Last week’s card was fantastic, both in what I saw on the television and my fight picks. I tallied a 7-3 record, which brought my overall season record to 139-84. Holding strong at that 62%, if ya need me. Or if you need extra cash.
Now onto this stacked card. And boy is it ever stacked. The first four preliminary fights are what we are usually handed as the Spike TV special. Good fighters, worth watching, but just an appetizer for the main course. The two Spike TV fights are definite PPV fights. Anthony Pettis/Jeremy Stephens and Demian Maia/Jorge Santiago could easily be the first two fights of any PPV, and welcome additions at that. But no, not this time. Instead the PPV starts off with Nam Phan vs. Leonard Garcia (a surefire war), followed up by Melvin Guillard vs. Dan Lauzon, Chael Sonnen vs. Brian Stann (most likely a #1 contender’s bout), and two title fights (Kenny Florian vs. Jose Aldo and Gray Maynard vs. Frankie Edgar). That’s quite a card. Tell me you don’t want to watch one of these fights…you can’t.
For those of you who don’t know, the favorite will have a negative (-) number, while the underdog will have a positive (+) number. MMA money lines are based on units of $100. If the favorite is -225, it means that you have to wager $225 to win $100. But if you are betting on the underdog, the formula is different. If the underdog is at +185, it means that if you wager $100 you will win $185 for a total of $285. Easy enough, right? Good.
If you guys are going to bet, head over to Bodog.com. As always, I appreciate half of your earnings.
Middleweight bout: Steve Cantwell (-145) vs. Mike Massenzio (+115)
Winner keeps his job. Loser, not so much. Both guys are right about the same skill level. I’m going to side with Massenzio because he has more tools, and that usually equates to a win. And even in his short-notice (3 days) defeat to Krzysztof Soszynski at UFC 131, he held his own. He doesn’t fight at Light Heavyweight, yet he came in and put up a contest.
My Pick: Massenzio, Round 3, Decision
Middleweight bout: Aaron Simpson (-500) vs. Eric Schafer (+325)
Schafer makes his return to the UFC, but he draws a wet blanket, errrr…Aaron Simpson. Simpson will do what he always does: he’ll strike for a bit, and then look for cage control or the takedown. Schafer’s takedown defense is a little suspect, so looking for a long, grind-it-out type of fight.
My Pick: Simpson, Round 3, Decision
Featherweight bout: Zhang Tie Quan (-140) vs. Darren Elkins (+110)
Elkins is the bigger and stronger fighter, and will use his wrestling to control Tie Quan. Elkins can be submitted by Tie Quan, but he’s going to try to keep this fight standing. And in that regard, he’s the better fighter. Strikes and control against the cage will grant Elkins the judges nod.
My Pick: Elkins, Round 3, Decision
Heavyweight bout: Joey Beltran (+200) vs. Stipe Miocic (-260)
Beltran is a decent enough test for any UFC newcomer. Except this guy. Miocic is 6-0, finishing all his fights. His last fight he maid Bobby Brents tap out due to leg kicks. That’s ridiculous. Basically a TKO, to add to his 5 other TKOs. He’s also a former Golden Gloves champion and NCAA Division 1 wrestler. And he wears Mirko Crocop shorts when he fights. How can you pick against a guy like that? You can’t.
My Pick: Miocic, Round 2, (T)KO
Spike TV Card
Lightweight bout: Anthony Pettis (-285) vs. Jeremy Stephens (+225)
I think Pettis got robbed in his fight with Clay Guida. Sure, Guida got takedowns, but he did absolutely nothing with them. Pettis was constantly apply submissions, and when they were standing, he was getting the better of Guida. Anyways…I bring that up because Guida knew he had to keep Pettis down on the mat, because striking with him would be suicide. Stephens doesn’t take opponents down. Doing the math, that puts Pettis right where he wants to be: in a striking battle. And in that battle, Pettis has more weapons.
My Pick: Pettis, Round 3, Decision
Middleweight bout: Demian Maia (-260) vs. Jorge Santiago (+200)
For his first two return fights to the UFC, Santiago draws Brian Stann and Demian Maia? He must have pissed someone off. Those are hard draws for anyone. And if you would have asked me about this fight last year, I would’ve said that Santiago runs away with this victory. I would have said his striking is way better than Maia’s. But that was before I saw Maia fight Mark Munoz. Who was that? Maia’s striking was on point. If that Maia is the new Maia and fights this fight, Santiago will have his second loss in as many fights.
My Pick: Maia, Round 2, Submission
Featherweight bout: Leonard Garcia (+175) vs. Nam Phan (-225)
This might be going out on a limb, but I think Garcia pulls this out. For some reason I have faith he won’t just go brawling after the first 2 minutes of the fight. If he does that, he’ll more than likely lose, because Phan definitely won their last meeting. (Even though the Judges said otherwise) If Garcia keeps it together, he wins. That’s what I’m betting on.
My Pick: Garcia, Round 3, Decision
Lightweight bout: Joe Lauzon (+300) vs. Melvin Guillard (-450)
This fight is only happening because Guillard wanted to stay active instead of waiting for a title shot. Which I commend him for, because Lauzon is still a dangerous opponent for him if he lets it become a grappling match. But since training with Greg Jackson, Guillard seems to have finally put it all together, and won’t let that happen. Which is very bad news for the rest of the Lightweight Division. Guillard comes out swinging. Lauzon can’t block them all.
My Pick: Guillard, Round 1, (T)KO
Middleweight bout: Chael Sonnen (-280) vs. Brian Stann (+220)
While Stann could easily put Sonnen in trouble with shear punching power, he’ll have to be standing to deliver that blow. And that’s just not going to happen. Stann’s takedown defense is not good at all, and Sonnen can take down pretty much anyone. And while Sonnen does take damage from the top, the judges always give it to the fighter who gets the takedown and stays on top. And that’s what Sonnen is going to do. Stay tuned for the Anderson Silva call out.
My Pick: Sonnen, Round 3, Decision
Featherweight Championship bout: José Aldo (-450) vs. Kenny Florian (+300)
There are a ton of people sleeping on Kenny Florian in this bout. While I think Aldo should be favored, Florian has a real good shot at pulling off the upset. Florian is a huge featherweight. The guy used to compete from Middleweight (185lbs), all the way down through the divisions to here at 145lbs. Naturally, he’s the bigger fighter. The problem I see with upset possibility is that Florian is going to have to take Aldo down and keep him there to drop elbows on him or out-strike him. I don’t see that happening. At least not enough for Florian to get his hand raised. Aldo is a phenom, and is better at everything Florian is good at.
My Pick: Aldo, Round 4, (T)KO
Lightweight Championship bout: Frankie Edgar (-280) vs. Gray Maynard (+190)
Not that I needed to, but I went back and watched the second fight. And just like on the original fight night, I saw Edgar losing the first round badly, but battling back and winning the last 4 rounds. His footwork was better and he was much faster than Maynard. Nothing has changed since then. Edgar is still faster and his footwork will no doubt be better. This time he’ll stay away from that punch that leveled him in the first round, and he’ll out-point Maynard.
My Pick: Edgar, Round 5, Decision