by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
CAIN VELASQUEZ VS. BEN ROTHWELL
Undefeated heavyweight prospect Cain Velasquez faces off with multi-promotion veteran Ben Rothwell. This will serve as the co-main event at UFC 104 and should live up to the billing. These two will go toe-to-toe with one another. The winner is likely next in line for a shot at the UFC heavyweight title.
Rothwell is a seasoned veteran and will look to make an impact in his Octagon debut by beating the highly regarded Velasquez. The advantages he has over Velasquez will be size and experience, but outside of that it could be a rather long night for Rothwell, as Velasquez has the advantage in almost every aspect of the fight. He is the more polished striker of the two and is a much better ground fighter.
Rothwell’s best chance will be to catch Velasquez off guard on the feet, but look for Velasquez to overwhelm Rothwell, put him on his back, and end the fight with strikes.
GLEISON TIBAU VS. JOSH NEER
American Top Team lightweight Gleison Tibau faces off with Midwest lightweight Josh Neer. Both fighters are coming off losses and need a win to stay relevant in the UFC lightweight division. This should be an interesting fight that could very well be decided on the feet, as both are exceptional groundfighters.
Tibau has used the same formula in most his fights by taking his opponents to the ground and using his strong jiu-jitsu base to control them from the top. Neer has shown that he can strike on the feet and apply submissions from his back, but in this fight he has to go back to his roots and use his wrestling. If he can keep the fight on the feet, he can tag Tibau all night. If not, expect Tibau to control Neer from the top en route to a decision victory.
JOE STEVENSON VS. SPENCER FISHER
Ultimate Fighter 2 winner Joe Stevenson faces off with Miletich Fighting Systems lightweight Spencer Fisher. Whoever comes out on top in this fight will be in the UFC lightweight title picture next year as fighters keep picking each other off. They have a contrast in styles, so the fight will have a definite finish for whoever wins.
Stevenson is the better groundfighter of the two when it comes to wrestling and submissions, while Fisher’s strength is his striking ability. Fisher has put together a string of victories over quality opponents and this will be his first test to see whether or not he can compete with the top lightweights in the UFC. Stevenson is looking to rebuild himself within the division after suffering a couple of high profile losses over the last year.
Stevenson will look to take the fight to the ground and keep it there. Fisher’s only chance will be to keep it standing and out-strike Stevenson. That is unlikely, as Stevenson will ground him en route to a decision victory.
ANTHONY JOHNSON VS. YOSHIYUKI YOSHIDA
Talented welterweight prospect Anthony Johnson faces off with Cage Force welterweight champion Yoshiyuki Yoshida. This is an important bout for both fighters as the winner could enter the upper echelon of the UFC welterweight division. These two like to push the pace, so expect them an exciting fight.
Johnson is one of the brighter prospects in the welterweight divisions due to his athleticism and talent on the feet. Yoshida will have the advantage on the ground, but he’ll need to avoid getting tagged while standing, as he can’t handle serious power.
Johnson will need to use his wrestling to avoid the takedown and from there he can use his striking to end the fight. Yoshida, on the other hand, will look to lock on a submission on the ground. It’s going to be hard for Yoshida to take the fight to the floor, so expect Johnson to eventually land that one big strike that puts an end to the fight.
RYAN BADER VS. ERIC SCHAFER
Ultimate Fighter 8 winner Ryan Bader takes on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Eric Schafer. Bader has been successful in his UFC career to this point, but Schafer has had a recent resurgence in his career of late.
Bader is slowly improving on the feet, but Schafer should have a slight advantage thanks in part to his training with storied kickboxer Duke Rofous. Schafer also has an advantage when it comes to submissions, but Bader is a strong wrestler and will use it to effect.
Look for Bader to take the fight to the ground and smother Schafer, not giving him any space, and walking away with a comfortable decision victory.
ANTONI HARDONK VS. PAT BARRY
Dutch heavyweight import Antoni Hardonk faces off with K-1 heavyweight veteran Pat Barry. Both fighters are world class strikers and have proven that in their past fights. These two will trade blow-for-blow on the feet, but the difference in the fight will come on the ground.
Both have also shown they are less then competent on the ground. Whichever fighter has improved their ground game the most in the last couple of months could very well win the fight based off of that because they are rather evenly skilled on the feet.
YUSHIN OKAMI VS. CHAEL SONNEN
Japanese middleweight contender Yushin Okami takes on Team Quest middleweight Chael Sonnen. This fight will be key, as the winner could very well find himself in contention for the UFC middleweight title next year.
Neither is known for having exciting fights, but their styles are effective and get them winning results.
If the fight stays on the feet, expect Okami to clinch and use dirty boxing. Sonnen will do the same, but will be outmuscled by Okami, who will win a unanimous decision and continue on his UFC winning streak.
JORGE RIVERA VS. ROB KIMMONS
Longtime UFC veteran Jorge Rivera takes on Midwest submission fighter Rob Kimmons. Both fighters look to build off recent wins and move up the ladder in the middleweight division.
Rivera has the advantage on the feet, while Kimmons is the much better fighter on the ground and that will prove to be the difference in the fight.
Rivera hasn’t evolved much since he entered the UFC in 2003. It will be evident in this fight, as Kimmons will waste no time in getting the fight on the ground and locking on a choke for the tap.
KYLE KINGSBURY VS. RAZAK AL-HASSAN
American Kickboxing Academy product Kyle Kingsbury takes on eccentric striker Razak Al-Hassan. Both fighters are coming off losses and the loser here will probably find himself off the UFC roster.
Expect fireworks on the feet between these two, as they will trade some big shots with Kingsbury having heavy hands and Hassan being able to incorporate kicks and knees.
The difference in the fight will be which fighter has improved their ground game the most and who pushes the pace of the fight, whoever can will come out the victor.
STEFAN STRUVE VS. CHASE GORMLEY
Dutch heavyweight Stefan Struve faces off with undefeated heavyweight prospect Chase Gormley.
Struve has shown a knack for taking a beating and making a comeback, but he shouldn’t make a habit of it. Gormley is the better wrestler of the two, while Struve has the better submission ability. On the feet, both fighters have different strengths. Gormley has more power, while Struve has better technique and reach.
Gormley will play it safe and slowly wear down the young Struve with ground and pound en route to a decision victory.