UFC 122 staff picks

UFC 122: Marquardt vs. Okami” takes place Saturday, Nov. 13, in Oberhausen, Germany. The main event features two of the top-10 ranked middleweights in the world and two of the UFC’s top 185-pound title contenders, Nate “The Great” Marquardt vs. Yushin “Thunder” Okami.

As we do with each UFC event, the staff has come together to share our thoughts and predictions on the UFC 122 fights. As 2010 nears its end, the race for the staff pick champion is neck and neck and every fight becomes important.

UPDATE: Here is the current 2010 staff pick standings after UFC 122:

  1. Richard (100-55) 65%
  2. Jack (98-57) 63%
  3. Buhl (34-20) 63%
  4. Denny (68-43) 61%
  5. Furby (87-68) 56% will provide live results on Saturday for UFC 122 starting at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. and then play-by-play commentary of each of the Spike TV televised fights beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

Nate Marquardt (30-9-2) vs. Yushin Okami (25-5)

Nate Marquardt -220 Yushin Okami -175

RICHARD MANN: Marquardt is the better overall fighter. However, I can’t get the vision of his dismal wrestling against Chael Sonnen out of my head. If Okami comes out with a game plan designed to take the fight to the ground, he should easily win. Also, Okami is a very long fighter, who should be able to hold his own on the feet. Okami by decision.

JOHN BUHL: Is it stupid that I’m basing my prediction in this fight off of Okami’s bout with Rich Franklin at UFC 77 three years ago? Probably. But I don’t care. I think Marquardt will get the better of things standing, so the question is whether Okami can get Nate down and work him over ala Chael Sonnen. I don’t think so. Stylistically, Marquardt has some — OK, not much, but some — similarities to Franklin. Neither guy is an overpowering wrestler, but both are very well rounded. Marquardt isn’t as precise with his striking, but I’d wager he’s a tad bit stronger and heavier handed than Franklin. Okami wasn’t able to impose his will on Franklin and I think Marquardt will be able to do enough on the feet to get the win. Marquardt by unanimous decision.

BRIAN FURBY: As Marquardt stated on our recent episode of The Cageside Beat, he’s ready for this fight. He knows what Okami brings to the table and he can counteract all of that. Marquardt has an edge in the fight with the oddsmakers and he should. He knows better than to rush in because of Okami’s strong counterattacks and patience, but he’ll push the pace just enough to get a solid win. Marquardt wins by unanimous decision.

DENNY HODGE: Will Okami get a title shot if he notches a victory against Marquardt? Only time will tell, but I’m taking him in this fight. Marquardt has shown improvement on his feet, but Okami will not wilt regardless of what Marquardt throws at him. Okami will put Marquardt on his back and maintain control from the top, outpointing “The Great” in the process.

JACK BRATCHER: When you look at the fighters Okami has defeated and when you consider his only losses in the UFC have come against Rich Franklin and Chael Sonnen, combined with the fact he holds a win over the champion, it is pretty damn bizarre why he has never had a title shot. Can you imagine the justifiable stink some of the other guys would have raised if they were in his position? Marquardt’s biggest threat in this fight is Okami’s ground and pound strength. And who can forget what Chael Sonnen did to Marquardt back in February? However, I’m confident Marquardt has been working on those weak points and I feel he’s going to have the advantage on the feet as a better technical striker. Okami is very strong though and can cause trouble for Marquardt if he gets into a clinch war. Okami loves to slow fights down to a snail’s pace and grind them out, but I think Marquardt’s camp is going to have a plan for this and I’m predicting Marquardt to outpoint Okami for a decision win, possibly even a split decision. Okami has only been stopped once way back in 2003 via TKO. Truthfully, I would like to see Okami win and get his title shot but I’m afraid his dreams of that title shot are going down the drain with a loss here.

Alessio Sakara (15-7, 1 NC) vs. Jorge Rivera (19-7)

Alessio Sakara -110 Jorge Rivera -120

RICHARD MANN: Rivera may not be a lot of things, but he is a fighter who can land some power shots. Sakara has been praised as a boxer since his UFC debut, but his chin holds him back. Look for Rivera to find that chin early and end the fight. Rivera by TKO.

