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by Franky Redzepi email

Georges St. Pierre vs. Thiago Alves

This could very well be the best welterweight matchup we'll see in a long time. There aren't many guys who are known to be devastating strikers at 170 and Alves is a guy who is known to be a devastating striker. For a long time the welterweight division was crowded with a bunch of great wrestlers, and it was always about who was the guy who could get on top. Then GSP came around and beat up all the great wrestlers such as Hughes, Koscheck, and Fitch. He didn't just beat them up, though, he out-wrestled them too. It seemed like GSP would easily be able to rule the welterweight division because of his superior wrestling skills and the rest of his rounded out game, but now we have Alves, who is by far the biggest striking threat GSP or the welterweight division has seen. This is really a brand new type of challenge for GSP and that's exactly why this fight is so exciting. We've seen GSP come up with these amazing gameplans in the past and completely shut guys down. His gameplan against BJ Penn was almost scientific and he completely put Penn out of the fight. Can he do the same against someone like Alves, who has brutal striking and great takedown defense? Alves isn't a guy who is just a one dimensional striker, he has the takedown defense and ground game to back it up. Koscheck couldn't take this guy down, so we'll see if GSP can figure it out again. This should be one of the best welterweight fights and GSP's greatest challenge.

Alves will definitely be a very tough test for GSP, quite possibly the toughest of GSP's career, but I don't see Alves having this huge striking advantage as many have made it seem. Alves has some of the best leg-kicks around, but I'm not so sure the rest of his striking game is up to bar. He has power in his hands, but he doesn't have much reach and he doesn't have the most technical boxing. I honestly believe GSP might have the better boxing in this fight. I also believe GSP is actually the more diverse striker in this fight as well. Georges St PierreGSP throws everything he can possibly throw at opponents. He's throwing superman punches and lunging jabs, he's throwing switch kicks and spinning back kicks, he's doing it all really.With Alves, you're only really worried about his low kick. Of course everything else is dangerous, but the low kick stands out a bit more. If you can shut down Alves' low kick, then there's a pretty good chance you'll shut down his whole offensive gameplan. He was able to clip Karo with a knee in the clinch, but that stoppage could be argued. There's never been a fight where I saw Alves unleash a barrage of knees and make me stop to think of how dangerous his knees are. He doesn't have a clinch on the level of someone like Anderson Silva, and he doesn't have this ridiculous level of technique or power in his hands that many have said he possesses. He caught Koscheck many times and was never able to put him out. There seems to be this crazy thing going around where people say GSP has a weak chin...I would say his chin is as good or better than Koscheck's. Alves' kicking is what lead to his win against Koscheck, not his hands.

We've established that Alves' kicking will be a huge threat, but you also have to wonder how many kicks Alves plans on throwing. If he throws that kick then he's could make the takedowns for GSP much easier. Alves was able to kick against Koscheck a lot and get away with it, but at the same time Koscheck took the fight on just a few weeks notice and he also didn't fight with a very smart gameplan. We've seen many times that GSP is a guy who follows the gameplan and his camp always comes up with the best gameplans around, so I don't expect GSP to just sit in front of Alves and get kicked all day like Koscheck did. What will Alves do if he gets put on his back against GSP? There's a small possibility that Alves might have the edge on the feet, but on the ground GSP is just on another level. I don't care if Alves has a black belt or any other credentials he has on the ground; GSP is just on another level. GSP doesn't just have the best takedowns in MMA, he also has the best guard passing in MMA. He made BJ Penn look like he had no idea how to maintain guard. BJ Penn isn't just another guy who is a supposed black belt in BJJ, he's one of the best around, and GSP made it look easy. Even if GSP stays in Alves' guard, he has shown in the past that he can beat guys up from the guard. There were times in his fight against BJ where GSP just postured up and blasted down some brutal ground and pound. I don't think Alves will be able to last under that type of onslaught. Getting taken down over and over again, and then getting beat up...that takes a lot out of you. I can't possibly see Alves lasting long under those type of conditions. Alves has never really shown me much off his back to make me believe he can handle someone like GSP on top of him. If Alves can't get up, it will be a very long night...or a short one.

