Cory Braiterman, our mad rankings scientist finally emerged from his lab with Top-25s for every division and some sort of strange rash. Check them out on the “Cory’s Rankings” header above, or if you’re that colossally lazy, click here.
Cory Braiterman, our mad rankings scientist finally emerged from his lab with Top-25s for every division and some sort of strange rash. Check them out on the “Cory’s Rankings” header above, or if you’re that colossally lazy, click here.
(Taking a look at fighters who weren’t on your moving picture box over the weekend.)
Contributor: Nolan Howell
-Vitor Belfort is like a fine wine. He just gets better wirh age. TRT or not, you can also see a shift in Vitor Belfort’s style. Gone is the boxing blitz, with him now adapting a more calculated shotokan karate attack. If he keeps this in mind when he gets his next shot, I wouldn’t mind seeing him fight for a belt once again. He has earned it either way.
-As for Luke Rockhold, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. He’ll probably maintain an Okami/Boetsch level of contendership, where he’ll float around the bottom of the top ten and get some surprising wins. Either way, no need to close the door on Rockhold just yet.
-Ronald “Jacare” Souza chomped on Chris Camozzi in a predictable bout. “Jacare” has some beautifully brutal grappling and it is going to keep him at the top of the division for quite awhile, especially considering his standup looks crisp as of late. He should move into a top contender’s bout soon. Camozzi is a tough dude and he’ll be back to be the top low-level gatekeeper soon enough. Kudos for stepping up to him.
-I scored the Evan Dunham vs. Rafael dos Anjos 29-28 for Dunham, giving him the last two rounds. Robbery seems to be the cry when any decision goes against your scorecard, but this was a razor-thin decision and brought one of the best fights of the night. Dos Anjos should expect a top-ten guy or big name next. Maybe Jim Miller or Melvin Guillard? Dunham should get another fun scrap to give him a win. Guys like Matt Wiman or Danny Castillo come to mind.
-The less said about Rafael Natal’s win, the better. Natal is his own worst enemy it seems and he won’t rise onto the main card anytime soon, hopefully.
-Nik Lentz brought it to Hacran Dias in a fight I enjoyed immensely. Lentz isn’t boring like most write him off as, as I always seem him working for position and strikes. Time for Lentz to get some top guys at 145. Dias put in a great fight and should be back on track in his next fight.
-Francisco Trinaldo sonned Mike Rio with an arm triangle from half card. It might be a big step up here, but I think Trinaldo would do some bad things to Melvin Guillard should he get past Mac Danzig. That sounds like a good fight.
-A Gleison Tibau submission win? Man, crazy stuff. Fuck getting guillotined by that brick house of a man. I wouldn’t mind seeing Tibau moving up a rung in his next fight.
-Paulo Thiago put on a lackluster performance against Michel Prazeres. The fight was fun, but Thiago showed that beating Josh Koscheck and Mike Swick could have been a nice streak of luck.
-Yuri Alcantara just brutalized a flyweight in Illarde Santos. I say give him a shot at Eddie Wineland and move that fight down the card a bit. May not make the most sense, but it’ll do in a pinch.
-Fabio Maldonado is just the best fighter to watch. Sure, he may be mediocre, but his body shots bring me a lot of joy. Nothing like some “boxing” in MMA.
-Speaking of sloppy boxing, John Lineker hits like a semi-truck and he’s more the size of a Tonka. This guy will be a fan favorite if you give him the spotlight. Unbelievable fun and he should be inching to a title shot soon.
-Jussier da Silva displayed grappling brilliance against a master scrambler in Chris Cariaso. Da Silva probably needs one more win against a fringe top-ten guy and then he can move up the ladder. Also, Cariaso is on a skid, but the guy brings a fight each time, so hopefully he has job security from Uncle Dana.
-The opener between Jeremy Larsen and Lucas Martins was ridiculously fun. It was something that belonged on Bellator prelims, but still, true grit displayed by both men. Larsen’s faceplant into the mat was a thing of beauty. I like Martins vs. Daron Cruickshank or some other fun striker next.
-Nolan can be reached @nolanhowell
(Welcome back to Undercard Supermarket, where our esteemed staff shares their fight food for tonight and I, as I’m wont to do, judge them. Let’s get it!)
(As is customary, Connor leads off and brings the meh. However, what Connor lacks in creativity, he brings in consistency. Pizza and sweet tea is solid, no matter how you, ahem, slice it. [self high-five])
(Our resident Vegan Vodkafan is recovering from a charity run and “being a good person” with a sweet potato/cocunut milk/roasted chili ravioli with serrano peppers with her beloved Tito’s and Tonic. I should bust her up, but she played to my love of booze, spicy peppers, and ravioli, so I got nothin’ on this. Don’t worry, she’ll slip up one day with a kale and chard something or other and I’ll be there to pounce and destroy.)
