After more than a month since their last event The Ultimate Fighting Championship is back this weekend with “UFC on Fuel TV 2: Gustafsson vs. Silva“, as the world’s number one mixed martial arts promotion brings its patented Octagon action to Stockholm, Sweden for the very first time.
And that can only mean one thing… It’s time again for ProMMAnow.com‘s staff picks. We’re getting these up a day early this week because the crew will be all over the place this weekend covering live events for you our loyal readers.
Okay, without further ado, let’s get at it…
135 lbs: Brad Pickett (21-5) vs. Damacio Page (12-6)
ODDS: Pickett -220 vs. Page +180
RICHARD MANN: Pickett’s new found wrestling game will serve him well here. Page is a tough guy, but he is not particularly strong in any one area. This will certainly be an exciting fight, but Pickett will most likely be the man with his hand raised at the end of the night.
BRIAN FURBY: Brad Pickett by submission in round 2.
KELVIN HUNT: I like Pickett to take this via submission. Page is susceptible to guillotine chokes….beware!
GARY THOMAS: Both fighters are coming off losses in their last outing. I think both men will be hungry for a win but I think Damacio Page pulls out a submission victory.
DAN “THE WOLFMAN”: Page is a pick em fight, which most likely will go to a 29-28 decision either way. Pickett has more fights and guys have opposite results against two opponents in common. Pickett has punching power but a pretty horrible connect percentage. Page is coming off two submissions losses, and it should be noted Pickett has won with a very rare Peruvian Necktie. Should be a great fight, with Pickett most likely winning the decision.
JAY CEE: This one is very interesting, I have a feeling that both men will go in full steam with the fight ending in the first round. An interesting statistic is that fifteen of Damacio Page’s eighteen pro MMA fights have ended within the first round. Both men have the ability to win via submission or knockout but I think Brad Pickett will take this one by sub either at the end of the first or early in the second round. PICK: Pickett via Submission.
JACK BRATCHER: It’s American Top Team vs. Jackson’s MMA in this bout. The most recent common opponent between these two was Demetrious Johnson, who Picket beat via unanimous decision and who submitted Page with a guillotine choke. Both those fights with Johnson took place in 2010. Page has not been very active in the last couple years, however, both guys only fought once in 2011 and this will be their first fight of 2012. Both guys are coming off losses but Page is coming off two losses and needs a win badly. Both are well-rounded fighters but I have to go with Pickett who is coming off a Fight of the Night performance against Renan Barao back in November.
170 lbs: DaMarques Johnson (18-9) vs. John Maguire (17-3)
ODDS: Johnson +120 vs. Maguire -150
RICHARD MANN: Maguire only seems to suffer when he faces fighters with next level skills. Johnson is a serviceable UFC-level fighter, but he is not going to blow Maguire away in any particular category. Look for Maguire to continue his recent resurgence.
BRIAN FURBY: DaMarques Johnson by unanimous decision.
GARY THOMAS: I am a Damarques Johnson fan. I think he has what it takes to rise in the welterweight division. This will be a tough fight though with Maguire on quite a roll and quite a record. I like John Maguire to win this fight but by decision.
KELVIN HUNT: I think Maguire’s ability to take Johnson down will be the difference. Johnson could lock in a triangle choke from the bottom as that’s his move, but Maguire should win a decision or submit Johnson.
DAN “THE WOLFMAN”: DaMarques Johnson should get a TKO finish or decision over the much shorter John Maguire and has much more UFC experience. I talked briefly with him right after his UFC on Fox victory and he seems confident and having fun out there, and he has got great reach at 170 pounds.
JAY CEE: I have to go with Johnson in this fight, I don’t think he will allow John Maguire to get comfortable and fight at his own pace which is what he likes to do. John was able to control Justin Edwards with wrestling and grappling in his UFC debut fight but I think DaMarques will push the pace and test John’s ability to adapt in this bout. UFC fight experience is also something that Maguire is lacking and the jitters may get in the way of his game plan. PICK: Johnson wins by TKO.
JACK BRATCHER: Interesting match-up here with England’s John Maguire and DaMarques Johnson of Utah. Johnson was the reigning UCMMA welterweight champion before signing with the UFC last year. He’s riding a six fight win streak and has a better record on paper than Johnson but Johnson has faced tougher competition and has wins over guys like Joker Guymon, Clay Harvison and Brad Blackburn. It’s a pretty close pick but I’m leaning toward Maguire due to his momentum from winning his UFC debut and submission skill as a BJJ brown belt. Maguire has won nine of his fights via submission and Johnson has lost five via submission. Maguire has lost none via submission. My pick? Maguire via submission.
