I might be more excited about UFC 125 on New Years Day than I was about Christmas. There are a ridiculous 13 Fight of the Night awards that have gone to the guys on the main card, and 3 of those were Fight of the Year.. This card is so stacked that half of the Preliminary card should be on a main card!
Clay Guida vs. Takanori Gomi: This could be a main event fight for me. Both guys are so exciting to watch, both have won a Fight of the Year, and are fairly evenly matched, though I give Gomi the edge on his feet, and Guida an edge on the mat. We may see Guida going back to his wrestling a bit more in this one and getting some takedowns. Gomi has great knockout power, as he showcased in his last fight with Tyson Griffin, but Guida has an amazing chin, and you just can’t tire him, or knock him out. This should be quite a battle, and Guida will get the W.
Nate Diaz vs. Kim Dong-Hyun: Honestly, why don’t the Diaz brothers have their own reality show yet? Diaz will look to keep Dong-Hyun at bay with his jab, and will have his hands full trying to do so. Dong-Hyun will work for the take-down, and will have his hands full when he gets to the ground. This is a really tough fight to guess, but I’m going with Diaz. He’s a scrapper, and knows how to pull it off and come back from getting an early ass wuppin.
Brandon Vera vs. Thiago Silva: This is another fantastic matchup of two highly skilled strikers. Vera knows that he’s gotta win this fight. He’s lost his last two, and had his face broken by Jon Jones in his last fight. I’m curious to see how Vera comes out in this fight and if he fights like he’s fighting for his spot in the UFC, or if his last loss makes him hesitant to exchange with a guy with the power that Silva has. Vera also hasn’t fought in almost 9 months. Silva is still sitting at 14-2, with the only two losses of his career to guys who have held the UFC belt (Machida and Evans). Silva has been out for a year since his rather unexciting loss to Rashad Evans, who spent 15 minutes laying on top of Silva. I give this one to Silva.
Chris Leben vs. Brian Stann: Chris Leben is another guy that you simply do not want to miss. If you are not a Leben fan, then you were simply not watching MMA this past summer. Leben got a Knockout of the Night award for his finish of Aaron Simpson, after Simpson gassed himself out from kicking Leben’s ass. Two weeks later, Leben steps in to replace an injured Wanderlei Silva, and got Fight of the Night, beating Akiyama by letting him tire himself out punching Leben in the face. It’s not often that I jump off of the couch yelling during a fight (OK, that’s a lie), but this was like watching Rocky and Clubber Lang slug it out at the end of Rocky III, and it went right down to the end of the 3rd round before Leben somehow pulled off a Triangle Choke on Akiyama. This will be Brian Stann’s second fight since dropping down to Middleweight, and is coming off of his recent Fight of the Night win against Mike Massenzio. Leben is known more for his jaw than his technical skills, but it’s entirely possible that he out classes Brian Stann in this fight. Count on this one being a battle. Leben wins this one.
Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard: The first time Edgar fought BJ Penn, and took his title, he was an enormous underdog. I’m not going to pretend I said he would win, but I said everybody was severely underestimating him. The second time they fought, he was STILL the underdog, and then was even more dominant in that fight. Gray Maynard, at 10-0, has been long overdue for a title shot. One of those wins of his was over Frankie Edgar. As Gray Maynard puts it, he’s been just walking through the competition to get here. Once again, Frankie Edgar is the underdog in this fight. Three things to consider though, are that
- Gray Maynard hardly “walked” through the competition. The last time he finished a guy was in 2007. The 7 fights since then have all gone to the judges. 2 of the last 3 were split decisions, so one of the 3 judges thought he lost those two fights.
- Frankie Edgar beat BJ Penn decisively. Then Edgar beat a pissed-off and hungry BJ Penn, even more decisively. BJ. Fucking. Penn.
- Edgar will come in with a better game plan. Maynard is a blunt instrument, and his game is going to be the same as it has been in his last 7 fights that got him here: get the takedown, and hold him on the ground.
Maynard’s game plan has been working for him this far, and it worked against Edgar the last time they fought, but I think he’s fighting a very different Frankie Edgar this time. In their last fight, Edgar edged out Maynard on their feet, but Maynard practically took Edgar down at will. If Maynard tries to stand with Edgar, he’s going to eat a lot of jabs. He may get some takedowns in the early rounds, but as the fight gets into the later rounds, it’s going to tip further and further to Edgar’s favor. I’m calling it another Frankie Edgar upset, and he will hand Gray Maynard his first loss.
Those are my picks. Guida, Diaz, Silva, Leben, and Edgar. Think I’m wrong? Wholeheartedly agree? Post your picks in the comments. To get the ball rolling, I asked my brilliant, and beautiful wife Heather for her picks (before letting her read my breakdown). Heather watches all of the fights, makes the best buffalo chicken dip in the world, and has a wicked overhand right. Trust me.
Here are Heathers picks:
- Frankie Edgar is more awesome then Gray Maynard.
- Brian Stann. Because he is from Scranton, PA and I love The Office.
- Thiago Silva. He’s got a meaner face and Vera’s got a broken face. So yeah, Silva.
- I pick Nate Diaz, because he reminds me of any number of guys I could find at a state fair in Vermont.
- Clay Guida, because he’s metal. (and never fails to fight while swimming in a pool of his own blood)
Now post your picks. Or else.