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UFC 86 - Preview & Picks
Posted by DoTheMMAth Tuesday, July 1, 2008 12:00 AM
UFC 86 Preview & Picks
By Matthew Brothers
Now that we’ve crowned our 7th “Ultimate Fighter” in Amir Sadollah, it’s time for the coaches to lace up the gloves and go to battle. The UFC light-heavyweight championship of the world will be on the line when the champ, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson meets the original “Ultimate Fighter”, Forrest Griffin. The 205lb. title has been on the shelf since last September, when Jackson defeated his long-time friend from his days in the PRIDE FC organization, Dan Henderson. Griffin also hasn’t fought since September, when he shocked the world with his submission victory over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, a man many consider to be the best fighter in the world at 205. Also, on the card we’ll have a match-up for middleweight title contender status as “The Predator” Patrick Cote takes on the very dangerous submission specialist Ricardo Almeida. Along with these two bouts we’ll see some great lightweight battles, as well as some familiar faces from “TUF”. All in all, the July PPV offering from the UFC will surely excite, as well as clear up some questions for the light-heavyweight and middleweight title picture.
After a very dismal night of picks for UFC 85, I hope to rebound back to psychic status with at least an 8/10. Only time will tell, enjoy the show!
Justin Buchholz (7-2) vs. Corey Hill (2-0)
After getting choked out in the first round by Matt Wiman back in January, Justin Buchholz looks to impress with his sophomore effort inside the UFC’s octagon. Standing in his way will be “TUF” season 5 stand-out Corey Hill. Hill is a very tall lightweight standing 6’4” and having a body that looks more like a topographic map of Colorado than that of a human being. Buchholz does have the edge in experience, but he’ll need more than that to defeat the Pat Miletich trained Hill. Buchholz did look impressive in his four fights before the Wiman loss, winning all of them well inside the first round, three of them by T/KO and one by triangle choke. Most UFC fans will jump to pick Hill as the favorite because they saw him on “TUF”, but I wouldn’t be so quick to count out Buchholz.
Pick: Justin Buchholz def. Corey Hill via T/KO in the 2nd round.
Melvin Guillard (21-7-2) vs. Dennis Siver (11-5)
After taking one fight out of the UFC to tighten up his game, the once impressive Melvin Guillard faces Germany’s Dennis Siver in what will probably be a loser leaves the UFC match. I had the good fortune to be in the beautiful city of Phoenix back in March when Guillard fought Eric “Shortbus” Regan for “Rage in the Cage” in a fight that went to the scorecards. Guillard may have won the fight, but he looked less than stellar in victory. Siver on the other hand has also lost two out of his last three fights in the UFC, dropping his last fight to the up-and-coming Gray Maynard by decision. Guillard brings more of a striking game to the octagon while Siver is more of a grappler. Tough to call because both guys have the ability to be flakey come fight night, but I’m going to err on the side of the ground game.
Pick: Dennis Siver def. Melvin Guillard via Submission in the 2nd round.
Jorge Gurgel (12-3) vs. Cole Miller (13-3)
In his fight against Jeremy Stephens, Cole Miller was admittedly lackadaisical and off of his game. He is now refocused and reenergized and ready to go to war with BJJ black-belt and fearless brawler Jorge Gurgel. Miller will have a significant height and reach advantage over the smaller Gurgel. The long limbs and striking power of Miller are going to have to be neutralized by Gurgel, which is going to mean taking Miller down. Unfortunately for Gurgel, Miller also knows a thing or two about grappling. Until the last moments of the second round when Stephens scored the TKO victory over him, Miller looked very impressive on the ground, utilizing both a heel hook, a d’arce choke, and also an inverted triangle choke before Stephens was saved by the bell. Gurgel is a very talented grappler and has as much heart and determination as anyone else, but mathematics and logic lead me to pick Miller. Expect this fight to be a battle to the bitter end.
Pick: Cole Miller def. Jorge Gurgel via Unanimous Decision
Gabriel Gonzaga (8-3) vs. Justin McCully (8-3)
Gabriel Gonzaga is a star. Sure, he’s lost his last two fights in the UFC, but his head kick knockout of Mirko Cro Cop is basically played on a continuous loop whenever a UFC highlight is shown. That one moment in his career made him not only a household name among MMA fans the world over, but ensured him a spot on the UFC’s sorely lacking heavyweight roster as long as he can make weight and show up to fight. I see this match with Justin McCully as a tune-up fight, and an opportunity for the UFC to get Gonzaga a win and remain relevant in the heavyweight title picture. McCully is not to be taken lightly by any means, but if you’re comparing resumes, Gonzaga is the obvious pick to win.
Pick: Gabriel Gonzaga def. Justin McCully via Submission in the 1st round.
Marcus Aurelio (16-5) vs. Tyson Griffin (11-1)
My early-bird pick for fight of the night easily. Both of these guys are dangerous grapplers with Griffin getting the wrestling edge and Aurelio getting the edge in submissions. This is going to be a fast-paced fight with a lot of scrambles and a lot of friction. Aurelio has more to lose on the feet so look for him to be the initiator of takedowns. Griffin, although a tremendous wrestler, can also throw some heavy leather and holds the distinction of being the only man ever to beat Urijah Faber. Aurelio submitted Ryan Roberts so fast he probably sweat more during the ring-walk than the actual fight. This is going to be an exciting fight and I’m picking the winner more on instinct than a technical analysis being that these guys are both so talented.