145 lbs: Dennis Siver (19-8) vs. Diego Nunes (17-2)
ODDS: Siver +130 vs. Nunes -160
RICHARD MANN: Both fighters like to stand and trade. Siver will probably be the bigger fighter, but Nunes’ best offense is his kicking game. If he [Nunes] can stay out of punching range by working the leg of Siver, then he has a pretty clear path to victory.
BRIAN FURBY: Diego Nunes by submission in round 3.
GARY THOMAS: Siver vs Nunes is an interesting match up. Siver was destroyed by Cerrone and Nunes is coming off a win. Siver has knockout power but I think Nunes will take this to the distance like he seems to always do. Nunes by decision.
KELVIN HUNT: I like Nunes in this one via decision. Look for him to keep the pressure on Siver and not allow him to get his spinning back kick off.
DAN “THE WOLFMAN”: Look for Siver to keep his immense strength at 145, and while Nunes could very well win the first round and do damage with low kicks, I’ve got Siver winning rounds two and three as Nunes burns himself out trying to match strength and punching power with Siver. Siver can get the job done by winning a decision due to heavy punches, lead high round kick and strength in the clinch. If Siver eats too many low kicks he loses. If he starts to check or counter the low kicks and pressure forward in rounds two and three it is his fight to win.
JAY CEE: Diego Nunes showcased some nice kicks in his last outing against Manny Gamburyan. Powerful kicks and solid Jiu Jitsu is a dangerous combination but I feel Siver’s physical strength and high level striking will prevail. I cannot see the drop in weight class being an issue for Dennis, if anything I think it will give him a physical advantage. This will be a back and forth battle that goes the distance but Siver’s aggression and kickboxing come out on top. PICK: Siver by Decision.
JACK BRATCHER: This could be fight of the night. Dennis Siver is a fun fighter to watch and he is making his featherweight debut here after losing his last fight via submission to Donald Cerrone at lightweight. Both fighters are very talented and both have some impressive wins under their belt. Nunes is coming off a decision win over Manny Gamburyan and I see him winning this fight too via submission or decision. I’d like to see Nunes get a finish here as he has won his last six fights via decision.
170 lbs: Paulo Thiago (14-3) vs. Siyar Bahadurzada (20-4-1)
ODDS: Thiago -175 vs. Bahadurzada +145
RICHARD MANN: Thiago should be able to take this one. Bahadurzada has not faced the highest level of competition, and on top of that, he has been out of action for what seems like ages. Thiago is a tough fight for anyone and probably a dangerous enough grappler to pick up a submission victory.
BRIAN FURBY: Paulo Thiago by unanimous decision.
GARY THOMAS: Thiago is coming back after an elbow injury and Bahadurzada is making his UFC debut with a wealth of experience. Debuts are a crap shoot as to how the newcomer performs so I am gonna go with Paulo Thiago via 2nd round stoppage.
KELVIN HUNT: I’m going to ride the hype train. Bahadurzada via TKO. Thiago hasn’t looked good in his last few fights and if he can’t take Bahadurzada down…he might goto sleep. Bahadurzada via impressive KO in his debut.
DAN “THE WOLFMAN”: Paulo Thiago vs. Siyar Bahadurzada could really go either way. I like this fight a lot. Two very hard guys going in there. Thiago is a BOPE cop, great submissions especially in all variety of chokes, and pretty heavy hands. His KO with an uppercut left hook on Koscheck was very nice. Bahadurzada is very aggressive, very fast past, with Afgani Long Hooks heavy punching style reminiscent of the great Igor Vovchanchyn. He has huge punching power at 185 and look for him to keep that at 170. Bahadurzada’s aggressiveness and punching power might be too much for Thiago, or that could get him into trouble and right into a Thiago choke. Pick em’ fight, Thiago by choke or Bahad by TKO from punches. If I had to pick, while a huge step up in competition, I think Bahadurzada’s quicker pace beats Thiago whom likes to fight in a more controlled rhythm.
JAY CEE: This will be Siyar Bahadurzada’s UFC debut but I really feel he has a good chance of causing an upset. If he can keep the fight standing and stays aggressive with his striking then he has a shot. However if Paulo Thiago gets the fight to the ground I reckon we could very well see him grind out a submission victory. Thiago’s UFC experience will be an advantage and he will look to control the fight, but I do not think this will go the distance like his past three bouts. I think it will be close but Thiago takes this by sub in the second. PICK: Paulo Thiago by Submission.
JACK BRATCHER: Neither of these men have ever been knocked out. Paulo Thiago has never been finished period; Siyar only twice via submission, the last time was in 2008 via heel hook to Jorge Santiago. Thiago has been up and down since fighting top competition in UFC. Siyar has been on a nice win streak (six) in the United Glory and Shooto promotions. Siyar’s last big win was a first round TKO over John Alessio last year. Siyar is a bad man and his UFC debut here is highly anticipated. I’ve got Thiago winning this via submission or decision but I’m looking forward to seeing how Siyar’s UFC career unfolds.