JOHN BUHL: This fight looks like a lot of fun on paper. Of course, I said that about Melvin Guillard-Jeremy Stephens at UFC 119, and that ended up being a stinker. Let’s hope Rivera and Sakara don’t pull the same stunt. Rivera can be very dangerous in the clinch and Sakara isn’t immune to getting knocked out against guys actually willing to stand and trade with the former pro boxer. Nevertheless, I think Sakara takes it. He has better striking than anyone Rivera has faced in quite some time. Sakara by decision.

BRIAN FURBY: I’ve always been a fan of Sakara. He and Rivera both are coming off three-win streaks and have revitalized their careers after some disappointing losses in previous fights. I like Sakara in this fight – he has better striking and training with ATT has filled in some holes in his game. Even though I think Sakara will win, this was a tough pick for me. Both guys will be swinging for the fences and I see a KO of the Night award or Fight of the Night coming from this one. Sakara wins by KO in Round 2.

DENNY HODGE: This fight has “Fight of the Night” written all over it. Everybody knows that Sakara likes to bang, and luckily for him Rivera will oblige him. Rivera will be outgunned, and will pay for his willingness to stand in the pocket. Rivera will not go away easy, and has proven to fight with a ton of heart, but in the end he will go down swinging. Sakara by TKO.

JACK BRATCHER: Jorge Rivera is on a resurgence and that confidence and momentum should serve him well against “Legionarius”. Expect a crazy stand up war in this one, each banging it out until someone drops. Who will it be?  This is a pretty close match and hard to pick. I just think this is Jorge’s time. He’s paid his dues for so long. He’s been in so many battles and it seems like it’s all finally starting to pay off. I want to see Jorge win this and maybe one or two more and then get himself in position to fight for the title. He deserves it and so does  his camp. Not to say that Sakara doesn’t but Jorge has been through so much. I’m taking Jorge Rivera by first round knockout.

Krzysztof Soszynski (24-11-1) vs. Goran Reljic (8-2)

Krzysztof Soszynski -115 Goran Reljic -115

RICHARD MANN: Man, this card… Reljic has not really been the same since making his UFC debut. It interesting to note that he lost his fight against C.B. Dollaway because he could not stop takedowns. He then returned against Kendall Grove and lost the fight from the top position. Soszynski is not a world beater, but Reljic can lose a fight anywhere. Decision by Soszynski.

JOHN BUHL: Soszynski’s size and experience will make things tough for Reljic, but I think Goran back at 205 can win this one with his striking. Reljic by decision.

BRIAN FURBY: After talking with K-Sos on The Cageside Beat, I’m even more confident he’s going to win this fight. Reljic’s losses have only come from decisions, but K-Sos is going to change that. There are going to be some great exchanges and the crowd will see some blood fly before K-Sos slaps on the fight-ending submission, netting himself a Sub of the Night bonus in the process. Soszynski wins by submission in Round 2.

DENNY HODGE: Soszynski is huge, he is aggressive. Reljic is coming off of 2 consecutive losses and is fighting for his UFC life in this one. Reljic has some very nice kicks but will need to keep the distance to get them off. Soszynski will close the distance and bully Reljic all over the cage. Soszynski by decision.

JACK BRATCHER: The oddsmakers have this fight dead even but I feel Krzysztof’s experience, size and strength, combined with his change in training camps, is going to make the difference. K-Sos needs to be careful and not get into a kickboxing match with Reljic because I think Reljic has the advantage there. Soszynski needs to put Reljic on his back and pound out a TKO victory and I think he will be able to do that, probably in the third round.

Amir Sadollah (3-2) vs. Peter Sobotta (8-3)

Amir Sadollah -350 Peter Sobotta +250

RICHARD MANN: A lot of people are down on Sadollah, because he hasn’t looked great recently. However, against fighters at this level, he should have little trouble. Sobotta has some game, but Sadollah is better on the feet and the ground. Sadollah by decision.

