UFC 99: The Comeback Predictions

99_black_wandy_red_mediumBloodyElbow.com Staff Predictions for UFC 99: June 13th, 2009
Lanxess Arena
Cologne, Germany

Main Card Bouts:


Rich Franklin vs. Wanderlei Silva

Luke Thomas: I don't know if Silva is or isn't having his Jens Pulver moment. Like Jens' win over Swanson, I wonder if Silva's win over Jardine is just camouflaging a much larger problem with the fighter's ability to both avoid telegraphed strikes and subsequently recover after being hit. The truth is I just don't know. I accept that Franklin is the more technical, risk savvy fighter of the two and while a volume puncher, that's probably enough here. But I'm going to gamble. I think while Silva can be overwhelmed, he's sitting on the power to end the fight at virtually any time. Franklin likely needs time to put Silva away and the Brazilian has the capability to end the fight with one or two shots anytime before that. That could just be enough. Silva via TKO, round 2.

Kid Nate:
My heart says Wanderlei will blitz Franklin, land a couple of jarring hooks, walk right through Franklin's awkward southpaw counters, establish the clinch and win with a brutal barrage of knees to the face. My head says Franklin has learned to avoid the Thai plum and that there's not going to be any walking through his punches forWanderlei. Franklin will soften him up standing, get the takedown and put a beating on the aging and battered Silva that will channel some brutal MMA karma straight from the ghost of Kazushi Sakuraba to Wandy's face. Rich Franklin by TKO.

Brent Brookhouse:
  You know what?  For as much sense as it makes to pick Franklin here I'm going with Wanderlei.  I think Wandy's confidence is a really good sign here and he seems inspired to get the W and take on Anderson.  Maybe the counters will be a problem for Silva but I just keep seeing the fight in my head as Rich being too careful and allowing The Axe Murderer to hurt him and finish in the first round.  So I'm running with it.  Wanderlei Silva by TKO, round 1.

Eugene Schelfaut:
It doesn't feel good picking Wanderlei to lose, so I won't. I placed money against Silva in the betting game, but I can't side against him when it counts. Wanderlei might have to fight off his back at some point. He takes it, however, standing. Wanderlei Silva by KO, round 2.

Leland Roling:
This is an absolute conflict of the heart. I grew up on watching and knowing that Wanderlei Silva was one of the most feared strikers in the world. His tenacity and aggression was a stunning sight to watch. As Wanderlei ages, I fear he'll begin to lose that due to age, but I'd love to see one last flurry from an all-time great. After watching the weigh-ins, heart wins this decision. WARWANDERLEI! Wanderlei Silva by KO, Round 1.

Nick Thomas: I'm hoping Wanderlei pressures Franklin and puts him in the clinch. I can't pick against Wand. Silva by TKO.

Michael Fagan: If you read my gambling article, you know I'm fairly torn on this fight.  Wanderlei's looked to have slowed down a bit in his last few fights, but how much?  And can Rich prevent the swarm a healthy Silva can offer?  I picked him against the line, and I'll him here too.  Rich Franklin by decision.



Cheick Kongo vs. Cain Velasquez

Luke Thomas: I'm not convinced Velasquez is the next big thing just yet, but I honestly cannot get the Marrero and Herring fights with Kongo out of my head. I don't think Kongo is going to attempt the takedown on Velasquez as he did with Herring, but he won't be able to stop the AKA product when he does. Velasquez by decision.

Kid Nate:
This fight presents a classic cross-trainer's dilemma. Ever since his embarrassing layNpray loss to Carmello Marrero at UFC 65 back in 2006, Kongo, the gifted striker, has been working hard on his wrestling. So much so that he dropped a decision to Heath Herring by relentlessly forcing the fight to the ground where Herring routinely got dominant position. Velasquez, one of the most exciting blue-chip wrestling prospects inMMA history has had some success on his feet. So much so that in his last fight against human heavy bag Denis Stojnic he kept the fight standing way beyond any reasonable point, finally getting the KO but much less impressively than if he had gone with his natural ground and pound gifts. If both fighters fight to their advantage, Velasquez should have the edge winning bygroundNpound TKO, unfortunately its harder to call because both guys are in that Sean Sherk cross-training limbo where they've added new skills but haven't incorporated them into an overall game. I'm going to bet on the more experienced Kongo having learned his lesson, taking Velasquez up on his bid to keep it on the feet. Kongo by KTFO.

