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UFC 135 Preview: Bloody Elbow Staff Predictions

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Event: UFC 135: Jones vs. Rampage

Date: September 24, 2011

Location: Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado


Pay-Per-View Broadcast

Jon Jones vs Quinton Jackson

Brent Brookhouse - Rampage can hit hard and he is very durable. That durability may turn out to be his biggest strength in this fight. We know Jones can blitz his opponent, he can toss other men around and he can use a variety of strikes on the feet. But there has been some question about his endurance and if he fights fast and can’t get Jackson out, it’s possible he wilts starting in the third. Of course, Jackson doesn’t exactly have the world’s best cardio either. Rampage’s best shot is still to land some power shots and hurt Jones. But Jones just has too many ways to win the fight. Jon Jones by decision.

Mike Fagan - Win or lose, “Rampage” is going to surprise a lot of people. Jones won’t run over him like he has with Vera and Matyushenko and “Shogun” (and if he does, holy crap). Expect to see something similar to Jackson vs. Henderson, with Jones playing a more dominant version of Jackson. Jon Jones by decision.

Leland Roling - Judging from the wishful thinking by many fans, you’d think the narrative revolved around Pride never die mantras. People want to see Jackson give Jones a run for his money, and on the feet - there is a slight possibility he can wreck Jones. Anywhere else, Jones has the advantage, and I have a feeling he’ll drive to put Rampage on his back where he’s most uncomfortable. Jackson stands no chance then. Jon Jones via TKO.

Matt Roth - The money bet seems to be Jon Jones. He’s the more dynamic of the two and definitely seems to have no real weaknesses in his game. I think he’s having a hard time dealing with the constant accusations of espionage. From what I’ve heard from people within Jackson’s camp, he’s extremely focused on this fight and has looked great in training. I’m taking the underdog on Saturday night. Rampage Jackson by 3rd round TKO.

Anton Tabuena - I wish I’m wrong and Rampage catches Jones, but I just don’t think it’s likely. Jones is the bigger and more dynamic fighter. I think he ends this on the ground. Jon Jones by TKO.

Tim Burke - I want Rampage to win. But I know Jones is too much for him almost everywhere. Jon Jones by TKO.

Fraser Coffeen - A lot of people are rationalizing a Rampage win, but he’s traditionally had problems against faster, more explosive fighters, and they don’t get much more explosive than Jon Jones. Rampage does seem driven, so he might make this a fight, but I’m having real visions of Rampage vs. Shogun here. Jon Jones by TKO.

Staff Picking Jones: Anton, Tim, Fraser, Leland, Fagan, Brookhouse
Staff Picking Rampage: Roth,

Josh Koscheck vs Matt Hughes

Brent Brookhouse - Hughes doesn’t do anything better than Koscheck at this point in his career. I’d love to see Hughes get a huge win and retire, but it’s much more likely he absorbs a lot of punishment. Josh Koscheck by TKO, round 1.

Mike Fagan - Since losing his title at UFC 65, Hughes has beaten Lytle, Serra, Renzo, and Almeida. He has dropped fights to GSP, Alves, and Penn. Koscheck belongs in the latter group. Josh Koscheck by TKO, round 2.

Leland Roling - Koscheck is younger, faster, a better wrestler, and a superior striker. The only concern is Koscheck’s layoff and mentality in regards to his facial injuries. Hughes could take advantage of Koscheck overprotecting himself, but I highly doubt it. Koscheck blows through Hughes. Josh Koscheck via TKO.

Matt Roth - An interesting match up here. Do you take the aging veteran who has looked solid against other old fighters or do you roll with the fighter coming off orbital surgery who couldn’t feel the side of his face for a couple months? I like that Matt Hughes is going back to the basics with Pat Miletich and Jeremy Horn. Adding BJ Penn to the camp has to help as well with boxing and wrestling/grappling. Matt Hughes by Decision.

Anton Tabuena - He’s coming in on relatively short notice, and he’s coming from surgery, so there will be a few question marks when he steps in the Octagon. That being said, Koscheck is still younger, faster, and more well rounded. He has better striking, and better wrestling, so while I wish I’m wrong again, I think it’s going to be Josh Koscheck by TKO.

