by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
MMAWeekly’s Ricardo Mendoza takes a look at tonight’s UFC Fight Night event at the Palms in Las Vegas. The main event features Mike Swick in his welterweight debut taking on “The People’s Champion” Josh Burkman. Mendoza breaks it down… fight-by-fight.
MIKE SWICK VS. JOSH BURKMAN
Ultimate Fighter season one veteran Mike Swick takes on Ultimate Fighter season two veteran Josh Burkman. Swick has a 10-2 record and trains out of the American Kickboxing Academy with Jon Fitch and for this fight with Evan Tanner in Salt Lake City. Burkman has a 9-4 record and trains out of Team Punishment with Kendall Grove.
Swick comes off a decision loss to Yushin Okami at UFC 69, while Josh Burkman comes off a close split decision victory over Forrest Petz at UFC 77.
This will be Swick’s first fight in the welterweight division after competing at middleweight for his entire career. Burkman hasn’t been able to reach the next level of his MMA career, faltering in all his big fights and not being able to break through tough opponents.
Swick lacked real strength at middleweight, that shouldn’t be a problem any more as he will be bigger than the majority of fighters in the division. He has already had a couple of test cuts prior to this fight, so dropping the weight shouldn’t zap any of his strength or energy.
This is do or die for Burkman, he has been on the losing end against top welterweights and hasn’t looked good recently, struggling to win decisions over fighters that are less experienced then him. He needs to make a statement against Swick if he ever wants to be considered as a viable contender for the title.
Swick has the clear advantage on the feet with quick technical striking, while Burkman will look to ground the fight and use his wrestling to control Swick. Burkman will start out explosive, pressuring Swick in the early going, but as the fight wears on Swick should take over.
Look for Swick to tag Burkman with constant shots, always keeping him on the defense and not letting up en route to a decision.
Prediction: Mike Swick by decision.
PATRICK COTE VS. DREW McFEDRIES
Canadian slugger Patrick Cote takes on Miletich trained striker Drew McFedries. Cote has an 11-4 record and trains out of BTT Canada with Fabio Holanda and Sityodtong with Mark DellaGrotte. McFedries has a 6-2 record and trains out of Team Miletich with Pat Miletich.
Cote comes off a stoppage victory over Ultimate Fighter 3 winner Kendall Grove at UFC 74, while McFedries knocked out Bulgarian wrestler Jordan Radev at UFC Fight Night 10.
This fight is going to be a straight-up slugfest between two very skilled strikers that constantly swing for the fences. Neither fighter is going back down from the other and this fight will more than likely see little action on the ground.
Cote has finally gotten past that hump of never winning in the UFC by winning two straight including knocking off Ultimate Fighter season three winner Kendall Grove in impressive fashion. McFedries has looked impressive in the UFC, but he comes off a serious staph infection that sidelined him for the tail end of last year.
This fight could come down to which fighter has the better chin, seeing that both fighters will try to knock off the other’s head. Cote has never been seriously rocked in any of his UFC appearances, while McFedries was rocked several times in his debut against Alessio Sakara. Neither fighter is too well versed on the ground, so it’s pretty even in that aspect of the fight.
These two will bang it out, but as the fight gets into the latter stages of the opening round, look for Cote to take over with hard precise shots that will hurt McFedries and finally finish him off with strikes.
Prediction: Patrick Cote by TKO in the first round.
THIAGO TAVARES VS. MICHIHIRO OMIGAWA
Exciting young grappler Thiago Tavares faces off with Yoshida Dojo lightweight Michihiro Omigawa. Tavares has a 12-1 record and trains out of Ataque Duplo-Murilo Rupp. Omigawa has a 4-5 record and trains out of the Yoshida Dojo with Makoto Takimoto.
Tavares comes off a close split decision loss to Tyson Griffin at UFC 76, while Omigawa dropped a decision to Matt Wiman at the same event.
This should be an exciting ground fight between two very skilled grapplers. Tavares lost a controversial decision to Griffin in a fight that many believe he should of won and I agree with them.
Omigawa is a very exiting and skilled judoka, who has made the successful transition to MMA. His only problem is that he lacks size and strength to compete with the lightweights in the UFC.
Tavares will want to make a statement in this fight; he rightfully believes that he should have won his last fight and will take out his aggression against Omigawa. He will use his strength and size advantage over Omigawa to ground him, then to pound his head in.
Omigawa should be able to defend against submissions, but Tavares will pour on the heat with strikes on the ground and finish him.
Prediction: Thiago Tavares by TKO in the first round.
NATHAN DIAZ VS. ALVIN ROBINSON
Ultimate Fighter season five winner Nathan Diaz takes on Ring of Fire lightweight champion Alvin Robinson. Diaz has a 7-2 record and trains out of Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu with Nick Diaz. Robinson has a 9-2 record and trains out of The Lab MMA in Colorado.
Diaz comes off a submission victory over Junior Assuncao at UFC Fight Night 11, while Robinson dominated Jorge Gurgel en route to a decision victory at UFC 77.
This is going to be an exciting fight between two young, talented fighters that have a bright future in the UFC. Diaz looked better in his last fight against Assuncao than when he won the Ultimate Fighter 5, looking relaxed and confident in his skills.
Robinson didn’t make an impressive UFC debut as nerves and the skills of Kenny Florian got the better of him. He dominated Gurgel in his return fight, showing the talent that got him into the UFC.
Neither fighter has much of an advantage over the other in the stand-up and both fighters are explosive ground fighters with solid cardio. The difference in the fight will be wrestling and Robinson has the edge over Diaz in that category of the fight.
Look for Robinson to use the same strategy that Manny Gamburyan used against Diaz, grounding him and pounding him with strikes. Diaz will throw up submissions from his back, but Robinson is more than competent to defend them and will take home a decision.
