These are my first UFC fight picks at Bloody Elbow and I’m going to go all the way across the board, starting from the bottom. I’m very excited to see this card and I’m even geeked for some of the newcomers at the beginning of the night (Gusmao, McCrory).
Ben Saunders vs. Ryan Thomas
Ben Saunders is a very long 6’3” at 170 and exhibited solid muay thai as a competitor on TUF. Perhaps my favorite thing about Saunders is an intangible—you can tell that he loves to fight. I’m also not ashamed to admit that I don’t know anything about Ryan Thomas, beyond reading his record and background. As a late replacement for Jared Rollins, I hope he puts up a good fight, but I don’t expect much.
Saunders via standing TKO Round Two.
Chris Wilson vs. Steve Bruno
Chris Wilson is a relative unknown to casual observers, but has very good hands and will prove too much for the former Naval Rescue Swimmer. He held his own against Fitch, so I doubt he is too troubled by an overmatched Steve Bruno.
The underrated Wilson in Round Two, via GNP.
Andre Gusmao vs. Jon Jones
I really like Jon Jones. Seems like a really good, humble kid with a level head. I hope that he does well enough to warrant future considerations for an undercard fight with someone more comparable to his experience level. He does have good hands and a lot of energy, but the BJJ-proficient Gusmao is well aware of that fact coming in.
A patient and cerebral Gusmao in late Round One, via Triangle Choke.
Cheick Kongo vs. Dan Evenson
I’m a believer in Cheick Kongo. The guy can bang, as evidenced by his “tell my grand kids” stand-up exhibition against Mirko Crocop at UFC 75. And the guy was given the nickname “Black Superman” from Rampage. Sure, he’s got a lot to learn on the ground. But I don’t expect this fight to spend much, if any, time on the mat.
The black-Frenchman-that-trains-in-California over The Viking in Round one, via TKO.
Luke Cummo vs. Tamdan McCrory
I was a fan of Cummo’s during his stay in the TUF house. I liked his Clark Kent/Bruce Banner angle and he seems like a genuinely nice guy. That aside, his seemingly bright future leveled out not shortly after his exit from the house. He simply hasn’t progressed as well as I imagined he would. McCrory, despite an upsetting loss in November to Gono, has a very promising future in the UFC. Cummo isn’t short of heart, so I expect him to fight it out until the end.
The Barn Cat over Cummo via UD.
Jason McDonald vs. Demian Maia
I’m a huge fan of Maia and I’m thrilled that this fight is set for broadcast as part of the main card. McDonald is no slouch, which will make it all the more exciting and impressive when..
..Maia wins in Round Two via RNC.
Manny Gamburyan vs. Rob Emerson
Emerson should make this fight fun to watch, and certainly he has a punchers chance—but in order for him to pull it out against Manny, he’ll need to score a wild knockout. I just don’t see that happening.
Manvil in Round One via Guillotine.
Kenny Florian vs. Roger Huerta
Typing predictions for this card is a practice in relearning how great the card is from top to bottom. This fight, dare I say, could outlive expectations. Kenflo has reached a new plateau in his conditioning and striking and Huerta has undoubtedly progressed since he was last seen shocking Clay Guida eight months ago. Is there any doubt that this fight will be a total battle of conditioning?
El Matador emerges the victor in this hotly contested war in Round Three via last minute TKO.
Brock Lesnar vs. Heath Herring
In a fight that many people seemingly expect to be dominated by either Brock or Herring, I see an altogether different picture. I think these two are well matched up and are coming into this fight with comparable conditioning. Ultimately, I think Brock (all 265 lbs of him) overpowers Herring and comes in with more proficient technical striking and ground defense than we saw against Mir.
Brock in Round Three via those gorilla punches Herring has made fun of (GNP).
Georges St-Pierre vs. Jon Fitch
Is Jon Fitch underappreciated? Is he overlooked? Sure, on both accounts. Did his victory over Chris Wilson underwhelm me and make me feel as though he’s lucky that Karo lost to Alves so that they didn’t require sorting out the number one contender? A resounding “yes” to that as well. Is he good at everything he does, but GSP is just that much better? ……
Rush in early Round Two via TKO.