With UFC 129 coming up tomorrow night, I wanted to take a quick look at the five fights scheduled for the PPV and give some predictions. Come back on Monday for my thoughts on the show, and see whether I can celebrate being smart and predicting well...or if I have to eat crow!
Mark Bocek vs. Ben Henderson – A really strong matchup between two strong lightweight contenders. Bocek is looking good, winning 4 out of his last 5, with his only loss being to the red hot Jim Miller at UFC 111. Henderson is, of course, the former WEC Lightweight Champion, who lost his title in his last fight (and the final fight in the history of WEC) to Anthony Pettis, but before that, had won a whopping ten fights in a row. Both are submission artists, and each has only lost one fight in their career by that method. I see this one going to a decision, with Henderson likely getting a 29-28 decision victory. Should be a close fight for sure.
Randy Couture vs. Lyoto Machida – This is a dangerous fight for Machida. At a quick glance, my first thought is, Machida without question. But I’m just not sure. If we’ve learned anything over the 14 year career of “The Natural”, it’s to never count him out. Couture comes into this fight on a three fight win streak, with a decision win over Brandon Vera, and submission wins over Mark Coleman and James Toney. He submitted last to an elbow shot in 2002, and the last time someone made him tap to a submission hold was 10 years ago. The only guys who have knocked Couture out are named Lesnar, Liddell, Belfort, and Barnett. I don’t put Machida’s stand up at that level. Machida himself on the other hand is coming off a really rough three fight stretch. He won the first fight with Shogun Rua, but many thought he lost that fight, regardless of the judge’s decision. He then was knocked out in the rematch with Rua, losing the Light Heavyweight Title in the process. Then in his last match, he lost a split decision to Quinton Jackson, which this time, many (including myself, and Rampage himself) thought Machida had won. If Machida can find a way to end this fight, he gets it. But if it goes to a decision, I think the old crafty veteran gets one more win before he hangs ‘em up for good. I go with Couture, again with a 29-28 decision. Should be a hell of a fight.
Jason Brilz vs. Vladimir Matyushenko – Brilz is 2-2 in his last four fights, trading wins and losses. His last fight was a decision loss to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, which many people felt he won (including myself). Brilz is a good wrestler, but so is Matyushenko. Matyushenko has won four out of his last five, with his only loss coming to UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Jon Jones (before Jones won the title). Matyushenko has more power in his hands, and if he can negate the wrestling of Brilz, I don’t see a way for Brilz to win a striking matchup. Brilz’s best shot is to get the fight to the ground and try to work for a submission, but that’s easier said than done, as Matyushenko has never been submitted. I see Matyushenko knocking Brilz out in the 2nd round in this one.
UFC Featherweight Title: Jose Aldo © vs. Mark Hominick – This fight should be a stand up war! Both are excellent, excellent strikers, and neither are very susceptible to being knocked out themselves, as Hominick has only been knocked out twice (not in 8 years), and Aldo has never been knocked out. Hominick comes into the fight on a five fight win streak, and he finished four of those five fights (the only one he didn’t finish in was against the ever tough Leonard Garcia). Aldo is on a super impressive eleven fight win streak! He’s finished seven out of his last eight, the only decision win coming when he defeated a very tough Urijah Faber to win the Featherweight Title. I see this being a war for all five rounds, and at this point, how do you bet against a guy on an 11 fight win streak? Aldo by decision, but Hominick will look every bit as tough along the way as well.
UFC Welterweight Title: Georges St-Pierre © vs. Jake Shields – Really the only fight left for GSP in the Welterweight division as he’s beaten just about everyone in the division worthy of title contention. Fitch was a possible next contender (since at least he lasted five rounds with GSP), but he’s hurt, so that doesn’t seem likely (and he’s got a rematch looming with BJ Penn when he becomes healthy anyways). If you think Aldo’s 11 fight winning streak is impressive, consider that Jake Shields is on a FIFTEEN fight win streak! His last loss came in 2004. GSP himself is on a six fight win streak, and has won 14 out of his last 15, with the only loss being that massive upset to Matt Serra. Both are great on the ground, and Shields might have a slight edge when it comes to submissions. That being said, GSP is super patient and does not panic, so he usually finds a way out of them. This fight is the picture of a “pick’em” to me, and I do not see either guy being finished. (Could be a night of decisions really). GSP is seen as a fairly heavy favorite, which to me, is not at all the case. I do think it will be a close fight, and I know I’m going against what I said in the Aldo fight, but instead of picking the guy with the 15 fight win streak…I’m going with GSP by a decision, and it wouldn’t shock me at all to see it be a 48-47.
Do you agree with my picks? Who do you think wins this weekend?