As with all major events, we're very happy to bring you our official staff predictions for UFC 130: Rampage vs. Hamill. This predictions post is proudly sponsored by the King of Predictions iPhone app. The application gives fans a chance to submit their predictions for MMA events and compete against their friends and the entire world.
Event: UFC 130: Jackson vs. Hamill
Date: Saturday, May 28, 2010
Location: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
Kid Nate: Hmmm, if Hamill can force a wrestling match, he might just remind Rampage that he is a pretty good wrestler. Evans made Rampage look bad by very skillfully using strikes to set up his take downs. Hamill can strike and Hamill can wrestle but he can't really phase shift that I've seen. Rampage will bait him into a brawl and finish him. Jackson by KO.
Brent Brookhouse: A loss to Hamill would be the worst loss on Jackson's record (not counting the Matsui DQ loss) since the Eastman loss in his 3rd fight in 2000. Hamill got crumpled up and thrown away by Rich Franklin and I've never once seen one thing to make me doubt the feeling that Hamill reacts very poorly to getting hit hard. Rampage isn't likely to get outwrestled for three rounds and he is likely to hit Hamill really hard at some point. I don't really see the point in picking Matt in a fight he isn't going to win. Quinton Jackson by TKO, round 2.
Mike Fagan: That thing that worried me most about Rampage -- his motivation -- does not seem like it will be a factor. He looks to be in shape like the Wanderlei and Machida fights rather than the Evans and Griffin fights. Hamill needs to put Rampage on his back, and that will prove difficult if ‘Page comes at his head as Matt tends to cover up and hop backward. Quinton Jackson by TKO, round 2.
Leland Roling: Motivation is obviously a factor when we talk about Rampage, but the style that Hamill implements inside the cage is difficult to swallow against a powerful puncher like Jackson. The pawing, almost chaotic style of dirty boxing that Hamill implements in close range seems like it would bring out the kid in the candy store in this fight. Hamill leaves himself wide open for uppercuts and overhands, and while he's been hit in the past by those blows -- most fighters who have fought Rampage have agreed that he is one of the most powerful in the division. I think Rampage crushes him one-punch style as Matt wades in unaware of his impending doom. Quinton Jackson via TKO.
Anton Tabuena: Keys to victory for Hamill here should be to wrestle wrestle and wrestle... But I just don't think he will do that. He tends to be too comfortable to strike with everyone, and with his lack of power, and Rampage's abundance of that, things might not end well for Hamill. Quinton Jackson by TKO.
Matt Bishop: As much as I want Hamill to be competitive in this fight, I think he's so far behind Rampage in the striking department that it's going to make it next to impossible. If Hamill can't take Rampage down, he's screwed. Jackson's boxing is some of the best in MMA and when Hamill comes in with a slow hook, Rampage is going to decapitate him with a counter. I mean, can Hamill really win on points here? It's tough to be tough. This is my Five Trillion Star Bank On It Prediction for this show: Quinton Jackson by TKO, round 2.
K.J. Gould: Rampage seems like he's been training hard for this fight and looks to be in the best shape of his career if his photos are anything to go by. Hamill's a tough guy to fight, very good wrestling and strong but he seems to stumble when he takes a step up in competition (Rich Franklin, Jon Jones). Despite all this talk of retirement and little interest in fighting I think Rampage is still dangerous and a top Light Heavyweight. Quinton Jackson by TKO.
Fraser Coffeen: All rational arguments say Rampage wins this. But I have this nagging feeling that Hamill pulls it off somehow, and I'm going with it. I say Hamill uses the clinch and accumulating damage to get the drawn out and slightly ugly win. Matt Hamill by decision.
Kid Nate: This is a very fun fight. Nelson is the rare heavyweight who can handle Mir on the ground. Ergo they'll fight on the feet. Mir is probably more technical but I think Nelson has more power. Nelson by KO.
Brent Brookhouse: It's going to be a whole lot of the same basic combination that Mir used to bust up the shell of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira that he fought at UFC 92. Nelson isn't the giant controlling bully that gives Mir problems and I am not going to pretend that their grappling match from years back holds any weight in this fight. Frank Mir by decision.
