Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou vs. Renato “Babalu” Sobral
This fight will be won and lost by experience. Babalu has a lot of it and Sokoudjou isn’t there just yet. A usual strong starter Soko likes to gas in the later rounds, something Babalu won’t have an issue with. Combine this with the fact Babalu is difficult to finish, I see Babalu working for a submission and getting it sometime in round 2.
Matt Lindland vs. Vitor Belfort
As impressive as Belfort looked in his win over Terry Martin, he didn’t start off strong and looked disinterested early on. Lindland likes to push the pace and the former Olympic should be able to put the heat on Belfort early and keep it on the entire fight. Vitor’s gas tank is still a question mark and Lindland will use this to his advantage and put pressure on him for all 3 rounds resulting in a decision victory.
Paul Buentello vs. Kiril Sidelnikov
This fight will likely be a showcase for Sidelnikov. ‘Mini Fedor’ should live up to his nickname and be able to put away the journeyman American heavyweight. Buentello always comes to fight, so this should be a good one. Look for a 3rd round TKO with the young Russian’s hand raised in victory.
Josh Barnett vs. Gilbert Yvel
Gilbert Yvel has an excellent stand up game, but lacks the ground skills to compete with one of the top heavyweights in the world, Barnett. Yvel does have a win over another ground no show, Cheick Kongo, but don’t look for Barnett to keep this standing any longer than he needs to. If you like high risk bets, you want might take a flyer on Yvel at +500 and hope for a knock out. But the reality is that Barnett should win this, and I would look for a first round submission.
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Andrei Arlovski
Arlovski has been training extensively with high profiled boxing trainer Freddie Roach, who has improved his hands tremendously. But his October 4th fight against Roy Nelson should tell us more about the Belarusians progress than his July 19th knock out against Ben Rothwell. Andrei was taken down and was almost submitted by the pudgy Nelson inside the EliteXC cage and looked as though his once great ground skills went out the window.
Fedor is the most explosive fighter in the world. He has dynamite hands and some of the best submissions in the sport. As good as Arlovski’s hands should be, I would still give the edge to Fedor. And there is little doubt Fedor has the better ground game.
Will Arlovski give Fedor his first loss? Don’t count on it. In fact, I suspect Fedor to dominate Arlovski just like he has everyone he’’s faced over his storied career. Look for Fedor to put too much pressure on Andrei and escape with a 2nd round submission in what should be another impressive with by the Last Emperor.