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BloodyElbow.com UFC 81 Staff Predictions

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BloodyElbow.com Staff Picks For UFC 81: Breaking Point

Tim Sylvia (26 - 3) vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (30 - 4 - 1)

Luke Thomas: Certainly Nogueira has tremendous submission acumen. In fact, of all heavyweight professional MMA fighters, Nogueira is by far the best at effectively applying submissions to win. The problem is that Sylvia is stylistically a brick wall. Nogueira has good boxing, but will likely have difficulty getting inside on Sylvia - a fighter with decent boxing as well. Moreover, Nogueira's takedowns are serviceable, but not overly effective. Combine that fact with Sylvia's enormous body frame and the idea of Nogueira applying double underhooks to hit a lateral drop seems like pure fantasy. If you don't believe Sylvia is hard to take down, ask Ricco Rodriguez, Assuerio Silva or Jeff Monson. And Sylvia is adept enough on the ground to keep the "jab in the face" gameplan in play most of the time. The one key element Nogueira has in his favor is that this is a five round fight. Nogueira is extremely tough and five rounds offers a lot of time for Nogueira to find a way to win. But that's long shot thinking and not enough for Nogueira to take the interim belt. People may hate Tim Sylvia (I am not one of them), but if Nogueira can't beat him then that's saying quite a bit.. Sylvia, via split decision.

Kid Nate: .Sylvia by snooze fest. Nogueira doesn't have the explosiveness to get the takedown he'll need to beat Sylvia.

Brent Brookhouse: Look for a motivated Big Tim, looking to prove something and being a bit more "exciting" than usual. Nogueira has never been a takedown machine and Sylvia isn't easy to get down anyway. Nogueira has an overinflated sense of his striking prowess and Sylvia has a ton of reach. At some point in the third round a straight right is going to hurt Nog and Sylvia will pounce..ending the fight and getting himself a new belt to wear to the grocery store.Sylvia by TKO rd. 3.

Michael Rome: I don't see Sylvia stopping Nogueira, so this is basically a game of seeing if Nogueira can submit him over the course of 5 rounds. My guess is he can, and I think this will be the first major Pride win since the acquisition. I see Sylvia winning the first few rounds on points until Nogueira is able to get him down and submit him. Nogueira by armbar, fourth round.

Nick Thomas: Striker vs. grappler, who wins? Normally the grappler. But Randy Couture picked Sylvia to win and no one can pull off 5 rounds off shadow boxing like Sylvia can. The man I love to hate, Tim Sylvia by cage hump..

Frank Mir (10 - 3) vs. Brock Lesnar (1 - 0)

Luke Thomas: If you've picked Brock Lesnar to win, I have no beef with your pick. Just as early as yesterday I was leaning in the same direction. I have agonized over this prediction for weeks and I still don't have that much confidence in my decision. However, I have to go one way or the other. We all know Lesnar will dictate where the fight takes place and when. Mir himself has acknowledged as much. We also know Lesnar will have the clear edge in athleticism and cardio. I'm sure Mir will come in shape, but not nearly as good of shape as Lesnar. Ultimately, though, I have to practice what I preach. I cannot go screaming about how little we know about Lesnar and then pick him to win over an experienced and talented UFC heavyweight fighter. Not yet. Maybe Saturday evening when Lesnar smashes Mir with vicious ground and pound I'll be able to say I know something about him. And maybe I'm a mark for jiu-jitsu, since that's always been a love of mine. I don't know. Either way, I won't be the least bit surprised to see Mir go down, but I have to believe an in-shape, game Mir stands a respectable chance of catching the neophyte. I've seen guys - even excellent wrestlers - roll after 2 years of BJJ. Brock is at best a purple belt and more likely a blue. Guys at that level, compared to black belts, make a lot of errors they never see. Yes, this is MMA, not Grapplers' Quest, but Mir's jiu-jitsu is actually better in MMA (Roberto Traven anyone?). I have to go with my head here as much as it pains me. Please don't hold it against me. Mir, by submission, round 2.

Kid Nate: Lesnar by ground and pound. I just don't think Mir is back.

Brent Brookhouse: Look, Mir is good for maybe two or three minutes of a fight and then there's just no gas left. Add to this the fact that he seems to not have taken training too seriously again. We know the fight is going to the ground, almost certainly with Lesnar on top...from there Mir is going to work to get position for a submission. Lesnar is as big and strong as anyone in the heavyweight division and that makes working underneath him that much more tiring. Lesnar will be on top throwing punches while Mir wastes energy on the bottom. By the end of the round Mir will be gassed and Lesnar will be throwing some serious hurt from the top...forcing the ref to step in.Lesnar by TKO Rd. 1.

Michael Rome: This is definitely the toughest to pick. I've tried to talk to as many people training with Brock as possible to get an idea of his abilities before picking here, and I am going to pick in his favor. First, I'm definitely not buying this idea he'll get immediately armbarred. He has been training with good jiu jitsu guys for a year now, and they spend hours and hours every day on armbar defense and grappling. Word from the camp is that he hasn't been tapped in months. Of course, you never know if camps are full of shit, but it's worth considering. I think Lesnar's strength and wrestling will overwhelm Frank Mir, who sources tell me trained in about a 3 or 4 week camp for this fight. Brock Lesnar via TKO, round 2.

