BloodyElbow.com Staff Picks for UFC 93: Franklin vs. Henderson. My personal picks were made last night on Sherdog's radiothon.
Rich Franklin vs Dan Henderson
Kid Nate: First off, no way are these two guys both 6'1". I am expecting to see Franklin tower over Henderson at the weigh ins and the touch of gloves and then use his reach advantage to stay outside, peppering Henderson with kicks and punches from odd angles. However, Henderson is stronger, more skilled and just plain tougher than the kinds of fighters Franklin really puts a hurting on. At some point he'll get Franklin in the clinch and if he's able to work him over there, plus get a few takedowns, he'll win the fight. This is a very hard call, but I'm going to go with my heart and pick Henderson by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: Henderson is a guy who just rarely fights the smartest possible fight. He has the natural talent that he beats top level guys with the bad gameplanning, but Franklin is a very sharp and very smart fighter. It's not an easy fight to pick but I see 3 rounds of Franklin working length and keeping to his gameplan. I don't think the chances of Henderson landing a big right are too high and I don't trust him to use his wrestling rather than try to stand and bang. Franklin by decision.
Michael Rome: A lot of fighters would fold after those losses to Silva, but not Rich Franklin. He’s come back stronger than ever, and I think the Matt Hume-trained version of Rich Franklin is the best ever. I think he fights better at 205 as well. Henderson is extremely hard to handle in close quarters, but Rich is faster and good with angles, so I think he’ll be able to stay at a distance. Hendo has that big right hand though, so it’s hard to make a call. Very tough pick, but I think Rich Franklin takes it. Franklin via decision.
Michael Fagan: I think this ends up as a brutal and grueling affair regardless of the victor. Franklin holds advantages in cardio, technical striking, and jiu jitsu while Henderson should have the better of it in the clinch, in KO power, and physical strength. I agree with the oddsmakers and have "Hollywood" as the small favorite. Dan Henderson by decision.
Cannon Jacques: This is a difficult fight to pick. Franklin is the better technical striker, and Henderson is the better wrestler. Hendo has tremendous knockout power, but is wild on the feet and has a tendency to abandon a gameplan that's working (see the Anderson Silva fight). I'm leaning toward Franklin, because I believe he'll execute an intelligent strategy. Franklin by decision.
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Mark Coleman
Kid Nate: Its really hard to get pumped for this fight. I'm hoping to see a return to form for Shogun, but even at his best no fighter benefited more from the PRIDE rule set than Mauricio Rua. He got away with sloppy guard work because he didn't have to worry about elbows and soccer kicks and head stomps turned a no better than average striking skill set into hell on wheels. The edge he's got is that Mark Coleman is a completely spent force. I'll be astonished if "the Hammer" has anything to show Shogun or the fans. Shogun by mercy killing in 2.
Brent Brookhouse: Well, let us take a look. Coleman is old, and fighting considerably lighter than he has any time even remotely considered "recent." I don't buy Shogun as an "elite light heavyweight" in the UFC but I have got to believe that he is better than a VERY old Mark Coleman. That being said, Coleman COULD get a takedown or two and with elbows available to him he could open a cut or maybe win a couple rounds. I am close to picking Coleman and hoping that he is very explosive at 205 and has some good cardio while Shogun is rusty and his sloppy guard and overrated stand-up game leave enough openings for Coleman. Actually, you know what? Coleman by unanimous decision. It's never too early to make the worst prediction of the year.
Michael Rome: Shogun has had a long time to recover from his last loss, and while he looked very underwhelming against Forrest, I think this is a shoe-in for Shogun. Coleman has strength and wrestling, but it’s not enough, Shogun just has too many weapons. Shogun via TKO, round 1.
Michael Fagan: On one end you have an aging, one-dimensional fighter who last found a legitimate and relevant victory in the 20th century. On the other, a highly decorated rising superstar who fell victim to the effects of a badly injured knee in his last outing. Oh, and they met before two years ago in a contest that ended with the senior citizen douching it up after a freak injury to his opponent. I'll take Mauricio Rua by submission, round 1.
Cannon Jacques: If Shogun returns to the form that once had him sitting atop of the light heavyweight pecking order, he should take this one easily. Coleman is not well-rounded and is well past his prime. Not to mention, he's fighting at 205 instead of heavyweight which is a much better fit for him. Rua by TKO, round 1.
