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UFC 107: Preview and Predictions...By Jay Graziani
UFC 107: Penn vs. Sanchez
Saturday, December 12th, 10 PM ET, live on pay-per-view
FedEx Forum, Memphis
Weigh-in: Friday, December 11th, 4 PM ET, live on UFC.com
Current odds from Bookmaker.com
Kevin "The Fire" Burns (7-3-0) vs. TJ Grant (14-3-0)
Current Odds: Burns +110; Grant -140
Burns holds a pedestrian 2-2 record during his 18 months with UFC, including a recent decision loss to Chris Lytle. Grant decisioned Ryo Chonan in his UFC debut, but lost to "Stun Gun" Kim in his follow up. Grant will prefer to take this to the ground, but Burns is no slouch on the mat and packs some potent standup to boot. Prediction: Burns, 2nd round TKO.
DaMarques Johnson (9-7-0) vs. Edgar Garcia (7-1-0)
Current Odds: Johnson +215; Garcia -275
Johnson 's UFC debut was spoiled by a 1st round choke-out courtesy of James Wilks in the TUF 9 championship bout. Garcia migrated from WEC with a spotless record but fell to Brad Blackburn via a very controversial split decision. While Johnson had a decent run on TUF 9, this ain't reality TV anymore and Garcia's talent level is too much for him to contend with. Prediction: Garcia, 2nd round TKO.
Rousimar "Toquinho" Palhares (9-2-0) vs. Lucio "The Spartan" Linhares (13-4-0)
Current Odds: Palhares -345; Linhares +275
Palhares last fought in January, a decision win over Jeremy Horn that served as a comeback from his decision loss to Dan Henderson all the way back at UFC 88. Linhares is making his UFC debut and has won 5 straight, all in the first round. While Linares has never been submitted, this will be fought on the mat and Palhares' elite-level jiu-jitsu will win out. Prediction: Palhares, 1st round submission.
Johny Hendricks (6-0-0) vs. Ricardo "Golden Boy" Funch (7-0-0)
Current Odds: Hendricks -365; Funch +295
WEC vet Hendricks made a splash in his UFC debut, defeating Amir Sadollah by TKO in just 27 seconds, despite coming in as a slight underdog. Funch was granted his UFC debut after a string of 7 straight wins in small promotions. Funch's jiu-jitsu hasn't been tested, but Hendricks' wrestling and heavy hands should overpower whatever Funch can bring. Prediction: Hendricks, 1st round TKO.
Matt "Handsome" Wiman (10-5-0) vs. Shane "Sugar" Nelson (12-4-0)
Current Odds: Wiman -360; Nelson +290
Wiman has suffered two straight decision losses, his first defeats since his run on TUF5, and now is fighting for the first time since April, as he pulled out of a September fight due to knee injury. Nelson, a BJ Penn understudy, had an eight-fight winning streak going until losing a decision to Aaron Riley in their rematch. While these fighters match up well style-wise, Wiman's crisper striking and deeper experience should bring him the win. Prediction: Wiman by decision.
Alan "The Talent" Belcher (14-6-0) vs. Wilson Gouveia (12-6-0)
Current Odds: Belcher +105; Gouveia -135
Belcher lost a disappointing split decision to Yoshihiro Akiyama as a 2-to-1 dog, giving him two losses in his last four contests. Gouveia last fought in February and likewise sports a 2-2 record over his last four. Both are well-rounded and experienced fighters making for a pretty even fight, so I'll lean with the underdog. Prediction: Belcher by decision.
Paul "The Headhunter" Buentello (27-10-0) vs. Stefan "Skyscraper" Struve (18-3-0)
Current Odds: Buentello -105; Struve -125
Buentello hasn't fought in the UFC since 2006, but sports a 5-1 record since, including 2 straight wins in Affliction. The 6'11" Struve has chalked up a respectable 2-1 record since his UFC debut in February and fights here on just a month's notice, making for his fourth fight this calendar year. Despite Buentello's extensive experience and great standup, Struve has shown a great ability to use his reach to keep opponents at bay, allowing him to utilize his submission game. Prediction: Struve, 2nd round submission.
Kenny "KenFlo" Florian (11-4-0) vs. Clay "The Carpenter" Guida (25-10-0)
Current Odds: Florian -205; Guida +165
Florian earned a title shot with six straight wins, yet came up short when submitted in the fourth round by current champ BJ Penn. Guida has been hanging on the fringe of contender status for awhile, and though he's come up short in most of his major tests (Sanchez, Huerta, Griffin), he has at least been competitive enough to take most of those losses to the scorecards. While Florian's standup and reach works in his favor, it's hard to pass up a scrappy fighter like Guida as such an underdog. Prediction: Guida, 3rd round TKO.
