Charlotte, North Carolina’s Bojangles Coliseum won’t see any Sammy Davis, Jr.-style shuffles on Weds. night but 22 mixed marital artists will dance at center Octagon when yet another season of “The Ultimate Fighter” is ushered in by a free fight card on Spike TV. Ultimate Fight Night 21 is headlined by a quality-guaranteed scrap when legendary lightweight Takanori Gomi makes his Octagon debut against two-time title challenger Kenny Florian. Here are our picks for Weds. night’s fights with odds courtesy of bodog – we’re currently 35-14 with our picks in 2010. Odds for Quarry vs. Rivera and Pearson vs. Siver will be added when they come in.
(Florian battered Guida at UFC 107.)
Takanori Gomi torched top competition in PRIDE from 2004-2006 as the only lightweight champion in the organization’s decade long history, but “The Fireball Kid” has been underwhelming since PRIDE’s demise three years ago despite a winning 4-2 record.
The UFC asks Japan’s star if he still has what it takes to compete against the best, matching him against Kenny Florian, who is undefeated in the lightweight division in his eight non-title contests. “Ken-Flo” has only lost to champions Sean Sherk and B.J. Penn in the last four years, granting Gomi title shot credibility with a victory over the Bostonian.
Florian brings a strong mental game into the fight, which is where Gomi has slacked in the last three years. His tactically sleek mix of muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu match up against Gomi’s boxer-wrestler style well. If Gomi can return to form, he’s a favorite to win; however, he’s likely not sharp enough after the years of dulling while Florian was sharpening his skill set.
FIGHT! Pick: Florian
(Big Country lays a big right on Brendan Schaub at the TUF 10 Finale.)
Former IFL Heavyweight Champion Roy Nelson traded in that title for “The Ultimate Fighter” winner with a KO over Brendan Schuab in his Octagon debut. He pits his big belly brand of Renzo Gracie Jiu-Jitsu against Stefan Struve, a 6’11 fighter that utilizes his long frame well on the mat and is slowly finding his ground standing.
“Big Country” is too experienced in every facet of the fight to be caught by the “Skyscraper.” Nelson’s best quality is his ability to stifle opponents and take little damage in the process. It will be on display against a fighter that patches up technical deficiencies with youthful vigor.
FIGHT! Pick: Nelson
(Quarry swings on Credeur.)
A tale of two strikers, Nate Quarry and Jorge Rivera face off with the intent of securing a three-fight win streak. Both posses tough chins, but Quarry tends to endure a battle long enough to land the defining shots.
FIGHT! Pick: Quarry
(Pearson throws on Riley.)
Ross Pearson’s ability to breakaway in a striking match is complimented by similar damage oriented control games in other facets of the fight. That will be key against a risk-taking and dangerous striker in Denis Siver as Pearson executes a game plan to a breaking point.
FIGHT! Pick: Pearson
FIGHT! Pick: FlorianResulting Outcome: CORRECT
Roy Nelson (-325) vs. Stefan Struve (+250)
FIGHT! Pick: NelsonResulting Outcome: CORRECT
Nate Quarry vs. Jorge Rivera
FIGHT! Pick: Quarry Resulting Outcome: INCORRECT
Ross Pearson vs. Dennis Siver
FIGHT! Pick: PearsonResulting Outcome: CORRECT