Georges St. Pierre vs. Jake ShieldsLudo:
Some have called this a compelling matchup. However it's far more likely that Jake Shields is going to end up just like the last few opponents GSP has had. He will be touted as the one to finally take the throne before the match by a select few and after it's all said and done we will be admitting to ourselves and everyone else once again that Jake Shields didn't belong in the same cage as "Rush". I just don't see how Shields is going to get it done outside of a really good guillotine. Shields is not an arm/leg guy. He almost never goes for arm or leg submission attempts because he's almost purely a positional grappler. He doesn't go for submissions so much to finish as he does to open up the door for a sweep or a reverse somewhere. All that said I think GSP rips him apart here. Shields can't strike for shit with St Pierre but the problem is the range that GSP likes to strike from. He comes in from outside with those karate style kicks and uses alot of footwork and angles for his jabs. I wouldn't call Koscheck a slow fighter by any means and GSP had hit him and gotten back out of range by the time Koscheck could even start his swing almost every time. Nobody is going to hold GSP down for three rounds outside of Roger Gracie or Chael Sonnen at this point. GSP is just too strong and too good at getting back up for that. Koscheck got him down on two occasions in the last fight and neither time were they on the ground for more than 15 seconds at a clip. That said I think Shields is going to be relentless with the takedowns if he can get close enough to tie GSP up. Thats going to be a problem though, because Georges likes to sit on the outside and then come in when he's attacking. We've seen that fast twitch muscle ability on GSP when shooting, there is no reason to believe he won't be able to use it the other way. Shields is going to have to abandon his positioning style grappling for this fight in favor of a super aggressive submission game because thats his only shot. We saw how positional grappling worked for Jon Fitch.
Prediction: Georges St Pierre by Decision.Jose Aldo vs. Mark HominickLudo:
This fight is one of those fights that is hard to pick a winner simply because you can't be sure if the fighter who has a clear advantage in a certain area with the means to impliment it, will actually do so. Aldo is a very explosive striker with brutal leg kicks and power punches. However, Hominick is no joke and could feasibly win a decision if this is a pure striking battle. Hominicks hands are technically superior to Jose Aldo's, though he doesn't pack quite as much power as Aldo. We know Aldo hasn't had to use his ground game but it's hard to lay down money on the hope that he'll use it this time. Some fighters just don't fight to they're own strengths and look to go out for the brutal knockout style win. Aldo should be faster but is he fast enough to land leg kicks without getting caught by that crisp slip and rip style boxing? Assuming Aldo is in fact an intelligent and disciplined fighter he will be able to get the takedown and he shouldn't have too much trouble applying a submission on the Canadian challenger. That isn't to say he can't win a standup battle either. Those leg kicks will chop anyone down after a round or two.
Prediction: Jose Aldo by Submission.Randy Couture vs. Lyoto MachidaLudo:
Randy Couture's farewell fight comes against former champion Lyoto Machida. I don't know why Randy agreed to take this fight given the way his ability to take a solid punch has deteriorated. Some may think Randy has as good a shot to win this fight as Rampage did in the end but it just isn't the same thing at all. At this point I don't think Randy is dangerous standing at least nowhere near as dangerous as Rampage. I think Machida really showed too much respect for Rampage's power when they fought. By that I mean he was too reserved and pretty much just let Page walk him down for the first two rounds hoping something was going to continually open up. Had Machida fought the rest of the fight like he did in the third round that fight never would have seen round three. Coutures striking reflexes have slowed considerably as shown in the Minotauro fight. In fact I think this fight looks very similar to that. Machida will likely drop Randy striking and follow him down to the ground to negate Couture's ability to clinch against the cage. Thats assuming he doesn't just blast Randy and knock him the hell out. Randy's best weapon at this point in the clinch isn't even a great gameplan due to Machida's Sumo background. He has shown an ability to get out of clinches he doesn't want to be in. Couture is in trouble any time he's not in Machida's face.
