The Ultimate Fighting Championship continues its trot around the globe when it touches down in Sydney, Australia for UFC 110 this Saturday at the Acer Arena. Tickets for the promotion’s first visit to the continent sold out in less than 24-hours, likely because the show boasts a lineup so deep that Mirko “Crocop” Filipovic – a star no matter how spotty his UFC tenure has been – opens the card. Here are FIGHT!’s Picks for Saturday night’s fights with odds courtesy bodog – we’re currently 17-7 over the first five major cards of 2010.
(Velasquez puts it to Ben Rothwell.)
“Minotauro” made his name with heart, grit and top-level Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Cain Velasquez, undefeated in seven contests, will be asked to test all those aspects of Nogueira’s game. His Arizona State University wrestling pedigree and high RPM pace will challenge Nogueira’s strengths. Whatever damage the Mexican-American does oddly favors the Brazilian too, who is seemingly most dangerous when he’s taking a severe beating deep into the fight.
In a contest with Velasquez, Nogueira can’t afford to look from submissions from bottom. He must employ his technical boxing and BJJ sweeps when the fight hits the mat to force the American Kickboxing Academy’s representative to compete in aspects of the game he’s still developing — standing and off his back.
Repeated takedowns tips the fight to Velasquez, the kind of strong grappler that’s driven Nogueira to the edge in the past like Josh Barnett and Ricco Rodriguez. The three-five minute round format—not wear and tear—steals the fight away from Noguiera.
FIGHT! Pick: Velasquez
(Silva finishes Keith Jardine.)
The Ultimate Fighter season three winner Michael Bisping is best when he is in his opponent’s face, pushing the pace until the enemy gives out. Former PRIDE 205-pound king Wanderlei Silva is the same way and wields more KO power than his British adversary, a fighter known to hit the mat and comeback to win (outside of UFC 100’s KO demolition at the hands Dan Henderson; Henderson was equally violent with Silva to capture to the PRIDE Middleweight Championship). The stick-and-move strategy Bisping utilized successfully against Chris Leben won’t be as effective versus “The Axe Murderer,” as Silva hunts opponents down methodically before unleashing his flurries. Outside of surprise takedowns from Bisping or staying in the pocket with improved boxing and counter punches, one of Silva’s bombs will find its mark.
FIGHT! Pick: Silva
(Replace Spencer Fisher with George Sotiropolous and there you go.)
George Sotiropoulos has quietly submitted three of his last four opponents, finishing all fights to an unblemished 4-0 UFC mark. He’s a technical steamroller on the mat, but Joe Stevenson’s Robert Drysdale black belt along with his wrestling and decisive ground and pound is too much right now for ever-improving Australian native.
FIGHT! Pick: Joe Stevenson
(Jardine attacks Brandon Vera.)
Two fighters on dramtically different trajectories meet when Keith Jardine’s two fight skid intersects with Ryan Bader’s rising star. “Darth” Bader has natural power in his hands, but Jardine’s unorthodox eight-point style isn’t to be tested at this point in his young UFC career. The Greg Jackson-trained fighter doesn’t spend time on his back thanks to his underappreciated wrestling. Bader can score repeated takedowns; however, as the fight drags on, Jardine’s experience in the trenches will score him a much-needed ‘W.’
FIGHT! Pick: Jardine
Chris Lytle prides himself on being the most exciting fighter in the UFC, foregoing submission savvy and his professional boxing background for all-out slugfests. After some time on the shelf he draws game UFC upstart Brian Foster. The Hit Squad member overcame illegal strikes from Brock Larson at UFC 108 to crush the bruising Minnesotan via TKO in round two. It was a satisfying rebound from his losing, albeit Fight of the Night, effort at UFC 103.
Foster’s a promising prospect, but Lytle’s newfound aggression along with his experience catches the young gun slow on the draw standing and on the mat.
FIGHT! Pick: Lytle
FIGHT! Pick: Velasquez
Wanderlei Silva (-155) vs Michael Bisping (+125)
FIGHT! Pick: Silva Resulting Outcome: CORRECT
Joe Stevenson (-260) vs George Sotiropoulos (+200)
FIGHT! Pick: Stevenson Resulting Outcome: INCORRECT
Ryan Bader (-165) vs Keith Jardine (+135)
FIGHT! Pick: Jardine Resulting Outcome: INCORRECT
Brian Foster (+140) vs Chris Lytle (-170)
FIGHT! Pick: Lytle Resulting Outcome: CORRECT