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 UFC 144 Predictions

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PostUFC 144 Predictions

UFC 144 Predictions UFC_144_poster_large

Frankie Edgar vs Benson Henderson

Frankie Edgar has had only two opponents in four fights since december of 2009, having back to back immediate rematches with BJ Penn and Gray Maynard. While he's been busy with that Benson Henderson has amassed a 5-1 record in which his only loss was a very close decision against Anthony Pettis. Though nobody besides Frankie himself has looked as impressive as "Bendo" in the last year. Posting decisive and clear victories over Mark Bocek, Jim Miller, and Clay Guida enroute to this title shot are big steps for one of the fighters to come out of the WEC. With his sudden rise to the top of the division he presents a different kind of challenge than Edgars two previous title opponents.

As far as the fight goes this is absolutely a close fight in pretty much every area. Striking technique is especially hard to pick. On the one hand there's Frankie Edgar in his elite footwork, and on the other side there's Henderson with his tae kwon do background incorporating lots of kicks and distance control as well. If I had to choose here I'd give it to Edgar simply because his footwork alone creates a pace most fighters can't handle. Striking power I'd give to Henderson, Edgar's flash knockout of Gray Maynard not withstanding. Wrestling is really a bit of a wash. Both of these guys are phenominal MMA wrestlers and have used that skill to great success so far in their careers. Overall grappling I'd give the edge to Henderson for his submissions, submission defense, and clinch game. I see this being a very close fight the whole way through. Both guys are so tough that this is likely to go all five rounds. We could be looking at a 48-47 decision either way. I personally feel Benson can initiate the clinch and hold Edgar against the cage to make it ugly to end up winning more rounds than Frankie. But this is probaby the fight I'm most excited about so far this year.

Prediction: Benson Henderson by Decision

Quinton Jackson vs Ryan Bader

One of PRIDE's biggest stars at 205lbs makes his return to Japan this saturday. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson made a name for himself in the sport in Japan between 2001 and 2006. From beating Chuck Liddell by corner stoppage to amassing a highlight reel that includes some of the most vicious slams in the sport's history. Ryan Bader has had a pretty rough year now. Being dominated by Jon Jones, then choked out by Tito Ortiz, and after posting a win over Jason Brilz he now has to face Rampage in Japan. Rampage was excited to get a fight for this card because of his past fame to the point that he asked specifically for "Shogun in Japan" while being stitched up just after his loss to Jon Jones. I know it sounds cliche at this point but this could be the fight we see the old Rampage come out due to a motivation to train. Another spectacluar knockout in Japan would be something to look back on when he retires to be sure.

I don't see a whole lot of outs for Bader in this fight. I feel like I wrote this same thing only reversed when Bader was slated to face Tito Ortiz. Striking both in technique and power are advantages for Rampage, as well as durability. However Bader has quite a right hand on him as well. It's not unthinkable that he could stun Rampage and force a stoppage, but thats a bit unlikely. As far as grappling goes I have to pit Bader's offensive wrestling against Rampage's defensive wrestling. I just don't think Bader is a good enough wrestler to wrestle his way to a win against Rampage. Overall grappling one would assume that Rampage has the better bottom game as well as the better submission defense by far. I think Rampage treats this fight alot like he did the Matt Hammill fight. He will likely stay at range to avoid those takedowns and outstrike Bader, although a decision is likely it's not out of the question that he could stop Ryan when Bader starts to break mentally.

Prediction: Quinton Jackson by (T)KO

Anthony Pettis vs Joe Lauzon

With Joe Lauzon fresh off his 40 second demolition of Melvin Guillard he takes on the last man to hold the WEC Lightweight title in Anthony Pettis. Both of these fighters are similar in style to a point. Both are explosive young fighters who can get it done just about anywhere. Striking is interesting here as Lauzon has shown the ability to knock guys out with a single shot where Pettis is more about outclassing opponents standing and landing a series of shots that would appear as though they should knock a guy out by themselves. I'll give the edge to Lauzon in the first round, and the rest of the fight Pettis will have the striking advantage both in overall technique and power. Grappling I give the overall edge to Pettis. He's ended up on top of much better grapplers than Lauzon has and held his own on the bottom under those same high level grapplers. I see this fight being close and a little bit of everywhere for the first round. If it makes it out of that round Lauzon will likely start to slow down, which is when Pettis will begin really imposing himself on Joe. If it makes it three rounds I think Lauzon will end up flat on his back with the ref pulling Pettis off of him. All that said it's not out of the question that Lauzon hurts Pettis early in the first round and jumps on his back to lock in a submission like he's known to do.

