It’s that time again friends. We managed to round up this crazy crew from ProMMAnow.com (www.prommanow.com) from the four corners of the nation to sound off with their thoughts and predictions for Saturday’s UFC on FOX 2 fight card headlined with a light heavyweight scrap between former champ Rashad Evans and a fighter who seems destined to one day be champ, Phil Davis.
We also, of course, look at the co-main event between top middleweight contenders Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping, and the third and final bout on “big” FOX, Demian Maia vs. Chris Weidman. The crew also weighs in on the Fuel TV preliminary card bouts between lightweights Nik Lentz and Evan Dunham and the heavyweight tilt between Mike Russow and John-Olav Einemo
Mike Russow (14-1, 1 NC) vs. John-Olav Einemo (6-2)
GARY THOMAS: Mike Russow.
RICHARD MANN: I respect Einemo’s accomplishments on the ground. Winning an ADCC superfight is more impressive than anything Russow has accomplished in combat sports. However, he looked unpolished on the feet against Dave Herman, and he has a degenerative foot problem that gives him trouble even walking. Russow is solid on the feet and should be able to keep the fight standing against Einemo. Russow by decision.
BRIAN FURBY: Mike Russow.
KELVIN HUNT: Tough fight to call here…I have no idea what to expect from Einemo..we know he’s good on the ground and is a fairly big heavyweight. He had Dave Herman in all types of trouble…Russow is as steady as they come and tough as nails. I’m go with Russsow via TKO.
JOSH CROSS: It has been nearly a year since Russow stepped into the octagon, and he is going to need to fight like he never left if he wants to win this fight. Einemo will come in with the size advantage and I think he’ll use that to take Russow down, wear him down, and get the submission. Pick: Einemo via Submission.
JACK BRATCHER: Einemo is so big and aside from being extremely dangerous on the ground he packs some big power in those fists. But somehow the Chicago cop Russow just keeps on winning. Einemo is still unproven inside the Octagon although he showed us enough against Dave Herman to prove you don’t want to sleep on the guy. Having said that, Einemo has had exactly one fight in the last 5 1/2 years – and it was a loss. Russow by TKO.
Evan Dunham (12-2) vs. Nik Lentz (21-4-2, 1 NC)
GARY THOMAS: Evan Dunham.
RICHARD MANN: Dunham showed what he could do against Sean Sherk. Lentz is not as good of a wrestler and even worse on the feet. I fully expected Dunham to win on my card. However, the judges could easily give this one away if Lentz gets a few takedowns. Dunham by decision.
BRIAN FURBY: Evan Dunham.
KELVIN HUNT: Dunham via decision.
JOSH CROSS: Both of these guys are tough and I expect that this fight will go all three rounds. If it does, the outcome will be decided I think by wherever the majority of this fight takes place. Dunham should be able to beat Lentz if the fight remains standing while Lentz should be able to control the fight on the ground. I think Lentz will ultimately be able to take Dunham down repeatedly and pick up the win. Pick: Lentz via Decision.
JACK BRATCHER: A couple observastions: If you’d told me three years ago these two guys would be fighting and that they both would hold wins over Tyson Griffin, I’d say you were crazy. Also, as a kid I always loved the haunted house at the annual carnival that came to my small home town. It was my favorite part. You walk in through a doorway that is like a tunnel and it’s spinning and there’s like 100 mirrors inside and some loud buzzer and then the funhouse is over. I don’t know if Nik “The Carny” Lentz ever actually worked a carnival but with a nick name like that it’s hard for me to pick against him. But I am. Evan Dunham by decision.
Demian Maia (16-3) vs. Chris Weidman (7-0)
GARY THOMAS: Maia hasn’t always provided the excitement that most fans like but he is so talented in the cage. With wins over Dan Miller and Chael Sonnen on his resume he can push this fight to a fight of the night candidate. Weidman is on a hot streak since his entrance into the UFC. I like his youth and his submission skills. I am going with Maia on this via submission in the 3rd.
RICHARD MANN: Before he made his UFC debut, Weidman was famous for looking good against Andre Galvao in an ADCC match. Even though he looked good, he still lost. Maia is the best grappler in MMA and has come a long way on the feet. Weidman has submitted two lesser grapplers and struggled to take a decision over Alessio Sakara. Weidman might be a UFC champion in the future, but this a little bit too much of a step at this point. Maia by decision.
BRIAN FURBY: Chris Weidman.
KELVIN HUNT: Tough fight to call…I’ve been leaning towards Weidman every since this fight was announced…if he’s in shape (granted he took the fight on short notice)…he has the tools to beat Maia. I’m going with Weidman in a close decision win.
JOSH CROSS: I’m not sure I agree with Weidman being the favorite going into this fight. I think Maia has an edge when it comes to striking and I think ultimately he’ll be able to connect a few good times, take Weidman down, and get the submission win. Pick: Maia via Submission.