(Tonight, the role of Josh Hall will be played by everyone’s dad.)
(Young Tim’s embarrassment of a hockey team plays at noon, so he’ll be partaking early and no way will he make it to the FX card. The Great Lakes Winter is a nice touch when it’s 85 outside. Tim is going to be sloppier than a soup sandwich [(tm) my freshman football coach]
(Taylor gets a pass this week to miss the card because he’ll be at the Memorial Cup. For those of you poor, unfortunate souls who aren’t hockey fans, the Memorial Cup is a very big deal. Lots o’ Penguin prospects in that one. So he’s going hard after stadium grub, which I love. Although he did promise to have something called “mini donuts”, which is disconcerting.)
(At first, Tim only stated that he was drinking Keith, which I found unsettling, but it’s a life choice I respect. Then, I was corrected that it was in fact “Keith’s”, which is a Canadian brew. I vaguely remember TC drinking that in one of the Supermarket posts previously and I was appalled by it even then. I personally would rather drink Keith Hernandez.)
(Well, we know who’s going to have the weirdest poops tonight.)
(As I’ve stated before, I like to stick to a theme for my fight food. So in honor of Luke Rockhold’s Kennedy Hair, we’re shipping up to Boston! Lobster rolls and oysters. Lobster rolls are creamy and buttery and filling and awesome. For best results use New England Hot Dog buns. No idea what I’m going to do with the oysters yet, but damned if they aren’t fun to have on hand. Pair with, of course, Black Velvet and Diet Pepsi. ENJOY THE FIGHTS! SEE YOU TOMORROW! WAR PATRON SAINT!!)
Benjamin Kohn: 42-16, .724
Tim Bernier: 41-16, .719
Nolan Howell: 84-34, .712
Daniel Galvan: 19-8, .704
Tim Hickey: 64-27, .703
Josh Hall: 56-26, .683
Christian Diaz: 23-12, .657
Connor Dillon: 44-25, .638
Chris Groves: 30-19, .612
Lucas Bourdon: 7-5, .583
Luke Irwin: 76-62, .551
TC Engel: 20-20, .500
Last Event Winner: Luke Irwin (9-2)
(Alas, even with the best picks of the week, your esteemed editor could only merely claw hiw way out of his dungeon, but fail to see daylight. Ben and Nolan continue their pickle-in-the-middle of the top spot with Bernier unable to catch the nerf ball.)
Middleweight Bout: Luke Rockhold (10-1) vs. Vitor Belfort (22-10)
Luke Irwin: I think these two are very, very evenly matched, moreso than people think. I know the majority of Rockhold’s wins are via submission, but I just chalk that up to inferior opponents that he didn’t engage because he didn’t need to. I view Rockhold as a precision striker with a nice submission game, fantastic submission defense, a great gas tank, and a steady pace. Just like Vitor. Vitor will be the best striker Rockhold has ever faced, and Vitor certainly has stopping power. However, Vitor’s only been in the third round twice since Pride, and I think if Rockhold wants to make it a twenty-five minute fight, I’m not sure if Vitor still has that in him. If this fight is three rounds, I’m going Vitor, but I think Rockhold is able to make it last and wear down Vitor in the later rounds. Rockhold via UD.
Connor Dillon: Luke Rockhold put on a great performance against ‘Jacare’ to win the Strikeforce Middleweight championship, then beat Keith Jardine and Tim Kennedy to remain the champ. He’s a good wrestler with a developing arsenal of kicks trained at AKA. Vitor Belfort is the old lion who is as good as new with the help of his TRT. Ever since he captured the world with a dominating win against Wanderlei Silva, Vitor has faced ups and downs that many humans never will. He’s also making a comeback in a way, knocking out Michael Bisping with a beautiful head kick. So who will win? I think Rockhold will shock the world once again. I think he’ll use combinations mixed in with leg kicks to keep Vitor off his game and take the W over a Brazilian crowd. In my heart I really hope Vitor wins, but in this fight I think Rockhold has too many weapons to use. Luke Rockhold via Decision.
Tim Bernier: I think Vitor’s decline is nigh. Even coming off that spectacular head kick KO. At this point I think Rockhold weathers the early storm and grinds out an ugly W. It’ll be a good win, not controversial. But man is Rockhold going to have to work for it. Good fight. Rockhold by decision.
Tim Hickey: In a fun and relative main event, Belfort and Rockhold will clash in what could potentially be a title eliminator. This is a really tough fight to call, as Vitor only seems to lose to the upper echelon of the division over the last few years and holds the obvious experience advantage, but I think Rockhold’s variety of kicks, as well as the fact that the Strikeforce fighters have been on a run lately should propel him to victory. Rockhold via UD.
