The week of Main Card previews is over and tonight is Fight Night.
Over the last three weeks, I've spent a great deal of time waxing philosophical about Mixed Martial Arts and trying to show how much knowledge and insight I have about the sport. But anyone can talk a good game. Now it's time to show you the skills.
For every major fight card - UFC, Affliction, WEC, Strikeforce, DREAM, etc. - I'll break out the Punch Drunk Predictions, keeping tabs on my record as we go. This is something I started back in the days of covering MMA at The Love of Sports, where I had amassed a 50-34 record through UFC 96.
But this is a new site and we're starting fresh with UFC 98 tonight in Las Vegas.
"Diamond" Dave Kaplan vs. George Roop
No one really cares about this fight and it will surely be the last fight under the UFC banner for whoever comes out on the losing end. Kaplan could probably score a win, but I don't see him sticking to any kind of game plan. Roop has a decent ground game and should come away with a win.
Prediction: Roop via submission
Yoshiyuki "Zenko" Yoshida vs. Brandon Wolff
Yoshida needs an impressive win to remove the memory of Josh Koscheck knocking him silly from our collective memory and he has a perfect opportunity against the soon to be former UFC fighter Wolff.
Prediction: Yoshida via submission
"The Polish Experiment" Krzysztof Soszynski vs. Andre Gusmao
I've read a lot over this last week about Gusmao having been the class of the IFL and Soszynski being a notch below the Brazilian in those days. But I'm not one to live in the past. The monster from Winnipeg is 2-0 inside the Octagon, including forcing former WEC champ Brian Stann to tap in the first round just last month.
Prediction: Soszynski via submission
"The Filipino Assassin" Phillipe Nover vs. Kyle Bradley
Nover was one of the stars of TUF 8 and it was considered a mild upset when he lost the lightweight finale to Efrain Escudero. Now it's time to get him back on track and remind people why Dana White was comparing him to Anderson Silva. Enjoy the unemployment line, Kyle. Three losses in a row... you're out.
Prediction: Nover via TKO
Pat "HD" Berry vs. "The Thrashing Machine" Tim Hague
Berry is being groomed as a contender in the heavyweight division. Hague is simply a large body able to stand in front of Berry until the barrage of leg kicks chops him to the ground. This should be a complete squash match.
Prediction: Berry via TKO
Brock Larson vs. Mike "Quicksand" Pyle
I like Brock Larson a lot and his string of first round victories has him climbing back up the welterweight ladder. Unfortunately, Chris Wilson would have been a better opponent. Pyle may be making his UFC debut, but he's a seasoned vet who has simply been in the ring with better competition over the years.
Prediction: Pyle via submission
Sean "The Muscle Shark" Sherk vs. "The Answer" Frankie Edgar
I'll really be pulling for Edgar and not just because of the shared name. He's a really likable fighter and I can't really stand Sean Sherk. But Sherk is the pick here. He just has too complete a game and too much experience.
Prediction: Sherk via decision
Dan Miller vs. Chael Sonnen
While Sonnen has yet to impress me in any of his fights, Miller is a rising star with a knack for winning fights. Whether it be submitted less skilled opponents like Jake Rosholt and Rob Kimmons or grinding out a decision over a vet like Matt Horwich, Miller finds a way to get the job done. It doesn't hurt that Sonnen seems to enjoy being put in submissions holds either.
Prediction: Miller via submission
Drew "The Massacre" McFedries vs. "The Professor X" Xavier Foupa-Pokam
There is only one way McFedries wins this fight and it's the same rule that applies to all his fights: if he connects with a bomb, this thing is done. That being said, I don't see it happening. Foupa-Pokam will know to stay inside McFedries' range and get this thing to the ground, where it will become completely academic.
Prediction: Foupa-Pokam via submission
Matt Hughes vs. Matt "The Terror" Serra
They're both old, they're both coming off injuries and they're both pretty much irrelevant in the welterweight division any more. That being said, it's going to be fun to see the hate in Matt Serra's eyes as he stands across from Hughes. It will also be fun seeing Hughes slam Serra to the mat and grind out one final win before induction in to the UFC Hall of Fame at UFC 100.
Prediction: Hughes via decision
"Sugar" Rashad Evans vs. Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida
Regardless of outcome, this is going to be a great fight. All the people who "boo" shouldn't be allowed to call themselves fight fans. As difficult as Machida is to hit and as awkward as his attacks may come, I see Evans using his wrestling to bring this to the ground and his fast hands and footwork to pick his spots well when they're standing up.
Prediction: Evans via TKO