JOHN BUHL: We talk all the time about records not meaning as much as performances in MMA, but at 3-2, Sadollah, the unlikely but talented winner of TUF 7, needs a win. I think he’ll get it against Sobotta. Why? Sobotta lost to James Wilks, and I certainly think Sadollah is as talented as Wilks. Sadollah by decision.

BRIAN FURBY: This will likely be Sobotta’s last fight in the UFC. Coming off back to back decision losses, he now runs into Sadollah, ready to get relevant again after a loss to Dong Hyun Kim. Sadollah wants to make a statement and he will. Sadollah wins by submission in Round 1.

DENNY HODGE: Sadollah is a mere 3-2 will all of his career fights taking place in the Octagon after being a surprise TUF champion for season 7. He has shown that he is capable of winning fights both on the ground and on the feet. That being said, some think that Sobotta is being brought in to give Sadollah an easy win (Sobotta is 0-2 in the UFC.) Sobotta is actually pretty good on his feet, and I believe that Sadollah will notice that too and take the fight to the mat. Sadollah will win on the ground, grinding out a decision victory over the home town favorite, Sobotta.

JACK BRATCHER: It’s still hard to believe Amir Sadollah arrived in the UFC with not a single pro fight. He is truly a “UFC baby” born and bred on Octagon blood and the cheers of thousands. He has also improved quite a bit. His war with Phil Baroni was a great showcase of how far he’d come with his striking. His loss against “Stun Gun” is nothing to be ashamed of and he likely learned a lot going the distance in that fight. It will be interesting to see how Sobotta approaches this fight and what sort of gameplan he wants to use. Sobotta is a German fighter raised on tae kwon do and judo. He’s also won some German BJJ and submission wrestling tournaments. He may have a better advantage if he were to get Sadollah on the ground but I feel he will try to stand and prove a  point and Sadollah is going to end up knocking him out. Sadollah keeps getting better and I think this will be the best Sadollah we’ve seen. Third round TKO for Sadollah and Sobotta gets his walking papers.

Dennis Siver (16-7) vs. Andre Winner (11-4-1)

Dennis Siver -140 Andre Winner +110

RICHARD MANN: Siver is not going to look for takedowns, so Winner should be able to flex some of his smooth boxing and clinch game. Siver beats up lesser strikers, but Winner has some pretty serious game on the feet. Winner by decision.

JOHN BUHL: I’ll take Winner because he’s…taller? I dunno. Crap, I’ll just take Siver since I just really don’t think Winner has beaten anyone with great striking and Siver is a better finisher. If Siver manages to take Winner down and turn to Winner’s camp and crack a smile at Dan Hardy while holding Winner helplessly in place on the ground, well that’d be awesome. Siver by decision.

BRIAN FURBY: This one is probably going to go a full three rounds. Siver is more compact, but Winner will have about a four-inch reach on him. Winner will pick Siver apart on the feet and Siver should score some good takedowns that will have him winning the fight on at least one judge’s scorecards. But Winner’s striking and submission attempts will see him win the fight. Winner wins by split decision.

DENNY HODGE: This fight will stay on the feet, with Siver looking to land big shots in the pocket, while Winner will look to land the cleaner, straighter punches and avoid the big exchanges. Winner will walk away with decision in this one.

JACK BRATCHER: If my name was Andre Winner, my nickname would be “The Winner”. Can you imagine if you were just a complete loser but your last name was “Winner?” Just having that name and writing it for so many years likely has had a positive effect upon Andre Winner’s life. But Siver’s hero is Fedor Emelianenko and I dig that. I have been impressed with Siver’s strength and power. He will also be fighting in his home country here for what that’s worth. Both guys are 1-1 in 2010 with Siver coming off a decision win over Spencer Fisher and Winner coming off a decision loss against Nik Lentz. I see these guys trying to out-strike each other for three rounds with Siver getting the better of him. Siver takes it by decision.