JACK BRATCHER: This is a fun fight, mostly because Weidman is so comfortable on the ground and he talks like he does not mind testing out Maia with his grappling. And that takes cojones. Maia has had some trouble with really good wrestlers and we could see Weidman grind out the decision. Maia’s striking does keep improving but I’m going to take Weidman via decision.
Chael Sonnen (26-11-1) vs. Michael Bisping (22-3)
GARY THOMAS: Bisbing is tough. Chael is mouthy. Love this matchup. Love to hate both guys. Not sure what Bisbing has to counter the wresting of Chael but his KO power is obvious. I don’t see him being able to use it though and Chael Sonnen gets the win via decision.
RICHARD MANN: This picks seems extra absurd considering the legend of Sonnen has grown over time. However, he has never won a fight on a Zuffa card against a fighter who has attempted at least three submissions. Bisping has never pulled a submission from his back in the UFC, but he has good hips and can get up from the ground. A submission from Bisping would not shock me at all. Bisping by submission.
BRIAN FURBY: his is the only fight I’m going to write an explanation for this time around, and for those of you who have ever listened to The Cageside Beat, or heard my rants about Bisping and Sonnen before, you’ll know why. Simply put, they are both asshats, and I have stated on multiple occasions that I would never pick either of them to win a fight. Faced with this situation, one might ask, “Well what is Furby going to do now?” I’ll tell you. Hope for what I have dreamed of if these two ever stepped in the cage together – a double KO. However, given that a double KO is highly unlikely, I’ll simply pick a draw – that way, neither of them wins. DRAW.
KELVIN HUNT: Sonnen will be too much for Bisping. He can strike him if he wants and take him down if he wants. Bisping’s only prayer is that Sonnen gift wraps him a submission, and Sonnen has been known to do that in the pass…plus Bisping’s guard isn’t half bad….other point is that Bisping has never submitted anyone in the UFC…I’m going Sonnen via decision.
JOSH CROSS: Bisping might have a slight advantage over Sonnen standing, but I think that advantage is going to be vastly outweighed by Sonnen’s superior wrestling. I expect Sonnen will ultimately get Bisping to the ground, finish him, and finally get his rematch with Anderson Silva. Pick: Sonnen via TKO.
JACK BRATCHER: The odds tell the story here. Michael Bisping has a better chance getting cheered when he walks into the United Center Saturday night than he does winning this fight. Sonnen’s powerful wrestling will dominate most opponents on this planet, including Bisping. Sonnen wins via decision.
Rashad Evans (16-1-1) vs. Phil Davis (9-0)
GARY THOMAS: Phil Davis has waited patiently for this fight. He’s young an hungry and after his injury layoff is looking to lay claim to a top contender spot. Is Rashad looking past this fight for the title shot against Jon Jones? Rashad was unimpressive against Tito Ortiz. I like Phil Davis to win this fight and Rashad to start the downhill slide.
RICHARD MANN: Davis is the better wrestler, but his inability to put Lil Nog on the ground really opened eyes. Evans should be able to use his footwork and stay on the outside. Even though Davis will have a reach advantage and some kicks, Evans will be able to evade and land his own strikes. Hopefully the former champion has figured out his cardio issues. Evans by decision.
BRIAN FURBY: Phil Davis.
KELVIN HUNT: I think this fight is a couple of fights too early for Davis, especially with him coming off the injury and long layoff. If not for that I’d probably go with him in an upset. It’ll be interesting to see how Rashad Evans deals with the reach of Davis and could be an indicator of what to expect should he face Jon Jones next. Davis had problems taking down Nogueira who isn’t known for spectacular takedown defense, so I wonder if he’ll be able to do anything with Evans…granted Evans is much smaller than Nogueira. I think Evans fights a cautious fight knowing that Jon Jones is next if he doesn’t get injured. I doubt he’ll commit to strikes much as the threat of the takedown will be there from Davis. I’m going with Evans via unanimous decision. However, this is a five round fight…pay attention to Evans’ cardio late in the fight…if it’s not on point I would not be surprised to see Davis with an upset because he’s a talented kid.
JOSH CROSS: Evans should want to keep this fight standing in my opinion, because I think that’s where he has the best chance to beat Davis in this fight. While I think both fighters have what it takes to win the bout, I’m more skeptical of Davis than I am of Evans. For the most part I think Evans will be able to keep the fight standing, which will ultimately frustrate Davis and throw him off of his game. If that happens, which I think it will, it will only be a matter of time before Evans finishes the fight. Pick: Evans via TKO.
JACK BRATCHER: I love this match-up. Some people think it may be a bit too soon for Davis to face someone like Rashad. I think he’s ready as he needs to be. They say fighting is 90% mental and Phil Davis is 100% ready for Rashad Evans. This was a hard pick for me because of Evans’ experience and punching power and speed, but I think Davis is going to somehow pull it off. I just don’t know how. Possibly decision, possibly TKO. It’s gonna be a wild one! Protect ya necks son!