Kyle Noke (19-5-1) vs. Andrew Craig (6-0)
Andrew Craig got the call for this fight when Jared Hamman withdrew. Craig is an undefeated middleweight and BJJ purple belt under Travis Tooke who's finished half his wins (2 TKOs, 1 sub). His biggest victory was his last; a decision over Eric Schambari, a well-traveled fighter who won two of three in the WEC in 2007 and recently beat Matt Horwich in Bellator, but was also defeated by Bryan Baker.
Kyle Noke is an Aussie-born veteran fighting out of Greg Jackson's MMA. Before he appeared on TUF 11, Noke had split two fights with George Sotiropoulos (split-decision win, decision loss) in the Australian "Warrior's Realm" promotion, defeated UFC welterweight Brian Ebersole (decision) to win the XFC strap and fought to an impressive draw with Bellator brick-thrower Hector Lombard.
Noke is a strong kickboxer and dangerous submission grappler (8 wins by sub, 6 by TKO). He was a heavy favorite to win TUF but was surprisingly man-handled by inexperienced wrestler and eventual finalist Kris McCray. Noke posted three straight stoppages in the Octagon after the show (Josh Bryant by TKO, Rob Kimmons and Chris Camozzi by submission) but found himself entangled in an Ed Herman heel-hook in his last.
Gifs and analysis in the full entry.
Kyle Noke is one of those guys who seems to have all the right tools to rise up, but hasn't been able to string together a memorable streak.
- Good kickboxing and wrestling, great grappling, technical BJJ game
- Considerable experience and past level of opposition
- Strong beard: only KO loss was to Scott Smith, ate spoonfuls of leather from Lombard
- Intelligent and composed; Greg Jackson product
Standing, Noke attacks with kicks, knees and punches and has good overall defense and form. He does straight-line retreat on Camozzi's initial flurry to the right, but then cuts a sharp 3 o'clock angle on the second and presses with a nice double jab-knee combination. Camozzi is a pretty burly cat so it's impressive how Noke stuffs his shot and then reverses with a body-lock takedown of his own and lands in full mount. Shades of his keen grappling and veteran savvy are shown in the ultra-ballsy attempt at a mounted triangle, after which he transitions to the back for a rear-naked choke.
Even though the sequence to the left against Herman doesn't pan out, Noke does an excellent job at setting up his first shot with strikes; interspersing the attempt as a fluid part of the combination rather than diving for an all-or-nothing shot. I don't want to paint him as a disappointment, as there's no shame in losing to a scrapper like Herman, but the way he sputtered out in his defeat to Kris McCray on TUF was a slightly concerning performance. I expected Noke to creep into the top 15 or 20 rankings during his UFC stint, but he still has time to thrive.
Craig is like a less experienced version of Noke: strong Muay Thai, decent wrestling and solid BJJ. He has crisp leg kicks, a smoking straight right, good grasp of timing and range and his kickboxing is probably a little more formidable than his ground game. He's shown a specific knack to make opponents pay for shooting with a quick underhook sprawl that he quickly transitions into a Thai clinch with cleaving knees -- which is something Noke should be extremely wary of. He also has rugged ground-and-pound from the top with ill-intentioned elbows and spent time training with Thiago Silva to sharpen up his striking.
In his only reputable victory over Schambari -- which isn't a bad thing for someone with just six fights -- Craig conducted himself with a level of thorny composure that leads me to believe he'll be a worthy new prospect. He threatened with a kimura to fend off the takedown against the fence, peppered with short punches on his way back up to his feet, didn't panic in precarious positions and was just a tough customer throughout.
This is a fight in which it would be crazy to pick against Noke, who is more experienced and proven against better competition, but Craig shouldn't be a pushover by any means. He should be able to hang with Noke in striking, wrestling and submissions and make him work hard for the win.
My Prediction: Kyle Noke by late submission.
Daniel "The Pit" (?) Pineda debuted at the first UFC on FX show and handed Pat Schilling his first loss, which was the first-round mata leao to the right. In analyzing his record, Pineda has some promising potential despite some questionable losses:
- He's finished every win (10 subs, 6 TKOs, 10 on the 1st round)
- He submitted recent TUFer Johnny Bedford by kneebar, lost by triangle in the rematch
- He rear-naked choked former WECer Frank Gomez
- He's now riding a six-fight win streak
Check out Pineda's slick rolling kneebar, Oleg Taktarov style, to the left when Gomez maneuvers to take his back.
Pineda is cut from the cloth of a risk-taking aggressor -- if he sees an opening or thinks he can create one, he'll pursue it vigorously. This finisher's mentality can lead to unfavorable positions, but it's the type fans appreciate and makes him a tough fighter to prepare for or predict.
Pineda is a BJJ purple belt with decent striking and wrestling, but his creative aggression is his best trait.
Mackens Semerzier exploded onto the MMA scene by submitting highly accredited BJJ black belt Wagnney Fabiano in his WEC debut, which was jaw-dropping enough to win Sherdog.com's "2009 Upset of the Year."
The feat was even more amazing because Semerzier had just four fights to his name (all wins: 3 subs, 1 TKO) going into that bout at WEC 49 in 2009. Things definitely cooled off after three consecutive defeats in the promotion: a decision to Deividas Taurosevicius, a submission to Javier Vazquez and a split-decision to Cub Swanson.
