The UFC Expo returns to Las Vegas as an appetizer to mega-meal UFC 114. There’s no title fight on the card but it’s stacked with one of the biggest grudges in UFC history and a stellar pack of contenders, fighters on the rebound and hungry upstarts. Here are our picks for Saturday nights bouts with odds courtesy of bodog – FIGHT! is currently 49-23 with its picks in 2010.
Co-star of The A-Team Quinton Jackson happens to be a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion like his adversary Rashad Evans, who recently was in Vengeance along with Danny Trejo, and battled Jackson for top billing in their pre-fight hype series UFC Primetime.
But the hype and talk ends and the fight begins this Saturday night in the main event at UFC 114.
Evans’ footwork and speed are definitive advantages against the former PRIDE standout’s power-oriented game. The Greg Jackson-trained fighter enjoys a patient, calculated stand-up style. If he can be first with leg kicks as Jackson attempts to cut off the cage, he can rack up points while avoiding brick hands and a notoriously rough chin.
However, there’s a reason Jackson is billed as “Rampage.” The physicality required to suppress the Memphis-native is not part of “Sugar”’s swift game. The Michigan State University alumni’s Division I wrestling background usually carries him through rough spots in close contests, but Jackson’s size and strength in the wrestling department will force Evans to tread in dangerous territory standing versus a defensive, compact and mean puncher.
FIGHT! Pick: Jackson
A late replacement for Forrest Griffin, Jason Brillz gets the greatest test of his career when he faces Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt represented Brazil in boxing at the 2007 Pan American Games and the 2009 South American Games, earning a bronze and gold medal respectively. Stopping five of his last six opponents, Nogueria is hitting his technical and finishing stride. Brillz is still developing an overall game—edging out and gassing out versus Erich Schafer in March—and is not explosive enough or tireless enough to overcome “Minotoro.”
FIGHT! Pick: Nogueria
A quick, diverse and pressing striker, Michael Bisping has takedown defense to make it a long night for Dan Miller. However, The New Jersey native’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt along and wrestling proficiency is in the same mold that has given the Brit a rough time in the past. He’s also naturally heavy-handed and keeps his energy up over 15 minutes well. Despite Bisping’s scrambling ability, Miller holds his own long enough standing to pull away with positioning, ground and pound and submission threats on the mat.
FIGHT! Pick: Miller
Todd Duffee knocked out Tim Hague at UFC 102 last August, picking up the quickest KO in UFC history at the seven second mark. Meanwhile, Mike Russow fought a long, controlling bout against Justin McCully. Two entirely different winning paths set the promising heavyweights across from each other in their second Octagon appearance. Russow is a superior grappler, going on a four-fight submission streak prior to joining the UFC. Don’t let his deceptive look fool; he’s a live dog; however, Duffee has the athleticism and a well-rounded base to stay away from a frustrating bout and get the best of a stand-up bout.
FIGHT! Pick: Duffee
Diego Sanchez returns to welterweight after suffering a title loss to then-155-pound champion B.J. Penn last December. While John Hathaway is one of England’s best prospects, the undefeated 22-year-old’s bullying and reliance on top position is a recipe for defeat against a vastly more experienced, unrelenting and complete fighter like Sanchez.
FIGHT! Pick: Sanchez
(Kim “Stuns” Matt Brown with a knee.)
Amir Sadollah enjoys dogfights inside the Octagon, never backing down in a stand-up bout or even off his back. Undefeated Korean contender Dong Hyun Kim incurs little damage standing and overwhelms opponents with his blend of judo and stiff ground and pound. His elbows are nasty. It’s a distinct style clash; Sadollah’s stand-up versus a grappling “Stun Gun.” Since The Ultimate Fighter season seven winner’s stand-up relies on heavy output, including clinched strikes, he’ll likely succumb to Kim’s throws and aggressive top game.
FIGHT! Pick: Kim
FIGHT! Pick: Jackson Resulting Outcome: INCORRECT
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Jason Brillz
FIGHT! Pick: NogueriaResulting Outcome: CORRECT
Michael Bisping vs. Dan Miller
FIGHT! Pick: Miller Resulting Outcome: INCORRECT
Todd Duffee vs. Mike Russow
FIGHT! Pick: Duffee Resulting Outcome: INCORRECT
Diego Sanchez vs. John Hathaway
FIGHT! Pick: Sanchez Resulting Outcome: INCORRECT
Dong Hyun Kim vs. Amir Sadollah
FIGHT! Pick: KimResulting Outcome: CORRECT