UFC 110 is this weekend, Saturday February 20th. It will be a high quality card following the somewhat lackluster UFC 109 earlier this month. The UFC is ramping things up pretty soon with a huge couple of cards coming up in the next few months. UFC 110 might not have all the big names on it, but trust me, those types of cards will be happening starting next month. As for 110, there is plenty of good action to be seen, and I will run it down for you and highlight a few fighters for you to keep your eyes on for this weekend and beyond. This card is being held in Sydney Australia, and promises to have some action packed fights. I admittedly had a pretty rough go of things on the UFC 109 card, only predicting 3 of the main card fights right, which is still decent but not as good as my recent string of 5 out of 5 nights. There really is not many exciting under card and preliminary fights that really pop out to me. The one I want to see is the undefeated 25 year old Croation, Goran Reljic take on CB Dollaway at 185. This should be a well fought match up that pits 2 young and hungry fighters. Dollaway is a very good wrestler while Reljic is a really good striker with solid BJJ. The main card is where all the fun starts this week, several big name fighters, no titles on the line, but there are some fights with possible title implications.
Mirko Cro Cop (25-7-2) vs. Ben Rothwell (30-7)
The first fight on the pay per view, will undoubtedly, be a slugfest. The entire MMA world knows all about the storied past of Mirko Cro Cop, and his legacy of knocking people’s heads off with his big left foot. He is one of the most experienced fighters in the heavyweight division and he has the knock out power of few others. Anything coming from the left side needs to be high on Rothwell’s priority list to stop. Rothwell on the other hand, is much bigger then Mirko. Rothwell is 6’4″ and 265 pounds to Cro Cop’s 6’2″ and 220 pounds. Rothwell is a very well rounded fighter who is looking to rebound from his debut loss to Cain Velasquez, and establish himself in the division. Cro Cop has struggled with losses and injuries in his time in the UFC and his 2-3 record state side does not do him much justice. Rothwell is much bigger and stronger, and surprisingly faster, but he is not as good standing up. He is very well rounded, but Cro Cop has fought much more top flight competition. My prediction for this one is Cro Cop scoring the 2nd round KO and getting back to his winning ways.
Keith “The Dean of Mean” Jardine (14-7-1) vs Ryan “Darth” Bader (11-0)
This is going to be an awesome fight. Bader is undefeated and no one has shown any sign of stopping him thus far in his UFC and MMA career. Both guys are 6’2″ and 205 pounds, in the light heavyweight division, and are notoriously good strikers. Bader is also a top notch wrester, a former Division 1 all american with amazing athleticism and conditioning. 2 of his 3 fights have gone the distance and gone in unanimous decision for him, while the other was a KO victory. Jardine is, as his title suggests, a very mean and aggressive fighter. In the ring, few others match his power and strength. He is much older, 34, than Bader and has his share of battles, and long fights. He has struggled lately but that is as much due to the level of competition then anything else. His last 2 fights have been losses, to Thiago Silva and Rampage Jackson. He is tough on the ground as well, and has great kicking abilities, which might nullify some of Baders superior wrestling skills. Bader’s age, 26, and speed might be the key to victory for him and a win over Jardine will propel him further up the light heavyweight ladder. Bader is my pick to win, in a split decision. No one will watch this fight and be disappointed with the level of competition, and it will be a hard fought and close battle. It has potential to be Fight of the Night.
Joe “Daddy” Stevenson (36-10) vs George Sotiropoulos (11-2)
The 155 pound weight class has few better fighters then these two. Joe “Daddy” is a top flight competitor and his challenger Sotiropoulis has done nothing but impress and win. 4-o in the UFC and 3 were submission victories with a TKO mixed in. He has great cardio and stamina and is a very well rounded, strong fighter. Sotiropoulos has a 3 inch height advantage on Stevenson, but Stevenson’s strength and conditioning has few rivals in the 155 pound weight class. At 27 Stevenson is 5 years younger but has huge amount of experience, with 46 professional fights with 12 of those fights coming in the UFC. He won TUF 2, and has done very well since, with only 4 losses on his record in the UFC. He is 3 and 3 in his last 6 fights with losses against Diego Sanchez, Kenny Florian and BJ Penn, he is definitely at the top of this division and while he has lost against arguably the 3 best, he is still up there. Winning this fight over the impressive Sotiropoulos will keep him at the top of the division. A win for Sotiropoulos will propel him to the top, but I just don’t see it happening. Stevenson has a much better ground game and has great takedown offense and defense. His submission victory history is even more impressive then Sotiropoulos. I do think this one will go the distance though, split decision for Stevenson.
Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva (32-10-1) vs Michael “The Count” Bisping (19-2)
This is Silva’s first fight at the 185 pound weight class, with the recent drop due to the expanding competition at 205 pounds. Silva is also a very old 33, with a ton of fights under his belt against the absolute best competition. Since coming to the UFC from PRIDE he has struggled with a 2-5 record, with losses against Vitor Belfort, Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell, Rampage Jackson and Rich Franklin. Looking to turn his luck around he dropped 20 pounds, hopefully it will not disrupt his tremendous power that made him famous. Regardless he is one of the best fighters and technicians the sport has ever seen. Michael Bisping on the other hand can and will take on anyone. Bisping is 30 but has far less experience and does not seem as old. He has amazing fitness and heart and is great at the standup game that Silva has perfected. He is 8-2 in the UFC with a lot more action in recent years then Silva who’s fights have been more spread out. The only losses he has suffered have been against Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson, 2 of the absolute best. When Bisping wins, which is often, he stops fights, they typically do not last the whole 3 rounds, but he is known to have amazing conditioning. He can take hits almost as well as Silva can dish them out, and this will be an awesome fight. Bisping wins with a 2nd round TKO. I think Silva’s effectiveness as a fighter might be coming to an end pretty soon, and I think Bisping is more than willing to push him in the direction of retirement.
Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira (32-5-1) vs Cain Velasquez (7-0)
This is a huge heavyweight battle. The ancient and legendary Minotauro takes on the young, undefeated heavyweight talent Cain Velasquez. This is the toughest test to date for the young heavyweight as he looks to move further up the ladder in the UFC. If he wins Saturday night he could be putting himself in the discussion of the top 5 heavyweights in the UFC. The 6’3″ and 240 pound Nogueira will not go down easily, he has a 2 inch height advantage which gives him better reach, but the two weigh the same. Minotauro’s stamina is unheralded for a heavyweight and he is a superb boxer, with even better Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He is one of the best BJJ practitioners, and arguably the best at the heavyweight level. He is coming off of a impressive unanimous decision victory over Randy Couture which sparked his drop to the 205 weight class, and his only loss in 4 UFC appearances was to the awesome Frank Mir. Only 2 of his last 4 fights were finished before the final bell, the KO to Mir in the 2nd round, and his 3rd round submission of Tim Silvia. Velasquez on the other hand appears to be a nearly unstoppable force and could possibly be the biggest threat to Brock Lesnar. This is saying a lot as he has not gotten any fights against top flight competition until this weekend. He has been busy the past few years, with all 5 of his UFC fights being since April 2008. He has 4 TKO wins and a easy looking unanimous decision victory over Cheick Kongo. He made Ben Rothwell look very bad in his last fight, which many thought would expose the weaknesses in Velasquez’s game. He has really awesome power and was a big time wrestler in college. He is 27 years old and looks like he is just getting started. This fight means everything to him and he will come in much hungrier and more aggressive then his veteran opponent. He likes to dictate the pace with his striking and wrestling skills, and is a very well rounded fighter. He finishes fights well, and when there is an opening he takes it. This has the potential to be a slug fest, and it is my bold prediction of the night. Velasquez 2nd round TKO. This win will mark the arrival of Cain in the top of the division, he seems to be the total package and could keep up with Frank Mir, Brock Lesnar, Junior Dos Santos and Shane Carwin. Many have Velasquez at #5 in their heavyweight rankings right behind Nogueira, so a win will propel him into the top 3 in the UFC.
There’s the picks for the UFC 110 PPV. Velasquez, Bisping, Stevenson, Bader and Cro Cop. Lets see how well I can do this time.