Pick: Tyson Griffin def. Marcus Aurelio via Unanimous Decision.
Joe Stevenson (28-8) vs. Gleison Tibau (15-5)
I might be the only one, but I really thought Joe Stevenson had a better chance against B.J. Penn than people were giving him credit for. One has to wonder how the fight would’ve turned out had Joe not been so badly cut early on. Joe is a great wrestler, has amazing cardio, and has a guillotine that would make Louis XVI proud. He is a compact and muscular lightweight with a lot of experience in MMA. Gleison Tibau is a submission fighter out of American Top Team in Florida. Tibau and Stevenson both bring dangerous ground games into this fight, so it makes one wonder will the fight be a battle of who is the better grappler, or will it be decided on the feet? I think this will be a 15-minute battle with the winner coming via decision. I just can’t logically pick either guy to be knocked out or submitted.
Pick: Joe Stevenson def. Gleison Tibau via Unanimous Decision.
Josh Koscheck (10-2) vs. Chris Lytle (25-15-5)
If there was ever a fight that Chris Lytle could win that would kill his status as welterweight “gatekeeper”, this is the one. Both Lytle and Koscheck are coming off of impressive wins, Lytle went through Kyle Bradley like a hot axe through warm butter and Koscheck defeated a very game Dustin Hazelett. Koscheck has been working on his striking of late and showed off some of his new skills against Hazelett. “Kos” is an amazing wrestler who could just as easily grind you out on the ground as knock you out standing. Lytle, a former boxer, has a great deal of wrestling skills himself. I give “Kos” the wrestling advantage over just about anyone, and if he’s improved on the feet as much as is rumored, then Lytle might be in trouble there as well. Lytle definitely has the experience factor but will it be enough to put out the shooting star that is Josh Koscheck? I doubt it.
Pick: Josh Koscheck def. Chris Lytle via T/KO in the 3rd round.
Ricardo Almeida (9-2) vs. Patrick Cote (12-4)
I sure do like Patrick Cote, but I’m not sold on him yet as a middleweight contender. He does have KO power, but I see holes in his ground game that someone like Almeida can and will exploit. Cote’s last two victories have been over Kendall Grove and Drew McFedries. We all know Grove has a glass jaw, and McFedries can punch like a mule can kick, but does a win over these two guys terribly impress anyone? I’ll say it again; I’m a fan of Patrick Cote. I love Quebec and I’m crazy about poutine (look it up), but I just don’t see Cote ever being a force at 185. Contrarily, Almeida has the ability to submit anyone, and has only been defeated by strikes once in his career. Sure, he’s only had 11 pro fights, and only one in the last four years, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Almeida might be the UFC’s best chance of dethroning Anderson Silva at 185.
Pick: Ricardo Almeida def. Patrick Cote via Submission in the 2nd round.
Quinton Jackson (28-6) vs. Forrest Griffin (15-4)
You just gotta love Forrest. He’s the original “Ultimate Fighter” for cryin’ out loud. His first fight with Stephan Bonnar put MMA on the map. I don’t care what was going on in Japan, or how cool Royce Gracie was back in the early days, Forrest and Stephan put MMA on the map. Most fans, me included, may have never given the UFC a first or in my case, second look had it not been for the “TUF” show, and a slugfest between two guys fighting for a six-figure contract live on cable. Phones everywhere were ringing off the hook as Griffin and Bonnar traded blows and dripped blood in what Dana White himself calls “the most important fight in UFC history.”
Right about that time in ’05, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson was defeated by Mauricio Rua, a man Forrest would later beat in ’07. I’m no believer in MMA math, but it does raise ones eyebrow to know that even though Jackson is the heavy favorite to win this fight, Griffin has beat man that “Rampage” never could.
Technically, neither one of these guys is going to get a jiu-jitsu award anytime soon. On the feet, Jackson, who has two TKO victories over Chuck Liddell among others, has the clear advantage. I’d also give the wrestling advantage to Quinton. Striking and wrestling aside, Forrest has the factor that you can’t learn in a gym, you can’t get it my doing drills, and you won’t find it by hitting pads. I’m talking of course about the “X” factor, and Griffin has it. He has never once been submitted in his career. I personally think Forrest would rather get his arm broken or lose consciousness than tapout. He’s not afraid to get punched, and can typically absorb a lot of punishment before breaking down. Forrest has already said that he’s not going to stand in the pocket and trade with Quinton. After all, he might be crazy but he’s not a moron. The key for Forrest to win this fight is to get in and get out. Throw a leg kick then a punch combination and retreat. If Quinton barrels in, then you go for the takedown, and pray Quinton doesn’t land on top. I’m not even going to tell you what Quinton needs to do because we should already know. He needs to bide his time, and when Forrest comes in with a flurry, time it right, and counter-punch him out of his shoes just like he did to Liddell. I’d love to see Forrest win this fight, but I wouldn’t bet a dollar on it at 100 to 1. If I’m right, then Jackson leaves with his belt and we wait for the next challenger. If I’m wrong, and Forrest exercise his “X” factor, well then maybe I should’ve made that dollar bet.
Pick: Quinton Jackson def. Forrest Griffin via T/KO in the 3rd round.
Cole Miller (-115)
Ricardo Almeida (-125)
Quinton Jackson (-275)
Tyson Griffin (-240)
Justin Buchholz (+390)
*All betting lines obtained by MMAPlayground.com
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