The last part of this is the size of these two fighters. Alves will be the bigger fighter, but that isn't always a good thing. We've seen Alves have a lot of trouble making weight in the past, he was actually a few pounds over against Hughes, so he has to be sure he isn't too big when it's time to really cut hard. Alves has never had to officially make 170 before, he's always had the one pound allowance, but he won't have it this time. I've heard rumors on the Internet that Alves is actually having a pretty tough time getting his weight down, but I really can't say how official any of that is. All I know is that if Alves has a tough cut it could be detrimental to him and we all know GSP has never had problems making weight. We have to question how good Alves' cardio will be for this fight because he is a big guy and he is cutting a lot of weight. I expect GSP to really push his cardio in this fight. I think GSP will be pushing Alves against the fence in this one as soon as possible. I'm not so sure he'll go for takedowns right away, but I do see a lot of clinch-work to wear Alves down. GSP is always in great shape and we've seen him go five hard rounds against Fitch, Alves has never had that experience. GSP will definitely test Alves' conditioning, and if Alves doesn't have the gas to keep up it will be an easy night for GSP. Alves is a new challenge for GSP and he will be a very tough challenge, but I don't see him being the guy to beat GSP. GSP has the boxing to throw hands with Alves and he has the wrestling to make Alves question his leg kick game. Once it hits the ground GSP will be the far superior fighter and that will be the difference in this fight. GSP will wear on Alves for a couple of rounds, and then in the third he finished with some ground and pound.

Georges St. Pierre wins by Third Round KO/TKO.

Frank Mir vs. Brock Lesnar

Brock LesnarWho would have thought we would already be seeing this rematch only after a year and a half? Who would have thought we'd be seeing this fight for the undisputed UFC title? I know I didn't. I picked Couture to beat Lesnar and I picked Nogueira to beat Mir. I can say I wasn't overly surprised to see Lesnar beat Couture when they faced off. The fight was unfolding the way I thought it would, but Lesnar's huge fist played a bit more of a factor than I expected. Randy's layoff and age made me believe him losing to Lesnar was a possibility, but I can say I didn't believe Nogueira losing to Mir was a possibility. I thought Mir basically had no chance at all, I definitely didn't think he could finish Nogueira, but here we are now. The odds on this fight do surprise me, though. Both men deserve credit for pulling off some good wins and winding up in this position again. Both have shown a lot of improvement so it should definitely be interesting to see what happens. Lesnar gets better all the time so it's hard to really know which version of him will show up next. The Lesnar that lost to Mir isn't the same Lesnar that's around now. The Lesnar that's around now is much better, but you can say the same for Mir. The Mir that beat Lesnar and Nogueira is definitely better than the Mir we saw against Pe De Pano. Mir seems to have gotten over the problems he had after the accident, so we're really seeing these two guys fight at the best possible time. Both are at the best that they've ever been and they get to see who the champion really is. Will technique beat size again, or will size and strength be able to overwhelm technique? That's what this fight is really about, and we'll get the answer to that question after this fight is over.

The first time this fight went down I actually picked Mir to beat Lesnar by kneebar and it actually ended up happening, so it feels like I had a pretty good sense where Lesnar was at in the MMA game. There's only so much you can learn in the amount of time Lesnar was training. Mir had probably forgotten more ways to escape a kneebar than Lesnar actually learned at that point. That isn't a bash on Lesnar or anything either, it just shows how much there actually is to learn in just one element of MMA. I definitely believe Lesnar has picked up a lot of stuff and he has had the help of a leglock expert in Erik Paulson, but I'm still not sure how much he has learned. It seems like a case where Lesnar is playing catchup; no matter how long he trains the stuff on the ground he'll never be where Mir is. If this fight hits the ground again Mir will most likely pull off another submission. Last time Lesnar did manage to land a lot of punches on Mir when he took Mir down, but Mir never stopped going for submissions in the process. He was always throwing his legs up and looking for something. It also seemed like Mir was never really dangerously hurt while all this was going on. Mir was definitely getting hit, but it didn't seem like it was near the point of Mir actually being done or unconscious. When a guy like Lesnar sits in a guard like Mir's, he's putting himself in danger even if he is landing a lot of punches. It takes a lot of punches from within someone's guard to finish a fight, but it only takes one tight submission from the guy on the bottom to finish the fight. Mir doesn't lock things up just to win, he locks them up to break bones. That's why Lesnar tapped so fast last time. The kneebar really wasn't that deep, but Mir just pulled as hard as he could as soon as he had it. You have to be careful against someone who has that type of style.

