by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
MIRKO “CRO COP” FILIPOVIC VS. JUNIOR DOS SANTOS
Former Pride superstar Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic faces off with Brazilian heavyweight prospect Junior Dos Santos. Both fighters come off stoppage victories. A win for either fighter could put him on the fast track for a shot at the UFC heavyweight title. These two will slug it out on the feet; so don’t expect the fight to last long.
Cro Cop looked like a completely different fighter in his last fight, he was sharp and crisp with strikes unlike in his last several fights. Dos Santos hasn’t even fought a complete round in the UFC and has showed impressive striking for a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter.
He is the better ground fighter of the two and should use it to his full advantage. However, the fight will stay on the feet and that will play to Cro Cop’s advantage as it seems that Dos Santos wants to throw down on the feet, but that will be a mistake as he gets finished with strikes in the opening round.
MARTIN KAMPMANN VS. PAUL DALEY
Danish welterweight Martin Kampmann faces off with British striking sensation Paul Daley. Daley replaces Swick on the main card after Swick pulled out because of an injury. This could end up being one of the better fights of the night as Kampmann is on the brink of entering the upper echelon of the welterweight division, while Daley can make a big splash with a win over Kampmann.
Kampmann is a solid kickboxer, but has immensely improved his ground game. That has come in handy in his last couple of fights. Daley has been praised for his striking ability in the past, but his ground game leaves a lot to be desired. Although he is a great striker, Kampmann lacks power in his strikes and it will be smart if he takes the fight to the ground.
These two will try one another on feet, but Kampmann will eventually take the fight to the ground and lock on a late submission to remain undefeated as a welterweight.
JOSH KOSCHECK VS. FRANK TRIGG
Two-time NCAA wrestling champion Josh Koscheck faces off with returning UFC veteran Frank Trigg. Koscheck comes off an upset loss to Paulo Thiago and will be looking prove a point in this fight. Trigg makes his return to the UFC after fighting the last couple of years as a middleweight in other organizations.
These will be a battle of world-class wrestlers, but the big factor in the fight will be which fighter can control the action on the feet. Koscheck has improved his striking immensely since The Ultimate Fighter, while Trigg has never been known for having amazing striking.
If the fight stays on the feet then Koscheck will have the definite advantage. Trigg’s best chance will be do what he does best and that is take the fight to the ground, but he’ll have a hard time doing that against Koscheck, who is the better wrestler of the two. Look for Koscheck to control the action on the feet and mix in a takedown or two en route to a decision victory.
TYSON GRIFFIN VS. HERMES FRANCA
Xtreme Couture lightweight Tyson Griffin faces off with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lightweight fighter Hermes Franca. Griffin comes off an impressive victory over Rafael Dos Anjos, while Franca returns to action after almost a year off due to a knee injury. Both fighters are on the fringe in the lightweight division and a win for either could put him over the top for a possible title fight next year.
Griffin is the better wrestler of the two by far and is also the more technical striker of the two, thanks to his polished boxing ability. Franca on the other hand, has some serious power in his hands, but his technique leaves a lot to be desired.
His best chance to win the fight will be to somehow catch Griffin making a mistake on the ground and lock on a submission. That seems very unlikely as Griffin should be able to control the action on the feet with crisp boxing and dominate the ground with his wrestling ability en route to a decision victory.
EFRAIN ESCUDERO VS. COLE MILLER
Ultimate Fighter 8 winner Efrain Escudero takes on American Top Team lightweight Cole Miller. Escudero finally makes his anticipated return to the UFC after injuries have kept him out for most of the year. Miller comes off an impressive dismantling of Junie Browning in his last fight.
Escudero’s edge in the fight will be his strength and wrestling ability, while Miller is the better striker and submission fighter of the two. Look for Escudero to take the fight to the ground on several occasions and avoid all of Miller’s submission attempts en route to a commanding decision victory.
DREW MCFEDRIES VS. TOMASZ DRWAL
Midwest middleweight slugger Drew McFedries takes on Polish brawler Tomasz Drwal. Drwal will be making his middleweight debut after fighting his entire career at light heavyweight. One thing is certain for this fight; one of these two fighters will be out cold before the opening round is done.
Drwal will be the slightly bigger fighter of the two, but neither has an amazing ground game that will play a factor. McFedries is the more technical and powerful striker of the two and that will be the difference as he scores a vicious knockout victory.
JIM MILLER VS. STEVE LOPEZ
East coast submission fighter Jim Miller takes on UFC newcomer Steve Lopez. Lopez is a late injury replacement for Thiago Tavares, who pulled out of the fight several weeks ago. Miller has been on a tear in the UFC with his only loss being to Gray Maynard. Lopez will be well over his head as he has a tough UFC debut in front of him.
Lopez is a wrestler and will look to take the fight to the ground, but Miller is also an accomplished grappler in his own regard. Look for Miller to work over Lopez on the feet and take the fight, where he’ll lock on a submission late in the fight.
RAFAELLO OLIVEIRA VS. NIK LENTZ
Affliction lightweight transplant Rafaello Oliveira takes on UFC newcomer Nik Lentz. Lentz is a late replacement for an injured Dan Lauzon and will be making his UFC debut. Oliveira is an amazing ground fighter and has shown that is his best attribute in his arsenal.
Lentz will be looking to either keep this fight on the feet or use his wrestling to overpower the crafty submission fighter with strikes. Expect Lentz to take the fight to the ground and get over aggressive with his punches, which will give Oliveira a chance to lock on a submission and end the fight.
RICK STORY VS. BRIAN FOSTER
Northwest fighter Rick Story takes on UFC newcomer Brian Foster. Story takes the fight on a couple weeks’ notice as he steps in as a replacement for Paul Daley, who was moved up in the card to fight Martin Kampmann.
Story is a great wrestler but outside of that hasn’t shown too much as a fighter. Foster is a wrestler too, but is more well rounded with his striking and submissions. Look for Foster to make an impressive UFC debut as he avoids Story’s takedown attempts and finishes the fight strikes on the feet.
ELLIOT MARSHALL VS. JASON BRILZ
Ultimate Fighter 8 participant Elliot Marshall takes on Midwest wrestling product Jason Brilz. Both fighters have found success in the UFC and will look to move on to the upper tier of the light heavyweight division.
Marshall is the better striker and submission fighter, but Brilz has used his wrestling ability to much success in the UFC. If Marshall can stop the takedown then he’ll have a good chance to win the fight, but Brilz will be persistent in his attempts to get the takedown. That will be the difference, as he wins a decision thanks to aggressiveness and control.
VLADIMIR MATYUSHENKO VS. IGOR POKRAJAC
Longtime mixed martial arts veteran Vladimir Matyushenko takes on Croatian striker Igor Pokrajac. Matyushenko makes his return to the UFC after six years away, while Pokrajac makes his UFC debut.
Matyushenko is a quality wrestler and needs to take the fight to the ground, as Pokrajac is more than capable to end his return to the UFC with a knockout. Matyushenko will play it safe and take the fight to the ground, taking Pokrajac out of his comfort zone and grinding out a decision in his UFC return.
ROB EMERSON VS. RAFAEL DOS ANJOS
Ultimate Fighter 5 participant Rob Emerson takes on Brazilian lightweight Rafael Dos Anjos. Both fighters are coming off losses and another loss could put an end to either’s run in the UFC.
Emerson has a distinct reach advantage on the feet and is the better striker of the two, but Dos Anjos is the better ground fighter of the two and that will be the ultimate difference in the fight. Dos Anjos will be all business as he takes the fight to the ground and keeps it there en route to getting his first win in the UFC.