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December-11-2009,
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

12-11-09
Jay Graziani
MajorWager.com
graziani@majorwager.com

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