UFC 127 Predictions: Bloody Elbow Staff Preview

Event: UFC 127: "Penn vs. Fitch"
Date: Sat., Feb. 26, 2011 on pay-per-view (Sunday afternoon Australia time)
Location: Acer Arena in Sydney, Australia

Main Card (Pay Per View):
B.J. Penn vs. Jon Fitch

Kid Nate:
 The usual variables apply going in to any B.J. Penn fight: will he be in shape? motivated? That aside Fitch has to control Penn for three rounds to win. Penn just has to land the right combination of blows. I'm feeling Hawaiian today. Penn by KO.

Brent Brookhouse: I think I like Penn's boxing here as well as his takedown defense and ability to scramble on the ground. Yeah, he got taken down by the smaller Edgar but that was more a product of Edgar having B.J. totally confused and guessing. It was the same with GSP. Penn knows he will (or at least should) win the stand-up exchanges so he's likely to feel a lot more comfortable than he did against Edgar. Of course, if Fitch leans on him for a round and makes Penn work non-stop that may be enough to wear him out. Huh, I've made myself even more intrigued by this fight than I was before I put hand to keyboard. Let's go with Penn busting him up and stopping him in the second. B.J. Penn by TKO, round 2.

Mike Fagan: I'm creeped out about this whole "B.J. Penn training with Matt Hughes" thing. Not because they've fought each other three times, but just how excited Penn acts about the whole thing. It's 2011. Matt Hughes isn't MATT HUGHES anymore, and, from what I've heard, Hughes isn't putting himself through the ringer in his own training camps, either. Fitch needs to make this a Fitch fight, because I don't think he has the speed to beat Penn in a kickboxing match. I'm not worried about his weight either, as he should be upwards of 10 pounds heavier than Penn. Jon Fitch by decision.

Nick Thomas: Fitch is going to grind BJ out for 15 minutes. Fitch by decision.

Leland Roling: If this were a five-round war, I'd easily pick Jon Fitch in a split second. Five rounds gives Jon Fitch time to adjust as he's historically a bad starter. In three-round fights, B.J. Penn is notorious for being an explosive starter. Do you see the mismatch here? Fitch won't have the added advantage of an immense weight advantage either, which will hurt his chances at plowing through Penn and grinding him out. Penn's pinpoint precision brings home the bacon on Saturday night. Penn via TKO.

Anton Tabuena
: It's simple. Fitch will lose this standing, and Penn will get smothered if this gets to the ground. I will be hoping Penn somehow catches Fitch, but unless this talk of him losing a significant amount of weight from this new diet affects him badly, I think Jon's wrestling and his strength advantage makes it extremely hard to pick against him. I hope I'm wrong, but it's probably going to be Fitch by Fitching.

Duane Finley:
So many factors could come into play in this matchup that it is difficult to tell which version of "who" is going to show up. Assuming the best of both show up in Sydney I think Jon Fitch's grinding style is the perfet poison for B.J.'s willpower. If this were a 5 round fight I'd say it was Fitch clear cut but I see a close fight with Penn starting strong but running out of steam towards the end. Jon Fitch by decision or "Fitching" thanks Anton

Matt Bishop: This certainly is an interesting fight, no doubt, but I'm struggling to find ways in which Penn wins. If St. Pierre couldn't finish Fitch in five rounds (while laying an absolute pounding on him) then I don't see Penn doing it either. And when has Penn ever submitted anyone off his back? If he wants to win this fight, he needs to make that a first because that's where he'll be spending the majority of this bout. Fitch by decision.

Michael Bisping vs. Jorge Rivera

Kid Nate:
As much as I'd love to see Rivera paste Bisping here, the Brit's footwork is going to be too big an obstacle to overcome for Jorge. Bisping by decision.

Brent Brookhouse: It's not a secret that I enjoy Bisping. Maybe it's my background as a boxing fan but I appreciate guys who can dictate the stand-up game with timing and footwork even when it doesn't look spectacular. I like Rivera as well but I just don't think he can hang with the technique of Bisping and is going to get slowly picked apart. It's just a bad match-up for Rivera in terms of Bisping being a guy who can play matador to his bullish style. I'm going to go out on a limb and say Bisping gets a takedown or two and flurries for the stoppage. Yeah, I said stoppage. Michael Bisping by TKO, round 2.

