Through a blaring chorus of "Rock the Casbah" played by a rental mariachi band, commissioner Dana White ambled to the podium in a Peace in the Middle East retro t-shirt and $900 jeans. "The show must go on." He declared with all the earnestness of the Israeli delegation at the Munich Olympics.
Kingsbury vs. Romero:
Romero has a great sub record against lesser competition. Kingsbury has been an up and comer for a while but doesn't impress me that much. Could go either way. Kingsbury should out-wrestle Romero, but I would like a crazy leg-lock. So, Romero by sub in the 1st.
Taylor vs. Ruediger:
Ruedigar had a lot of success in lower organizations but has done nothing but make a joke out of himself at this level. If you can't make weight for a fight, it means something is wrong with how you are approaching the game. While it would be fun to see a sub upset, it is hard to get behind a guy who would rather get a colonic than control his eating. Taylor by TKO in the 3rd.
Pierce vs. Robertson:
Pierce is a very good fighter. I don't see him losing this. The end.
Cerrone vs. Kelly
I think this is a bad style/size match-up for Kelly. While he can be a little fireball on the ground- posturing up in guard and whaling on guys- that is the exact wrong technique against Cerrone, who is always happy to triangle somebody. I think this is a good, back-and-forth battle, but I think Cerrone gets a sub in the 3rd.
Yamamoto vs. Johnson
Linearly, Yamamoto Kid should be my compatriot as he is a product of the same Gym. I have never been a big fan, however. What Kid brings, or brought, to the table is incredible athleticism, double plus power and excellent wrestling. But he has been injured and cowed and aged. What does he still have. Kid is always capable of getting the KO, but can he still pull the trigger? I am calling Mighty Mouse for the upset here. Probably on decision with lots of good striking exchanges.
Mendes vs. Omigawa:
What are they trying to do here? I really don't get it. If the goal is to wreck Omigawa on his return then I think they picked the right match-up. The real crucible for most Japanese fighters coming over is the level of wrestling in the U.S. There just isn't a comparable comparison in Japan. Omigawa is good. Very good. He has clean striking and a solid top game. He still has good judo balance. But he can be taken down. He will be taken down. I would love to see him win, but I have to call Mendes by decision.
Torres vs. Banuelos:
I do not hide my love for Miguel Torres. There was a time, not long ago, that I thought he was in the running for best P4P in the world. He fell off, but I hope he is on his way back. Banuelos can be entertaining, but I don't see him doing that much. I think Torres hurts him with the jab and takes advantage for a sub in the 2nd.
Ellenberger vs. Rocha:
I still can't get that interested in Ellenberger. That doesn't mean he is bad. He packs a lot of power, and knocks fools out. Maybe I will change my mind about him. I love Rocha's resume, but, as usual, it is not at this level of competition. I would love for him to bust out a knee-bar, but the positioning required to get to a knee-bar would probably mean that Ellenberger would get a chance to brain him. Ellenberger for 1st round KO.
Bader vs. Jones
Who isn't excited about this one? Jones, who channels Tony Jah, squaring off against the real life Ram-Man. These guys are both for real, they are both undefeated(really) and they can both make just about anything happen. Bader can take Jones down or he can knock him out. Jones could through Bader down on the mat and elbow out his orbital. Who knows? As a fight fan I am geeked. I will call it for Jones by TKO in the 2nd, but I have no clue.
Griffin vs. Franklin:
Another great match-up. Both of these guys are grinders with tons of stamina and a huge amount of fight experience. Franklin is the better striker. The ground game is probably a wash. Griffin has the size and strength. I think they both get pretty beat up. I think this looks a lot like Franklin's Loiseau fight, but with some more time on the ground. I don't know how how to call it. I am going a little more for Griffin, but I see Franklin's striking landing more. I would imagine, Franklin has worked on countering Griffin's kicks, which are effective. Err... Franklin by narrow decision.
Silva vs. Belfort:
There is one factor for me in this fight; Belfort's long layoff. A year out of the ring is just too much. Does he have the kind of striking to put Silva out? Absolutely. Belfort has great hands. One of a kind hands. But when has Silva looked that vulnerable? Against Sonnen? A lot of that, aside from the rib injury, can be explained by Sonnen's excellent take-down ability that was making Silva reticent. People are saying that SilvaBelfort's BJJ or wrestling is at a level to threaten Silva. I think Silva lands accurate strikes and gets the KO late in the 3rd or early in the 4th.