Denis Kang vs. Alan Belcher
Kid Nate: I've been down on Kang ever since the PRIDE days. His vaunted 22 fight win streak was against some of the weakest competition in the MMA world. Even in PRIDE he rarely fought the toughest fighters and he just looked sloppy and listless against Akiyama and Mousasi. But he's coming off two wins, including a flash KO of Marvin "Beastman" Eastman so even I have to admit Kang is still a dangerous fighter. Belcher is thoroughly ensconced in a gatekeeper role. He just ran Ed Herman out of the UFC for all intents and purposes, we'll see if his one dimensional muy thai game is enough to beat the well-rounded Kang. I don't see it happening. Kang by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: I'll be pulling for Belcher here but I don't see it happening. Kang just has more variety and Belcher is a little bit risky in that he takes chances that provide openings while having a very small amount of potential reward. Kang by decision.
Michael Rome: This is a tough fight to call. Kang has seen better days, and Belcher has always underwhelmed, but stylistically it seems tough for Kang, who isn’t the best wrestler and doesn’t have the ability to stand with Belcher. I still think Kang is going to pull this out, but I think Belcher is the best upset pick on this card. Kang via decision.
Michael Fagan: Simply, Belcher lacks the refined game to test Kang. He has a very fun style to watch when he gets to go off offensively, but has very poor defensive abilities and a ground game that leaves a lot to be desired. Kang has his flaws and may not be the prospect many thought he once was, but he shouldn't have a problem with Belcher. Denis Kang by submission, round 1.
Cannon Jacques: This fight is supposed to be a victorious introduction to UFC fans for Kang. While Belcher is certainly no can, he should be outclassed by the more experienced Kang. Belcher will hang tough, but Kang will just be too much. Kang by submission, round 3.
Marcus Davis vs. Chris Lytle
Kid Nate: Two fighters who define the term "journeymen". Both are solid boxers with good submissions, neither is a good wrestler. They are promising a slug fest, but I'm not falling for the hype. I think Marcus Davis is the smarter fighter and has shown much more improvement in recent years than Lytle. I expect Davis to bait Lytle into a brawl, then shift gears and win on the ground. Davis by submission.
Brent Brookhouse: At some point I have to pick something to not go to a decision, especially in today's UFC. They're going to stand and bang because fight of the night bonuses are better than a win I guess. Davis by TKO, round 2.
Michael Rome: These two are just going to bang it out, and Davis has the better boxing in my view. More power, and he has a better gas tank. Davis via KO, round 2.
Michael Fagan: If Davis and Lytle have their way, this fight will transcend the calendar year and take home "Fight of the Decade" honors. Both guys' styles probably give them tickets to UFC contracts for life. Davis has argued that the first person to take the fight to the floor is a "pussy," and Lytle has shown to disregard a distinct advantage in that department to fight a more "fan-friendly" brawling style. I worry that Lytle gets drawn into a kickboxing match because I think he can win the fight by taking advantage of his size and ground game. Here's hoping he fights smart because I'm taking Chris Lytle by decision.
Cannon Jacques: Both combatants have billed this fight as a battle to end all battles. It's supposed to be two men standing toe to toe and slugging it out. For some reason, I believe this is going to be decided on the ground. Lytle should have determined that boxing the former boxer isn't the prudent course of action. Lytle has a variety of different skills, and definitely has an advantage over Davis on the ground. Lytle by submission, round 3.
Rousimar Palhares vs. Jeremy Horn
Kid Nate: Jeremy Horn has looked absolutely awful in his last couple of outings. Its time for him to either focus on fighting or become a full-time coach. Horn at his best would've been too well-rounded for the utterly one dimensional (and short) Palhares, but that was a long time ago. Palhares by submission.
Brent Brookhouse: I like Horn, but he really is eating up spots on UFC cards that could go to guys with more upside at this point. This is the fight that should send him on his way. Palhares by submission, round 1.
Michael Rome: Horn is just way in over his head here. Palhares via submission, round 1.
Michael Fagan: If the UFC had an undertitle for this card it would be "Decrepit." It's hard to imagine many fighters more shot than Mark Coleman, but Horn makes a good case. With over 100 fights on his record, Horn looks worn down and seems to show up only for the paycheck. He used to be one of the better BJJ guys in the UFC, but has fallen behind the times. Horn doesn't offer enough on the feet to pose any threat, and Palhares will eventually get this fight to the ground and submit him. Rousimar Palhares by submission, round 2.
Cannon Jacques: Palhares is a fighter on the rise despite his decision loss last time out to Dan Henderson. Horn has a ton of experience, but is on the backside of a successful career. Horn won't be able to sub Palhares, and I just don't see him winning a striking battle. Palhares will eventually get this to the ground and work his wizardry. Palhares by submission, round 2.
Martin Kampmann vs. Alexandre Barros
Kid Nate: I've seen nothing to indicate that Barros is skilled enough or powerful enough to beat the formidable Kampmann. As a middleweight, Kampmann didn't have KO power to go with his polished striking game. I'm interested to see if he'll be drained or stronger as a welterweight. That's really the only "x" factor here -- has Kampmann made the right adjustments to a new divison? I expect he has. If so, he'll batter Barros on the feet and finish it on the ground. Kampmann by submission.
