Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Preview & Predictions: UFC Debuts on Versus

While I had already been planning to watch the UFC’s first foray onto the VS channel this weekend, several contributing factors have made it a virtual certainty. One was my nearly separating my left foot from the rest of my body via playing soccer in what might as well have been clogs. The other was that I recently discovered that the white metal thing I had been using as a bookshelf in my kitchen was, in fact, an oven. Add together the winning combination of my left leg being encased in a boot that looks like something out of Robotech and pizza rolls from my newly discovered oven and the odds are 100-to-eggplant that I will be watching an evening full of face-punchery on March 21st. Needless to say, if I’m going to watch several hours of what my girlfriend refers to as ‘man-sex’ then I need to at least know enough about the fights to be condescending to those around me. Thus, several hours of video-perusin’ and internettin’ have netted the following highly opinions which you should now pay me for.

No? Commie.

Fine...Be that way. No charge, but I’m thinking bad thoughts about you. Specifically things involving your genitals and my kicking them.

Brandon Vera vs. Jon Jones

The headlining fight between Jon Jones and Brandon Vera is shaping up to be an exciting fight, both men having unorthodox styles and enter this weekend ‘needing a win’. Vera’s last fight was a lackluster affair vs. Randy Couture that ended in a controversial unanimous decision while Jones’ last fight was a disqualification loss vs. Matt Hamil.

It is the disqualification loss for Jones that troubles me about Jones’ chances in this fight: despite dominating the fight, Jones showed his lack of cage-seasoning and discipline in landing several illegal 12-6 elbow strikes that weren’t even close to being legit. It is this lack of discipline and basic cage/MMA knowledge that could end up being the deciding factors in this fight. Vera is a cagey veteran who has shown an ability to stick to a game-plan that exploits the weaknesses of an opponent and lessens his own. Contrast this with Jones, who, despite his height/reach advantage and explosiveness has shown a wild-streak in the ring and the odds may swing in Vera’s favor. Unless Jones completely overwhelms Vera in the opening round or reins-in his trademark unpredictability I can’t see him sticking to a game-plan long enough to keep ‘The Truth’ from finding his range and picking him apart. Win or lose, someone needs to interview Vera after the fight and ask the question that we’re all begging to ask: what in the screaming monkey-hell is that gibberish tattooed on your back and does it really mean “Eggroll Combo #16”? The people need to know.

Vera via Decision

Dos Santos vs. Gonzaga

This is a fight that has all the makings for a grappler vs. striker fight that the UFC has become so fond of recently, pitting Gonzaga’s ground game against Dos Santos’ stand-up. Gonzaga has the better Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills, sporting a black-belt from Chute Box Academy but has shown an inability to keep strong grapplers (a la Shane Carwin) pinned on the mat for long, while Dos Santos is far superior in stand-up with an 18-0 kickboxing record in Brazil. While this type of stand-up vs. grappler pairing has made for some eventful and unpredictable fights it is Gonzaga’s loss to Carwin that may provide Dos Santos with the ultimate roadmap to victory.

Wait, you don’t know what I’m talking about? Go ahead and google Gonzaga vs. Carwin on the interwebs, I’ll wait.

Are you back? That knockout is ridiculous, isn’t it? Carwin’s hand travels about three inches and nearly separates Gonzaga’s head from his body. The fact that Dos Santos is an elite heavyweight kickboxer and has a physique that closely resembles Carwin’s truck-engine-with-limbs appearance makes me wonder about Gonzaga’s chances.

Apart from his stunning win over a diminishing CroCop, Gonzaga has shown a propensity to lose standup battles against game opponents. His knockout loss to Carwin should serve to be the blueprint for a Dos Santos victory as Gonzaga has admitted to training heavily in stand-up and kick boxing leading into this fight and may be more easily coaxed into slinging leather than taking it to the ground. The fact that two of Gonzaga’s four losses came at the hands of Fabricio Werdum, whom Dos Santos uppercut straight out of the ring and the UFC not too long ago, does not swing the odds in Gonzaga’s favor either.

Dos Santos via General Ass-kickery in round 1

Cheik Kongo vs. Paul Buentello

Kongo vs. Buentello strikes me as a fight between two guys who, while decent fighters in their own right, have always withered against top-tier talent. While at the time his decision victory over CroCop may have seemed impressive in 2007, hindsight has proven this to carry far less weight than it would have 4 years ago. Combine this with losses to Frank Mir, Cain Velazquez and Heath Herring and you begin to see a pattern develop. Kongo looks frightening as hell but when confronted with adaptable, versatile fighters his pulling off a victory is as likely as me getting out of a strip club without getting covered glitter and smelling of strawberry lip-smacker.

Lucky for Kongo, Paul Buentello is far from his days of being a top-tier fighter. Buentello is a heavier, more out of shape version of Chuck Lidell, refusing to do anything more than sling leather and sprawl when someone tries to take him down. In matching against Buentello vs. Kongo, who while he looks like the lovechild of an Army Tank and a Grizzly Bear has also shown a lack of adaptability and plodding footwork that opens him up to accurate strikers, you have the makings of either a quick, exciting fight or a boring, man-hugging snooze-fest.

Kongo via Decision.

Alessio Sakara vs. James Irvin

This is a pick ‘em. Both guys are going to do their best impression of Rock-em-Sock-em-Robots and stand in the middle of the ring with their eyes closed windmilling punches at each other. Flipping a coin will carry the same odds as this fight and probably last longer. What, you want me to pick one?

Fine: Sakara will win in 3.2 seconds, beating Frank Dux’s Kumite Record and pissing off Chong-Li.

Satisfied? Fine. I’m going to go and hobble into my kitchen and pull those books out of my oven before I forget. Those Choose Your Own Adventures aren’t going to move themselves.

-Posted by MMA contributor Finn

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Gene said...

Good post Finn! Looks like you did some serious homework for that one. I nearly wet myself in a fit of giddiness yesterday when I saw that Versus is back on DirecTV. As for the fights..I think Jones will be too much for Vera and that his athleticism will overcome the experience deficit he faces. Vera has looked tentative to me in his past few fights and seems to have lost the killer instinct he had when he decimated Frank Mir. In any case it should be interesting. I don't see the Congo-Buentello match-up leaving the first round. Congo is a bigger, faster, stronger, and more precise version of Buentello, who looks like he lives out of the back of a Hostess van.

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