Mike Fagan: Rivera's biggest win is...Kendall Grove? Dennis Hallman? Nate Quarry? Travis Lutter (in 2002)? People say that Rivera is in Bisping's head, but Rivera looked like a kid who just knocked over his mom's favorite vase at the press conference. Michael Bisping by decision.

Nick Thomas: I've picked Rivera in his last 5 fights. But I just can't pick him here. Bisping will take Rivera down and run and gun for the rest of it. Bisping by decision.

Leland Roling: I wouldn't mind seeing Rivera punch Bisping's arrogance away, but as my preview read -- Bisping is the more technical fighter. Unless Bisping stupidly circles into Rivera's overhand, he'll batter the 38-year-old and eventually punch him out on the ground. Michael Bisping via TKO.

Anton Tabuena: Chris Leben, Dan Henderson, Denis Kang, Wanderlei Silva, Yoshihiro Akiyama, and now Jorge Rivera... Lots of people dislike Bisping, but he's right about the things he's been saying about Rivera. This is a huge step down in competition, and he should take this one pretty easily. Michael Bisping by a one sided decision.

Duane Finley: There is a small collection of fighters I simply do not enjoy watching fight and Bisping is in that collective. This is a matter of opinion of course but after the Hamil fight and his bravado in the face of an opponent that openly defeated him that's when I started to dislike his personality too. With that being said this isn't a Duane popularity contest and I think Bisping moves too well for Jorge. I have Bisping making Rivera eat his words. Bisping by lopsided decision.

Matt Bishop: I'll fully admit I don't enjoy Bisping. Not in the least. I haven't been fond of some of his comments in the past and think he carries himself poorly. Since the loss of his daughter, Rivera has been rejuvenated as a fighter, winning three straight. This is a bad combination for me to make a bad pick. Good story + disliked fighter leads me to say Rivera by KO, round 2.

Dennis Siver vs. George Sotiropoulos

Kid Nate:
They've apparently elected to let the top lightweights clear out some of the brush in the lower end of the division in lieu of giving title shots. Sotiropoulos should win this handily unless he takes Siver lightly. Sotiropoulos by submission.

Brent Brookhouse:
Siver can hit Sotiropoulos standing but it absolutely should be George that gets the takedown, advances and grabs the submission. George Sotiropoulos by submission, round 2.

Mike Fagan: I don't understand this matchup. Sotiropoulos's last three fights: Stevenson, Pellegrino, Lauzon. Now...Dennis Siver? Siver's last three fights: Andre Winner, Spencer Fisher, and a loss to Ross Pearson. With such a deep lightweight division, it's an odd choice to pair these two up. George Sotiropoulos by submission, round 2.

Nick Thomas: I'd love to pick Siver, but I don't think he can keep this on the feet. Sotiropoulos by decision.

Leland Roling: Siver has quickly become one of the more exciting strikers in the division, but Sotiropoulos' grappling prowess willl likely have Siver hesitant early in this fight. With hesitance comes opportunity for his opponent. Look for Sotiropoulos to find a hole to shoot and take down Siver, passing guard 37 times before slapping on a submission. Sotiropoulos via submission.

Anton Tabuena: Sotiropoulos got lit up by Joe Lauzon on the feet until he did a Shane Carwin... If George can't take Siver down early this is going to end up badly for him. I'm smelling an upset here. Dennis Siver by TKO.

Duane Finley: When this matchup was announced it didn't make sense in the shark tank that is 155 lbs. Sotiropoulos is on a roll right now and I don't see Siver stopping it. Dennis has power and George has proven he can get his bell rung but I have Sots pleasing the Aussie crowd. Sotiropoulos by decision.

Matt Bishop: A lot of people are crapping on this fight but I think it's a terrific matchup. Siver is going to give Sotiropoulos a run for his money on the feet. On the ground, Siver is definitely outmatched, but his power and flair on the feet should make this interesting. Remember, Sotiropoulos was knocked out by Tommy Speer on "The Ultimate Fighter 6." He's improved since, but if Speer can do it, Siver most certainly can, too. That said, I expect Sotiropoulos to be focused and ride the home-crowd advantage. Sotiropoulos by submission, round 2.

Brian Ebersole vs. Chris Lytle

Kid Nate:
Very sad that Carlos Condit couldn't make it. Condit vs Lytle would have been a great one. Instead we get to see Lytle in a tune up fight, always a fun proposition. Lytle by KO.

