This Saturday night the UFC brings us their paranoid counter-programming to Affliction: Banned. While there are some interesting matches, it is not the usual card we have come to expect from them, which is to be expected since it was put together on short notice. My feeling on it is, "It's not the Affliction card, but it's free." All right, enough introduction.
Jesse Taylor vs C.B. Dolloway
In one of the more interesting matches on the card, two cast members from The Ultimate Fighter 7 face off in a battle that could derail one of their careers. Jesse Taylor is coming back from being kicked out of the Ultimate Fighter Finals because of his drunken antics, which now seem tame compared to Rampage's afternoon in Newport Beach. Than there is C.B. Dolloway, who will try to get his blossoming career back on track following a second loss to Amir Sadollah.
The fight itself features two former collegiate wrestlers that like to work from the top and overpower their opponents. I think we will see early stand-up action, but as soon as either fighter gets hurt their wrestling instincts will take over and it'll become a ground war. Dolloway has the better jiu-jitsu (I'm 99% sure Taylor has no idea how to do an arm bar, so he'll be safe), which should allow him to finish the fight. Dolloway wins by Guillotine Choke.
Anthony Johnson vs Kevin Burns
Anthony Johnson is coming off a dominating KO victory over Tommy Speer in April and looks to keep the momentum going against Kevin Burns. Burns burst onto the MMA scene at UFC 85 with an upset win over Roan Carneiro. He still has not quit his day job at Wells Fargo (now working part-time, 20 hours per week), which makes me wary to pick him in this fight. Johnson seems like the more motivated fighter at this point and I believe that will make a difference on Saturday night. With each fighter promising to stand and bang, I like Johnson to win by TKO.
Cain Velasquez Vs. Jake O'Brien
This one should not be too close. Cain Velasquez is the superior fighter in just about every area, other than stalling. The only reason the UFC invited Jake O'Brien back after his embarassing match with Andrei Arlovski is because they needed a stepping stone for Velasquez. Velasquez wins by Unanimous Decision
Hermes Franca Vs. Frankie Edgar
Franca is a difficult fighter to figure out. In the ring he has been uneven. Some times he looks unbeatable, other times he seems bored. Throw in the positive steroid test last July following his loss to Sean Sherk (who also tested positive for steroids) and it's questionable whether he will be able to get his career back on track against Frankie Edgar. Despite the problems he has had with training camps (left both American Top Team and Armory), I just have a feeling he will show up for this fight. Edgar, on the other hand, was rolling towards a future title shot until his decision loss to Gray Maynard. Many critics have pointed out that Edgar was overpowered in that match. That's true, but you have to remember Maynard does that to a lot of opponents. I do not think one match is an indictment on Edgar's ability to handle stronger opponents. In this fight he has the better wrestling and should be able to take Franca down. Once on the ground, though, Franca is the better submission artist. I think most of the damage in this fight will come from stand-up and in that regard I can not go against Franca. He's got too much power in those hands. Franca wins by Decision.
Brandon Vera Vs. Reese Andy
For years we have heard about Vera's future as a Light Heavyweight at 205 lbs. Every fight he had at Heavyweight the announcers made sure to mention how he could be a Light Heavyweight down the road. Well, the time has arrived and the UFC must think favorable on his future in the new weight class because they have lined him up an easy first opponent. Reese Andy is a respectable wrestler, but not much else. He's the perfect opponent for Vera to look good against and bolster his stock in the already crowded Light Heavyweight Division. I think Vera's jiu-jitsu will carry him through this fight and put a quick end to it. Vera wins by Submission.
Anderson Silva Vs. James Irvin
Is any one else tired of hearing Dana White talk up Anderson Silva? I feel like the UFC had a meeting and they all agreed they need to build up Silva because Affliction has more bigger fighters. The best way to counter the heavyweight dominated Affliction card, is to give viewers a clear alternative. The UFC is doing that by featuring Silva. The big question is whether Silva's unique striking speed will be with him at the higher weight. When fighters go up in weight, their strikes are a little slower and they cause a little less damage on the bigger opponent. Most do not think it will matter for Silva, but there is no way to know for sure until he throws in the ring with Light Heavyweights. Irvin will be a solid first test. He should control the action with his power whenever he chooses and be able to take Silva down. But does he really want a ground battle with a dangerous submission fighter like Silva? I doubt it, and if he finds himself on top he better be careful with how much he opens up. To me Irvin needs to keep this fight standing to win. If he does that, his strength will play a bigger role and not give Silva the chance for a sneaky submission. That said, I believe Silva will find a way to win. At some point the fight will go to the ground (probably after Silva lands a solid shot and Irvin goes for a takedown to counter it) and a submission will end the fight. Silva wins a tough fight via Submission.