I’m a little disappointed that the UFC didn’t scramble to rejuvenate this card with a few nice filler bouts. Maynard vs. Edgar was scratched. Thiago Silva was rumored to fail a drug test and was bounced from facing Rampage. In addition, at least three more fighters had to withdraw due to injury. If I copped tickets to see this event in a few months ago I would be pissed right about now. The main card has the looks of a free Spike show.
Rampage vs. Hamill
This was the most difficult call for me to make. I always feel like I don’t give Hamill any credit. He never looks like he’s in spectacular shape. He’s extremely sluggish as far as his boxing skills are concerned. And he always looks wide open for his opponent to punish him to the body. Then he comes out and dominates with a stiff jab, brute strength, cage defense, takedowns, and ground control. On the other end of the spectrum, he’s way past due for a loss. He’s on a five fight win streak which includes the likes of Tito Ortiz and Jon Jones (Jones DQ’d).
His streak is coming to an end tonight. Rampage seems like he’s coming back into his own. No side distractions like movies or discord with Dana White. Just training full time. I see him taking Hamill out early. I believe he can neutralize the takedown and has too much handspeed for Hamill. He has superior boxing and won’t fall into the trap of getting slapped around by the jab while anticipating the takedown. He will return fire and catch Hamill with enough to take him out.
Frank Mir vs. Roy Nelson
I’m a fan of both these guys. Mir is ever evolving. He is also one of the most resilient fighters MMA has ever seen. Mir’s career was nearly done after a 2004 injury. Since then his career has been seemingly cursed by setbacks in the form of losses right when it looks as though he’s set to make a title run. Even with these disappointing outings he always returns in better form every time, most notably in his hands.
At first glance you would never know that Nelson is a BJJ black belt. Buddah tummy and mullet, he appears to be a retro’d version of Tank Abbott. The difference is Nelson is a 260 lb. black belt, with hands that has already beaten Mir in a grappling tournament. He also tore through the Ultimate Fighter heavies with three out of four coming by stoppage.
My prediction for this fight: Nelson has super power in his right hand. He also has a world class jaw. Mir will not be able to finish him off with an overhand left or flying knee. Nor will he fall back on his bread and butter because Nelson is just as comfortable on the mat. I see Nelson coming out at a furious pace with his fists, pressuring Mir to the point of becoming desperate like he has in the past. This will likely end in a one hitter quitter or series of punches to the grounded Mir.
Rick Story vs. Thiago Alves
I may be crazy but I’m thinking this one is going the distance. Alves will look to fight a smart, tactical match against the predictable Story. He will come out with hard leg kicks, combinations to the body and face, and utilize lateral movement to prevent Story from pinning him against the cage and score points with inside work. It’s inevitable that Story takes it to the cage or ground at least once or twice. For this reason, I think Alves tires somewhat and slightly loses his killer instinct but does enough to take it in three with consistent striking. A Pitbull vs. Golden Retriever match. Ferociousness vs. heart. Ferociousness wins this battle.