The Pro MMA Now (www.prommanow.com) staff has come together once again to give their predictions on this weekend’s “UFC 111: St. Pierre vs. Hardy.” The main event features the UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre defending his title against Britain’s bad boy Dan Hardy. In the co-main event heavyweights Frank Mir and Shane Carwin will battle it out for a shot at Brock Lesnar, and Jon Fitch and Thiago Silva will take on one another to see who can move one step closer to a shot at the middleweight belt.
“UFC 111: St. Pierre vs. Hardy” takes place Saturday night, March 27, at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. and will air live on pay-per-view beginning at 10pm ET/7pm PT. Spike TV will air at least two of the preliminary bouts starting at 9pm ET/6pm PT. Join us here at Pro MMA Now (www.prommanow.com) Saturday night, as we provide live results and play-by-play commentary of the event.
Georges St. Pierre vs. Dan Hardy
DENNY HODGE: Hardy may have shown that he can defend the take down against Swick, but GSP’s take downs are on a whole different level. In the past, St. Pierre may have looked past a guy like Hardy, but after the Serra fight, GSP has taken not only his physical game to the next level, but also his mental game as well. Hardy has zero chance of stopping GSP from putting him on his back which is where he will find himself almost immediately. GSP by G&P, round 1.
RICHARD MANN: There is a chance that Hardy comes out and just plunks St. Pierre in the head. However, it is a very slight chance. Look for St. Pierre to flex his wrestling game, and wear Hardy down for a round. In the second St. Pierre will go to his submission game and finish this fight. St. Pierre by submission.
BRIAN FURBY: I know there are some people out there picking Hardy to win, and I’m tempted to join them, but I won’t. In the Primetime series, Hardy has said that GSP is a great athlete, and that’s true, GSP is a great athlete, but he’s also a great fighter. While Hardy does live up to a good deal of his hype, and while he does deserve to be the number one contender, I think the hype has been built up too much. Look for GSP to make it a dominant, but not exciting, fight. He may try to exchange with Hardy on the feet for a bit, but it won’t take too long for him to take Hardy down and dominate him on the ground until he catches an opening with some ground and pound or a submission. GSP via TKO in Round 3.
JACK BRATCHER: Hardy does legitimately deserve a shot at GSP, but what it’s going to do show Hardy where he needs to improve his game. Everyone knows GSP is on a different level. Realistically, Hardy has a puncher’s chance, but not much more. GSP second round submission.
Shane Carwin vs. Frank Mir
DENNY HODGE: Mir dreams about Lesnar it seems almost nightly, or so he says. Carwin has the power to end the fight with one punch, but his momentum stops here. Nothing will stop Mir from getting another shot at Lesnar, and with him finally putting in the work on his entire game, we’ll see the best Mir ever in this one. Mir submission, round 3.
RICHARD MANN: Despite his record Shane Carwin has not really been tested in his career. His biggest test was his last fight against Gonzaga, and Carwin was almost stopped in the first. Look for Carwin to swing hard, get arm weary and then get picked apart on the feet. Frank Mir is the smart pick, but then again one hard shot to the head could cause Mir to go into retreat mode. Mir by decision.
BRIAN FURBY: An interesting fight here. Mir has packed on some good muscle and taken his training and fight game to a new level, but he still has to deal with the mack trucks that Carwin calls hands. Mir’s submission skills are undoubtedly better than Carwin’s submission defense, but to submit Carwin, Mir has to be in range, and anyone in range of Carwin’s hands is in danger. I do think this will be Carwin’s longest fight in the UFC, but it still won’t go out of the first round. Carwin via TKO in Round 1.
JACK BRATCHER: This fight is just sick. The heaviest puncher in the UFC versus a superb submission artist with great boxing. I really would like to see Mir win and get that shot at Lesnar again. It’s a hard pick because if Mir touches you once the fight can be over. Not only can it be over, but it most probably WILL be over. Mir will be Carwin’s biggest test to date. I’m gonna call Carwin with another first round knockout… I really hate to do it but I think his wrestling can keep him from getting submitted and he’s just going to unleash those bombs again. It will be sad to see Mir lose, and I hate to make this pick and hope I’m wrong.
