“UFC Fight Night 22” takes place Wednesday, Sept. 15, at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. The event is headlined by top-10 middleweight Nate Marquardt (29-9-2) taking on dangerous BJJ titan Rousimar Palhares (11-2) and will air live on Spike TV starting at 8 p.m. ET, immediately preceding the twelfth season premiere of The Ultimate Fighter reality show.
The ProMMAnow.com staff has come together to give our thoughts and predictions on the “UFC Fight Night 22″ fights, which also include The Ultimate Fighter season eight winner Efrain Escudero (13-1) taking on undefeated lightweight Charles Oliveira (13-0), Jim Miller (17-2) faces Gleison Tibau (21-6), Cole Miller (16-4) takes on The Ultimate Fighter season nine winner Ross Pearson (11-3) and Yves Edwards (38-16-1) will fight John Gunderson (30-10-2).
Yves Edwards vs. John Gunderson
DENNY HODGE: With nearly 100 MMA fights combined between the two, experience will not be a factor for either of these veterans, who have both fought in almost every organization imaginable along the way. Gunderson has only been TKO’d once in his career, and has won over 70% of his fights by submission. Edwards is a wily veteran that will not get caught in a submission, but also will not be able to put away Gunderson in three rounds. That being said, Edwards will edge out a victory by decision over “Quick Guns.”
JOHN BUHL: It doesn’t seem like that long ago Yves Edwards was considered the best lightweight in the UFC. Of course there was a slight problem…the UFC had scrapped the division. As much as I’d like to see him make a nice run, I don’t think that will happen. But I think he’s shown enough to prove he can handle a fighter the level of John Gunderson. Edwards has a tendency, at times, to let his opponent push the pace and spend too much time countering, and that could give Gunderson a chance if he’s aggressive enough. Nevertheless, I think Edwards stays on his feet and strikes his way to a win on the scorecards.
RICHARD MANN: Recently Edwards has developed a slow plodding style. He stays on the outside and tosses out a few jabs and then looks to counter. Against Luis Palomino, Edwards probably loses if he does not score some occasional takedowns. Gunderson is not a better striker, but if he is aggressive this is his fight to lose. Gunderson by decision
BRIAN FURBY: Easily the two most experienced guys on the card, I think this is the dark horse to win fight of the night. Edwards wants to make sure his return to the UFC isn’t short-lived and Gunderson wants to impress in his third fight with the promotion. We should see a solid well-rounded fight. Crisp striking from Edwards and a good rolling session when Gunderson takes it to the ground. I think Yves’s speed will keep him just one step ahead for most of the fight, picking him up a close decision win. Edwards by split decision.
JACK BRATCHER: Yves Edwards has had a few incarnations within the UFC and there’s a reason they never last very long. He’s a solid well-rounded fighter who’s biggest win was probably over Hermes Franca (twice). This is Gunderson’s first UFC incarnation and so far he’s 1-1 within the organization. Gunderson is a seasoned vet too, but he’s younger than Yves, he’s taken less damage and has a lot less miles on his body. Because Yves has gone through this whole UFC experience a few times, subconsciously he probably realizes a title hunt is out of the question. Gunderson on the other hand, will still likely have that confidence and belief on his side that he could one day be a UFC champion. I like this match-up. I do think Yves will have the striking and speed advantage standing, but I’m going with Gunderson via third round submission.
Cole Miller vs. Ross Pearson
DENNY HODGE: Pearson won the 9th installment of the Ultimate Fighter franchise, and is 3-0 in the UFC, but is facing a very dangerous submission specialist in Cole Miller. Miller set the crowd on fire when he slapped a guillotine on Junie Browning last year at UFC Fight Night 18, finally shutting him up and sending him packing out of the UFC. Miller is coming off another submission victory over Dan Lauzon, but has been knocked out twice in his last 5 fights. Unfortunately for Pearson, he doesn’t have amazing power, and he will be at a disadvantage in the clinch despite his strength advantage. I’m going with Miller to get another submission victory in this one.
JOHN BUHL: I remember being underwhelmed by the level of talent on TUF 9, but since then I admit Pearson has impressed me. But Cole Miller could be his toughest test to date. Pearson could win the striking battle, though Miller’s reach will make things interesting. However, at some point Miller will get the fight to the ground and show off his dynamic submission game. Miller by second round guillotine choke.
RICHARD MANN: Pearson should be the more physical fighter here. Look for him to get the clinch and work Miller against the fence. If the fight goes to the ground, Miller will have a chance, but Pearson should be able to determine where the fight takes place. Pearson by decision.
BRIAN FURBY: Miller has the reach advantage and Pearson isn’t hesitant to take a couple shots and work his way in to land some of his own. Miller has shown a marked improvement from fight to fight minus his losses to Jeremy Stephens and Efrain Escudero. Unfortunately for Miller, Pearson has that same power that can take Miller out. Pearson by TKO in Round 1.
JACK BRATCHER: Miller will be Pearson’s biggest name and probably toughest fight to date. Pearson should have the advantage on the feet although Miller’s height and reach will be a valuable asset. Pearson’s been on a nice run, having won his last four and he’s still undefeated in the UFC. I think Miller will introduce him to that next tier of lightweight talent and win this fight via first or second round submission.
Jim Miller vs. Gleison Tibau
DENNY HODGE: Talk about a frenetic pace…. This fight will be a hundred miles an hour. Tibau should be 6-0 in last 6 outings, but he lost a controversial decision to Melvin Guillard, breaking his win streak. Miller only has a single loss in the UFC, and that is to Gray Maynard who decisioned him early in 2009, but has won 4 straight since. Tibau is dangerous on the ground, and has shown improved take down ability of late. Getting Miller to the ground will not be easy, and even if he gets the take down, keeping him there will be even more difficult. Miller will just be too much for Tibau in this one. Miller by decision.
