This event has flown under the radar thanks to Randy Couture's return, Rashad's knockout victory, and Affliction's rescheduling. It is certainly not one of the stronger televised cards in recent memory. It does have some excitement attached to it because Clay Guida will be fighting. They could put him on every card and I would not complain. Over than that, it is a pedestrian offering. I'm looking to bounce back with a solid set of predictions. I went 6-3 at UFC 88, but missed the main event, which in my opinion made it a bad night. My record coming into this event is 27-9.
(As always, Rear Naked News will have a Live Blog during the event with Live Results of all the action. I will begin posting before the televised card with results from the preliminary fights. Check back Wednesday afternoon for the Live Blog.)
Joe Lauzon vs Kyle Bradley
-I wonder if the UFC will put Roger Huerta on the tail end of a mediocre televised card following his loss to Kenny Florian? Lauzon cannot be happy about this fight or its placement on the card. I think the slight will give Lauzon extra motivation. He is known as a hard worker and until Florian took him down, seemed poised to become a contender. Kyle Bradley is not a well-known fighter to most. He's lone appearance in the UFC resulted in a first round knockout loss to Chris Lytle at UFC 81. Bradley trains out of Louisiana and with all the hurricane activity this season, I gotta wonder how it affected him. Training for a fight is hard enough. You do not need other distractions like water damage to worry about. I think Lauzon rebounds and controls the fight from the opening bell. He is still a dominant fighter and will prove it with a first round victory by strikes.
Wilson Gouveia vs Ryan Jensen
-Gouveia was on a roll until he ran into Goran Reljic at UFC 84. He had won 4 straight inside the Octagon, including three PPV victories. Jensen does not present much of a challenge for Gouveia. Jensen has only been out of the first round once in his professional career, which spans 11 years and 17 fights. I expect this one to end early. Gouveia wins in the first round by submission.
Houston Alexander vs Eric Schafer
-Odd bout. Alexander is never easy to figure out. He has the talent to win any fight. The problem has been consistency. For whatever reasons, he has not taken the next step and become a proven winner. At the age of 36, it is now or never for Houston Alexander. His opponent is looking for better results in his second stint with the UFC. Following back to back TKO losses to Michael Bisping and Stephan Bonnar, Eric Schafer left the UFC and won two fights with GFS (Gladiator Fighting Series). You absolutely have to check out their website. It's like they took a time machine back to 1998, kidnapped a website designer, and made him create their site. I can't pick a guy who spent the last year fighting for them. I just can't. Didn't he look at their website before signing with them? Houston Alexander gets things rolling again with a first round knock-out. If Keith Jardine loses to Brandon Vera, expect a rematch with Alexander some time in early 2009.
Ed Herman vs Alan Belcher
-Another match-up featuring two fighters looking to rebound from recent defeats. It seems like these "rebound fights" make up 75% of UFC events. Herman and Belcher are UFC veterans, despite being 27 and 24 years old. Neither has had a huge victory that put them over the top, but each has had a nice run of success. Herman seemed to be in a groove with two straight victories that netted him "Submission and Fight of the Night" honors. Then he fought Demian Maia and was brought back to Earth. Neither fighter is exceptional in any one area. Herman has the advantage on the ground by a slight margin. Belcher is a little better at stand-up. Wrestling would be Herman, again by a little bit. Some say this sort of setup makes for an exciting fight. I tend to disagree. When neither fighter has a clear advantage, it usually plays out in a decision, unless some one connects on a lucky punch. I see Herman winning the fight by unanimous decision.
Clay Guida vs Mac Danzig
-As I mentioned earlier, this is the fight I am most looking forward to. Clay Guida is fun to watch against any one. First, he fights top competitors regularly. Second, he forces every one he faces to fight an exciting style that leads to memorable matches. And third, he has cool hair. Combine those traits and I cannot see why any one would not be a fan of his. In this fight he is facing the moody vegan, Mac Danzig, who won the 6th season of The Ultimate Fighter. Danzig is an all-around talent who combines exceptional balance with a mean streak that few can match. He also possesses technical skills to go along with his natural gifts. Guida needs to pressure Danzig from the opening bell. The moment the fight slows down in a clinch, he is at risk. We all know how the Huerta fight ended and hopefully it made an impression on Clay. He has the ability to defeat top fighters, but he needs to limit his mistakes. Danzig has better submissions than Huerta and will look to use them every chance he gets. I am going against the grain here and picking Guida to win. I think if he can get through the first round, he will win the fight. Guida wins by split decision.
Nate Diaz vs Josh Neer
-Nate Diaz is standing on the edge of stardom. He is one win away from a PPV bout against a top lightweight contender. All he needs to do is defeat Josh Neer. Easier said than done. Neer is no pushover, in fact he has a great chance to win this match-up. Diaz did not look comfortable in his last fight against Kurt Pellegrino. He faced his first adversity in the UFC and managed to overcome it. There is some thing to be said for that. Neer needs to use his experience to stay off the ground. He cannot be coaxed into Diaz's game. Keep the fight standing. If he hurts Diaz, he has to be careful and not throw all caution to the wind. Back at UFC 62 in 2006, Nate's older brother Nick defeated Neer by submission. Nate is actually better on the ground than Nick, so there is a good chance this one ends with another submission for The Ultimate Fighter 5 winner. I think Neer will avoid his submission attempts, but Diaz will score points from the top. The problem with fighting a skilled submission fighter like Diaz, is even if you get top position, you run the risk of not scoring points because Diaz is active from the bottom. He constantly goes for submissions and judges reward the activity. Neer will have his moments on top, but he will not do enough damage. Diaz wins a close one by split decision.