Brock Lesnar vs Alistair Overeem
In a fight to determine the number one contender for Champion Junior Dos Santos' first title defense Brock Lesnar takes on Alistair Overeem. A classic style matchup involving the wrestler and european kickboxer seems to amplify interest since both men are among the largest heavyweights in the sport. Lesnar is making his first attempt to bounce back from a second bout with diverticulitis following his loss to Cain Velasquez last year. Alistair Overeem is hoping to make a big splash early on with his first fight in the UFC after vacating the Strikeforce Heavyweight title and his spot in the Grand Prix held by the same promotion.
This fight can literally go either way. There are plenty of unknowns but what we do know for sure have to do with skillset. Striking both in technique and power are a clear advantage for Overeem hands down. It may be noted that Brock, while raw and unrefined technique wise, can still hit hard if he lands flush. Grappling is split into wrestling and submission ability. Wrestling is a clear advantage for Lesnar while submissions are an area that favor Overeem. Now for the unknowns: We know Overeem hits like a truck and loves to headhunt, we also know Brock reacts about as poorly to being hit hard as anyone in the history of the sport. If Overeem can land the big shot early it could be an quick and painful fight for Brock if he finds Alistair standing over him and dropping bombs. On the flip side we don't know if Alistair will be able to pull the trigger for fear of the takedown like we saw in his fight with Fabricio Werdum earlier this year. Lastly we don't know if Lesnar can even get the takedown. We have seen his failure to secure takedowns before but Overeem is no wrestler. Honestly I see this fight going one of two ways. Either Overeem lands early and often until Brock is sent reeling to the ground where Overeem finishes him, or Brock gets the takedown early and often until Overeem starts to get tired at which point he is pounded out or submitted from top position.
Prediction: Brock Lesnar by (T)KONate Diaz vs Donald Cerrone
In what would be a much better five round fight than the main event, which seems destined not to take advantage of the five round limit, we have Nate Diaz against Donald Cerrone. Cerrone has looked very impressive in his last three fights, two of which earned him awards to the tune of knockout of the night and submission of the night over Charles Oliveira and Dennis Siver in less than a round each. Nate Diaz has made his return to the lightweight division after his manhandling courtesy of Rory McDonald, and in his last fight saw fit to pummel Takanori Gomi before submitting him in under five minutes. Both these guys have great striking and very capable submission skills along with ultra durable chins. If I had to give advantages it would be as follows: Striking power is a wash as both have showed the ability to knock opponents out or inflict massive amounts of damage with strikes. One shot power goes to Cerrone while volume is a Diaz' best friend in this sport. Grappling I give the edge to Diaz for being the better overall grappler, but Cerrone is no stranger to submissions either. I see this playing out alot like most of Cerrones fights where he forces a standup war and gets the better of it in the end. I think Diaz' chin will hold up but I just don't think his crowding volume style will work with someone who moves and uses angles quite so well as Cerrone does.
Prediction: Donald Cerrone by DecisionJon Fitch vs. Johny Hendricks
In a polarizing set of circumstances the man who many claim will be the next welterweight champion takes on the man who most feel should have gotten a second shot at the current champion already. For Jon Fitch this is a high risk and low reward fight, especially after he expressed a willingness to sit and wait unless he was slated against BJ Penn or GSP. If he wins this fight he is no closer to a title shot as both Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit have been placed in an interim title eliminator with the winner slated to face GSP when he returns from his knee injury. For Hendricks this fight is low risk and high reward. If he wins this fight he is immediately vaulted into title contention and probably placed in line for a title shot sometime next year or in 2013 barring further mishaps with the champion. However Jon Fitch is an incredibly tough fight for anyone not named GSP. He is a big welterweight with a smothering clinch and stifling top control grappling game. Near impossible to submit and a great chin round out the epitome of a "grinder". Hendricks has quite possibly the best collegiate wrestling pedigree of anyone to enter the sport in the last five years aside from perhaps only Mohammed Lawal. With his elite level wrestling and advancing striking game it's looking more and more like Hendricks may be a phenom once everything comes together. Striking wise I give Hendricks a slight edge with his hands, they have looked especially crisp in his last two fights but I don't know that this fight will have a whole lot of pure standing exchanges. Wrestling I have to give to Fitch given his size and experience despite the pedigree of the prospect. Unfortunately I see Fitch doing his thing and finding a way to control Hendricks from clinch or top position for three rounds enroute to a decision, though I will admit I hope I'm wrong.
Prediction: Jon Fitch by Decision