JOHN BUHL: We all know Tibau cuts a butt-load of weight. He’s physically intimidating and one of the biggest lightweights in the UFC. Whoopie doo. Miller has a very good submission game and strong enough wrestling to make up for Tibau’s brute strength. I also think Miller can outpoint Tibau on the feet and take this by unanimous decision.
RICHARD MANN: Miller certainly has all the physical tools and skills to be a top-five lightweight. However, he does not fight with a gameplan. Tibau should be able to continue to get takedown and win one of those boring decisions normally associated with American wrestler. Tibau by decision.
BRIAN FURBY: Tibau is gigantic for a lightweight, and if Miller can’t neutralize Tibua’s takedowns early on, it’s going to be a long, painful (and potentially boring) night for Miller. However, Miller is crafty with his use of BJJ and should be able to work in a late submission win, or perhaps outlast Tibau on the feet with more crisp striking to squeak out a decision. I’m tempted to pick Tibau by decision, but I like the Miller brothers and this is Jim’s chance to get into title contention. Miller by submission in Round 3.
JACK BRATCHER: Jim Miller’s only two losses came against the number one and two lightweights in the world. That should tell you just about all you need to know about this fight. But, because Miller and Tibau’s skill sets are quite similar, and because of Tibau’s size and strenght, I don’t think it’s that cut and dry. This fight could either be a very technical grappling affair or come down to who has the tighter stand up game. Look for Miller to attempt a guillotine or two in this one. I think it may come down to Miller’s speed and I’m going to go with Miller either via decision or a third round submission.
Efrain Escudero vs. Charles Oliveira
DENNY HODGE: Oliveira comes in undefeated at 13-0, and has one submission victory to his credit in the UFC. Escudero has only one loss on his resume, and will have a fight on his hands in this one. Oliveira is a finisher with only one of his 13 fights going to the cards. Escudero will use his wrestling in this one to dictate where and how the fight goes down. Look for Escudero to utilize some ground and pound once he gets Oliveira into his world. Escudero by TKO.
JOHN BUHL: I’m certainly not counting out Oliveira. He’s talented, hungry, and aggressive, having only gone the distance once. I see Oliveira having the advantage on the feet, but Escudero should mix in enough takedowns to play it safe and grind out a decision win.
RICHARD MANN: A lot of people are excited about Oliveira because he has a nice glossy-undefeated record. However, he has really faced a lot of lesser competition. He may have a good ground game, but there is nothing to stop Escudero from getting takedowns and taking a decision. If Escudero keeps it on the feet, he will have an even greater advantage. Escudero by decision.
BRIAN FURBY: I like Oliveira in this fight. His 13-0 record isn’t as inflated as some say it to be, and he has the skills necessary to put away Escudero. I’d be willing to bet Mann will be rooting for Escudero due to his wrestling background, and I think his solid base will frustrate Oliveira for a bit before Oliveira finds his rhythm and starts picking away at Escudero enough to outlast him en route to a decision win. Oliveira by unanimous decision.
JACK BRATCHER: Oliveira is undefeated against 13 fighters you’ve never heard, however, seven of his wins came on three nights in tournament-style fights. Escudero’s sole loss came against Evan Dunham via armbar back in January. Escudero is deceivingly talented with significant wins over Cole Miller and Dan Lauzon. I think Oliveira is very hungry and he’s well-rounded. This is kind of a hard fight to call but after checking out some of Oliveira’s fights online I think Escudero’s wrestling is going to make the difference and I feel he will probably win a decision or possibly even a submission.
Nate Marquardt vs. Rousimar Palhares
DENNY HODGE: The main event will feature two very tough guys. Neither guy has any quit in them, but Palhares will be outgunned in the stand up game with the always improving Marquardt. Palhares is an ace on the ground, and should change his nickname from “Toquinho” to “Heel Hook”, as he has finished 4 of his last 7 fights by heel hook, including his last two in the UFC. Nate was building momentum toward another title shot until he was derailed by Sonnen back in February, but will get back on track with a TKO finish of Palhares.
JOHN BUHL: Palhares is strong as hell and a beast on the ground, so a submission win is never out of the realm of possibility. But I think Nate is too well-rounded, with much better stand-up and a strong enough grappling game to fight off Palhares and keep the fight where he wants it. I’ll take Marquardt by 3rd round TKO.
RICHARD MANN: Clearly, Marquardt is the favorite here. However, if recent history has shown us anything it is that leg locks are the ultimate equalizer in MMA. Fighters without efficient wrestling can get takedowns by rolling for legs. Palhares is a nasty leg locker and even nearly finished Dan Henderson with one. Marquardt should be able to win the fight on the feet, but Palhares brings an X factor to the fight. Marquuardt by decision.
BRIAN FURBY: Palhares is a solid fighter, and his adaptation of BJJ for MMA has given him a solid offense and defense inside the cage. However, Marquardt is too well-rounded and powerful for Palhares to handle. Provided Marquardt resists the urge to pile drive Palhares like he did Leites, he should be on the winning end of a TKO victory about midway through the fight. Marquardt by TKO in Round 2.
JACK BRATCHER: If you follow our staff picks, you probably know I often like the underdogs but not in this case. Rousimar has the potential to submit anyone in the world and I think I like his style of jiu-jitsu just about better than anyone’s. But Nate has sort of built his career around beating up jiu-jitsu guys… Maia, Horn, Lister, Gouveia. The BetUS odds have Rousimar at +190 and Nate at -240. I don’t think Nate will be able to finish Palhares, no one has yet, but he should be able to use his striking and wrestling to take home a unanimous decision. I’m more interested to see how well this fight can pull off its main event status.