“UFC Fight Night 20″ takes place Monday, Jan. 11, 2010, the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va. The event will air live on Spike TV beginning at 9 p.m. ET.
Headlining the card we have Gray “The Bully” Maynard taking on TUF 5 winner Nate Diaz. Diaz needs to keep putting together some wins, and a victory over top ten ranked Maynard would definitely be a nice feather in his cap as well as boosting his stock considerably in the lightweight division.
Diaz will have his hands full against Maynard who is undefeated and is one of the top contenders in line for a shot at B.J. Penn’s lightweight title. Here are our predictions for “UFC Fight Night 20″:
Gray Maynard (8-0) vs. Nate Diaz (11-4)
BRIAN FURBY – Maynard’s nickname is “The Bully” for a good reason. He bullies guys in the cage, imposing his will. His wins aren’t pretty, but they are wins and he sticks with his skill base, which I respect. Diaz will win the war in terms of shout-outs to Stockton and number of middle fingers thrown, and in addition to that, I think he’s tough enough to keep Maynard from finishing him, but not wily enough to succeed where others have failed in shutting down Maynard’s wrestling. Maynard by unanimous decision.
DUSTY ADAMS - Maynard is a fight away from a title shot and I don’t see him letting that slip away. Joe Stevenson controlled Diaz with his wrestling and Maynard who is better will do the same. Maynard does need to be careful and not get caught up in too many exchanges on the feet were he’s likely to lose. Maynard by unanimous decision.
RICHARD MANN - Maynard is built to beat Nate Diaz. He can get takedowns and avoids submissions on top. Diaz’s only real shot is to catch one of his sick guillotines. I’m going to play the odds and say Maynard, but let’s hope Diaz wins so we don’t have to see Maynard vs. Penn. Maynard by decision.
JACK BRATCHER – If Dan Henderson was “Decision Dan” then Gray Maynard is “Good God Finish Someone Already Why Don’t Ya Gray”. As others have said, it’s not pretty, but he does win. I’m just going to pick Nate, cause I don’t want to see a drawn out decision. Submit this dude Nate so we can have some excitement. Just for the hell of it, I’ll pick Nate by second round submission, triangle.
Efrain Escudero (12-0) vs. Evan Dunham (9-0)
BRIAN FURBY – Both guys are undefeated going into this fight, and somebody has to come out with a loss… unless there is a draw. But since the odds of that happening are not high, I’m going to pick Escudero. Dunham certainly exemplifies the Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan label of “tough and durable”, but so is Escudero, and coming off a TKO win over Cole Miller, he’s looking for another big finish. I see Escudero winning a close first round and catching Dunham in a submission in the second. Escudero by submission in Round 2.
DUSTY ADAMS - Escudero looked good in his last fight and I see him continuing to get better. Dunham has done well so far but his undefeated record ends in this one. Efrain will dump him on his back use some GnP and force Dunham to roll over and he will sink in a RNC. Escudero by RNC 1st rd.
RICHARD MANN - Evan Dunham looked good against Marcus Aurelio because that is how wrestlers with good submission defense look against Aurelio. Efrain Escudero is a better wrestler with more power. Escudero by TKO.
JACK BRATCHER – I like Escudero and he looked great against Cole Miller in his last bout. You gotta love a guy that can beat you up then nurse you back to health. His hands seem to be getting better too. Let’s go with Escudero for another first round TKO.
Aaron Simpson (6-0) vs. Tom Lawlor (6-1)
BRIAN FURBY – Both men are looking for their third win in the UFC, and I think it’s going to come down to whether Lawlor’s chin can stand up to enough of Simpson’s punches to allow Lawlor to score another submission victory like he did over Simpson’s teammate, CB Dolloway. Since Simpson has better hands and more power than Dolloway, I see this being a short night for Lawlor. Simpson by TKO in the first.
