After a stretch of big show during the summer months, Saturday's UFC 119 is a step down from those highly-anticipated cards. Still, the UFC has put together a solid card that features a heavyweight bout between Frank Mir and Mirko Cro Cop and a light-heavyweight bout between Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ryan Bader.
Here are what your fearless prognosticators at MMAForReal.com see happening come Saturday night at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic vs. Frank Mir
Charles Walker - Well, I guess this can be dubbed as a 'fight to stay relevant' but that's the only tag that'll work. I really have no desire to see this but to break it down, I shall try. For some odd reason, I find it extremely hard to ever pick against Cro Cop, and I'm not even a huge fan of his. Simply from highlights alone, you get the sense that a flash of his prime self will somehow show up in one of his UFC fights, you just have to wait and see. If there was any chance for him to show that it would be here. While Frank Mir has improved leaps and bounds in his stand up, he is still prone to get hit and when he gets hit, he simply looks like a fish out of water. If you know one thing, it's that Cro Cop can hit and hit hard. The only problem is, Cro Cop likes to fight at a distance and Mir will have ample opportunities to grab a leg and drag him down to the mat, which will be doomsday for the Croatian. I see a somewhat boring feeling out process in the opening round before they both start letting go and once they do, I have a strong feeling one of Cro Cop's lefts will pop Mir's jaw and send him reeling. I know this is probably crazy of me, but I'm choosing Mirko Cro Cop via TKO in round 2.
Rich Wyatt - One of my chief criticisms of Mir has always been his lack of ability to absorb punishment in a fight and keep going. It's a shame, too. The guy has some real size and ability. I think that both of these fighters have seen their best days come and go, especially Mirko. Still, my bet is that "Cro Cop" will take advantage of this main event opportunity to throw his name, perhaps for the last time, into the title contention mix. Cro Cop via TKO, round 2.
Anthony Pace - Even if he no longer admits it, Frank Mir is first and foremost a grappler. Of his two signature submissions -- against Tim Sylvia and Brock Lesnar -- neither came at the expense of a fighter with known competence on the mat. Also, all of his submissions have come within 2:15 of the first round. Cro Cop is a well-known commodity and is no novice on the ground. If he can muster up the effort to have half the sprawl he once did, that should suffice to stop any weak takedowns Mir might shoot for. Mir is the bigger fighter, yes, but I don't see him getting Cro Cop to the mat except for a stiff shot like he landed on Cheick Kongo. On the feet, even a past-his-prime Cro Cop has a pedigree vastly greater than Mir, no matter how Mir looked in dropping a zombified Minotauro three times. I think Cro Cop keeps it on the feet and I end up marking out harder than I have since Shogun pounded Machida's face into oblivion. Cro Cop via TKO, Round 2
Ryan Bader vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Charles Walker - I haven't jumped on the Bader hype wagon yet but if he wants me to hop on, he can do so by beating Lil' Nog. The problem, it's going to be tougher than most people think. A lot of people are basing their opinions on Lil' Nog's poor performance against Jason Brilz at UFC 114, but most have to realize that Brilz was a totally different opponent then his original opponent Forrest Griffin and Nog had little time to adjust. This time, he's had a full training camp preparing for Bader and Bader's style. I still have images of Bader being unable to take out Eric Schafer and not to mention gassing out badly. If he tries to play that game with Nog he will wind up collapsed on the mat and staring up at the arena's lighting. I do think he has the ability to control Nog, if he turns it into a straight wrestling affair but I can see him wanting to test his skills on the feet and getting tagged repeatedly and then jumped into wrestling mode which Nog will be waiting for. I see this being a tough, gritty hard fought battle but when the smoke clears I think Lil' Nog gets the decision nod.
Rich Wyatt - I really struggled with this pick and I don't feel terribly confident in making it. Despite a lackluster and controversial decision win over Jason Brilz in his last outing, Nogueira is a dangerous fighter. His boxing, jiu-jitsu skills and experience likely make him the favorite in this one. My guess, though, is that Ryan Bader will avoid his first career loss and implement an effective strategy to give him a very narrow points victory and an outstanding win on his resume. Bader by decision.
Anthony Pace - I've watched the fight a few times and I still think Nogueira took two rounds from Jason Brilz, so no controversy on that decision for me. Bader brings to the table what is, on a paper, generally considered better wrestling skills than Brilz. He's big, he's strong, and he's fast. But I also don't think he can keep up a sustained attack like Brilz did; he was fading in the Jardine. Bader hits like a Mule kicks, but his boxing leaves something to be desired. Lil' Nog doesn't have to prepare for a late replacement this time, so I think he's ready to use that slick boxing of his and won't get smothered on the ground. Nogueira by Decision
Chris Lytle vs. Matt Serra
Charles Walker - Ehhh, I didn't really like their first fight and I don't think this will be any more exciting. I see Serra being very much capable of brawling with Lytle and clipping Lytle throughout. Obviously, Chris won't want to test the ground game waters, so I think the Terror can close the distance and do damage throughout en route to a decision win. Matt Serra via decision.
