UFC 89: Bisping vs. Leben Staff Predictions

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BloodyElbow.com Staff Predictions for UFC 89: Bisping vs. Leben

MAIN CARD:

Michael Bisping vs. Chris Leben

Luke Thomas: There is no reason Bisping should lose. In their style contrast, Bisping has the capability to keep distance, work angles, circle out when Leben tries to close in, use loaded combinations, head movement and takedown defense to grind out a decision. But something tells me this won’t go so predictably comfortable. Leben’s big power and "fire hydrant" chin will save him. Leben by TKO, round 3.

Kid Nate: Bisping is a much sharper striker but does he have the power and the chin to beat Leben? Yes. Bisping by decision.

Brent Brookhouse: I have made it pretty clear that Bisping's boxing since he went to 185 is crisp and mature.  He uses feints very effectively to move his opponent into position and unloads with quick punches with a lot of snap on them.  Leben presents an interesting counterpoint to this as he is more of the "wildly effective" striker.  He has calmed down and isn't AS reckless as he has been in the past but he still leaves a lot of openings that a talented striker can take advantage of.  Leben's physical transformation is quite impressive honestly, but I don't think he is better in any specific area of the game than Bisping.  I think that we're going to see Bisping use slicker boxing technique early on and frustrate Leben and then start to use it to get takedowns where he will pound Leben out.  Bisping by TKO round 3.

Michael Rome: I expect Leben to be outclassed here.  Bisping is better everywhere, though I don't expect him to finish Leben unless he gets him to the ground.  Bisping via decision.

Nick Thomas: Bisping, the UFC poster boy of the UK, with his 3rd fight at 185. Leben has a great chin, KO power and will be Bisping's biggest test. But I see Bisping fighting a smart stand up fight ala Kalib Starnes win over Leben. Bisping by decision.

Mike Fagan: Bisping simply has too many tools. Chris has some of those same tools, but simply prefers to stand and bang.  He does have a very solid chin and a lot of heart, though. Bisping by decision.

Keith Jardine vs. Brandon Vera

Luke Thomas: Again, a serious clash in styles except Jardine is able to play the outside game with Vera. Vera is by far much stronger and more technical in the clinch, so my fear is that Jardine will get on his bicycle. Nevertheless, I trust Vera’s got the gameplan and cardio worked out to overcome any of Jardine’s elusiveness. Vera by decision.

Kid Nate: Both of these guys really need a big win. Jardine's awkward style and Greg Jackson's coaching give him a decent chance. I'm going to bet on the thoroughbred here though. Vera's too talented to stay in a tailspin forever. Vera by TKO.

Brent Brookhouse: I didn't find anything particularly impressive about Vera's decision win over Reese Andy, but at the same time it's not as if Jardine getting KO'ed in 36 seconds by Wanderlei Silva was better by any stretch.  If you look at history, Vera is a finisher where as Jardine tends to let things go to decision.  Jardine also has a history of getting caught and knocked out.  I'm going to go off of history and take Vera by TKO in round 2.

Michael Rome: Both guys are coming off disappointing performances.  Jardine came up big last time he was in a similar position and was in the biggest fight of his life, and I expect he will do it again here.  Vera has just looked terrible lately and I don't expect him to snap out of it here.  Jardine via decision.

Nick Thomas: This will be a close fight. In the end, Jardine will probably leave himself open again and get caught. Vera by better wrestling and TKO.

Mike Fagan: Keith Jardine is such an enigma. Holds good wins over Liddell and Griffin and then clunks out against Wandy and Houston Alexander of all people.  I think he might be the kind of fighter that only gives certain other skill sets trouble.  I don't think Vera possesses one of those skill sets.  As long as the weight cut doesn't kill him again (which is definitely a possibility), Vera by TKO round 2.

Rameau Sokoudjou vs. Luiz Cane

Luke Thomas: This one isn’t going the distance. Sokoudjou is something of a bully and doesn’t respond well to sustained pressure. Cane is hyper aggressive but often a little flat footed and careless. The question is can Cane weather Sokoudjou’s punching enough to maintain pressure? I’m going to gamble and say yes.

Kid Nate: These guys are fighting to break into the contender tier of the light heavyweight division. This is a tough one. Sokoudjou has shown he's dangerous in boxing range but I'm not confident he has an answer at kicking range or in the clinch. It pains me to say this, but Cane by TKO in 2.

