“UFC 148: Silva vs. Sonnen II” takes place Saturday night in Las Vegas and you know what that means. That’s right, it’s time for ProMMAnow.com to round up the troops to send in their staff picks. And whether it was by snail mail, email or carrier pigeon, or Furby with his smoke signals, we have the complete main card breakdown and predictions for you right here. This one is a biggie!
Ivan Menjivar vs. Mike Easton
Brian Furby: Ivan Menjivar
Richard Mann: Easton looks the part of a solid MMA fighter. He is strong, powerful and explosive. However, he really struggles to put it together against tougher opposition. His fights against John Dodson and Jared Papazian show that he will have trouble if he can’t finish the fight early. Menjivar is the quintessential veteran who is not going anywhere early. Look for Menjivar to get the better of the exchanges on the feet and take a decision victory. Pick: Menjivar by decision
Gary Thomas: Mike Easton hasn’t lost since 2007. An impressive record in tow he comes into the fight against Menjivar with an unblemished UFC record. Menjivar holds the edge when it comes to experience. With a ton of fights and quality wins on his record Ivan has to be thinking with a win he will be in contention for the title. I like the youth in this match up and see Mike Easton winning by decision to kick off this epic pay per view. Pick: Easton by decision
Jan Gaetjens: As much as my Washington, DC blind Homerism makes it hard for me to count out The Hulk, Menjivar has the clear experience advantage in this matchup, and by all accounts should have no problem handling the relative newcomer Easton. Easton’s going to be a tough out, but Menjivar walks away the winner via TKO. Pick: Menjivar via TKO
Denny “The Mad One”: Menjivar has the experience advantage in this one, but Easton brings a blitzing style of aggression that will be hard to match over three rounds. Menjivar can do damage inside, which is where Easton likes to do work as well. Look for Easton to keep Menjivar at bay with his reach, and prove effective in the pocket during exchanges while mixing in takedowns on his way to a decision victory. Pick: Easton via decision
Jack Bratcher: Mike Easton and Ivan Menjivar are both on the road toward a bantamweight title shot and this bout is one more important step on that road. Easton still only has one loss on his record and it was back in 2007 when he suffered a broken arm during the fight and the referee stopped it. He has won two straight since signing with the UFC last year. The peculiar thing is, if he does ever earn a title shot he will have to fight one of his best friends and training partners Dominic Cruz, as long as he is still the champion. Ivan Menjivar has won three straight in the UFC since returning to the UFC last year. Menjivar has undoubtedly faced the tougher opposition over the years, having battled such guys as Georges St-Pierre, Matt Serra, Joe Lauzon and Urijah Faber, to name a few. Menjivar is also much more experienced than Easton. This is a fight to watch and a lot is on the line here with both guys having a lot of momentum right now. Man, this is a hard one to pick, but at the moment I can’t pick against Easton. He’s got a great camp behind him and until he loses a fight I have to go with The Hulk. Pick: Easton via decision
Chad Mendes vs. Cody McKenzie
Brian Furby: Chad Mendes
Richard Mann: Mendes will be able to take McKenzie down. There is almost no chance that McKenzie will be able to catch his opponent in a submission. Look for Mendes to do a little bit more damage from the top and finish the fight. Mendes will be able to take McKenzie down. There is almost no chance that McKenzie will be able to catch his opponent in a submission. Look for Mendes to do a little bit more damage from the top and finish the fight. Pick: Mendes via TKO
Gary Thomas: Cody McKenzie is so one dimensional its almost laughable. However he STILL finishes fights with the signature guillotine. Chad Mendes is a beast and I think he can keep the submission at bay and grind out a decision against McKenzie. Pick: Chad Mendes via decision
Jan Gaetjens: There are bad guillotines, great guillotines, and everything in between, but there is no such thing as a magic guillotine capable of fending off one of the division’s best wrestlers. Money Mendes gets the convincing decision victory, forcing McKenzie to continue hovering around a pedestrian .500 record in the UFC. Pick: Mendes via Decision
Denny “The Mad One”: McKenzie’s guillotine is no secret, yet he seems to find a way to sneak it in against most of his opponents. That won’t happen with Mendes. Mendes will have absolutely no fear of the signature submission, and will do what he does best, grinding out takedown-after-takedown and wearing down McKenzie. Eventually Mendes will land enough ground-and-pound to win by TKO. Pick: Mendes via TKO
