Junior Dos Santos (c) v. Cain Velasquez
|Image via Themmanews
DJ Mark with a "K": Their first fight was so short that it’s difficult to take away a lot from it. The one thing we learned is that Junior has the power to stop Cain early in the fight, which isn’t all that surprising but is still a very important factor. I thought Cain’s strategy in the first fight was a pretty decent one (he seemed to be focusing on leg kicks to counter the distance of a boxer like Junior) but was also putting himself in a lot of danger. This time around I would think Cain would try a different approach and try to make this a grappling match. Cain’s bread and butter is wrestling and I think using those skills is the safest way for him to get his title back. The problem is that Junior is extremely good at staying off his back. It’ll be interesting to see if Cain is able to get the match on the ground and if he has the skill to keep Junior there. I fear if Cain can’t gain control of this fight by either getting it to the ground or pushing Junior up against the fence it’ll just be a matter of time till Junior can lay his hands on Cain and retain his title. Since I have yet to see anyone be able to use this type of game plan against Junior I’m siding with him. Junior via 2nd round TKO 2:31.
Kid Presentable: First things first, no matter who wins here, these are the top two heavyweights in the world. Even if Cain gets put to sleep a minute into the fight once more, I still wouldn’t hesitate to pick him to smash the rest of the division. That said, I think we’ll see something a little different this time. Cain is a smart and fast evolving fighter. Everyone and their mother knows the big question mark is what if Cain took the fight to the mat? It will be interesting to see Cain’s game plan because you can’t just simply take it to the mat, you have to train how you are going to set up taking your shot. JDS has some of the most successful take down defense in the division and even then he has long trained under the Nogueiras and won’t be helpless if it goes there. I really hope that Cain takes this just to keep this feud going, because if there are any two fighters deserving of more than just a trilogy of fights, it’s these two guys here. Overall though, I can’t really pick Cain until he proves that he can take down and neutralize JDS biggest weapons. Cain so far has proven to be quite hitable in every one of his fights, and Overeem is probably the only other guy in the division that hits this hard. JDS by TKO round 3.
|Image via Bleacherreport
Lavender Gooms:I think to call Cain the number #1 contender would be an insult to just how good he really is. In the heavyweight division Junior Dos Santos and Cain are 1 and 1A. Both of these fighters are young(ish) and extremely talented. This might be premature, but I think this could be the beginning of the first true rivalry in MMA on the same level as Ali-Frazier. I would not be surprised if the heavyweight title changes hands between the two of them three or four times in the next five years. There is no denying that JDS caught him (very well) in their fight a year ago and dropped him very early in their fight. However I attribute that more to Cain losing his head for a bit and trying to stand with an extremely feared striker and being much more hesitant than he has ever been. This time around I see Cain using the high level wrestling he wasn’t able to use in the first fight. I think Cain wins this time, mainly because you can’t have a good rivalry stating off 0-2 right? Velasquez by TKO in 3rd round.
Picking Dos Santos-Dr. Law, Kid P, DJ Mark
Picking Velasquez- Gooms
Joe Lauzon v. Jim Miller
|Image via Sherdog
DJ Mark with a "K": It’s too bad Maynard got hurt because I think Lauzon would have made for an interesting opponent for him. However, getting Miller to fill the spot isn’t so bad. The thing with Lauzon is that he’s always been a hot and cold fighter. In some fights he looks downright scary with his explosive style, then other times it seems like he just can’t get all the gears in motion. He also tends to start strong and gas later in the fight which made his recent 3rd round victory over Varner all the more impressive. However, Miller is one of those guys that has only lost to the cream of the crop of the 155 division. I think Miller will be able to withstand the early barrage and will wear down Lauzon late in the fight to secure a decision victory. Miller by decision
Kid Presentable: One of two fights on this card that lost a little bit of luster due to injury (hope to see you back soon Grey Maynard). Regardless though, you get two guys that will down right scrap and always go for the kill. Miller was right on the cusp of a title shot but has since dropped a couple and needs to bounce back, while Lauzon is coming off a potential fight of the year candidate. In my head Jim Miller is basically the better version of Joe Lauzon. More power in his strikes, a little bit better of a ground game, a stronger wrestling game... Yet I am kind of leaning an upset here. Lauzon showed in his last fight the ability to keep the fight and pace going past the first round, and he feels just a tad higher with the momentum right here. I would hate see Jim fall into a losing streak here, and could just as easily see him dropping then choking Lauzon, I am going to take a stab and say it goes the other way. Lauzon by submission 2nd round.