Brent Brookhouse: Kampmann is the easy pick here. I'm just curious to see how Kampmann looks at 170. It's no secret that I didn't really like Kampmann at 185 and I called him on not having the kind of power that you expect from a guy with the "striker" tag, but it is good that he has developed a very solid ground game. Martin is a guy who can stop lower level guys with his striking, I'll be interested to see if he packs a little more power now that he is fighting lighter (which would be expected). Anyway, Kampmann by TKO, round 2.
Michael Rome: Kampmann just has too much for him. Kampman via TKO, round 1.
Michael Fagan: I'm a little worried he cut too much for this fight, but Kampmann is one of the most underrated guys in the sport who beat a lot of heavier quality opposition at middleweight. He has a lot going for him, and I expect Martin Kampmann by TKO, round 1.
Cannon Jacques: Welterweight is the right place for Kampmann; I'm glad to see him make the cut. Kampmann is a huge favorite for good reason. Barros won't be able to nullify the Dane's striking advantage. Kampmann by TKO, round 2.
Eric Schafer vs. Antonio Mendes
Kid Nate: Battle of the one-dimensional fighters. Mendes is hella dangerous on his feet and more well-rounded as a striker than the last guy Schafer beat (Houston Alexander) but I expect "Red" to get the takedown and win it on the ground all the same. Schafer by TKO in 1.
Brent Brookhouse: Schafer is in trouble here, he isn't explosive enough to guarantee a takedown and he is going to get blasted if he can't get it to the ground. Mendes by TKO, round 1.
Michael Rome: Shafer is coming off a win over Alexander, but Mendes is very skilled standing and I expect him to finish Shafer on his feet. Mendes via TKO, round 2.
Michael Fagan: Mendes is deficient on the floor, but the fight starts standing, and Schafer doesn't offer much there. Mendes will complete what he was unable to finish against Thiago Silva. Antonio Mendes by TKO, round 2.
Cannon Jacques: Mendes threatened Thiago Silva early before being dominated on the ground by the UFC veteran. Schafer is a solid fighter, but I think he's lacking in explosiveness when compared to Mendes. Mendes by TKO, round 3.
Ivan Serati vs. Tomasz Drwal
Kid Nate: Drwal should be able to outmuscle Serati and get the TKO win fairly easily. Serati defines the state of Italian MMA: somewhat well-rounded, no exceptional skills, definitely not big league power. Drwal by KO.
Brent Brookhouse: I guess I'm going with Drwal here, but I'd be lying if I said I could provide too much deep insight into this one. Drwal by TKO, round 1.
Michael Rome: Drwal is too powerful on his feet. I expect him to just pick Serati apart and finish him. Drwal via TKO, round 1.
Michael Fagan: Polish power. Tomasz Drwal by TKO, round 1.
Cannon Jacques: It's difficult to judge these two fighters based on their past fights since I'm generally not familiar with most of the guys they've faced. Drwal looks better than Serati on video. Drwal by submission, round 2.
Thomas Egan vs. John Hathaway
Kid Nate: Egan's being thrown in at the deep-end here. A decent boxer, he's too one dimensional to overcome Hathaway's experience edge and better skill-set. Hathaway by ground and pound.
Brent Brookhouse: Well, god knows I like my strikers and if I didn't pick at least one good striker in a low card matchup for a UFC show it just wouldn't be me. Also, I legitimately think that Egan catches Hathaway early here. KO, round 1.
Michael Rome: I'm going to take the upset pick here. I think Egan is going to catch Hathaway standing. Hathaway has more experience, but then again it's experience beating cans. Egan via KO, round 1.
Michael Fagan: Oh, the joys of overseas cards rounding out cards between two European fighters I know little about. But Jordan Breen says English fighters suck, so Thomas Egan by decision.
Cannon Jacques: From what little I've seen, Hathaway appears to be much more polished than Egan. Neither are instant contenders. Hathaway by decision.
Nate Mohr vs. Dennis Siver
Kid Nate: Talk about a fight that has earned bottom of the card billing. These guys are both one loss away from leaving the UFC. I think Siver is marginally more well-rounded and more powerful. Siver by TKO.
Brent Brookhouse: If there is a fight deserving of a double knockout...this is it. I'm going to go ahead and take...um...Mohr by TKO, round 3.
Michael Rome: I barely even know how to pick this. I think Siver via TKO.
Michael Fagan: "Mohr" of the same. Get it? Eh.....Dennis Siver by decision.
Cannon Jacques: Siver is a bit of a favorite, but I look for Mohr to get the best of it standing. Mohr by TKO, round 2.