Coming into this round of picks Rear Naked News stands at 36-14 with our picks. This card has a lot of tough calls, so we'll see how we do later tonight.
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Spencer Fisher vs Shannon Gugerty
The fight looks easy to call on the surface. Most people are probably wondering why the UFC would bother matching up a known commodity like Spencer Fisher with a virtual unknown like Shannon Gugerty. This is one area the UFC has problems with. When fighters are not in the upper echelon of title contention at the moment, they tend to face some "interesting" opponents. Gugerty is not a bum at all. In fact he sports a solid ground game that could give Fisher some problems. That said, Gugerty has one fight in the UFC and probably does not deserve to face Fisher on a PPV. In the lead up to the fight, Fisher has basically said he's not worried at all about any thing Gugerty will do. He thinks the fight ends early with a knockout. I happen to agree with him. Fisher looks good and wins via TKO in the 1st Round.
Thales Leites vs Drew McFedries
This fight doesn't do much for me. Leites has the clear advantage. He will wait for a mistake and pounce on it. The only hope for McFedries, as I'm sure he is aware, is a random punch getting through early in the fight. The longer it goes, the worse his chances. I think we'll see a 2nd Round Submission win for Leites.
Tyson Griffin vs Sean Sherk
When they announced this card, this was the fight that jumped out at me. You have two of the most successful Lightweights in the sport going head to head in a bout with major ramifications. Sherk is facing the possibility of losing consecutive fights for the first time in his long career. At the age of 35, he needs this win to stay relevant. For Griffin, it is all about getting a title shot in 2009. He has himself in the perfect position. All he has to do is execute in the biggest fight of his life.
The last time Griffin ended a fight early was September of 2006. Sherk did it in September of 2005. Chances are this thing is going three rounds and it'll come down to the judges. Almost no one is picking Griffin in this fight. I'm not seeing why people seem to think Sherk is such a lock. A lot of it is probably coming from him acting like he purposely got his ass kicked against BJ Penn by choosing to keep it standing. I don't buy his excuse. He didn't lay on top of Penn for five rounds because he knew it would be extremely tiring to take him down, he could not keep him down for long, and there was a good chance he'd get caught with a submission while down there. Screw everyone else, I am picking Griffin. He will take it by Unanimous Decision.
Fabricio Werdum vs Junior Dos Santos
When did the MMA media turn into a bunch of queens? All any one can talk about is how big Dos Santos' arms are and how ripped his body looks. I haven't seen this level of gayness since Randy Couture took his balls out of Joe Rogan's mouth when he stopped commentating. Mean while, Werdum was sported a Sylvia-esque physique at the weigh-ins. However, he was only 256 lbs. That's 9 lbs over what he weighed in June for his fight with Brandon Vera. Not a huge deal, especially when you consider Dos Santos is bigger than Vera and more likely to take things to the ground.
As of now, the only things we know about Dos Santos is he trains with the Nogueira brothers, has really big muscles, looks good throwing punches at media events, and had most MMA sites stocking up on extra tissues for tonight's PPV. Werdum might not look as pretty and his wins might not be crowd pleasing, but he gets the job done. He will enforce his will in this fight and get it to the ground (where 99.9% of MMA sites wish they could be with Dos Santos). From there it's only a matter of time before the referee steps in. Werdum wins by 2nd Round TKO.
Gray Maynard vs Rich Clementi
In the fight I care the least about, we have Gray Maynard facing Rich Clementi. Maynard makes his money by frustrating fighters with his power and superior wrestling. His most impressive win came in his last fight against Frankie Edgar. Maynard proved his bullheaded wrestling style can work against a talented opponent. Edgar looked lost at times because every thing he tried was quickly negated by Maynard's power and technique. Clementi does not have the strength or wrestling ability to match Maynard in either respect. I don't think he will win this one, but he might give another fighter the template to take out Maynard. To me the fighters who will end up giving Maynard trouble are the guys who are comfortable fighting off their backs and have top notch jiu-jitsu. Clementi just doesn't have the total package to get it done. Maynard wins by Unanimous Decision.
Josh Koscheck vs Thiago Alves
When news of Diego Sanchez's injury first hit, the UFC went into overdrive to find a replacement. They could not afford to lose such a high profile fight from a card without much depth. Josh Koscheck saved the day and probably won a few fans by stepping in on short notice to fight Thiago Alves. Sanchez will have to watch from the sidelines and see another big opportunity pass him by. For pure excitement, I would rather have seen Sanchez face Alves. That said, with Koscheck in this fight, it now has the feel of a legitimate title contender match-up. The winner moves into Jon Fitch territory in the UFC Welterweight Food Chain.
Koscheck has not had much trouble imposing his will on the fighters he has faced in the UFC. Lately he has looked better and more fluid in the cage. The thing missing from his game is the ability to end fights. His stand-up is adequate. Mostly it functions to set up his takedowns, which are top notch. Alves will not be able to get through this fight without being on his back at least once. Unless Alves scores an early knockout, he will need to find a way to keep Koscheck at a distance. If he gets in close, Alves is in trouble. His Muay Thai will only work so much before Koscheck powers through and throws him down.
Alves seems like he's been around forever, but he's only 25 years old. He has fought high level competition before with bouts against Jon Fitch (loss) and Matt Hughes (win). I think he can handle the magnitude of the situation and the fact he barely had two weeks to prepare for a fighter who is nothing like his previous opponent. I'm gonna go against the grain again and pick Alves. For whatever reasons, Alves connects often with his strikes. He will hurt Koscheck early and make him reluctant to put his head down and look for takedowns. This will lead to more damage. We might even see an early end to a Koscheck fight! Okay, maybe not, but Alves will get the win with a Unanimous Decision.
Patrick Cote vs Anderson Silva (MW Champion)
It's always a treat to see Anderson Silva fight. He combines skill, technique, and killer instinct like no other fighter in the sport. So far in the UFC no one has come close to figuring out his explosive style. The problem is the angles and swiftness of his strikes is so unique that fighters never see it until they are in the cage with him. For example, it is not too hard to find training partners to mimic Patrick Cote. Silva, though, who the hell can mimic him? I've never seen any one I'd even compare to him. All right, enough gushing.
Cote comes into the fight on a five fight win streak dating back to February of 2007. He didn't really beat any one noteworthy in those fights. I was very surprised when Cote's name was being thrown around this summer as a possible opponent for Silva. It seemed like a sacrificial lamb to boost Silva's popularity before the proposed bigger fights with Liddell, St-Pierre, etc. Fast forward a few months later and I'm still of the same mindset. Cote is a tough fighter and will no doubt walk into the cage tonight confident he can take whatever Silva throws at him. Then he will get hit with straight right and think, "Oh shit." I think we are headed for another highlight finish from Silva. He will do his usual two minute dance then begin picking Cote apart. The end will almost come in Round 1, but Cote will find a way to escape. He won't be as lucky when things start back up. Silva wins by 2nd Round TKO.