Saturday's UFC 116 marks the biggest heavyweight fight in UFC history. Maybe not in terms of stature, but certainly in terms of size. Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar will meet interim heavyweight champion Shane Carwin for the undisputed UFC heavyweight championship in what will be, business-wise, one of the biggest fights of 2010. Both fighters should weigh-in at or right around the heavyweight limit of 265 pounds and the action inside the Octagon should be furious.
Here are what your fearless prognosticators at MMAForReal.com see happening come Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Undisputed Heavyweight Championship: Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin
Kelvin Hunt: The only thing that concerns me in this fight is the long layoff and how it will affect Lesnar. We've seen what the layoffs can do, just look at Rampage Jackson. BUT, Lesnar is a different type of animal in that the guy trains his butt off and doesn't allow himself to get too far removed from things. Of course, Carwin can probably put anyone's lights out with a punch or two. Lesnar has power in his strikes as well, and we've seen Carwin get rocked by Gabriel Gonzaga. It all comes down to if Carwin can stop the takedown, and if not, can he get back to his feet? I don't think he can do either one of those against Lesnar. I think Lesnar is smart enough to take Carwin down quickly and do his thing which is brutal ground and pound. I also think it's a goal of Lesnar to be the first guy to take Carwin out of the first round. So I'm going with Lesnar via TKO Rd. 2.
Charles Walker: The simple answer would be to pick the opposite of who Forrest picks but that'd be too easy (only joking). Anyways, this one won't last long. I'm going to say that the layoff will actually have been beneficial for Brock and the type of athlete he is the layoff won't be too much of a problem. Carwin's takedown defense isn't the greatest as Gabriel Gonzaga was able to put him down rather quickly in their UFC 96 bout. That makes me believe that he'll have a relatively tough time dealing with Brock, who I doubt spends more than a few seconds in an upright position. With that said, I'm going for Brock to smother Carwin en route to a mid-second round TKO.
Rich Wyatt: The betting line is close in this one and it should be, in my opinion. Carwin is more than capable of taking home the championship, particularly if he connects early. Lesnar has looked dominating but a win here would really help solidify him as the Alpha male in the division. Up to this point, he has a winning record against only three guys in the sport: Min Soo Kim, 47-year-old Randy Couture and Heath Herring. The former NCAA Division 1 national champion could make a big statement here to argue that not only is he back and 100% healthy, but he's also the division's top dog. Lesnar via TKO.
Matt Bishop: You wouldn't know it by looking at these predictions, but I've been surprised, overall, how many people are picking Carwin in this fight. Not to say Carwin doesn't have a chance, because he certainly does (and a good one at that), but Brock Lesnar is such a freak, such a competitor, that I can't see him losing. He's tasted defeat before against Frank Mir and hasn't looked back since tapping Mir's leg. I'm sure that loss bothers him to this day. This fight could be over in 15 seconds either way but I see Lesnar not risking anything, taking Carwin down and employing a St-Pierre/Penn strategy against him, so if he doesn't finish him there, Carwin will be gassed. Lesnar via TKO late in the 2nd.
EVeezy: With news coming out that Lesnar is coming out southpaw, I think picking Lesner has become much easier in my mind. When you watch Brock go for takedowns it is one of two things: He swarms you like a madman using brute force to get you to the floor, or he initiates the clinch and goes for a power double. I think for the first time in Brock's career we a going to see him shoot on an opponent that can (possibly) wrestle. If Carwin is to win the fight he must do two things, stuff a Brock takedown and land that right handed hammer on Brock's face. I don't think it will happen. Lesnar via TKO.
Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Chris Leben
Kelvin Hunt: Leben is a tough matchup for someone l ike Akiyama. I doubt Akiyama has the power to knock Leban out, but he certainly could outpoint him. Akiyama can take a pretty good shot, but Leben's clubbing style may be a little more powerful than Alan Belcher. Akiyama should be fighting at WW anyways. Ultimately, I think Akiyama makes good use of takedowns and outstrikes Leben on the feet to win a decision...similar to the Bisping/Leben fight. Akiyama via decision.
Charles Walker: Kudos to Leben for taking this fight, but it won't be one he'll win. Even if Akiyama isn't really into it, he'll have the tools to outclass Leben, unless he gets careless and simply tries to be over aggressive in the striking department. However, I doubt he will but I do question whether he can finish Leben, so I'll go with Sexyama via decision.