Marta Gallo: I’ll be honest here, I find both of these guys to be completely irritating. I do enjoy Vitor’s fight style a lot more though. I also don’t get all the “oh my he is so handsome” love for Rockhold. Going with the young dinosaur. Belfort.
Ben Kohn: Belfort R1 TKO.
Nolan Howell: This fight doesn’t seem to be as close as everyone believes it is. While Luke Rockhold is going to have staying power, his striking offense is kicks, kicks, and even more kicks. In those kicks, he hasn’t learned to keep his hands up. Rockhold will probably have an advantage on the ground, but Vitor Belfort will have one of his first round counterblitzes ready to go off of a few kicks. Vitor Belfort via first-round KO.
Middleweight Bout: Chris Camozzi (19-5) vs. Ronaldo Souza (17-3)
Luke Irwin: Alright, Camozzi, you wanted a step up in competition. Chomp. Chomp. Souza via R1 Submission.
Connor Dillon: This is an interesting fight for Camozzi, because we’ll see if he’s ready to become a possible contender. Since his run on TUF, Camozzi has been on a good streak of fights, winning most of them. On the other hand, ‘Jacare’ has been a champion in Strikeforce up until Luke Rockhold won the belt from him, as well as winning multiple championships in submission grappling beforehand. He’s a very dangerous fight for anyone, and I think at this point, it’s too early for Camozzi. I think ‘Jacare’ wins by submission, after a strong striking exchange. ‘Jacare’ via submission.
Tim Bernier: C’mon son. The only reason I don’t know how to pick this fight is because I don’t know if Jacare is going to finish it with strikes like he has lately, or he is going to use that fantastic BJJ and finish it with a submission. Jacare by submission. Jacare with chomping celebration.
Tim Hickey: Originally a matchup between two top 10 middleweights until Costas Philippou pulled out with an injury, on paper this looks like a bit of a mismatch. While Camozzi is scrappy, and has put together a very respectable 7-2, he has never faced a fighter as talented as Jacre. While Jacre’s opponents over his last three fights haven’t been stellar, I think he is better than Camozzi in every aspect of the fight game. Jacare via 2nd round sub.
Marta Gallo: Jacare is one of my favorite fighter nicknames. I would give him the win just for that. Fortunately he also has great jiu jitsu. Souza win via submission.
Ben Kohn: Souza R1 Sub.
Nolan Howell: Chris Camozzi is tougher than a two dollar steak. However, fighting Rafael Natal and now stepping up to face Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza is like going from little league to the MLB. This will hit the mat early and fast. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza via first-round submission.
Lightweight Bout: Evan Dunham (14-3) vs. Rafael dos Anjos (18-6)
Luke Irwin: As an aside, I find it funny that these two are a combined 1-1 with two split decisions against the patron saint. Ok, on to the fight. This is also pretty evenly matched up, both are entertaining with solid striking. dos Anjos is better on the ground, and every time I doubt him he comes through. RDA is only another win or two from title talk and I think he makes that next step. Dunham hasn’t been the same since the Sherk fight. dos Anjos via SD.
Connor Dillon: dos Anjos has been on a hotstreak since losing to Clay Guida in a fight that he forfeited after getting his jaw broken. Evan Dunham has stuttered as a prospect after losing to Sean Sherk and Melvin Guillard. Both are going to be strong staples in the Lightweight division for several more years I believe, and it really depends on this match up. dos Anjos has very good striking and a decent grappling base while Dunham has decent striking and a very good ground game. I suppose it depends on who will implement their preferred gameplan, and if Dunham can control himself and not get into a brawl. I think Dunham has grown from his losses, and it’ll be his night through better usage of takedowns and positional dominance. Evan Dunham via Decision.
Tim Bernier: I don’t know why I’m such an Evan Dunham fan. I’ve just always liked watching him fight. He’s been easy to root for. Dos Anjos is on a nice little streak of his own, and he’s the rightful favorite. But fuck it. Dunham is going to make this his brawl, and he’ll come out the winner, dropping the first round and taking the next two. Dunham by decision.
Tim Hickey: A couple of long time UFC veterans facing off here. Dos Anjos has looked solid in his last 3 fights, while Dunham has seen both ups and downs. I think Dunham’s wrestling is good enough to avoid the takedown, and I think he outstrikes Dos Anjos to victory Dunham via UD.
Marta Gallo: I predict this is FOTN. Dunham has looked good lately despite losing to TJ Grant, but Dos Anjos has looked better in every way. I think he keeps it up. Dos Anjos via decision.
