“UFC 120: Bisping vs. Akiyama” takes place this Saturday, Oct. 16, at the O2 Arena in London, England. The event will air FREE here in the U.S. on SPIKE TV via tape delay starting at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
Another big fight card means it is time once again for our ProMMAnow.com staff picks. Here are the fights our band of geniuses will be analyzing with our scientifically-trained minds, clairvoyant third eyes and best guesses:
- Michael Bisping (19-3) vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama (13-2, 2 NC)
- Dan Hardy (23-7, 1 NC) vs. Carlos Condit (25-5)
- John Hathaway (14-0) vs. Mike Pyle (19-7-1)
- Cheick Kongo (15-6-1) vs. Travis Browne (10-0)
- James Wilks (7-3) vs. Claude Patrick (12-1)
Without further ado, pretense, B.S. or stalling, here ya go…
Michael Bisping (-210) vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama (+165)
BRIAN FURBY: As I stated in my picks for UFC 114 (where Bisping faced Dan Miller), I will never, under any circumstances pick Michael Bisping to win a fight. He is an asshat. Akiyama will pick Bisping apart over three rounds, and when Bisping loses, he’ll have that look on his face like he can’t believe he lost the fight and he was destined to win. Akiyama will not look as ill-prepared against Leben and will get the victory. Akiyama wins by unanimous decision.
RICHARD MANN: When most fighters struggle, it is a hard job to figure out why. However, when it comes to Michael Bisping the explanation is very simple. When people charge at him with strikes, he backs up in a straight line and gets caught. Occasionally, he will circle the wrong way and get caught. Akiyama is the better technical striker, but his cardio has been terrible in the UFC. He nearly gave away his fight against Alan Belcher, and he did give away the Chris Leben fight. Hopefully, he has gotten his cardio figured out, so he can pick Bisping apart on the feet. Akiyama by decision,
JOHN BUHL: Bisping is going to have more to worry about in the striking battle against Akiyama than he did against Dan Miller. However, I don’t think he’ll KO Bisping, and the Brit will outmaneuver him for three rounds and frustrate his shorter Japanese opponent. Akiyama said the last second change in opponents hampered his performance against Leben, and yeah, he’s training with that Greg Jackson fella now. But I haven’t seen anything from him in his two UFC performances to suggest he’ll be able to win a striking duel. And Akiyama has great Judo, but I don’t think he’ll be able to keep Bisping on his back for long at any point. Bisping by decision.
DENNY HODGE: As much as I would like to see “Sexyama” run away with this fight, I believe that Bisping is going to be too much over 3 rounds for him. Bisping is always well conditioned, and gas is something that Akiyama has run out of on occasion in the Octagon. Akiyama will get his take downs, but Bisping’s wrestling is a bit underrated, and his ability to get back to his feet once taken down is improving each time we see him in action. This will be a close fight early, but by the middle of the second stanza, Bisping will start to pull away en route to a unanimous decision victory.
JACK BRATCHER: For some reason any time I hear that Greg Jackson is coaching someone I immediately picture that fighter fighting with a strategy where their sole strategy is to out-point their opponent. It seems like first and foremost the strategy is to out-point their opponent and if by some chance they are able to hurt them in the process, then finish it – as opposed to having their main purpose being to finish the fight. I’m not saying that is accurate of all their fighters, I’m just saying that’s what comes to my mind. I’m going with Bisping on this one. He’s at home, he’s going to be fired up and he’s coming off a nice win over Dan Miller. He also has a win over Leben who just beat Akiyama so that should give him some confidence. Bisping by decision.
Dan Hardy (-175) vs. Carlos Condit (+125)
BRIAN FURBY: Condit is tough but Hardy is tougher. More power punches, solid chin. Condit has a great killer instinct and a solid chin himself, but Condit’s toughest weapon in this fight is likely his move back to Greg Jackson’s camp. Having also trained GSP for his fight with Hardy, Jackson has a strategical edge and is known to be a master gameplanner. Unfortunately, Jackson’s gameplanning has largely gone to showing his guys how to safely win fights, not take any risks, just get the win. Yes, a win is a win, but GSP could have and should have finished Hardy. However, having lost to that plan against GSP, Hardy will be ready for it against Condit (who is clearly not on the same skill level as GSP). Condit’s chin will likely prevent Hardy from getting the finish, but Hardy will score a solid decision win. Hardy wins by unanimous decision.
