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UFC 81: Preview and Predictions...By Jay Graziani
UFC 81: Breaking Point
Saturday, February 2nd, 10 PM ET
Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas
Weigh-in: Friday, February 1st, 7 PM ET, live online
The third UFC pay-per-view in just 5 weeks marks an interesting turn for UFC. The attention has been focused primarily on former WWE-superstar Brock Lesnar's UFC debut, overshadowing the "interim" heavyweight title bout to determine Randy Couture's replacement at the top of the heap. With two replacement fighters stepping into this event due to late injuries, a weak card has been made even worse, as top-to-bottom this isn't much better than UFC 80 just 3 weeks ago. It just might not be possible for the UFC to dilute their product any further.
Here's a preview of Saturday night's fights, with current odds from Bookmaker.com.
Keita "K-Taro" Nakamura (14-2-2) vs. Rob "The Saint" Emerson (6-6-0)
Current Odds: Nakamura -255; Emerson +205
Nakamura last fought in a UFC Fight Night 9 preliminary bout, a decision loss to Drew Fickett at welterweight. He is coming down in weight here to fight at 155. His record is deceiving, as he is 0-2 in UFC events but undefeated in small Japanese promotions. He has 8 submission wins, all via rear naked choke. Rob Emerson was featured on The Ultimate Fighter 5, where he fought Gray Maynard to a no-contest in the finale, a fight where Emerson submitted after being on the losing end of a slam that simultaneously knocked his opponent unconscious. During the reality show he also faced two of the toughest competitors, Nate Diaz and Corey Hill, putting in good showings against both despite ending up with two losses. Both fighters are relatively inexperienced, but Emerson has shown some talent and I like him here as a good-sized underdog. Prediction: Emerson by decision.
David Heath (7-2-0) vs. Tim "The Barbarian" Boetsch (6-1-0)
Current Odds: Heath -250; Boetsch +200
Heath has entered the Octagon 4 times, winning his first two and losing his last two, though the losses were against strong opponents Renato Sobral and Lyoto Machida. Boetsch is making his UFC debut, coming off a loss in the IFL following a 6-fight win streak in smaller promotions. Both are well rounded,but Heath's experience makes the 2-1 odds on this fight about right. I'll lean towards Boetsch whose decent wrestling game might let him stick around longer than Heath would like. Prediction: Boetsch, 1st round TKO.
Marvin "The Beastman" Eastman (14-7-1) vs. Terry Martin (16-3-0)
Current Odds: Eastman +185; Martin -225
Eastman is notable for winning his debut MMA fight over current light heavyweight champion Quinton Jackson back in 2000. He is a part-time fighter and full-time corrections officer, and has fought sporadically since his debut, but with more consistently as of late. He is currently the middleweight champion of the International Fighting Organization. Eastman is well-rounded but has never been spectacular, and at 38 years old is well past his prime fighting age. Martin is a striker who last appeared in Fight Night 11, losing to Chris Leben by 3rd round KO and taking his record within the Octagon to 2-3. I think the line is close to where it should be, but will lean towards Eastman, with his experience and what I see as a style advantage. Prediction: Eastman by decision.
Chris "Lights Out" Lytle (24-15-5) vs. Kyle Bradley (13-4-0)
Current Odds: Lytle -600; Bradley +450
Lytle is an experienced fighter who has never really distinguished himself other than a stint on TUF 4. Bradley is a newcomer to UFC who is on a 15-month, 7-fight win streak in smaller promotions. He is more of a striker and not a particularly good style match-up against Lytle who should be able to counter when standing and dominate on the ground. I can't imagine backing Lytle as such a huge favorite, especially since little is known about his opponent. A great bout to ignore at the betting window, but lean towards the underdog who has a puncher's chance at these odds. Prediction: Lytle, 1st round submission.
Gleison Tibau (15-4-0) vs. Tyson Griffin (10-1-0)
Current Odds: Tibau +320; Griffin -420
Tibau is a jiu-jitsu specialist holding a 3-1 record in UFC, with his only loss in the Octagon coming to Nick Diaz at 170 lbs. He has now moved down to 155 and will have a 4" height advantage. Griffin has only one loss in his career (to Frank Edgar) and is one of the top contenders in the lightweight division. Griffin is the stronger fighter but has been through two wars with Clay Guida and Thiago Tavares, either of which he could have easily lost. I'll back Tibau as a value play against public favorite Griffin. Prediction: Tibau, 3rd round submission.
