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Opening Round: Year-End Fireworks

Typically the UFC closes the year out with a spectacular show and UFC 141: Lesnar vs. Overeem is, well, not that. However, the card does boast a huge headliner, both literally as far as the size of the competitors involved, as well as in terms of divisional importance and marketability. Topping the evening off, heavyweights Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem will meet in the Octagon with the winner going on to face champion Junior dos Santos in 2012.

The event is also highlighted by lightweight action between Donald Cerrone and Nate Diaz, two talented 155ers whose feud has turned personal in the last few weeks given some of the pre-fight behavior including Diaz flipping Cerrone’s trademark cowboy hat off of his head during a recent staredown.

Below you’ll find some quick picks for the solid, not sexy, undercard before I get into the afore-mentioned match-ups. After reading my predictions make sure to check back at MMATraining tomorrow night starting at approximately 6:45 PM EST when preliminary results start rolling in to see if things unfolded as I’ve expected (or as you may have guessed instead depending on where your opinions differ from mine).

Diego Nunes def. Manvel Gamburyan via Unanimous Decision
Matt Riddle def. Luis Ramos via Unanimous Decision
Jacob Volkmann def. Efrain Escudero via Submission Round 3
Dong Hyun Kim def. Sean Pierson via TKO Round 2
Danny Castillo def. Anthony Njokuani via Unanimous Decision
Ross Pearson def. Junior Assunção via Split Decision
Nam Phan def. Jimy Hettes via Unanimous Decision
Alexander Gustafsson def. Vladimir Matyushenko via TKO Round 2
Jon Fitch def. Johny Hendricks via Unanimous Decision

Nate Diaz vs. Donald Cerrone

A testament to how great this pairing is relates to the difficulty in picking a winner. Diaz and Cerrone are both crisp strikers with polished BJJ and a fearless attitude when it comes to engaging an adversary. Each has fought twenty or more times professionally yet only been stopped once (both by submission). I see their clash coming down to conditioning and quickness as neither is a particularly powerful puncher. Since I favor Cerrone in both departments as far as the pace he can set, as well as his speed in general, I see him coming away with a hard-fought, “Fight of the Night” decision victory.

Winner – Donald Cerrone def. Nate Diaz via Split Decision

Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem

This fight will be determined by Overeem’s ability, or lack thereof, to fend off Lesnar’s takedowns whether by means of striking or Guillotine Choke attempts. If the Dutchman can keep things standing the odds of him losing are very slim. However, if Lesnar is able to put him on his back and work from the top he could easily put “The Reem” to sleep with a bit of ground-and-pound.

I’m confident Overeem’s experience and size/strength will be enough to dictate the bulk of the bout, and since I don’t see things going very long when the two lock horns I suspect he’ll come away with a highlight reel victory that will leave Lesnar questioning his future in MMA.

Winner – Alistair Overeem def. Brock Lesnar via Knockout Round 1

What do you think about the subject on today’s “Opening Round”? Tell us on our Twitter account (@mmatraining)!

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