So....last night I went 3 for 11 with my picks. That's my worst in two years.
Generally, I'm very consistent with my picks. On a 12 fight card, I'll generally get 10 correct, 9 if I'm having a bad night, with 8 being a very rare disaster. This was just unspeakably horrible. Somehow, despite even performing well on Jungle Fight...er TUF Brazil cards....this night just confounded me. Let's see what happened
Mark Hunt vs. Bigfoot Silva
Who Won: Draw
Who I picked: Hunt
Why I made the pick: I went back and forth on this one. I believed that if it stayed on the feet, Bigfoot would get cracked and KO'd. If it went to the ground, Hunt would get mauled. In the head, heart ruled over head and I picked Hunt.
What went wrong: Well....Hunt did crack Bigfoot on the feet. And Bigfoot also mauled Hunt on the ground. The problem was that the fight just kept on going without either guy getting finished.
Shogun Rua vs. James Te-Huna
Who Won: Shogun
Who I Picked: Tuna
Why I made the Pick: Despite being a huge Shogun fan, I truly thought he was done. I expected the same Shogun we've seen for a while now: the guy who dives in with sloppy hooks then clinches for a double-leg attempt against the cage, gassing out in a round.
Not only was Shogun coming off the most embarrassing loss of his career, but the fight I was really looking at here was his fight with Vera, which was inexcusably competitive. And Tuna is a much better fighter than 2013's Vera.
What Went Wrong: Against all odds, Shogun turned back the clock and looked better than he has in years. He was quick on his feet, dynamic, showed surprisingly stout takedown defence, and just looked far sharper and more technical than he has in a long time.
I basically knew I was fucked within seconds.
Who Won: Ryan Bader
Who I Picked: Anthony Perosh
Why I made the Pick: Bader is younger, stronger, has heavier hands, is not a bad boxer by any means, and Perosh had no way of getting this to the ground. At this point in the night, I was frankly expecting a Perosh upset. That's how bad my night was going. And indeed, he did rock Bader in the first for just a second.
Who Won: Soa Palelei
Who I picked: Pat Berry
Why I made the Pick: Palelei has been crushing cans and been fighting principally as a brawler. I thought Barry would make him pay for that and either end the fight early, or wait till Soa gassed out miserably.
What went Wrong: I completely underestimated Palelei's fight IQ as well his BJJ black belt and wrestling background. I knew about them and I knew there was a chance he'd impose his grappling, but given that he's spent the bulk of his career as a brawler who occasionally will go for a takedown to catch a breather, I thought odds were that, once again, he'd forget this part of his background.
Clearly, I was wrong.
Who Won: Clint Hester
Who I picked: Dylan Andrews
Why I made the pick: Hester has promise, but is basically a pure striker and comes off as being pretty green. While Andrews is primarily a striker, I picked him due to his being far more seasoned and being a more well-rounded mixed martial artist.
What Went Wrong: The first round played out just as I'd hoped, perhaps even better, with Andrews exploiting Hester's lack of grappling.
Then Hester surprised Andrews with a takedown in the second, Andrews arm fell off, and that was that.
I'll file this in the "shit happens" category.
Who Won: Betch
Who I picked: Julie Kedzie
Why I made the Pick: Kedzie was far more experienced, was the larger fighter, and, I thought, would generally have the larger offensive toolbox and the higher fight IQ.
What went Wrong: Kedzie was way further past her prime than I'd expected, as her post-fight retirement would indicate. She looked slow out there and also seemed, aside from a couple brief spurts, generally unable or unwilling to pull the trigger. Very little volume or aggression from her and her reflexes weren't great. I have no idea where the Kedzie who fought Tate was, but she wasn't in the cage last night. She also never once attempted a takedown to test Bethe's grappling, which might be attributable to Greg Jackson's telling her she was winning the fight.
Who won: Mizugaki
I picked: Mizugaki
Why I made the Pick: I felt that Mizugaki had a slight edge in the stand-up and, if all else failed, could take Nam down at will and control him. It basically went exactly how I expected. The rare exception last night.
Who won: Magalhaes
I picked: Ring
Why I made the pick: Caio's takedowns have never really wowed me and he generally just throws big haymakers in the stand-up. I figured this meant Ring could do his thing, kickboxing from the outside to take a unanimous decision.
What went wrong: It was going great....and then Ring completely and utterly gassed to the point where I wondered if there wasn't a mid-fight injury. He just conceded the striking entirely and started going for nothing but gassed, telegraphed takedowns. I had never thought that Ring's conditioning would be an issue.
Won Won: Scoggins
I picked: Vaculik
Why I made the Pick: I'll admit, I didn't know either of these guys. At all.
That said, I picked Vaculik because of his much greater strength of competition. No names on his record, but Scoggins had been fighting in South Carolina regional promotions exclusively, crushing the canniest of cans. All but one opponent had a losing record. Also, this wasn't just his UFC debut, but the first time he'd ever even fought outside his home-state, let alone overseas.
What Went Wrong: Turned out that Scoggins was actually really good and that his South Carolinian can crushing was attributable not just to canniness, but also to his own skills. He's a real prospect.
Also, apparently he reacted to his first fight out-of-state with excitement, not nerves.
Bruno Santos vs. Krzysztof Jotko (dammit, Soszynski retired for nothing. I have to spell this name again)
Who Won: Jotko
I picked: Santos
Why I made the Pick: Santos has been an unstoppable, LNP decision-machine. Jotko has no wrestling background to my knowledge. I thought that this was an easy, unanimous decision for Santos.
What Went Wrong: Apparently, Santos' wrestling really isn't as dominant as I thought it was. Once put to the test against a guy outside of the Brazilian regional circuit, or a guy under 40, it suddenly didn't work. Perhaps the gigantic, near 2-year lay-off had an effect as well (I didn't realize he'd been off that long).
Who Won: Garcia
I picked: Garcia
Why I Made the Pick: Garcia has more tools than Wall, is a finisher, unlike Wall, and trains at a better gym than Wall. I expected a devastating finish and I got one. And to think that the evening started so well for me....