RICHARD MANN: I hate having to pick this fight. Condit has the better skill set. However, he does fight in a way that wins rounds.. Hardy has shown a great chin and an ability to avoid submissions. Look for Condit to get pasted in the first round, and then try to comeback. Hardy will be able to withstand the comeback and take the decision. Hardy by decision.
JOHN BUHL: This fight is pretty much dead even. Condit thrived in the WEC but hasn’t had the easiest time in the UFC, with a loss to Martin Kampmann, a close win over Jake Ellenberger, and a crazy come-from-behind win over Rory MacDonald. Dan Hardy, meanwhile, is 4-1 in the UFC, but that includes wins over a Starvin’ Marvin version of Mike Swick and middling competition. His claim to fame is not getting KO’d or submitted by GSP. Congrats. I think Condit has been tested more against higher level competition overall (GSP aside). He’ll find a way to win. Ironically, I could see Hardy maybe pull it off if his takedowns have improved as much as he claims … Condit isn’t the strongest wrestler in the division and he might catch him off guard by taking him to the mat. But Hardy won’t want to stay in Condit’s guard too long, and I’m pretty sure he won’t take him down just to stall and score points with the judges. I heard somewhere that he opposes such things. Condit by decision.
DENNY HODGE: I have been waiting to see Condit really be that killer that he was in the WEC. He seems far too patient sometimes, and has gotten off to late starts in some of his fights. Hardy is going to come out with guns blazing looking for a big KO in this fight, which means both guys will circle for the first 3 minutes of the opening round. Seriously, I do think that both guys will come out cautious out of respect for the other’s skills. I have heard people say that if GSP couldn’t sub Hardy, then Condit won’t be able too, but I don’t believe that for one second. I’m going with Condit in this one by decision.
JACK BRATCHER: Hardy is the only top-10 ranked fighter on this card and is not ranked number four in the world for nothing. However, he has been on the bench since March since his loss to GSP and Condit last fought in June when he defeated Rory MacDonald via TKO. This should be a fun stand-up war. Hardy has run through some tough strikers in the UFC. His main problem was his wrestling which he’s been working on and which he most likely won’t even need for this fight. I like Condit but I think Hardy is stronger physically. Their striking games are pretty similar and both are very good. It’s interesting to note that neither has ever been stopped on their feet. Condit is with the Jackson camp now for whatever that’s worth – I know what I see in my head as I mentioned earlier. I’m picking Hardy in this fight via decision. I think he’s going to hit Condit hard making Condit tentative and then pick him apart. It’s going to be hard to stop Condit but I wouldn’t be surprised if Hardy did.
John Hathaway (-500) vs. Mike Pyle (+350)
BRIAN FURBY: In case you have forgotten, I was the only one of our esteemed writers here at PMN that predicted Hathaway to beat Sanchez for UFC 114, and predicted it right on with the unanimous decision. I only mention that because Sanchez is an asshat (like Bisping), and I will highlight that fact every time I have a chance. Moving on, Hathaway’s undefeated record will stay intact after Saturday night. Pyle is a solid fighter, and his submission skills should prevent Hathaway from finishing the fight early, but look for Hathaway to outwork Pyle for three round en route to the decision win. Hathaway wins by unanimous decision.
RICHARD MANN: What is Mike Pyle going to do, trash talk his way to a decision? Hathaway will have a huge reach advantage, and he will use it to score at will on the feet. Hathaway might suffer if the fight goes to the ground, but Pyle is not exactly a powerhouse wrestler. Hathaway by TKO.
JOHN BUHL: I was pretty impressed by Hathaway last time out against Diego Sanchez. He easily imposed his will in the fight and pummeled the TUF 1 champ with his long reach. But Mike Pyle won’t have the same height disadvantage and with his strong submission game could provide Hathaway’s toughest test yet. Pyle’s two UFC losses have come against Ellenberger and Brock Larson, both of whom have wrestling/strength-based styles quite different from Hathaway. I’m taking Pyle by third round submission, but if it goes the distance, I think Hathaway will get the win.
DENNY HODGE: Pyle is an accomplished grappler and has improved his all around skills of late. The problem is, styles make fights and Hathaway presents significant style problems for Pyle. If Pyle is content to be on his back and work for submissions, he may not last long against Hathaway’s ground and pound. I just don’t see Pyle winning this fight. Hathaway by TKO.