Vladimir Matyushenko (24-5) vs. Alexandre Ferreira (18-5)

Vladimir Matyushenko -300 Alexandre Ferreira +220

RICHARD MANN: Here is my technical perspective. Matyushenko should be able to get takedowns at will and avoid submissions on the top. He might even be able to win the fight on the feet because “Cacareco” is really that bad in the striking game. However, Ferreira has a nasty leg lock series, and I do not pick against that kind of fighter. Ferreira by submission.

JOHN BUHL: Ferreira has 17 of his 18 wins by submission. Good luck trying to submit Vladdy. Matyushenko by TKO ground and pound stoppage in round 3.

BRIAN FURBY: Ferreira is a submission machine. But Matyushenko has an experience edge and more powerful hands. I see this fight ending when Ferreira rolls in for a heel hook or an ankle lock and Matyushenko drops a bomb on his head. Matyushenko wins by TKO in Round 2.

DENNY HODGE: This is the fight I want to see. I have been waiting to see “Cacareco” for a long time, and thought I would finally see him on the Shine fights card that never happened with Mayorga and Thomas. For those fans that don’t know, Ferreira has 18 wins, and 17 of them he won by submission. It’s not just the high percentage of sub victories that is impressive, but the varying amounts of techniques employed to stop his opponents, from heel hooks, rear naked chokes, guillotines, to Achilles locks. There is some history in this match up as well. These two were supposed to fight on several occasions but it never happened until now. Matyushenko has said he wants to keep this fight on the feet, but isn’t scared if it hits the ground.. Ferreira is a heavily muscled 205’er that is only 5’7″, and has gassed badly in the past. Matyushenko will get back to his winning ways in this one, outlasting the high profile Brazilian en route to a decision victory.

JACK BRATCHER: Guess what … “The Janitor” has never been submitted in his 13 + years as a professional fighter and Alexandre Ferriera will not be the first one to do it. But he will think he can, and he won’t mind getting put on his back where is exactly the place “The Janitor” will put him and pound on him for three rounds to take home a unanimous decision victory.

Rob Kimmons (23-5) vs. Kyle Noke (17-4-1)

Rob Kimmons +190 Kyle Noke -240

RICHARD MANN: A lot of people have been excited about Noke for a long time. This will be a great test for him. Kimmons will beat most fighters who do not belong in the UFC. Noke has a respectable striking game, but he can struggle when he can’t stop takedowns. Kimmons will be able to get the fight to the ground and flex some “American Jiu-Jitsu.” Kimmons by submission.

JOHN BUHL: Noke’s probably the favorite, but I think Kimmons can out work him with his wrestling and submission game. Kimmons by unanimous decision.

BRIAN FURBY: Noke’s striking is going to be too much from Kimmons. Kimmons is motivated for this fight, no doubt, but Noke will prove too much for him early in the fight and Kimmons swinging for the fences could leave him open to getting caught. Kyle Noke wins by TKO in Round 2.

DENNY HODGE: Kimmons is 3-2 in the UFC and has admitted that each fight with the world’s biggest organization brings extreme pressure due to the fact that you can be cut at any time.  Noke recently won his initial foray into the Octagon at the TUF 11 finale back in June, and will be looking to bring some of that Jackson’s MMA strategy into his second UFC appearance.  Noke will have the advantage on the feet, and Kimmons will have trouble putting Noke on his back and keeping him there to work his submission game.  Noke will grind out a “TUF” decision in this one.

JACK BRATCHER: Interesting match up. Kimmons is an American Jiu Jitsu black belt and favors the submission game where most of his wins have come. He does have five TKO wins on his record too and had a lot of knockout wins as an amateur. Kimmons will likely have the strength advantage and ground advantage, but I see Noke winning the stand up battle and using a great game plan put together by none other than Mr. Greg Jackson and Mike Winklejohn. Kimmons will be hard to finish though so I’m taking Kyle Noke winning via decision.

*Fight odds provided by

5 thoughts on “ UFC 122 staff picks”

  1. Okami +175 (3 units) WINNER

    Soszynski -105 (3 units) WINNER

    Sakara -105 (2 units)

    Siver -135 (2 units) WINNER


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