Tim Burke - I definitely think Hughes has a better chance than the betting line indicates (-500 for Kos? What?), but I’m not sure what Hughes can do against a guy with such a solid base. Striking has never been Matt’s forte, and if he can’t get it to the ground, what else does he have? Koscheck goes to decisions a bit more than people realize, so I’m gonna say Josh Koscheck by dominating decision.

Fraser Coffeen - There are a lot of intangibles going against Koscheck here: return from injury, long lay-off, short notice. But I have to weigh that against the fact that Hughes is aging, is coming off a major KO, and that, honestly, Kos is at this point better in pretty much every aspect of the game. Josh Koscheck by decision.

Staff Picking Koscheck: Anton, Tim, Fraser, Leland, Fagan, Brookhouse
Staff Picking Hughes: Roth,

Travis Browne vs Rob Broughton

Brent Brookhouse - I’m not all that high on Browne but winning is all that matters, and Browne has done that. Broughton has lost to some really mediocre fighters in his career and this seems set up to be a Browne stoppage win. Travis Browne by TKO, round 1.

Mike Fagan - When did this become a UFC 138 prelim predictions post? Travis Browne by TKO, round one.

Leland Roling - Broughton has a chance at taking Browne to decision and winning on the judges’ scorecards if he maintains range and keeps his feet moving. It has been his means in the past to winning fights many expected him to lose. But Browne has improved greatly, and he’s much more well-rounded. Power should be the edge for Browne. Travis Browne via TKO.

Matt Roth - Travis Browne has been super impressive in his UFC career. He’s one of the top young heavyweight prospects out there and has one of the best camps in Alliance behind him. The superman-punch knockout of Stefan Struve was impressive and shows he has some big power. I have a personal rule against picking English fighters not named Michael Bisping or Ross Pearson and haven’t really been impressed by Rob Broughton’s skills. Hafa by 2nd round TKO.

Anton Tabuena - Browne has looked very impressive on his young UFC career. He also has better training partners, and has faced better competition. Travis Browne by TKO.

Staff Picking Browne: Roth, Anton, Tim, Leland, Fraser, Fagan, Brookhouse
Staff Picking Broughton:

Nate Diaz vs Takanori Gomi

Brent Brookhouse - Nate Diaz is just too willing to be in bad positions, he throws his hands too wide, leaving openings for Gomi to strike with him and Diaz isn’t likely to look for a takedown. There aren’t a lot of guys on the UFC roster I’m picking Gomi over at this point, but Diaz is one of them. Takanori Gomi by decision.

Mike Fagan - Even after dropping fights to Golyaev and Kitaoka, then looking awful against Hervey, hardcore fans still celebrated Gomi’s arrival in the UFC. Now he’s just another dude in the middle-tier of the UFC lighterweight scrap heap. You can count me as one of the deluded. Takanori Gomi by decision.

Leland Roling - For all the criticism Takanori Gomi gets for not being able to compete against some of the best the UFC has to offer, he still possesses big power and a threatening offense on the feet. Diaz? Sloppy boxing and a weak takedown game make this interesting considering Gomi’s power. Can Diaz work Gomi over in the clinch and dominate him on the floor? It’s possible, but I like Gomi’s chances, as crazy as it may sound. Takanori Gomi via Decision.

Matt Roth - Oh how the mighty have fallen. It was only a couple years ago that Takanori Gomi lost to Nick Diaz by gogoplata (yes it was overruled, he still lost in my book). Since that fight he hasn’t looked like the Fireball kid we knew in PRIDE. Nate Diaz has skills but hasn’t been able to figure out how to best use them. Gomi seems like the safer pick but neither of these guys has been all that consistent lately. I’ll pick Nate Diaz but I’m not confident in that pick at all. Nate Diaz by Decision.

Anton Tabuena - I’d give a slight edge to Gomi on a stand up battle, but Nate is a tough and gritty dude, and there’s a reason why he still hasn’t lost by (T)KO yet. Being a Diaz pretty much guarantees he won’t be attempting that much takedowns, but sooner or later, I think it will still end up on the ground. That is where Diaz will win. Nate Diaz by Submission.