Brent Brookhouse:
  Nate's pick is so similar to what I was thinking it's scary.  I think Cain is the latest "wrestler obsessed with his new striking game" who plays the game against the wrong guy.  Kongo's wrestling is also a bit underrated by the masses.  I think he can fend off atakedown or two if he can get Velasquez desperate after tooling him standing.  It's another risky pick but give me the veteran over the prospect.  Kongo by TKO, round 2.

Eugene Schelfaut:
I think Velasquez gets Kongo to the floor with ease, though it might be after he is drawn into exchanges on the feet. He can lose those and still win. Velasquez by TKO, round 3.

Leland Roling:
A lot of fans are picking Velasquez because they are still clinging onto the fact that Kongo has "zero" ground game. It may be true that once he's on his back, it'll be a tough prospect for him to actually escape Cain's attacks, but Kongo's training and knowledge that his ground game is lacking is probably the deciding factor here. He has brutal power standing, huge reach, and powerful kicks that can take the wind out of the sails of Velasquez. If Kongo can stifle Cain'stakedowns, it'll be a short night. Cheick Kongo via TKO, Round 2

Nick Thomas: The more I think about the fight... the more I'm leaning towards Cain taking this. I just think he's the better prospect. Cain will take Kongo down or even win at the stand up. Velasquez by TKO.

Michael Fagan: I don't get all the Kongo-love I see on the internet.  He beat Mirko Cro Cop after breaking his rib and busting his balls a couple times.  He dropped decisions to Carmelo Marrero and Heath Herring, neither of which are world beaters in the division.  Kongo's just above competent on the floor, and Cain's gonna put him on his back almost whenever he wants.  Cain Velasquez by TKO, round 2.



Mike Swick vs. Ben Saunders

Luke Thomas:
I do like Saunders and while his technical improvement is very laudable, I seriously doubt it's enough. I think there's a band wagon effect on the Saunders hype train after dismantling Brandon Wolff. I don't deny Saunders the legit victory, but it's not nearly enough of an indication to me that Saunders - who can defensively counter fight if pressured - has what it takes to stand up to the more experienced Mike Swick. Swick by decision.

Kid Nate:
This is a fast-track title contention fight for the welterweight belt. TUF veteran Swick is marketable and dynamic and the UFC would dearly love to build him into a challenger for the 170lb belt. They've created a no-lose situation for themselves by pitting him against the fast-rising Saunders. Both guys are long and lanky for this division and are dangerous on their feet and are submission threats. I thinkSwick possibly has the striking edge at range and maybe Saunders will have it in the clinch. Even up on the ground. This makes me think it will come down to who's got the edge in wrestling. I'll give that to Swick and the AKA team. Mike Swick by decision.

Brent Brookhouse: 
I see Swick/Davis 2 coming here.  Mike's wrestling is clearly better and if he wants he should be able to get takedowns and control position while landing some occasional damage (and maybe "Swicking out").  Saunders needs to use long strikes and quickly establish a clinch when the game gets in close...not gonna be able to pull that one off.  Mike Swick by decision.

Eugene Schelfaut:
Swick will not be easily trapped in Saunders' clinch and he will not get kneed into oblivion. Swick will control the fight at all levels. Mike Swick by TKO, round 1.

Leland Roling:
I must admit, watching Saunders dismantle Brandon Wolff definitely got the hype train moving for him. As much as I'm not a fan of MikeSwick due to his arrogance in wanting title shot after title shot, he's smartened up a bit in recent interviews. He's also brought in huge guys to help him train for Saunders, and he still trains with some of the best welterweights in the world in JoshKoscheck, Jake Shields, and Jon Fitch. I think he has the tools to crush Saunders. Mike Swick via TKO, Round 2

Nick Thomas:
Saunders trains with ATT, but I don't think that will be enough. Swick will win this on his feet. Swick by decision.

Michael Fagan: I think Swick's just too much for Saunders.  He's a big WW (though Saunders is even bigger) with a lot more experience against quality competition.  Mike Swick by TKO, round 1.



Marcus Davis vs. Dan Hardy

Luke Thomas:
As much as I want to pick Davis - and I hope he wins - he can be tagged quite a bit in exchanges. In fact, Davis and Hardy have a common opponent in ForrestPetz . And whereas Davis won and Hardy lost (although Hardy claims he was robbed), Davis often gets himself out of trouble after getting rocked by using his decent submission game over strikers with not-so decent submission defense. I can see Davis popping Hardy and putting him down, but I think Davis is also going to get rocked - only this time he won't be able to submit anover matched kickboxer. Hardy by split decision.