Nick Thomas: Mir was a bloody pulp after Pe de Pano's GNP. So as long as Lesnar knows how's to throw a punch after a takedown. I'm going to rock out with my Brock out as Lesnar breaths some life into the UFC's heavyweight division. Brock Lesnar by TKO.

Jeremy Horn (88 - 16 - 5) vs. Nate Marquardt (28 - 7 - 1)

Luke Thomas: Horn has all the talent in the world and was well-rounded before being well-rounded was cool. His no gi jiu-jitsu is also very, very respectable. The problem is that either due to burn out or personal issues, he has been unable of late to keep pace with the evolutionary current of modern MMA. I've also heard from sources inside the industry that Horn exercises terrible dietary habits. I'm sorry, but modern MMA is unforgiving. You cannot expect to win unless you are taking every measure and precaution available. Combine that possibility with the fact that since September 2006, Horn was both knocked out and submitted by fighters not known for their knockout power or submission ability, respectively. Something is clearly amiss and if Marquardt wins on Saturday, the chance of whatever ails Horn being fixed becomes very slim. Marquardt, TKO, round 3.

Kid Nate: Man, this is a classic matchup, two salty dog vets facing off here. Both fighters lost their last outing. I'm going with Nate but it could easily go the other way..

Brent Brookhouse: Seriously...145 fights between the two fighters? ...against real competition no less. This is about as veteran as it gets in a match-up.Marquardt by hard fought decision in this one.

Michael Rome: This fight became a lot more intriguing to me when Horn was added, but I have to remind myself that he hasn't looked very good of late. I think Mardquardt will overwhelm him on the ground, but I don't see him finishing. Marquardt via.. decision.

Nick Thomas: Is Horn still taking fights seriously? Not to mention this fight was on short notice. Marquardt by decision.

Ricardo Almeida (8 - 2) vs. Rob Yundt (6 - 0)

Luke Thomas:. I'll give Yundt credit. The guy is a specimen and from the footage I've seen he's also extremely explosive. He knows he has nothing to lose here and I expect him to come out of the gate guns blazing. He's coming in off five days notice, so if you don't have the cardio, why conserve your energy? So look for Almeida to weather a storm early. After that, though, it's going to be all Almeida. The Brazilian is ultra tough and is actually a decent wrestler. This fight will eventually get to the floor and when it does, Yundt's recklessness will be his undoing. Almeida, submission, round 1.

Kid Nate: I'm taking Almeida, less than one week's notice is not a recipe for winning your UFC debut.

Brent Brookhouse: For what it's worth with Belcher out of Saturday's show I'll go ahead and switch my pick to Yundt. Nothing about Almeida inspires any confidence in me. 4 years off and his attitude in interviews. I don't dig it.

Michael Rome: I'm taking Yundt via decision too. His wrestling is very impressive and I've seen him survive some deep submission spots.

Nick Thomas: Holy last minute. Most of Rob Yundt's opponents have never fought before and only one of the six had a win before they faced him. .Almeida by submission.

Gleison Tibau (27 - 3) Vs. Tyson Griffin (10 - 1)

Luke Thomas: As talented as Tibau is, he simply doesn't have the strength, explosiveness or wrestling capabilities of Griffin. Yes, we know Griffin's fights have been going to decisions, but it's not as if the X-Treme Couture lightweight is fighting girls. And if you watch his fights, you can see he's well-rounded, comes in with an excellent gameplan, and most importantly for this fight, has good submission defense. If Thiago Tavares can't submit Griffin, I don't think Tibau stands a chance. This fight will be competitive and don't blink because you need to expect lots of scrambles. Ultimately, though, Griffin has too many natural gifts and too many ways to win. Griffin, TKO, round 3.

Kid Nate: This has been a tough one for me to call -- Tibau is big and strong for the division, but so's Griffin. I think Tyson takes this one by decision.

Brent Brookhouse: Tibau is a really solid fighter, but I'm thinking Tyson is going to push the pace to the point where Tibau fades in the second half. In the third Tyson will pour it on from top position forcing the doctor to step in.Tyson Griffin by TKO rd. 3.

Michael Rome Tyson is a huge future prospect for the lightweight division, and every fight he was in last year was awesome. I expect this to be great too. Gleison is no slouch, but I think Tyson will use his wrestling to outwork him. Tyson badly needs to finish a fight to get to the next level, but I think he'll win via decision. Jesus, I am picking a lot of decisions.

Nick Thomas: So happy this fight is on the main card. Tibau is a beast at 155, but I'm going with Griffin by another fight of the night bonus.

Chris Lytle (34 - 15 - 4) Vs. Kyle Bradley (13 - 4 - 1)

Luke Thomas: Bradley is not a joke and should not be viewed as one. The oddsmakers on this fight are either out of their minds or desperately want people to throw money behind Bradley. Either way, this isn't as much of a mismatch as people seem to think. Bradley is moderately well-rounded and poses an interesting challenge for Lytle. That being said, Lytle is too much of a veteran, too well-rounded and too technical to lose to Bradley. Lytle, submission, round 2.