Ben Kohn: dos Anjos UD.
Nolan Howell: This is a tough, tough call. Rafael dos Anjos has shown some brilliance in his past few fights, but as a whole, he is just getting hot after being a so-so midcarder. Evan Dunham has had his ups and downs as well, but has shown more promise against tougher competition. Dunham’s takedown defense, striking, and conditioning should win him this fight. Evan Dunham via unanimous decision.
Middleweight Bout: Joao Zeferino (13-4) vs. Rafael Natal (15-4-1)
Luke Irwin: Natal is puke and fights like an idiot, but Zeferino has beat nobodies in nowhere promotions. Zeferino fought six times last year, and I’ve only even HEARD of one of the promotions, and when I watched his fight in it, he never stood out. Natal via R1 TKO.
Connor Dillon: Natal has been in the UFC for several years now, going through a very normal win-lose-win-lose cycle there. This is Zeferino’s first time fighting for the UFC. Personally, this seems like a very top-heavy card, with this being the weakest on the Main. Zeferino also happens to be a submission wizard of sorts, grabbing 9 of his victories with a submission. Natal, however, has yet to be submitted. As such, I’m going to say Natal takes this with a unanimous decision, surviving several scary positions and beating the UFC newcomer. Natal via Decision.
Tim Bernier: Sign number one that you may not be a good fighter: you don’t have a Wikipedia page. Sign number two that you may not be a good fighter: your last three fights have come on the Braziliam amateur circuit against guys with 10-9, 4-3, and 4-1 records. Zeferino will be stepping into the cage against someone who is such a step up in competition that it’s hard to think he has a chance. Natal by submission.
Tim Hickey: While I know nothing about Zeferino, a quick look at his Sherdog profiles shows 9 sub wins, including 3 of his last 4 wins coming via 1st round sub. I think Natal maybe a little too much for the debuting UFC fighter though. Natal via UD.
Marta Gallo: Zeferino is a last minute replacement, so really this is Natal’s fight to lose. I hope they skip the interview with him again so that we get to hear him bitch about how perfect he and his girlfriend are and how they should interview him. Natal.
Ben Kohn: Natal R2 KO.
Nolan Howell: Joao Zeferino just jumped into a pool of sharks here. It seems like the only thing that derails Rafael Natal is himself. Natal is competent in all areas and should take this one. Rafael Natal via second-round submission.
Featherweight Bout: Hacran Dias (21-1-1) vs. Nik Lentz (23-5-2)
Luke Irwin: Lentz is a tough out for any fighter and has looked fantastic at featherweight, but Nova Uniao is absolutely a wrestler’s kryptonite. With the exception of maybe AKA, no other camp shuts down wrestlers easier than Nova. Odds are, if you’re 155 pounds or lighter and are a wrestler, Nova will stop any offense you have, keep you standing, and make you pay on their terms. I think Hacran is the real deal and will see a strong test from Lentz, but this could be his star-making appearence. Dias via R3 TKO.
Tim Bernier: Lentz has had such a ridiculous UFC career. I get enjoyment just wondering if his fights will be boring or exciting. I’ll bite and say exciting for this bout. Lentz by decision.
Tim Hickey: Dias traded in fighting one savvy veteran in Manny Gamburyan for another dog in Nik Lentz. Dias looked solid in his promotional debut, but after almost a year on the shelf it is hard to say how it affected him. Lentz is not a fighter to sleep on, and will give Dias all he can handle. Lentz via UD.
Marta Gallo: Everyone has a fighter that they dislike for no reason. For most people that is CB Dollaway, for me however, it’s Nik Lentz. I hate his face. While it is entirely possible that he will lay on Dias and win a horribly boring decision, I am still going with Dias.
Ben Kohn: Lentz UD.
Nolan Howell: Hacran Dias has a lot of promise, but he is facing his first skilled wrestler. Dias may be slick enough on the ground to cause problems, but still, Nik Lentz has the gas tank and the pace to take Dias down whenever he pleases. Nik Lentz via unanimous decision.
Lightweight Bout: Francisco Trinaldo (12-2) vs. Mike Rio (9-1)
Luke Irwin: Another pretty evenly-matched contest. Both guys have around a dozen fights, both guys came up through their regionals, Trinaldo through Rio and Sao Paulo, Rio through Florida, and both are at about the same point in their UFC career. This is the tightest bout of the night, but I believe in strength of schedule and experience. Trinaldo via SD.
Tim Bernier: It’s a lot of work coming up with things to say about fights I don’t really care about. I can’t wait for UFC 160 which is stacked to the heavens. I’m taking Trinaldo because he’s a massive favorite. Trinaldo by submission.
