UFC 155 PREVIEW!
UFC World Heavyweight Championship
Junior dos Santos (15 – 1) v Cain Velasquez (10 – 1)
Can Cain avoid being hit for three or so rounds until JDS tires? Can JDS hit Cain before he takes him down and mauls him? Cain’s biggest strength in this fight is his cardio. He hits you in every position once he gets the clinch. He’ll hit you from guard, half-guard and so on. He’ll also use his strikes to pass guard and put the pace on dos Santos. No one has managed to control Cain’s posture and slow him down on the floor. His murder of Bigfoot Silva will most likely be the blueprint for him to win here. Get the takedown, hit JDS 7,000 times, tire him out and get the TKO.
dos Santos needs to use his range, keep Cain on the outside and strike from there. He’s been able to do it to everyone so far. Frank Mir wasn’t able to even get close to him in their fight in May. Also, Shane Carwin had no success in the takedown game against the Brazilian. Carwin’s wrestling isn’t comparable to Cain’s but it showed that JDS can keep it standing against a bigger fighter. We know he has the ability to knock Velasquez out. The question is can dos Santos get off before Cain wears him out.
Pick: Cain Velasquez.
Joe Lauzon (22 – 7) v Jim Miller (21 – 4)
Jim Miller’s only losses have been to UFC title winners or defeated challengers. On paper, he should absolutely not lose this fight. His striking and wrestling are both sharper than his opponent’s and they might as well be neck and neck on the ground. Miller has found ways to finish guys that he shouldn’t have. No one expected him to destroy Kamal Shalorus or submit Charles Oliveira the way he did. He has a rough, grinding style that makes it hell on other fighters. He should finish Lauzon here.
Lauzon needs to be fast. He has looked best hitting quick flurries and counters. His mauling of Gabe Ruediger is still the performance of his career. His ground game is excellent, however Miller should be able to match it. Lauzon is an inconsistent fighter that always seems to play his opponents game. Look for him to try take it to the ground as soon as possible.
Tim Boetsch (16 – 4) v Costa Philippou (11 – 2 – 1)
This is an outside bet as fight of the night. Both guys win via knockout and will most likely be swinging for the fences here.
While Boetsch has a four fight win streak since moving to middleweight, he hasn’t really looked that impressive. He grinded Kendall Grove and Nick Ring for three rounds in tired efforts. His win against Yushin Okami was tainted by the fact that he looked appalling four two rounds before coming back in a ridiculous comeback effort. His win against Hector Lombard was a fight in which both guys should have lost. He has a chin made out of granite, I can see this going the distance.
Philippou has not lost side his first UFC fight in March 2011. He’s gone 4 – 0 since then and has beaten the also rans of the division is rapid order. He always looks for the knockout and has cardio to keep swinging for three rounds. Most likely, he’ll wear down Boetsch with his boxing for three rounds and he’ll get a decision. It’s the fight that’s given me most trouble in picking.
Yushin Okami (27 – 7) v Alan Belcher (18 – 6)
This is a rematch of a listless 2006 fight which Okami won handily. Okami was the same fighter then as he is now. He has had a relatively successful six year run since then. In a world without Anderson Silva, he most likely would have won the title by now. His losses to Sonnen and Franklin were acceptable losses to fighters that were on top of their game at that time. His utter failure in his title fight against Silva and subsequent TKO by Tim Boetsch have put him on the back burner in the title picture. Without a groundswell of fan support and a long winning streak, he won’t be getting that chance again. His grinding style and the murderer’s row of contenders make this unlikely to ever happen.
Belcher has come such a long way since his loss to Okami. He’s won some, lost some but seems to have learned and gotten better after each fight regardless. He has looked excellent since his inexplicable TKO loss to Jason Day. His lone loss since then, to Yoshihiro Akiyama, was widely criticised by fans at the time. His current four fight win streak has seen him finish each fight. He called out Anderson Silva comically after beating Patrick Cotè in Montreal. Little did we know that he would destroy Rousimar Palhares while playing him at his own game. He went to the ground with him, thwarted all the Brazillian’s leg lock attempt and finished him from the guard. It was a real statement from Belcher. Hopefully he gets his reward soon.
Chris Leben (22 – 8) v Derek Brunson (9 – 2)
Brunson is coming off an August KO loss to Jacarè Souza. He has a good record for a UFC middleweight, however of his nine wins he only has two against an opponent with a Wikipedia entry. That’s generally not a good sign. He was a solid Division II wrestler in college and has used top control to win all of his fights thus far.
Leben is coming off his second substance violation in his UFC tenure. He hasn’t fought since being stopped between rounds by Mark Muñoz in November 2011. It’s a rare occasion that a fighter, especially one with Leben’s abuse problems comes back successfully after a layoff of that length. He hasn’t shown evidence of his incredible heart in his last three fights. It leaves me wondering whether it’s there or not anymore. Is he fighting for a paycheck? He has an unproven fighter with a suspect chin to make that money off.