Brent Brookhouse: Cane is a beast and I think he is very well suited to beat Soko wherever he wants the fight to take place.  Cane is an explosive striker I think he'll punish and stop Sokoudjou in the first. Cane by TKO round 1.

Michael Rome: This fight should rule.  I'm expecting a violent and short fight, but I think Cane's reach, chin, and power will overwhelm Sokoudjou.  Cane via TKO, round 1.

Nick Thomas: Both exciting fighters. Cane can win this on the ground or standing. Cane by TKO.

Mike Fagan: As much fun as Sokoudjou is, the Machida and Teixeira fights are huge marks against him.  He seems to have the Bob Sapp "bully syndrome" where he becomes much less effective once you give him a few good shots to his face.  The X factor in this fight is Sok's judo which has yet to be utilized in an MMA bout.  Still, I go Cane by TKO round 2.


Paul Taylor vs. Chris Lytle

Luke Thomas: People sleep on Lytle so hard. Taylor has a dynamic striking game, but Lytle is incredibly difficult to put away (in fact, almost impossible). And on the ground it isn’t even a question Lytle is the better man. Lytle is going to get tagged and then overcome the outmatched Brit. Lytle by submission, round 2.

Kid Nate: Lytle should steamroll Taylor. Lytle by KO.

Brent Brookhouse: Taylor is a fun guy to watch fight, but the problem is..he isn't that "good."  Lytle is good, but the problem is...he can get to the point of being "boring."  I'll take Lytle here by controlling the fight, likely using takedowns and landing enough strikes to outpoint TaylorChris Lytle by decision.

Michael Rome: This is a fight built for fireworks.  Taylor is very good in standing exchanges, he went toe to toe with Marcus Davis and knocked him on his ass with a high kick, and he looked great in exchanges against Paul Kelly.  I predict an upset win for Taylor here.  Taylor via TKO, round 2.

Nick Thomas: Taylor is always in a good fight. But I see Lytle taking this to the ground and controlling Taylor for most of the fight. Lytle by decision.

Mike Fagan: Lytle's a guy who beats the guy's he's supposed to beat.  He's supposed to beat Taylor.  Lytle's just so solid everywhere.  Lytle by TKO round 1.

 

UNDERCARD:

Paul Kelly vs. Marcus Davis

Luke Thomas: Kelly’s a one-trick pony and Davis knows what’s coming. On the feet it’s only a matter of time before Kelly gets starched and while the Brit has good wrestling/GNP, Davis has enough takedown defense to pull out a win. Davis by decision.

Kid Nate: This is a fight with implications for the 2nd tier of the UFC welterweight division. If Kelly can get past Davis, he's Bisping Jr -- a British fighter with a real shot at contending in the UFC. Davis is seemingly perfect for him -- a well-rounded fighter with KO power and decent submissions but no wrestling worth speaking of.  Kelly won't be able to hang with the wrestling monsters at 170 but it’s an open question whether he can get past Davis' power and cage-savvy. I'm going to go with Davis but expect it to be close enough that Kelly will remain alive as a viable prospect. Davis by submission.

Brent Brookhouse: This is a very "made to order" fight to get Davis back on track.  Davis by KO round 1.

Michael Rome: Time for Davis to prove he's really a name to be reckoned with at 170.  He looked terrible in his last fight but he was fighting sick or hurt, I can't remember which.  This should be a really fun standup fight, I expect Davis to win via TKO, but Kelly will go down swinging.   Davis via TKO, round 2.

Nick Thomas: Kelly isn't going to take Davis down at will like Swick did. Davis by TKO.

Mike Fagan: Davis by TKO round 3.


Dan Hardy vs. Akihiro Gono

Luke Thomas: Hardy rants and raves about his ability, but I don’t care how good he is at Crackhead Control. His rubber guard mastery will go him very little good against a clever and mega talented veteran like Gono. Gono by submission, round 2.

Kid Nate: A third really interesting undercard fight. Gono has been fighting at the top levels of the middleweight class for several years, with mixed results. Hardy has been trying to fight his way into the top ranks for a while. His closest recent brush with greatness ended when he lost to Yoshiuki Yoshida by DQ (nut shot). I think Gono is very dangerous at 170. Hardy lost to Forrest Petz. I expect Akihiro to toy with Hardy and eventually get the takedown and finish it. Gono by submission.

Brent Brookhouse: Gono is usually safe against guys who aren't top tier.  But I'm going to take Hardy by TKO here.  Dan Hardy by TKO round 2.

