If anyone watched Dana White's live stream from the New Media Expo, you will get why I am going to really be pushing for people to read my picks and argue them with me on twitter.
@fitcityjordan is the handle, and I feel like arguing with the world. Although, I have a feeling most people are going to agree with me. I'm not going through the whole card, just fights I am excited made it on the night.
Edson Barboza vs. Lucas Martins – Barboza should win this fairly quickly. His striking is so clean.
Diego Nunes vs. Nik Lentz – Expect both fighters to start getting fights later in the card. Expect a decision, and expect Diego Nunes to win by keeping top position.
Thiago Tavares vs. Khabib (The Eagle) Nurmagomedov – Expect the Eagle to stun Tavares with a very complete game. We haven't seen a lot of this guy, but the support and compliments he is getting speaks volumes. Top contenders have said to watch him run through the 155-pound class. I think that run starts after a loss to Tavares.
Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Ben Rothwell - Depending which Big Ben shows up makes this a show or not. After Rothwell beat Brendan Schaub at UFC 145, White said he was impressed and had never seen Rothwell that ready. Expect another knock out win in Brazil for Rothwell.
C.B Dollaway vs. Daniel Sarafian – Dollaway has become the gatekeeper to the top 10 at middleweight. He isn't going to be fighting Anderson Silva anytime soon, but losing may mean the end of a career. Just ask Jason Miller and Joe Doerksen. I don't see Sarafian securing a choke on Dollaway. This will be a decision win, I lean towards the veteran C.B to pull that out.
Vitor Belfort vs. Michael Bisping – Bisping wins this. It will be a knockout, and his conditioning will be the thing that gets the win. He punches as hard in the last round as he does the first. Bisping, love him or hate him, is much improved.
Now to stir more controversy and get some chatter going there are three fights that I want to expand on.
What the heck is Edson Barboza doing so early on in this card? The guy is everyone's pick for knockout of 2012; he is one of the best strikers out there. Jamie Varner handed him his first loss in May, but other than that he has looked brilliant in the UFC. He is fighting Lucas Martins. Lucas, welcome to the UFC you are about to get kicked a lot. This fight is one of those fights that beg the question “Are you sure Joe Silva?”
On the plus side for fans, if Edson plays his game right we are going to see another highlight reel fight. Maybe my pick for knockout of the year will come early this year. At 155-pounds, Edson deserves more of a challenge than this. I hope this ties together two wins for him, and we see a title run.
What is a Khabib? Well tomorrow night, that question gets answered. He has two fights in the UFC and handled Gleison Tibau for three rounds, which is pretty solid. If you listen to the hype around Khabib (The Eagle) Nurmagomedov, then you know he is the real deal. Chael Sonnen spoke highly of him at weigh-ins, as did a bunch of UFC heavyweights. He has a complete skill set.
Lucky for UFC fans, so does Thiago Tavares. Tavares just dispatched Sam Stout and Spencer Fisher, so you know he is a skilled fighter. Put him at home in Brazil and you have a recipe for him to secure another submission win. The great thing about the chess game here, the Eagle has Sambo. Just imagine a Sambo submission win in Brazil. The National Guard better be on standby, or in this case the KGB. I expect Tavares to get a win at home, with a third round submission and a lot of close calls both ways.
Belfort has been a top contender for years. Bisping has been improving every fight since circling to his left at UFC 100. My work with Team Quest as a strength coach had me there watching fight tape of Bisping vs. Leben from UFC 89. All Day said after every time watching that fight, “I hope to God he circles left for me”. Unfortunately he did, and ate one of the most solid right hands ever thrown in the UFC.
Since then Bisping has improved with every fight. His kickboxing is impressive. He no longer circles one direction or moves straight back. He became elusive. He plays the part of a fighter with a huge ego, but when you break down his performances, you can see a wise student.
I see this fight going into the “deep waters”. Vitor fades in fights, and Bisping usually stays the course. I think we see Bisping score a solid punch late in the last round that wins him this fight. He's a much improved fighter and he has become a top contender.
Jordan Cieciwa can be heard on TSN Radio 1290 every Saturday at 11:30am ct with his show The Weigh-In. You can also follow Jordan at www.twitter.com/FitCityJordan and get all your fitness tips at www.onefitcity.com.