Rich Wyatt: Both fighters would love nothing more than to get a convincing win here in front of one of the largest international audiences of the year. This fight marks a quick turnaround for Leben, but the opportunity of fighting on such a high profile PPV event is worth the risk. I see Akiyama weathering the storm, though, and winning on points. Akiyama via decision.
Matt Bishop: Leben's a tough guy, no doubt, but I just can't see anybody coming back from a two-week layoff, with two weight cuts, being competitive against a high-level fighter. And a high-level fighter is something Akiyama is. I see Akiyama wearing him down on the feet, Leben gassing within seven minutes or so, Akiyama getting the fight to the ground and eventually submitting him. Akiyama via submission, round 2.
EVeezy: For the people that think Leben has a chance please listen to these facts. Akiyama has a pretty durable chin. He has been cracked before and didn't go down. Next Leben is fighting on 14 days notice! Your body isn't exactly in tip-top shape. And besides all that Leben's style plays right into Akiyama's. Akiyama is a sneaky counter-puncher. I think we will see shades of Bisping-Leben is this one.
Matt Brown vs. Chris Lytle
Kelvin Hunt: Lytle via Submission...RNC to be exact.
Charles Walker: Lots of punching and sloppy striking with Lytle having his arm raised via decision.
Rich Wyatt: This fight will get the July 4th fireworks started early. This is my favorite to win "Fight of the Night".
Matt Bishop: Here's what I expect in this fight: Lots of "bombs." Well, from Chris Lytle anyway. I'm not sure Matt Brown is going to get sucked in to throwing those "bombs." Lytle submitted him the last time these two met. With so much on the line, I don't see Lytle grappling with him, although that would be the thing to do. Brown is tough, and this'll be a close one. Brown via decision.
EVeezy: Lytle has only been finished by TKO twice in his career. He is known to take a lot of punishment along with a lot of bonus checks. Lytle is 35 years old and has been taking punishment since 1999. I think his days in the UFC are numbered. I think his punches have gotten slower and his chin is getting weaker. Matt Brown is going to put some serious hands on Lytle and finish him in this fight. Brown via TKO.
Stephan Bonnar vs. Krzysztof Soszynski
Kelvin Hunt: Soszynski via UD in what could be Bonnar's last hurrah fighting wise in the UFC.
Charles Walker: Same outcome as the first, Bonnar gets beat up, Soszynski moves on to better days.
Rich Wyatt: Bonnar is a tough guy but, at the end of the day, I just think Soszynski has more tools and should take a hard-fought decision. Soszynski via decision.
Matt Bishop: This will probably go a lot like the first one and I can see this being a potentially controversial decision. I think Soszynski outworks Bonnar here and takes a close one. Soszynski via decision.
EVeezy: Gross. This is going to be a really ugly slobberknocker. Only interesting thing in this fight is if Bonnar uses his wrestling, and If he loses this fight does he gets cut?
Kurt Pellegrino vs. George Sotiropoulos
Kelvin Hunt: Oh man..I can't wait for this one. George has the better standup and the reach advantage...grappling wise Pellegrino is a beast and he has good wrestling as well. But so did Joe Stevenson and we saw how that turned out. If Pellegrino can make it a grappling match..he might be able to have a decent chance at winning, but George's length on the ground could pose challenging to Pellegrino. I'm go with Sotiropolous via UD.
Charles Walker: Interesting match up Pellegrino's the better wrestler but Sotiropoulos has shown to be a beast with his jiu jitsu. I could see this being a very tactical bout and probably one that casual fans will turn away from. I can't see Pellegrino being able to control George, so I see this one ending in a decision with Sot getting the victory. Sotiropoulos via decision.
Rich Wyatt: My guess is that Sotiropoulous will neutralize Pellegrino on the ground and will score enough with his strikes while standing to earn the victory. Sotiropoulous via decision.
Matt Bishop: This should be an absolutely outstanding fight. Both men are on a roll and Joe Silva gets a lot of credit for this matchup. The winner of this could be one big win away from a title shot here. Both of these guys have a lot of skills on the ground and I think it will be one of those fights where it's up-and-down and all-around. I can't see either fighter exerting their will on the other. It'll be close, but Pellegrino has been through a lot and will squeak this one out. Pellegrino via decision.
