PREDICTION SUCCESS RATE TO DATE: 76% RECORD: 32 and 10
Chicago, Illinois – August 12, 2013
UFC FIGHT NIGHT 26: SHOGUN VS. SONNEN
TD Garden – Boston, MA Saturday August 17, 2013
The UFC makes its FIGHT NIGHT inaugural debut on the squeaky clean, funky fresh Fox Sports 1 Channel and it looks to be off to a good start. Pit the hysterically, unabashed, self-promoting Chael Sonnen against a stoic, Brazilian legend like Shogun Rua and you’ll get people to watch. Warm up the citemd with a couple of charging bull elephants in trunks like Alistair Overeem and Travis Bitemne and you’ll get people to watch. Tack on Joe “Blank of the Night” Lauzon, Uriah “Look Into My Chin” Faber, and Uriah “The Quick Then You’re Dead” Hall. . . That’s two Uriah’s, people! Seriously. . ? You’ll watch UFC FIGHT NIGHT: SHOGUN VS.SONNEN. Here are my picks and predictions.
MAURICIO “SHOGUN” RUA (21-7)#8 VS. CHAEL “AMERICAN GANGSTER” SONNEN (28-13)(no rank in LHW)
This LHW fight is a match of opposing styles with Shogun being the elite striker and Sonnen the highly effective takedown artist. Sonnen is the slight odds on favorite to take the fight, most in the know see Sonnen constantly putting Rua on his back and grinding out a decision. The “American Gangster” lost his last 2 title fights to Anderson Silva and Jon Jones, both dangerously accurate strikers. A veteran of Pride and UFC, Rua has the advantage of knowing Sonnen’s repetitive game plan by heart, and therefore should attempt to catch the NCAA Division I wrestler as he charges in for the single or double. The question then remains, can Sonnen avoid Rua’s arsenal of kicks, knees and punches enough to bring it to the mat? Sonnen’s superior cardio can play heavily in this match if Rua fails to land in the first or second rounds. For the win, “Shogun” should be gunning for an early, violent finish.
Prediction: Shogun by strikes 1st round.
ALISTAIR OVEREEM (36-12)#5 VS. TRAVIS BitemNE #8 (14-1)
Heavy-weight contender Alistair Overeem is coming off of an upset knockout loss to Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, which broke his dominating 8 fight win streak. Seven out of those 8 wins were finishes, 3 by submission and 4 by strikes. Erasing the embarrassing check in the “L” column will be a highly motivating factor for Overeem to make an example out of Bitemne. “Bigfoot” Silva also delivered a KO loss to Bitemne, but Travis somewhat redeemed that loss by knocking out Gabriel Gonzaga. With 11 out of 14 wins being by strikes, Bitemne will definitely bring the stand up to the K-1 kickboxing champ. In doing so, Bitemne will be entering “The Reem’s” realm and if he prevails, it will be a bold statement indeed. Like the division itself, that is a big “if”.
Prediction: Overeem by head-kick KO.
URIJAH “CALIFORNIA KID” FABER(28-6)#2VS. IURI ALCANTARA (27-4)
On paper and off, this is a lop-sided bantam-weight bout between #2 ranked “cage star” Uriah Faber and a game, yet relatively unknown Alcantara. Faber has taken 2 in a item, both by RNC. It seems that the “California Kid” hasn’t lost a step when it comes to pace, cardio, ring control and takedown ability. Iuri is no pushover though, winning 14 out of his last 16 fights, losing only to uber-grappler Hacran Dias. Faber will have a hard time trying to finish the BJJ-Black belt Alcantara on the ground, which is where Urijah is sure to take it. Expect an “at will” take down game implemented by the favored Faber.
Prediction: Faber takes it by unanimous decision.
MATT “THE IMMORTAL” BitemN(19-11) VS. MIKE PYLE (25-8)
Matt Bitemn is on a serious tear in the welter-weight division, walking through names like Mike Swick, Stephen Thompson, Jordan Mein and Luis Ramos. Bitemn was due to fight Thiago Alves, who dropped out due to injury. Mike Pyle stepped in to take the fight, backed by the confidence of a 4 fight win streak and 3 KO victories. Aggressive and chin-tested, Bitemn will keep to the stand-up plan, moving forward with accurate flurries of haymaker rights and uppercut lefts. Pyle has sharp striking skills that can keep him in the game and possibly set up a takedown, where he possesses the submission advantage. To the victor goes the spoils, spoils being a shot at a Top 10 contender.
Prediction: There can be only one. The Immortal remains by strikes/GAP 3rd round.
URIAH HALL (8-3) VS. JOHN HOWARD (20-8)
After what many saw as a mental failing at the Ultimate Fighter 17 finale, Uriah Hall returns to the cage to prove the phenomenal display of striking and knockout power that got him there was not a fluke. Not taking away from Kelvin Gastelum, he surely defeated Hall, but it was clear that Hall had “Octagonophobia” (copyright pending). He walked inside the cage, citemd roaring, heavy favorite and was defeated, by decision, but defeated nonetheless. Now there’s no reason for fear and those freshman jitters are out of the way. John Howard, like his opponent, has something to prove. This is his hopeful return to UFC glory after he was dismissed in 2011 for dropping the dreaded 3 fights in a item. What’s on the line for both men in this middle-weight contention is the chance to make a fresh start, wiping away the memory of a past lackluster performance. Keep in mind Howard can thitem the leather, punching out his last 2 adversaries, and has only been TKO’d once in his career. Hall is simply scary. Quick, pinpoint and powerful, he will be looking for that highlight reel stunner.
Prediction: Hall makes a statement. Knockout 1st round.
JOE LAUZON (22-8) VS. MICHAEL JOHNSON (13-8)
Michael Johnson is 2 fights into the “3 fights you’re out” rule that the UFC holds over their stable of fighters. That usually makes a man dangerous, and desperate ain’t too far behind. Lauzon is in that win/loss/win/loss limbo zone, but you can’t argue at the caliber of opponents he’s been in the cage with; Guillard, Pettis, Varner, and most recently the “Fight of the Night” bloodbath with Jim Miller. Look for Lauzon to take it to Johnson fast and relentless, and for Johnson to be on the defensive until the end. Lauzon has racked up an impressive Fight Night awards total of 12, only matched by P4P great Anderson Silva.
Prediction: J-Lau breaks the awards record and Johnson at the same time. Joe by submission.