Kid Nate:
Hardy has seemingly gotten inside Davis' head with his trash talk. This is a little surprising since Davis is such a master at hyping fights. Conventional wisdom says that Hardy has the more polished kickboxing game but that Davis will have the punching power edge. This one is going to be very close. If Hardy scores a KO he'll be in contention, but I don't think he's that much better than Paul Taylor who nearlyKO'd Davis only to lose by armbar. I think Gono showed that Hardy can be caught repeatedly, but when Davis catches him it won't be with an open palm it will be with a fist. Davis by KO.

Brent Brookhouse:
  I really don't like Davis in this fight.  He's "technically" better with his striking but he doesn't use the technique very often anymore, instead becoming a brawler.  Hardy is a goodkickboxer and as long as Davis decides to stay standing he can win the fight.  Hardy by TKO, round 2.

Eugene Schelfaut:
I am a fan of anyone with the ability to rile Marcus Davis. Davis, for his part, is stronger on the mat than Hardy, but Marcus might just want to prove his point off the ground. Hardy pulls the upset against the boxer. Dan Hardy by TKO, round 3.

Leland Roling: I'm not going to stray from my original thought on this matchup. While Hardy has all the tools to win, I think Davis can still be a quicker boxer and move in and out of Hardy's attacks much like the ChrisLytle fight. It really comes down to who can be more technical in this fight. Davis has a tendency to become wild, but he can also be controlled as well. Hardy times his kicks and punches, and he'll be looking for the big knock to end this fight quickly. I think Hardy is a big time underdog bet, and I'll take advantage, but I'm going with Marcus Davis. Marcus Davis via decision.

Nick Thomas: I can't wait for this one, they have hyped it up nicely. Davis is better all around and takes this. Davis by decision.

Michael Fagan: Admittedly, Davis is a guy I've never liked - both as a fighter and a personality.  He had trouble with Swick's size in their fight, and I think we'll see something similar here.  Dan Hardy by decision.



Spencer Fisher vs. Caol Uno

Luke Thomas:
I think Fisher is extremely underrated here. For starters, Fisher's grappling is both technical, tight and offensively hunting.Uno is the superior grappler, but Fisher is capable of handling himself quite nicely on the floor. Uno's a decent wrestler, but I don't think he's got the ability to take Fisher down that often short of double under hooks. And since it's likely Fisher will use his outside striking more often that not - which is far better thanUno's in terms of footwork positioning, combination punching, power and accuracy - this is Fisher's to lose. Fisher's doesn't quite have the skill setFranca does, but like Franca, if you can nullify Uno from the takedown, Uno is available for damage from a heavy handed striker. That Fisher is accurate makes him even more dangerous. Fisher by KO, round 1.

Kid Nate:
The question I have going into this fight is this -- is Caol Uno done? I would've said yes until his surprising run at the DREAM LW GP. Still a year is a long time at his age, so we'll just have to wonder. The other question is can Spencer Fisher keep it on the feet? I'm going to guess that he can. If I'm wrong about that,Uno could easily get a decision or submission win. Fisher by KO.

Brent Brookhouse:
  Uno's explosiveness isn't quite there anymore and that should let Fisher stay on his feet and bang away.  Even if Uno can take him down I don't think he'll finish Spencer which means eventually they'll be back on the feet where Fisher can knock Caol out.  Spencer Fisher by TKO, round 1.

Eugene Schelfaut:
I am going to go against my better instincts for another fight on this card. Uno gets out struck but is able to earn a decision on the ground. Caol Uno by Decision.

Leland Roling:
For nostalgic purposes, I can't pick against Uno. Caol Uno has the ground acumen to still compete with some of the best in the world, and if you don't believe that, ask Mitsuhiro Ishida. Fisher has the obvious standup advantage, and it'll be interesting to see how Freddie Roach has improved Uno's striking game. Conceivably, Uno has very quick hands and could become a solid boxer in the cage, but it may be too late for this fight. I'm still going with technical ground acumen over Fisher. Caol Uno via decision.

Nick Thomas: Uno can win this fight. I see Uno getting the take down and controlling Fisher. Uno by decision.