Tim Hickey: This has potential for be a fun fight. Both guys look to finish, and are willing to fight aggressively. Trinaldo is strong, and he throws everything with bad intentions, but he has a tendency to get wild, which Rio can look to take advantage of. While Trianlado has shown a good ground game, Rio’s an accomplished Division II wrestler and should be able to dictate the pace of this fight. Rio via 3rd Rd TKO.
Marta Gallo: I am guessing this will be Rio’s last fight in the UFC. Trinaldo is the better striker here and I like him for the win.
Ben Kohn: Trinaldo UD.
Nolan Howell: Mike Rio has the wresting advantage here, but that’s about it. Francisco Trinaldo has the size and ability to stuff the takedowns and dictate where he can fight most comfortably. Francisco Trinaldo via second-round TKO.
Lightweight Bout: Gleison Tibau (26-9) vs. John Cholish (8-2)
Luke Irwin: (looks at bout order, sees Tibau not on the main card.) Tibau via UD.
Connor Dillon: Just to piss off Luke I should stick with Cholish, but I’d be lying to myself and everyone if I thought he had a snowball’s chance in Hell of pulling it off. Tibau has too much experience, and unless he’s suffering from an injury, he’ll beat the brakes of Cholish for a solid win. Tibau via Tibau-ing.
Tim Bernier: I’m starting to wondering if Luke actually reads all of the inane banter I write when making my picks. So I’ll test him. I’m writing this Thursday afternoon. I hope the Penguins get roflstomped tomorrow night. Insert “Cindy” Crosby joke here. Tibau takes this boring affair. Tibau by decision. [Ed. Note: If anyone in the greater Chicago area would happen to "accidentally" throw Tim down a storm sewer, I'll make it worth your while.]
Tim Hickey: Good Lord, this is Tibau’s 19th UFC fight! He has cut himself out a nice little career as the Patron Saint of The Undercard. Now, even if I wanted to, can I pick against him? What’s that Luke? No? What do you mean no? I don’t remember this being a totalitarian rule! What? Of course I want to keep working for Undercard. I just feel……c’mon man……but….ok that is too far, I love my mother, she is a wonderful person…..bu…. sigh. Tibau via undercard awesomeness.
Marta Gallo: I had to triple check that Tibau is actually still fighting at lightweight. How is that possible? he is the size of a Mack truck! Tibau via being huge.
Ben Kohn: Tibau R2 Sub.
Nolan Howell: John Cholish is UFC caliber, but he isn’t ready for permanent gatekeepers like Gleison Tibau. Look for the hulking Tibau to do whatever he wants when he comes in the cage at 300 lbs. Gleison Tibau via unanimous decision.
Welterweight Bout: Michel Richard dos Prazeres (16-0) vs. Paulo Thiago (14-5)
Luke Irwin: First off, damn you, UFC, for making us wait almost two years to hear Paulo’s theme in Brazil again. Regarding Prazeres, there are three big promotions in Brazil, Jungle Fight, Watch Out Combat Show, and Shooto Brazil, out of those sixteen wins, he’s logged two in those. Paulo is still an excellent fighter and will have the crowd on his side, methinks. Thiago via UD.
Tim Bernier: Paulo Thiago is finally gets an easy fight. I don’t even know who his opponent is. Real professional, Tim. Paulo Thiago by submission.
Tim Hickey: Man, if you look at Paulo Thiago’s UFC fight history, he has literally fought pretty much just tough ass dudes. Koscheck, Fitch, Kampmann, Swick, Volkmann, Sanchez, Siyar and Stun Gun. His strength of schedule is fucking ridiculous. All while working a full time job being real life Call of Duty. I know nothing about Prezeres aside from the fact that he defeated Anderson “Banana” Silva (http://www.sherdog.com/fighter/Anderson-Silva-16067) Thiago via 1st Rd TKO.
Marta Gallo: Thiago is still employed with B.O.P.E. If he wants to stay employed with the UFC he must win this fight. Fortunately that should be quite easy for him. Thiago.
Ben Kohn: Thiago R1 Sub.
Nolan Howell: As my man Dusty Rhodes would say, Paulo Thiago has had hard times, daddy. Those end tonight. Michel Prazeres may be a fine prospect, but Thiago has went with the best of the best. Paulo Thiago via unanimous decision.
Bantamweight Bout: Iliarde Santos (27-6-1) vs. Yuri Alcantra (27-4)
Luke Irwin: Now Iliarde is a regional fighter who actually deserves a shot in the UFC, but man, Alcantra is nasty. Both had TKO wins, kimura wins, and other finishes against good names in big-time Brazilian indies, but Yuri is just one step above Santos in every way. More finishes, better competition, bigger cards. I think Santos should be brought in, but Yuri is what Santos was three years ago, he’s not at his level yet. Alcantra via UD.