Jack Bratcher: Cody McKenzie is not ready for the likes of Chad Mendes. Mendes has had one loss and that was to the top featherweight in the world — in his most recent fight. McKenzie is known for his sick guillotine choke. However, Mendes used to train with Cody. In fact, Mendes is very familiar with Cody’s famous guillotine. Having said that. McKenzie is also familiar with Mendes’ style. McKenzie has a funky style and is quite awkward to deal with for a lot of fighters. But Mendes should be able to take care of business and pull it off fairly decisively. Pick: Mendes via decision
Dong Hyun Kim vs. Demian Maia
Brian Furby: Dong Hyun Kim
Richard Mann: Kim gets a lot of flack from fans for not being very exciting, but that does not really matter. Maia might be the better technical striker at this point, but Kim will be able to stay on the outside and dominate the standing. Maia might have the advantage on the ground, but he does not have the skill to get the fight there. Look for Kim to take another decision that does not really excite the fans Pick: Kim by decision
Gary Thomas: Demian Maia at 170? I like it. I like the BJJ superstar at the lower weight. He will be a big welterweight and with his great takedowns and ground game I think he can finish the fight early.. Dong Hyun Kim is a solid striker and has decent ground game but I think the Brazilians skills will be too much for him. Demian Maia gets the second round submission win. Pick:Maia via submission
Jan Gaetjens:The drop down to welterweight should prove to be a good call for Maia in the long run; however, he should brace for a rough welcome to the division when he squares off against Kim. Kim, a Judo black belt with above average striking to compliment his skills in the clinch and on the ground, should be able to neutralize Maia’s slick Jiu Jitsu game and win this fight. Pick: Kim via decision
Denny “The Mad One”: Maia will have his hands full in his welterweight debut. Kim will look to continue improving on the feet and should be able to get the fight to the mat if that’s where he wants to be. Look for Kim to mix in some top control on the ground, neutralizing the active guard of Maia. Kim will also win the exchanges on the feet on his way to a decision victory. Pick: Kim via decision
Jack Bratcher: Did you know Dong Hyun “Stun Gun” Kim is 6-1-1 inside the UFC Octagon? That’s damn impressive. In fact, his loss to Carlos Condit last year is the sole loss of his career. Maia, on the other hand, has been up and down throughout his UFC career. This will be Maia’s debut at welterweight, having fought his entire career at middleweight. Until we see how he performs at 170 pounds I have to go with “Stun Gun”. I think he’s a more well-rounded fighter, has better striking and wrestling. Pick: Dong Hyun Kim via decision
Cung Le vs. Patrick Cote
Brian Furby: Cung Le
Richard Mann: At this point Le is still not really an MMA fighter. Sure he can throw some strikes, but he could not take out a shopworn Wanderlei Silva. Le should still be the favorite here. Cote has always been an okay striker with huge power. However, Le should be able to avoid the big shots and take a decision. In his two losses, Silva and Scott Smith, Le got caught with big power, but he has to be past that at this point. Pick: Le via decision
Gary Thomas: Patrick Cote is no Rich Franklin. Cung Le had an impressive UFC debut and gets a lesser opponent in Cote. Cote may be hungry to stay in the octagon but Cung Le wins this fight with his above average striking. Pick: Le via decision
Jan Gaetjens: This striker vs. striker match up should be a relatively quick affair. Cung Le began to show some of his age in his loss to Wanderlei Silva last November, but the unpredictability of his fighting style always ensures that he’ll have a puncher’s chance. Although neither fighter is an elite level grappler by any stretch of the imagination, don’t completely count out the possibility that Cote takes the fight to the ground in an attempt to smother Le with strikes from the top. I definitely don’t see this fight going the distance. Pick: Cote via KO
Denny “The Mad One”: Le will come out quick and establish the pace with his kicks, but Cote has one-punch KO power in his right hand and will look for the opportunity to counter early. Cote may take the fight to the mat if he gets outgunned early, but if he’s studied his opponent at all, he will use his patience in this one as a weapon. That’s exactly what he will do en route to a unanimous decision victory after some heated exchanges over three rounds. Pick: Cote by decision
Jack Bratcher: This is a pretty fun fight on paper. I like the style match-up, however, Patrick Cote is going to spank Cung Le like a red-headed step child that stole something. Cung Le is best when people give him distance and allow him to get off with his fancy striking. He’s really a Strikeforce-level fighter and there are many, including myself, who really don’t think he can cut it inside the UFC and Cote will be further proof of that. Pick: Cote by knockout — why? Because karate will get you killed.