Lavender Gooms: The reason why Nate Diaz had such a head of steam and momentum heading into his title fight with Bendo is because he beat Jim Miller and everyone thought the world of Jim Miller's skill and pedigree as a fighter. Lauzon will capitalize on any mistake that a fighter gives but Miller will be comfortable enough in this fight that he will not have to resort to takedowns that will leave him a position to be submitted. Miller by decision
Picking Lauzon- Kid P, Dr. Law
Picking Miller-Gooms, DJ Mark
Tim Boetsch vs. Constantinos Philippou
DJ Mark with a "K": I’ve been super impressed with Boetsch since he moved down to Middle Weight. He’s right on the verge of getting a Title shot and this fight with Philippou seems like a very winnable fight for him. Philippou is a tough fighter in his own right and has the ability to give Boetsch some problems but I just feel like Boetsch has already fought and beaten tougher guys. If he can pick his shots and rough Philippou on the ground I think he get a late stoppage on Philippou. Boetsch via 3rd round TKO 3:58.
Kid Presentable: This fight originally carried a lot more weight when Timmy was fighting Chris “I’m the only one who cares about my title shot” Weidman. Both guys were essentially fighting for next, or on deck at the furthest. Philippou is an entertaining fighter who will always be willing to swing for it all, but Tim has proven to be an incredibly tough out, and a beast of grappler with his Redneck Judo. This won’t be the name Tim needs to get himself to the front of the line, but the matchup tends to favor him in every area. While Philippou has power, he isn’t technical enough of a striker to find the holes in Timmy’s standup, and Timmy should be able to go Beast Mode all over Philippou in the clinch and with takedowns. Timmy by TKO round 2.
Lavender Gooms: The Barbarian scoffs at this late replacement. Since moving down to middleweight, Boetch has won four straight and looked like a bona-fide title contender. Philippou faces his toughest fight yet, filling on short notice for Chris Weidman who suffered a shoulder injury a few weeks ago. With his heavy hands, steel jaw and wrestling, Boetsch should get the better of Phlilppou in each area. Superior wrestling will decide this match and earn the Barbarian an easy decision. Boestch by decision.
Picking Boetsch- All of us
Alan Belcher v. Yushin Okami
DJ Mark with a "K": Okami has been floating around Middle Weights top ten for years now. Good enough to beat the majority of opponents in the division but unable to beat the very cream of the crop it seems like its his faith to be the gatekeeper for title contenders and up and comers. Belcher on the other hand is considered to be a potential contender if he can get past the likes of Okami. These two have fought before but both are different fighters now. However, I feel the road to victory is still the same for both. Okami needs to gain control of the fight and be able to wear down Belcher. Belcher needs to keep this fight standing and use his footwork and kicks to keep Okami at distance. It’s going to be a close fight but I think Okami will be able to control enough of the fight to get a somewhat controversial decision. Okami by decision
Kid Presentable: Belcher is a guy I have been propping up for a little bit now, and it was great to be vindicated by his last performance against Palhares. Okami seems to be heading toward the declining stage of his career, even though that is kind of hard to tell when all Okami victories pretty much have the same grinding look to them. Belcher has always come with the creative and powerful striking arsenal being a Duke Roufus guy, but it has his been his strength on the ground and in the clinch that has seen Belcher round out his entire mma game. Belcher should be able to fend off Okami’s clinch game and make him pay on the feet. I think Belcher will beat up Yushin, and at some point will drop him, and then will finish with the sub. Belcher by RNC round 3.
Lavender Gooms: Let’s get the facts down. Yushin Okami is still the man (at the very least I think he is). His only two losses in the last three years have been to Anderson Silva (no one to sneeze at) and to Boetsch (a fight in which he was dominating for most of it). These two fought once before and while much has changed, much as also stayed the same. Okami still has the ability to break Belcher’s will with his grinding style of wrestling and can hold his own on his feet with his boxing as long as he doesn’t get cornered. Okami by decision.
Picking Belcher-Kid P, Dr. Law
Picking Okami- Gooms, DJ Mark
Derek Brunson v. Chris Leben
|Image via Sherdog
DJ Mark with a "K": Even though Leben has been out of action for a while I still see him as the favorite in this fight. It’s hard to look at Brunson’s last fight against Jacre and think that Leben can’t get the same result. I believe Brunson was a late replacement but still, this doesn’t look good for Brunson making his UFC debut. However, this is a great fight for Leben to get back in the swing of things. I think he’ll make short work of Brunson but you could be wrong. Leben 1st round KO 2:04.
Kid Presentable: Derek Brunson adds to the assault of Strikeforce fighters into the various UFC divisions. Unfortunately for him though, there is only one way this fight ends and that is with Chris Leben putting him to sleep. Jacare is a very talented fighter, and I look forward to him coming over to the middleweight division. However, he only has one KO to his name which came at the price of Brunson’s head. Leben is coming back from another battle with drugs and alcohol, yet no matter what it will always remain that this dude can hit. Leben by KO round 1.
Lavender Gooms: Ring rust vs. Octagon jitters. I think Chris Leben will handle Derek Brunson in the first round in typical Crippler fashion. More importantly I hope Chris Leben has received the help that will keep him in the octagon and healthy. Leben by KO in 1st round.
Picking Leben- All of us