Event: UFC 114: "Rampage vs. Evans"
Date: Saturday, May 29, 2010, at 10 p.m. ET on pay-per-view (PPV)
Location: MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada
Luke Thomas: What's more important: Jackson's layoff or Evans' stylistic and size shortcomings here? We don't know. I tend to think that an in-shape Rampage smashes the best Evans given 10 minutes or less. I'm gambling on Rampage's ability to connect training to performance. I certainly have my doubts, but the obstacles of Evans' inability to takedown a stronger, surprisingly technical Rampage (on defensive maneuvering, anyway) and resist punishment working the outside are too strong for me to ignore. I might very well be underselling Evans, but he may actually be a middleweight. Rampage by TKO.
Kid Nate: This is a deliciously tough call. If I was 100% sure that Rampage was going to show up in shape and not too rusty, he's an easy pick over Rashad. Rampage is just too powerful and his striking technique is much better than Rashad's. BUT Rampage has been away from the cage a long time and he let himself get way out of shape. If Rashad didn't have such a pattern of fading as the fight goes on I would pick him because of that, but alas, I still think Quinton has this fight. Rampage by KO.
Brent Brookhouse: Rampage has shown to be susceptible to ring rust and speed is a very hard thing to deal with when you're rusty. Rashad is going to win the early part of the fight with speed, and I don't trust Rampage to have the gas to take over late in the fight. I just think Rashad is going to be able to push the pace enough to win a decision. Rashad Evans by decision.
Mike Fagan: An in-shape, in-form "Rampage" walks through Rashad Evans. Where's Quinton at now? I don't know. Still, the style matchup favors Jackson, and Rashad will have to outwork him for three rounds to overcome that. I have serious doubts that Rashad can do that. Quinton Jackson by TKO, round two.
Chris Nelson: If this leaves the first round, a lot will hang on cardio and whether or not Jackson is truly rusty. But I don't think it leaves the first round. Jackson via TKO, round one.
Nick Thomas: So pumped for this fight since the winner gets a title shot against Shogun. When Rashad slows down in the later rounds after a couple failed takedown attempts, Rampage is going to end it. Rampage by TKO.
Leland Roling: While much of the focus has been on whether Jackson's long layoff will affect his performance and fitness in this fight, I've really looked more at the style match-up. Rashad's wrestling is constantly being brought up, and while I've been impressed with the physical milestones he's been hitting -- he still hasn't been a proven dominant wrestler in the sport. Jackson's power is the game changer, in my mind. Rashad's speed will be a factor, but as soon as Jackson lands cleanly -- Rampage will tear Rashad apart. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson via TKO
Luke Thomas: Nothing could be better than for Miller to assauge what must be lonely, merciless sadness through athletic glory tomorrow. Alas, I just don't see it in the cards. Bisping is one of the few guys who can more or less keep the fight at a peppering distance while nullifying the dangers of more vulnerable positions. That's probably enough against a very talented but likely distracted Miller. Bisping by TKO.
Kid Nate: I want to see Miller win this one very badly, but I just don't see how he does it. Bisping will have a considerable edge on the feet. I think Miller will be able to get Bisping down, but Bisping's shown he's got an excellent guard and a gift for getting back to his feet. I don't think Miller has the submission game to finish Bisping on the ground either. Bisping by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: Miller got beat on the feet by Demian Maia, Bisping has better striking than Maia. He also got outwrestled by Chael Sonnen. I don't think Bisping has Sonnen's wrestling game, but he has underrated wrestling and a very solid top game. This just is not a good fight for Miller. Michael Bisping by TKO, round 2.
Mike Fagan: We haven't heard much from Bisping in the lead up. We didn't see him on the Primetime show either. Weird. I think this fight plays out a lot like Bisping's bout with Denis Kang. Miller's not a headcase though, so Michael Bisping by decision.
Chris Nelson: Bisping stuffs takedowns all day and outboxes Miller to the scorecards. Bisping via decision.
Nick Thomas: Oh how I miss the old agressive Dan Miller from the IFL days. On the feet, Bisping will out point Miller. I'm hoping Miller can catch Bisping with something on the ground, but I have to go with Bisping by decision.