Mir has the edge of the ground but where this fight goes really depends on Lesnar. Lesnar will take Mir down if he wants to or he'll stand if he wants to; he'll dictate the fight. I don't see Mir taking Lesnar down in this fight. I guess he could attempt to pull guard if he really had to, but I've never seen Mir do that so I don't see him trying it. This is a tough fight to call on the feet. Mir's striking seems to have been a bit overrated a bit after what he did to Nogueira. Finishing Nogueira is definitely a big deal, but Nogueira just didn't seem like he was there at all for that fight. I do think Mir has improved either way, though, just not as much as others have said. I believe Mir definitely has some technical advantages as far as striking goes, but Lesnar definitely has more power. I think we've all learned that if you get hit with a fist as big as Lesnar's or're gonna go to sleep. Couture seemed to be getting the better of Lesnar on the feet, but Lesnar only needed one punch. If you plan to stand with Lesnar you need to be ready to move a lot, and you better have the conditioning to keep it up. Couture depended more on just using head movement instead of actually moving his feet and getting out of the way. Sooner or later Lesnar figured it out and landed his punch. If Mir can continuously move in this fight and stay out of range, then he might be able to do some damage on the feet. If Mir stands in front of Lesnar...he'll get knocked out, it's that simple I think. Mir also has to be sure to stay out of the clinch with Lesnar. I think a lot of people overlook Brock's striking in the clinch, he landed some big knees and elbows on Randy when they were in close and that could be a problem for Mir. If Mir can manage to continuously move and not get hit by Lesnar, he could win the striking battle.

Another concern in this fight is conditioning. We really haven't seen either guy really be pushed in that in recent time. Mir had terrible cardio in the past, but it seemed slightly improved against Nogueira. Nogueira didn't really fight back so we can't really tell how good Mir's cardio is, but I definitely think it's better than it used to be. Lesnar did go fifteen minutes against Herring but Herring really didn't offer anything in that fight either. These guys really don't like each other so I'm sure they'll both be ready to go hard. I don't see cardio being the issue many have made it out to be for this fight. The main issue with this fight is whether or not Lesnar takes Mir down or not. I believe He will because no matter how much he has learned, he's still done way more wrestling than anything else, and he's still pretty inexperienced. Lesnar said himself that the gameplan was to stand with Mir for a bit the first time, but the first thing he did was take Mir down. I expect this fight to be a bit slower tempo wise than last time, but I still see Lesnar shooting that double at some point, it's in his instinct to do so. From there I question two things: has Lesnar learned enough to defend from the submission onslaught and can Mir withstand another ground and pound attack? We have to question Lesnar's defense because he was submitted quickly last time, and I also have to question Mir's heart a bit because he has been known to wither under pressure. I can only see this fight going two ways, and that's Mir winning by submission or Mir completely giving up under Lesnar's ground and pound attack and getting stopped. I think if Mir has his cardio he will pull off another submission. Mir easily could have given up last time when Lesnar was landing punches, but he pulled off the kneebar. I expected the fight to be pretty similar this time, but I expect Lesnar to fight at a slower and smarter pace. Mir did it once and that means he can do it again, and him being the underdog makes it even sweeter.

Frank Mir wins by Second Round Submission.

Dan Henderson vs. Michael Bisping

TUF 9 is over and now the coaches will square off. The winner of this fight could very well be next in line for a title short, and if they aren't next they're definitely right in the mix. A lot of places had Henderson as a pretty decent favorite, that seems to have balanced up a bit since, but I think Bisping might have a better chance than some are giving him. Bisping has fought some decent competition, but he really hasn't fought any elite fighters at 185 yet. Henderson didn't really get any favors from the UFC when he made his return to the octagon, as his first two fights were against Rampage and Anderson Silva. Henderson has fought the best of the best over the years and he definitely has the experience over top competition when compared to Bisping, but Bisping has never been in a fight where he was made to look bad. He gave Rashad a run for his money and has beaten everyone thrown at him in the 185 pound division. As mentioned, he hasn't fought anyone great in that division yet, but Bisping has still managed to dispose of his opponents pretty easily. Bisping's weakness has always been wrestlers, though, and that's what Henderson brings to the table. He did give Rashad some problems but it ended up being Rashad's wrestling that swayed things in favor of Evans, and we all know what happened when Bisping fought Hamill. Maybe Bisping will have an easier time because Henderson is a smaller guy, but Henderson is still very strong at what Bisping is weak at. You don't see a wrestler with this type of punching power all the time, and that's hard to prepare for. That could very well be the difference.

