UFC 119 is a bit of an interesting animal. With no title fights, and no one looking at a possible number one contendership one could simply write this card off, but in doing so they’d be making a mistake. Redemption and relevancy are the key themes of this card.
Frank Mir vs. Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic.
Originally a rematch between Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera and Mir, the fight was scrapped after Big Nog pulled out with an injury. Cro Cop took the fight on short notice when the UFC made an offer he could refuse. (A high salary, and no chance of being cut in the event of a loss). Mir plans on coming in at 255 for the fight after his bulking experiment failed against Shane Carwin. Cro Cop has injured his eye leading up to the fight, and was wearing sunglasses at the official press conference to conceal it’s severity.
Prediction: The Cro Cop of old is dead and gone. While he still possess good hands and some of the most dangerous kicks in the world, the agression to use them in the UFC hasn’t really been seen. His stoicism has been replaced with humor. Pride FC Mirko Cro Cop would not be pleased with his UFC counterpart.Mir has shown improved boxing and can hang with Cro Cop in the stand up, when people stay in the Croatian’s face he has had problems. While you have to give Cro Cop a chance, I think Mir is just on another level, nothing will showcase that more than when the fight hits the mat: Mir by Submission 2nd round Armbar.
Ryan Bader vs. Antonio Rogerio Noguiera
Essentially the step up in competition that Bader has deserved and the chance for Little Nog to erase the memory of a lackluster performance against Jason Brillz, the winner shoots them self into contendership in what is the UFC’s deepest division.
Prediction: Jason Brilz showed that Little Nog can be taken down and damaged out of his guard in their last fight and if Bader is smart he will try and duplicate that game plan. Bader has one punch KO power, but Noguiera possesses some very impressive technical boxing skills, standing and trading does not benefit Bader whatsoever. Little Nog sports a very impressive active guard, and looks for sweeps and subs, but in the end I think Bader will be able to control him: Bader by dec.
Sean Sherk vs Evan Dunham
Sherk only has 4 losses on his resume and all of them are to current or former UFC champions, (Edgar, Penn, St. Pierre, Hughes) but he is also coming into the cage on a 16 month layoff. Dunham comes into the fight at a perfect 11-0 and has back to back wins over Efrain Escudero and Tyson Griffin.
Predictions:Despite the 16 month layoff from Sherk this will be Dunham’s toughest fight to date. I don’t think ring rust will play a huge factor with Sherk who has 38 professional fights and one of the most insane training regimens in the UFC. Dunham will want to keep this standing, but Sherk will find a way to get inside and take him down, from there he’ll do damage: Sherk by dec.
Matt Serra vs Chris Lytle
A lot has changed for both fighters in the past 4 years since their meeting at the Ultimate Fighter 4 Finale. Serra went on to pull off the biggest upset in MMA history when he beat Georges St. Pierre and Lytle earned a reputation as a fan favorite and all around entertaining fighter collecting bonuses in seven of his last ten fights. While their last fight may have been criticized, this one has fight of the night written all over.
Prediction: Taking away the pressure of a TUF finale and a title shot being on the line can make a huge difference. I honestly believe both fighters are completely evenly matched, Serra’s boxing is as crafty as Lytle’s is technical and Serra’s ground game is as technical as Lytle’s is flashy: Either of these guys is gonna finish the other. Lytle by split decision.
Melvin Guillard vs. Jeremy Stephens
This fight isn’t going out of the first round. Both guys have too much power and good enough striking to where they’re going to pound on each other for less than five minutes when someone gets caught
Prediction: Guillard has more one punch knockout than Stephens does and that’s all this fight is going to take is one punch: Guillard by First Round KO.
Prelim and Undercard
Dolloway vs. Doerksen-Dolloway
Mitrione vs. Beltran-Mitrione
Tavares vs. Audinwood-Tavares
Lopez vs Lowe-Lowe
Grant vs. Paulino-Grant
Hunt vs. McCorkle-Hunt