Rich Wyatt - This could easily be the fight of the night. Ultimately, I like Serra's chances of coming in and taking a decision over Lytle. Look for Matt to get Chris to the mat and score some points with the judges early. Serra by decision.
Anthony Pace - This fight will probably be a lot better than their first meeting, which was essentially a #1 contender's bout at the TUF 4 finale. Lytle actually has a solid versatile game, but if he eschews it like he normally does, and I think he'll want to put on a show for the home crowd, Serra will land some big shots. Serra probably won't be the first person to KO Lytle, but he could drop and then I think Serra can control the fight from there. Serra by Decision
Evan Dunham vs. Sean Sherk
Charles Walker - Probably the one fight that I'm most interested in on the card is this. Sherk's been out due to injury for a while and Dunham has been on a tear through the UFC's lightweight division. Dunham's lanky for a lightweight and a good wrestler, something I think will give Sherk problems. If Sherk comes out in kickboxer mode, this will be a laughable and too easy to score affair but if Sherk comes out like the man that trumped Kenny Florian and Hermes Franca, this could be a fight of the night candidate. In a wrestling match, I give the edge to Sherk, in anything else, I give the edge to Dunham, so for some odd reason I'm going with Sherk via decision.
Rich Wyatt - There was a time when Sean Sherk was one of the elite 155 pound MMA fighters in the world. I actually still believe that he is a world-class lightweight, but I think that this is a bad matchup for him, especially coming off of such a long layoff. However, with his resume it doesn't make sense for him to fight a lesser caliber opponent and I see Dunham taking a competitive decision here. Dunham by decision.
Anthony Pace - If Sherk's knees are okay, this would be Dunham's first test against a serious wrestler and I'd favor the former champion. I don't thin they are, though, so I think Dunham runs laps around Sherk. Dunham by Decision.
Melvin Guillard vs. Jeremy Stephens
Charles Walker - This fight is basically who gets his first and most....for that I have to go with the quicker and focused Melvin Guillard via round 3 TKO
Rich Wyatt - Guillard has always been a guy that everyone has waited on to burst into the lightweight title mix. His athleticism and natural ability is apparent, but he has never really been able to cultivate world class skill and put it all together. I think that Jeremy Stephens will remind us of that fact on Saturday night. Stephens via TKO, round 3.
Anthony Pace - Guillard seems to be sorting things out between his hears at JSF, but this one can't be anything but Stand N Bang. Guillard via TKO
C.B. Dollaway vs. Joe Doerksen
Charles Walker - I think Dollaway controls this fight for an easy decision win. Dollaway via decision.
Rich Wyatt - Doerkson is a tough guy and should give C.B. some rounds but I think this is a perfect fight to help Dollaway build some confidence and get needed exposure on a SPIKE televised undercard. Dollaway by decision.
Anthony Pace - If Dolloway has his sub-defense on point, he'll be fine. Dolloway via Decision
Joey Beltran vs. Matt Mitrione
Charles Walker - Most like Mitrione but in a stand up war, which I think this will be, Beltran belts Mitrione and takes a TKO win.
Rich Wyatt - Look for Joey to test Matt's ability to take punishment early. I see him opening up aggressively and putting the "Kimbo Slice"-conqueror down early in the 2nd frame. Beltran via TKO, round 2.
Anthony Pace - Beltran is a terrible athlete. Mitrione via TKO
Pat Audinwood vs. Thiago Tavares
Charles Walker - Tavares via decision
Rich Wyatt - Tavares via submission, round 2.
Anthony Pace - Tavares via decision.
Steve Lopez vs. Waylon Lowe
Charles Walker - Lowe via submission in round 2
Rich Wyatt - Lopez via TKO, round 3.
Anthony Pace - Lowe via decision
T.J. Grant vs. Julio Paulino
Charles Walker - Grant via decision
Rich Wyatt - Grant via decision.
Anthony Pace - Grant via submission
Mark Hunt vs. Sean McCorkle
Charles Walker - Like an idiot, I'll pick Mark Hunt via TKO in round 2.
Rich Wyatt - If Mark Hunt is even a shell of his former self, this fight will not make it out of the 2nd round. Hunt via TKO, round 2.
Anthony Pace - Hunt via KO.