Marcus Davis vs. Chris Lytle
These two fighters have been promoting their own fight hard for the last few weeks and they’ve both promised it will live up to it. Each fighter likes to stand and trade and with their extensive boxing backgrounds who can blame them. Don’t look for Lytle, a BJJ black belt to take this to the ground, as he learned from his TUF 4 loss to Matt Serra that trying to grind out a boring decision win is just that – boring. As good as Lytle’s hands are, I feel that Davis’s are just that much better. Davis also trains at a stronger camp under world renowned train Kru Mark Dellagrotte. Look for this to be the Fight of the Night with Marcus Davis coming out with a decision win on all 3 judges score cards.
Jeremy Horn vs. Rousimar Palhares
Palhares looked brilliant in his UFC debut against Ivan Salavery, but looked completely outclassed in his next fight against Dan Henderson. His stand up looked inexperienced, and other than an ankle lock at one point during the fight he was completely controlled when he moved up in competition.
Horn is one of the most experienced MMA fighters in the sport with over 100 fights. But Horn is aging and has never developed his stand up game that goes along with his impressive ground skills. The problem for Horn is that Palhares is better than him on the ground and should prove that Saturday with a submission win in the 2nd round.
Denis Kang vs. Alan Belcher
Denis Kang was a superstar in Pride and from 2004 to 2006 when he went 17 fights in a row with no losses. He was ranked in the top 10 for years. However Kang is only 3-3 in his last 6 and admitted that he had lost some of the fire that propelled him to be one of the world’s best. He’s fallen out of the top 10, but still remains of the biggest threats to Anderson Silva‘s belt. Saturday will be his UFC debut.
Belcher is coming off a win over Ed Herman in September, a fight that he looked impressed, as his stand up skills are constantly improving. But Belcher has been as inconsistent as anyone in the UFC having dropped fights to both Kendall Grove and Jason Day in the last 2 years. Depending on which Denis Kang shows up, this could be a short night for Belcher.
If the Denis Kang that was submitted by Gerard Mousasi in April comes to the Octagon, then Belcher can take this one. But if the Denis Kang that steamrolled Marvin Eastman in 48 seconds just over 2 months ago shows ups, it will be lights out for Belcher. I expect Kang to have his fire back to win and he will win early with a first round Knock out.
Mark Coleman vs. Shogun Rua
Mark Coleman is a legend in the sport and I’m glad he’s back in the UFC. Many before him have proven that age doesn’t seem to matter in MMA and the 44 year old Coleman will put that to the test one more time Saturday night.
Shogun is coming off a loss in his UFC debut at UFC 79 over a year and a half ago. 2 surgeries later, he’s back to reclaim his spot atop the 205 lbs division, a spot he once held all to his own.
As old as everyone is making Coleman out to be and as good as Shogun has been, Coleman looks to be in great shape and Shogun may have a little cage rust. This fight will be much closer than most expect it to be, but I still see Shogun coming out victorious with a decision victory.
Rich Franklin vs. Dan Henderson
A fight that fans have wanted to see for years will finally happen Saturday night. The two former champions will put their contrasting styles to the test in a ‘winner is the new TUF coach’ match, which neither really seems to want right now.
Henderson has lost 2 of his last 3, but they were to Pound for Pound champion Anderson Silva and former 205 Champion Rampage Jackson. Nothing to be ashamed of. But in his latest win over Palhares Dan didn’t impress many like they thought he would and those critics need him to bounce back before they can put him near the top of the 185 or 205 weight class.
Franklin on the other hand is coming off a win over Matt Hamill in his first trip back to 205 lbs. He did look good in that fight showing us once again why his overall game is so well regarded. But Henderson brings a lot more tools to the fight Hamill does and it will be interesting to see if Anderson Silva really is the only fighter at 185 that can beat him (even though this one is at 205)
This fight will go to decision and I could wake up tomorrow and have changed my answer (it’s just that close). But right now I feel that Franklin is better technically on the feet and can stop Dan’s takedown. If Henderson does manage to take Rich down, Henderson won’t be able to submit him and I feel that Rich can get back up and will eek out a decision win with his stronger stand up skills.
Quick Picks – Davis, Palhares, Kang, Rua, Franklin