Rob "Monster" Yundt (6-0-0) vs. Ricardo "Big Dog" Almeida (8-2-0)
Current Odds: Off the Board
Yundt is stepping in on extremely short notice, about 4 days, to replace a bronchitis-ridden Alan Belcher. He is 6-0 in the Alaska Fighting Championships, his only professional MMA experience. Almeida does not exactly have a long list of MMA accomplishments himself with only 10 fights to his name, and he has been out of the MMA game for almost 4 years, with his last fight in May 2004. He is a BJJ black belt under Renzo Gracie, and while rusty still has excellent skills and wins over a number of decent opponents, Almeida should be a heavy favorite here. Prediction: Almeida, 1st round submission.
Jeremy "Gumby" Horn (79-16-5) vs. Nate "The Great" Marquardt (25-7-2)
Current Odds: Horn +210; Marquardt -260
Amazingly, this will be Jeremy Horn's 101st mixed martial arts fight, and he is still only 32 years old. He is stepping in late (as of January 9th) to replace an injured Thales Leites in this match. His jiu-jitsu is good and he has plenty of weapons in his MMA toolbox, but he hasn't beaten anyone relevant in quite some time, and is only 3-2 in the last 2-1/2 years since losing to Chuck Liddell at UFC 54. Marquardt's last fight saw him lose to Anderson Silva in a title bout, but it is hard to hold that against him considering how dominant Silva has been. Prior to that he was on a 3-year (albeit only 7 fight) win streak. He is an excellent grappler and 7-time Pancrase champion. Though coming off a loss, Marquardt is the better fighter, and that combined with the short prep time for Horn makes for a decent bet on Marquardt. Prediction: Marquardt, 3rd round submission.
Frank Mir (10-3-0) vs. Brock Lesnar (1-0-0)
Current Odds: Mir +135; Lesnar -165
Though not the main event, this is the most anticipated fight on the card. Lesnar, former WWE superstar, former NCAA wrestling champion, and former NFL tryout makes his UFC debut. He has teamed up with Minnesota Martial Arts Academy (whose ranks include former UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk), and has fought once before in MMA, a first round win in K-1 coming by tapout via strikes in just over a minute against a tomato-can opponent. His size (2" and 25 lb. advantage in this matchup) and wrestling ability will be strengths, but we have yet to see much of his submissions or striking outside of the WWE. Mir has a mean jiu-jitsu game and plenty of experience as former UFC heavyweight champion, though he seems to have lost a step since his unfortunate motorcycle accident in 2004. He is probably best known for breaking Tim Sylvia's forearm by armlock on the night he took the championship. Since his return to the UFC, he is only 2-2 with both losses coming in the first round, though the only real contender in that span was Brandon Vera (who defeated Mir via 1st round TKO). This line is a bit high for a newcomer to the UFC, but it has come down from the opener. Lesnar's takedowns and size will be too much for Mir and I see this ending by a Lesnar ground-and-pound fairly quickly in the first round. Prediction: Lesnar, 1st round TKO.
Tim "The Maine-iac" Sylvia (24-3-0) vs. Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira (30-4-1)
Current Odds: Sylvia +155; Noguiera -185
As usual, Tim Sylvia holds an impressive height advantage in this match, 4" over Minotauro. Nogueira fought only once in 2007, an unimpressive decision win over Heath Herring. He has fought since 1999 and has battled a virtual who's who of UFC and PRIDE heavyweight greats. Sylvia is primarily a striker/wrestler who often tries to ride his way to a decision, as in his last fight against Brandon Vera at UFC 77. He has lost to only Randy Couture, Frank Mir, and Andrei Arlovski in a career that spans back to 2001. Sylvia has been the on-again, off-again UFC heavyweight champion, though he is only 4-3 in career title fights in a fairly lackluster division. Despite his last performance, Nogueira is still on top of his game, and while Sylvia is often taken too lightly by the betting public, value is on Nogueira here as his submission skills are worlds better than Sylvia's. Prediction: Nogueira, 2nd round submission.
Picks (2008: 2-1 +1.00 units; Best Bets: 1-0, +1.00 units)
Rob Emerson +205
Gleison Tibau +320
Nate Marquardt -260 (Best Bet)
Brock Lesnar -165
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira -185 (Best Bet)
Opinions (2008: 3-3 -0.60 units)
Tim Boetsch +200
Marvin Eastman +185
Kyle Bradley +450
I would have liked to see the line lower and when i originally broke down that fight it was only -150 at CRIS. You can still find better out there if you shop around though.