Mike Fagan: Nelson's never beaten anyone on Mir's level, and he'll have a six-inch reach disadvantage to overcome too. Frank Mir by decision.
Leland Roling: Mir's reach advantage should be his greatest asset in this fight. I think his improved kickboxing will give Nelson some problems as he tries to wade through Mir's kicks to get inside. If he can do that and topple Mir to side control, this fight could get very interesting. But I think Mir's strength and size could turn the tables if he gets into trouble against Nelson. Mir in the top position could spell disaster for Nelson as well. Frank Mir via decision.
Anton Tabuena: I think both guys are pretty even with their Jiujitsu skills, so if they cancel each other out there, this might boil down to their striking skills -- It's somewhere I think that Nelson can perform slightly better at. Technically, their striking skills might be similar, but Roy takes punishment better, and contrary to what Mir says, Nelson has proven to be the one with more power. I think that's going to be enough for him to take the victory. Roy Nelson via Decision.
Matt Bishop: This is undoubtedly a close fight, but I like Mir here. I think his cleaner, more varied standup is going to be the biggest difference between the two. Mir is going to work leg kicks and make Nelson pay with his punches. Remember when Mir sent Cheick Kongo flying across the Octagon? Yeah, he's got power. Nelson has proven to be a tough out and he'll be very competitive, but I think this goes to Mir and it'll be extremely close. Frank Mir by decision.
K.J. Gould: Tough fight to pick. Their grappling match from several years back is interesting to watch but doesn't feel particularly relevant coming into this fight. Mir's a more technical striker and Nelson's idea of taking things to the ground tends to be bull-rushing his opponent. I get the feeling Mir is going to stick and move and stay away from Nelson's power hand while avoiding clinching up, landing some good shots but due to Nelson's toughness won't get a finish. Frank Mir by Decision.
Fraser Coffeen: I outlined my thoughts on the stand-up for this one in more detail earlier this week, but the short version is, I think Mir has the technique, while Nelson has the power. And Mir's smarts and technique will trump the power. No way Mir stops Big Country standing, but I think he can outpoint him, or stun him enough to get the sub. Frank Mir by submission.
Kid Nate: Struve has the reach of a pterodactyl and a lazy jab my three year old would be ashamed of, combine that with a propensity to want to brawl on the inside and you've got trouble. Browne has the power to capitalize on Struve's weakness. Browne via KO.
Brent Brookhouse: I'm going to trust the rumors that Struve is being taught how to fight with his size (he even admitted that he is bad at it in the press conference). He's the more complete fighter and has learned to weather big storms and find ways to win. I think the first round will be rocky (it always is for the big man) but he will take advantage of a fading Browne in the second. Stefan Struve by TKO, round 2.
Mike Fagan: Struve fights like he's a foot shorter than he actually is. Keep your distance, big fella! Travis Browne by TKO, round 2.
Leland Roling: I'm not buying into the hype that Struve has improved by leaps and bounds due to his training against K-1 level strikers. And I'm also not under the assumption that he's added 20 pounds of muscle, although both ideas would help him immensely. Browne isn't the most technical striker nor is he going to be great on the ground. But Browne has the ability to move forth and conquer, just like he did when he knocked Abe Wagner out cold in 0:08 seconds. I think he gets inside Struve's reach easily and crushes him. Travis Browne via TKO.
Anton Tabuena: Struve has a ton of potential, and I think it's a great move that he's bulking up and training with top notch strikers like Daniel Ghita. Browne will be a good test, but I think Struve takes this via Submission. Hopefully he doesn't take as much damage and shorten his promising career.
Matt Bishop: Interesting fight. Struve seems to find himself in trouble more often than not, so it wouldn't surprise me to see Browne pick up the win here. That said, because of the way Struve has worked himself out of some real, real tight jams in the past, I can't count him out. Struve pulls another rabbit out of his hat here. Stefan Struve by decision.
K.J. Gould: Struve appears to be improving at every turn and I can see Browne become too aggressive in the fight and land himself in a submission. Stefan Struve by submission.
Fraser Coffeen: I like Struve a lot, but he worries me here. He's been very focused on his striking, which is a good thing because he gets hit way too much in his fights. Trouble is, Browne is a very powerful puncher, and if Struve allows him to connect the way Nelson or Morecraft did, Browne will take Struve out. I think his new stand-up work will get Struve through this, but this is a close one. Stefan Struve by submission.