Tim Bernier: Another fighter I’ve never heard of, another lobsided fight. Alcantara by KO.
Tim Hickey: Alcantara via UD.
Marta Gallo: I seriously have no idea who Iliarde Santos is…I do know that Alcantara is due a win via karma since he was robbed of his last win due to ridiculous acting.
Ben Kohn: Alcantra R2 KO.
Nolan Howell: Iliarde Santos is going to be a late replacement to step in front of the freight train that is Yuri Alcantara. Yuri Alcantara via first-round TKO.
Light Heavyweight Bout: Fabio Maldonado (18-6) vs. Roger Hollett (13-4)
Luke Irwin: Fab has lost his last three fights in the UFC, but goddamn if they weren’t all fantastic battles. Maldonado is the gamest of game opponents, despite being legally deceased, and he’s being served up someone in Hollett who can be beat easily, who went 0-2 in his last venture in MFC. This is the UFC’s justification for keeping an exciting punching bag like Fab in the promotion. Maldonado via R2 KO.
Tim Bernier: Maldonado is still in the UFC after losing three straight because he was thrown to Glover Teixeira on short notice. That fight was just scary and sad. Ya can’t cut a guy after stepping up and taking that beating. Maldonado’s job is on the line, and I think he keeps it. Maldonado by decision.
Tim Hickey: This is going to be a fight that I doubt hits the ground. Both guys like to box and it should be a decent back and forth. Hollett’s biggest issue seems to be his gastank, and we all saw Maldonado’s heart again Glover. I expect Hollett to gas midway through the 2nd and for Maldonado to put him away shortly thereafter. Maldonado via 3rd Rd TKO.
Marta Gallo: Maldonado is another fighter with his job on the line. While it could be an interesting fight, I wouldn’t count on it. Maldonado via boring decision.
Ben Kohn: Hollet UD.
Nolan Howell: Fabio Maldonado is one of my favorite fighters to watch. His boxing is not technical in any sense, but he uses the magic of body shots in the most beautifully violent manner. Roger Hollett is really not fun and his liver is going to be in worse shape than Lindsay Lohan’s after tonight. Fabio Maldonado via first-round TKO.
Flyweight Bout: Azamat Gashimov (7-2) vs. John Lineker (20-6)
Luke Irwin: Oh, this is not going to end well for Gashimov. Lineker is a future champ and Gashimov is making his flyweight debut after being housed by Menjivar. Lineker via R2 TKO.
Tim Bernier: Close fight. That’s all I really got. Lineker by decision.
Tim Hickey: Lineker has looked good so far in the UFC, and I expect this trend to continue. Gashimov is only 23, and the veteran Lineker could send him back to the minors for some more seasoning. Lineker via UD.
Marta Gallo: Lineker is best known for his FOTN against that one guy with green hair. I had to consult Google to figure out who Gashimov was…you can always tell your picks are going to go well when you have no idea who the opponent is. I’m going with Lineker here.
Ben Kohn: Lineker UD.
Nolan Howell: Azamat Gashimov will not like the wildcat that is John Lineker. Weatherman calls for a hailstorm of punches with no fucks given. John Lineker via second-round TKO.
Flyweight Bout: Chris Cariaso (14-4) vs. Jussier da Silva (14-2)
Luke Irwin: This really needs to be on the main card. Seriously, these are two Top-10 fighters trying to rebound and get back in the title hunt. Formiga is the ultimate flyweight hipster, dominating at 125 before it was cool, and has been on my radar since Tachi Palace, but Cariaso is the real deal and I think he’s got a title shot in his very immediate future. FOTN right here, lads. Cariaso via UD.
Tim Bernier: And for my only upset of the night: Cariaso by decision.
Tim Hickey: Two very good veterans looking to get back in the mix at 125 lbs should provide some very good entertainment. Cariaso is a WEC vet who has crisp counter striking and had a solid run at 135 lbs. A couple of years ago, Formiga was considered the best flyweight on the planet. Formiga needs to look to put this one on the floor, as his BJJ is streets ahead of just about anyone else in the division. I think Cariaso will make it difficult for him but fail in the end. Formiga via rear naked choke Rd 2.
Marta Gallo: SOTN here. Formiga via best jiu jitsu in tiny man division.
Ben Kohn: da Silva UD.
Nolan Howell: Jussier “Formiga” da Silva was the top flyweight for quite a time, but he is now running into some top flight competition. “Formiga” has the jiu-jitsu prowess here, but Chris Cariaso is solid all-around. Call it a hunch. Chris Cariaso by unanimous decision.
