Dana White stumbled towards the podium, runnels of dried vomit clinging to the corners of his mouth. Despite his cringed countenance, a smile seemed to, briefly, cross his face. "Helio Gracie has died......" A silence soaked the room "But the UFC goes on!!!" He cried, throwing his arms wide and pulling a bouquet of roses from the sleeve of his leather jacket.
If I told you how ridiculously psyched I am for this card you would slap me like Cher in Moonstruck. You would kick me as I rolled around giggling. Not only is my 2nd most favoritist fighter of all time, BJ Penn, descending from the heavens to grace us, my rapidly ascending most favoritist fighter, Lyoto Machida will be dancing his way into your hearts too. Not to mention Karo and Bonnar and Kim and Jones and Wilson and Diaz....For Christ's sake Nate Diaz. This card is so rad it hurts. It hurts me!
To the picks!
Arroyo vs. Cramer: Arroyo has too much on the ground, doesn't have much else. It don't matter. It won't matter. Arroyo by sub in the 1st.
O'Brien vs. Wellisch: Nothing wrong with these guys. Both competent. Both not so exciting. Wellsich will come out and do okay. O'Brien will out-wrestle him to a decision that will not make it on the main card. O'Brien by decision.
Howard vs. Wilson: I am sold on Wilson. Good knees. Good grappling. Knows where to keep his lead foot against a southpaw. My kind of guy. Wilson by TKO in the 2nd.
Gamburyan vs. Tavares: I've said it before and I will say it again; I am scared of Gamburyan. I would be terrified to fight him. Nevertheless he has two things going against him. First, his shoulder is liable to go out of joint, rendering him unable to fight at any moment. Second, his short, sturdy stature leaves him with very short arms. He simply can't work an effective outside striking game. He has to clinch, takedown and get top control. Tavares has a very good grappling game, but I think Manny can handle him and keep him down. He will wear Tavares down from the top and get the decision.
Fitch vs. Gono: Fitch gets angry about a video game and gets sent to the doghouse. Gono, being one of the better fighters of the last few years who is not really great, is trying to buy a win. I dig Gono and I want him to do well, but I think Fitch is too much for anyone not named GSP to deal with. He is big and a great wrestler. He is also tough, with stamina and a chin. Gono will dance and counter-strike, but Fitch will eventually get him down and wear him down for the decision.
Bonnar vs. Jones: I am excited about this Jones guy. He has a nutty, lanky build and real real talent. He has only been training for a year and he has already developed a charmingly unorthodox striking game to go along with his solid, scholastic wrestling. I want to see him do well, and I am interested in his progress. However I am picking Bonnar. I am picking Bonnar not knowing how he has healed from his injuries. Some call Bonnar's striking equally strange, but I think that is just because he throws spinning kicks. I like his boxing. I think it is technically sound. I think his jiu-jitsu is more than solid. If his body holds I count on his experience to get him a sub in the 3rd round of what should be an exciting fight. If you want to sound like a bad-ass, call the upset for Jones by something crazy.
Diaz vs. Guida: Remember my rule. I have said I since I started making picks and it has never failed: Never Bet Against a Diaz. Learn it. Know it. Live it. Guida is great to watch. He is 100% at the opening bell, he is 100% at the closing bell. He has relentless takedowns. He has solid top control. Diaz's striking is much more refined. He has the length to work his jab. In the clinch, he can judo throw. His guard is active and dangerous. Guida is so enthusiastc that he leaves himself open to submissions. Diaz will take him up on that offer and sub Guida in the 3rd. It should be a great fight. I love the Nate Diaz.
Parisyan vs. Kim: I was a die-hard Parisyan fan before his borish cameo on TUF. He probably isn't as bad as he appeared. Is he as good as he used to be in the ring? Parisyan came in as a young, dynamic, explosive grappler. I am not sure what he is now. A clincher, with moderate power in his strikes and a panic disorder. I don't know. Kim is also a judo badass with exceptional balance and takedown defense, questionable striking but solid ground and pound. Parisyan's striking has always confused me. As explosive a grappler as he is, his strikes have never shown the same pop. He throws good combinations and isn't that wild. He just doens't seem to have natural punching power. This bout could turn into sloppy boxing, if neither guy can get it down. If it does turn into a straight grappling match, I think that Parisyan has more of a solid MMA game and can do something. But, it probably goes to a Parisyan decision. As usual.
Machida vs. Silva: What a great fight. We are lucky. I love watching Machida fight. A good deal of people don't like him. I dont get it. Do they understand how good you have to be to fight the elusive game that he does? To use all of the feigns and threaten the things used and not used means that you have to be good at them. That your opponent has to actually feel threatened by them. He isn't a paper tiger. He isn't running because he is scared. He is running because he is destroying you. His angles are great. His counterstriking is the best. His takedown defense is outstanding and his subs and ground games are among the best. What can you do? What is not to like? I am stoked. Silva is also undefeated and has rare, rare power. He is explosive and startling. He can win the fight in a split second. All he has to land is one punch or knee or kick. The problem is that he won't land that hit on Machida. Machida by beautiful decision.
Penn vs. St. Pierre: Do I need to expound anymore on my BJ Penn love? I shouldn't love him. He is a cocky dick from a wealthy family. He was able to pursue his love for BJJ instead of worrying about college or working. He was also born with superior athletic gifts. Why do I love him? Because he is absolutely out of his goddamn mind and gifted beyond belief. If you watch a BJ Penn fight you are bound to see something yo have never seen before. His flexibility and dexterity are the best in the sport. His BJJ is above back-belt level. He used to roll through other black-belts in competition. To tell the truth, I am a big GSP fan to. He is an athlete in the true sense of the word. He also seems like a genuinely sweet and humble person. I think that all of the shit that BJ throws at him is because he needs the hate in his soul to make himself fight.
Let's get this straight; I can not pick against BJ Penn. This is not an unbiased evaluation. GSP is the better wrestler. He is the dominant top position grappler in the sport. He has a solid striking game with top-notch kicks, and interesting combos. St. Pierre also has amazing takedown defense. He is top 5 pound for pound in the sport, without a doubt. BJ also has some of the best takedown defense. He has great wrestling, but won't really be able to show it here. BJ's hands are far better than GSP's. BJ has a sick chin and doesn't cut or swell easily, which matters in a 5 round fight. It goes without saying that BJ has one of the best submissions games going. Usually his subs come from hurting someone with his hands and then crawling up their backs. He can sweep from the bottom and he can sub from the bottom. His much talked about weak-point, his cardio, is still the wild card. Who knows?
Here is what I think happens. BJ comes out hard and works the hands. He doesn' have the reach but he has the timing. He also lands a few knees. The fight goes back and forth for a few rounds. BJ sucks it up and lands some big hands in the 4th and wins by KO. Again, I tell you, I can't pick against BJ Penn. Don't bet money on this.
Except for you Arash Markazi! Bet the frat house. Alright, put it in the piggy banks kids. I am stoked on this one. Also I have a press pass to the fights in Osaka tomorrow, so it is all MMA all day for me.