Prediction: Anthony Pettis by (T)KO

Jake Shields vs Yoshihiro Aikyama

In Yoshihiro Akiyama's Welterweight debut he certainly has his work cut out for him. After losing three straight at middleweight Akiyama will now take on Jake Shields. Akiyama as usual brings his high level judo game and willingness to slug it out while Shields brings his mix of high level wrestling and jiu jitsu. After seeing K-1 Shields against GSP I'm a little reluctant to give Akiyama the clear advantage standing, but I will anyway based mostly on power and a longer history of effective striking. Grappling should be a wash overall but it isn't. Akiyama has never been taken down before in his MMA career but he hasn't exactly faced anyone quite like Shields before. Jake will pursue the takedown relentlessly until he gets it. He will chain doubles and singles against the cage if he has to until he either gets it done or until the ref breaks them up. For that reason I'm giving the overall advantage to Shields but Akiyama is a live dog in clinching situations with that Judo. One thing to watch out for is whether the cut improves or worsens Akiyama's already questionable cardio. Even if his stamina has improved fighting someone like Shields is going to test his gas tank just with the grueling grappling pace Jake likes to put on. It will be interesting to see how Akiyama looks if this goes all three rounds. I see Jake going for the takedown early and often, and eventually getting it. From there he will probably just work his way into dominant positions and frustrate "Sexyama" enroute to a decision win.

Prediction: Jake Shields by Decision

Tim Boetsch vs Yushin Okami

This is personally the fight I'm most excited for. This will not only serve as a measuring stick for Tim "The Barbarian" Boetsch ceiling but it will allow us a glimpse into whether the loss to Anderson Silva has shaken Okami. Both of these guys are overwhelmingly good offensive top control grapplers. Okami with a Judo base and Boetsch with an american wrestling base. Two things that will be major factors here other than just the skills these fighters have are the jetlag of flying from america to japan, as well as Boetsch' size advantage. On the one hand Tim will be the much larger man for sure, which could have an effect in scrambles and clinching situations. On the other hand Boetsch has been known to gas out before, albeit at 205lbs, and with an approximate 18 hour flight and being "the visiting team" so to speak it's hard to say if that will effect the performance of the Barbarian. Striking in terms of technique I have to give to Okami, he has shown a good use of the jab, good footwork, and head movement enough to avoid being knocked out in the past. Striking power though is going to be all Boetsch. He may not have the most refined technique but if he lands flush he's likely to knock almost anyone in the division out. Wrestling I honestly don't know who to pick. Both of them have shown great clinch abilities, good takedowns, and fantastic top control in the past. This fight is likely to come down to who can apply the above wrestling ability better than the other guy. I'm going to defer to the home team here and pick Okami.

Prediction: Yushin Okami by Decision

Hatsu Hioki vs Bart Palaszewski

In a bout with title implications against reigning featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo, Hatsu Hioki will take on the always game Bart "Bartimus" Palaszewski. Obviously Hioki will be at a diasadvantage standing up since Bartimus is a competant striker who can at times swarm his opponents. Hioki is the better grappler here, especially when it comes to top control. He has some of the best ground transitions in the division today and he is well versed in both submissions and ground and pound. On his back he's not exactly a fish out of water either. Bart is game on the ground, though. The only thing one might say in the negative is that Bart has been less than effective from the bottom guard position at times. It's worth mentioning that in his debut stateside Hioki barely squeaked by George Roop. Luckily for him though a win here almost guaranteed a title shot at Aldo, who has all but cleared the rest of his would be challengers out in dominant fashion. I see this fight going similarly to the Roop fight, but Bartimus isn't quite the technical striker Roop is. If he can't stay off his back, and I don't think he can, he's almost sure to lose this fight.