Lightweight Bout: Jeremy Larsen (8-3) vs. Lucas Martins (12-1)
Luke Irwin: Larsen is a perfectly capable lightweight, and Martins is an up-and-comer in the Brazilian lightweight division, but you know what? I never trust a fighter who taps to strikes. Larsen via R1 TKO.
Tim Bernier: I should put some money on this fight because it’s be the only reason I can drum up interest for it. Martins by decision.
Tim Hickey: Larsen via UD.
Marta Gallo: Hmmmmm, who and who? To Google! Ooooh yes, I remember that awful Ultimate Fighter show. I’m going with Larsen here.
Ben Kohn: Martins R2 KO.
Nolan Howell: When in doubt, go against the TUF fighter in Jeremy Larsen. Lucas Martins by second-round TKO.
In our final day of Gleison Tibau Apprecation Week, we have the man himself’s theme, “Iron Man” from Black Sabbath, performed live by Ozzy here. Predictions and Undercard Supermarket tomorrow! WAR THE ORIGINAL UNDERCARD SUPERSTAR!
(In honor of the patron saint of Undercard Superstar fighting this weekend in Brazil, we’re sharing Gleison contant all week. Today, some classic pre-UFC Tibau fights!)
Gleison vs. Marcelo Brito from Storm Samurai 7, 2005.
Gleison vs. Fabricio Camoes from Meca World Vale Tudo 12, 2005.
Gleison vs. Eiji Mitsuoka from Deep 11th Impact, 2003.
Gleison vs. Antonio Moreno from Nordest Combat Championship, 2007.
Contributor: Benjamin Kohn
The main event of this event is one I have personally been looking forward to for a very long time. Ignoring the issue of TRT, Belfort has been on an absolute tear since his infamous front-kick knockout loss to champion Anderson Silva (at Middleweight at least). He has run through Anthony Johnson and Yoshihiro Akiyama, lost to Jon Jones, and most recently fought Michael Bisping and defeated him by a beautifully set up head kick KO in the second round. Belfort could very well get a rematch against Silva (should he get past Weidman of course) with a big win over Rockhold. Luke Rockhold was the last Strikeforce Middleweight champion capturing the title by beating Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. Since then, he has defended his title twice beating Keith Jardine by first round TKO and Tim Kennedy unanimous decision. Rockhold is being touted as the other major young prospect alongside Chris Weidman. He is a very big middleweight with very good grappling and a long, rangy, kick-centric striking game.
Vitor Belfort is 36 years old but has not slowed down in the slightest. Starting his career, Belfort would blitz immediately either overwhelming his opponents or gassing and being beaten. In Pride, he used his Carlson Gracie blackbelt to ground most of his opponents winning 3 of his 5 Pride fights by decision, 1 by submission, and one by KO. He was very tentative in most of his Pride fights and it bit him in the butt a few times. Now in Vitor’s current UFC run, he seems to have welded his early blitzing style together with his more patient style to create the calculating, yet always ready to pounce Vitor we have seen in his recent fights. Vitor has managed to not only stay relevant, but stick around the top 3 of a division after so many years of fighting. His last chance at a title shot has him in a must win situation and an impressive win may get him the title shot he desperately wants.
Luke Rockhold is a very bright prospect who still has youth on his side, a rarity for the heavier weight classes. At 28 years old, the dapper Rockhold seems to fit the mold of jack-of-all-trades but master of none mold. He has very solid wrestling skills and is a BJJ brown belt with good top control, ground and pound, sweeps and submission. His striking is long and rangy with good kicks and solid punching power to go along with it. However, none of his skills seem to really stick out. He is however an extremely large Middleweight at 6’3 with a 77-inch reach. Rockhold has looked really good as of late and matchup between him and Anderson Silva (again I am presuming he beats Weidman) would be a very good fight between the UFC champion, and the last Strikeforce champion. However, getting passed Belfort will be no easy task and Rockhold will have to live up to his hype in this match if he wants to win. Now how about we look at how this fight will play out.