Michael Fagan: I didn't like what I saw from Fisher in his fight with Frank Edgar.  Edgar took him down nearly at will, and while Uno doesn't have the full extent of Edgar's wrestling chops, he is a much more effective submission grappler.  I might be underrating Fisher, but I like Caol Uno by submission, round 2.



Mirko Filipovic vs. Mustapha Al-Turk

Luke Thomas:
I suppose Al-Turk can win and CroCop looked a little soft at the weigh-in, but if he says he's hungry I'll bite. He has the talent to win. Let's see if he can put it all together. CroCop by TKO, round 2.

Kid Nate:
Al-Turk is tailor made for a Cro Cop comeback. A fairly one-dimensional wrestler who's not really UFC caliber, Cro Cop should be able to sprawl and get the highlight reel KO we all want to see so badly. Cro Cop by KO.

Brent Brookhouse:
  Left...high...kick.  Mirko Filipovic by KO, round 1.

Eugene Schelfaut: 
I don't see how Al-Turk wins. Mirko Cro Cop by TKO, round 2.

Leland Roling:
Al-Turk is mainly known as a smothering top control guy with some submission ability. It's pretty tough to submit CroCop, and he's pretty defensive until he blasts you with a kick. Al-Turk isn't quick enough to catch him, and CC is going to hopefully begin his murderous path back to relevance. Mirko "CroCop" Filipovic via KO, Round 1

Nick Thomas: I don't think Al-Turk can take Cro Cop down, plus Al-Turk will gas in the later rounds. Filipovic by TKO.

Michael Fagan: Say what you will about where Cro Cop's at in his career, but he should still beat guys like Al-Turk.  Mirko Filipovic TKO, round 1.


UFC 99: The Comeback coverage 

Prelim Fights


Terry Etim vs. Justin Buchholz

Luke Thomas: Buccholz is going to work a furious pace here in order to keep the more technically savvy Britt from getting the timing and comfort level to launch major offensivemaneuvers, but that will eventually be his undoing as his recklessness takes over. Etim by submission, round 2.

Kid Nate:
This fight should alternate between periods of Etim battering Buchholz on the feet and in the clinch with intervals of Buchholz working takedowns and going for submissions. But Etim's not helpless on the ground and has many options to finish the fight. Etim by KO.

Brent Brookhouse: 
Etim will finish the fight in impressive fashion here.  Buchholz may be good enough to get the takedown but he won't be able to finish.  Etim can dominate the fight standing, and it'll happen.  Terry Etim by TKO, round 2.

Eugene Schelfaut:
Etim will win the standing fight and I don't see him in trouble on the ground, although he might be stuck in bottom position for extended periods of time. That should not be a factor because it will end before the third round. Terry Etim by KO, round 1. 

Leland Roling: Etim is the superior striker in this matchup, and he has a formidable reach that Buchholz will have problems getting through. Etim has some submission abilities as well, so I don't see where Buchholz can really win this fight. Terry Etim via TKO, Round 2

Nick Thomas: Etim keeps this standing. Etim by decision.

Michael Fagan: Read everyone else.  Etim's gonna batter him standing.  Terry Etim by TKO, round 1.



Dennis Siver vs. Dale Hartt

Luke Thomas:
I will never (well, not never never) pick against a BloodyElbow.com member when they fight in the UFC. This one's for you, Dale. Hartt by head kick KO, round 1.

Kid Nate:
Go Dale! This will be a hard one for the American as he's fighting a German in front of his home crowd and Siver has a stronger set of weapons from what I've seen of both fighters. Siver by decision.

Eugene Schelfaut:
Corey Hill will Tweet his thanks to Siver while Siver's hands try to break something off of Hartt's. The German crowd will at least approve of this violence. Dennis Siver by TKO, round 2.

Leland Roling:
I'm not a huge fan of Siver. I've seen him get absolutely destroyed by subpar talent, only to come out and pull off miracle submissions to win. Siver has some power in his hands, but his deceptive weapon relies on the ground game. I'll go with Siver. Denis Siver via decision.

Nick Thomas: I'm a big fan of Siver, he'll take this one. Siver by TKO.

Michael Fagan: Bloody Elbow member and Jordan Breen Show frequenter (who has one of the more memorable quotes to come out of that show).  Can' t pick against him.  Hartt by decision.



Paul Taylor vs. Peter Sobotta

Luke Thomas:
Taylor's takedown defense should be sufficient while he employs his far more polished and speedy kickboxing on the UFC neophyte. Taylor by TKO, round 1.