Jon Fitch (20-3-0) vs. Mike Pierce (10-2-0)
Current Odds: Fitch -400; Pierce +300
Fitch has rebounded with back-to-back victories since dropping a decision in his title shot against Georges St-Pierre. Though Pierce recently made his UFC debut with a decision over Brock Larson, he won 5 previous bouts while fighting for other promotions. Pierce depends on his wrestling skills to get him through fights, but that's not going to help him against a world-class wrestler like Fitch. Prediction: Fitch by decision.
Frank Mir (12-4-0) vs. Cheick Kongo (14-5-1)
Current Odds: Mir -205; Kongo +165
Mir lost his interim heavyweight title in his rubber match against Brock Lesnar, but despite holding the title, he sports only 4 wins in the 7 fights since he came back from his motorcycle accident. Kongo looked good in 3 straight wins before falling to Cain Velasquez in a lopsided decision loss. Despite being dominated on the mat in that fight, Kongo showed some flashes of brilliance in standup, giving him at least has a puncher's chance against the overvalued Mir. Prediction: Kongo, 2nd round TKO.
BJ "The Prodigy" Penn (14-5-1) vs. Diego "Nightmare" Sanchez (21-2-0)
Current Odds: Penn -285; Sanchez +225
Penn has been undefeated at lightweight for nearly eight years, and rebounded from a welterweight beatdown at the hands of Georges St-Pierre to submit Kenny Florian at UFC 101. He puts his lightweight championship on the line against Sanchez, who has won 4 straight since back-to-back decision losses against welterweight powerhouses Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck. Since moving down to lightweight, Sanchez is 2-0 with both bouts taking "Fight of the Night" honors. Sanchez certainly has reason to stake a claim to the title, but Penn is still at the top of his game and has too much talent to bet against, at least in the lightweight division. Prediction: Penn, 4th round TKO.
Picks (2009): 25-41 -30.70 units; Best Bets: 8-8 -2.75 units
Stefan Struve -125
Clay Guida +165
Cheick Kongo +165 (Best Bet)
BJ Penn -285
Opinions (2009): 43-43-1 -10.95 units
Kevin Burns +110
Edgar Garcia -275
Rousimar Palhares -345
Johny Hendricks -365
Alan Belcher +105
Jon Fitch -400
Kevin Burns vs. T.J. Grant
Burns pushes forward while Grant looks to counter. Grant changes levels and hits a double-leg takedown. Burns pops right back up to his feet and clobbers Grant with a flurry of punches that drops the Canadian to the mat. Burns pounces and pounds with big punches that have referee Greg Franklin hovering. Grant spins out for a leg, forcing Burns to defend, and eventually gets back to his feet. Grant hits another double and establishes top position. Grant moves to half-guard and then stands in Burns' guard before dropping a pair of big right hands to the head of his opponent. Grant tries to pass to mount and goes too far. He tries to secure an inverted triangle, but Burns pushes him off and gets back to his feet. In the following exchange, Grant landed a kick to the groin of Burns that felled him to his knees. Burns was given time to recover before the bout was restarted. Grant grabbed the plum right off the restart and kneed away at Burns before stepping back and landing a devastating right hook that crumpled Burns to the canvas. Grant hammered away until Franklin stepped in to save Burns at 4:57 of the first frame.
Johnson vs. Garcia.
Damarques Johnson vs. Edgar Garcia
Johnson and Garcia touch gloves in the center to kick-off the welterweight affair. Garcia takes the center while Johnson is happy to circle outside. The two exchange with Johnson landing the better shots, causing a big welt under Garcia’s left eye. Garcia hits a takedown and transitions into a Peruvian necktie choke. Johnson works his way clear and escapes back to his feet only to be planted with a flurry of punches. Garcia followed Johnson to the mat in hopes of finishing the fight but Johnson turned the tables when he locked up a triangle choke that forces Garcia to tap at 4:03 of the first round.
