UFC on Fuel TV 8 follows on the heels of UFC 157, a card that delivered some very entertaining fights, and a little movement in the rankings.
I am going to be a little nicer in this "Takedown". I'm in the middle of following a six-week fight camp. I'm writing this after a conditioning workout. It's been a while since I have trained this hard. Getting in classes with pro's made me realize how much the game has changed.
Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann
Lynch: This has all the makings of an exciting fight as both combatants are coming off losses and should maintain an accelerated pace as neither fighter is cutting weight (this bout is surprisingly contested at light heavyweight, not middleweight). Let's face it; Silva is a former shadow of the wrecking machine who won the PRIDE middleweight championship back in 2003. His power is still there, but his speed and conditioning aren't.
Meanwhile, the All-American had a lacklustre 2012 that saw him battle injures and personal issues which led to a 1-1 record. Recently the 32-year old left the Jackson/Winklejohn camp because he felt his training wasn't adequate. Now back in his native Atlanta, the former WEC champion trains with the Lima brothers and is looking to jumpstart his 2013 with a win Saturday night.
The All-American is dangerous both on the feet and on the ground but I don't see him finishing the Brazilian Jiu-jitsu blackbelt. I've got Stann taking a five round decision.
Stann via Unanimous Decision
JC: What happened to Wandi? I took a stroll down memory lane this week and popped in PRIDE 33. Hendo vs Silva, that's a fight. Somewhere along the line both guys lost a little something. Maybe it's the two decades of fight camp after fight camp. Whatever it is, Stann has got his game back to the high level we expect.
Both these fighters like to throw punches. It's a great main event, and I think it's a fairly cut and dry win for Stann.
Stann via Technical Knockout (Second Round)
Mark Hunt vs. Stefan Struve
Lynch: In one of the biggest height/reach mismatches in UFC history as Struve (7'0) looks to make it five in a row against the Hunt (5'10). Two questions linger heading into this fight: Can the New Zealander get on the inside and land one of his patented knockout punches on the gigantic Dutchman? Or can the 25-year old submit the former PRIDE title challenger?
Statistics will tell us that Struve has lost all of his fights in the UFC by knockout. On the same token Hunt has been submitted six times in his seven career losses. While age isn't on his side, I see the 38-year old finding his way inside and catching "Skyscraper" sometime in the second round.
Hunt via Knockout (Second Round)
JC: Struve has gotten himself into a great situation from the business side. He is with Alchemist MMA and they take care of their fighters. That allows them to focus on getting better and better.
Struve is very susceptible to the shorter inside power punch, but knowing that, I am sure he has worked on it extensively. Mark Hunt has not got a big bag of tricks. All Struve has to do is avoid that serious power.
I imagine Struve will get a very awkward trip takedown along the cage, and turn that into a submission win.
Struve via Submission (Choke, Second Round)
Takanori Gomi vs. Diego Sanchez
Lynch: The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 winner Sanchez returns to the lightweight division for the first time since his devastating loss to B.J. Penn back in 2009, as he battles the former Sengoku/PRIDE lightweight champion Gomi. Even though the Fireball Kid will have home court advantage I think the Jackson/Winklejohn student will be too big and strong for the Japanese boxer.
I predict Sanchez will have dominant fight, winning a unanimous decision and putting other 155er's on notice that "The Dream" is back in the division.
Sanchez via Unanimous Decision
JC: Wonder if Sanchez walks out all crazy with the cross again? The "Nightmare" became the "Dream", and seems to be on a mission. At 155-pounds Sanchez is a big, strong powerhouse. Gomi strikes from strange angles and brings a game that is nearly impossible to emulate in practice.
However, I see Sanchez simply overpowering and controlling this fight. Sanchez is a smart fighter, and if he stays mistake free while striking, this should go the distance.
Sanchez via Unanimous Decision
Yushin Okami vs. Hector Lombard
Lynch: In my opinion this is the toughest fight to pick on the main card and also could determine the number one contender in the middleweight division. Each fighter has been "Boetsch'ed" in that these fighters looked unimpressive in losing efforts against Tim Boetsch, but have since rebounded.
The Japanese wrestler has the height and reach advantage while Lombard has exceptional knockout power. Similar to the Hunt/Struve fight, can the former Bellator middleweight champ get on the inside and knock the Japanese wrestler out? Unfortunately, I don't think he will.
I'm a huge fan of the Aussie knockout artist, but I see Okami out muscling Lombard over three rounds to pull off a close decision victory.
Okami via Unanimous Decision
JC: All I want to know is who's showing up to the fight Hector the machine, or Hector the snooze fest. Hector lost to Boestch because he just didn't show up. He crushed Palhares (who couldn't even be saved by the PED's he was taking). So my prediction is going to be tough hoping Lombard's first UFC fight was a blip on the radar.
Lombard could challenge for a title shot at middleweight, this is the fight to set those wheels in motion. When he is on, his explosive speed and strength is more than Okami can handle.
Lombard via Technical Knockout (Second Round)
Mizuto Hirota vs. Rani Yahya
Lynch: I think the second degree Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu blackbelt Yahya will overwhelm Hirota and pull off a unanimous decision against the hometown favourite.
Yahya via Unanimous Decision
JC: I agree with Lynch on this, always talk a highly skilled BJJ blackbelt when it comes down to a fight like this. There is no replacing the years it takes to master those skills. Hirota doesn't have the pedigree or the high level wins to tell me he can stay in there with Yahya's skill.
Yahya via Submission (Second Round)
Dong Hyun Kim vs. Siyar Bahadurzada
Lynch: The Korean judoka Kim will likely try and keep this fight against the fence and try to grind out a decision, but Siyar "The Great" will have other plans. I think the Afgan fighter will catch the 31-year old early in the fight, knock him out and keep his undefeated UFC record intact at 2-0.
Bahadurzada via Knockout (First Round)
JC: When I read Lynch's synopsis I laughed out loud. Or, too all the kids out there, I literally LOL'd. This fight does have the potential to go either way, but catching and KO'ing Kim? I'm not sold on that at all. Unless it's a Condit style flying knee, I just can't see that happening. However, I have been wrong before. I think this one is going to go three full rounds.
Kim via Split Decision
There you have it fight fans. Lynch and I giving our opinions as we love to do. Let us know who you believe in #TeamLynch or #TeamJC. Also tell us what you are thinking. We love to hear your voice as well. That interaction makes our job fun.
While you are at it, let me know if you are training like a fighter. If MMA is your life, tell us about it on twitter and keep the conversation going!