Brent Brookhouse: It's not a question of who wins, but how he chooses to win. Lytle can use his boxing to stick Ebersole over and over or he can get the fight on the floor and submit him. I think Lytle is feeling like a fight of the night bonus so he'll keep it standing and bust Ebersole up for a late stoppage. Chris Lytle by TKO, round 3.

Mike Fagan: If anyone has tape of Brian Ebersole beating Eddie Sanchez in 2001, I am dying to see it. This is a body for Lytle, who isn't the type of fighter to come in unprepared. Chris Lytle by decision.

Nick Thomas: As soon as this hits the floor, it's Lytle by submission.

Leland Roling: Ebersole is a game opponent here as he has enormous experience, but Lytle is simply the better fighter. Ebersole might be able to catch Lytle on the ground, but Lytle is far too crafty to be caught sleeping. Look for Lytle to punch his way to a highlight reel knockout. Chris Lytle via TKO.

Anton Tabuena: I was excited for Lytle vs Condit... I'm bummed that it got scrapped, but any Lytle bout is still worth watching, and I think he's going to get another bonus here. Lytle by KO.

Duane Finley: Chris Lytle has been fighting like a man on a mission and while the matchup with Condit was tough to mark off the calendar, Lytle carries on. Ebersole poses some interesting challenges of Lytle but as he's proven time and time again, if it's standing up or on the ground Lytle is dangerous. Lytle by submission Rnd 2.

Matt Bishop: Boy oh boy. This fight. Should be an easy win for Lytle. He's too tough and too well-rounded for Ebersole. Lytle by submission, round 1.

Chris Camozzi vs. Kyle Noke

Kid Nate:
Very difficult to psych myself up for this one. Camozzi by decision.

Brent Brookhouse: Noke is pretty good, Noke is fighting on his home turf. I'm going with Noke. Kyle Noke by decision.

Mike Fagan: One thing will save this fight: screaming, singing, and chanting Aussie fans. Kyle Noke by decision.

Nick Thomas: Camozzi can use his wrestling, but I don't see Camozzi pulling off win like Kris McCray did. Noke keeps this standing. Noke by decision.

Leland Roling: Noke is much more well-rounded, and Camozzi's stand-up game has always come off like he's Luc Longley trying to kickbox. Very uncoordinated. That isn't to say he can't improve, but I think Noke can take advantage in both areas of this fight. Noke via TKO.

Anton Tabuena: I usually pick the fighter who has faced the better opposition, so I'm thinking Kyle Noke by decision.

Duane Finley: Both fighters are gritty. Neither fighter particularly exciting. Noke by decision.

Matt Bishop: This is a main card fight? Really? Noke by decision.


Undercard (On Ion TV):

Spencer Fisher vs. Ross Pearson

Kid Nate:
Fisher may be showing signs of age. Pearson disappointed in his last outing. Fisher by decision.

Brent Brookhouse: Fisher is starting to fight like a guy with a lot of mileage on his body. Pearson is figuring things out and is quicker which is going to be the deciding factor in this fight. Ross Pearson by decision.

Mike Fagan: Does anyone else confuse Ross Pearson with Ross Pointon? I do it every single time. Ross Pointon is bad. Ross Pearson is less bad. Spencer Fisher by TKO, round 3.

Nick Thomas: If this stays on the feet, you have to give it with Pearson since he's been training with Frankie Edgar. Pearson by decision.

Leland Roling: Pearson batter Dennis Siver, yet lost to Cole Miller? Yeah, it's a mystery to me too. I think Pearson bounces back here, but he'll need to show the confidence he had against Siver instead of the hesitance to trade with a terrible puncher like Miller. Pearson via decision.

Anton Tabuena: Ross Pearson is more dynamic, faster, and younger. Pearson by Decision.

Duane Finley: Pearson was humbled by the loss to Cole Miller and this fight will answer a lot of questions about what kind of fighter Pearson is. Fishers is savvy and fast and that has the potential to make this a battle. I see this fight going the distance with Fisher edging out the young Brit. Fisher by decision.

Matt Bishop: I really thought the UFC had something in Pearson after his win over Siver. Then he lost to Cole Miller. Fisher has slowed down lately and I don't see any reason why Pearson shouldn't roll in this one. Pearson by decision.

Alexander Gustafsson vs. James Te Huna

Kid Nate:
Gustafsson has a lot of potential upside. We should see him feature it in this fight. Te Huna is very limited. Gustafsson by decision.