A big key in MMA betting is getting the best line...lots of variety out there and if you can't beat every line I have posted above by at least 10 cents then you just don't have enough outs.
MMAWeekly was on location from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, NV for UFC 81 weigh-ins. All fighters made weight.
Brock Lesnar tipped the scales at the heavyweight limit of 265 pounds for his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut against former heavyweight champion Frank Mir. Addressing the crowd, Lesnar said, "The show is over. It's time to go."
Tim Sylvia has the opportunity to become the three-time UFC heavyweight champ if he can get past Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Nogueira commented, "It's going to be a big war. I want to have that belt."
The fireworks from the weigh-ins came from Marvin Eastman and Terry Martin who had an intense stardown.
-Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (237) vs. Tim Sylvia(261)
-Brock Lesnar (265) vs. Frank Mir (255)
-Nathan Marquardt () vs. Jeremy Horn (185)
-Ricardo Almeida (185) vs. Rob Yundt (185)
-Tyson Griffin (155) vs. Gleison Tibau (156)
-Chris Lytle (170) vs. Kyle Bradley (170)
-David Heath (205) vs. Tim Boetsch (205)
-Terry Martin (186) vs. Marvin Eastman (185)
-Keita Nakamura (155) vs. Rob Emerson (155)
Yo Oddessa what happened to your site? Ive tried to post over there and it looks it crashed or something? You going to have it back up soon? Here is some weigh in notes from my man Dave Meltzer:
Notes from the UFC weigh-ins
by Dave Meltzer
It was a relatively low key weigh-in for tomorrow's UFC 81 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
A crowd of about 2,500 fans, significantly down from the Wanderlei Silva vs. Chuck Liddell fight, saw only one confrontation, as Terry Martin shoved Marvin Eastman causing officials having to step between them.
It was pretty clear, at least to the audience there, that, aside from the two main events, the only fighter to get any kind an appreciable reaction was Tyson Griffin, who faces Gleison Tibau in the PPV opener. Tibau, 27-3, looked in incredible condition for a match against the fighter who was in two match of the year candidates in three fights in 2007.
Most of the buzz was for the Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir fight. And mostly for Lesnar. The crowd cheered Mir, but it seemed more of a reaction against Lesnar than for Mir. The booing toward Lesnar was more vociferous than for any fighter in a long time. Tim Sylvia, usually the most booed fighter on any show he's on, got a pale response in comparison.
The dynamic appeared more anti-pro wrestler than cheering for Mir as the Las Vegas fighter. Lesnar was clearly tiring of talking to reporters and promoting the match and had little to say. It appears 8:30 p.m. Pacific time can't come soon enough for him.
Lesnar looked even more like a monster than expected when he took his shirt off. Even though listed at 6-2 1/2 and weighing 265, he looked far bigger than Mir, listed at 6-4 and 255 pounds. Lesnar was slightly taller and considerably larger. Lesnar will probably weigh 275-280 come fight time, and was joking he may show up closer to three bills. He looked like the Incredible Hulk sans green paint.
Despite the talk Mir is in the best shape of his career, he didn't look appreciably different from how he's looked in most of his recent fights (aside from the Dan Christison fight where he was completely out of shape). But he may be dangerous early. He's quicker with his hands, better with his feet, and his submission ability may be able to counter Lesnar's ferocious ground and pound.
A few other notes. Lesnar's hands are the largest for any combat sports athlete in the history of the state of Nevada. He needed 4XL gloves, and even they were slightly on the small size. The only fighter ever to wear 4XL gloves was South Korean giant Choi Hong-man, who is 7-3 and 367 pounds. While we didn't get the exact number, people were also stunned by Lesnar's reach, as it was longer than Tim Sylvia's. However, that probably won't play much of a part because boxing at range probably isn't in his strategy.
Lesnar was still a slight favorite, although most of the money being bet has been on Mir. The Countdown show, where it was clear Lesnar was a beginner at striking, and showed Mir being far more proficient, has made most around here think Mir is winning. Still, the feeling is the longer the fight goes, the better it will be for Lesnar unless Mir has come in with a new gas tank.
The crowd cheered Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and booed Tim Sylvia, but not with much passion. Sylvia was surprised at the lack of reaction and that the cheers for him were nearly as loud as the boos. The fans clearly don't see Nogueira, one of the all-time legends of the sport, in the same manner they saw Mirko Cro Cop, Wanderlei Silva or Shogun Rua as foreigners who were legends in Japan before Pride went down the tubes.
