Elvis Sinosic (8-11-2) vs. Chris Haseman (20-16)
The Fighters: Move along nothing to see here. No, seriously. This is the “hey let’s find two Australian dudes” and have them fight. Sinosic isn’t very good as his losing record would indicate. The UFC seems to love the King Of Rock and Rumble as this is will be his 9th fight, 1-7, in the UFC. They must think he has a cool nickname.
Haseman, 40 years young, is also…well Australian. He’s 0-1 in the UFC and has lost his last 5 fights. This will be his first return to action in almost two years.
Breakdown: These two met once before and Haseman won by the dreaded submission “chin to eye.” Of course that fight happened in 1997. Haseman/Sinosic II won’t exactly have the drama of Couture/Coleman but if nothing else we get to hear a whole lot of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie Oy Oy Oy.”
Prediction: Haseman Via Chin To Eye Round 1
Stephan Bonnar (11-6) vs. Krzysztof Soszynski (18-9-1)
The Fighters: Is this a “loser leaves town match?” [Side Note: Can we just officially start hyping these matches as such? We have number one contender matches, why can't we have the opposite? Joe Rogan can even pull his best Jeff Probst and kick the loser out of the cage in lieu of a post fight interview.] Stephan Bonnar has earned a lot of good will with the UFC but it might be running out. Seriously speaking, the UFC wouldn’t exist as currently constructed without the contributions of Bonnar and Forrest Griffin, and since that fateful day in April 2005 their careers have gone in opposite directions. Griffin went on to win a title and Bonnar has been suspended for horse steroids and has lost 4 of his last 6 fights, including two in a row. While Bonnar has become a more refined fighter, his skills haven’t really evolved in the past five years. He’s still a mediocre striker, with questionable cardio, less than stellar wrestling and decent jiu-jitsu. His last loss was to Mark Coleman in a fight in which Bonnar got bullied. To say it was an embarrassing performance would be an understatement.
Soszynski entered his season of The Ultimate Fighter as one of the more experienced contestants. The former IFL veteran has racked up a 3-1 record in the UFC and is coming off his first UFC loss. Soszynski is a very big and strong light heavyweight who has found a knack for winning by submission (two of his UFC wins have earned him submission of the night.)
Breakdown: This is a fight that seems to break down perfectly for Soszynski to win. Everything Bonnar does well Sosznyski does better. Bonnars best hope might be to turn this fight into a brawl, ala Griffin/Bonnar I. In his last fight, against Brandon Vera, Soszynski looked hesitant when he got tagged and never seemed to want to engage. Forcing him into the pocket is the way to go.
Prediction: Sosznyski Via Unanimous Decision.
Chris Lytle (27-17-5) vs. Brian Foster (13-4)
The Fighters: Lytle is The Ultimate Gatekeeper at this point. Don’t let the veteran Lytle’s UFC record fool you. He’s a very well rounded fighter who always is a challenging fight. In fact, Lytle’s last 3 UFC fights have been awarded Fight Of The Night honors. Lytle will never be a title contender but he certainly has an important role in developing young talent. Get past Lytle and it’s time for the big boys.
Foster is replacing Dong Hyun-Kim, who had to pull out of the fight due to injury. Foster put himself on the map with impressive performances against Rick Story and Brock Larson. In the Larson fight he received two illegal blows in the first round and came back to win.
Breakdown: We can expect fireworks here as both guys aren’t afraid to stand and bang. Fosters edge may be on the mat but don’t expect Lytle to let it come to that. At the end of the day Foster won’t be ready for a fighter the caliber of Lytle, when the brawling ends and the boxing begins Foster will be out of his league.
Prediction: Lytle KO Round 2
Goran Reljic (8-0) vs. C.B. Dollaway (9-2)
The Fighters: And the award for “fight I am randomly super excited for” goes to…Goran Reljic and The Doberman?
Reljic is one of the top prospects at 185 pounds. The exciting 25 year old made his debut at UFC 84 and took out Wilson Gouveia in impressive fashion. He mixed in punches and devastating kicks before eventually knocking out the veteran fighter. Now moving down to middleweight for the first time Reljic hopes to quickly move up the ladder. Reljics striking skills were on display in the octagon but don’t doubt his BJJ credentials. Reljic is a BJJ Brown-Belt and in 2007 he swept the European Gracie Jiu-Jitsu championships.
Dollaway in a lot of ways is similar to Melvin Guillard. Dollaway has an insane amount of talent but always seems to find a way to put his neck on the line, literally. He got caught in an arm-bar, twice, against Amir Sadollah and got caught in a guillotine choke against Tom Lawlor (and almost caught by Mike Massenzio.) Dollaway’s strength is his All-American wrestling background. He trains with a great camp at Arizona Combat Sports that includes up and comers like Ryan Bader and Aaron Simpson.
Breakdown: Reljc will have a significant advantage while the fight is on the feet. On the other hand Dollaway’s wrestling is good enough to the point where he should be able to get the fight to the ground at will. The real question is whether or not Dollaway has learned from his mistakes and learned enough jiu-jitsu defense to remain out of harms way. Something tells me he hasn’t.
Prediction: Reljic Via Triangle Choke Round 2.
Igor Pokrajac (21-6) vs. James Te Huna (12-4)
The Fighters: Pokrajac is a Cro-Cop disciple. While you would expect head-kicks from anyone on the Cro-Cop Squad, Pokrajac relies on his wrestling and submission skills. Pokrajac is 21-6 and 0-1 in the UFC. His one UFC loss was a decisive decision loss to Vladimir Matyushenko.
Huna is a Australian, shocker I know, fighter making his UFC debut. Huna relies on his Thai Boxing and wrestling skills. According to some publications he was considered the #1 Light Heavyweight fighter in all of Australia and New Zealand.
Breakdown: While these guys have a combined 43 fights between them most have been against local competition. In fact looking at Pokrajac’s record his 21 wins is clearly inflated by fighting lesser European competition. Every time he’s taken a step up in competition; Ausserio Silva, Mamed Khalidov and Vladimir Matyushenko he’s lost handily. One can come to the hypothesis that the only reason Pokrajac is still on the roster is because of his association to Cro-Cop. Look for the hometown fighter, Huna, to stifle Pokrajac’s take-downs en route to a K.O. win.
Prediction: Huna Via K.O Round 2