Brent Brookhouse: I'm going to not only be the guy picking something different here, but I'm going to go too far with it too. Te Huna is going to truck Gustafsson. James Te Huna by TKO, round 1.

Mike Fagan: "Bumble." That would be James Te Huna's nickname if he went that "awful pun on the last name" route. Like "Darth" Bader" or "Fire" Burns. Stupid. Alexander Gustafsson by decision.

Nick Thomas: Gustafsson + training with Phil Davis = Gustafsson by decision.

Leland Roling: Gustafsson will crush Te Huna in this fight. Not only does he can Phil Davis working with him, but he has enormous length and actual striking skills to boot. Gustafsson via TKO.

Anton Tabuena: Gustafsson's train has been slowed by that loss to Phil Davis, but he still is a quality light heavyweight prospect. Gustafsson by TKO.

Duane Finley:  The loss to Phil Davis put a roadblock in Gustafsson's career but I think he gets back on track against Te Huna. Gustafsson by TKO.

Matt Bishop: We haven't come anywhere close to seeing the best of Gustafsson yet. This will be the beginning of his coming out party in the UFC. Gustafsson by TKO, round 3.

Riki Fukuda vs. Nick Ring

Kid Nate:
I don't like picking guys coming back from long layoffs due to knee injuries. Fukuda by decision.

Brent Brookhouse: Returning from a bum wheel is always risky but Ring is the better fighter so I'm just going to roll with that. Nick Ring by decision.

Mike Fagan: Riki Fukuda sounds like a New Japan pro wrestler. Ring should smashy smashy, but strange things happen when you return from a knee injury. Nick Ring by decision.

Nick Thomas: I have to go with my fellow Canuck. Close fight though. Ring by decision.

Leland Roling: Solid matchmaking here by Joe Silva. Fukuda has been on quite the run in Japan, but his wrestling hasn't been as prominent in his performances. He still has a strong wrestling base, but he tends to get into brawls with his opponents. That's a bad idea against Nick Ring, who has both an amateur kickboxing and boxing background. Nick Ring via decision.

Anton Tabuena: If you haven't seen Fukuda's last bout before getting signed by the UFC, you are seriously missing out as it was one of the craziest fights I've ever seen... I don't think the DEEP middleweight champ will go far in the UFC, but Ring has got some knee troubles that has kept him out of competition for more than a few occasions now. Riki Fukuda by Decision.

Duane Finley: I like Nick Ring's skill set but he is coming off some serious knee issues and Fukuda will keep the action and pressure on him. I see a valiant effort from Ring but his debut gets spoiled in a painful decision loss. Riki Fukuda by decision.

Matt Bishop: Interesting fight here. Can Fukuda be the next Japanese hope in the UFC? There's always hope. Or he can be the next Kazuhiro Nakamura. Fun times there. Ring by decision.

Undercard (on Facebook):

Tom Blackledge vs. Anthony Perosh

Kid Nate:
This could be really ugly. Two very mediocre heavyweights...wow. Perosh by submission.

Brent Brookhouse: You're kidding me right? This is happening? Really? On a 2011 UFC event? Anthony Perosh by something quick (hopefully)

Mike Fagan: This will be ugly. Perosh gets another UFC fight for stepping in to fight "Cro Cop" at UFC 110. Blackledge is...part of the Wolfslair? They're both 10-6 with zero impressive wins between them. Draw.

Nick Thomas: On the feet, it's Blackledge by decision.

Leland Roling: Perosh can't deal with power at all... ever. He's historically been beaten to a pulp by anyone who can punch out your local bar bouncer. Tom Blackledge via TKO.

Anton Tabuena: This fight just does not interest me at all... They aren't exactly world beaters, but I guess Perosh could catch him on the ground. Anthony Perosh by Submission.

Duane Finley: I wish I could think of something snappy to write about this fight but I think it will be as ugly as everyone assumes it will be. Perosh by submission.

Matt Bishop: Fagan's pick made me laugh out loud. Unfortunately, that'll be all the entertainment I get from anything related to this fight. I might delete my Facebook after seeing this fight. Perosh by decision.

Jason Reinhardt vs. Tiequan Zhang

Kid Nate:
The UFC had to dig pretty deep to find someone that Zhang can beat 8/10 times. Zhang by submission.

