UFC 107: BJ Penn vs. Diego Sanchez Predictions

UFC 107: Penn vs. Sanchez
December 12, 2009
FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee

Main Bouts:
B.J. Penn vs. Diego Sanchez

Luke Thomas: I tend to think Penn will have early difficulty putting away an unflappable if overwhelmed Sanchez. Eventually, though, he just won't be able to keep up and will meet the same fate as every other lightweight on the planet is likely to when they face The Prodigy. Penn by submission, round 5.

Kid Nate: I'm really excited to see this fight because Diego Sanchez' blitz attacks should be a test even for the unflappable Penn. But given Penn's iron chin, thick hide and preternatural balance I don't think Diego's going to like what happens when he wades in. If Diego plays the patient game he tried against Josh Koscheck that just means he'll lose a decision instead of by TKO. B.J. Penn by submission, Round 5.

Brent Brookhouse: Penn has better submissions, better wrestling, better boxing, and better tactical planning.  I don't see anywhere that Diego wins here unless Penn is completely out of shape.  A lot of people think it's going to be a long fight, I don't.  It's going to be brutal.  BJ Penn by TKO, round 1.

Michael Rome:  I see Penn rolling to victory here early.  He is the better wrestler, and his hand speed is going to be a huge advantage.  Penn via submission, round 2.

Mike Fagan: I've said it before, and I'll say it again here: the longer a fight goes, the heavier it will favor the guy who can finish it.  Penn has numerous avenues to end the fight.  Sanchez has few.  Yes, Diego hasn't been finished in his MMA career, but look at the lineup he's fought in the UFC.  It's not exactly a murderer's row of stoppers.  Sanchez has cardio for days, but his wreckless pace settles down after the first few minutes.  B.J. will dictate the bout, and I think it's only a matter of how aggressive he wants to get which will determine how quickly he finishes.  I'll take B.J. Penn by TKO, round two.

Chris Nelson: I honestly think Diego believes in himself enough to alter reality. Sanchez via decision.

Eugene Schelfaut: Diego Sanchez is crazy enough to believe himself into a win. I was hoping to thought experiment him into a decision here, but that just did not pan out. Maybe after losing the first few rounds B.J. Penn wins via Submission (RNC), Round 4.

Nick Thomas: Penn will be able to stay on the outside and jab all night. Sanchez won't be the same after he feels Penn's power. Penn by TKO.

Leland Roling: It should be pretty apparent what Diego's gameplan will be in this fight. He'll need to press the pace, gain takedowns, and punish Penn on the ground as he doesn't have the striking to make it competitive on the feet. Penn's vaunted takedown defense coupled with his insane flexibility and BJJ chops should be enough to stop Diego in his tracks and give Penn a stand-up battle against an inferior striker. B.J. Penn via TKO, Round 4.


Frank Mir vs. Cheick Kongo

Luke Thomas: A respectable case can truly be made for either fighter here. Kongo could stuff Mir's shots and out strike him en route to a dominiating TKO or KO win. Mir can close the distance with his much-improved striking and find a way to get the fight to the floor en route to a submission stoppage. I generally lean in the latter direction. While I think Kongo could stop all of the shots, I think Mir will be able to find a way inside where his hugely underrated strength and wrestling game will carry him to victory. Mir by submission, round 2.

Kid Nate: It's kind of amusing to me that such a clear cut striker vs grappler battle can still occur in 2009, especially at this level of competition, but it is what it is. Mir's striking is better than Kongo's grappling, but not so good he'll want to stand and bang with the Frenchman. And old rules of thumb still hold. Generally grapplers can evade the striking game better than strikers can avoid getting submitted. Mir by submission.

Brent Brookhouse: I actually have changed my official pick.  Originally I was so hung up on Kongo's poor takedown defense that it seemed like a really tough fight for him.  But I think he can manage to fend off the somewhat shoddy takedowns of Mir long enough to catch him standing.  Add in the fact that Frank does legitimately think he has better boxing than Kongo and despite all common sense I think he's going to get blasted trying to mess around.  Cheick Kongo by KO, round 1.

Michael Rome:  I could totally see Kongo getting the early KO, but I think Mir will take this by submission.  Kongo will be tough to take down for about 2 minutes, so if Mir can survive a few minutes he should win.  I am a little concerned about Frank putting on 25 pounds in 4 months, I don't believe that is good weight, but I still see him winning here.  Mir via submission, round 2.

