonnen by decision.
Kid Presentable: A lot of people are more interested in this fight due to the potential of trash talk between these two brash personalities but personally, I preferred the Munoz matchup. On top of that, a couple nights out from the fight and the talk has been kept to a surprising minimum. Bisping is the perennial contender who is just not good enough to make it to the top. Technically sound in every aspect of the game, he lacks any kind x-factor that puts him over the top into the upper echelon. Sonnen, albeit with a long list of losses on his record, has the strength of being the top wrestler in the division and, performance enhancers be damned, proved to have one helluva chin against Anderson Silva. Bisping has been infamously dubbed "pillow hands" by several fighters and isn’t likely to crack Chael any better than Anderson got a chance to and though he may be able to hold his own grappling wise, does not have nearly the bottom submission game of the Spider either. This will be a long night for the Brit, and another chance for an awesome victory speech from my fellow Oregon Duck alum. Sonnen by decision.
DJ Mark with a “K”: Well this is an interesting turn of events. A little opponent switch always makes things interesting. Honestly, I feel bad for Bisping, his original fight against Maia was a much better style match up for him. Chael is going to give Bisping problems. While no one has been able to ground Bisping for an entire match I think Chael will be able to get enough takedowns to get the nod from the judges. Chael by decision.
Lavender Gooms: As you may already know, I more often than not lean towards the asshole in a fight …but who’s the bigger asshole here? Bisping’s strength is his technical kickboxing and is one of the rare Englishmen with a solid ground game. He is also one of the better middleweights in the world. However, Sonnen, despite all of his hot air, is easily in the top 3 and was 23 minutes on his way to being the best in the world. Sonnen will be able to take Bisping down with regularity and impose his will. Sonnen by decision.
Picking Sonnen: Dr. Law, Kid P, DJ Mark, Gooms
Demian Maia v. Chris Weidman
Doctor Law: I have always been high on Damian Maia’s skills. I remember selling him to Lavender Gooms like he was the cure for cancer back in August 2009 when he was about to fight Nate Marquardt. Maia promptly made me look like a schmuck by getting KO’d in 21 seconds. Since then, Maia’s standup skills have improved greatly. I honestly find it ridiculous that Maia is the underdog in this fight and based on the predictions below me, the other guys do too. Weidman is a good prospect and has a bright future ahead of him, but I don’t think he’s ready for Damian Maia. Weidman had 10 days to prepare and I don’t see how he plans on winning this fight. I think Maia is a better striker than him and taking down Maia seems stupid considering Maia’s insane ground game. I think Maia is going to make this kid tap. Maia by 2nd round submission.
Kid Presentable: Weidman is a great prospect, and he straight classed Filthy Tom in his last matchup, but the betting line on this fight is criminally undervaluing Maia to me. Maia's boxing took great leaps in his fight with Munoz, and though it was a bit of a snoozer, he took care of business against Santiago as well. Weidman's strength in the cage comes from his wrestling, and typically a great wrestler can most always do enough to cancel out a great BJJ player but then ultimately win due to top control. Maia however, is one of the best in the business, and I'm hoping that we finally get to see more of his claim to fame instead of him working his rudimentary boxing ability. This fight will likely come down to whose grappling acumen is better on the night, and here's hoping to one of those slick submissions that Maia made his name off of. A certain editor of this site once told me Demian Maia was Royce Gracie 2.0, then i saw him get knocked the F out about 15 seconds later. Let's see if this prophecy finally comes true, we always knew Neo was the one. Maia by submission, round 2.
DJ Mark with a “K”: I’ve seen Chris fight a bunch of times (live and on the tube) and I can’t really remember him. There’s a whole generation of UFC fighters that just completely fly under my radar and Chris is in that group. From what I remember, the dude likes to wrestler and that could be his own doom here. Maia hasn’t gotten a submission in a long time and I think it’s time he reminds everyone why he was invited to the dance in the first place. Maia by 1st round submission.
Lavender Gooms: I was more interested in this fight when it was supposed to be Maia and Bisping, but you can’t cry over spilled milk or the shake-up as a result of injured fighters. So as a result, we have Maia fighting Weidman. I think Weidman is going to be in a large disadvantage considering he’s taking this fight with just about 2 weeks of notice. Weidman is a great wrestler, but a game plan that’s predicated on taking your opponent to the ground against an all-galaxy Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner like Damien Maia isn’t just asking for trouble, it’s inviting it in, asking how it’s day went, and giving it a cup of coffee as it contorts your body into a weird position and makes you tap. Maia by submission in the 2nd round.
Picking Maia: Dr. Law, Kid P, DJ Mark, Gooms