Kid Nate: Story should present a stiff test for Alves. But if Alves really does have his weight cutting issues handled and fights like he's capable of, he'll beat Story. Alves by KO.
Brent Brookhouse: Maybe Story proves me wrong, but I think Alves is a tougher task than he is ready for. It's like, just because you're the fastest guy in the pool at the YMCA, doesn't mean you'll win a swimming meet against the best swimmers in the world. Cue people getting angry that I compared guys like Johny Hendricks to swimmers at the Y... Thiago Alves by TKO, round 2.
Leland Roling: Absolutely love this fight. Rick Story is your relentless, blue-collar fighter, utilizing wrestling with an ever-improving stand-up game to outwork opponents, punishing them along the way. Story has stated that he believes Alves will mentally wilt under the pressure, and I'm not convinced that he won't. Story brings a certain style that causes opponents to question whether they can pull off a miracle when it was clearly their fight to win on paper. Alves' brutal Muay Thai and takedown defense should be the difference though. Thiago Alves via decision.
Anton Tabuena: Alves looks to have solved those "weighty" issues, and if the cut goes smoothly again, I just don't see him losing this fight. He's too good standing, and while Story is also a very talented fighter, I don't think he can stand with him, or keep him down St. Pierre style. Thiago Alves by a lopsided decision.
Matt Bishop: This is a huge step up in competition for Story, who is going from facing Johny Hendricks to Thiago Alves. This is a real tough fight for Story. Alves is one of the premier strikers in the division and was able to dismantle another striker in John Howard in his last fight. If Story can't get this one to the ground, he's going to be in big trouble. Thiago Alves by TKO, round 2.
K.J. Gould: This to me seems dependent on how Alves looks weighing in. Alves should have been able to do more to stuff Jon Fitch takedowns but lacked energy. Story's not as talented as Fitch and providing Alves has a good weight cut should have very few problems putting Story away. Alves by KO.
Fraser Coffeen: Between the GSP/Fitch loses and the long lay-off, Alves's momentum has really cooled off over the past two years. It shouldn't have though. His biggest enemy has always been himself and his weight, so if he really has solved that problem, he could be in a position to make another run towards the title. Story has potential, but he's not there just yet. Thiago Alves by KO.
Kid Nate: This is a very very hard fight to call. Stann has the power to catch Santiago's suspect chin. He's also improved remarkably since joining the Greg Jackson camp. But Santiago has the Muay Thai to punish Stann for some of his habits -- coming in chin high, putting weight on the front leg. I think Santiago is just the more well rounded fighter. Could be wrong but Santiago by submission.
Brent Brookhouse: Brian Stann's supposedly huge power got him his first KO (or TKO) stoppage since the Doug Marshall fight in March of 2008. You can play the middleweight card to say his power is bigger at 185 but he didn't pound out Massenzio like Dollaway did and Rodney Wallace is no huge light heavyweight. Santiago can be chinny and Stann can knock him out. But I don't think it's because of having special levels of power in his hands. The Leben fight was a guy who was (reportedly) sick, has taken a gross amount of damage in his career and just didn't look right. Even with that win the guys Stann has beaten in the UFC aren't exactly a list that makes me so sure that he is a lock to be a big player at 185. Leben, Massenzio, Wallace and Cantwell? You can knock a lot of Santiago's opposition after leaving the UFC just as easilly but the Khalidov and Misaki wins are better than what Stann has done in my opinion. I'm going to roll with Santiago on his grit and finding a way to win here. Santiago by submission, round 2.
Mike Fagan: Dana White was so coy when asked about putting Brian Stann on a Memorial Day Weekend show. Why? His service record has been exploited for promotional purposes every step of the way, so why shy away from that now? Brian Stann by TKO, round 1.
Leland Roling: Santiago's extended stay in Japan may not have him ready for a fairly strong middleweight like Brian Stann. I think Stann has progressed beautifully over the last few fights, proving he can grind out fighters and threaten both on the feet and on the ground. Stann's power is his biggest asset here, and I think he'll find a way to land a few choice shots that stop Santiago in his tracks. Brian Stann via TKO.