Jon Fitch vs. Thiago Alves
DENNY HODGE: This one is interesting and could be either very exciting or very, very boring. We know what Fitch will try to do, and Alves has been neutralized by wrestling in the past. This time though, I think Alves will put away the very tough and game Fitch. Alves by TKO, round 2.
RICHARD MANN: This is by far the hardest fight on the card to call. Fitch is a slow starter and almost always gives away the first round. However, Alves has not had a chance to get back in the cage since his fight against St. Pierre. Fitch has not looked great, but he has at least knocked the rust off. Fitch by decision.
BRIAN FURBY: Has Alves improved since his last fight with Fitch? Absolutely. Has he improved enough to beat Fitch? No. Fitch’s wrestling base will still cause Alves a number of problems, and even though Alves can handle the weight cut much better than in his earlier days, putting all that weight back on after the cut still makes him sluggish. Not sluggish enough so that he couldn’t beat a lot of fighters, but just sluggish enough for Fitch to take advantage of it. Fitch via Unanimous Decision.
JACK BRATCHER: Hard fight to call. We have two top five welterweights, and top ten pound for pound fighters going at it. This is a rematch from their first fight in 2006 in which Fitch won via TKO in the second. I do think this fight will go to a decision and I’m gonna go with Fitch. Fitch has not been stopped in eight years and I don’t see Thiago being the one to do it. I think he’ll use his wrestling to neutralize Thiago’s striking.
Jake Ellenberger vs. Ben Saunders
DENNY HODGE: Ellenbeurger always brings the heat, and he’ll set the pace in this one, but his kamikaze style will hurt him against Saunders. Saunders has shown what his muay Thai skills can do, which is serious damage, and even if Ellenberger gets the fight to the mat, Saunder’s length will keep him from sustaining too much damage. Saunders takes this one by decision.
RICHARD MANN: Ellenberger is a star in the making. He is a complete bruiser. His win over Mike Pyle was an impressive destruction of a veteran, and he pushed Carlos Condit to the limit. Saunders does his best work on his feet in the clinch. If he gets that close to Ellenberger, he is going to the mat. Ellenberger by TKO.
BRIAN FURBY: Ellenberger was definitely impressive in his win over Pyle, perhaps even moreso than Saunders in his win over Davis. I’ll think he’ll give Saunders a fight, and Saunders won’t enjoy the same reach advantage of Ellenberger that he did over Davis, but this is another chance for Saunders to show off that insane clinch, and by the middle of the second round, at the latest, it will have dispatched Ellenberger. Saunders via TKO in Round 2.
JACK BRATCHER: Saunders doesn’t seem to do well when he gets hit. I think he did well against Davis because of his height and reach advantage. He won’t have that same big advantage with Ellenberger. I agree with Richard, he pushed Condit to the limit and out-striking Mike Pyle is no easy feat. Ellenberger via TKO second round.
Mark Bocek vs. Jim Miller
DENNY HODGE: Bocek’s grappling game is top notch, but can he keep Miller with his mat on the back? Before that can happen, he has to get Miller to the canvas first. Miller has an advantage if it stays on the feet, and his wrestling is far superior to Bocek’s. This is a tough match up for Bocek, and it’s one that he will lose by decision.
RICHARD MANN: Bocek makes his living by hustling guys on the ground. Miller will be the more physical fighter and is a quality grappler in his own right. Look for Miller to keep the fight standing and land some hard shot. Miller by decision.
BRIAN FURBY: I hope this match ends up being the excellent display of high level BJJ that it has the potential to be. Miller and Bocek have both been able to apply their respective BJJ pedigrees to success in MMA and I think this fight will see some crazy sweeps and submission attempts. However, I think Miller has a better overall game than Bocek and will be able to outpoint him en route to a decision victory. Jim Miller wins via Unanimous Decision.
JACK BRATCHER: Both guys are great on the ground and this could possibly end up being a boxing match. Either that, or we’re going to get to witness a technical grappling match. I was going to pick Miller by decision. But I think he may just pull off the finish. Miller by submission round two.