Michael Rome: Talk about the anti-Bisping approach for Hardy.  Incredibly tough fight...too tough.  Gono is too good and will submit Hardy in round 2.

Nick Thomas: Hardy is a jack of all trades. Gono comes in with more experience.
Gono by submission.

Mike Fagan: Gono by Will Smith loving/submission, round 1.


Shane Carwin vs. Neil Wain

Luke Thomas: It will be a victory for MMA if Wain doesn’t die. Carwin by brutal KO, round 1.

Kid Nate: Carwin by KO quick fast in a hurry.

Brent Brookhouse: Carwin by brutal, brutal TKO in Round 1.

Michael Rome: Err, squash match.  Carwin via TKO round 1.

Nick Thomas: Carwin is huge and the future of the HW division. Carwin by TKO.

Mike Fagan: I'll just quote Rome, "Err, squash match. Carwin via TKO round 1."


Jess Liaudin vs. David Bielkheden

Luke Thomas: Liaudin has his problems and Bielkheden has the better grappling pedigree, but I find Liaudin to have a more tightly knit MMA game. Liaudin by decision.

Kid Nate: Both guys are cutting down to 155. I think Liaudin will be too much for Bielkheden -- "The Brazilian Swede". Jess has decent ground skills and should be able to fend off David and get the beatdown. Liaudin by TKO.

Brent Brookhouse: Liaudin by TKO round 2.

Nick Thomas: Bielkheden by submission.


Sam Stout vs. Terry Etim

Luke Thomas: Stout has failed me a number of times in predictions, but his work with Xtreme Couture is paying off in terms of takedown defense. Rich Clementi has far better takedowns than Etim and only squeaked by. I think Stout wins a decision.

Kid Nate: Another great undercard matchup. Stout is a top notch kickboxer and Etim is a lanky submission artist. On paper Etim is just the kind of fighter who has smoked Sam in the past, but after picking Per Eklund to beat Stout, I'm leery. However, even the totally gassed Eklund managed to repeatedly take Stout down.  I'm going to go with Etim by
submission
.

Brent Brookhouse: Etim by decision.

Michael Rome: Stout's crappy takedown defense will be his undoing.  Etim via submission, round 2.

Nick Thomas: Etim should take this... but I just can't pick against the canuck. Stout by decision.

Mike Fagan: Stout by decision.


David Baron vs. Jim Miller

Luke Thomas: I like Baron a lot, but I have to wonder how much of his win over Sakurai was more due to Sakurai’s flakiness. Miller is fantastic on the ground and has big show jitters behind him. I think between that and the cut to lightweight, Miller gets past Baron. Miller by submission.

Kid Nate: This fight has actual implications for the lightweight division. Baron is a well-traveled veteran of the international fight scene with wins over Hayato Sakurai and Dan Hardy (x2). Jim Miller is probably the brightest IFL prospect in the UFC (along with his brother Dan). Baron's been fighting at higher weights most of his career so his ability to make the weight cut without gassing will be a key factor. Miller has excellent ground control and submissions but I'm going to bet that Baron's experience will be too much for him. Stalemate on the ground followed by a Baron win by TKO.

Brent Brookhouse: It's a bit of a shame this won't make the broadcast as I think Miller is a handful for almost anyone in the division.  Miller by submission round 1.

Michael Rome: Miller is the brightest IFL prospect in the UFC, but he is going up against a tough veteran in David Baron.  I think this will be a very close fight, but I'm going to go ahead and pick Miller via submission in round 3.

Nick Thomas: Miller is the better wrestler/grappler. Miller by decision.

Mike Fagan: Baron by TKO.


Per Eklund vs. Samy Schiavo

Luke Thomas: I admire Schiavo’s aggression, but Eklund is far more well-rounded. Eklund by TKO.

Kid Nate: To say that neither fighter impressed in their UFC debuts (against Sam Stout and Clay Guida respectively) is an understatement.  Eklund's conditioning was beyond suspect and Schiavo just got exposed. I think Eklund's grappling skill-set is too good a match for Semy's TKD. Eklund by submission.

Brent Brookhouse: Eklund by submission round 2.

Michael Rome: Both are coming off terrible debuts, but I like Samy's standing game and expect him to rebound here with a KO win in round 1.

Nick Thomas: Eklund by takedown and submission.

Mike Fagan: Schiavo by submission.

 

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