I have to go into turbo-mode to finish my write-ups for this Saturday’s fights. Later today breakdowns for the main event between Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Mark Hunt and the co-main event between Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and James Te Huna will be posted at JasonSomerville.com. For now here are my thoughts on the other fights scheduled to take place at UFC Fight Night 33:
205 pounds: Ryan Bader vs. Anthony Perosh
This one almost seems too easy. Ryan Bader is an excellent wrestler and athlete with very good punching power. Anthony Perosh is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist who is 41 years old. It seems like almost a lock that Bader will stuff any takedowns tried by Perosh and knock him out standing.
The risk where Bader is concerned is that his chin isn’t exactly made of granite either. Perosh showed he’s capable of knocking people out himself with a victory over Vinny Magalhaes in August. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Perosh could add another knockout victory here.
Still, Bader is a 5-1 favorite to win this match for a reason. He’s the far better striker and wrestler than Perosh is. And let’s be honest, what are the chances of Perosh winning by one-punch KO, really?
Pick: Ryan Bader by KO
265 pounds: Pat Barry vs. Soa Palelei
Pat Barry is an example that all MMA fighters should look at very closely. I’ve been predicting Barry’s UFC release for quite a few fights now and it hasn’t happened. He’s still here. The reason is simple: Barry might not be very good but he’s fun to watch, and that gives him value that most fighters at his skill level simply cannot provide.
With that said, brace yourself for the possibility that he might actually lose to Soa Palelei. Out of 28 UFC heavyweights, Palelei is rated #28 according to FPR, mostly thanks to a very low quality of competition (Nikita Krylov, Eddie Sanchez, and the immortal Mu Bae Choi in PRIDE). However, Palelei has landed takedowns at a fairly high rate, and that’s threatening for Barry, whose ground game is mostly non-existant.
At the same time, Palelei is very slow on his feet and should be the kind of opponent Barry will punish with powerful strikes. Barry’s best asset is his knockout power and he’s likely to showcase it on Saturday night.
Pick: Pat Barry by KO
185 pounds: Dylan Andrews vs. Clint Hester
It’s going to be hard for me to shake the bias I have against Dylan Andrews. I’ll never forget watching him fight Uriah Hall on The Ultimate Fighter. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fighter as nervous and timid as Andrews was in that fight. His body language throughout just screamed “please don’t knock me out.” It wasn’t pretty.
It’s amazing to think about that because it seems increasingly clear that Andrews is actually a better fighter than Hall. At least he’s started his UFC career on the right foot with two victories by KO/TKO.
With that said Clint Hester is a punishing striker and I feel the way to beat him is via submission, not TKO. Unfortunately Andrews doesn’t really do submissions. Andrews is the more technical striker, and that might carry him to victory here, but I think Hester’s pressure has a good chance of overwhelming Andrews here.
Pick: Clint Hester by TKO
Women’s 135 pounds: Bethe Correia vs. Julie Kedzie
The first thing I noted about Bethe Correia while watching her on tape was that I couldn’t help but notice how tentative and unwilling to engage she was. That may not be her normal style but she’ll want to make sure she doesn’t fight that way during her UFC debut against Julie Kedzie.
Kedzie is a very aggressive and powerful striker for the women’s bantamweight division. Of all the women in the UFC I have data for there have been a combined five knockdowns, three of which were by Kedzie. I have to think Kedzie will have a striking advantage in this fight.
At the same time Kedzie’s record of 16-12 indicates that she’s a very flawed fighter. Her flaw is the submission game; she’s lost seven times by that method. For her part Correia has shown a willingness to land takedowns but her striking and submissions just aren’t very refined at all. I have to think Kedzie out-points her in this match.
Pick: Julie Kedzie by decision
135 pounds: Takeya Mizugaki vs. Nam Phan
Anybody who’s followed this blog for a while knows that I haven’t had a lot of positive things to say about Nam Phan. I’ve tried a number of statistical approaches to rating MMA fighters and where they stand in relation to one another, and all of them have agreed that Phan is one of the worst fighters at the lighter weights in the UFC.
Trust me when I say I hate to be so negative. I’d love nothing more than for the UFC to be full of awesome and amazing fighters I only say good things about. The only good things I can say about Phan are that he has very good conditioning and is genuinely good at not being finished inside the cage.
There are bantamweights Phan can beat but Takeya Mizugaki is probably not one of them. Phan actually should be able to keep up with Mizugaki on the feet but at some point Mizugaki is going to take him down and begin a ground and pound assault. Phan has never shown much ability to deal with that kind of fight and I don’t expect him to suddenly develop a counter in this one.
Pick: Takeya Mizugaki by decision
185 pounds: Caio Magalhaes vs. Nick Ring
One thing that’s become clear in the brief career of Caio Magalhaes is that he’s not a very good striker. Already Magalhaes has been out-struck by a 65-43 margin in two UFC fights, including a 35-22 margin against Buddy Roberts and a 30-21 margin against Karlos Vemola. Nick Ring is no master striker, especially defensively, but he should enjoy a comfortable advantage as long as this fight stays standing.
Magalhaes clearly needs to clinch up with Ring and force a ground battle if he wants to win this fight. Ring has been susceptible to takedowns as he’s been taken down ten times in 70 minutes in the UFC. However Magalhaes has struggled mightily to take his opponents down as well, landing just three out of 17 takedown attempts.
If Magalhaes can break through Ring’s takedown defense then he has a very good chance of winning this fight by submission or even decision. Unfortunately for Magalhaes I think the most likely outcome is that Ring will stuff his takedown attempts and easily get the better of the ensuing striking contest.
Pick: Nick Ring by decision
125 pounds: Justin Scoggins vs. Richie Vaculik
The first thing you’ll notice about Justin Scoggins on tape is that he fights with a similar striking style as fighters like Stephen Thompson: hands down, wide stance, with a very diverse and kick-heavy offense. For Scoggins this has resulted in five wins by KO/TKO in just seven professional MMA fights. Scoggins is undefeated in those fights although his level of competition has been less than stellar. Because of that it’s tricky to project how well his game will translate to UFC competition.
His opponent, Richie Vaculik, was a participant on The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes, which probably seems strange if you remember that The Smashes featured lightweight and welterweight fighters. Indeed, Vaculik competed as a badly undersized lightweight and was subsequently mauled by Norman Parke. It’s unfair to use that fight as a reference point for how well Vaculik can actually fight.
Vaculik is primarily a submission fighter as six of his wins have come by that method but it will be difficult for him to impose that game on Scoggins. I think Scoggins can probably use his kicks to keep Vaculik at distance and eventually win by TKO.
Pick: Justin Scoggins by TKO