Forrest Griffin vs. Rashad Evans
When Chuck Liddell squared off against Rashad Evans with a potential title shot on the line, I would be willing to bet the UFC could almost taste the dollar bills that would have been flying into their pockets had Liddell won, and faced off against his Ultimate Fighter 1 alum. Alas it was not to be, and as Rashad Evans right hand came over the top and careened off Liddells face I could almost hear the collective hearts of the UFC brass breaking as The Iceman was sent into an icy slumber.
Love him or leave him, the fact is Evans is a top contender in the light heavyweight division and deserves his shot at the title. Despite his inability to garner the hearts of MMA fans around the world, he has the resume to prove his worth as a title contender, in fact his place in the contendership ladder can be justified more so than that of Griffins heading into his bout with Quinton Jackson!
While a multitude of scenarios can play out in this fight I would have to believe that Griffin would like to stay on his feet while Evans would be interested in putting him on his back and as such the bout could very well be won and lost in the wrestling department. Evans will probably go for a takedown at some point, he almost always does, but judging by his last fight with Liddell even that might be an uncertainty. Here is how I see the fighters individual skillsets matching up against each other.
Griffin has an underrated ground game and if this fight has a strong jiu jitsu element Griffin should have the advantage. Neither fighter has shown a tendency to work submissions or sweeps, but Griffin does have some submission victories. Of course the wrestling base will also be a big factor here but from a pure jiu jitsu standpoint it is ADVANTAGE: GRIFFIN
On paper, Evans wrestling is the stronger of the two but Griffin has improved all aspects of his game by leaps and bounds. Griffins takedown defense coupled with his size advantage could be enough to thwart the takedown attempts of Evans if they come, but Sugar will have the technique and the natural wrestling instinct advantage. ADVANTAGE: EVANS
Despite Rashads hightlight reel headkick knockout of Sean Salmon, both fighters utilize their hands more often than their feet, and I expect that wont change much this time around. Griffin is the taller and longer of the two fighters so he should enjoy a reach advantage, and his punching combinations appear sharper then that of Evans, but Griffin gets sloppy and erratic sometimes, and judging by Evans knockout of Liddell he will need to be wary. Despite Evans previous knockouts I am going to give the edge to Griffin here in terms of overall sharpness, studious use of leg kicks and reach advantage. (Slight) ADVANTAGE: GRIFFIN
Evans is a smaller light heavyweight while Griffin cuts a lot of weight to make the 205 lbs. weight limit so size could play a factor when all is said and done. On another note, the conditioning battle should be a wash as both fighters have shown the ability to go for the full three rounds, and while Evans hasnt fought 5 full rounds yet, nothing has shown me that he wont be able to compete in the championship rounds. The will to win by both fighters has never been called into question and at this point the best we can hope for is a great fight, and although Evans has had trouble generating significant offense at times that slowly appears to be changing. If we can get a slugfest type bout like Evans fight with Brad Imes this could be a great fight, otherwise it could be a snoozer.
Forrest Griffin is one of the most exciting marketable fighters in the world. The opposite might be true for Evans so I believe that the UFC is hoping the Griffin will be the winner of this bout. I think just about every fan outside of Evans teammates and immediate family feels the same way. While Forrest is the more exciting fighter, Evans just seems to have this innate ability to find a way to win and that be the case here.
Prediction: Rashad Evans via decision after five rounds.
Quinton Jackson vs. Vanderlei Silva
This will be the third time Quinton Jackson will meet Vanderlei Silva in battle with Silva taking both previous matches with impressive TKOs. Silvas two impressive victories could play a mental factor in this fight but how much of a factor it is will depend of Jackson. Will Jacksons two previous losses motivate him more than ever to put in the best training camp of his career? Training, and specifically proper training partners has been an issue throughout Jacksons career and he will need to have that rectified in order to overcome Silva this time around.
On the flip side of the coin, will Silva be overconfident in this bout and unmotivated to train for a fighter that he beat soundly twice before? It would be a huge mistake if he does because Rampage is much improved over his previous incarnations, and with the right training camp has proven to be one of the best in the world, but which Rampage will show up on December 2? Will it be the Rampage that blew through Chuck Liddell? Or will it be the Jackson who fasted before his bout with Silva, gassed out and was knocked out convincingly for his efforts?
My feeling is motivation for this bout should be plentiful coming off a loss to Griffin, managerial problems with former handler Juanito Ibarra, and his two aforementioned losses to the Axe Murderer.
Jacksons striking has looked wild over the years, but with his introduction to the fans of the UFC it has certainly come a long way, and much tighter than past bouts. He has power as evidenced by his knockout of Chuck Liddell and knockdown of Forrest Griffin, but he will need to pick his spots because Silva throws so hard. Jackson is not known for his kicks, although he does throw them out there, and his knees are effective although they dont seem to land with the same accuracy as that of Silva.