Kid Nate:
Sobotta is the great hometown hope, Germany's hot submissions ace. Taylor is the epitome of the British kickboxer. I'm going to go with Taylor based on him having more experience in a deeper pool of fighters but Sobotta has a grappler's chance. Taylor by KO.

Brent Brookhouse:
  Taylor is such an easy pick to me here.  Sobotta is the latest "here comes the European!" guy who will get beaten up by a more proven guy with "big stage experience"  Paul Taylor by KO, round 1.

Eugene Schelfaut:
Taylor will stifle Sobotta and take him deeper into unfamiliar territory the longer the fight gets. Paul Taylor by TKO, round 2.

Leland Roling:
Germany's MMA scene is fairly green at this point, and while Sobotta has some solid submissions, Taylor is pretty well-rounded on the feet. He has solid kicks, good striking, and a toughness that he's shown in multiple brawls in the Octagon. Look for Taylor to cruise here. Paul Taylor via TKO, Round 1

Nick Thomas: Sobotta will have the UFC jitters. Gotta go with Taylor by decision.

Michael Fagan: English fighters suck, but I have to imagine German fighters suck more.  Taylor by TKO, round 1.



Paul Kelly vs. Rolando Delgado

Luke Thomas:
I'd be very surprised if Delgado somehow fended off the takedown or landed a submission on the one-dimensional but effective Kelly. Kelly by TKO, round 2.

Kid Nate:
Kelly should be able to muscle Delgado down and pound this one out. Kelly by TKO.

Brent Brookhouse:  Paul Kelly by decision.

Eugene Schelfaut:
Kelly will have to deal with Delgado's length if he wishes to keep the fight standing. I don't image he has any problems. Paul Kelly by TKO, round 3.

Leland Roling:
Kelly is looking strong at lightweight, even if its in a dominating top control manner. Delgado will have to try to stop Kelly's power on top, and I don't think he has the chops to submit a stronger Kelly. Paul Kelly via TKO, Round 2

Nick Thomas: Kelly is stronger and more aggressive fighter. Kelly by ground and pound.

Michael Fagan: I like Kelly for whatever reason, and Delgado is TUF garbage.  Kelly by TKO, round 2.



Denis Stojnic vs. Stefan Struve

Luke Thomas:
Hard to forecast, but I'll give Struve the edge in offensive capability even if Stojnic's chin keeps him in fights longer than he should be. Struve by submission.

Kid Nate:
Wow, what a battle of two guys who failed to impress in their UFC debuts. Stuve should be able to pick the lumbering Stojnic apart on the feet. Struve by Decision.

Brent Brookhouse: 
I was clearly a big fan of Struve before the dos Santos fight and I remain one.  He doesn't use his reach effectively for a guy his size but his ground game is really solid.  Stefan Struve by submission, round 2.

Eugene Schelfaut:
I was more underwhelmed by Stojnic. Stefan Struve by Submission, round 1.

Leland Roling:
Stojnic has an iron chin that will go untested because Struve's long limbs and jiu-jitsu acumen will defeat the brawler. Stefan Struve by submission, Round 1.

Nick Thomas: It was sad to see Junior dos Santos take out Struve at UFC 95. But I'm going to go with Struve again. Struve by submission.

Michael Fagan: I'll go against the grain and take Stojnic by TKO, round 1.




John Hathaway vs. Rick Story

Luke Thomas:
I worry about Story's submission defense, but he's being completely slept on here. He dominated Jake Ellenberger and physically busted him up, no small feat. I like Story's chances. Story by decision.

Kid Nate:
Two very unproven fighters here. You know how they say "Texas leaguer" in baseball? We should be saying "European circuit" for a certain level of fighters and these guys are it. Not impressed with either fighter and would expect either man to get creamed in theWEC lightweight division. Hathaway by decison.

Brent Brookhouse:  Hathaway by decision.

Eugene Schelfaut:
Hathaway seems to be the better prospect. John Hathaway by TKO, round 2.

Leland Roling: 
I'm a little intrigued by the hype surrounding Story. He defeated very able fighters in Jake Ellenberger and Ryan Healy, so I'm going with the underdog. Rick Story via decision.

Nick Thomas: Story will get the UFC jitters. Hathaway by TKO.

Michael Fagan: Not sure where to go.  Coinflip = Rick Story by decision.

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