The ProMMA.info core staff has come together again to bring you our picks for “UFC 107: Penn vs. Florian”, which takes place Saturday, Dec. 12, 2009, at the FedEX Forum in Memphis, Tenn. Take a look as we cover the main card fights one by one, from the main event between lightweight champion B.J. Penn and Diego Sanchez, to the heavyweight match-up between returning UFC veteran Paul Buentello, taking on the up-and-coming submission specialist Stefan Struve.
Stick with us at ProMMA.info throughout the remainder of the week as we bring you a live stream of the UFC 107 weigh-ins on Friday, then a live ringside play-by-play of the entire event (including the preliminary card) Saturday night, followed by a live stream of the post-fight press conference. Read our UFC 107 staff picks after the jump…
B.J. Penn (14-5-1) vs. Diego Sanchez (21-2)
BRIAN FURBY: I think Penn is going to beat Diego, and I think he’s going to finish him. Sanchez is good, and the drop to lightweight has proven to be a good move for him so far. However, Penn is the lightweight king, and when Diego rushes in for one of his blitz attacks, Penn is going to be able to capitalize on it and submit him. Penn by sub in the second. (Then for good measure, Penn will shout out RVCA to piss off Dana, mention BJPenn.com, and then run out of the cage.)
RICHARD MANN: Diego Sanchez has a very odd identity as a fighter. He has a very strong top game and mean ground and pound, but he is not a very good wrestler. He has improved his striking. However, he still throws looping punches and leaves himself open for counters. Sanchez will attempt to swarm Penn. Penn will evade the strikes and land solid counters. Sanchez will then try to take the fight to the ground, and he will fail. There is your fight. Penn by Decision.
DUSTY ADAMS: I’m not really sure what Diego brings that Penn isn’t better at or on par with other than pushing the pace. For some reason I think B.J. is taking Diego just a little lightly but that shouldn’t affect the outcome. I think Diego will push Penn but end up getting caught with a right and B.J. will finish him. Penn by TKO 3rd rd.
JACK BRATCHER: Records are sometimes very deceiving. One could easily be deceived by glancing at the records of Penn and Sanchez. An uninformed oddsmaker may even have Sanchez as the favorite. But we know how foolish that would be. Diego is amped for this fight and we know how intense he can be. He wants to bring the fight to Penn. Penn’s motto has always been “Be first” – be the first to strike. The only advantage where Diego could have had was in conditioning. However, it seems those issues have been addressed and dealt with by the champ. Now training in California, leaving the comforts of home, Penn has taken his strength and conditioning training to an unprecedented level. If you saw the UFC 107 countdown show, you had to notice the new type of training Penn is involved with. I definitely feel Sanchez is the number one contender, but I also feel Penn has taken himself so far above the pack, there is not a close second. I think Penn will finish Sanchez either by knockout or submission. First round.
Frank Mir (12-4) vs. Cheick Kongo (14-5-1)
BRIAN FURBY: On one hand, I’d like to see Kongo knock the smirk off of Frank Mir’s face. On the other, I’d like to see Mir embarrass Kongo because he is likely the most inconsistent heavyweight fighter in the UFC right now. I think initially Mir will want to stand with Kongo as he feels his striking has improved, which it has. However, Kongo should enjoy a clear advantage on the feet and after taking a couple hard shots, Mir will be looking for the fight ending submission. Mir by sub late in the first.
RICHARD MANN: Here is an interesting fact. Cheick Kongo’s wrestling game is so weak that his camp actually paid Sean Salmon to come help. Frank Mir does not even need to score a takedown to win this fight. Mir just needs to close to distance once without getting tagged by Kongo’s huge power. Once inside he can either score a takedown or pull guard. The end will come by submission very soon after. Frank Mir by Submission.
DUSTY ADAMS: I think this is a dangerous fight for Mir. Kongo has good sub defense although he hasn’t faced a guy with the submission ability of Mir. I do think Kongo is going to hurt Mir because Mir leaves himself open a lot even with people in his guard. I’ll go with the small upset and say Kongo by TKO 2nd rd.
JACK BRATCHER: Frank Mir seems to be getting on everyone’s nerves. I’m surprised he found time to train in between his stalking of Brock Lesnar, but apparently he did and he seems to be focused on building up his muscles. He wants to be big and strong if and when the day comes he gets to face his nemesis and I’m sure he is gloating over every pound of muscle that Brock has lost while being sick. Regardless of the intricate fantasy world he lives in, where he and the heavyweight champ frolic on a daily basis, he has to get inside the cage with a better striker than himself this weekend. Although Mir does not have the best takedowns, his opponent is not the best takedown defense artist either, so I think Mir will eventually get him down and submit him. Probably in round one or two. That’s what I think will happen. What I wish would happen is Kongo ran into the reincarnation of Alistair Crowley while training at Wolfslair, and the old mage granted Kongo with a wish, which in turn Kongo wished for the greatest grappling powers in the land, and on Saturday night he will put Frank Mir in a gogoplata and tap the old chap out.