Prediction: Hatsu Hioki by Decision

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UFC 144 Predictions :: Comments

Re: UFC 144 Predictions
Post on Thu Feb 23, 2012 7:31 pm by Wolfgangsta
Frankie vs Benson

This is a really intriguing style match up for me, and one of the most intriguing of the entire year. While Edgar has been able to frustrate top notch MMA boxers in the weight class in Penn and Maynard with footwork, and ever increasing takedown defense skills, Benson is by far the most versatile, athletic and unorthodox striker Edgar has faced. Maynard and Penn are both archetypal MMA boxers in both strategy and skill, where Benson is significantly more inventive and wild. His ability to cover distance and attack with kicks from odd angles poses a very different challenge than what Edgar has seen for the last four bouts. The danger for Edgar is that Benson will come out with a look so fundamentally different than what Edgar has seen, he may not have adapted his game to compensate. What worked in the last four(three) will not work here. That said, Benson's over all rawness and footwork issues create the opportunity for Edgar to use movement and keep Bendo at bay, flailing in the wind. Unfortunately for Edgar, I don't see that happening this time. Takedowns and wrestling is hard to predict, while Edgar has appeared to improve his wrestling with every fight, Benson has shown an equal progression in his ability to ward of Clay Guida's takedown attempts like few LW's can today. Gray Maynard's takedown ability may be significantly over valued in recent bouts as it seems clear he spends much of his day to day on striking, letting his wrestling atrophy. It may turn out Henderson is the better wrestler.

Another thing that intrigues me is both fighters improve tangibly with each, bout so predicting the skill level of either fighter on fight night becomes a delightful challenge. In the end, the size, speed and athleticism of Benson Henderson will lead to a new champion being crowned in Japan. Henderson's time at LW is just beginning, as he is clearly the best pure athlete to ever fight in the weight class, while I think Edgar's future lies in his more natural weight class of 145 pounds.

Bendo via Dec.

Bader vs Rampage

This one seems an easy call. Bader doesn't have the chops to take Rampage down enough, if Evans couldn't reliably and Jones couldn't reliably. Rampage is by far the better boxer and will come out motivated to touch somebody, and will dust up Ryan Bader for the delight of his true "hometown" fans.

Rampage via murderdeathkill.

Lauzon vs Pettis.

I love this fight. A case could easily be argued the winner here deserves a bid at the winner of the main event. Pettis has the much better cardio, and technique, but Joe is such a gamer, if he came out and pulled a first round upset submission, no one would be surprised. Otherwise, I go with Ludo's pick, Pettis via tko round 3.

Pettis via TKO.

Sexyama vs Jake Shields.

This is as much a must win a situation for two fighters as it gets. Sexy is making his first ever weight cut, against one of the true unheralded all time greats in MMA. If Jake can't get this thing to the ground, where he will have a huge advantage, this will get ugly fast as Akiyama will tee off on his pretty blonde head, but if he cant and Akiyama comes away with the victory, it will be safe to close the book on Shields as a contender and elite caliber fighter. This is a fight that should Shields lose would say more about him than it would about Yoshihiro Akiyama. Jake Shields used to eat fighters of Akiyama's level for lunch.

Shields via dec.

Yushin Okami vs Tim Botsch

Im not thrilled about this bout. I think redneck Judo is fools gold and is being gifted to Okami, who is probably the better wrestler, at least equal, and certainly the better boxer. I think he wins a ho hum affair 30-27.

Okami via decision.

Hioki vs Palaszewski

I am not high on Palaszewski as a real deal, top ten FW contender. While I think a spot near the bottom of the top ten could be justified, he isn't going to offer Hioki much in the way of offense off his back, where he will surely be most of this fight. Bart's wild card is he is a dangerous finisher for the division, but with Hioki having home cage advantage fight and huge submission arsenal will lead to an arm triangle victory for Aldo's next KO victim.

Hioki via sub.

UFC 144 Predictions

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