Anton Tabuena: Stann has huge power, and Santiago won't be able to take it. People think this is going to be a close fight, but I disagree... Stann has been improving on closing up the holes in his game, and I already feel bad for the former Sengoku champ. Brian Stann by TKO.
Matt Bishop: This is a bad matchup for Santiago in his UFC re-debut. Santiago could be dominating, but all it takes it one shot from Stann's powerful hands to end it. This should be fun while it lasts. Brian Stann by KO, round 1.
K.J. Gould: Stann is rolling and seems to be putting his game together at last under Team Greg Jackson. Santiago's re-emergence post-UFC has been impressive but his lack of consistent, quality opposition recently poses a few questions coming back to the big stage. I think Stann has this. Brian Stann by TKO.
Fraser Coffeen: People are sleeping on Santiago here. I get why - he hasn't fought in the US in over 3 years, and his last UFC run was not spectacular. But if you're judging him based on a 5 year old loss to Chris Leben, you're missing out. He's greatly improved since then, going 11-1 since leaving the UFC. I think Santiago will do what he does best here - stay close throughout the fight, before pulling off the last second victory. Jorge Santiago by KO in the final minute.
Kid Nate: Torres probably isn't who we thought he was once upon a time, but I think he can still beat Johnson, who's too tough to let Torres coast to a decision. Torres by KO.
Brent Brookhouse: I can't put my finger on it exactly, but I think this turns out to be an easier fight for Torres than people are thinking. Johnson is fast but he's also small. He's going to take punishment on the way in and I think Torres is tricky enough on the ground to work his way back to his feet if/when he gets taken down. I just think it becomes Torres doing damage in little bursts versus Johnson trying to hold Torres down without landing anything. Miguel Torres by TKO, round 3.
Mike Fagan: Hopefully Firas Zahabi has improved Torres MMA game more than he's improved his Twitter game. Miguel Torres by decision.
Leland Roling: I have doubts about Torres' ability to keep Johnson at bay with his reach. I think the standard rinse and repeat style of his takedown game could get nullified by Torres' ground tactics, but I almost think Demetrious' small size may be hard for Torres to take advantage of on the ground. In any case, I think speed kills, and I like speed to win here with Johnson dancing around, avoiding Torres' jab, and taking him down at will. Demetrious Johnson via decision.
Anton Tabuena: Demetrious Johnson is a very dangerous fighter and I think he can upset the long time bantamweight kingpin, but I am still going with Torres. He is more experienced, and I expect him to fight smart and not take any unnecessary risks anymore. Torres by Submission.
Matt Bishop: Johnson isn't going to sit back and let Torres jab him to death. He's going to take the fight to Torres and put pressure on the former champ. How will Torres respond? Johnson is lightning fast and he's going to use that to his advantage in this one. I smell an "upset" here. Demetrious Johnson by decision.
K.J. Gould: Torres wants to work his way back to a title fight, and he's smart enough to heed the advice of Zahabi and do what it takes to win the fight while making sure not to put himself at risk. Unfortunately this means his game may become less fan-friendly which is what made him a star in WEC in the first place. Miguel Torres by Decision.
Fraser Coffeen: I was probably guilty of overrating Torres during his WEC title run, but I think the tide has turned so far that people are now under-rating him. He's dangerous standing and on the ground, and I think he just has way too many tools for the less experienced Johnson to deal with. Big question for me is, will he fight the conservative fight or pull the trigger and go for the win? Miguel Torres by Submission.
Kid Nate: Boetsch might be just the guy to pressure Grove and finish him quick. He could also gas after a brutal weight cut, get hurt in the clinch and get submitted. Coin toss. Boetsch by KO.
Brent Brookhouse: Remember that time Boetsch manhandled David Heath? Well, stop it. That was nine fights ago. Look at the guys Grove beats and then look at the guys who beat Grove. Now figure out which camp Boetsch belongs in. Kendall Grove by decision.
Mike Fagan: Both guys are in danger of the ol' Zuffa axe. Books have Grove ahead, but I'm not gambling here. Tim Boetsch by decision.
