(RearNakedNews.com would like to remind you that if you're planning on wagering on any of the UFC 94 fights, check out BetUS.com. Their UFC Odds currently have some nice possible plays (Gono, if you want a big underdog). The non-MMA portions of the site also have some cool stuff. Online Betting doesn't get any better than wagering on what song Bruce Springsteen will open the Super Bowl halftime show with.)
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Manny Gamburyan vs Thiago Tavares
It seems like Thiago Tavares has been around forever when in reality he's only been in the UFC for less than two years. He also will not be 25 until November. Six UFC fights and he's that young. That amazes me for some reason. His two straight losses worry me, but it's way too early to close the book on this guy. My biggest worry with him is whether he has developed a viable finishing method. Prior to entering the UFC, he ripped through his opponents with submissions. Since then all he has to show for it is a triangle choke victory over Jason Black. When fighters have trouble finishing, it's a giant red flag.
If Gamburyan didn't get knocked out by Rob Emerson, I'd be a lot more enthused with his chances against Tavares. I think it's going to be difficult for him to close the distance. I favor the striking of Tavares and his submission skills (if they ever show up in the UFC) over Gamburyan's power game. Tavares Wins by Decision.
Jon Fitch vs Akihiro Gono
It sucks this fight will not be shown live on the PPV. Fitch is without a doubt one of the top five Welterweights in the world and Gono isn't some bum. To be honest, I think Gono could surprise a lot of people in this fight (He's also at +375 right now, which makes him a prime target for a small underdog play, ya know, if you're the type who gambles. Fitch is -650. That's insanely high.). He's beaten top talent before and sports some very slick submissions. Fitch'e wrestling ability (specifically his positioning) should be able to control the fight, but if he leaves an arm dangling for a second too long, Gono will capitalize. We'll also get a good look at how far Fitch's stand-up has progressed since Georges St-Pierre made him look like an amatuer. I'm going with Fitch by 2nd Round TKO. He should be able to win the striking battle, which will make it easier to take him down, and finish from the top. If I was Fitch, though, I'd be very careful about going to the ground before Gono is hurt. That's a recipe for disaster.
Karo Parisyan vs Dong Hyun Kim
Does anyone really feel comfortable backing Karo? Panic attacks are the last thing I look for in a fighter because I don't think the treatment works with the career. It's already extremely difficult for fighters to get up everyday and train. We see fighters miss weight or come in out of shape all the time. Imagine how much tougher it would be to train if you're downing Xanax. Wouldn't you think that would lead to less overall energy and an inclination to maybe take a day off here and there? The other side of it is the fighter doesn't take any medicine and deals with the possibility of walking into the cage and having a panic attack. If the bell rings and Karo starts shaking like Michael J. Fox, you know he's in trouble.
My issue with Kim is all about his size. I just don't know if he has the strength to get in close with Karo. If you took away all the panic attack stuff, I'd say Karo wins this fight 98% of the time. With it, I'm placing it near 60%. I'm going to go with history on this one and take Karo by decision. He's fought twelve times in the UFC and only lost to Thiago Alves, Diego Sanchez, and Georges St-Pierre. That's a pretty good run for a guy who admittedly has never taken training all that serious. I think with the extra motivation to prove the doubters wrong, he'll be mostly dominant against Kim.
Stephan Bonnar vs Jon Jones
Where has all this Bonnar title contender talk come from? You'd think the guy spent last year lighting up 205 pounders instead of recuperating from a knee injury. I realize he's a fan favorite, but lets get real. He's a good fighter who will always be a notch below title contention in the UFC's stacked Light Heavyweight Division. Luckily he isn't facing any of the top tier guys. Jones could be special once he gets more fights under his belt. At this point, I don't see him beating Bonnar. Another one goes the distance, as Bonnar Wins by Decision.
Nate Diaz vs Clay Guida
I give Joe Silva crap for putting together idiotic fights, but you gotta give him credit for this one. I'd rate it as one of the most difficult fights to call in recent memory. Guida should be able to control the fight and put more pressure on Diaz than he has ever felt before. The problem is if the fight goes to the mat, Diaz's submission offense could end it in seconds.
Everyone likes to point to the Huerta loss as evidence Guida will be submitted by Diaz. I don't think it matters. Guida lost to Huerta because of strikes. The choke was after Guida took several big shots. Diaz submits people while the fight is on the ground. He's not proven himself to be a striker who swoops in once his opponent is hurt. I give Guida a solid chance of avoiding submissions, as long as he doesn't get caught with a strike.
