While UFC 111′s preliminary bouts may seem similar to those on other events- a few instantly recognizable names, several that appeal more to the “hardcore” fan- there are definitely some good fights to be seen on the undercard tomorrow night. Nate Diaz will try a new weight class, Matt Riddle will try to live up to the hype, and Matt Brown will try to step up to the next level, among other interesting bouts. Here are my picks for the prelims tomorrow night:
Rodney “Sho Nuff the Master” Wallace vs. Jared Hamman
This is the easiest pick I’ve ever had to make. I mean, one guy’s nickname is “Sho Nuff the Master“. Wallace for sure.
Buuuuuuut, in the interest of being a “serious MMA analyst,” here is some half-hearted logic to justify my hasty prediction. Wallace is going to work tirelessly for takedowns, while Hamman will hope to keep the fight standing and knock Wallace’s head off. The problem is, Hamman does not appear to have the skill set to keep himself from hitting the mat, at least without abandoning his “swing for the fences” strategy, which is the best strategy for him without a doubt.
Wallace suffered his first career loss against the underrated Brian Stann, but he showed me enough in that fight to make me believe he will not be leaving the UFC just yet. I think he will eventually get the necessary takedowns to control the fight, though I’m not sold on him submitting the experienced Hamman.
Prediction: Wallace by decision
Matt Riddle vs. Greg Soto
Riddle is someone that hardcore fans know, as he has been brought along somewhat slowly by the UFC, showing promise along the way. The rare fighter who has had all of his professional fights within the UFC (four fights, in Riddle’s case), Riddle got knocked out just inside three rounds against Nick Osipczak at UFC 105 for his first career loss. Meanwhile, Soto is 7-0 against relatively unimpressive competition, and by all accounts will hope to use his wide range of submissions to bring an end to the fight.
Riddle is quite large for a welterweight, and should have the ability to control Soto throughout the fight. I suspect that Soto will be game enough to continue threatening from the bottom throughout the fight, but the time will run out on the UFC newbie, as Riddle takes another UFC win by way of decision.
Prediction: Riddle by decision
Matt Brown vs. Ricardo Almeida
Brown is part of a proud tradition of fighters who do not advance to the finals of “The Ultimate Fighter”, but nonetheless carve out nice careers in the UFC for themselves. For his part, Brown has become a respected striker who is 4-1 in the UFC, with the one loss by way of split decision to Dong Hyun Kim. Looking at the fight on paper, Almeida should represent the biggest test of Brown’s career thus far.
However, the cliche of “styles make fights” holds true here, and Almeida will have a devil of a time trying to haul Brown to the mat. Meanwhile, every minute that the fight remains vertical, Almeida’s below-average striking will be putting him at risk of suffering a violent knockout loss. If Almeida is able to take Brown down, he could be in trouble, but I think that Brown will make the best of his chances before that can occur, helping him to take a big step up in the welterweight division in the process.
Prediction: Brown by KO/TKO
Rousimar Palhares vs. Tomasz Drwal
A definite sleeper for Fight of the Night honors, this bout features the rare jiu-jitsu specialist who sets a ridiculously fast pace against a beast of a fighter who has finished 15 of his 17 career wins by submission, KO or TKO. Come to think of it, this bout could yield extra money for either of these men from any of the three customary post-fight awards.
While I’m upset with Palhares for buzzing his hair off (eliminating my ability to once again marvel at how much he looks like a Lego character), I would never doubt his submission acumen. Still, Drwal is no stranger to the mat, himself, and has successfully bullied around jiu-jitsu players in the past. I could really go either way with this one, but I’m going to give Palhares the benefit of the doubt, predicting that he will outlast Drwal and get a late-fight submission for the win.
Prediction: Palhares by submission
Nate Diaz vs. Rory Markham
Diaz has made a questionable decision, moving up to welterweight after losing three of his last four fights in his native lightweight division. In his defense, two of the three losses were by split decision and they came after five straight wins to start his UFC career. However, I don’t understand how moving to a division with just as much depth, but bigger athletes will help Diaz. From the weigh-ins, he didn’t look to have packed on any quality size, nor did he ever look particularly drained as a lightweight.
Still, weight class changes are the thing to do when your career has stalled nowadays, and Diaz will take on Markham, who eagerly awaits the chance to welcome him to the party. He will attempt to do so with explosive strikes of all kinds, and if Diaz is in a certain mood, he may oblige Markham and stand up with him. The problem is that Markham will have to get somewhat close to step inside Diaz’s range and get his striking going, which makes the likelihood of a trip to the mat that much more possible. However, I think Diaz’s bravado will get the best of him, as it seemed to at the weigh-ins, and he will engage in a standup battle with Markham for too long, allowing Markham to get the upset victory.
Prediction: Markham by KO/TKO
That’s it for the preliminary bouts for UFC 111, which should be a great way to kick off the night’s fights. Be sure to check back tomorrow, as I will be previewing the main card, including the interim heavyweight title fight between Frank Mir and Shane Carwin and the welterweight title fight between champion Georges St. Pierre and challenger Dan Hardy.