I believe how this fight ends up unfolding is up to Henderson. There's been times where Henderson has fought a very smart fight and looked amazing, but then there's times where he really hasn't looked good. If Henderson fights like he did against Rampage in the early rounds of their fight, then Henderson will definitely beat Rampage. Rampage has never been an easy guy to take down but Henderson made it look easy in that fight. If Henderson comes out and fights like he did against Belfort, then he will definitely win. He never gave Belfort any room in that fight and was all over him the whole time. He got takedowns over and over again, and that got him the win. Bisping's gameplan will be to try to stick and move, and to use his speed to make Henderson chase him. Bisping does have a speed advantage in this one and Rich Franklin was mildly successful with a similar gameplan, but i don't believe Bisping's footwork is anywhere near the level of someone like Rich Franklin's. Franklin is a very smart fighter and he exposed certain holes in Dan's game, but I'm really not sure Bisping can exploit those same holes. Henderson went into that fight with the mentality to stand for a bit too long, I don't think he'll carry that mentality into the Bisping fight. There were a few times when Chris Leben was able to close the distance on Bisping and get him on the face, but Leben doesn't have the wrestling ability of someone like Henderson does. I see Henderson moving forward constantly in this fight and never giving Bisping any room to work his striking game. Bisping definitely doesn't have the power to stop someone like Henderson, so Bisping can really only win by hitting and running for three rounds and pulling out a decision. Crazier things have happened(Mir finishing Nogueira(, but I don't see that working for Bisping. Henderson has enough to take Bisping down and control him for at least two rounds, and he can do more than hold his own on the feet. Henderson takes home another decision after fighting the smart fight.

Dan Henderson wins by Unanimous Decision.

Jon Fitch vs. Paulo Thiago

Paulo Thiago came pretty much out of nowhere when he beat Koscheck. We all thought that was just some type of warm up fight for Koscheck, but that's the threat you deal with when you fight an unknown.Jon Fitch It seemed like Koscheck had the fight won as he was basically owning the striking game, but just as Joe Rogan was severely criticizing Thiago's striking game, Thiago managed to land a perfectly placed uppercut. The stoppage was maybe a bit questionable, but it proved Thiago could take some shots and also give them out. I don't see him having the same type of success when he fight Jon Fitch, though. Fitch has seen a bit more of Thiago now and he also trains with Koscheck, so he has a pretty good idea of what to expect. We also can't forget how tough Fitch is and I don't think that type of uppercut would put Fitch down. I believe this is a fight where Fitch can really do whatever he wants. He can strike with Thiago if he wants, and he's a bit better than Koscheck there so he should have success, or he can take Thiago down. Thiago is a thread on the ground but Fitch has been on the ground with guys who were also very good, and Fitch always managed to get out of bad spots and turn them into good spots. Fitch is just a grinder and he will grind Thiago out if he has to. We've seen Fitch in fully locked in triangles and guillotines, but the guy just never quits. It's hard to beat a guy like that and I don't see Thiago being the guy to break his will. I don't think there's many people out there who can really overcome the toughness of Jon Fitch. If you plan on beating Fitch you really have to just beat him up until time runs out because you can't really finish him any other way. i don't see Paulo Thiago being the guy to knock Fitch out or being the guy to submit him. Fitch has fought far superior fighters who couldn't get the job done. I really see Fitch just being all over this guy from the start and wearing him down, and I believe Fitch will find himself a late stoppage in this fight. Thiago's a tough guy and I'm not sure he'll give up on his own, but he'll leave the ref no choice but to stop it in the third when Fitch is on top beating him up.

Jon Fitch by Third Round KO/TKO.

Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Alan Belcher

Sexyama has finally arrived. This is another fight that I believe is much closer than what the odds are saying. Like him or hate him, Belcher has some skills and he has a knack for pulling off wins when he really shouldn't. This guy was getting completely served by Denis Kang in every aspect of MMA, and then out of nowhere he pulls off a guillotine. Akiyama also really hasn't fought a huge list of top competitors as of late and Belcher will definitely be the toughest guy he has fought in quite some time. At the same time...I just can't go with Belcher in this fight. I really don't think he beat Herman and I don't think he proved to be a better fighter than Denis Kang. I'm not trying to take anything away from Belcher, but Kang made one of the worst mistakes I've seen in a fight and he basically told Belcher to grab his neck and choke him. I really don't see Akiyama making that type of mistake. I'm also not sure if Belcher will be prepared for the type of takedowns Akiyama brings to the table. The throw he landed on Melvin Manhoef was ridiculous. It really didn't even seem to make sense, that's how good it was. Herman had some decent success from within the clinch and I believe Akiyama is much better from that position, and he's also way better conditioned than Herman is. People really can't prepare for the level of judo that someone like Akiyama brings to the table. Top level judo players are very rare in the UFC and I actually believe judo is very under-used in MMA, so I'm not sure how prepared Belcher will be for it. Belcher has the edge on the feet but I don't think it's by as much as people say. He was supposed to have the edge against Kang and Kang was handling him pretty easily. Akiyama has knocked people like Kang out, and he weathered the storm of Melvin Manhoef. I'm also not so sure Belcher really has much finishing power when it comes to his strikes. Who has he really knocked out as of late? I think Akiyama is more than prepared on the feet, and when it comes to the clinch and ground game...Akiyama outclasses Belcher. UFC jitters are always a concern, but at least we know Akiyama has a full sized cage to train in and he also brought in Okami to give him a hand. My only question is will Akiyama submit him or win a decision? I think Akiyama catches an arm from a position where Belcher isn't expecting it.

Yoshihiro Akiyama wins by Second Round Submission.

Mark Coleman vs. Stephan Bonnar

When I first saw this fight I kind of just laughed at the thought of Coleman ever winning any fights again, but as the fight got closer and closer I began to think differently. When you go down the list of guys who have some of the weakest wrestling wrestling at 205, Bonnar is near the top of the list. I really can't think of anyone at 205 who might have takedown defense as bad as Stephan Bonnar. This isn't too bash Bonnar either, but if you watch a fight where the other guy is trying to take Bonnar down...Bonnar pretty much gets put on his back every time. Rashad Evans took him down over and over with ease, Jon Jones tossed him around like a small child's doll, and even Eric Schafer took him down. Getting taken down by Evans and Jones is nothing to be ashamed of, but Schafer? Schafer is a guy who is severely undersized at 205 and he got Bonnar down. There's some guys who get taken down and they work the guard a lot, and that's fine. Like when Coleman took Shogun down, Shogun was always looking for something and constantly threatening. Bonnar pretty much offered absolutely nothing off of his back when guys took him down. His gameplan against Rashad was just to stall and hope to do damage on the feet, but that's the other problem; Bonnar doesn't have much power in his strikes. When's the last time you saw Bonnar hurt someone on the feet? Say what you want about Coleman, but he's a tough bastard. The only real concern I have in this fight is Coleman's cardio and that's because he almost always comes in the fight with horrible conditioning. So there's always the chance that Coleman could gas out completely and then Bonnar will have his chance to finish it, but I really believe Coleman can take Bonnar down anytime he wants to. Bonnar won't be threatening enough off his back to even worry Coleman, and even if he does, Coleman has only been submitted by Nogueira and Fedor so we really don't know how good or bad his ground game is. Coleman is definitely past his prime, but Bonnar doesn't deserve to be such a huge favorite in this fight when he has such glaring holes in his game. I think Coleman pulls off a decision and upset in this one.

Mark Coleman wins by Unanimous Decision.

