The UFC ends 2012 with a pretty good card in the Vegas. I noticed that some mma fans are a little disappointed in the overall quality of this card because some big names had drop out due to injury, but think this card is still very appealing and has the potential to provide very competitive fights. The top four fights are all fairly close in terms of odds, there are no overwhelming favorites. I think the oddsmakers have it right. I have decided who I think is going to win these fights, but I can’t say I would want to go “all in ” on any single fighter who will be action in the top four fights. Without further ado, here are my picks:
Champion Junior Dos Santos (15-1) vs. former champ Cain Velasquez (10-1)
This is rematch. The first time these two met Cain was the HW Champ, but he didn’t leave the Octagon as champ because Dos Santos KO’d him at the 1:04 mark of the fight. Dos Santos is simply the best boxer, by far, in the UFC HW division. Dos Santos trains with Team Nogueira in Brazil and has a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Dos Santos claims he is capable of handling himself on the ground if he gets taken down, but no HW that he has faced in UFC has been able to get him down and keep him there, and he has already faced some fighters with very good take down skills, such as Shane Carwin, Frank Mir and Gabriel Gonzaga.
Velasquez was an excellent NCAA DIV I wrestler at Arizona State, placing 5th in the U.S. in 2005 and 4th in 2006. He later moved on to train at American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) in San Jose, where he has developed a strong mma skill set, and has added boxing, muay thai and Jiu Jitsu to his mma arsenal. Velasquez also fights at a very fast pace and up until he met Dos Santos it did not seem that any UFC HW could beat him. He was, of course, undefeated in the UFC, before that first fight with JDS. However, Dos Santos was the first really high caliber striker that Velasquez had faced and he clearly wasn’t able to defend against the barrage of strikes were thrown at him.
Cain may indeed have the better all around mma skill set, but will he have an opportunity to use all his skills? I don’t think he will. I think Dos Santos will once again use his exceptional boxing and takedown defense to keep this fight standing and in the end Velasquez will not be able to fend off Junior’s powerful strikes.
Dos Santos wins by KO, 2nd round.
Lightweight: Joe Lauzon (22-7) vs. Jim Miller(21-4)
This might be the most competitive fight of the night. Both of these fighters are very well rounded and have complete mma skill sets, but Jui-Jitsu is a strength for both. Miller is also a good wrestler. He wrestler at the high school level in Sparta, New Jersey and later in college, at Virginia Tech. Lauzon is particularly dangerous in the first round. He usually starts at a very fast pace and is always looking for a quick submission. However, Lauzon also takes risks with some moves, leaving himself open to being submitted and he tends to fade in later rounds. Miller is a very durable fighter, with a good chin and high endurance. I think Miller will have the advantage if this fight goes beyond the first round and I think it will because I think Miller is too strong and skilled on ground to be submitted by Lauzon.
Miller by submission, 3rd rd.
Middleweight: Tim Boetsch (16-4) vs. Constantinos Philippou (11-2)
Basically, this breaks down to a wrestler vs. boxer battle. Boetsch is a former NCAA Division I wrestler (Lock Haven University in PA) and is also a Black Belt in Jeet Kune Do. Philippou is a Greek Cypriot who originally pursued boxing before deciding to become a mma fighter. His professional record as a boxer is 3-0, but he also has 60 amateur fights to his credit. After moving to the U.S. he joined the Serra-Longo gym on Long Island and has developed other aspects of his mma game there, including wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu, but he still relies heavily on his boxing skills.
Boetsch is a smart fighter and I think he knows he would likely lose this fight if it remains standing and becomes a boxing match. I think Boetsch will attempt to take this fight to the ground and use superior wrestling ability to win this fight. This fight could very well be decided by the effectiveness of Philippou’s takedown defense. Philippou may indeed have good takedown defense, we’ll see. He trains with Chris Weidman, one of the best wrestlers in the UFC at Serra-Longo. Ironically, Weidman was originally scheduled to fight Boetsch at UFC 155, but had to withdraw due to a training injury. I probably would have picked Weidman to win that fight, but I can’t pick Philippou to win against Boetsch because I think Boetsch’s greater mma experience and his more diverse skill set will give him the upper hand.
Boetsch wins by decision.
Middleweight: Alan Belcher (18-6) vs. Yushin Okami (28-7)
This fight presents another rematch. Okami won the first fight between them by decision, back in 2006. Both of these fighters are very well rounded. Okami has a black belt in Judo, but he can wrestle and box well too. Belcher has a background in Kickboxing, Taekwondo, Jiu Jitsu and Judo.
Both of these guys can are capable on their feet or on the ground.
Belcher has won his last four fights and I think he is hotter fighter right now. I expect his win streak to continue.
Belcher wins by decision.