Leland Roling: It's hard not to want to root for Dan Miller in this fight, and everyone will probably want him to beat the "British prick" as Michael Bisping so affectionately calls himself. Unfortunately, I think Miller is going to have a hard time with Bisping's solid takedown defense and busy boxing to pull off a submission victory here. Michael Bisping via decision.
Todd Duffee vs. Mike Russow
Luke Thomas: If you haven't done it today, here's a little experiment: go look at Duffee's record. Look at how he wins, against who, how fast, when and where. What does it tell you? It says Duffee appears to have positively crippling, athletic power. Making sure the p's and q's of working back to his feet or getting on top after scrambles are minded, Duffee will be able to beat a lot of heavyweights. Russow is one of them. Duffee by KO.
Kid Nate: Russow is a great test for Duffee, he's a big strong experienced wrestler and could get Duffee down and do some text book lay and pray for a decision. But Duffee should be able to explode and score with punches on Russow for the quick finish. Duffee by KO.
Brent Brookhouse: Russow is...not so good. I know he beat McCully and he has the win over Zentsov, but his career has been mostly beating up on guys who aren't even good on a regional level. Still, he could control Duffee en route to a boring decision. That being said, I think Duffee can catch him and end it early. Todd Duffee by TKO, round 1.
Mike Fagan: It's always safe to pick the 24 year old prospect with two legit KOs over the 33 year old who just took Justin McCully the distance. Todd Duffee by TKO, round one.
Chris Nelson: Experience is nice, but it's not everything. Duffee is a legit monster and should put the vet Russow down early. Duffee via KO, round one.
Nick Thomas: Russow takes this by experience, wrestling and better BJJ. Russow by decision.
Leland Roling: I really think Russow is being highly underrated by fans, but he is a part-time fighter who has let his shape slip. Nonetheless, I think he might actually be trying to beef up his physique to fill out that fat with muscle and become another hefty heavyweight with a lot of strength. Unfortunately, he has yet to transform into that fighter, and it may be a little late in his career to do so. Duffee's knack for knockouts is going to be a problem, and I forsee him pummeling Russow to a victory here. Todd Duffee via TKO.
Luke Thomas: I'll make it simple: Jordan Breen is right that automatically assuming Nogueira is going to blast him to pieces is unfair. It is unfair, but I just don't see a likely path to victory for Brilz. Then again, who saw Sokoudjo coming? Nogueira by TKO.
Kid Nate: Still bummed we won't get to see Little Nog dismantle Forrest Griffin, but he should stroll through Brilz as well. Brilz won't be able to hang on the feet and if he takes it down he'll get submitted or swept and beaten on his back. Nogueira by submission.
Brent Brookhouse: Man, this is an awful fight for Brilz. He's a decent enough fighter and this isn't the end of the world for him, but outside of wrestling there just isn't anything that he is better at than Nogueira. In fact, there isn't really anything that Nogueira isn't way better at him than (again, outside of wrestling). Nogueira by submission, round 1.
Mike Fagan: Good opportunity for Brilz. Bad fight for Brilz. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira by submission, round one.
Chris Nelson: Jason Brilz? For rilz? Nogueira via submission, round one.
Nick Thomas: This fight would be a lot closer fight if Brilz wasn't coming in as a last minute replacement. But even then, Nogueira simply has too many ways to win. Nogueira by submission.
Leland Roling: Brilz offers an one-dimensional style that Rogerio will have a field day picking apart in this fight. On the floor, Brilz will have to neutralize one of the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts in the weight class, and on the feet -- he'll have to avoid a highly-credentialed boxer who completely destroyed Luis Arthur Cane in spectacular fashion. Brilz' only chance is to overpower Rogerio from top control in my mind, and Rogerio will be slick enough to put Brilz in submission danger or regain his feet. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira via TKO.
Luke Thomas: I expect a back-and-forth affair, but I think Sanchez will do what he did on his rise through the ranks: hustle hustle hustle from bell to bell, create opportunities by scrambling and being first and never quitting. I don't think Hathaway can stand up to the assault after two rounds. Sanchez by decision.
