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October-24-2008,
UFC 90: Preview and Predictions...By Jay Graziani

UFC 90: Silva vs. Cote
Saturday, October 25th, 10 PM ET, live on PPV
Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Illinois
Weigh-in: Friday, October 24th, 5 PM ET, live on UFC.com
Current odds from Bookmaker.com

Josh "The People's Warrior" Burkman (18-7-0) vs. Pete "Drago" Sell (7-4-0)
Current Odds: Burkman -220; Sell +180

Burkman has lost 3 of his last 4, and while the fact that 5 of his last 6 have gone to decision speaks to his staying power in the Octagon, it also reflects his inability to finish fights. Sell, fighting out of Matt Serra's camp, has also struggled, with a 2-4 record in the Octagon, including 3 straight defeats. The last time he stepped into the Octagon was over a year ago, where he was KO'ed by Nate Quarry. He is coming down to welterweight from middleweight which may help his already excellent punching power. Burkman has a strong wrestling game, but is vulnerable to a submission, as Sell's jiu-jitsu is dangerous. I'll give Sell the edge here, but not convincingly. Prediction: Sell, 2nd round submission.

Hermes Franca (18-7-0) vs. Marcus "Maximus" Aurelio (16-6-0)
Current Odds: Franca -200; Aurelio +160

Franca was on an 8-fight win streak, earning him a title shot at Sean Sherk. A loss there was followed a year later by another loss to Frankie Edgar, though both were by decision, and Franca now finds himself banished to the UFC undercard. Aurelio is 2-2 in the UFC, though the losses came at the hands of talented opponents in Tyson Griffin and Clay Guida. He replaces an injured Gleison Tibau on this card. Both are great on the ground and have a history, training together in Brazil. Both need a win to avoid falling into obscurity, but Aurelio is not getting enough respect here and I'll lean his way. Prediction: Aurelio by decision.

Dan Miller (9-1-0) vs. Matt "Suave" Horwich (22-10-1)
Current Odds: Miller -345; Horwich +275

Miller won his UFC debut after finding some success in International Fight League and Ring of Combat events. He is replacing Ricardo Almeida in this bout after fighting just a month ago. Horwich is making his UFC debut after compiling a 7-4 record in the IFL, where he briefly held the middleweight title. Most of this fight should be decided on the ground where both are more comfortable. Horwich has the experience edge, and that, coupled with the short layoff for Miller, makes Horwich a decent upset candidate. Prediction: Horwich, 3rd round submission.

Spencer "The King" Fisher (21-4-0) vs. Shannon Gugerty (11-2-0)
Current Odds: Fisher -345; Gugerty +275

Fisher is only 2-2 in his last 4, but the fights were against decent opponents. Gugerty is replacing Melvin Guillard in this fight, and though he won his UFC debut, has yet to fight anyone of note. Fisher has a tough striking game, but Gugerty's experience on the mat may allow him to hang around. Nonetheless, Fisher is a tough opponent for an inexperienced fighter, and it should only be a matter of time until Fisher can finish this fight. Prediction: Fisher, 1st round TKO.

Thales Leites (13-1-0) vs. Drew "The Massacre" McFedries (7-4-0)
Current Odds: Leites -445; McFedries +365

Leites has ripped off four straight wins since losing to Martin Kampmann in his UFC debut. However, he stole an undeserved split decision in his last fight, against Nate Marquardt, as his opponent was docked a point in both the 2nd and 3rd rounds. McFedries has struggled to a 3-3 record since entering the UFC, including a 1st round submission loss to virtual unknown Mike Massenzio just a month ago. This is a classic style matchup, with the hard-hitting McFedries having a strong stand-up advantage, but Leites likely will dominate when the fight hits the mat. The jiu-jitsu guys tend to win this kind of fight, but an overrated Leites is a bit overpriced and McFedries definitely has a punchers chance at the big upset here if he can keep it standing long enough for his power to earn him a KO. Prediction: McFedries, 1st round KO.