Striking: This is a very interesting matchup on the feet. Both men are Southpaws although Rockhold has shown he is willing to switch stances. Rockhold has a tendency to get a little wild and reckless with his hands, even though he usually has the reach advantage. Against Tim Kennedy, he would constantly charge him with winging hooks and his chin straight up in the air. Now Kennedy couldn’t really take advantage of this since Rockhold had such a huge size advantage over him but against a fighter like Vitor, who loves to brawl with the hands, this is basically suicide. Now Rockholds kicks are really nice and lengthy and he flicks them from various positions. Vitor has historically had issues with guys who can kick him effectively so this will be a major key to Rockhold beating him. Now the issue is, when Rockhold brawls it plays right into Vitors technical brawling style (especially against the cage where much of Rockholds fight with Kennedy took place). Vitor has always been extremely ferocious when he attempts one of his infamous flurries (when he has you hurt….fuck its ugly). But he has added some new tools to close the distance a bit better. One of them is a kick to the calf to sweep his opponents leg or at least stop him long enough to fire a quick flurry at them and this technique worked beautifully in his fight with Akiyama. Now Vitor showed that he has the patience to set up his strikes now as is evidenced in his fight with Bisping. He continually threw straight lefts in order to elicit the reaction of Bisping ducking off to his right to avoid it. This in turn allowed him to set up both, the head kick at the end of round one that hurt Bisping, and the fight ending head kick. It was a simple strategy that Cro Cop based his whole Pride career off of too great effect. Vitor however showed some shoddy footwork as he allowed Bisping to constantly get his foot outside of his. In a southpaw vs. orthodox fight, that is a big no-no. However this is a southpaw vs. southpaw fight (unless Rockhold switches stances again) so hopefully he won’t make those same mistakes. When he is not flurrying, Belfort will throw single shots, usually kicks to the head or body which he can be countered off of with proper timing.
All in all this is an absolutely awesome fight on the feet which can really go either way. Rockhold’s tendency to brawl with his hands plays right into Vitors hands yet his kicking ability is the perfect skillset to wear down Belfort and keep him at range. Vitor’s flurries can overwhelm almost anyone at middleweight and with his new ways of closing the distance and added patience; I think he gets the edge on the feet.
Clinch: This is where Vitor’s flurries are most effective, on the cage just inside striking distance but outside grappling distance. He creates enough space to land brutal lefts and rights at a distance where his opponent, if he doesn’t drop, hesitates while deciding whether to fire back or grab a hold of him. Watch his fight with Tito for a perfect example of this. Rockhold on the other hand is very strong in the clinch due to his size and length. Against Kennedy, he showed great control against the cage as he landed lots of punches and knees to the midsection which wore Kennedy down. Against a guy like Vitor, surviving the first few rounds is imperative (unless you finish him really fast obviously). Should clinching range happen, Rockhold has to grab a hold and turn Vitor into the fence. If he trades with him, he will probably be put out. I will give this to Vitor with a very slight edge only because he can finish the fight more easily here.
Grappling: This will be interesting to see how it plays out during the fight. My guess is Rockholds plan A is to keep the fight standing and only take down Vitor if he is getting outstruck or hurt on the feet. Rockhold definitely has the wrestling advantage over Vitor and while Vitor doesn’t have amazing TDD, it is solid enough that he doesn’t have to be tentative in his striking. Throw in him having been a blackbelt for like a decade and a half and you have a real dangerous situation. Vitor has shown some slick submission skills from his back but also showed weakness in not wanting to hurt Jones when he had the armbar locked in (based on his own words). Rockholds ground game seems to focus more on control and ground and pound while Vitor tends to not really take the fight to the ground. When he does, he is not the most active fighter so pray Vitor doesn’t take down Rockhold. The edge for grappling goes to Rockhold because of his wrestling.
Cardio: Everyone knows that Vitor has a history of fading the longer the fight goes on. Recently he has shown heart that he has historically lacked in his four round fight with Jones. However, one fight does not erase a career and Rockhold would be wise to try and bring Vitor into deep waters. Rockhold on the other hand will not have the same issue as he has excellent cardio and has a clear edge here.
Experience: One of the issues with Rockhold is that we don’t really know how good he is. His best opponent rankings wise was Jacare and many people thought Jacare won that fight. Vitor on the other hand has fought some of the best fighters ever in his long career. While he has fallen short, he has also beaten top guys such as Wanderlei Silva, Rich Franklin, and Randy Couture (yes I know it was by cut). The experience of having fought in the UFC as a main eventer and top flight opponents should give an edge to Vitor in the fight while Rockhold may be nervous about his first UFC fight.
While there are other factors to this fight, none really will play a key role in the fight or enough of one to warrant its own section. This fight will go one of two ways, Rockhold kicking a lot at range and clinching immediately when Vitor gets to close or he exchanges hands with Vitor. I think Rockhold will not want to try and cruise to a mediocre decision and will want to make this an exciting fight. His lack experience will be his downfall and I think he will get into a few brawls with Vitor who can put you down and finish you with ferocity unmatched by anyone. I think Rockhold will play it smart at first but will get reckless towards the end of the first round. My official prediction is Belfort by TKO 4:37 of the first round.
-Ben can be reached at email@example.com or @agentbenten.
(In honor of the patron saint of Undercard Superstar fighting this weekend, we’ll be sharing Gleison content all week.)
For today, here’s the Gleison Tibau official Flickr off of the man’s very own website!