Forest Griffin vs. Tito Ortiz
Brian Furby: Tito Ortiz
Richard Mann: Griffin probably won their first fight. Griffin certainly won their second fight. This outing should not be very different. Tito might get an early takedown and do some damage, but then he will be spent. Look for Griffin to get the better of the striking and win the fight. Pick: Griffin via decision
Gary Thomas: The rubber match that concludes the career of my all time favorite fighter. Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz will grace the cage one last time and will go out with a win. I question Forrest’s commitment to the sport as of late and and quite frankly his skills. Tito Ortiz wins and goes out in a blaze of glory with a 3rd round stoppage. Pick: Ortiz via TKO
Jan Gaetjens: Ortiz is hungry for a win to avoid the possibility of ending his career on a three fight losing streak, but motivation alone won’t be enough if Ortiz hopes to snap his current skid and go out on a high note. Neither fighter has looked particularly impressive of late, and, as always, Ortiz’s health will be something to keep a close eye on. The healthier, slightly less worse for wear, Griffin wins by decision, closing the curtain on Ortiz’s UFC career. Pick: Griffin via decision
Denny “The Mad One”: Tito almost seems relieved that this will be his final fight in his storied career. He seems truly motivated to end his career on a high note but I think that Griffin will test his resolve early in this fight. Tito will get some early takedowns, but look for Griffin to work back to his feet and punish Tito standing. I see this one ending with both guys swinging for the fences in the final 10 seconds of the bout, but in the end it will be Griffin that walks away with the win by decision. Pick: Griffin via decision.
Jack Bratcher: Farewell dear Tito. We’re going to miss you. Ortiz is about 500 in dog years. His body is held together with steel rods, stitches, and L5-Q3 fusions throughout his vertebrae and respiratory systems — okay I made that last part up, but you get the point, he’s an F’d up old dude for today’s MMA game. And let’s be honest, Forrest is not far behind. This fight will go the distance just like the last two fights. Neither guy really has enough power to KO they other and they both have good enough sub-defense to avoid getting tapped out…. result… Pick: Forrest via split decision… again.
Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen
Brian Furby: Anderson Silva
Richard Mann: Silva is going to absolutely punt the challenger. Sonnen had the fight of his life, and he still lost. Silva should be able to do a better job of keeping his distance. From there he should be able to finish the fight early. This contest is going to look more like Silva’ fight against Yushin Okami and less like his first encounter with Sonnen. Pick: Silva by TKO
Gary Thomas: Will the build up to the fight be worth the price of admission for UFC 148 headliners Sonnen and Silva? Granted Chael has notched the best performance of his life against the champ but he still fell short. Anderson is the best in the business and I don’t see him faltering in this bout. Sonnen may be in his head but Anderson’s fist may be in his. I hate to ride the fence but if this goes past the 2nd round Chael has a chance but I am calling it early. Pick: Silva via TKO
Jan Gaetjens: Captain Ahab has his white whale, and Chael Sonnen has Anderson Silva. Chael Sonnen is seemingly so committed to the singular goal of beating Anderson Silva that I’m almost concerned about what he’ll do with himself if he wins. If he can get Silva on the ground again, Sonnen has the ability to control the fight from the top for five rounds and walk away with a decision win; however, his well publicized lack of respect for Silva’s submission game could once again be his undoing should he force the champion to work off of his back. Look for Silva to stuff the takedown, keep the fight standing, and provide fans with another highlight reel performance. Anderson Silva remains the middleweight champion by way of KO; the entire nation of Brazil rejoices; and Sonnen returns to the Pequod empty handed. Pick: Silva via TKO
Denny “The Mad One”: Is Sonnen in the champ’s head? Absolutely. After UFC 148, he may wish he hadn’t been. This one will not get out of the second round. Silva will come out aggressively countering everything that Sonnen throws at him and will catch him with something monumental, finally ending the long-standing feud in brutal fashion. Silva by KO. Pick: Silva via KO
Jack Bratcher: Wow. I’m a little surprised the whole rest of the crew is all picking Silva… I think Chael Sonnen showed the blueprint to beat Anderson Silva in the first match. He had a slight lapse in his concentration and paid for it. I think he has been working damn hard to make up for that and learn from that over the last two years. Most importantly, this dude is HUNGRY. He has talked so much smack, that he’s backed himself in a corner. He has put this much pressure on himself FOR A REASON. We saw at the weigh-ins how emotional Silva is and that can lead to mistakes in a fight. I think Sonnen puts Silva on his back and either pounds him out or submits him. Final verdict… Chael Sonnen becomes the UFC middleweight champion Saturday night. Disclaimer: Anderson could KO him in the first round.
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