UFC 120 Preview and Predictions
By Jeff Hawken
Looking at this card, every fight safe for one involves a hometown fighter from the U.K. Should be pretty clear who the fans will be cheering for. Let?s take a look at whether the hometown boys will reign supreme and send the fans home (or to the pub) a happy bunch!
Yoshihiro Akiyama (13-2) vs. Michael Bisping (19-3)
When this fight was first announced, the first thing I wondered was how could a guy that just lost (Akiyama) be given a main event fight against a guy (Bisping) who handily beat the guy that just beat Akiyama! Got that? Yes, Chris Leben holds a submission win over Akiyama, and Bisping holds a decision victory over Leben. Should then be an easy night for the count!? Not so fast mate. Since that win over Leben, Mike has gone 2-2, he?s fighting in his backyard (think GSP fighting in Montreal) and he?s taking on a guy that just lost for the 1st time in over 5 years! Sexyama has trained up in Albuquerque with Greg Jackson, or as I call him, Yoda. With me you train, and beat Bisping we will! Or something like that?? So, will Akiyama suddenly decide to take Mike down and work some ground and pound or some submissions? No, I don?t believe so. I fully expect this fight to look very similar to Akiyama?s first two octagon appearances. Stand up wars. If this fight stays on the mat for over 30 seconds, I will be very surprised. Look for Bisping to use his footwork and jab to keep his opponent at bay, dashing in the odd time with a two or three punch combo, the occasional right hand uppercut. Akiyama doesn?t have the speed or the footwork to counter any of that. What he does have is heart and a solid chin, which will make for a great three round war. The only aspect of this fight I see Akiyama coming out on top in will be the entrance, as he will undoubtably walk to the cage again to the sound of Andrea Bocelli?s Time To Say Goodbye. It?s really something else.
Bisping by Decision
Carlos Condit (25-5) vs. Dan Hardy (23-7)
This is most people?s early pick for fight of the night. Me, I?m not sold just yet. I believe this to be a more important fight for Dan Hardy than the Akiyama fight is for Bisping. Hardy is coming off a decision loss to the best welterweight on the planet, although he didn?t do much, he did stay in there for the entire 25 minutes. In this fight, we get to see if ?The Outlaw? really is a contender with another title shot on the horizon, or if he will garner gatekeeper status. For someone who claims to have KO power, he has yet to really show us that in his UFC contests, having finished only one of his opponents and winning by split decision on two occasions. To say this is a big fight for Hardy would be a massive understatement. A win here will solidify him as a top contender, probably leaving him one or two fights away from another title shot. Carlos Condit is no slouch though! The former WEC welterweight champ is coming off two straight wins, and will look to make a name for himself by taking out Hardy. I don?t see that happening though. Hardy has the better striking, and although Condit may have the better all around ground game, I don?t see him being able to control Hardy on the ground long enough to get a submission or work his ground and pound. Condit?s only shot here is to maybe work a submission from his back after Hardy puts him there, but I don?t like those odds.
Hardy by TKO in the 2nd round
John Hathaway (14-0) vs. Mike Pyle (19-7-1)
I hate damn fan expo?s! You go there and meet fighters, certain guys actually take the time to talk to you. Mike Pyle was one of them. From my short time speaking with him, he seemed like a very nice guy. I would love to see him win here, would be a big win for his career. Mike has fought and beat some good fighters, name fighters (Jon Fitch being one), but I don?t like his chances here against the very tough Brit. Hathaway is coming off an impressive win over Diego Sanchez which definitely put his name out there. I believe that ?The Hitman? is simply a little better in every facet of the game.
John Hathaway by Decision
Travis Browne (10-0) vs. Cheick Kongo (15-6-1)
This is an easy one. Kongo is a step above anyone that Browne has ever fought. If he can get, and keep Kongo down, he might win a very boring three round decision. I wouldn?t bet on that though as his wrestling skills are just a notch above mine. Cheick is well aware of his skills as a fighter, as well as what he needs to work on. Look for Kongo to avoid a few haymaykers en route to a dominant victory.
Cheick Kongo by 1st round TKO
Claude Patrick (12-1) vs. James Wilks (7-3)
Could another former TUF winner be on the block here? Not just yet. Look for Patrick to try to get this to the mat and submit Wilks. If the fight stays standing it could be fairly entertaining as I don?t believe either of them have the one-punch KO power so we could be left with a slugfest. I?ll still bet that Patrick can get Wilks down and notch an impressive win over a tough opponent.
Claude Patrick 2nd round submission
Cyrille Diabate (16-6-1) vs. Alexander Gustafsson (9-1)
Cyrille Diabate 1st round KO
Rob Broughton (14-5-1) vs. Vinicius Kappke de Quieroz (5-1)
Vinicius Kappke De Quieroz by decision
Steve Cantwell (7-3) vs. Stanislav Nedkov (11-0)
Stanislav Nedkov by decision
Mark Holst (8-2) vs. Paul Sass (10-0)
Mark Holst by 1st round KO + KO Bonus
Spencer Fisher (23-6) vs. Kurt Warburton (6-1)
Spencer Fisher by 2nd round submission
Fabio Maldonado (17-3) vs. James McSweeney (4-5)
Fabio Maldonado by 1st round TKO