Mike Fagan: For all of Kongo's grappling liabilities, he's never been submitted in a fight.  My frustrating love-hate relationship with Mir may blind me, but I don't think this is as clear cut as people make it out to be.  Mir likes to rag on the lack of depth in the heavyweight division, and in my opinion, he's contributing to that lack of talent.  He's just not a very good fighter.  His striking his stiff and awkward, he doesn't have a consistent way to drag the fight to the floor, and he'll always be a gas tank liability.  Kongo, as stated, has his own deficiencies, but I think he can keep this fight at a distance and tee off on Frank.  Cheick Kongo by TKO, round two.

Chris Nelson: Much in the same way that Diego Sanchez can potentially will himself to a win, Kongo will take this off pure anger fumes. That, and the fact that Frank Mir will fall apart when the Frenchman puts big hands on him. Kongo via TKO, round one.

Eugene Schelfaut: If Frank Mir had a takedown game this would be a great deal smoother. I think Mir finds a way to the ground, eventually, and cranks on something sufficiently. Frank Mir via Submission (Kimura), Round 2.

Nick Thomas: Kongo will be able to use his reach and if he can avoid the takedown, he can end this early. If it goes to the later rounds, cardio might be an issue with Mir. Kongo by TKO.

Leland Roling: Frank Mir's ability to withstand damage and his grappling prowess will be the focal point of this fight. He'll likely eat some punches and kicks before actually gaining a takedown, but he should be able to secure a ground battle as Kongo has just looked awkward in trying to defend takedowns in the past. He doesn't exactly have the best team behind him to teach him the intricacies of the ground game either. His lengthy frame won't help him, and I think Mir might be able to secure a leg submission in this bout. Frank Mir via submission, Round 2.


Kenny Florian vs. Clay Guida


Luke Thomas: An extremely tough call. This entire fight hinges on how well Florian can keep moving, use his kicks without interfering with his ability to stand and stuff shots against the fence. I also think Florian needs to find his way to Guida's back, where he has historically shown submission liabilities. Can Guida stop him? I'm not so sure. Guida doesn't have enough tools to make necessary gameplan changes when difficulties emerge. Eventually Florian's going to time him or trap him. Florian by submission, round 3.

Kid Nate: Despite Florian's much better Muay Thai and jiu jitsu, Guida could very well ride his serious advantage in the wrestling department to a decision win here. Florian doesn't have knock out power standing and generally relies on his top control game to get his submission wins. Getting Greg Jackson in his corner won't hurt any either. Guida by decision.

Brent Brookhouse: Yeah, Kenny has better striking, and his BJJ is very solid.  However, he's not nearly as threatening off his back with anything but elbows and I think Clay is going to put him on his back pretty often.  It's going to be a very close decision but one that I think Clay wins with takedowns.   Clay Guida by decision.

Michael Rome:  Guida is the kind of guy who beats marginal top 10 fighters and loses to anyone better.  I think Florian is consistently training with better wrestlers than Clay now, he won't gas, and I wouldn't be surprised if he actually finishes Guida.  Florian via TKO, round 3.

Mike Fagan: Guida has a style that should be very scary to anyone who fights him in a three rounder.  Get taken down and held enough by Clay, and you might be on the wrong side of a very lackind decision.  Kenny has enough of a well-rounded skill set, that he should be able to keep Clay off him enough to grind out the decision though.  Kenny Florian by decision.

Chris Nelson: Yeah yeah, Clay's a workhorse, but he's way outclassed here. Safe bet's a decision, but I can see Kenny taking Guida's back and finishing this. Let's go out on a limb. Florian via submission, round two.

Eugene Schelfaut: This is for all the people who see Clay Guida in or coming out of bars across McHenry county. I realize Guida will not quit; however, I just cannot pick him against a top opponent. Kenny Florian via unanimous decision.

Nick Thomas: This is a bad match up for Florian. Florian will be taken down at will and he won't be able to submit Guida. Guida by decision.

Leland Roling: Clay Guida easily became one of my favorite fighters in the UFC a couple of years ago with his tenacious pace and relentless attacks, but his striking has completely changed my attitude about where I think he'll go in the future. He's mentioned the fact that it would show significant improvement in nearly every single fight since his win over Marcus Aurelio, and we haven't seen it yet. Kenny is going to bring great stand-up, brutal elbows, and a very solid grappling game to this fight, and I don't think all the hugging in the world is going to help Guida here. Kenny Florian via unanimous decision.


Jon Fitch vs. Mike Pierce

Luke Thomas: Pierce was able to lord his wrestling over Larson, but that won't be enough against the huge, talented and technical wrestler in Fitch. Throw in good submissions and the ability to turn the fight around and this is Fitch's fight to lose. Fitch by submission.

