Montreal Quebec, Canada will be invaded by the World's largest Mixed Martial Arts organization as the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) brings it's big dogs, and most popular Canadian athlete since Wayne Gretzky to the Bell Centre in Montreal on December 11th. To help you get into the mood I have once again decided to do the predictions column in a slightly different then normal fashion as I will break down 2 fights a day from the PPV card leading to Friday in which I will break down how I feel the Main Event between Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre, and mouthpiece challenger Josh Koscheck will play out.
Today is the first installment, therefore we will be focusing on John Howard as he looks to get the largest win of his career if he is able to avoid being bitten by 'The Pitbull' Thiago Alves. Also Mac Danzig meets up with Joe 'Daddy' Stevenson. Without further ado, let's get to talking the 'whats' and 'ifs' of these two matchups.
Although John Howard has won 7 of his last 8 (4-1 UFC) the problem lies in not only the quality of his opponents, but also how narrowly he won, as John Howard lost his last bout to Jake Ellenberger after Jake used his elbows to surgically place a tennis ball in Howard's left eye. The doctor eventually had seen enough (Howard couldn't see enough) and stopped the fight. Before that Howard was on a 7 fight win streak, but his UFC wins were over the likes of Chris Wilson and Tambdan McCrory by split decision and then two more by way of (T)KO over Dennis Hallman and Daniel Roberts. Now he must ride a loss, and wins over half credible opponents into his largest fight of his career and win? Well....
Thiago Alves has had his fair share of ups and downs in recent months and years, both record wise, and weight wise. Alves has came into the UFC as an absolutely feared individual, as he kicked ass and took names. Now however he has found himself in a tight spot. Had it not been for his constant weight issues, he probably wouldn't be looking at the dire situation he is now. Losing to Georges St. Pierre for the belt, and Jon Fitch (for the second time) aren't grounds to be fired. But constantly missing weights, and fights are accompanying him into Dana's decision. Alves must look not only good, but down right impressive against Howard if he is to make a statement that he is still in the elite.
If this doesn't fuel Alves to show up in the old 'Pitbull' fashion when he looked as if he were cut out of marble I don't know what will. And so it is with that in mind that I will give him the benefit of the doubt, as he must prove to Dana White who wanted him at 185 after missing weight and looking sluggish against Fitch at UFC 117, that he is indeed what he had shown to be in the past. Look for Alves to swarm a game Howard on the feet, and get the better of the heavy handed war en route to a referee stoppage.
***Thiago Alves via technical knockout***
Again we face the thought that two men are fighting for their jobs, as has become common in the forever crowding UFC Lightweight division. Mac Danzig has gone 1-4 in his last 5 times at bat, while Joe Stevenson is only slightly better at 2-3 in his last 5 outings. The problem lies in the fact Danzig's losses weren't of near the caliber of Stevenson's. Diego Sanchez, Kenny Florian, and George Sotiropoulos are the 3 men who were able to hand defeats to Joe in his last 3 losses, and that isn't something to hang your head about. But in the case of Danzig, his only win in 5 fights is over Justin Buchholz. Also Mac's last win by finish was the same night Pierre exacted revenge on Serra.
Not a good look for Mac Danzig as he'll have a durable and game Stevenson looking to make an impression at the cost of Mac's job.
It's due to these factors that picking against Joe Stevenson just isn't a good gamble. Stevenson will in all likelihood win both the stand up, and ground aspects of this fight with better striking, and controlled ground game from the top. Look for Stevenson to win a lopsided decision. That is if he isn't able to put Danzig away in the latter half of the fight.
***Joe Stevenson by way of unanimous decision***
So that about does it for today's installment of predictions. Tune in to tomorrow for the possible play out of Charles Oliveira's bout with Jim Miller, as well as a Heavyweight tilt between the cocky Sean McCorkle, and skyscraper Stefan Struve. Then come back Friday for the breakdown of the Main Event.
And don't forget to let me know how you see the today's predicted fights going in your eyes. Let's hear it blackbelts.
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