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UFC 105: Preview and Predictions...By Jay Graziani
UFC 105: Machida Vs. Shogun
Saturday, November 14th, first bout at 12 PM ET (airs via tape delay at 8 PM on SpikeTV)
MEN Arena, Manchester, England
Weigh-in: Friday, November 13th, 11 AM ET, live on UFC.com
Current odds from Bookmaker.com
Andre Winner (9-3-1) vs. Rolando "The Crazy Cuban" Delgado (6-4-1)
Current Odds: Winner -325; Delgado +265
Winner was a TUF 9 finalist, where he was decisioned by Ross Pearson. That was the latest of 8 consecutive Winner fights to hit the scorecards, and he's a measly 0-2-1 in his last 3. He faces a less successful TUF alum in Delgado, who lost both of his exhibitions on the show and followed it with a loss at UFC 99 to 3-to-1 favorite Paul Kelly. Delgado hasn't shown much promise since his first association with the UFC, and there's no reason to think that he can pull the upset here. Prediction: Winner by decision.
Alexander "The Mauler" Gustafsson (8-0-0) vs. Jared Hamman (10-1-0)
Current Odds: Gustafsson +110; Hamman -140
Gustafsson is a striker just making his way up from the minors. Hamman's just slightly less green, coming from the now-defunct EliteXC where he recently avenged his sole loss. Both will look to stand and trade, a strategy that hands the edge to the hard-hitting Hamman. Prediction: Hamman, 1st round TKO.
Paul "Tellys" Kelly (9-1-0) vs. Denis Siver (14-6-0)
Current Odds: Kelly -320; Siver +260
Kelly's sole loss came at the hands of the tough Marcus Davis; he's won two since, though struggled too much against Rolando Delgado for being a 4-to-1 favorite. Lightweight journeyman Siver is on a 3-fight win streak, but has never been able to break out into the limelight. This is a good match-up, and while Kelly's ground-and-pound gives him the style edge, the line's high enough to lean towards Siver. Prediction: Siver by decision.
Nick "Slick" Osipczak (4-0-0) vs. Matthew Riddle (3-0-0)
Current Odds: Osipczak +265; Riddle -325
Osipczak, a self-described former professional gambler, is a British TUF 9 contestant, winning his professional debut by first round submission. Riddle is out of the Xtreme Couture stable and hadn't appeared in a professional fight prior to his TUF 7, yet he has strung together a perfect record of three straight decisions. Osipczak has never seen the second round, and unless he manages to end it early, he should fall victim to Riddle's specialty of grinding out a boring decision. Prediction: Riddle by decision.
Terry Etim (13-2-0) vs. Shannon Gugerty (12-3-0)
Current Odds: Etim -325; Gugerty +265
Etim had his nose broken in the first round of his last fight, only to come back and earn "Submission of the Night" honors with a second round victory. Gugerty is 2-1 since signing with UFC, the sole loss being a short-notice replacement bout versus the top-notch Spencer Fisher. Both are well rounded fighters, but with only 3 Octagon fights to Gugerty's name, I'll lean towards Etim's talent level and experience against higher-level fighters. Prediction: Etim, 2nd round submission.
Paul "Relentless" Taylor (10-4-1) vs. John "The Hitman" Hathaway (11-0-0)
Current Odds: Taylor +210; Hathaway -260
Taylor's last four have all gone to the scorecards, leaving him with an unimpressive 2-2 record. Hathaway, though undefeated, has yet to face anyone of note. While Taylor always puts on an exciting fight, Hathaway should be able to capitalize on a favorable match-up and use this fight as a stepping stone. Prediction: Hathaway, 1st round TKO.
Ross "The Real Deal" Pearson (9-3-0) vs. Aaron Riley (28-11-1)
Current Odds: Pearson +165; Riley -205
The very versatile Pearson was the TUF 9 lightweight winner and will have a hometown crowd on his side as he makes his first defense of that legacy. He draws a tough opponent in Riley, who at UFC 101 avenged his controversial UFC 96 loss to Shane Nelson. This will be a big test to see if Pearson can live up to his billing against an experienced opponent, and I think the line is a bit too high here to pass on the newcomer. Prediction: Pearson, 2nd round TKO.
James "Lightning" Wilks (6-2-0) vs. Matt "The Immortal" Brown (10-7-0)
Current Odds: Wilks +138; Brown -168
Wilks was the TUF 9 welterweight champion, finishing DaMarques Johnson with a 1st round sub. Brown has reeled off 2 straight wins, but his excellent striking sometimes covers up a weaker ground game, a flaw that Wilks should be able to capitalize on. Prediction: Wilks, 3rd round submission.
Michael "The Count" Bisping (17-2-0) vs. Denis Kang (32-11-1)
Current Odds: Bisping -105; Kang -125
Bisping has been one of the more reliable fighters the past few years, with his only losses coming to once-champs Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson. It took much more effort than it should have for Kang to decision the novice Xavier Foupa-Pokam, especially coming off a disappointing loss to Alan Belcher. Despite some sub-par performances, I'm not quite ready to give up on Bisping yet, and his standup should prove the deciding factor in this fight. Prediction: Bisping, 3rd round TKO.
Mike "Quick" Swick (14-2-0) vs. Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy (22-6-0)
Current Odds: Swick -240; Hardy +190
Swick is 4-0 since moving down to welterweight, and his crisp striking has made him into one of the top contenders in the division. He steps in here for an injured Kim Dong-Hyun, but with plenty of pre-fight notice. Hardy also sports an impressive win streak of six straight, though only 3 of those came within the UFC Octagon. The winner of this fight will likely face Georges St-Pierre for a shot at the title, and both fighters will prefer to keep this standing. While Hardy looked good going toe-to-toe with Marcus Davis, he's outmatched in standup against Swick. Prediction: Swick by decision.
Randy "The Natural" Couture (16-10-0) vs. Brandon "The Truth" Vera (11-3-0)
Current Odds: Couture -120; Vera +110
Couture persevered against Minotauro Noguiera in a losing effort, but was on the defensive for most of the fight and has lost 3 of his last 5, suggesting his best days are behind him---though the move back down to light heavyweight may help him. Vera is 3-1 since also moving down to light heavyweight, with his only loss a narrow split decision to Keith Jardine. This looks like a good matchup for Vera, which may play out similarly to his recent unanimous decision over Krzysztof Soszynski. Couture's performance of late shows he doesn't deserve to be a favorite at this point in his career. Prediction: Vera by decision.
Picks (2009): 19-37 -32.25 units; Best Bets: 5-7 -4.65 units
Ross Pearson +165
James Wilks +138
Michael Bisping -105 (Best Bet)
Mike Swick -240
Brandon Vera -110 (Best Bet)
Opinions (2009): 37-39 -7.35 units
Andre Winner -325
Jared Hamman -140
Denis Siver +260
Matthew Riddle -325
Terry Etim -325
John Hathaway -260
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