Sylvia looked in great shape for a Tim Sylvia. Nogueira is the betting line favorite. This is another size vs. skill match-up. But Nogueira needs to get the fight to the ground or he'll have to deal with a 6-8 fighter who understands how to use his length to control the stand-up game against faster opponents.
Rob Emerson (155) vs. Keita Nakamura (155)
Terry Martin (186) vs. Marvin Eastman (185)
David Heath (205) vs. Tim Boetsch (205)
Kyle Bradley (170) vs. Chris Lytle (170)
Tyson Griffin (155) vs. Gleison Tibau (156)
Ricardo Almeida (185) vs. Rob Yundt (185)
Jeremy Horn (185) vs. Nathan Marquardt (185)
Brock Lesnar (265) vs. Frank Mir (255)
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (237) vs. Tim Sylvia (261) for the interim heavyweight title
yes it crashed...havent had the time or anyone i know qualifid to fix the damn thing...imagine its gonna be huge pain in ass and take a couple weeks...but it will hopefully get done...sux it happened on ufc week...
anyways...go Brock.... thinking he will get it done..
THE NATURAL PICKS: UFC 81
A regular segment on The Fight Network’s original TV series’ “Before The Bell” and “After The Bell,” Randy Couture has his “Natural Picks” for this Saturday’s UFC 81 “Breaking Point” - live from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas - locked in.
Here’s what the expert analyst is predicting:
INTERIM HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP: Tim Sylvia (26-3) vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (30-4-1) – Sylvia
“I think Tim will tire Nogueira out on his feet. I think Nogueira’s going to have trouble putting him on the ground and maneuvering Sylvia into his strength, which is his submission game. I can see it going a third-round KO, but I could also see it going the distance and Nogueira getting a beating.”
HEAVYWEIGHT: Frank Mir (10-3) vs. Brock Lesnar (1-0) - Mir
“I’m going with Mir with a second-round submission. As big and strong as Lesnar is, and as hard as he’s going to come, I think he’s going to put Mir right where he wants to be and Lesnar’s going to get out of position and get caught.”
MIDDLEWEIGHT: Jeremy Horn (88-16-5) vs. Nate Marquardt (28-7-1) - Marquardt
“I’m going to go with Marquardt. Jeremy hasn’t really been the same since the Liddell fight. I think he realized he’s not infallible and can be hurt. Taking the fight on short notice probably isn’t the wisest thing. Marquardt is strong for that weight class and hits hard. I think Horn’s going to have trouble taking Marquardt down to find a wily way to submit him.”
MIDDLEWEIGHT: Rob Yundt (7-0) vs. Ricardo Almeida (8-2) - Almeida
LIGHTWEIGHT: Gleison Tibau (27-3) vs. Tyson Griffin (10-1) - Griffin
“I’m going with Tyson Griffin. Both guys have great fighting spirit, but Tyson’s very difficult to submit and will bring a torturable pace to the fight that Tibau’s going to have trouble keeping. I think it will be a decision and probably be the fight of the night.”
MIR a big play for me as well.
Good coverage drunkguy.
Buzz, I dont go to games. I buy all the Directv packages and watch them from the comfort of my own home! I dont like listening to all the fans nonsense at games! I pay for blonde women to come over and have sex with my hispanic hottie maid, and sometimes I get involved to make it a threesome! I like to lay in my pool during the day sipping on drinks that have umbrellas!
I am on all chalk.......all the time for this one
Would recommend an across the board dog parlay for everyone else the way I am running
"you are one sharp son of a bitch" - Yzerman #19 (11/15/2005)
jays on FIRE!!!!!!!!!!!!! he dont need no water let the mother fuker burn!!!
UFC 81 PLAY-BY-PLAY
Keita Nakamura vs. Rob Emerson
R1 – The fighters trade blows early with Emerson taking a slight advantage in the opening minute over the taller Nakamura. Emerson lands a big right hand about a minute-and-a-half into the fight. Nakamura starts to land a couple of shots, but Emerson is using his jab effectively, setting up cut kicks and the overhand right. Emerson lands another solid combination before Nakamura scores with a couple of well-placed knees. Emerson is landing some good combinations, but Nakamura drops him with a knee to the chin. The two scramble on the ground and work back to their feet and end the round as Nakamura takes Emerson down from the clinch.
MMAWeekly scores a close round 10-9 for Emerson.