DUSTY ADAMS - This is a tough fight to call. Simpson is a wrestler who wins with striking. He has looked impressive so far and is a handful. Lawlor through all of his silly antics is a good fighter. I do however think Simpson is better and I think he will put the pressure on Lawlor and force him to make a mistake. Simpson doesn’t need to be overzealous and get caught like teammate C.B. Dollaway. Plus the fact Lawlor has faced two of Simpson’s teammates (Bader, Dollaway) has to give Simpson a little edge. Simpson UD
RICHARD MANN - Apparently Tom Lawlor is only allowed to fight guys from Arizona State. First he lost to Ryan Bader, and then he beat CB Dollaway and Kyle Kingsbury. Now he is going to lose to Aaron Simpson. Lawlor is not going to be able to score takedowns on Simpson, and Simpson should know the guillotine is coming. Look for Simpson to put his heavy hands on Lawlor and win. Simpson by TKO.
JACK BRATCHER – I have to go with Aaron Simipson. With six fights and six knockouts, it’s pretty much a given Mr. Lawlor will be he seventh in a row. First round (T)KO for Mr. Simpson.
Amir Sadollah (2-1) vs. Brad Blackburn (15-9-1)
BRIAN FURBY – This is an interesting matchup. Sadollah is coming off a rock ‘em sock’em robots unanimous decison over Phil Baroni and Blackburn is on a three fight win streak inside the UFC. Sadollah will continue to show improved striking is his still-young MMA career, and should be able to outlast Blackburn, but barely. Sadollah by split decision.
DUSTY ADAMS - Sadollah hasn’t had the best start to his UFC career but he’s fighting in his home state and I don’t see him losing. Overall to me the fighters are pretty even but I would give Amir a slight advantage on the technical side. This fight will probably be mostly standing were Amir should land more and win by unanimous decision.
RICHARD MANN - It is hard to believe that Brad Blackburn is 3-0 in the UFC. Isn’t this the same guy who lost to Mark Miller in the IFL? Amir Sadollah blasted Baroni in his last fight. In this one, Blackburn is going to have a tough time establishing his striking or ground game and Sadollah will coast to a victory. Sadollah by decision.
JACK BRATCHER – This is difficult to call. But I’m going to go with a Brad Blackburn (T)KO maybe in the first or second. Blackburn is on a streak, and going the distance with Phil Baroni is nothing to really brag about in my opinion. It showcased Amir’s skills which is maybe what they were hoping for since he is a TUF champion, but Amir is still developing, and I think Blackburn’s experience and power will be too much.
Chris Leben (18-6) vs. Jay Silva (5-2)
BRIAN FURBY – This has to be a do-or-die fight for Leben in terms of his UFC career. That has to be an odd position for a guy who started his UFC career off with five straight wins before running into Anderson Silva and then going 3-5 in his last eight fights. And the Silva he’ll face this time, while not of the same caliber as Anderson (but who is?), is a hungry up and comer looking to make a statement after dropping a decision loss to CB Dolloway. However, even though four of Silva’s five wins are TKOs, Leben has a strong chin. While I don’t think Silva will KO Leben, I think he’ll be able to stun him enough to get a TKO win due to ground and pound late in the second. Silva by TKO in the second.
DUSTY ADAMS - I like this matchup the most. No secret what Leben wants to do. I think silva will oblige him and we will see a slugfest. Both guys have power and I know Leben has a great chin. I want to go with Leben but I think Silva might catch him. Silva by TKO 2nd rd.
RICHARD MANN - Jay Silva is a much better technical striker, and he does have face-melting power. How many times have we seen Leben walk through hard shots and land some of his own? I’m predicting this will look more like Leben vs. Anderson and less like Leben vs. Martin. Silva by TKO.
JACK BRATCHER – I’m not sure what Leben is doing in Hawaii, but it doesn’t seem to be helping his UFC career. Having said that, I’m going to go out on a limb and say he can defeat Jay Silva. He better be able to or he just might get walking papers. I’ll be the odd man out here and go with Leben by (T)KO in the first or second.