Kid Nate: I'm taking Lytle here. He's got the edge standing and is well-rounded enough to match Bradley on the ground.

Brent Brookhouse: Lytle by decision.

Michael Rome: I don't have much to say on this one, honestly. Bradley is coming off 7 straight wins, but they aren't meaningful wins, and he does have an early first round loss to Guillard early in his career. I'm going to go with Lytle via boring decision, seems like a safe pick.

Nick Thomas: UFC debut vs. MMA veteran. You know Lytle's gotta be hungry after going 1-3 in his last four UFC fights. Lytle by decision.

Marvin Eastman (14 - 7 - 1) vs. Terry Martin (18 - 3)

Luke Thomas:. I'm sorry, but I've never been impressed with anything about Eastman save his physique. Yes, he's obviously very athletic, but he just can't seem to put it together on the big stage. Couple that with Martin's huge wrestling advantage and decent striking and I just don't see how Martin can lose if he doesn't get reckless. I suspect the loss to Chris Leben taught him a thing or two about not playing games in the Octagon, so look for Martin to control this fight with wrestling and ground and pound. He'll bang with Eastman on the feet for a little while, but I believe he'll use his obvious strengths to his advantage, too. Martin, TKO, round 2.

Kid Nate: This one is a tough call. These guys have very similar skill sets but I think Terry Martin's got the edge in wrestling and I'm going to pick him to win by decision.

Brent Brookhouse: They're going to bang and Martin's power is for real. He's either going to catch Eastman and turn out his lights or he'll open up a cut that will force the doctor to stop the fight. I like Martin by TKO in the 2nd round.

Michael Rome: This is an interesting fight. They're going to stand and trade, and I think Eastman is going to get the win here. Martin does have real power, but his gas tank is really weak, and he looked awful against Leben.

Nick Thomas: Both guys can wrestle, but like always, watch them stand and bang The younger Terry Martin by TKO.

David Heath (9 - 2) Vs. Tim Boetsch (6 - 1)

Luke Thomas: Believe it or not, I'm going with the upset here. Heath is a decent light heavyweight out of Tulsa Top Team and has so far only lost to high-level competition. Boetsch certainly doesn't qualify as that, but he's an interesting challenge. Boestch is absolutely fearless on the feet and heavy handed to boot. More importantly, he took a fight with Vladimir Matyushenko on two days notice and gave the IFL Light Heavyweight Champion everything he could handle. He's coming into this fight on short notice as well, but his wrestling is far better than Heath's. Heath's good off of his back and even finished another accomplished wrestler in Sean Salmon with an arm bar from the guard. But Boetsch isn't quite so reckless. I bet Boetsch can either win standing or by executing takedown after takedown. Like Yundt, he's got nothing to lose. The difference is that he's not facing elite competition. Boetsch by unanimous decision.

Kid Nate: I'm flying blind here since I haven't seen Boetsch fight enough to make an accurate judgement. But based on his surviving three rounds against Vladimir Matyushenko. I'm picking Boetsch to end Heath's UFC career.

Brent Brookhouse: Tim is a really tough guy and could stick around at this level, but Heath has the experience edge under the bright lights of the UFC. I know some people don't buy into the whole "pressure of the cage" thing...but it does exist and will be the deciding factor in this fight.Heath by decision.

Michael Rome: I've been a fan of Tim's for a while, but I think Heath's experience will carry him to victory. Heath honestly hasn't looked great and all, but in a tossup fight like this I think UFC nerves could play the deciding role. Heath by TKO, round 2.

Nick Thomas: Tim Boetsch? *shrugs*. David Heath by... um yeah.

Keita Nakamura (14 - 2 - 2) Vs. Rob Emerson (8 - 6 - 1)

Luke Thomas: This is going to be a beatdown. K-Taro was a threat at welterweight and at lightweight he's really going to be able to maximize his potential. K-Taro has only lost to two buzzsaws in the UFC, a title Emerson hardly qualifies for. But it's not as if Nakamura can't beat top competition. K-Taro, you might recall, also has a win over recent welterweight UFC-signee Yoshiyuki Yoshida. Nakamura, submission, round 2.

Kid Nate: If this fight takes place at 155, I'm going with K-Taro. He struggled at the UFC welterweight level, but should have enough power to handle the journeyman Emerson.

Brent Brookhouse: Nakamura is the better finisher in the fight, but Rob hasn't ever been "finished," only losing by decision. I'm with Nate on this one...if the fight is at lightweight then Nakamura will be too strong for Emerson. Nakamura by decision.

Michael Rome: I was not impressed by Emerson at all on the show. Every part of his game was weak, I see Nakamura overpowering him and taking the decision.. Nakamura by decision.

Nick Thomas: Surprised Emerson is even fighting in the UFC. Hope his probation officer knows where he'll be that night. Praying for Nakamura by RNC.