There are a number of great reasons to check out UFC 111 tonight, and seeing Rachelle Leah return to her roots as a ring girl is just one of them (sadly, Arianny Celeste won’t be in attendance, preventing the ultimate ring card girl lineup from happening). Of course, I’m mostly joking- tonight is all about title fights. While the Mir-Carwin fight is really just a great fight with a senseless “title” attached, the GSP-Hardy fight should be extremely entertaining, as should the other main card bouts.
Fabricio Camoes vs. Kurt Pellegrino
Camoes, like a couple of young fighters on this card, came up through the Strikeforce and ShoXC “Challengers” series, proving that having a place for young fighters to grow is a great idea, even if you just use somebody else’s and pluck them away when they’re ready for the big time, like the UFC does. Camoes hasn’t been given many chances to develop in the UFC yet, though. First, he became the fifth (FIFTH!) person to draw with Caol “King of Draws” Uno, and now he faces the absolutely stifling style of Kurt Pellegrino.
Pellegrino seems like a good guy and is a fighter that I generally like to watch, even though at times, his bouts can be a tad uneventful. The thing that you have to respect about him is that he wants to win at any cost. Many fighters say this, but then they charge right at their opponent, swinging at the fences. If you truly want to win at any cost, you will use any tactics, even the ones that don’t particularly please the beer-guzzlers in the cheap seats. Pellegrino will grind out a decision here as Camoes just won’t have the ability to put him away from anywhere the fight will end up.
Prediction: Pellegrino by decision
Jim Miller vs. Mark Bocek
I doubt that I was the only one who was very impressed by Miller’s striking display against Duane “Bang” Ludwig at UFC 108. It is obvious that Miller continues to work very hard at improving his overall game, and it will show in this fight. Bocek, for all of his skills on the mat, is a more one-dimensional fighter, and I think Miller will give him fits in this one because of it. Miller will out-strike Bocek at will standing up, and I find it extremely unlikely that Bocek will get anywhere with him on the mat.
This is one of those fights where, no matter where it goes, I just see Miller outperforming Bocek. From the standpoints of athleticism, conditioning, and overall ability, I think Bocek has the edge. I hope Miller can finish the fight and avoid another decision win, but I think Bocek is tough enough to keep that from happening.
Prediction: Miller by decision
Jon Fitch vs. Ben Saunders
This fight is the result of the disappointing (and scary) news that Thiago Alves wouldn’t be able to fight due to some irregularities shown on his CAT scan. Alves will surely be back, but in the meantime, Ben Saunders made the questionable decision to step up and fight Fitch instead of his original opponent, Jake Ellenberger. While he has undoubtedly earned the good favor of the UFC brass in doing so, he may not be doing himself any favors. One would hope that he’s getting a nice little bonus for taking on Fitch, as he won’t be collecting a win bonus tonight.
Fitch is just too good at what he does for Saunders to prevail. I like Saunders, and he has impressed me a lot with his improvements since his time on “The Ultimate Fighter”. However, I doubt he will be able to fend off the takedowns and fast pace of Fitch long enough to capitalize on his quickly-improving Muay Thai clinch. Again, props to Saunders for stepping up, but I think he would have been better off against Ellenberger, for sure. Fitch will wear him down and win, probably later on in the fight.
Prediction: Fitch by KO/TKO
Shane Carwin vs. Frank Mir
This fight is going to be as fun to watch as it is difficult to predict. Carwin sports one of the most amazing statistics in the sport: 11 knockouts in 11 fights, lasting only about a dozen minutes total. The guy is averaging one minute per fight, including three fights now in the UFC. He has finished five fights within one minute, and none of his eleven fights have gone longer than two minutes and eleven seconds. Amazing.
However, Frank Mir will change that tonight. I think Mir will be relatively patient in the first round, unless Carwin pushes the pace and leaves some openings for the cerebral fighter to exploit. Mir has said in interviews that he wants to push Carwin into the second round, at least, and I believe that he will look to do so tonight. The question here is whether either man can work towards his own considerable strengths. I can see Mir locking up a submission on an overzealous Carwin (or a tired Carwin, if it gets into the later rounds), just as I can see Carwin rocking Mir from the standup or pounding him out from the top position, like Brock Lesnar did. I can only pick one, though, and I’ll take Mir because of his well-rounded striking and dangerousness both on the feet and on the mat. I think he’ll catch Carwin eventually, although I wouldn’t bet money on it.
Prediction: Mir by submission
Georges St. Pierre vs. Dan Hardy
Last, but not least, we have GSP’s first fight since his win over Thiago Alves, as he takes on the trash-talking, hard-hitting Englishman himself, Dan Hardy. Hardy has grown on me a bit over the last month or so purely with his confidence and bravado. The guy truly is confident in his ability to be the champion, and he showed to be stronger than many thought in the leadup to the fight, particularly on the “Primetime” series that featured the two combatants.
Having said that, no one in their right mind is predicting that Hardy will win this fight. The idea that GSP somehow has this glaring weakness because he was beaten by Matt Serra in what will prove to be a once-in-a-lifetime upset is silly. GSP was known for his technically sound and sometimes flashy standup arsenal before he became the best wrestler in the sport, and now everyone seems to think that he’s got Matt Hughes-level standup, for some reason. Not only do I think GSP can control and dominate Hardy on the mat, but I think he can outstrike him, as well. Hardy’s one chance is landing a kill shot, and that is never a high percentage tactic, particularly against a fighter who doesn’t have to stand up with you if he doesn’t feel like it. GSP will win by whatever he wants to win with, whenever he wants to win with it.
Prediction: St. Pierre by KO/TKO