EVeezy: I never really saw much in Sotiropoulos in the TUF house and most of his UFC carrer. However, he really WOW'd me by beating Joe Stevenson. I don't think Sotiropoulos has much athletic ability, but he makes up for it by have so really good BJJ skills. I think Kurt Pellegrino is too much for him, though. Pellegrino is a much better athlete and has better skills than Sotiropoulos. I like Batman to get a win here.
Chris Tuchscherer vs. Brendan Schaub
Kelvin Hunt: Schaub via TKO after Tuchscherer gases.
Charles Walker: Schaub will be too fast for Tuchscherer and most likely will TKO him by the 2nd.
Rich Wyatt: Schaub is able to train regularly with some big, skilled wrestlers. Will he be ready to handle Tuchscherer's smothering style? We'll see. I'm leaning toward yes.
Matt Bishop: Schaub is going to be too fast and too quick for the lumbering Tuchscherer. Schaub via TKO in the 2nd.
EVeezy: If Tuchscherer is to win this fight he must control Schaub on the ground. If Schaub sweeps him just once, it's game over. This is going to be a real test for both fighters. I think Tuchscherer has a decent chin so I think he may take a decision here. Tuchscherer via decision.
Ricardo Romero vs. Seth Petruzelli
Kelvin Hunt: Romero via UD.
Charles Walker: I'll go with Petruzelli via TKO, but I know very little about Romero. The entrance should be dope for Seth though.
Rich Wyatt: My bet is that Romero will make a successful Octagon debut against Petruzelli, likely winning a hard-fought decision. Romero via decision.
Matt Bishop: Romero is a hot prospect while Petruzelli has turned into a journeyman. I like Romero here. Romero via decision.
EVeezy: Petruzelli was brought back to the UFC to get beat by Romero. That is all you need to know about this fight, just enjoy the finish Romero will put on him.
Kendall Grove vs. Goran Reljic
Kelvin Hunt: Reljic via Split Decision.
Charles Walker: Reljic via TKO.
Rich Wyatt: This fight, in my estimation, would have been a wise choice to televise on the Spike prelim show. It should feature a lot of action. Reljic is highly skilled and should be extra motivated coming off of the decision loss to Dolloway. I'll take Grove in this one, though.
Matt Bishop: Grove's back could very well be against the wall here, considering his loss in his last fight and his comments about Spike TV. With that being the case, Grove almost always responds in these situations. He's coming off a tough loss in a fight he was dominating. Reljic was coming off a very long layoff going into his last fight and it showed. He should look better here but I think Grove takes this. Grove via decision.
EVeezy: If I knew that Reljic is going to be the same fighter he was was when he fought Wilson Gouveia, I would pick him to beat Grove in a heartbeat. But I don't know that. Really toss up fight, but I think Reljic will pull this one out.
Gerald Harris vs. Dave Branch
Kelvin Hunt: Harris via TKO.
Charles Walker: Harris via decision.
Rich Wyatt: I'll take the more experienced Harris in this matchup. I think he'll approach cautiously in the 1st round, then take Branch down and finish the fight in the 2nd. Harris via TKO, Rd. 2.
Matt Bishop: Harris needs to stay to the outside and not let Branch fight in close. If he does that, he should be successful. Harris via TKO, Rd. 1.
EVeezy: Branch is a Jiu-Jitsu dude that is about to get run over. He can't take Harris down, so his offense is nullified. Harris will land a bomb on Branch's chin FTW!
Forrest Petz vs. Daniel Roberts
Kelvin Hunt: I'll go with Roberts via submission.
Charles Walker: Roberts via decision.
Rich Wyatt: Roberts via 3rd round submission.
Matt Bishop: Petz via decision.
EVeezy: Petz was brought into lose to Roberts. Roberts will torch him on the feet and the fight will be over. But hey this is MMA right, even Fedor loses.
Jon Madsen vs. Karlos Vemola
Kelvin Hunt: Vemola via TKO.
Charles Walker: Madsen via TKO in the 2nd.
Rich Wyatt: Vemola by TKO in the 2nd.
Matt Bishop: Vemola comes in with an impressive record and that will continue on. Vemola via decision.
EVeezy: Who is the better wrestler in this fight? I think Vemola is, but if he does get taken down, I am confident he will get back up. Madsen has bad top control and Vemola will sweep. Vemola is going to win this fight and I am very excited to watch his UFC career unfold.