Tim Burke - Analysis can take a hike for a moment. I will never pick against Gomi, ever. EVER. He’s going to hit Nate so hard that Nate will forget how to spell “press conference” for his brother. This isn’t Pride Never Die, it’s Gomi Never Die. Takanori Gomi by epic knockout.

Fraser Coffeen - Diaz making the return to LW doesn’t fill me with confidence for his future, but Gomi is in a tough spot here. His only chance is a KO, and the combination of Diaz’s high-volume punches, reach advantage, and all around striking game make that unlikely. Nate Diaz by submission.

Staff Picking Diaz: Roth, Anton, Fraser, Brookhouse
Staff Picking Gomi: Tim, Leland, Fagan

Ben Rothwell vs Mark Hunt

Brent Brookhouse - Mark Hunt won his last fight, I still think he’s a below average UFC heavyweight while Rothwell is more “average.” Ben Rothwell by TKO, round 2.

Mike Fagan - Isn’t the UFC still obligated to give Hunt another fight after this? Ben Rothwell by submission, round one.

Leland Roling - It’s crazy to hear people giving Mark Hunt a great chance to win this fight considering his checkered record of losses. Rothwell might not be a proven elite heavyweight, but I think he has more than enough skill to press Hunt and wear him out without getting blasted. If Rothwell tries to stand with Hunt, he deserves to lose. Ben Rothwell via submission.

Matt Roth - Both of these guys are still in the UFC? Crazy. Mark Hunt was incredibly close to receiving his walking papers before his epic walk off knockout over Chris Tuchscherer. Rothwell has been out for over a year after besting Gilbert Yvel at UFC 115. Rothwell is the more well rounded of the two and that usually means a win. I just hope he doesn’t decide to stand and trade with the K-1 vet. Ben Rothwell by 3rd round TKO.

Anton Tabuena - If Rothwell stands with him, and he will get stopped. I think he’s smart enough to take the easier route to victory. Ben Rothwell by Submission.

Tim Burke - I’m a huge fan of Mark Hunt, but this fight will end up on the floor quickly and if Sean McCorkle has the chops to submit Hunt, you know for sure that Rothwell does, even coming off a long layoff. I hope Hunt blasts him to high heaven though. Rothwell by quick submission.

Fraser Coffeen - The path to beating Mark Hunt in 2011 is clear: take him down and lock on a submission, preferably an arm-based one. Stand and trade at your own peril. I think Rothwell is, for some reason, going to go the stand-up route. And I think he’s going to regret it. This is probably an irrational pick from the heart, but so be it. Mark Hunt by KO.

Staff Picking Rothwell: Roth, Anton, Tim, Leland, Fagan, Brookhouse
Staff Picking Hunt: Fraser

SBN coverage of UFC 135: Jones vs. Rampage


Spike TV Prelims

Tony Ferguson vs Aaron Riley

Brent Brookhouse  - Aaron Riley is a tough, veteran fighter and isn’t going to be an easy fight for Ferguson. I feel like this is a fight given to Tony because the UFC thinks he should win, and he probably should. But something about Riley just strikes me as a bad fight for Tony. I might be wrong here but Aaron Riley by decision.

Mike Fagan - It literally took me a minute to recollect watching the TUF 13 Finale. What a season. If Ferguson has any future in the UFC, he’ll run through Riley from the opening bell. That’s not likely. Tony Ferguson by decision.

Leland Roling - Riley will more than likely takedown Ferguson and keep him there, but there is something about Ferguson’s tenacious style that is leaning me his way. Riley runs into a brick wall. Tony Ferguson via decision.

Matt Roth - Tony Ferguson won the most meaningless season of the Ultimate Fighter. He looked good doing so but the level of talent was awful. Aaron Riley has the experience and whenever he faces questionable opposition, he dominates them. I expect him to do just that on Saturday night. Aaron Riley by Unanimous Decision.

Staff Picking Ferguson: Tim, Leland, Fraser, Fagan
Staff Picking Riley: Roth, Anton, Brookhouse

Nick Ring vs Tim Boetsch

Brent Brookhouse - Boetsch’s move to middleweight was pretty brilliant. Ring is kind of...well, he isn’t good. Tim Boetsch by TKO, round two.