Kid Nate: Diego lost a lot of weight before the Penn fight, will be very interesting to see how much mass he's regained. It could be that Hathaway will be able to out muscle him and out wrestle him. But I don't expect that to happen. I expect Diego to outscore him on the feet, do some damage and then dominate him on the ground. Sanchez by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: Sanchez loses to top 5 guys, everyone else he tends to be able to outwork and out cardio. Hathaway has a good future but this is not his fight. Diego Sanchez by decision.
Mike Fagan: I'm interested to see if Sanchez's lightweight experiment has any long ranging effects. I think he takes this fight, and it will be a good barometer for where he's at. Diego Sanchez by decision.
Chris Nelson: Potential Fight of the Night here, but in the end it's gotta be Sanchez via decision.
Nick Thomas: Hathaway is no joke standing or wrestling. Great fight here. I'm going to pick the upset. If Hathaway can out wrestle Rick Story, he will be able to dictate this fight. Hathaway by close decision.
Leland Roling: Hathaway is fairly young, and he's probably got a solid career ahead of him -- but this is too much for him at this point in his career. Diego's pace and well-roundedness should be the deciding factor. Hathaway has some good ground tactics, but Diego's BJJ and top control game has been a staple of his success. Diego Sanchez via decision.
Luke Thomas: After several tense moments, Kim should walk away after proving too durable to effectively hurt, too aggressive in positioning hunting to be stopped. Kim by decision.
Kid Nate: Sadollah will outscore Kim on the feet from a distance, but if he tries to clinch up and fire knees, he'll find himself hip tossed or tripped. On his back I don't see him catching Kim and expect him to eat the elbow special. Kim by TKO.
Brent Brookhouse: Amir is going to have trouble when he tries to clinch up and use his Muay Thai toys, Kim can just toss him at that point. I just think Kim has the better ability to win the fight in more areas and he can probably do damage on the floor from top or bottom. Dong Hyun Kim by TKO, round 3.
Mike Fagan: Another Joe Silva Special, which makes this a tough one to pick. I'm going to take Dong Hyun Kim by decision, but expect Amir to look good in the process.
Chris Nelson: Sadollah has been steadily improving with every fight, but Kim just has too much experience and too many tools to win here. Kim via decision.
Nick Thomas: This will be a close fight. But I think if Kim gets Amir to the ground and lands his patented elbows, he'll take the decision. Kim by decision.
Leland Roling: Tough fight to call, but Dong Hyun Kim's conditioning is improving along with his ability to damage opponents on the ground. He's also using his Judo effectively in the clinch to gain the ground, and the only real area I see Sadollah being effective is on the feet by using front kicks and leg kicks to maintain range. Kim's a tough competitor, and I think he'll really be a menace on the floor if he can get it there. T.J. Grant's face looked absolutely brutalized by Kim's elbows, and I think those elbows are going to be become a factor once again. Dong Hyun Kim via TKO
Efrain Escudero vs. Dan Lauzon
Luke Thomas: If Dan Lauzon can pesevere long enough by not being overwhelemed and making critical mistakes, I'll be the first to eat my words. Escudeo by TKO.
Kid Nate: Joe Lauzon told me that Efrain had this one in a lock. Hopefully Dan will grow up and train harder or get out of the game. Escudero by TKO.
Brent Brookhouse: Dan Lauzon is out of the UFC after this. He's not a great fighter, he's not a great worker and he's going to get beat in the first round again. Efrain Escudero by TKO, round 1.
Mike Fagan: I would have taken Efrain anyway, but Dan's camp abandoned him for improper training? Easy game. Efrain Escudero by TKO, round one.
Chris Nelson: Escudero was a fairly easy pick to make in the first place, and the news of Lauzon's falling out with his camp makes it a little easier. Escudero via submission, round one.
Nick Thomas: Easy win for Escudero here. Escudero by decision.
Leland Roling: It's tough to pick Lauzon considering his brother Joe's admittance that they dropped support of Dan for this fight due to his lacking work ethic. But even with that off the table, Dan isn't exactly a top notch competitor. Sure, he's a submission threat, but he hasn't faced great competition. Efrain's wrestling and decent punching ability should get him the win over a lacking Dan Lauzon. Efrain Escudero via decision.
