Well, after Ultimate Fight Night, my predictions are 1 or 4 (not to mention thinking Palhares was going to rise up and be a star rather than calling for greasing while getting knocked out). So up coming is UFC 119. That show I seek my redemption. There is not the hype or the dream matches we would like to see, but on paper, this looks very interesting. I’m not running out to see this one, but it has some potential to be a great night of fighting.
Heavyweight bout: Frank Mir (13-5) vs. Mirko Filipović (27-7-1)
Frank Mir is one of the great personalities in MMA. Mir has done nothing more than fought for his survival, both in the octagon and off. Originally supposed to be Big Nog (Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira) in this slot, when Nogueira pulled out due to injury, the UFC only likes to replace with as good or better. Their “as good or better” was Mirko “Cro Cop.” In case you don’t know, Cro Cop is a nickname that came from him being in Croatia’s special forces unit. (Speaking of, if this guy ever writes a book I’m camping outside the Barnes & Noble like kids do for Harry Potter books.) But this isn’t story-telling. This is MMA, and until somebody proves me wrong, I’m going with Mir. Cro Cop may not be 100% there physically. I think this is going to be Frank’s night to shine.
Projected Winner: Mir
Light Heavyweight bout: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (19-3) vs. Ryan Bader (11-0)
It’s a good thing my wife is not doing this because she freaks out over Ryan Bader like tween girls freak out over Justin Bieber. Bader had a great season on Ultimate Fighter, after a great collegiate career in wrestling at Arizona State University. Little Nog is nothing to sneeze at with a very good amateur boxing career and a great record in PRIDE. But the last time I saw him at UFC 114, I saw him win a decision that I (and the crowd) did not agree with. While it was cool seeing Little Nog in The Expendables (which, yes, my wife pointed out), Bader is looking insane in the Octagon and has all the tools to defeat Little Nog.
Projected Winner: Bader
Welterweight bout: Matt Serra (11-6) vs. Chris Lytle (29-17-5)
A rematch of the Ultimate Fighter 4 finale, we have the winner Serra taking on the loser Lytle in a rematch. Lytle has an insane number of fights under his belt. Lylte, I see capitalizing on his 3-fight win streak. I’m sure he remembers losing the Ultimate Fighter season and I’m sure he will be hungry for payback.
Projected Winner: Lytle
Lightweight bout: Sean Sherk (33-4) vs. Evan Dunham (11-0)
So we have Sherk a former champion taking on a rising star in Dunham. While Sherk is on a one-fight losing streak, Dunham is on an 11-fight win streak. And these aren’t cupcake names you see here (Marcus Aurelio, Efrain Escudero & Tyson Griffin). This is the hardest one to call. I see it going 100 different times with 100 different outcomes. I actually say that Dunham wins. Sherk hasn’t fought in 16 months. Be prepared for a little “octagon rust.”
Projected Winner: Dunham
Lightweight bout: Melvin Guillard (24-8-2) vs. Jeremy Stephens (18-5)
As wowed as I am by the Dunham-Sherk fight, I am underwhelmed by this fight. Neither fighter really stands out to me. I’m going to say Melvin Guillard. He comes off hungrier to me. It’s what my heart tells me.
Projected Winner: Guillard
Middleweight bout: C.B. Dollaway (10-2) vs. Joe Doerksen (46-12)
You read that correctly. 46 wins in his career. Dollaway is an interesting talent, but Doerksen has walked into the octagon/ring/whatever so many more times than Dolloway. It’s true Dolloway looks like Matt Damon with really big gums. But Jason Bourne, he is not, nor do I think he will pull the victory on Doerksen.
Projected Winner: Doerksen
Heavyweight bout: Matt Mitrione (2-0) vs. Joey Beltran (12-3)
Another really weird one to call. Mitrione is so odd and bizarre. But at the end of the day, he’s only been in two professional fights, defeating “the” Kimbo Slice and Marcus Jones (who is the nicest guy I live in total fear of). Beltran seems to have more experience, but Mitrione is completely unpredictable and loves to overcome when he’s the underdog.
Projected Winner: Mitrione
The biggest potential surprise:
I see Little Nog calling on his many weapons and possibly pulling one on Ryan Bader. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Little Nog win in a decision.