R2 – Nakamura starts off round two with a little better timing with his strikes, but is eating several cut kicks from Emerson and a hard overhand right that is starting to take its toll. Emerson scores with a left kick to the leg followed by a left hook to the head. Nakamura tries to knee, but Emerson just shoves him to the mat. Nakamura is having a very difficult time finding his range in the fight and eating several shots from Emerson every time he tries to move in. With a minute left, Nakamura finally scores a double-leg takedown, but Emerson scrambles right back to his feet. The round ends with Emerson scoring with his punch combinations.
MMAWeekly scores the round 10-9 for Emerson.
R3 – Both fighters are wearing the effects of trading blows for the two opening rounds. Nakamura clinches and takes Emerson down briefly, but they pop right back up to their feet and continue trading blows, thus far in round three a little more evenly than the first two rounds. Emerson starts to find his groove about midway through the round, landing several punch and kick combinations, but Nakamura fires back, landing some harsh knee strikes and punches. Some really heavy exchanges as the round wears on with Emerson scoring the harder shots, but Nakamura finds a second wind and starts to land more effectively, then shoots and takes Emerson down. The two exchange blows on the ground as the round closes.
MMAWeekly scores the round 10-9 for Nakamura and the fight 29-28 for Emerson.
Robert Emerson def. Keita Nakamura by Split Decision, R3
(30-27 Emerson, 29-28 Nakamura, 30-27 Emerson)
Terry Martin vs. Marvin Eastman
R1 – No touch of the gloves, they clinch early, hit the mat, but bounce right back up clinched along the fence. They begin exchanging knees. Martin lands a couple of left hooks to the body and head, still in the clinch. The referee Yves Lavigne separates them. Martin is pushing the action as Eastman looks to counter and they end up clinched again. About a minute-and-a-half left and they are separated again. They start an exchange, but end up clinched once again. Eastman scores with some good inside punching and elbows as the round closes, possibly stealing a very close round.
MMAWeekly scores the round 10-9 for Eastman.
R2 – Both fighters swing big to open the round, but don’t land much of anything and wind up in the clinch again. Eastman gets hit, stops to look at his hand and gets nailed again by Martin; then they clinch again. The referee separates them back to center ring and Eastman unleashes an aggressive combination of punches before they clinch. They restart again with a punch exchange followed by an Eastman knee to the head, then a Martin left hook. They clinch again, wrestle for position before Eastman executes a judo throw. Back on their feet, they clinch once more and end the round along the fence. Another close round.
MMAWeekly scores the round 10-9 for Eastman.
R3 – Eastman starts the scoring early with punch combinations, partially lands a head kick, then takes Martin down and starts working ground and pound from side control. Martin nearly gives up his back, but manages to stand up. They start exchanging right away with Eastman headhunting with his powerful kicks. Then it’s back to the Thai clinch. Eastman starts landing some dirty boxing upper cuts, then unleashes some brutal knees followed by a damaging punch combination. Martin looks to be tiring, but they clinch and Martin scores the takedown, trying to get to Eastman’s back. Working back to their feet, they clinch again along the fence. They exchange punches for the remainder, with Eastman seeming to do more damage to the tiring Martin. MMAWeekly scores it unanimous for Eastman in a fight that was much closer than the score indicates.
MMAWeekly scores the round 10-9 for Eastman and the fight 30-27 for Eastman.
Marvin Eastman def. Terry Martin by Unanimous Decision, R3
(30-27, 29-28, 30-27 for Eastman)
Three Star General Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Paaak Da Caaar in Haaavad Yaaad
I am on all chalk.......all the time for this one
Would recommend an across the board dog parlay for everyone else the way I am running
David Heath vs. Tim Boetsch
R1 – Not much action for the first minute until Boetsch landed a couple of kicks and an overhand right. More of a lull until Beotsch lands another push-kick to Heath’s gut and follows with an overhand right. Boetsch lands a two-kick combination. Heath seems to be waiting for Beotsch to make a mistake to counter, but is surely getting behind on the scorecards. Heath lands a leg kick, but Boetsch counters and starts landing with a succession of punches and knees that look to hurt Heath. Heath tries to push in to strike, but Boetsch gets him in the Thai clinch and lands a succession of knees, tosses Heath to the mat and follows him down ending the fight with a barrage of punches to the head and face.
Tim Boetsch def. David Heath by TKO (Strikes) at 4:52, R1
Chris Lytle vs. Kyle Bradley
R1 – Lytle starts the fight off quickly landing several right leg kicks and right hooks, realizes he has Bradley hurt and pounces on him, finishing the fight in a flurry of right hands in mere seconds.
Chris Lytle def. Kyle Bradley by KO (Strikes) at 0:33, R1
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