The fight that never should have been is finally here. Not only that, there is a ton of twitter drama following a few of the other fights.
This is one of those fight cards that is going to get the attention of non-MMA fans. Chael Sonnen may not deserve the fight, but he deserves the thanks from fans and fighters alike. People outside the sport know there is an event this weekend thanks only to Chael and his mouth.
Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen
James Lynch, TSN.ca (@LynchOnSports): The American Gangster moves back up to the Light Heavyweight division for the first time since 2005, when he lost by submission to Renato “Babalu” Sobral at UFC 55. As readers may remember, because of an injury to Dan Henderson heading into UFC 151, Sonnen offered his services on short notice to fight Jones for the title back in September. Instead the champion refused and for the first time in UFC history, the promotion cancelled one of their events. With his exceptional promotion skills, the former WEC Middleweight champion talked his way into a coaching stint on The Ultimate Fighter and a title shot this Saturday night.
On paper this appears to be a complete mismatch as physically Jones has a three-inch height and 10-inch reach advantage. The 25-year-old champion has never looked phased in any of his fights and has only lost one round (against Lyoto Machida) inside the octagon. However you still can't overlook what the Portland native did to Anderson Silva in their first fight at UFC 117. Through four rounds of action, Sonnen dominated the UFC middleweight champ and was a triangle choke away from winning the title.
With that said, I don't see that happening against the Jackson/Winklejohn product. “Bones” will use his speed and striking to outpoint “The People's Champ” on route to a second round TKO victory.
Jones via Technical Knockout (Second Round)
Jordan Cieciwa, TSN Radio 1290 (@Fitcityjordan): I don't know what to make of this fight. Chael is obviously talented, and is a high level fighter. What he has done brilliantly is talk his way into a high paying career. Most fighters at Sonnen's skill level will never make close to the cash he has. What he has successfully done is ensure a high paying career.
With that said, I don't know if he has the ability to overcome the obvious physical mismatch in this one. Jones will not be off his game, which means a talented champion with a game plan. Sonnen has a very basic style. He wrestles, then grinds out decision wins. Sonnen is also susceptible to submissions, Jones has some very interesting moves in his arsenal thanks to his long arms.
I am putting a bet on Sonnen as it's too good to pass up. But Jones is winning this fight.
Jones via Submission (First Round)
Alan Belcher vs. Michael Bisping
Lynch: Coming off a brutal knockout loss to Vitor Belfort, the 34-year old Bisping looks to get back in the win column against Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt Belcher. What makes this matchup interesting aside from the fact that both of these fighters are coming off losses, physically these two almost mirror each other in height and reach. The one area these two both differ is quality of opponents. The Brit Bisping has fought former champions and aside from his two knockout losses (Belfort and Henderson), he has only lost close decisions.
Belcher meanwhile has mainly fought opponents who are no longer in the division (Yoshihiro Akiyama, Patrick Cote) or aren't even competing in the UFC (Jason MacDonald, Wilson Goueiva). While I think this fight will be close, I see Bisping's experience against top level talent and his striking will be the difference in this fight.
Bisping via Unanimous Decision
JC: The UFC is billing this fight as four feuds for the price of one. Bisping is one of my favorite and most improved fighters. His career is what a pro athlete's should look like. Start off good, and become great. His kickboxing improved leaps and bounds after he circled left into Dan Henderson's power hand. His wrestling has been improving regularly with trips to the states to learn from some of the best in the business.
Belcher has an impressive pedigree in MMA. Top level Kickboxing and a black belt in Brazilian Jujitsu speak to the potential to make this an interesting fight. I give a slight edge to Bisping in this match, given his higher level opponents. Neither fighter likes going the distance. Bisping has eight decisions in 28 fights, while Belcher has six in 25 fights. Someone is going to get knocked out in this one.