Leland Roling: I've been back and forth on this fight. Grove's chin is glassy, and Boetsch is a pressuring fighter who can throw for a lot of power. In my mind, Grove's immense length is going to cause some issues for Boetsch, and his ground game isn't enough to stop Grove from stylin' on him on the ground. Boetsch has a great chance here, but my gut says Grove. Kendall Grove via submission.
Anton Tabuena: If Boetsch's weight cut doesn't affect his performance, I think this is his fight to lose. If he can avoid gassing out, I think he can out muscle Grove and grind out a victory or a stoppage. Tim Boetsch by Decision.
Matt Bishop: Kendall Grove is notorious for being more up-and-down than an elevator. Which version are we going to get here? The one that looks like a world beater or the one that can't take a solid punch? It's going to be interesting to see how Boetsch looks having dropped to middleweight. I think it'll be a good change. Boetsch told me he doesn't see Grove lasting two rounds with him. I agree. Tim Boetsch by TKO, round 2.
K.J. Gould: Grove's career depends on this fight more so than Boetsch in my opinion, and I'd expect him to come out guns blazing and take Boetsch apart. Kendall Grove by TKO.
Fraser Coffeen: That "if" Anton tosses in is a pretty big if. I think the cut to 185 is going to be tough on Boetsch, and I see Grove as a strong enough fighter to take advantage of a weakened and gassed opponent. Plus Grove has been on a "win one, lose one" streak for 2 years now, and he's coming off a loss, so... Kendall Grove by Decision.
Kid Nate: Oliveira didn't get enough notice here. Tibau by decision.
Mike Fagan: Tibau gonna Tibau. Gleison Tibau by decision.
Leland Roling: Extremely short notice for Oliveira, against a guy who has good power and a quick pace. I'll go with Tibau. Gleison Tibau via decision.
Anton Tabuena: I really enjoy watching Rafaello Oliveira, but this will be on extremely short notice, and against a giant lightweight. Gleison Tibau by Decision.
Matt Bishop: Tibau is going to be too big, too strong for Tractor. Gleison Tibau by decision.
K.J. Gould: Tibau's not going to break the habit of a lifetime and will use his size to grind out a decision. Tibau by Decision.
Fraser Coffeen: Oliveira has lost to guys who are a definite step below Tibau. Add in the short camp, and he's in some real trouble here. Gleison Tibau by decision.
Kid Nate: McDonald should be putting on a show here. McDonald by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: Michael McDonald is really, really good. Cariaso is here to be on McDonald's highlight reel. Michael McDonald by TKO, round two.
Mike Fagan: I hope Michael McDonald is a lot like Rory MacDonald. Michael McDonald by decision.
Leland Roling: McDonald is going to be a champion one day. His youth and skills make for a brutal combination for anyone to go up against, and Cariaso will find that out on Saturday. Michael McDonald via decision.
Anton Tabuena: Michael McDonald is the youngest in the UFC roster, but he is also one of the more promising prospects they have. Despite his youth, he even has arguably faced even better competition than Cariaso. I expect him to perform well and win a lopsided decision. Michael McDonald by decision.
Matt Bishop: I like McDonalds. Michael McDonald by TKO, round 3.
K.J. Gould: McDonald by Decision.
Fraser Coffeen: When in doubt, I support the fighter with the stronger kickboxing experience. That's just my way. Michael McDonald by decision.
Kid Nate: Gotta go with Cole here. Escovedo by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: Tough call, but let's go with Cole. Cole Escovedy by decision.
Mike Fagan: Punting Yoshiro Maeda's head off will only take you so far. Renan Barao by decision.
Leland Roling: Nova Uniao product with solid submission skills and flashes of fight-ending power. Check. Renan Barao via submission.
Anton Tabuena: Escovedo is really good, and after what's happened to him a few years ago, it's nice that he finally got a shot at showing his skills in the UFC, but this is a very tough match up to debut against. Tough fight to pick, but I think Barao will take this. Renan Barao by Submission.
Matt Bishop: I'm going to go with the good story here. Cole Escovedo by decision.
K.J. Gould: Escovedo by Decision.
Fraser Coffeen: I don't like Cole's jumping around in weight so much, and I am looking forward to seeing how Barao does in the UFC, so Renan Barao by submission.