Jon Fitch (19-3) vs. Mike Pierce (10-1)
BRIAN FURBY: I think Pierce is going to be a tough match for Fitch, but Fitch should see the better end of a unanimous decision. Pierce has good groundwork, and his takedown ability is such that he might actually give Fitch some trouble having to defend takedowns over and over. However, Fitch has an excellent well-rounded game in spite of his recent inability to finish fights. Pierce will likely put on a solid performance throughout the fight but Fitch’s consistence in the cage will prevail. Fitch by unanimous decision.
RICHARD MANN: Mike Pierce has been able to put together back-to-back wins against Brock Larson and Paul “The Stall” Bradley. These performances against quality wrestlers may give him hope against Jon Fitch. However, everyone knows that Fitch is much more than a wrestler at this point. In true Fitch fashion, It will not be pretty early, but he will be able to impose his will and finish this fight with a rear naked choke. Fitch by Submission.
DUSTY ADAMS: I have to go with the upset in this one. Obviously Fitch has the wrestling advantage but I think he is frustrated with all the replacements and the fact that Dan Hardy is getting a title shot and not him. Fitch is as tough as they come but I think Pierce will outbox him and defend the takedowns enough to steal a round and win by UD.
JACK BRATCHER: Mike Pierce was the first of two losses Brock Larson received in the UFC before being cut. Pierce’s only fight in the UFC was his decision win over Larson back in September. He’s had six (T)KO’s and six four decision victories. I’m still a bit confused as to why he’s fighting on the main card against the number two welterweight in the world, but hey, what do I know. Well, I know Fitch will beat him. Fitch tends to go to decision quite a bit but I think he’s going to finish Pierce – I’ll say Fitch by submission in the third.
Kenny Florian (11-4) vs. Clay Guida (25-10)
BRIAN FURBY: This could easily be fight of the night. Florian has some excellent striking and vicious elbows and Guida has a pace that most fighters can’t keep up with. Florian will have to find a way to get his elbows past Guida’s hair and Guida will look to capitalize on some solid takedowns and use his wrestling skills to frustrate Florian on the ground. This is a tough one to call, because while Florian can finish fight, I think he lacks the power to really stun Guida enough to win by TKO, and I don’t see him able to submit Guida unless he first catches him with a good knee to the face a la Roger Huerta. I think it’s going to be fast-paced and go all three rounds, ending with KenFlo winning a split decision due to his edge on the feet.
RICHARD MANN: Sometimes the most simplistic game plan is the best. Often times wrestlers will try to add a lot of different facets to their game. When it works, like for Josh Koscheck or Rashad Evans, it can be beautiful, but it isn’t for everyone. The strength of Clay Guida’s game will always be his wrestling, and he is not apologizing for it. Kenny Florian is clearly the more well rounded fighter. However, Guida’s persistent wrestling game will lead him to a decision victory. Florian has shown he can be taken down. He has also shown that despite his grappling pedigree he is not exceptionally dangerous off his back. Clay Guida by Decision.
DUSTY ADAMS: I like this match-up alot. One thing is for sure and that’s Guida will bring the action. I think Florian is at his best when he controls the fight and picks his shots. Guida should be able to take him down and do some damage. I don’t see him finishing Florian though. Florian by split decision.
JACK BRATCHER: Florian has supposedly “re-made” himself for this fight. He has a new camp and has had to prepare for Guida’s wrestling and pace. Guida is gonna be all over him like Joe Rogan on a new bong. I really don’t care for Guida’s style but it is usually effective, unless you’re Diego Sanchez. I either see Guida choking out Florian or winning the decision. I hope I’m wrong on this one, I really do.
Paul Buentello (27-10) vs. Stefan Struve (18-3)
BRIAN FURBY: This fight could actually turn out to be fairly entertaining. I think Struve has shown improvement since his Octagon debut ended in a loss when he was sort of thrown to the wolves with Junior dos Santos. Buentello definitely has the power to KO or TKO Struve, but Struve is going to enjoy a solid reach advantage and I think he’ll actually be able to stun Buentello before taking him to the ground and submitting him fairly quickly. I’ll also throw in that Struve stands to win submission of the night with this win if Rousimar Palhares doesn’t pull off something ridiculous like a flying omoplata.
RICHARD MANN: For a long lanky guy, Stefan Struve does not use his reach at all on the feet. Teddy Atlas might actually go into shock if he watched some of the young Dutch fighter’s striking. Paul Buentello is an underrated striker, who can pick apart lesser heavyweights. Struve is dangerous on the ground, but he lakes the ability to take down a large heavyweight like Buentello. Look for Buentello to score early and often with straight punches and bring home a late round stoppage. Paul Buentello by TKO.
DUSTY ADAMS: “Headhunter” is the appropriate name for Buentello because that’s about the stint of his game. Struve got crushed by Dos Santos with punches but I think he will get Paul down and submit him in the 1st rd.
JACK BRATCHER: Buentello just whooped upon “Baby Fedor” and “Big Daddy” Gary Goodridge. Although he hasn’t used it in about four years, Buentello has been known to put a submission on his opponents. Struve is a submission fighter and Buentello hasn’t lost to a real submission in over eight years. He’s very hard to submit, and actually has a style similar to a Chuck Liddell. I’m going with a Buentello knockout. It’s his first fight back in the UFC since 2006 and I see him making a grand return.