Kid Nate: Pierce is a very dangerous fight for Fitch, make no mistake. But Fitch is the quintessential grinder and should get another of his patented decision wins here. I'm looking forward to some good displays of positional grappling, but the casuals will be heading to the kitchen for this one. Fitch by decision.

Brent Brookhouse:  Pierce is very, very good.  Unfortunately for him Jon Fitch has been top 3 in the division for a long time for a reason. I can see Pierce getting up to Fitch's level eventually but he's not quite there yet.  It's going to be hard for Jon but he'll win.  Jon Fitch by decision.

Michael Rome:  You have to go with Fitch here based on experience, but I think Pierce is an active dog.  Fitch via decision.

Mike Fagan: I expect to hear the phrase "live dog" nine million times in reference to Pierce leading up to Saturday night.  Fitch is top three in the division for a reason though.  Jon Fitch by TKO, round two.

Chris Nelson: I went against my gut and picked Brock Larson over Pierce, and look where that got me. I can't ignore it this time - I think Pierce shocks a lot of folks here. Mike Pierce via decision.

Eugene Schelfaut: Round two is the beer round. One doesn't want to risk the chance of missing the official decision. Jon Fitch via the unanimous decision.

Nick Thomas: Pierce won't be able to use his wrestling on Fitch like he did with Larson. Fitch will win the stand up and even score a couple takedowns. Fitch by decision.

Leland Roling: This is an interesting fight because of Mike Pierce's powerful performance against Brock Larson. While Fitch is a better wrestler on paper and has a much better stand-up game than Larson ever had, Pierce is surprisingly powerful and technical in his takedown ability. He dumped Larson with double leg after double leg, and I'm going to assume Pierce's gameplan will be the same. I think it'll be a bit tougher for Fitch to win that people think, but he should win this one. Jon Fitch via unanimous decision.


Paul Buentello vs. Stefan Struve

Luke Thomas: Part of me would like to give Struve the nod and I believe he's being brought in to test the young up and comer, but it's not one he'll pass. The hand speed and sharp power of Buentello combined with his underrated takedown defense will be the difference. Buentello by TKO, round 1.

Kid Nate: A second striker vs grappler battle here. And also from the heavyweight division. This time Struve is the more well rounded fighter and I'm going to gamble that he'll be able to keep his chin away from Buentello's laser-like jabs. Struve by submission.

Brent Brookhouse: Struve proved his chin to me a bit in the loss to dos Santos. Yeah, he got stopped and wobbled repeatedly but he was taking big shots from JdS and wouldn't stay down.  He has shown a lot of development in his striking game and is learning to use his length until he decides to work to get the fight to the floor.  Buentello certainly could win, but I'm sticking to the youngster.  Stefan Struve by submission, round 2.

Michael Rome:  I'm going with Struve; Paul is a good fighter, but he's had a rough training camp from what I hear and I think Struve will submit him.  Struve via submission, round 2.

Mike Fagan: Struve will come in with some defensive liabilities, but he'll pose an interesting problem for Buentello.  Buentello also has his picture in the dictionary next to "journeyman."  I'll always take a promising prospect in this type of situation.  Stefan Struve by submission, round one.

Chris Nelson: Really tough call here. I have to pick Buentello until Struve finishes someone... well, someone like Buentello. Buentello via TKO, round one.

Eugene Schelfaut: He is just so long. Stefan Struve via submission (Armbar), Round 1.

Nick Thomas: Struve can only avoid so many straight rights and upper cuts from Buentello. Buentello by experience.

Leland Roling: Despite having nearly 7" on Buentello, I think the old veteran can pull off the victory here. He won't make the mistake of actually throwing Struve down and getting into his guard like Gormley, and Struve has shown poor defense in the striking department. Buentello's quick jab and overhands should find homes inside Struve's defense on his way to victory. Paul Buentello via TKO, Round 2


107_medium


Undercard:

Wilson Gouveia vs. Alan Belcher

Luke Thomas: Gouveia has enough holes standing to give explosive strikers openings, but I'm not so sure that rule applies to Belcher. The head kick KO of Santiago isn't an aberration per se, but neither is it indicative of lightning quick one-shot ability. Gouveia has enough wrestling, size, clinch and even standing ability to give Belcher problems the entire fight. Gouveia by decision.

