After basking in the glow of my mostly semi-correct fight predictions from this last weekend’s UFC matches I decided it was time to zip up my footie-pajamas and write a truly hard-hitting preview article for next weekend’s UFC 111. Five hours and innumerable fits and starts later I finally found a winning combination: actually watching a few of each fighter’s previous fights and developing a prediction based around their skill-set and a little bit of intuition. Now let’s see if research can trump the random guesswork and coin-flipping that I based my picks on last week. And yes, research in adult-sized footie-pajamas –while a little unorthodox—is still research. I looked it up, using science and graphs and everything.
Georges St. Pierre vs. Dan Hardy
This should be a great fight, but one who’s outcome I don’t have any doubt about. Having said that, get ready for pre-fight prediction cop-out #1. Are you ready? Here it is: Dan Hardy has a ‘puncher’s chance’ in fighting Georges St. Pierre, but I expect GSP to dominate this match.
Do you see what I did there? I made a fight prediction stating one thing but prefaced it with a condition that covers me should the fight go the other direction. Genius! While aligning myself with a St. Pierre victory I have nevertheless left a small amount of wiggle room with the first half of that sentence; now, if Hardy manages to land a lucky punch or just simply out boxes St. Pierre I can point to that sentence and claim that I predicted the outcome. Granted, if Hardy beats St. Pierre on the ground or murders him with a robot-army and a tazer, then I am truly S.O.L. Still, George St. Pierre is head-and-shoulders above Dan Hardy in nearly every facet of MMA and should have no problem putting him away and avoiding the same type of fluke KO that caused him to lose his belt to Matt Serra two years ago.
GSP via TKO in the 3rd round.
Frank Mir vs. Shane Carwin
Now here’s what we like to see: two 260lbs. guys with hands the size of car-batteries punching each other in the face. While both Carwin and Mir each possess amazing ground skills –Mir has a stellar all-around ground game based on BJJ and wrestling, while Carwin’s strength is based almost entirely on his wrestling prowess and physical resemblance to a shaved Grizzly bear—these skills should serve to cancel each other out and leave each fighter winging punches at each other in the middle of the ring.
Mir has shown a substantial improvement in his stand-up as of late. He knocked out the previously un-knockouttable (I don’t care what you say spell-check, it’s a word) Antonio ‘Minotauro’ Noguiera before his brutal loss to Brock Lesnar, and then bounced back by dismantling Cheik Kongo in less time than it takes most people to tie their shoes. It was quick victory for Mir that was predicated on a vicious uppercut that knocked Kongo flat on his ass and left him open for the Guillotine-choke that ended the fight. For years Mir’s ability to win was entirely based upon taking his opponent to the mat and tying different parts of their body in to knots until they were forced to tap-out. Now that he has stand-up to go with his ground game he has evolved into a truly formidable fighter.
Being able to place himself back atop the Heavyweight division will be based on the next step in his evolution: whether or not he can bulk up and compete with the true 260lbs giants of the sport, Carwin and Lesnar. Ever since his devastating loss to Lesnar, Mir has been on a mission to never be put at such a strength disadvantage again. He has worked on his strength, adding 25lbs. to his already sizeable frame. Whether Mir can adapt to carrying this extra weight is a big question mark going into this fight. Thankfully for Mir, I don’t think that Carwin is going to be the guy to put his conditioning to the ultimate test. Shane Carwin is undefeated in the octagon, winning his first 11 fights in a grand total time of 12 minutes and 22 seconds. That comes out to just under 1:08 per fight! That’s barely enough time for the color-commentator, Mike Goldberg, to say something completely asinine (as he is contractually obligated to do) and for Joe Rogan to take a deep breath, sigh, and call him an idiot.
Mir via TKO in the 1st round; Rogan via Goldberg ineptitude more times than your DVR has room for.
Jon Fitch vs. Thiago Alves
This fight is interesting in the fact that Fitch and Alves have met once already, albeit much earlier in their careers. Their 2006 meeting was dominated by Fitch’s ground game and ability to take Thiago down almost at will and was ended via TKO after a vicious upkick that sent Alves sprawling and unable to answer the punches that Fitch then rained down on him. Since that night both men have only one loss each on their respective resumes: unanimous decision losses to the same man, Georges St. Pierre. But while Fitch dropped a fight in which he was simply all-around outclassed by GSP’s athleticism and ability to stuff any and all takedowns, Alves lost much the same way that he did to Fitch: he was taken down a total of 10 times in the fight and proved completely ineffectual in his ability to sprawl or fight off of his back. While both men are quite a bit more seasoned than they were almost four years ago when they first met, the aspects of their respective games that will dictate the outcome of this fight have not changed much at all. Fitch is still a much bigger and more powerful fighter with vicious takedowns and Alves is still a stand-up Muy Thai fighter that only has enough BJJ to not completely embarrass himself once he inevitably gets put on his back.
Fitch via General ground-and-poundery in the 3rd
What time is it? 3pm? Must be time to put on some clothes and play some video games; I’ve earned it.