Sean "Muscle Shark" Sherk (32-3-1) vs. Tyson Griffin (12-1-0)
Current Odds: Sherk -260; Griffin +210

Sherk reigned atop the UFC lightweight division until falling to B.J. Penn in his last bout. Prior to that, he held losses only to Georges St-Pierre and Matt Hughes, both during his welterweight days. Griffin is known for exciting fights, and hasn't lost since he faced Frankie Edgar at UFC 67, though all 4 victories since then have come via decision. Griffin is a well-rounded, tricky fighter, and should be able to game plan his way around Sherk's primary weapon, his brutal ground-and-pound. I see this as a much closer fight than the odds would suggest. Prediction: Griffin, 2nd round submission.

Fabricio "Vai Cavalo" Werdum (11-3-1) vs. Junior "Cigano" Dos Santos (6-1-0)
Current Odds: Werdum -850; Dos Santos +600

Werdum is 2-1 in the UFC, losing to Andrei Arlovski in his debut, but bouncing back with two straight TKO victories. His jiu-jitsu is off the chart and he is very dangerous on the ground. Dos Santos has cut his teeth in minor promotions, making this easily the biggest fight of his life, and against his toughest opponent to date. Dos Santos would be wise to keep this standing, where his striking is his best chance at a victory. Expect Werdum to continue his winning streak by making short work of the newcomer, but I wouldn't dare bet this heavy of chalk in the UFC. Prediction: Werdum, 2nd round submission.

Rich "No Love" Clementi (32-12-1) vs. Gray "The Bully" Maynard (5-0-0)
Current Odds: Clementi +190; Maynard -240

Clementi won six consecutive fights between September 2007 and May 2008; this is his return bout after a 5 month hiatus. Maynard is undefeated professionally, though his competition has been weak since he graduated from The Ultimate Fighter 5. This is his PPV debut, having struggled to decision wins in his last two Fight Night appearances. Maynard's strength in wrestling should be neutralized by Clementi, who can be tricky on the ground, and I'd give Clementi the advantage in striking as well. Look for Maynard to take his first loss at the hands of a much more experienced opponent. Prediction: Clementi, 1st round TKO.

Josh "Kos" Koscheck (11-2-0) vs. Thiago "Pit Bull" Alves (15-3-0)
Current Odds: Koscheck -165; Alves +135

Koscheck came off his decision loss to current champ Georges St-Pierre to rattle off two straight wins. Despite falling to St-Pierre, he is still widely considered one of the top contenders in the welterweight ranks. However, he is coming into this fight on short notice, stepping up to replace an injured Diego Sanchez. Alves has been given no favors in the UFC, with his last 3 fights against Chris Lytle, Karo Parisyan, and Matt Hughes, though all were probably a bit overrated at the time. Alves is dangerous in the Octagon and prevailed as nearly a 2-1 underdog in his last outing, indicating he might be a bit undervalued. Alves has had trouble making weight, including in his last bout, so that may warrant some consideration as well. Even with the short rest, Koscheck is way too talented to be this short of a favorite. Prediction: Koscheck, 2nd round TKO.

Anderson "The Spider" Silva (22-4-0) vs. Patrick "The Predator" Cote (13-4-0)
Current Odds: Silva -630; Cote +480

Silva is undefeated in seven trips to the Octagon and is widely considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Usually there is little value backing such public darlings with bets. Cote is also on an extended winning streak, having last tasted defeat 6 fights and nearly 2 years ago. Cote has the skills to pull an upset if he comes in with the right game plan, and he's worth a shot at the long odds. Prediction: Cote, 3rd round TKO.

Picks (2008: 24-19 +4.50 units; Best Bets: 8-3 +3.55 units)
Matt Horwich +275
Drew McFedries +365
Tyson Griffin +210
Rich Clementi +190 (Best Bet)
Josh Koscheck -165 (Best Bet)
Patrick Cote +480

Opinions (2008: 29-28 +10.20 units)
Pete Sell +180
Marcus Aurelio +160
Spencer Fisher -345
Junior Dos Santos +600

10-24-08
Jay Graziani
MajorWager.com
graziani@majorwager.com

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