MMAWeekly Radio co-host, fighter, and Pride broadcaster, Frank ‘Twinkle Toes’ Trigg broke down the entire UFC 57 fight card, giving his take exclusively to MMAWeekly.com.
The first fight of the night is between two of ‘The Ultimate Fighter 2′ participants: Keith Jardine and Mike Whitehead. Both have unbelievable potential, but it didn’t come across on the Spike TV reality show. This is their opportunity to show the world that their performances on the reality show weren’t an accurate representation of their true abilities.
Trigg’s take: “I think Whitehead has too many nerves, and I think there is too much pressure on him. I think that because he is so good that he puts a lot of pressure on himself and his training partners put a lot of pressure on him as well to be as good as they think he can be, but do it right away, so as a result he gets a big case of nerves when he gets out there and can’t function. I like Jardine’s chances in this just because Whitehead is a mental midget when he walks into the cage.”
Jeff ‘The Snowman’ Monson returns to the UFC after over a four-year absence. He last competed in the UFC octagon in a losing effort against Ricco Rodriguez at UFC 35: ‘Throwdown,’ back in January of 2002. Monson is on a thirteen fight win streak and takes on Branden Lee Hinkle who will fight for the second time in the UFC, and is riding an eight-fight win streak.
Trigg’s take: “I kind of really don’t care, honestly. Hinkle, he used to wrestle at 167. Now he’s kind of this ballooned up heavyweight. I think he spent too much time with BALCO to be honest with you. He’s just this big cat that kind of shows up and has a little bit of wrestling ability, but he’s a limited guy. The thing about Branden is he’ll train, walk outside, grab a six-pack and a pack of cigarettes and take off for the night . . . He’s never really in good shape. He never really comes in hard. Unless he’s changed his ways, I haven’t been around him in about two and a half, three years to know how he’s been training. He doesn’t really impress me too much. Jeff Monson really wants to prove himself as one of the heavyweights that should be around, so obviously he’s going to step in and show us. Hinkle can get the upset because he’s got a little bit better wrestling ability, but I think Monson is naturally too big for Hinkle.
Paul Buentello takes on Gilbert Aldano. Buentello is coming off a loss to Andrei Arlovski and taking on Aldano who is making his UFC debut. Gilbert has an undefeated record of 5-0-0 with all of his wins coming by way of knockout. Simply put, there should be fireworks in this one.
Trigg’s take: Buentello is going to knock this kid out within the first round. The little bit that I do know about Aldano is that he does have a pretty good shot, but he doesn’t complete it. He can shoot in pretty quick, but he doesn’t drive through you, so as a result Buentello’s going to be able to keep him off by dropping his hands down in front of him, and as soon as Aldano comes up, stands up again after a bad shot, he’s going to get cracked right in the head.”
The final of the prelim bouts on the UFC 57 card is Elvis Sinosic vs. Alessio Sakara. This fight is Sakara’s coming out party, and Elvis Sinosic’s last chance to stay in the big dance.
Trigg’s take: “Sinosic proves that anyone can get into a fight. I don’t know why Elvis is still around fighting. It doesn’t make any sense to me. His one claim to fame is that he submitted Jeremy Horn. That’s the one thing that he did. I don’t know. Maybe Joe Silva sees something that we just haven’t seen yet. Maybe he knows this kid is going to come around, or maybe he’s fighting for free, and that is why they put him on the card. I don’t know.”
Trigg added, “I don’t understand, but every time on a card there is one fight that kind of flabbergasts me, and then all of a sudden it’s a great fight. Everyone is like, did you see that fight? That was a great fight. I’m like, yea, I don’t even understand why it’s even there, then now I know why it was there because it was a great fight. This might be that fight that I really don’t understand it and don’t care to watch it, but when I see it, I’m like, wow. Holy crap, that was a really good fight. This could be that fight.”
Joe ‘Diesel’ Riggs and Nick Diaz are both coming off of loses, and are both extremely exciting fighters. They have the honor of kicking off the pay-per-view as the first fight of the main card. Riggs has made the welterweight weight limit of 170 twice and missed it narrowly once. The former heavyweight seems to have figured out how to cut down to 170. Nick Diaz is coming off a tough loss to Diego Sanchez, and always comes to fight. This match up has fight of the night written all over it. Both fighters have something to prove.
Trigg’s take: “I like Diaz’ chances. Diaz can strike. We all know Riggs is a heavy hitter. Diaz can hit. Riggs doesn’t really come in, in great shape because he hasn’t really figured out how to cut weight yet to 170. It’s difficult for him to get down there still. You can’t blame him. The kid was 300 pounds a few years ago. It’s just one of those deals, but I like Diaz’ chance. He’s obviously much better on the ground, and I think Diaz is going to get hit a couple of times by Riggs. He’s going to have his hands up early in the fight. He’s going to get hit, and he’s going to take this fight to the ground and then Riggs is in a lot of trouble. He is going to be in a lot of trouble once it hits the ground. Diaz is just that good on the ground. He’s a guy that you have to train for very particularly because of the kind of style that he does on top. He is very crafty on top of you . . . Riggs is in a lot of trouble once this goes to the ground, but his one saving grace is that he is literally one punch away from this fight being over. If he clips him, even gets past his hands and clips him one time, Riggs will finish Diaz immediately. The question is, will Diaz be able to get in and get it to the ground. If this thing goes to the ground, it’s all over.”
Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral has to have a title shot in his near future if he can get past Mike Van Arsdale tonight. Van Arsdale is coming off a loss to Randy Couture at UFC 54: ‘Boiling Point,’ and ‘Babalu’ is on one of the longest active winning streaks in Mixed Martial Arts with nine consecutive victories. He hasn’t lost since UFC 40: ‘Vendetta,’ against Chuck Liddell in November of 2002.