Under card (May not be broadcast):
Melvin Guillard vs. Waylon Lowe
Luke Thomas: Guillard loses this fight after a struggle and there's nothing Greg Jackson can do for him. I don't think that's the case. Guillard by TKO.
Kid Nate: Really too bad that Thiago Tavares couldn't make this fight. Should be a stroll for the very talented Guillard. Really glad to see him training with Greg Jackson and taking the sport seriously. Guillard by KO.
Brent Brookhouse: Guillard is working hard to become a complete mixed martial artist. If he can continue to develop his wrestling and enough anti-BJJ to get back to his feet that makes him extremely dangerous. Melvin's striking is as powerful as anyone pound-for-pound and that will make the difference. Melvin Guillard by KO, round 2.
Mike Fagan: At least one of Greg Jackson's explosive athletes will be victorious. Melvin Guillard by TKO, round one.
Chris Nelson: Guillard via TKO, round one.
Nick Thomas: Guillard + Greg Jackson = Guillard by TKO.
Leland Roling: I initially made the mistake of believing Waylon Lowe was someone else, but after looking at his credentials extensively -- he has a chance to smother Guillard in NCAA wrestling skills on the ground. Unfortunately, Guillard has really improved his ground tactics, and his striking still remains ultra-quick and devastating. Melvin Guillard via KO.
Luiz Cane vs. Cyrille Diabate
Luke Thomas: The winner will likely be who controlled distance on the feet. Cane will work inside, do so continuously. I could also see him working for effective ground and pound. I wouldn't even rule out a submission by Banha. Too many ways to win for the Brazilian. Cane by decision.
Kid Nate: As long as Cane has learned how to see a left hand coming from a fellow south paw, I don't think Diabate will have much for Cane. I'm expecting a beat down. Cane by TKO.
Brent Brookhouse: Cane will dominate this fight. Luiz Cane by TKO, round 2.
Mike Fagan: "The Snake" has zero relevant MMA wins and a handful of bad losses. Luis Cane by TKO, round two.
Chris Nelson: I think this is an upset in the making... Diabate via TKO, round two.
Nick Thomas: If Cane can't win this standing, he'll take this to the ground. From there it's Cane by submission.
Leland Roling: This one could give people a little trouble as Diabate's huge frame and southpaw stance could be a problem for Cane. Diabate hasn't been fighting great competition, but he has been trying to rebuild himself into better form. Cane will more than likely head hunt while Diabate will try to maintain range and move to the plum if Cane moves inside. I'll take Cane due to his experience against better competition, but Diabate is a live dog here. Luis Cane via TKO.
Joe Brammer vs. Aaron Riley
Luke Thomas: Riley's got the veteran experience to make something happen in his favor one way or the other. Riley by decision.
Kid Nate: Riley get a decision that will finish Brammer's UFC career. Riley by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: Aaron Riley by decision.
Mike Fagan: Riley rebounds from a cut loss and sends Brammer packing. Aaron Riley by decision.
Chris Nelson: Riley via decision.
Nick Thomas: Riley by decision.
Leland Roling: A little tough to formulate how this will go down. We haven't seen much of Brammer, and Riley is a long-time veteran of the sport who's finally made the transition to Jackson's camp in New Mexico. I'll go with Aaron Riley, but Brammer has a legitimate chance at getting the upset here. Aaron Riley via decision.
Jesse Forbes vs. Ryan Jensen
Luke Thomas: I like Forbes to turn in a high workrate to keep Jensen on the defensive. Forbes by TKO.
Kid Nate: If Forbes was a smarter fighter this would be an easy call. But I think he'll try to mix it up with Jensen and get tooled. Jensen by TKO.
Brent Brookhouse: Forbes will take him down and grind his way to a safe decision. Jesse Forbes by decision.
Mike Fagan: Ryan Jensen by decision (and not being as bad).
Chris Nelson: Forbes via decision.
Nick Thomas: Forbes will be the bigger, stronger fighter here. Forbes by decision.
Leland Roling: I think Forbes' strength and wrestling will be his key to victory here. Jensen is a game opponent, but Forbes will be too much. Jesse Forbes via TKO.