Brent Brookhouse: Go to Sherdog and look at the records of the guys Reinhardt has beat. Then look at the fact that he hasn't fought in over three years. This is a crazy level of fighter protecting here. A guy hasn't fought in over three years and the two guys he beat after being bounced from the UFC after getting destroyed were low level regional fighters and that proved he's ready to come back? Get real. I want to pick Reinhardt just via fighter protecting karma. But let's be safe. Tiequan Zhang by submission, round 1.

Mike Fagan: I googled Reinhardt's name in order to find out why he hasn't fought since January of 2008, which led me to a recent interview with Bleacher Report. I click the link which leads me to an introduction page to the article that instructs me to click another link in order to read the actual interview. Shameless. This is why we bitch about Bleacher Report. Tiequan Zhang by TKO, round 1 because Zhang hates keyword stuffing and SEO-raping slideshows.

Nick Thomas: Zhang by submission.

Leland Roling:  You'd think that since Reinhardt resides 20 minutes away from me, I'd be rooting for him. But I've had enough of his can-crushing state fair tour to pad his record. Time for a wake-up call and an exit from the sport. Tiequan Zhang via submission.

Anton Tabuena: Zhang's conditioning is a question mark, and dropping down to featherweight makes it an even bigger concern for me... I still think he's more talented than Reinhardt though. Zhang Tie Quan by Submission.

Duane Finley: The UFC's international push provides Zhang Tie Quan with a fight where all he needs to do is show up motivated and he will win. Nothing I see on paper tells me otherwise and I have Zhang Tie Quan by Submission.

Matt Bishop: The underwhelming undercard continues with this bout. Jason Reinhardt. In the UFC. In 2011. Wow. Zhang by decision.

Undercard (May not be televised):

Mark Hunt vs. Chris Tuchscherer

Kid Nate:
This could be a very very ugly fight. If it goes as expected I might have to do a Lay and Pray judo chop featuring Tuch. Tuchscherer by decision.

Brent Brookhouse: Normally I'd say that Tuchscherer would grind out a decision but Mark Hunt doesn't look like  he has a clue anymore. Chris Tuchscherer by TKO, round 1.

Mike Fagan: Sometimes I'm glad the UFC replays prelims they already aired on Spike/ION/Facebook. Chris Tuchscherer by decision.

Nick Thomas: Tuchscherer takes this to the ground instantly. Tuchscherer by decision.

Leland Roling: God dammit, Mark Hunt. I'm going to throw down $20 bucks, and pray to Jobu that you can pull off a miracle. Still picking "The Crowbar" though.  Tuchscherer via submission.

Anton Tabuena: The loser probably gets cut here, and I think Hunt is next on the chopping board. I'm still scratching my head as to why he wasn't cut after he lost to McCorkle though. Tuchsherer by Submission.

Duane Finley: All signs point to this being a "Loser Leaves Town" matchup and while I'm not the slighest bit sold on Tuchscherer as he's been dumped by anyone who has talent. With that being said Hunt could have one last hurrah but I don't see it. Tuchscherer by decision.

Matt Bishop: The unintentional comedy in this fight surely will be off the charts. Tuchscherer will want the fight on the mat, Hunt will not. Let's go old timey with this pick. Hunt via TKO, round 1.

Maciej Jewtuszko vs. Curt Warburton

Kid Nate:
Jewtuszko by decision.

Brent Brookhouse: The header for this section of the card should be "Undercard (Should not be televised)" Maciej Jewtuszko by decision.

Mike Fagan: Jewtuszko beats Warburton, loses to anyone who can wrestle (i.e. the rest of the non-British lightweight division). Maciej Jewtuszko by TKO, round 1.

Nick Thomas: Poor Warburton. Jewtuszko is a monster. Jewtuszko by TKO.

Leland Roling: A lot of "I don't care" comments from the peanut gallery in this match-up. That's unfortunate considering Jewtuszko is a solid striker who has potential to be very good down the road. Warburton's hesitance on the feet leads me to believe "Megamind" will take advantage of his open chin. Maciej Jewtuszko via TKO.

Anton Tabuena: I won't even pretend I care enough about these guys, but I guess Jewtuszko by decision

Duane Finley: Once again I claim the Tabuena clause and pick for the sake of picking: Jewtuszko by TKO Rnd 2.

Matt Bishop: Hey, Jewtuszko's never been to a decision in his career. That's pretty cool, right? I don't see Warburton being any trouble for him. Jewtuszko by TKO, round 1.

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