I'm going with Guida. I just don't think Diaz has the stand-up to keep Guida at bay. I also do not see him doing enough damage to win a decision. Guida Wins by 2nd Round TKO. I'm almost positive Diaz will protest the ref's decision to stop the fight.
Lyoto Machida vs Thiago Silva
This won't be popular...I think both these guys are overrated. Who exactly have they beat? Machida has defeated Tito Ortiz, who didn't seem all that healthy to me, BJ Penn, who is 50 lbs or so lighter and the decision wasn't without controversy, and Rich Franklin, who he fought way back in 2003. I'll give him credit for the Franklin win because it was a TKO, but the other two do not impress me at all. Until I see him beat a legit 205 pounder, I'm refraining from grabbing the tissues over this dude.
Silva has built his overrated reputation by being exciting. He ends fights quickly and with brutality. I can appreciate that. I just don't rate wins over Antonio Mendes, Houston Alexander, and Tomasz Drwal as anything special.
Don't get me wrong here. I believe either of these two could be a future champion. I'm not saying they aren't talented or great fighters. All I'm saying is the vast majority of the MMA public rates them way above anything they've done in the ring. I prefer to sit back and let results talk for themselves, instead of listening to the UFC hype machine.
As far as the fight goes, if you like Machida, it's going to be nerve-wracking to watch the 1st Round. Silva's striking is scary and could end things with one well placed strike. If Machida gets through the 1st Round, things should get easier. He's used to going deep into fights and should control things however he wants. As big strikers get tired, they tend to telegraph their strikes. This plays right into Machida's hands. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and predict Machida Wins by 3rd Round TKO. No decision. He will tire out Silva and get a stoppage.
BJ Penn vs Georges St-Pierre (Welterweight Title)
As most of you already know, I picked BJ Penn about a week ago. Nothing since then has made me change my mind, including all the emails I received from GSP gaggers telling me I'm an idiot. History is a funny thing, especially in regards to perception vs reality. When St-Pierre defeated Penn by split decision in 2006, the perception was he was handed a win by the judges. Six months later Penn gassed against Matt Hughes and was stopped. It was at that point the public's perception of the first St-Pierre/Penn fight changed. Penn became the posterboy for a lack of cardio. Instead of people talking about how he busted up GSP's face and left the fight largely unscathed, everyone began talking about how he must have been out of shape and that's why GSP took him down in the final two rounds. While I do think that's partly true, it does not mean GSP won the fight.
Anyways, no need for me to rewrite my thoughts.
"BJ Penn is going to defeat Georges St-Pierre. I don't care about the size difference. The five day training holiday does not bother me. The lack of quality training partners doesn't worry me. BJ Penn is going to defeat Georges St-Pierre.
I was firmly in the GSP camp for awhile because I envisioned the second fight going much like the first. Penn would control the stand-up until he hurt GSP, at which point it would become a wrestling match. St-Pierre's natural instinct always reverts to wrestling. It's his biggest strength and no one at 170 lbs is anywhere near his talent level. The problem with this is the fight will be five rounds.
It's very difficult to control an opponent for five rounds, let alone someone as dangerous as Penn. It would impress me more if St-Pierre could control Penn for five rounds and win a unanimous decision, than if he TKO'd him on the ground. Eventually the fighters will be standing and I believe Penn will hurt him enough to take over and win the fight. There is the possibility St-Pierre can get him down and finish from the top. If Matt Hughes did it, I'm willing to say it is a possibility. I just don't think St-Pierre will be able to do it. Penn is better at fighting off his back than St-Pierre is on his feet. To me this is what the fight comes down to. I believe more in Penn's advantage on the feet than St-Pierre's on the ground. He can finish easier than GSP can on the ground.
Since their first fight in March of 2006, St-Pierre has gone 5-1. His opponents were some of the best Welterweights in the world, but none of them were dangerous strikers. Hughes, Serra, Koscheck, Hughes again, Serra again, Fitch...these are not fighters you worry about on your feet. It should also be noted Serra (who is smaller than BJ Penn and far less adept at striking) managed to drop St-Pierre and TKO him. People can write it off as luck, but if St-Pierre was as invincible as everyone claims, he never would have lost that fight. He has a weakness and it's striking defense. Penn is going to win and the end will come from a strike.
(Yes, I'm prepared to take the abuse from St-Pierre gaggers if Penn loses)"
Penn Wins by 2nd Round TKO