JACK BRATCHER: None of my cohorts are buying the Mike Pyle win in this one and for good reason. Englishman John Hathaway has defeated four straight opponents since arriving to the UFC in Jan. 2009. His biggest win was against Diego Sanchez via unanimous decision in his last bout. Pyle will have the jiu-jitsu advantage but Hathaway’s wrestling and ground and pound will be enough to stay out of danger if it goes to the mat. Hathaway should have the advantage on the feet and will likely get the TKO in round two or three.
Cheick Kongo (-200) vs. Travis Browne (+160)
BRIAN FURBY: If Kongo loses this one, I really hope the UFC cuts him (even though he beat Buentello in his last fight). They’re setting him up with a guy they know will strike with him, but doesn’t have nearly the striking skills of Kongo. Browne got a lucky win over McSweeney, but Kongo should be able to finish him early. I’m picking Kongo to win, but Travis Browne – please know that I’m rooting for you to be the one to give Kongo his walking papers. Kongo wins by TKO in Round 1.
RICHARD MANN: If you are a prospect getting matched with a UFC heavyweight mainstay, you want it to be against Cheick Kongo. He is probably one of the most beatable veterans in the division. He still can’t wrestle at all, but he can certainly crack. Even when he gets continually taken down, he is able to score with punches. Browne has made a living stopping lower level fighters, but he will struggle here. Kongo by TKO.
JOHN BUHL: No offense to Browne, but I think the UFC is setting him up to once again rebuild Kongo into a title contender. We know Browne has some power, but dropping an undersized McSweeney and a guy as big and polished as Kongo on the feet are two different things. Kongo by second round TKO.
DENNY HODGE: Browne is a finisher and is undefeated at 10-0. 8 of those wins are by TKO, but he has not faced the level of competition that Kongo has. Kongo made a lot of noise early in his UFC with his dangerous stand up, but has improved greatly with his take downs and ground and pound capabilities, and that’s what he will do in this fight. Browne has yet to prove he has any type of significant wrestling or take down defense, and Kongo will exploit that weakness. Kongo by TKO via vicious ground and pound beat down.
JACK BRATCHER: Browne has ten wins, nine of them finishes and no losses.One of the only fighters you’ve likely heard of he beat is James McSweeney at the TUF 11 Finale in June. He does have a win over Michael Westbrook (1-1, 1 NC) as well. Kongo is coming off a submission due to elbows to the body of Paul Buentello back in March. Most people think of Kongo as strictly a striker but he has some vicious ground and pound and if he puts Browne on his back he very well could just leave a little grease spot on the mat where Browne used to be. Kongo still beats the majority of heavyweights in the world and Browne hasn’t shown us enough yet to think he could get past the French kickboxer. Kongo by second round TKO.
James Wilks (+150) vs. Claude Patrick (-180)
BRIAN FURBY: This is actually the one I’ve had the most problem picking. Wilks will have the home field advantage for sure, and that could negatively impact Patrick as he walks out to 99% of the crowd boo’ing him. But this won’t be Patrick’s first fight on the big stage, and if he can get it to the ground, he could make a short night of it for Wilks. Look for Wilks to catch Patrick early and stagger him, but Patrick will keep his cool and score a submission win about halfway through the fight. Patrick wins by submission in Round 2.
RICHARD MANN: Patrick is the more diverse fighter, but Wilks has the physical edge. If Wilks can push Patrick into the cage and get takedowns, he should be in line for a win here. However, Patrick has a game-changing guillotine choke that he can break out at any time.
JOHN BUHL: Wilks by TKO or Patrick by submission. I’m guessing Wilks takes it in his home country.
DENNY HODGE: Patrick’s 12 victories were all finishes, 9 of them by submission, 3 by TKO, and his submission of choice is the guillotine. Wilks has some submission victories of his own, but he will be in trouble when this fight hits the ground. If Wilks can survive the full 3 rounds he has a chance, but he won’t. Patrick by guillotine, one more time.
JACK BRATCHER: Claude Patrick hasn’t been to a decision since 2002. The Canadian submission master will have the significant ground advantage here with his wrestling and jiu jitsu. It’s been a couple years since Wilks has finished a fight and I don’t see him going three rounds with Patrick without getting put on the mat and submitted. I’m going with my boy Denny on this one Patrick by guillotine one more time, second round.
*All fight odds provided by BetUS.com