Rousimar Palhares vs. Lucio Linhares
Palhares shoots immediately and secures a sloppy single-leg takedown. Linhares works his way back to his feet as Palhares tries to pass his guard. Palhares grabs a guillotine choke and falls to his back then rolls Linhares over. Linhares defends his neck, but ends up on his back with Palhares in his guard. Referee Greg Franklin stands the two up with two-minutes left in the round. Palhares eats a punch, but gets Linhares back to the mat where he goes through a series of leg locks that are expertly defended by Linhares. Palhares takes top position with Linhares holding him in closed guard with a body-triangle. Palhares sits back for another leg-lock, and Linhares sits up and takes top position as the round comes to a close. Sherdog.com scores the round 10-9 for Palhares.
Palhares vs. Linhares.
Palhares launches into a slow-motion flying knee that Linhares catches and drags him to the mat with. Palhares takes top off of a scramble and Linhares quickly locks up a tight triangle choke. Palhares stands and works to free himself, but Linhares begins to work his arm. Palhares wriggles off the hook by extracting his arm and working free. He then took top position but after little action Franklin brought them back their feet. Both fighters were visibly fatigued, and neither was quick to jump to their feet despite the prodding of Franklin. Linhares jumped into a flying omaplata as Palhares shot for a takedown on the restart. After easily defending the submission, Palhares sat back once again for a leg-lock and forced the tapout with a nasty-looking heelhook at 3:21 of the second period.
Johny Hendricks vs. Ricardo Funch
Hendricks charges forward at the bell and Funch stands his ground. Hendricks unloads a couple punches that miss before shooting in. Funch grabs double underhooks and stops the attempt, and then knees to the body of the star wrestler. Hendricks wiggles free of Funch’s clutches and begins to dirty box. The striking opens up the takedown and Hendricks drops levels to hit a powerful double-leg slam. Funch gets back to his feet, but Hendricks unloads with punches from the clinch, the uppercut doing the major damage. Funch shoots in and Hendricks locks up a guillotine and falls to his back. Funch defends and Hendricks gives up the hold and moves to a front headlock. As the fighters scramble, Hendricks grabs the guillotine once again before going back to the front headlock as time expires. Sherdog.com scores the round 10-9 for Hendricks.
Hendricks shoots to start off the second and Funch sprawls well. Hendricks gives up the shot and tees off with punches that leave Funch looking for cover along the cage. Hendricks shoots again, but Funch delivers a nice knee to the body. Undeterred, Hendricks grabs Funch and flings him to the mat with another powerful takedown. Hendricks backs away and calls for Funch to return to his feet. Hendricks pushes him up against the cage and hammers him with knees. Funch drops for a takedown, but Hendricks expertly defends before pounding him with more punches and hammer fists. Hendricks takes Funch’s back and punches away while trying to lock up a choke as the second round ticks to a close. Sherdog.com scores the round 10-9 for Hendricks.
Hendricks vs. Funch.
Hendricks lands another takedown to kick off the third before transitioning to Funch’s back again. Funch defends the choke and escapes when Hendricks gets too high on his back. Funch lands a booming low kick that Hendricks shrugs off before landing a vicious one-two that backs Funch into the cage. Hendricks scores another takedown that lands him in side control. He tries to set up a crucifix by trapping Funch’s right arm with his legs but the Team Link fighter pulls his arm free. Funch scrambles back to his feet for a fleeting second before getting slammed back to the canvas again. Hendricks pounds away until the final bell sounds. Sherdog.com scores the round 10-9 for Hendricks.
The official scores are 30-27, 30-27 and 30-25.
Shane Nelson vs. Matt Wiman
Wiman is beating himself up in the corner before the fight begins, smacking himself in the face, body and legs to get ready for his lightweight scrap. Nelson seems to have the speed advantage early in the first. He is countering well and getting off first when he chooses to. Wiman throws a right hand, but Nelson counters with a combination of punches and a kick to the body that knocks Wiman off balance. Wiman gets his feet back under him and springs forward with a flying knee that Nelson easily avoids. Wiman tracks Nelson back down and staggers him along the cage with straight right-right uppercut combination. Nelson falls to his back and establishes his guard but Wiman opens him up with a big elbow to the top of the forehead. Nelson gets back to his feet as the round ends. Sherdog.com scores the round 10-9 for Wiman.
Wiman goes for a kick to the body, but Nelson grabs his leg and takes him to the mat. Referee Mario Yamasaki implores them to get busy but after little action on the mat he stands them back up. Wiman pushes Nelson against the cage and grabs a leg and steps back, pulling Nelson to the mat. Nelson goes for a triangle and Wiman avoids the submission attempt. Wiman loading up elbows from the guard as Nelson goes back and forth from open and closed guard. Nelson rolls out and grabs a leg, looking for a submission but Wiman sits up and tries to punch Nelson as the bell sounds. Sherdog.com scores the round 10-9 for Wiman.
