Dana White and the UFC have put together what appears to a pretty good fight card for the last UFC event of 2011.
Here are my predictions for the top three fights on the card:
Welterweight bout: Jon Fitch vs. Johny Hendricks.
I think Jon Fitch wins the fight by unanimous decision. This should be tough fight between two very good fighters with similar MMA skill sets. Fitch is 21-1-1 in his last 23 fights, with his only loss coming to the great Georges St. Pierre. Fitch was a NCAA Div I wrestler at Purdue. He also has a Black Belt in Jui-Jitsu. Hendricks is 11-1 and was also a former NCAA D-1 wrestler. I think Fitch’s overall experience gives him the edge here.
Lightweight bout: Nate Diaz vs. Donald Cerrone
Cerrone wins by KO in the 2nd round. Diaz is a very tough and aggressive fighter, with superior striking ability, but Cerrone is one the hottest fighters in all of MMA right now. Cerrone is a very rounded fighter(Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Jui=Jitsu, Wrestling) , who has been trained by Greg Jackson in Albuquerque, NM.
Heavyweight bout: Brock Lesnar vs. Allstair Overeem.
This is a very tough fight to call because both of these huge fighters are very capable of delivering a KO blow or submitting an opponent. Style contrast is what makes this fight interesting. Lesnar is a world class wrestler and former UFC HW Champ. Overeem is a top notch fighter who’s skill set includes kickboxing, Muay Thai and Submission Grappling. Overeem is current K-1 Kickboxing champ, as well as the current holder of the Strikeforce HW title. He is currently on a 7 fight win streak, although this the “Reem’s” first UFC bout.
Vegas has installed Overeem as the slight favorite and I think that is reasonable because he is the more well rounded fighter, with more weapons at his disposal. But, I’m still going to pick Lesnar to win here. A victory for Lesnar is totally contingent upon his ability to take this fight to the ground and then unleash his vicious ground and pound. I think Lesnar has a good chance to do that because Overeem has not yet faced a wrester of Lesnar’s caliber. Of course, this fight could very easily go the other way too. Overeem might KO Lesnar in the first 30 seconds. My pick of Lesnar is a hunch. I just think Brock has little more to fight for, coming off a loss to Cain Velasquez in Oct. 2010. He wants prove he that can be champ again and he also looks like he is in great shape after a long lay off due to surgery that was required to address his bout with diverticulitis.
POST EVENT COMMENTS
Well, I went 0 for 3 tonight. That hasn’t happened to me in a long time. OK. let’s take these fights one at a time:
Fitch vs. Hendricks: Hendricks wins by KO 12 seconds into the 1st Rd.!!! There is no way I saw that coming. Fitch has only been KO’d once before and that was at the beginning of his career back in 2002. First round KO’s happen all the time in the UFC, but usually not to guys like Jon Fitch, who is normally careful and methodical. Maybe it was just lucky. We will see how both fighters fare going forward. Fitch was making his way toward another title shot, but now it appears that Hendricks is a lot closer to that opportunity.
Diaz vs. Cerrone: Diaz won by unanimous decision. This was a tough, hard fought battle and Diaz simply outclassed Cerrone with his great boxing. Cerrone effectively countered at times with very hard sweeping kicks that put Diaz down quite a few times, but was never able to capitalize and move the fight to the ground. I think that was a big mistake, because Diaz clearly demonstrated he was the better boxer in the 1st Rd.
Lesnar vs. Overeem: Overeem wins by TKO in the 1st Rd. Although I picked Lesnar to win this fight, I did point out that Overeem was very capable of winning this fight via a KO in the 1st Rd. and that is what he did. After seeing Lesnar get crumpled by a hard liver kick that Overeem delivered I really don’t think he has ever fully recovered from the surgery he had to treat his bout with diverticulitis. Lesnar looked like he was in good shape as he entered the Octagon, but he was very tentative during the fight and did not exhibit the explosiveness he showed in his early UFC fights. His take down attempts were very weak and they easily defended by Overeem. Lesnar announced his retirement immediately after the fight and I think that is the right decision for him. I’m sure he doesn’t want to be a “gatekeeper” for the HW division.
Now Overeem will now fight UFC HW Champ Junior Dos Santos and I think he find the Champ to be a much more formidable fighter than Lesnar. Dos Santos is young, very quick, and an excellent striker. Although Overeem was impressive in his UFC debut, I don’t think he will be able to defeat JDS. I will be very surprised if JDS is not the favorite to win that fight.