(‘You seem like a nice boy. It’s a shame what Rashad is going to do to you.’)
Merry Christmas, Potato Nation. In the spirit of giving, we present to you our customary pre-event face-off. It was either this or a gift card to The Pottery Barn. So, you know, you’re welcome. Enjoy the holiday, and all the best to you and yours. Don’t forget that we’re back on schedule tomorrow and liveblogging UFC 92 on Saturday. Doin’ work, son.
Exactly when and how will the three marquee fights end?
BG: Let’s start with the easy one. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira subs Frank Mir via armbar at 2:52 of round 3. And it’s not just because he has better jiu-jitsu and can absorb more damage. He will win because that’s how the TUF 8 story ends. It is written: Big Nog represents everything that is good and pure about this sport, while Mir is the cocky John Kreese–like asshole who didn’t care that the house pranks were interrupting Efrain Escudero’s sleep. (Monster!) Minotauro is going to beat Mir standing for the first two-and-a-half rounds, and then an ill-advised takedown attempt from Mir during the third will blow up in his face, leading to the submission win for Nogueira. We need this to happen, just like we need Lesnar vs. Nog for the real heavyweight title.
If Forrest Griffin can stick to the game plan he had against Rampage — playing it smart and safe, but pouncing when there are opportunities — he’ll beat Rashad Evans in a split decision. Here’s a fun stat: Evans has never won a unanimous decision in the UFC, even though five of his eight Octagon appearances have gone the distance. I’m not saying that judges don’t like him (although who knows, maybe they don’t), but it may suggest that if a fight goes to the scorecards, it’s because he wasn’t able to dominate his opponent. Also, Rashad’s never gone five rounds — Griffin has been there before.
Finally, Wanderlei Silva beats Quinton Jackson via unanimous decision in UFC 92’s Fight of the Night. It’s a difficult outcome to predict because of all the variables separating Silva/Jackson III from the previous two installments but Silva definitely has the advantage. I’m going to give Rampage the benefit of the doubt and say he’s eating normally this week, rather than following his occasional fasting/hallucinating routine. And while Wolfslair might not be the most acclaimed MMA camp in the world, the friendly and nurturing environment he’s found there will give him the confidence he needs to not perform like a shambling wreck. Jackson might get beaten to a pulp, but he won’t be knocked out.
BF: I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of some way Mir might win, just to be contrary, and I’ve got nothing. He definitely won’t sub Big Nog. He doesn’t have the cardio or the faith in himself to outpoint him over the course of five rounds. And if Mir becomes the first person to knock Nogueira out there’s simply nothing left for me to believe in. Nog submits Mir via rear naked choke at 3:55 of round two. That’s that.
Something about Forrest Griffin makes me pick against him and yet always feel like I’m making a mistake. I don’t know what it is, but I’m going to do it again. I see Rashad Evans outworking him and out-gameplanning him en route to a unanimous decision. That’s right.
“Rampage” Jackson is a much better fighter now, technically speaking, than he was in Pride. But Silva still has a weird power over him. Jackson is trying to act like this is just another fight, no big deal, but Wanderlei don’t play that way. Every fight is a blood feud to him, especially when it’s “Rampage” across the cage. His ferocity will overwhelm Jackson, who will hang tough for a while, but right around 2:36 of round three he’ll get dropped by a right hand and then finished by a torrent of punches on the mat. Afterwards Dana White will insist on taking him out to dinner and might even slip an Ambien in his water.
CB Dollaway vs. Mike Massenzio is scheduled for the #3 spot on the main card. What the fuck? And subquestion: Which fight would you rather see in its place?
BF: What the fuck, indeed. I’m not going to try and sort through the tortured logic that led to this decision, but suffice it to say I think it was the wrong one. That’s a good bout for a Spike TV Fight Night. Not as a headliner, but definitely broadcast-able. On a card as loaded with great fights as UFC 92, it sticks out as the weakest of the bunch by far.
The purist in me would rather see Dean Lister and Yushin Okami, no doubt. I realize it will probably be a methodical ground war, but so what? I love that shit. That said, I can realize why the UFC may be taking a wait-and-see attitude about broadcasting it.
But Dan Evensen-Pat Berry, that should end with somebody getting knocked out, and it probably won’t take long. I know it’s tough to justify putting newbies like them on the broadcast portion (though Dollaway and Massenzio aren’t exactly vets), but if I’m being honest I have to admit that I really want to see this one. I’m guessing it will make the broadcast if there’s any time at all, which there should be since there’s no way Mir is going to last five rounds with Big Nog.
BG: I hear you on Lister/Okami — as insulting as it is for the UFC to stick two of its best middleweights on the dark card, it really feels like the kind of fight where Joe Rogan will have to constantly remind us how exciting it is. (Translation: it’ll be boring as hell unless you’re a grappling fanatic.) So assuming we’ll get to see the Evensen/Barry bash-fest at some point, I’d rather have Matt Hamill vs. Reese Andy on the main card instead of Dollway/Massenzio.
It shouldn’t matter that Hamill and Andy are both coming off losses. Lately, Hamill has shown a greater willingness to use his hands rather than rely on his wrestling base; it didn’t work out for him in his most recent outing against Rich Franklin, but it made for a thrilling TKO win in his previous fight against Tim Boetsch. As for Andy, there may be more to him than we saw in his UFC debut in July, where he lost a decision to Brandon Vera. After all, this is a guy who has wins over Kala Hose, Mike Ciesnolevicz, and K-Sos under his belt. The loser of the Hamill/Andy bout might have to exit the UFC, at least temporarily, but the winner will prove himself to be a legitimate threat in the light-heavyweight division.
Who would you most want to see fired from the UFC if he loses his match tomorrow night?
BG: I guess I wouldn’t mind if I never saw CB Dollaway again. I know it’s not his fault that he’s on UFC 92’s main card — we can blame Dana White and Joe Silva for that — but it doesn’t mean I still can’t be put off by the situation, and resent him for it. And if he loses to a barely established up-and-comer like Mike Massenzio, it doesn’t look good. That would make Dollaway 1-2 in the UFC, with his sole win being over Jesse Taylor. Exactly how much loyalty is warranted for TUF runners-up in this tough economy? It’s not like he won the six-figure contract.
Plus, his utterly bitch-like protest of his own tapout against Amir Sadollah at the TUF 7 finale left a bad taste in my mouth, and as several of you pointed out, he looks like Launchpad McQuack. Obviously, Reese Andy and Dan Evenson should be on high alert since they lost their UFC debuts, but let’s be real: Dollaway is expendable. Unfortunately he’s BFFs with Ryan Bader, so even if he loses he’ll probably live to fight another day.
BF: There’s who I want to see fired, and then there’s who’s most likely to be fired. Dollaway takes the first category easily, but not the second. If he can’t beat Massenzio, there’s really no reason to keep him around except for the fact that he’s probably fighting cheap under the notoriously non-lucrative post-TUF contract, which, combined with his moderate name value, is probably what will keep him around. Being BFF’s with Bader, well, that and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee anywhere.
Reese Andy, who is also probably fighting cheap, is in the real must-win situation. He’s not terribly exciting to watch and matching him up against Hamill feels suspiciously like a convenient way to get rid of him while also giving Hamill a confidence boost after the Franklin fight. I don’t necessarily want to see it, but Andy will lose and he’ll be out of work afterwards.
P.S. Andy’s decision win over K-Sos? That was a gift from some inept judges, so don’t make too much out of it.