Wiman vs. Nelson.
Wiman steps in and throws a blistering kick to the groin of Nelson after a brief exchange. Nelson falls to the mat as Yamasaki intervenes. Wiman pleads his case as Nelson takes about a minute to recover from the low blow. Nelson lands a low kick of his own as the fight is restarted, but Wiman answers with a takedown. Wiman stands up to punch and Nelson gets rises to his feet and lands a nice combination of punches. Wiman moves into the clinch and takes a front headlock before a weary Nelson gives up an easy takedown. With Wiman in his half guard, Nelson rolls for another leg lock that is easily defended by Wiman, who then takes the Hawaiian’s back. Wiman cinches the body triangle and begins to work for the rear-naked choke. Nelson defends but can not get away. Sherdog.com scores the round 10-9 for Wiman.
Official scores: 30-27 on all three cards for Matt Wiman, who takes the unanimous decision.
Belcher vs. Gouveia.
Alan Belcher vs. Wilson Gouveia
Belcher, in a pair of beautiful pink Thai shorts, stalks Gouveia from the center of the cage. Gouveia steps forward with a solid series of punches the face of the advancing Belcher. The fighters reset and do it again. They are just trading bombs with neither fighter backing down. Belcher rocks Gouveia with a right uppercut that puts the Brazilian on his seat. Belcher swarms with punches until referee Herb Dean steps in at 3:03 of the first round, giving Belcher the TKO victory.
Paul Buentello vs. Stefan Struve
Struve kicks the body and Buentello catches it. Struve tries to pull guard and Buentello has none of it. Struve stands and crushes the Texan with an uppercut. Struve follows with a takedown and he gets it. Struve moves to the mount and Buentello turns his back to avoid punishment. Struve locks on a body triangle and works the head of Buentello with both hands. Buentello covers up while referee Dan Miragliotta watches closely. Struve locks on a rear-naked choke and Paul defends by controlling the left wrist of his foe. Struve clinches the choke and changes his grip for more leverage. An ignorant crowd boos the action. Struve releases the body triangle and it costs him, and Buentello takes the top position with a nice reversal. Buentello plays it cool in Struve’s offensive guard with elbows to the body. Buentello throws a double-Mongolian chop ala Sakuraba in the round’s final moments.
Jordan Breen scores the round 10-9 Struve
Brian Knapp scores the round 10-9 Struve
Mike Fridley scores the round 10-9 Struve
Great 1st fight
Mike Fridley scores the round 10-9 Struve
Struve kicks at the body of Buentello and slips early in the round. Buentello does not engage him on the ground and invites his opponent to stand. Struve obliges. The fighters clinch against the cage and Struve drops down for an ankle lock. Buentello defends the technique well and hits Struve with a left hand as they stand. Struve jumps for a flying knee and Buentello knocks him flat with a right hand in mid air. Struve clears the cobwebs and tries it again. Buentello, showing excellent timing, blasts him with a right hand again before the knee impacts its target. Struve opens up with his hands and the fighters trade lefts and rights to the head. Buentello gets the best of the exchange. The fighters touch gloves after the violence.
Jordan Breen scores the round 10-9 Buentello
Brian Knapp scores the round 10-9 Buentello
Mike Fridley scores the round 10-9 Buentello
Mike Fridley scores the round 10-9 Buentello
Time is called before the round starts to remove a piece of tooth from Struve’s mouthpiece. The break gives Buentello a much-needed breather. The round starts and Buentello lands a right cross to the jaw. Struve lands two hard low kicks to the lead leg of Buentello. Struve finds a rhythm and connects with a right knee to the body and a left hook to the chin. Struve lands a standing elbow and the crowd reacts, but it was partially blocked. Struve continues to work the left leg of the winded Texan with kicks. Kick after kick scores with the thigh of Buentello. The pace slows as Struve seems content to pick Buentello apart from the outside with low kicks. Buentello pushes Struve down and hovers over him. The referee stands the fighters and Paul gets a right hand in on the chin.
Jordan Breen scores the round 10-9 Struve (29-28 Struve)
Brian Knapp scores the round 10-9 Struve (29-28 Struve)
Mike Fridley scores the round 10-9 Struve (29-28 Struve)
29-28, 29-28 and 28-28 (draw). Struve takes the majority decision.
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