Prediction: Alvin Robinson by decision.
KURT PELLEGRINO VS. ALBERTO CRANE
Colorful Armory lightweight Kurt Pellegrino faces off with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Alberto Crane. Pellegrino has a 10-3 record and trains out of The Armory with Rich Crunkilton. Crane has an 8-1 record and trains out of New Mexico.
Pellegrino comes off a decision loss to Joe Stevenson at UFC 74, while Roger Huerta stopped Crane with strikes at the same event.
Both fighters are coming off losses and will want to get back on the winning track with an impressive victory. Pellegrino lost a hard fought decision to Stevenson, he had his moments in the fight, but his cardio betrayed him in the end.
The same story goes for Crane, who had his opportunities against Huerta, but ultimately his cardio lost him the fight. Ring rust must have played a factor too, but now he has no excuses going into his second UFC fight.
Both fighters are dynamic ground fighters, but Pellegrino has the edge in the stand-up and he is a better wrestler than Crane. Pellegrino will control the fight with superior striking and he will take it to the ground at his choice.
Pellegrino will control the fight by putting Crane on his back and avoiding Crane’s submission attempts en route to decision victory.
Prediction: Kurt Pellegrino by decision.
GRAY MAYNARD VS. DENNIS SIVER
Xtreme Couture lightweight Gray Maynard takes on German-trained striker Dennis Siver. Maynard has a 3-0 record and trains out of Xtreme Couture with Mike Pyle. Siver has an 11-4 record and trains out of the OC Fight Team in Germany.
Maynard comes off a quick knockout victory over Joe Veres at UFC Fight Night 11, while Siver knocked out ZST veteran Naoyuki Kotani at UFC 75.
Maynard is a very talented fighter and with some more fight experience under his belt, he could become a star in the UFC lightweight division. Siver has primarily fought at welterweight, but moving down to lightweight might have reinvented his career.
Maynard is an excellent wrestler, who fights at a frantic pace and training at Xtreme Couture has only honed his skills. Siver has the advantage on the feet being a world-class kickboxer and won’t want to the fight to go on the ground.
Look for Maynard to ground this fight in a hurry and unleash a furious ground and pound attack throughout the fight. Siver might get his shots in, but he will spend most of the fight on his back and losing a decision to Maynard.
Prediction: Gray Maynard by decision.
COLE MILLER VS. JEREMY STEPHENS
Lightweight Cole Miller takes on Midwest striking phenom Jeremy Stephens. Miller has a 13-2 record and trains out of American Top Team with Marcus Aurelio. Stephens has a 12-2 record and trains out of Iowa.
Miller comes off a decision victory over Leonard Garcia at UFC Fight Night 11, while Stephens comes off a decision victory over Diego Saraiva at UFC 76.
Miller is one of the best prospects from the Ultimate Fighter season five and Stephens is one of the best up-and-coming fighters out of the Midwest. These two will both want a victory to slowly creep up the ladder in the crowded lightweight division.
Miller has shown improved striking since his time on the Ultimate Fighter 5, utilizing his size and reach advantage over opponents in the stand-up. He is primarily a ground fighter and that will play into his advantage against Stephens, who doesn’t have a strong ground game.
Stephens is a great striker and has shown flashes of that in the UFC, but a lack of a quality ground game is holding him back from reaching his full potential as a fighter. He needs to be able to keep the fight on the feet or else he’s going to have a bad night.
These two will trade early on and Stephens will get his licks in, which will force Miller to take the fight to the ground and work his magic. Miller will wear Stephens down over the course of the first round and continue it into the second round, where he will finally lock on a submission to end the fight.
Prediction: Cole Miller by submission in the second round.
COREY HILL VS. JOE VERES
Team Miletich lightweight Corey Hill takes on wrestler Joe Veres. Hill has a 1-0 record and trains out of Miletich Fighting Systems with Jens Pulver. Veres has a 4-2 record and trains out of California.
Hill comes off a stoppage victory over Stryder Fann at Kickdown Classic 31, while Gray Maynard at UFC Fight Night 11 knocked out Veres.
This will be Hill’s UFC debut and he is one of the more talented prospects to come out of the Ultimate Fighter since its inception. Veres gets one more crack at winning a UFC fight, but a loss could mean his exit from the Octagon.
Although Hill isn’t experienced, his pure talent and enormous reach make up for that. Look for Hill to use his significant size and reach advantage over Veres en route to knocking out the less touted fighter.
Prediction: Corey Hill by KO in the first round.
MATT WIMAN VS. JUSTIN BUCHHOLZ
Ultimate Fighter season five veteran Matt Wiman faces off with UFC newcomer Justin Buchholz. Wiman has an 8-3 record and trains out of the Tulsa Top Team in Oklahoma. Buchholz has a 7-1 record and trains out of Ultimate Fitness with World Extreme Cagefighting champion Urijah Faber.
Wiman comes off a decision victory over Michihiro Omigawa at UFC 76, while Buchholz stopped Ikaika Choy-Fu at Elite XC: Uprising.
Wiman has looked impressive in the UFC, losing only his debut fight to Spencer Fisher at UFC 60. Buchholz has an immediate chance to make a name for himself in the UFC by knocking off one of their more exciting fighters.
The difference between these two fighters is experience, although they have a similar amount of fights, Wiman has fought in the UFC and has faced tougher competition. Wiman also has an advantage on the ground and they will come into play.
Buchholz will come out swinging, but his inexperience in the UFC will get to him and he will tire himself out, once that happens look for Wiman to lock on a submission midway through the fight.
Prediction: Matt Wiman by submission in the second round.