Prediction: Lyoto Machida by KOBenson Henderson vs. Mark BocekLudo:
A close matchup between two well rounded grapplers. Benson Henderson's first test in the UFC is no easy task by any means. Mark Bocek had a very competitive showing in his fight with Jim Miller and comes off a submission win that vaulted Dustin Hazelett out of the UFC. Hendersons last fight saw him losing a close decision to Anthony Pettis in a back and forth battle in the WEC's final event. These two match up fairly well. Submitting "Bendo" has seemed near impossible thusfar but if anyone can do it it might be Bocek. Both men are very good with guillotine chokes. Striking wise the edge has got to go to Henderson for being more diverse with his strikes. As far as grappling goes Henderson has the wrestling advantage but that doesn't mean he'll be able to control Bocek all night. Mark has shown high level jiu jitsu and the edge there goes to him. Durability and stamina are in favor of Henderson. I see this one playing out like any fight between two high level grapplers with some feeling out process going on standing before they go to the ground and really get things going. Henderson will likely be working for the takedown and I see no reason why he won't eventually get it. While he's working for it though I wouldn't be surprised to see Bocek lock one of those super tight guillotines in the process. Henderson can't escape forever. This time I think he gets caught.
Prediction: Mark Bocek by SubmissionVladimir Matyushenko vs. Jason BrilzLudo:
This was an incredibly hard fight to break down. These two are both middle of the road Light Heavyweights who could easily be ranked in the same spot. Matyushenko has been around for quite a while, facing opponents such as Tito Ortiz, Vernon White, Andrei Arlovski, Yuki Kondo, and current Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones. Matyushenko is a bit of a generalist who is always game. Brilz is an accomplished wrestler who took on Antonio Rogerio "Minotoro" Nogueira on short notice last year and arguably deserved the decision. However Jason Brilz has not competed between then and now. An edge in striking is had by Vladmir Matyushenko while an overall advantage on the ground is had by Brilz. This should be an extremely competitive fight that could go either way in the end. I think that long layoff is going to end up hurting Brilz here. It is likely Matyushenko can stuff the takedowns early on and force a standing brawl which favors him. I see a decision in the works here but an entertaining fight none the less.
Prediction: Vladmir Matyushenko by DecisionRory MacDonald vs. Nate DiazLudo:
Youth vs experience. Rory MacDonald had a pair of impressive showings in his last two fights despite losing to Carlos Condit. He put up two very close rounds against Condit and it has been said by some that were the fight have been allowed to continue to the final bell instead of being stopped with under tend seconds to go he would have taken the decision. Nate Diaz has shown improvement every time he has stepped into the Octagon thusfar. While he may have lost a decision in his last fight to Dong Hyun Kim he is still a very talented fighter. Both fighters are tough as nails and durable so neither has the edge there. On the ground they are both skilled fighters but if I had to give an edge I'd give it to Diaz because he can threaten legitimately from the top or bottom and end the fight from either position. Striking is difficult to pick here, with MacDonald having such a good performance with Condit. MacDonald seems to throw more kicks, but the pace Diaz pushes combined with those hard punches he throws will likely be the deciding factor here. I see a close fight going into the third round where Diaz overwhelms MacDonald enroute to a decision.
Prediction: Nate Diaz by DecisionSean Pierson vs. Jake EllenbergerLudo:
This fight presents an interesting matchup due to the fact that we don't quite know how good Sean Pierson really is yet. He showed good hands but a poor gas tank against Matt Riddle in his UFC debut. He's going to have his hands full against Ellenberger who has been called a "poor mans Fitch". Ellenberger packs a punch but so does Pierson. Ellenberger has the superior wrestling here as well as vicious ground and pound with those elbows from guard. Pierson showed in his last fight cardio problems late in the fight and while owning an edge standing I don't think he's going to be able to withstand the constant pace and pressure that Ellenberger likes to pour onto his opponents. I see this fight playing out with a mix of stand up and takedown attempts from Ellenberger. Pierson should be able to stay on his feet in the first round and possibly even the second round, but I see him fading in the third round at which point Ellenberger will likely pour it on and force a referee stoppage.
Prediction: Jake Ellenberger by TKO.
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