The UFC makes its yearly trek from its home base in Las Vegas to the Great White North when UFC 113 hits the bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada this Saturday night. A hotly contested 205-pound title fight between champion Lyoto Machida and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua last October prompted an immediate rematch, raising the stakes for the Brazilians as they battle atop the light heavyweight mountain in the main event once again on a card featuring contender bouts, an internet sensation, and good old fashioned slugfests. Here are our picks for Saturday nights bouts with odds courtesy of bodog – FIGHT! is currently 47-20 with its picks in 2010.
(Machida & Rua traded blows in the first fight.)
Judge Cecil Peoples wrongfully asserted post-Lyoto Machida-Shogun Rua I that leg kicks don’t finish fights. Rua masterfully battered “The Dragon” with his muay Thai, and the the PRIDE 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix Champion disarmed the karate master’s best assets—stance switching, feints and most of all, control of distance—with an in-your-face fight. It was the game plan and execution that eluded Machida’s previous 15 opponents, but the judges felt it wasn’t enough to take the belt from Machida.
Rua fought the perfect fight at the highest level; the chances of that happening twice in a row are unlikely, especially against the same opponent. For Machida to regain control, he’ll have to step into Shogun’s world and pick up the pace. Depending on counters proved ineffective, so forcing the aggressive fighter into a mistake by engaging—and wearing Rua in closed quarters—is the undefeated fighter’s best bet to take the fight out of the judges’ hands.
FIGHT! Pick: Machida
(Daley will likely put Kos down if the wrestler stands and bangs like Hazelett did.)
Battling for a shot at UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre, Paul Daley and Josh Koscheck have traded shots outside the cage in a war of words. “Semtex” has sprawl and brawl and fights to stand back rather than off his back, but his pre-fight banter has cooked Koscheck long enough to bait the NCAA Division I All-American into a stand-up bout, where the American Kickboxing Academy’s representative power and tenacity will be met with the Brit’s power and technique at some point during the allotted 15 minutes.
FIGHT! Pick: Daley
(We’re predicting a similar scene at 113.)
Kimbo Slice’s strange journey delivers him to pay-per-view for the first time against his “The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights” cast mate and former NFL player Matt Mitrione. Oddly enough, Slice is the more experience fighter and has been punching the clock at world renowned American Top Team. Meanwhile, Mitrione has set up camp with Duke Roufus. Mitrione’s natural heavyweight status and reach may not earn him internet sensation status like Slice, but it should win him the fight.
FIGHT! Pick: Mitrione
While Jeremy “Lil’ Heathen” Stephens is raw around the edges, he has the nastiness necessary to turn nights into blackouts for opponents. Sam Stout has tested his mettle in stand-up wars inside the Octagon yet it’s been an increasingly well-rounded game has allowed him to display his accurate striking combinations. It should be no different against the young Iowan.
FIGHT! Pick: Stout
Patrick Cote watched Alan Belcher’s last three contests at home recovering from a gut wrenching knee injury incurred during his UFC 90 title shot at Anderson Silva. Two surgeries and more than 18 months later, Cote meets “The Talent” two years after the two were originally schedule to meet at UFC 83.
Belcher’s lived up to his nickname in that time, submitting Denis Kang, earning Fight of the Night honors at UFC 100 in a razor-thin decision loss, and knocking Wilson Gouveia out of the UFC. He’s made strides in his grappling, but his active and varied strikes — namely leg kicks — will be too much for the tough-chinned Canadian returning from injury.
FIGHT! Pick: Belcher
FIGHT! Pick: Machida Resulting Outcome: INCORRECT
Paul Daley vs. Josh Koscheck
FIGHT! Pick: Daley Resulting Outcome: INCORRECT
Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson vs. Matt Mitrione
FIGHT! Pick: Mitrione Resulting Outcome: CORRECT
Sam Stout vs. Jeremy Stephens
FIGHT! Pick: Stout Resulting Outcome: INCORRECT
Patrick Cote vs. Alan Belcher
FIGHT! Pick: Belcher Resulting Outcome: CORRECT