Trigg’s take: Van Arsdale hasn’t been that active. Van Arsdale basically only has a takedown and a real small ground and pound game. That is all he really has. Sobral is a complete fighter. He can punch. He can kick. He can take you down and submit you. He can move. He’s heavy hipped and he’s heavy handed. I think Sobral will really shortly be in a title fight st the weight class. I think he’s due and it’s time for him.”
Further breaking the fight down, Trigg commented, “I just don’t think Van Arsdale has been active enough, and he’s older. I mean he is the same age Couture is, but he hasn’t been as active. And Van Arsdale trains up there with Bob Cook, and at AKA, those guys are known for getting dings and hurt because they train so hard. Van Arsdale, his entire career, has been prone to injury. He has always had some kind of injury, always. That’s the thing that kept him out of the Olympic Games, kept him off the World Team twice. He always has some kind of injury coming in, and he had an injury when he fought Couture. He’ll never back out of a fight. He’ll never back out of a match. He’ll always show up, but he’s always going to have some kind of injury that is like a major injury when he shows up . . . I think Sobral is going to win this one, not easily, but I think he’s going to win this one pretty decisively, and I don’t see it going the distance.”
Former UFC Heavyweight Champion, Frank Mir, makes his return to Mixed Martial Arts tonight against ‘Pe De Pano’ Cruz. Mir last competed in June of 2004 at UFC 48: ‘Payback’ where he defeated Tim Sylvia and became the heavyweight champion. After suffering a serious leg injury in a motorcycle accident, Mir finally makes his return.
Trigg’s take on Mir vs. Cruz: “Pe De Pano and Babalu were here a couple of weeks ago training with Vladimir Matyushenko. I wasn’t here unfortunately, but for all intents and purposes, Pe De Pano has been working his takedowns with Babalu, and he’s not too bad. He’s not too bad from what Vladimir was telling me. Babalu’s actually a pretty good instructor, so he can kind of break things down pretty well to help you understand stuff. He’s got some pretty decent takedowns. Now, whether he can hit it with 15,000 screaming fans yelling at you, the lights are on, the music is playing, and Joe Rogan is yelling that you just got rocked, we’ll see if he can actually execute it at that point. That is the real test.”
Trigg continued. “It’s going to be tough. I tell you what, I don’t think either one of these guys are really going to want to keep it on the feet even though that’s what we think that is going to happen. I’ve said it a hundred times before, everyone has a plan until they get punched. I think as soon as one of these guys get hit, they’re going to try to take it down to the ground. If Mir hits Cruz and Cruz starts shooting, I think Mir is going to be able to keep him off. He’s a little bit more mobile and maybe hit him hard enough to knock him out, or stun him enough to get the fight to stop landing on top. If Mir gets hurt by Cruz, I think he’ll be able to take Mir down relatively easy, and then we’re going to see a pretty good, drawn, long out battle until Mir gets tired. Mir is always known to get exhausted very early. Once Mir gets tired, I think Cruz is going to jump all over him, but we’ll see what happens early. This fight will be determined in the first two minutes of the fight.”
The swing bout on the card is Justin Eilers vs. Brandon Vera. Eilers is coming off back to back loses to Paul Buentello and Andrei Arlovski and some pretty severe injuries. Vera is fighting for the second time in the UFC, and looking to prove he not only belongs, but can be a contender.
Trigg’s take: “I’m very impressed with Vera, the way he trains, his mind, and how he does things when he is preparing for a fight, but I haven’t been impressed with Brandon when he’s actually in the fight. I haven’t been impressed with him at all when he’s actually in there competing. I have a mixed bag. I know what he can do. I know his potential. I know how good he can be. Vera could quite easily be one of the best guys very, very quickly, like on top of his game very, very fast. But he just doesn’t show it when he competes. I’m anxious to see how this thing is going to come along. I actually think Eilers has a slight edge because he has been disrespected so much. He was kind of looked at as a has been after one loss, and Eilers is a really tough competitor. I think that mentally he may have the edge. I think that Brandon always gets a case of nervousness when he gets out there and competes. I think he’s always really, really nervous, and I don’t think Eilers will have that this time. I think he’s going to have that hunger, and that passion to just go after it.”
Chuck ‘The Iceman’ Liddell and Randy ‘The Natural’ Couture square off for the third time in the main event for the UFC Light-Heavyweight Championship. Liddell is looking to defend his title for a second time, and Couture is looking to get the belt back.
Trigg’s take: “This fight could go either way. It really could go either way. With Liddell being younger, having that devastating knockout the second time, and the first time, when he got beat, it took awhile for Couture to kind of beat him up. The odds makers have it in Liddell’s favor, and of course Liddell is everywhere right now. I mean every time you turn on something, he’s in it or about to come in it or whatever. My pick is Couture for this fight because I think he has the opportunity to steal it back again, to get that one last hurrah before he makes a decision on whether or not he’s going to retire. I like Couture’s chances in this.”
Trigg added, “You know how Randy trains. He’s always known for his cardio. The thing about Randy is he learns from his mistakes. Not like some of us, he doesn’t get beat the same way twice or even three times. He tends to learn on what he did before, so he’ll know that he can’t step straight in against Chuck this time, and he’s going to have to angle off. He knows that he’s not going to be able to stand out there and just dive right in. He’s going to have to kind of trap Chuck, chase him down a little bit, make a move and make sure that even though because Liddell is so devastating, even backpedaling he can hit you when he’s backing up and knock you out. He has to make sure that when he goes in, he goes in hard and heavy and goes underneath his punches.”