Jim Miller vs. Mac Danzig

I keep thinking that there has to be a point where Mac Danzig figures out these wrestlers. He's filled in a division that have all the best wrestlers around, yet it seems like Danzig hasn't been able to adjust. There's certain things that Danzig and Miller both do that make me think they both have a chance. Miller tends to take a lot of punishment in his fights and it almost seems like he has nothing to fall back on. Maynard was beating him up on the feet and Miller kind of just seemed lost. Sometimes I think that maybe Danzig can do something similar, but the situation is completely different. If Miller finds himself in trouble on the feet against Danzig then he'll most likely shoot in and he'll probably be successful in his takedown attempt. Miller didn't have that luxury when he fought a bigger and better wrestler in Gray Maynard. Danzig has managed to beat good wrestlers like Mark Bocek, and Bocek wasn't just a good wrestler, he also had a very good ground game. Miller just has that toughness, though. You beat him up and he manages to keep going. It almost seemed like Danzig was broken down mentally when he fought Josh Neer. He had Neer hurt on the feet and it looked like he had it won, but Neer kept moving forward and he kept the pressure on. it really seemed like Danzig cracked under the pressure and he just broke. Mac seems like a guy who is easily frustrated. When things don't go his way he kind of just gives up. Seeing the frustration on his face when he couldn't stop Guida's takedowns says something I think. Seeing him look completely out of his element even when he seemed to have Neer beat also says a lot. Danzig is a good striker, but he won't be able to stop Miller's forward attack and he won't be able to stop Miller's takedowns. Danzig is just in a division where you gotta know how to wrestle...and that just doesn't seem to be his game. I see him dropping a decision similar to the way he dropped one to Guida. Miller takes him down and controls him all night.

Jim Miller wins by Unanimous Decision.

Jon Jones vs. Jake O'Brien

This is just a terrible fight for O'Brien I think. From what I've read online his gameplan seems to be to try and take Jones down and put him where he's uncomfortable....good luck with that. We haven't really seen anyone try to take Jones down so it could be possible, but Jones is just a far superior wrestler when you compare him and O'Brien. Plus, you have to look at the type of reach Jones has. I'm not so sure Jake is gonna be so confident in his takedowns against Jones when he sees he has to get past those freakishly long arms first. Bonnar is known as a long and lanky guy for 205 and Jones made Bonnar look short and stubby. O'Brien will definitely shoot in, but he'll never get close, and even if he does get close I see Jones shrugging him off pretty easily. The level of wrestling that Jones possesses is just a step above O'Brien. I'm not sure if there's any area where O'Brien actually has an advantage in this fight. He has the experience, but he doesn't have anything on Jones as far as actual skills go. You'd think O'Brien might have the striking to beat someone as inexperienced as Jones, but that isn't the case. Jones is so unorthodox and crazy with his strikes that he throws a lot of guys off. O'Brien said he was thrown off by Heath Herring's unorthodox striking style ...I can only imagine how he'll feel when Jones is throwing spinning elbows at him. The tough part for me in this fight is picking how this fight actually ends. I really don't know what to expect from Jones. He couldn't finish Bonnar but Bonnar is a tough guy, so that isn't exactly a bad thing. I think Jones will manage to outwrestle O'Brien and control the standup to take home another decision win, but a finish wouldn't surprise me.

Jon Jones wins by Unanimous Decision.

TJ Grant vs. Dong Hyun Kim

This is the toughest fight for me to pick on the card. I really believe TJ Grant is the real deal and I think we'll see big things from this, but Kim is no pushover. There was a point early on in TJ's fight with Chonan where Chonan was able to land a pretty good hip toss. That makes me worry a bit because Kim's judo is some of the best in the division. If Grant sits in the clinch with Kim for too long then he'll definitely be thrown around. On the other hand, though, Kim almost always seems tentative on the feet. I've heard his trainers talk about his boxing, but he looks a bit scared to throw his hands, and Grant is the exact opposite of that. Grant is willing to throw down even if it puts himself in danger. Kim didn't seem to have much of an answer when Matt Brown flurried on him and it seemed to effect his overall game when Brown would strike. Kim has good takedowns but that doesn't mean he can't be taken down. He has a judo background but he can be taken down if you attack the legs and hips with doubles and singles. Grant showed some very good takedowns against Chonan. They weren't just good, they were also perfectly timed. He drew Chonan into a striking exchange a few times and then shot in, he caught Chonan off guard every time. I don't know if that's gonna work against Kim because Kim isn't a guy who will exchange too often. This is a very tough fight but I think TJ has the takedown style to get Kim down. he has a good double leg and I think Kim could be susceptible to those. If Grant doesn't play the clinch game he can definitely win this fight. Grant is pretty click on the ground too so he should be able to stay out of trouble and control the fight. I see this being very close and both guys have a history of being in close fights. I have never picked a split decision before, but I get the feeling this one will be.

TJ Grant wins by Split Decision.

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