Vitor Belfort vs Rich Franklin
Rich– Vitor Belfort is the exact style of fighter that gives Franklin problems. A hard straight and accurate puncher which I think ultimately will spell the end for Franklin. Vitor by TKO
Travis– This one really complexes me. Mostly because a lot of people are not giving Rich a chance in this fight. I believe a lot of people are really forgetting how good Rich is. But this is no different than any other time Rich has faced a tough opponent. I personally have watched Rich spar with Robbie Lawler and it was a war. I believe he is ready. Vitor is supposed to be fighting at 185, but can’t even make 195 on the first weigh in? What is that about? This may be a sign of his mental state, or maybe it’s just a coincidence. But if you are going to have trouble making weight 10 lbs above what you are going to regularly fight at, I have worries about your mental state/preparation. Franklin by Decision
Rachel– While I’m picking Vitor, I think we could possibly see one of two outcomes. Either Vitor comes out and knocks Rich out right off the bat (first round) or if these two exchange punch for punch and it lingers into the later rounds, I’d say Rich will probably win by points. Vitor has something to prove with his return to the UFC. I think that passion to prove himself, coupled with the fact he’s been training with Randy Couture, this is going to go by quick TKO in the first. Either way, I wish Rich would stop fighting at catch weights. I mean I get why he does it (so he can fight often) but these catch weights aren’t really moving him closer to being a contender in the 185lb weight class nor the 205 weight class. I love fighters that stay busy but as everyone knows I’m not a huge fan of catch weights. Vitor by TKO
Mirko Crocop vs Junior Dos Santos
Rich– In Crocop’s best years Dos Santos would have been easy fodder stylistically for the Croatian. While it is true that the style match-up is still favorable for Crocop, Dos Santos is a younger, faster and one of the true heavyweight prospects in MMA. That being said I’m still picking Crocop to reach back to his golden years and pull out a victory here. Crocop by LHK
Travis– Since entering the UFC, Cro Cop has never really found his groove. At a 2-2, it’s hard to call him a contender for anything other than staying in the UFC. Of course with Cro Cop’s stature, it’s doubtful he’ll ever get a gimme match. Dos Santos comes riding high off of some great KO’s in the UFC (most notably Werdum) and has nothing to lose in this fight. If he did lose, most people would chalk it up to a revitalized Cro Cop. If he wins, then he’s an instant contender. I would expect this could relax him a bit because in some ways, he shouldn’t win. This is when he does best. Dos Santos by TKO
Rachel– I flipped my original pick for this fight. I was going to pick Cro Cop but in reflecting on his return (again) to the UFC, I’m not impressed. However looking at dos Santos, his wins and who he has fought, I think he could win this fight. Oh and I’d like to say one thing to Cro Cop. PLEASE STICK TO ONE ORGANIZATION. Seriously. You’ll grow a more loyal fan following if you just stay put. I’m picking dos Santos KO in the first.
Josh Koscheck vs Frank Trigg
Rich– It’s already been said a million times. Koscheck is a faster, stronger and younger version of Frank Trigg and it’s true. Koscheck by Blonde Fro and Decision
Travis– Here is a fight of 2 similar fighters at two very dissimilar times of their careers. While Koscheck has been on the rise, Trigg has found himself somewhat floundering around outside of the UFC. While he has picked up a few impressive wins, he’s also found himself on the losing end of some really tough battles (Robbie Lawler anyone?). Koscheck, however, has also found himself losing fights that he has no buisness losing. In a situation such as this, you have to take the overall best fighter and hope he doesn’t lose his way. This case, that is Koscheck.
Rachel– I don’t think this is going to be even close. I expect Koscheck to OWN Trigg from the start of “Lets get it on”. I think Josh’s wrestling is just a lot better and I expect to see him take Frank down a lot. While Josh hasn’t won many fights lately by submission I’m picking him to win, Koscheck Submission (Choke) in the second.
Martin Kampmann vs Paul Daley
Rich- Paul Daley is a good powerful striker and this gives him a slight chance, but he is out of league in this fight especially on the mat. Kampmann by Submission
Travis– Here we had a battle for the #1 contender at welterweight only a couple of weeks ago. Now we have an exciting fight with confusing ramifications. If Kampmann wins, does he get a title shot? If Daley wins, does he? My believe is neither will get a shot no matter how they win. Both are good fighters, but Kampmann has had more recent success against tougher opponents. I do believe Daley could get the win if he’s focused enough, but Kampmann has too many weapons and should realize that even though this isn’t for the #1 contender spot, it’s still very important. Kampmann by Submission.
Rachel– Again, Paul Daley took this fight on pretty late notice due to Mike Swick’s injury. Martin has a few inches on Daley and if you recall, he used to fight at Middleweight until he lost to Nate Marquardt at UFC 88. While I think they’re both good strikers, I think Kampmann might be slightly better and also has better wrestling skills. I’m giving this to Kampmann by TKO in the second.
Tyson Griffin vs Hermes Franca
Rich- Griffin will out wrestle and out strike Franca for 3 rounds. Griffin by Decision
Travis- Griffin by Decision
Rachel– I’m secretly most excited about this fight. Hermes has really good JJ but in my opinion, didn’t look great against Frank Edgar (his first fight after his suspension). While most of Tyson’s fights tend to go the distance, he’s received Fight of the Night award something like 5 out of his last 7 fights. That’s pretty impressive. With a solid win by Tyson it could put him on the track for a contender spot. Many people will debate me on this (and that’s fine) but I think he’s a gate keeper for the 155lbs weight class. One thing to note, this fight is at a catch weight of 159. I’m picking Griffin to win by Decision and I HOPE this fight gets Fight of the Night honors as well.
Efrain Escudero vs Cole Miller
Rich– Ultimately I think Efrain will be able to defend the slick submission skills of Cole Miller and win this fight with top position grappling. Escudero by Decision
Travis- Escudero by Decision
Rachel– Escudero by Submission
Drew McFedries vs Tomasz Drwal
Rich– This fight is a lock for KO of the night and it could go either way, but I like Drwal by KO in the 1st.
Travis- McFedries by TKO in the 1st
Rachel– Drwal by KO
Jim Miller vs Steve Lopez
Rich- Miller will put a blitzkrieg on Lopez, who is over matched. Jim Miller by TKO
Travis- Miller by TKO
Rachel– Miller by Decision
Rafaello Oliveira vs Nik Lentz
Rich– Fairly easy submission win for the talented Oliveira here. Oliveira by Submission
Travis- Nik Lentz by Submission
Rachel– Lentz by TKO
Rick Story vs Brian Foster
Rich– Foster will win this fight, but it won’t be easy to finish a tough Rick Story. Foster by Decision
Travis- Foster by Submission
Rachel- Foster by KO
Eliot Marshall Vs Jason Brilz
Rich- I would love to pick Marshall here, but I can’t ignore the fact that Jason Brilz has a dominating top position grappling game and can take Marshall down. I think Brilz can avoid the submission game. Brilz by TKO
Travis– Marshall by Submission
Rachel- Marshall by Submission
Vladimir Matyushenko vs Igor Pokrajac
Rich- Vlad by a really boring decision
Travis- Vlad by TKO
Rachel- Igor by TKO
Rob Emerson vs Rafael Dos Anjos
Rich- Dos Anjos is a very underrated prospect and I think he has the skills to out point Rob Emerson. Dos Anjos by Decision
Travis– Emerson by TKO
Rachel- Dos Anjos by Submission