Kid Nate: Gouveia has a size and reach advantage and his leg kicks are lethal. On the other hand he wouldn't know a straight punch if you tatooed "the shortest distance between two points is a straight line" on the inside of his eyelids. Belcher will be trying to get in the pocket and light Wilson up on the inside. He'd lose that fight if Gouveia didn't have a pronounced tendency to gas out early in the second round. Belcher by decision.

Brent Brookhouse:  Exactly what Nate said.  Gouveia is a looping puncher with great leg kicks and a bad gas tank.  Belcher does a good job of surviving bad situations which he'll need to do early but he should be able to take over in the second and third round.  Alan Belcher by decision.

Michael Rome:  Belcher put himself in a bad position by badmouthing the UFC the other day; he is now on the chopping block if he loses two straight in my view.  This is a close fight, but I think Belcher is going to be better as the fight goes on.  Belcher via TKO, round 3.

Mike Fagan: Trying to find a reason to pick against Belcher, but I'm not sure how.  I wouldn't be shocked if Gouveia lands a bomb that drops Belcher at some point, but it's more likely he gasses and Belcher picks him apart.  Alan Belcher by decision.

Chris Nelson: Seems like I should be jazzed for this fight, but... nope. Doesn't do much for me. Belcher hits hard, and while I know it's a cliche to say a fighter's chin is fading after he's been clubbed a few times, Gouveia seems to fit that description. Belcher via TKO, round two.

Eugene Schelfaut: Belcher will push it push it push it until Alan Belcher wins via unanimous decision.

Nick Thomas: Main card quality fight right here. Hard to pick against ATT. Gouveia by TKO.
 
Leland Roling: I'm going to go against the consensus pick here. While I think Belcher ultimately has the best chance to win as he has some huge size and powerful punching, Gouveia has the ground game to beat Belcher badly if it hits the floor. If it doesn't, I think Gouveia may be able to take advantage of a hulking Belcher in the later rounds if he doesn't gas himself. It's a gamble, but I'll take Gouveia. Wilson Gouveia via decision.


Shane Nelson vs. Matt Wiman

Luke Thomas: Wiman won't ever beat the top tier of UFC lightweights and I worry the amount of punishing fights he's had has slowed him and aged him, but I still give him the nod here. He's got more ways to win and has faced much tougher opposition. Wiman by submission.

Kid Nate: Running fighters like Shane Nelson out of the UFC is why Matt Wiman is on this planet. Wiman by TKO.

Brent Brookhouse: Matt Wiman is a good fit for the UFC roster, he's not top-end but he is the kind of guy you need on the roster.  ...Shane Nelson is not.  Matt Wiman by TKO.

Michael Rome:  Matt Wiman via TKO.

Mike Fagan: Wow, Nate just owned this writeup.  I understand why the UFC cut Denis Kang, but it's ridiculous for Nelson to have a UFC contract if Kang is on the outs.  Matt Wiman by TKO.

Chris Nelson: Pretty easy pick here, as my colleagues have made clear... Wiman via TKO, round one.

Eugene Schelfaut: Wiman is better. Matt Wiman via TKO, Round 1.

Nick Thomas: Wiman by decision.

Leland Roling: Wiman continues to be a great roster filler for the UFC as he has shown quick hands, good footwork, and tremendous pace in his fights. He should be able to pepper Nelson, but Nelson has shown some toughness in being able to withstand punishment. Matt Wiman via decision.


Johny Hendricks vs. Ricardo Funch

Luke Thomas: Funch has some backing in a decent team out of the North East, but Hendricks has big show experience and more tools to win. Hendricks by TKO, round 2.

Kid Nate: The betting odds in Hendricks' favor are a bit out of tilt IMO, but I'm still picking him to finish Funch. Hopefully Team Takedown has started working submission defense. Hendricks by TKO.

Brent Brookhouse:  Funch is a really live dog here.  I just can't bring myself to pick him, but I do think he'll drag Hendricks to the scorecards.  Johny Hendricks by decision.

Michael Rome:  Hendricks is really talented and has a lot of power, but I do worry about the submissions.  Still, I think Hendricks keeps this standing and finishes him there.  Hendricks via TKO.

Mike Fagan: Gonna go with the guy with UFC experience.  Johny Hendricks by decision.

Chris Nelson: Waffled a bit on this one, but I'm liking Massachusetts' own (by way of Brazil) Funch to pull out a surprise submission on the wrestler. Funch via submission, round two.

Eugene Schelfaut:I live to be contrarian. One of life's few true pleasures. Ricardo Funch via decision.

Nick Thomas: Hendricks by TKO.

