The UFC is expanding into new territory with its first card in Germany set for this Saturday. UFC 99: The Comeback features Wanderlei Silva taking on Rich Frankin as the co-main event alongside Cheick Kongo facing Cain Velasquez. The rest of the PPV card is rounded out by a good mix of up-and-coming fighters and a returning Mirko Cro Cop. Here are our predictions for UFC 99: The Comeback.
195 lbs Catchweight – Rich Franklin vs. Wanderlei Silva
This matchup offers an intriguing back-story for both men. Franklin is on his way up to light-heavyweight while Wanderlei is moving down to middleweight and both are meeting at 195 en route to their new division homes. This fight is critical for both, as they are looking to re-establish themselves as contenders to make a run at their respective division titles. For Wanderlei Silva, a KO loss would be his fourth in his last five fights, so he has added motivation there to not follow the path of Chuck Liddell and risk a demand for retirement.
Meanwhile, Rich Franklin is looking to wipe the taste of defeat from his mind after losing a close decision to former champion Dan Henderson.
My Prediction: This bout offers such a contrast in styles. Rich Franklin has always been a disciplined fighter. He has strong technical striking skills and fights in a southpaw stance, which can be difficult for fighters to adjust to. Wanderlei Silva is the most violent fighter in MMA and throws every strike with the intentional to put down his opponent. To me, this is really a toss-up fight, but I will pick Wanderlei on the basis that he has more at risk for this fight. Franklin’s loss to Anderson Silva via those crushing knees back at UFC 77 doesn’t help his case either. Wanderlei Silva by KO in the 1st round.
Heavyweight – Cheick Kongo vs. Cain Velasquez
With respect to current champ Brock Lesnar, AKA product Cain Velasquez is being billed as “the next big thing” in the UFC Heavyweight division. Boasting a record of 5-0, the Mexican fighter has already been labeled by some of his trainers as the best MMA fighter in a camp that includes John Fitch, Josh Koscheck, and many others. His opponent, Cheick Kongo, is no slouch himself with a record of 14-4-1 and 3 wins in a row via TKO.
My Prediction: In yet another contrast in styles, Kongo will look to keep the fight standing and use his vaunted striking skills to put Cain down. On the other hand, Velasquez, a former ASU wrestler, should look to take this fight to the ground and pound out Kongo there. The result of this fight depends on who will be able to dictate where this fight takes place. I think that man will be Cain Velaquez, who should win this fight the same way he’s won the rest of them, TKO via punches on the ground.
Welterweight – Mike Swick vs. Ben Saunders
This fight has the potential for fight of the night if you take into account some of the blistering performances we’ve seen from these past TUF contestants. For Saunders, the 7-0 fighter is most remembered for his brutal muay-thai clinch drubbing of Brandon Wolff from his last fight. The 13-2 Mike “Quick” Swick also has a penchant for coming out swinging. In fact, three of his UFC fights including his last one have failed to go past the minute marker. Given these facts, fireworks could be in the cards for this one.
My Prediction: Mike Swick represents a big jump up in competition for the ATT product, Ben Saunders. Maybe too big of a jump. I look for both fighters to come of the gates swinging early but I don’t see this fight ending in a knockout as is expected. Mike Swick should take it via one of his tricky “Swick-a-tine” guillotine chokes in the third stanza of this fight.
Welterweight – Marcus Davis vs. Dan Hardy
Many are looking forward to this fight due to the verbal battles they’ve had en route to Germany. In fact, this fight was made due to the mouth of Dan “The Outlaw” Hardy. Apparently, the English-native is looking to make a name for him in the welterweight division and is looking to do so at the expense of “Irish Hand Grenade” Marcus Davis, who many see as a top-10 gatekeeper for the division.
My Prediction: Any illusions of grandeur will quickly come to an end for the mohawked Hardy. Look for Davis to knock him out in the first round and put an end to all his talking.
Lightweight – Spencer Fisher vs. Caol Uno
Caol Uno returns to the UFC for the first time since losing to Hermes Franca back at UFC 44. The Wajyutsu expert is looking to re-establish himself in the lightweight division and will be taking on a surging Spencer “The King” Fisher. The Militech product is looking to establish himself as well and is looking for his third win in a row against the Japanese fighter.
My Prediction: Caol Uno is most well-known by his fans for his quick KO loss to UFC Lightweight champion BJ Penn way back at UFC 34. In this fight, look for Spencer Fisher to push the pace as he always does and overwhelm the Japanese fighter via strikes in the second round.
Heavyweight – Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic vs. Mostapha Al-Turk
Formerly known as the most feared striker in MMA from his days in Pride, Mirko “Cro Cop” Fillipovic Cro Co is looking to make another run at UFC gold. With a failed bid resulting in losses to Cheick Kongo and Gabriel Gonzaga the first time around, a re-motivated Cro Cop could make for a dangerous fight against any heavyweight in the world. He’ll be starting this UFC run against Mostapha Al-Turk, a 6-4 fighter with no significant wins on his record.
My Prediction: Al-Turk is a fighter that any UFC Heavyweight contender, let alone Mirko Cro Cop, should beat. Look for this to end via left high-kick in the first round.