The rear-naked choke on Alex Caceres to the left severed his losing streak but, in his next, the unintentional clash of heads (above) was ruled a TKO for Robert Peralta and later overturned to a No Contest. Semerzier took up BJJ and Muay Thai at age twenty-three, which has made for a nicely balanced offense in all phases of combat, and Semerzier is now thirty-one and a BJJ purple belt under Pedro Sauer. In addition to his rounded technique, Semerzier is strong, quick and athletic with good timing and instincts.
The conclusion for this match up mirrors the Noke vs. Craig fight above. Barring experience against high-level opposition, Pineda is quite similar to Semerzier: he's equally dangerous standing or on the ground (more so in the latter), he's tough overall with few weaknesses and he's never been knocked out or stopped with strikes. The difference, however, is that Pineda has a wealth of overall experience compared to Craig and Semerzier is still only nine fights deep.
Still, that's not enough to steer me toward an upset, as I think Semerzier will be just a little bit sharper on the feet and on the mat. He also has a tendency to capitalize on mistakes, which becomes a prominent factor considering Pineda's admirable penchant to go all-out offensively.
My Prediction: Mackens Semerzier by submission (decision also likely).
Repping the incoming legion of Strikeforce heavies, Shawn "The Savage" Jordan, a Greg Jackson heavyweight, will make his Octagon debut against fellow newcomer Oli Thompson, a "World's Strongest Man" competitor from the UK.
At first glance, Jordan is a rotund and broad-shouldered hunk of beef, but his deceiving grace and athleticism becomes apparent when he springs into motion.
Jordan was a two-time state wrestling champion in high school but was unable to ply that trade further because he went on to play fullback at LSU. Though not an MMA accolade, that credential explains his freakish agility for a man with of his girth. A southpaw, Jordan is a technical boxer with a scary straight-left and a strong grasp of subtleties like feints, head movement and throwing out a lot of angles in the pocket.
Shades of his wrestling roots are still evident, such as the hip throw on Devin Cole to the left which, in conjunction with his boxing, makes Jordan a dual-pronged threat. He's won eight by TKO and three by submission and is fresh off a win over Lavar Johnson by keylock on the Strikeforce Challengers 19 card.
Jordan won nine of his first ten bouts and then split two fights in Bellator (KO loss to Mark Holata, TKO win over John Hill) and Strikeforce (decision loss to Devin Cole, aforementioned sub-win over Johnson) with a first-round TKO in a smaller promotion sandwiched in between.
Polish strongman Mariusz Pudzianowski did not leave the most inspiring footprints in MMA for fellow strongman Oli Thompson to follow. Thompson is a multi-stint competitor in the European Strongman events with one first place, one second place and two third place finishes.
Thompson's MMA career kicked off in 2009 after he retired from the strongman routine and he's billed as a BJJ purple belt and the reigning heavyweight champion of London's UCMMA organization. He's been flawless save a two-fight sequence in 2010 where he incurred consecutive losses to current UFC heavyweight Rob Broughton (decision) and former UFC middleweight Joe Vedepo by TKO.
That type of rap sheet shouldn't add up to a significant threat for Jordan, who is a very game and dangerous heavyweight with a phenomenal strength-to-agility ratio. He should have a glaring edge in striking and wrestling while also being capable of stifling Thompson's submission grappling.
My Prediction: Shawn Jordan by TKO.
Anthony Perosh (12-6) vs. Nick Penner (11-1)
Elvis Sinosic understudy Anthony "The Hippo" Perosh is the second Aussie on the card. Hot off two rear-naked choke victories (Tom Blackledge, Cyrille Diabate), he'll look to make it three straight against UFC newcomer Nick Penner, a once-beaten light-heavyweight fighting out of Canada's Hayabusa Training Centre.
Though a bit of a loafing plodder with stiff striking, Perosh accrued back-to-back sub wins through his still-improving takedown prowess. He's a talented BJJ black belt who's generally in the driver's seat anywhere on the mat.
He looks a little robotic in chasing Blackledge down above, but has been able to implement his submission grappling with Dad Strength and good ol' determination more than refined wrestling technique.
Facing a stiff test in Diabate, a kickboxing extraordinaire, Perosh camouflaged his striking disadvantage in relentless pursuits of takedown attempts and tie-ups in the clinch.
Perosh has finished all twelve of his wins, ten in the first frame, with nine subs and three TKOs.
Nick "The Quiet Assassin" Penner is a dangerous kickboxer and BJJ purple belt whose lone defeat came at the hands of leviathan Jimmy Ambriz, the former King of the Cage super-heavyweight champion. Penner is a former Canadian and Muay Thai kickboxing champion with devastating low kicks and aggressive striking tendencies. Apart from Ambriz, Eric Esch is the only quasi-recognizable name on his record, who Penner dusted by first-round TKO in his second pro fight.
I've underestimated Perosh one too many times against better and more experienced strikers than Penner appears to be. Perosh showed unbelievable heart in his last minute bout with heavyweight Mirko Filipovic at UFC 110 and, no matter how awkard and uncoordinated he seems on the feet, he's found a way to dominate with his overpowering submission grappling.
My Prediction: Anthony Perosh by submission.
All others via Zombie Prophet of IronForgesIron.com