Bisping via Technical Knockout (Third Round)
Cheick Kongo vs. Roy Nelson
Lynch: Proving that looks can be deceiving, “Big Country” looks to make in three in a row when he is paired with the heavyweight specimen Kongo. The Ultimate Fighter Season 10 winner is comfortable anywhere the fight goes, having the edge in both striking and on the mat. The French fighter will likely try to use his four inch reach advantage and control Nelson up against the cage to neutralize his attack.
However, Nelson has proved even in his loss to former heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos that he's a tough competitor. I see the Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt landing the better strikes and finishing the 37-year old sometime in the second round.
Nelson via Technical Knockout (Second Round)
JC: I can't explain why, maybe it's the fact that I am a little bit redneck, and deep down I want to eat a lot of pizza and train hard, not worry about my weight. Whatever the reason, Nelson is my hero. I have seen the man train, and amongst the fighters I work with Nelson is a legend. His cardio is solid, his strength is unmatched, and the dude has a gut. You can't beat a country boy for solid strength and a drive to win.
Kongo on the other hand gases out, and doesn't seem to strike as hard as his muscles might suggest he could. This fight can go only one way. Roy's granite chin ensures that any mistake he may make will be covered for by the beard.
Nelson via Technical Knockout (Second Round)
Phil Davis vs. Vinny Magalhaes
Lynch: Aside from their Twitter trash talk ahead of their matchup on Saturday, this is an intriguing fight between two up and coming fighters in the 205-pound division. While the former NCAA Division 1 wrestler is known for his exceptional grappling skills, he will likely want to avoid the ground with the 28-year old Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt.
I see the Davis using his superior wresting to keep this fight on the feet and outpoint his opponent with strikes over three rounds, similar to what Ryan Bader was able to implement against Magalhaes at the TUF 8 final.
Davis via Unanimous Decision
JC: In my years around the sport I have learned one thing. There is nothing as dangerous as an angry Brazilian. Davis has gotten under Vinny Magalhaes skin. Magalhaes is extremely under rated in the MMA world. Those that have worked with him have him teach them Jujitsu. I had the pleasure of seeing him at Team Quest, where he taught a lot of interesting and new techniques to the team before moving to Las Vegas. Pride is a strong tool.
With all that said, Phil Davis has one loss in his 10 fights, it was a decision to Rashad Evans. Magalhaes is a little out of his league in this fight, Davis is a real top contender at 205, He has wins over Stann, Little Nog, and Gustafsson. This should be a very quick win for Davis, the trash talk won't mean a thing after this fight.
Davis via Technical Knockout (Third Round)
Pat Healy vs. Jim Miller
Lynch: Healy is given no favours in his return to the Octagon as he battles the very durable, Fight of the Night winner Miller. Since his loss to former Strikeforce champion Josh Thomson in 2010, the former MFC welterweight champion has gone on a six-fight win streak and will look to continue that momentum for his homecoming inside the octagon.
For the New Jersey native Miller, he will need to bring the same intensity and firepower that he brought in his win over Joe Lauzon back at UFC 155. This easy could be fight of the night and probably will be the most competitive matchup on the main card. With that said, I see Miller having a slight edge in striking and that will be the difference in this fight.
Miller via unanimous decision.
JC: Jim Miller has four losses. He only loses to the best of the best, and he only fights the best of the best. Of those loses three were decisions only one of his four loses was a clear cut win. He was submitted a year ago by Nate Diaz.
Healy is 29-16, that's far from impressive. He is on a six-fight win streak, albeit none of the fighters in that streak are close to the caliber of Miller. Pat Healy won't be knocking out Miller, and I don't see the submission game playing a factor from Healy. That means Healy has to control the Octagon and out wrestle Miller for a decision win. That's probably not going to happen.
Miller on his game wins this any way he wants. KO, Submission, or control the fight for the decision. I see this being a submission win
Miller via Submission of the Night (Second Round)
Undercard picks: Perez, St. Preux, McMann, Khabilov, Garcia, Head, Siler.