Leland Roling: There is some hype surrounding Funch in this fight, but Hendricks' powerful punching and aggressiveness could be Funch's undoing in this battle. I do think Hendricks can keep this fight standing and bully around Funch in the clinch, but it is a fight he can lose on the ground. Johny Hendricks via TKO.


Rousimar Palhares vs. Lucio Linhares

Luke Thomas: Linhares has some big wins on his record, but more typically against error-prone opposition. And of the two, Palhares is the stronger, a better wrestler and better athlete. I'm not sure it'll be very pretty, but this is Palhares' fight to lose. Palhares by decision.

Kid Nate: Fights like this are always eagerly anticipated as compelling jiu jitsu battles. Inevitably what we get are really bad semi-pro kickboxing matches between two guys with no stand up. At that point any puncher could win. I'll go with Palhares here but it's a coin toss. Palhares by decision.

Brent Brookhouse: Linhares is my one real "upset pick."  Linhares is around +260 as of this writing and I think he will just plain outwork Rousimar.  Lucio Linhares by decision.

Michael Rome:  I'm going with Rousimar's experience edge in the UFC against better competition.  Palhares via decision.

Mike Fagan: The long-standing Brazilian rivalry between the Palhares and Linhares clans finally comes to an end.  Palhares by decision.

Chris Nelson: Tough, tough fight for Linhares' UFC debut. "Toquinho" is just too strong and technical. Palhares via submission, round one.

Eugene Schelfaut: I'm feeling a submission, even though this will probably suck it all up on the feet. I don't want to call it, but I'll go heel hook. Rousimar Palhares via the hook.

Nick Thomas: This should be a ground war. Palhares by submission.

Leland Roling: To be perfectly honest, I like Linhares as a bet in this fight, but I've been touting Palhares since his days in Fury FC. He has devastating leg locks that will end someone's fight career for a good six months, and his BJJ abilities on the floor are tremendous. Rousimar Palhares via decision.


DaMarques Johnson vs. Edgar Garcia

Luke Thomas: Garcia is very tough, very unheralded and very well-rounded. His ability to mix it up at different levels of the game is going to cause Johnson to slip up and get caught. Garcia by TKO.

Kid Nate: This is Garcia's chance to show that he's got a chance to live up to his potential. The holes in Johnson's game are gaping, Garcia will exploit them if he wants to stay in the UFC. Garcia by TKO.

Mike Fagan: Hopefully another TUF washout gets served his walking papers.  Edgar Garcia by TKO, round one.

Chris Nelson: Garcia via TKO, round two.

Eugene Schelfaut: I will actively be involved in rooting for Johnson to lose. Damarques Johnson by KO, Round 1.

Nick Thomas: Garcia by TKO.

Leland Roling: Garcia has huge power in his hands, and he'll light up Johnson just in time for Christmas. Edgar Garcia via TKO.


Kevin Burns vs. T.J. Grant

Luke Thomas: I suspect the wrestling acumen of Grant will be enough for a decision even if Burns is slightly bigger than many other welterweights. Grant by split decision.

Kid Nate: This one is being scored a toss up by the oddsmakers. I can't say I disagree. Grant's got a nice combination of wrestling + jiu jitsu but Burns has some decent striking and good jiu jitsu of his own. This should be a fun one to watch for the live crowd and those who bother to download the undercard fights. I'm going to pick T.J. because I think Burns has some bad karma coming from the Anthony Johnson eyepokes. Grant by decision.

Brent Brookhouse:  T.J. Grant is a legitimately good fighter.  Burns is pretty decent also, but he lacks the upside of Grant.  T.J. Grant by TKO, round 2.

Michael Rome:  I think Grant should be the favorite here.  I just see him outworking Burns, he's the better athlete and unless he makes a stupid mistake this is his fight to take.  Grant via decision.

Mike Fagan: Burns kind of reminds me of an alternative Chris Lytle.  And for all the faults that comes with it, I like the style.  Kevin Burns by decision.

Chris Nelson: Grant looks better and better with each outing, whereas Burns has been decidedly unimpressive since his shocking upset of Roan Carneiro. Grant via decision.

Eugene Schelfaut: Kevin Burns via decision.

Nick Thomas: Have to go with my fellow Canuck. Grant by decision.

Leland Roling: I'm going with Burns in this fight. While Grant is a legitimate talent, he's fairly one-dimensional on the ground, an area in which Burns can be surprisingly good. Burns' stand-up should eek out a decision for him here. Kevin Burns via decision.

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