Mike Fagan - Tim Boetsch forever has my heart for throwing David Heath headfirst into the fence like a schoolyard bully. Tim Boetsch by decision.

Leland Roling - Tim Boetsch at middleweight is a win for everyone. Tim Boetsch via TKO.

Anton Tabuena - The Barbarian is going to dominate this one. Tim Boetsch by Decision.

Tim Burke - Nick Ring is the worst thing to come out of Alberta since Nickelback. I’ll send Tim Boetsch a win bonus myself if he knocks Ring out. Tim Boetsch by TKO.

Fraser Coffeen - I thought Boetsch would struggle with the drop in weight. I was wrong. He looked very impressive and like a potential force at 185. Now that he’s even more comfortable with the drop, I expect even more of his strength and dominance against an opponent who has yet to really impress me much. Tim Boetsch by TKO.

Staff Picking Ring:
Staff Picking Boetsch: Anton, Tim, Fraser, Leland, Fagan, Brookhouse

Facebook Preliminary Card

Junior Assuncao vs Eddie Yagin

Brent Brookhouse - This fight feels like it should be on a Strikeforce (or Bellator) undercard. Eddie Yagin by decision.

Mike Fagan - When you’re 32 years of age with a 15-4-1 record, it’s time to drop the “Phenom” monicker. Junior Assuncao by decision.

Leland Roling - I’ll limb this pick since I’m not buying into the Assuncao name here. Junior isn’t his brother by any stretch of the imagination, and it’s been half a decade since Yagin was dominated on the ground. Eddie Yagin via decision.

Anton Tabuena - I’m not picking against a Filipino. Eddie Yagin by Being Biased.

Tim Burke - Yagin’s just not very good. I think Assuncao uses his size advantage to perfection and completely grounds out Yagin. Junior Assuncao by decision.

Staff Picking Assuncao: Tim, Fraser, Fagan
Staff Picking Yagin: Anton, Leland, Brookhouse

Takeya Mizugaki vs Cole Escovedo

Mike Fagan - I won’t be around for any of the prelims, but this is more deserving for Spike than Ferguson-Riley. Takeya Mizugaki by decision.

Leland Roling - Tough call. Escovedo has the tools to beat Mizugaki, but I’m still in love with Mizugaki’s toughness. He’s a solid wrestler, and he’s fearless on the feet. I think the combination of the two will make it difficult for Escovedo to run wild offensively. Takeya Mizugaki via decision.

Fraser Coffeen - Not since Kimo has a fighter made such a reputation off of a gutsy loss. Mizugaki is probably best known for going to a decision against Miguel Torres back when Torres ruled the division, but I’ve never found him deserving of the hype. I don’t like how Escovedo keeps moving between weight classes, but I still think he has the offensive skills to take this one. Cole Escovedo by decision.

Staff Picking Mizugaki: Anton, Tim, Leland, Fagan
Staff Picking Escovedo: Fraser, Brookhouse

James Te Huna vs Ricardo Romero

Brent Brookhouse  - I keep picking Te Huna to win fights and he does have power. But going against a wrestler is dangerous. Still, even though this is dumb on my part, I think Romero tries to stand for just a little too long and gets finished early. James Te Huna by TKO, round 1.

Mike Fagan - Romero outwrestles “Bumble.” Ricardo Romero by decision.

Leland Roling - Te Huna sucks on the ground. Romero is a credentialed wrestler who can submit guys when he isn’t trying to sloppily box opponents. Ricardo Romero via submission.

Tim Burke - Te Huna hits hard, but he’s at a big disadvantage on the floor. Romero can take a shot fairly well (as long as it’s not Kyle Kingsbury throwing it, apparently), and he’ll absorb the punishment to get the fight where he needs it. Ricardo Romero by submission.

Fraser Coffeen - This one is a lot like Hunt vs. Rothwell. The New Zealander hits hard, but he’s got issues on the ground. Romero has the ground skills to win this, and although the Kingsbury fight makes me question his chin somewhat, I think he’ll take it down quickly and control things from there. Ricardo Romero bu submission.

Staff Picking Te Huna: Anton, Brookhouse
Staff Picking Romero: Tim, Leland, Fraser, Fagan