Silva is known for his Muay Thai. His hands are as devastating as that of any fighter in the UFCs light heavyweight class and he has undeniable knockout power in both hands. Having said that he is not known for his technique, he is a wild brawler, throwing haymakers and if one lands the fight is over, just as Keith Jardine. His exciting and erratic hands have made him a fan favorite for years but his defense is porous to say the least and could be exploited by a strong technical striker. Silva leaves his chin open when he throws and is susceptible to getting knocked down, in fact Jackson knocked him down with a punch in their second match. I actually think that Jackson is the more technical boxer, but Silva has a more well rounded arsenal that includes knee's that are among the deadliest in MMA, a fact that Jackson knows all too well. SLIGHT ADVANTAGE SILVA
The wrestling will go to Jackson but he had trouble taking the fight to the mat when he needed it most in his last fight so his ability to do so if he so chooses in this fight could be put to the test again. His problem last time was more to do with the clinch and he will need to have improved in that are in order to get back on the winning track against the dangerous Muai Thai clinch of the former Chute Boxe fighter. ADVANTAGE: JACKSON
Vanderlei Silva has his black belt in jiu jitsu however the validity of his promotion to one of martial arts highest honors has been called into question in the past. Silva has not shown much in terms of his jiu jitsu in his fights because he is much more comfortable on his feet but he does have some submission acumen although he uses it to sweep and get back to his feet more than going for submissions. Jackson is more of a wrestler, and like Silva is not known for his use of jiu jitsu and specifically submissions. Based on the Black Belt, valid in the eyes of other black belts or not, I will call it ADVANTAGE: SILVA
Conditioning has been a concern on and off for both fighters in the past and could very well be a deciding factor in this bout because of their acute knowledge of each others strengths and weaknesses. In the chin department it well known that Jackson can take a blow to the face with the best of them while Vanderlei has shown a tendency to get knocked down against fighters who are not known for their power. I will give the slight advantage to Jackson who has shown the ability to go 5 rounds even though that point will be mute as this is only a three round fight. ADVANTAGE: JACKSON
Prediction: Quinton Jackson will exercise the demon of his two previous losses to the Axe Murderer and win via TKO Rd 3.
Frank Mir vs. Rodrigo Nogueira
I give the advantage here to Nogueira. He has solid boxing skills for a man known primarily for his jiu jitsu, and while he doesnt have a lot of power he has crisp straight punches and can pull off combinations with surprising accuracy. Mir has never been known for his striking, his punches have usually looked sloppy and the only really effective strike for Mir might just be his leg kicks. Mir has never really shown an effective striking arsenal and as such I give this an ADVANTAGE: NOGUIERA
Neither fighter is a wrestling juggernaut and both have been criticized for their less than impressive takedowns and takedown defense in the past. Honestly I think this is a toss up here with the extra size and strength of Mir possibly giving him the edge on this front. Mirs pure physical advantage may play a role in this department and he might have the slightest of edges here because of it. ADVANTAGE: MIR
This is going to be an interesting bout when it hits the mat like it most likely will. I honestly dont know who the superior jiu jitsu stylist will be in this fight and would like to call this one a draw. Both fighters are legit black belts in Jiu Jitsu and have shown the innate ability to pull submissions out of bad situations so I am going to call this one down the middle. NO ADVANTAGE
The championship experience can sometimes be the difference between two well-matched fighters and this fight might be one of those bouts. Noguera has been in numerous championship fights and has fought much better competition then that of Mir. With a resume that includes fighters like Fedor Emelianenko, Tim Sylvia, Josh Barnett, Fabricio Werdum, Sergei Kharitonov, Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic, Ricco Rodriguez, and more, Noguera will be the most skilled fighter that Mir has ever faced, while the opposite is not true.
Frank Mir should be the bigger stronger fighter, and physically has all the tools to be a dominant heavyweight if he so chooses but his commitment to the craft has been a question mark throughout his career. The talk coming out of Las Vegas is that he is in very good condition but that has always been an unknown with him and remains to be seen.
Nogueira is one of those fighters that gets as much from every ounce of his body as hard work and dedication will allow and I will take hard work over talent most days of the week. Nogueiras conditioning is always spot on and he has proven time and time again he can fight forever. ADVANTAGE: NOGUEIRA
Prediction: Nogueira via decision Rd 5.
CB Dollaway over Mike Massenzio Submission Rd 3
Cheick Kongo over Mostapha Al Turk TKO Rd 3
Yushin Okami over Dean Lister Unanimous Decision
Ryo Chonan over Brad Blackburn Decision
Antoni Hardonk over Mike Wessel TKO
Reese Andy over Matt Hamill Submission
Pat Berry over Dan Evensen TKO