I am so pumped for UFC 121 tonight. Brock Lesnar vs Cain Velasquez is set to be a barn burner. The whole card looks awesome too. Might as well make a few predictions:
vs Cain Velasquez - Brock Lesnar is a beast. The Brock haters like to dismiss him, claiming he has very little skill and relies purely on size, but I'm expecting Brock to prove them haters wrong with a dominant win over Velasquez. Generally skill can overcome size, but when you've got Lesnar's level of skill mixed with his size and athleticism, you've got a scary, scary combination. I like Cain a lot, think he has a very solid skill set. He has an advantage on the feet technically, and possibly has better cardio, but I'd say Brock has a grappling advantage, a speed advantage and a pretty significant size advantage. Just check out the weigh-in picture, they look like they should be in different weight classes:
Brock is going to take Cain down, and pound his face into the canvas until Herb Dean steps in and stops it. Brock via TKO in the 2nd.
vs Martin Kampmann - The key to this fight is Martin Kampmann's wrestling. If he can defend the shot he has a very good chance of knocking Shields out. That's not going to be easy though. Shields is probably the best grappler at 170 after Georges St. Pierre (It's between Shields and Fitch anyway), and is on a serious run and has taken out some serious competition. He seems to have got a reputation as a boring, LnP fighter, but that reputation shows just how fickle MMA fans are. Shields has gone to a decision twice in his last 10 fights. He's finished guys like Paul Daley, Mike Pyle, Robbie Lawler, Nick Thompson and dangerous BJJ Black Belt Renato Verissimo. Shields has a serious resume. Do not write Martin Kampmann off though. He has an excellent sprawl, hits like a truck and is very hard to submit. He's training at a good camp, and Randy seems confident that Kampmann has the tools to defend Shields' shot. Should be a good fight, but I ultimately see Shields taking it either by decision, or via submission in the 3rd.
vs Paulo Thiago - This is the fight I'm backing to get FOTN. Diego has had a bit of a blip in his career of late, with losses to BJ and Hathaway, but I expect the old Nightmare to be back here. I love Paulo Thiago, the guy is a complete bad ass, but Diego outclasses him on the feet (though he does have to watch out for the power of Thiago), has the wrestling to dominate him and the BJJ to defend Thiago's submissions. I expect Diego to come out victorious, but it would not be a surprise to see Thiago pull out a KO or a sub. Great fight on paper!
Matt Hamill vs Tito Ortiz
- Tito looks in the best shape I've ever seen him, and appears to be re-focused, healthy and determined to get back to winning ways. He might not have won a fight since Shamrock, but only Chuck Liddell has finished him in that time. In his last fight he took Forrest to a very close decision; almost finished Machida with a triangle and would have beaten Rashad if it wasn't for grabbing the fence. He has 2 decision losses to former champions, a draw with the next title contender and was finished by Chuck, that's really not bad going, especially when you consider his injuries and surgeries. I see Tito overwhelming Hamill with his wrestling and taking him out with G+P. Tito still has some of the best G+P in the game, and I see him putting it to use against Hamill.
Brendan Schaub vs Gabriel Gonzaga
- This one really could go either way. You've got Schaub with his powerful stand-up, killer instinct and good cardio against Gonzaga with his size advantage, sick Jiu Jitsu and powerful striking. It's a great match-up. I personally see Schaub getting the best of the striking, but I then see Gonzaga being good enough to take it to the ground. Once there, Gonzaga is a monster, and I'm feeling a Gonzaga submission victory. If Gonzaga fights smart it's his fight to lose, but that's been an issue for him in his career. If he's ever going to get beyond Gatekeeper status he's going to need to start using his Jiu Jitsu more effectively. His striking just doesn't hold up to the likes of JDS, Carwin or Velasquez. Even so, I still see him having enough to get past Schaub, but if Schaub lands on the button, it could be lights out Gonzaga.
What a card. I cannot wait. Top to bottom (including the prelims) this is stacked with awesome looking fights. I hope it lives up to my expectations, if it does, it should be card of the year. Take a bow Joe Silva!