185 lbs: Brian Stann (11-4) vs. Alessio Sakara (19-8, 1 NC)
ODDS: Stann -400 vs. Sakara +300
RICHARD MANN: Sakara has always been billed as a “professional boxer.” He likes to stand and trade, but his chin can let him down. One thing has always been of Stann, he hits like a phaser set on stun. Look for a fight that is even early, but ends with Sakara laid out on the ground.
BRIAN FURBY: Brian Stann by KO in round 1.
GARY THOMAS: Sakara hasn’t fought since early 2011 and Stann has been active. Stann wants to put his stamp on the middleweight division and I see him making a statement with this fight. Brian Stann 1st round TKO.
KELVIN HUNT: Brian Stann via KO.
DAN “THE WOLFMAN”: I am taking the “All American” here for better track record in the past two years and bigger chin. Brian Stann KO/TKO over Alessio Sakara or possibly even a choke.
JAY CEE: Both of these guys are coming in off a loss and will be hungry for the victory. Alessio is returning from a torn acl injury and has been a lot less active then Stann which could be a major factor. If octagon rust is not an issue then Sakara will look to strike with Brian Stann and we could have a stand up war on our hands. I cannot really see either man looking to take this to the ground, Sakara has a few defensive holes in his standup so my prediction is that Brian Stann will find an opening and score a knockout with a powerful right hook or uppercut. PICK: Brian Stann by TKO.
JACK BRATCHER: We all saw what Chael Sonnen did to Brian Stann. Alessio Sakara will not do that. Few things give me as much pleasure as watching Brian Stann slug it out with someone. With Sakara’s nine wins via KO and Stann’s eight wins via KO, I’ve got a feeling we’re going to see a fun fight here. It’s damn hard to pick against Brian Stann unless he’s facing a great wrestler like Sonnen or Phil Davis — his only two losses in the last couple of years. Stann via TKO or decision.
205 lbs: Alexander Gustafsson (13-1) vs. Thiago Silva (14-2, 1 NC)
ODDS: Gustafsson -230 vs. Silva +190
RICHARD MANN: Silva has always done his best work on top. When he can bully an opponent and drag them to the ground, he can usually win. Gustafsson is not the world’s best grappler, but he is long and rangy and should be able to do enough damage on the feet to best Silva. Look for Gustafsson to pick up another big win and continue to advance as a prospect.
BRIAN FURBY: Thiago Silva by KO in round 1.
GARY THOMAS: Another fighter coming off of an extended absence. Silva having his fight overturned and over a year away from the cage leaves him wide open for disaster. I think Gustafsson is a rising star and can capitalize early in this fight much like he did with Matyushenko. Gustafsson wins via TKO in Round 1.
KELVIN HUNT: Gustafsson via TKO. I think the long layoff and the reach of Gustafsson will be big problems for Silva.
DAN “THE WOLFMAN”: While Thiago can be a beast in the top position, his takedown percentage isn’t great when compared to Gustafsson’s takedown defense percentage, plus Gustafsson most likely can use his reach advantage to keep this a striking match on the feet or if he gets on top he is fine there with ground and pound as well. That combined with how seldom Silva fights in his career has me going with Gustafsson, as well as home cage advantage. If Gustafsson stays off bottom he wins this one. How strong will Thiago be if he is indeed off PED’s and are they being tested in Sweden? Alexander Gustafsson TKO over Thiago Silva.
JAY CEE: I am really looking forward to this main event, I can’t wait to see how Silva performs in his return after over a year out. Thiago Silva is always an aggressive striker and has excellent Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu skills, if he manages to get into the clinch and inflict some early damage then Gustafsson could struggle. Alexander has really good technical ability, take-down defence and knockout power in his hands, if he can hold off Thiago’s early power and aggression I think he could pull off a second or third round knockout. It could really go either way but I think Alexander Gustafsson will be victorious on home soil. PICK: Gustafsson by TKO.
JACK BRATCHER: I’m impressed by the hype that Gustafsson has been getting. I’m also impressed that he sought to train with the only fighter to beat him so far, Phil Davis. That’s the type of attitude it takes to be a champion in this sport and says a lot about his personality. It’s also interesting to note that Gustafsson trains at Alliance, which is Brandon Vera’s home — the person Silva last fought. You have to question where Thiago’s head is and how serious he is about everything after falsifying his urine sample last year. I can’t believe he’s taking things as serious as Gustafsson. Too bad we won’t get to see Thiago make the throat slash gesture he traditionally does after winning fights — I love that; especially combined with that mean mug. And let’s not forget “The Mauler” is a Swede leading the UFC charge into Sweden on this card. It’s his time to shine. Gustafsson via decision or TKO.