UFC Fight Night 21 staff picks

The staff has come together once again (and cutting it close) to give you our oh so professional predictions. This time we’re looking at “UFC Fight Night 21: Florian vs. Gomi“, taking place tonight at the Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte, N.C.

The festivities begin at 8:00pm ET on Spike TV. Immediately following tonight’s live broadcast, the season premiere of “The Ultimate Fighter 11: Team Liddell vs. Team Ortiz” will air on Spike  TV.

Kenny Florian vs. Takanori Gomi

RICHARD MANN: Even when Gomi was at the height of his career he had trouble with grapplers. Florian may not ever win the UFC title, but he has made himself into a respectable fighter. Look for Florian to get the fight to the ground and lock on a rear naked choke. Florian by submission.

BRIAN FURBY: This one could be interesting.  MMA fans have long awaited Gomi’s UFC debut, and many feel that a first match with Florian is not one that’s over his head because of his experience and excellent skill set.  The biggest question people are asking is whether Gomi will suffer the same fate as many other former Pride fighters, debuting in a lackluster fashion.  That likely won’t be the case, but Florian is undoubtedly a tough opponent, and he wants another shot at the belt.  Florian will come out fast, looking to finish as he always does, and unless Gomi can capitalize on a minor mistake by Florian, his UFC debut will likely be a disappointing one.  Florian wins via TKO in Round 2.

JACK BRATCHER: Florian will win, but he won’t knock Gomi out. In 36 fights Gomi has never been stopped by strikes. Gomi has been fighting a long time. I also don’t see Florian submitting Gomi, so I’m going to have to go with a split decision. I think it will be primarily a stand up battle, with Florian using a type of hybrid cage/clinch/wrestling game like he attempted to use against Penn but a newer and better version.

Roy Nelson vs. Stefan Struve

RICHARD MANN: When it comes to picking fights there is only person who gives me more trouble than Fabricio Werdum, and that is Stefan Struve. Despite his recent success in the UFC, Struve really makes his living as a fighter on the ground. If Roy Nelson gets on top he should be able to neutralize Struve’s game and take the decision. Nelson by decision.

BRIAN FURBY: If these guys weren’t fighting each other, they could probably start a successful sitcom about the misadventures of two guys who are physical opposites, perhaps a crime fighting duo solving mysteries and getting into hi-jinks.  But since they are fighting, it’s going to be an odd fight.  Struve will undoubtedly be working to keep Nelson out of reach and Nelson will be struggling to get in.  I think Struve will be able to keep Nelson at a distance for the majority of the first round, but will probably succumb to one of Nelson’s solid punches in the second.  Roy Nelson wins via TKO in Round 2.

JACK BRATCHER: This is going to be a good fight. This clash of styles is intriguing. Both guys are good on the ground and I feel they will cancel each other’s ground game out and neither should get submitted. The stand up battle between these two will be so interesting because of the size and height difference. Struve seems nearly impossible to finish. Nelson has stopped quite a few opponents with strikes but I just don’t see him being able to finish Struve. Nelson by decision.

Nate Quarry vs. Jorge Rivera

RICHARD MANN: This fight will be one of those really ugly fights that people think should be fight of the year. Rivera will land the better strikes, but Quarry will land his power shots and win the fight. Quarry by TKO.

BRIAN FURBY: Rivera has made a bit of a comeback as of late after bouncing back and forth between losses to Chris Leben, Terry Martin and Martin Kampmann.  Quarry’s last loss was to submission master Demian Maia with wins most recently over Jason MacDonald and Tim Credeur.  There is no reason that this fight should make it to a decision must less past the first round.  Rivera will initially look strong coming out, but Quarry will sneak in a straight right or a hard hook, ending Rivera’s night early.  Quarry by TKO in Round 1.

JACK BRATCHER: Nate Quarry only loses to top tier guys and Jorge Rivera does not fit into that category. I like him and he has made a bit of a comeback as Furby pointed out, but the fun stops here for Rivera. Richard and Furby picked TKO’s in round one for Rivera. I think he will have a little thicker skin than that and grit it out to round 2. Nate Quarry wins via TKO round 2.

Ross Pearson vs. Dennis Siver

RICHARD MANN: Pearson is going to continue to improve now that he is working with the Rough House. Siver might turn out to be the better striker, but Pearson will be able to bully him into the cage and control the pace of the fight. Pearson by decision

BRIAN FURBY: This could end up being fight of the night.  Siver is on a three-fight win streak in the UFC and Pearson is coming into the fight 2-0 in the promotion.  Siver packs a solid punch, but undoubtedly Pearson has been watching enough tape on Siver to know what he’s bringing to the table.  After some exchanges on the feet, where Siver should see an advantage, Pearson will attempt to take the fight to the ground, and while his initial attempts may not succeed he’ll keep trying and eventually be able to take Siver down and work in a submission to end the fight.  Pearson wins via submission in Round 3.

JACK BRATCHER: Hahaha, we seem to be on the same wave length tonight. I also feel Pearson will win. However, I think Siver’s grappling is good enough to keep him from getting submitted. I’ll go with Pearson via (T)KO in rounds two or three, or possibly a submission.

Andre Winner vs. Rafaello Oliveira

RICHARD MANN: “Tractor” Oliveira has not really lived up to his hype, but he is still in line for a victory here. Winner has great hands, but Oliveira has the type of grappling game that forces opponents to deal with it. Look for Oliveira to take the fight to the ground and control en route to a decision. Oliveira by decision

BRIAN FURBY: The odds-makers have Winner as a slight favorite in this fight, but I tend to disagree.  Both fighters are 1-1 in the UFC right now, and although Oliveira’s debut was a disappointing decision loss to Nik Lentz, I think he definitely has the capabilities to finish Winner.  I have seen Oliveira fight, and his skill set is an impressive one.  He may be giving up a little bit of reach on Winner, but should have enough of a size advantage to take Winner down and end the fight with some ground and pound or a submission about halfway through the fight.  Rafaello Oliveira wins via TKO in Round 2.

JACK BRATCHER: The “Tractor” is going to plow Winner’s field… Even though he’s a Winner, Andre will be a loser in this one… “Tractor” will farm himself a victory tonight… okay… enough already!! Rafaello “Tractor” Oliveira will win by decision. I just don’t think he’ll be able to finish Winner off, but will get the nod.

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