While last Saturday’s TUF 14 Finale was the last UFC event to host its main card on Spike TV, it didn’t show the last fights that ever will be shown on Spike TV. Those will take place on December 30th, prior to the main card of UFC 141. But for this event, Spike TV will not be showing any preliminary fights… instead, there will be four fights broadcast on ION television.
135 lbs: Yves Jabouin vs. Walel Watson
If there was no such thing as ground fighting in the UFC, I’d imagine that Yves Jabouin would perform very well. Jabouin is definitely a fighter who likes to stand and strike, and when his opponents choose to fight him that way, it typically makes for a very competitive fight. However, there are two things noticeably missing from Jabouin’s recent fight history. One is a win by KO/TKO. The other is a fight in which Jabouin dominated his opponent in the striking game. If you look at Jabouin’s last five fights as tracked by Fight Metric, what you’ll find is a fighter who usually is about even with his opponent in the striking department.
However, Jabouin has faced some pretty tough opponents, including Raphael Assuncao and Mark Hominick, and so it’s reasonable to think that if he gets to stand and bang against Walel Watson at UFC 140, that Jabouin definitely has the advantage. Now, Watson did win his UFC debut two months ago by TKO against Joseph Sandoval, so there’s no guarantee that Jabouin would win a striking battle there. But if Watson is smart, his game plan will be to get Jabouin to the ground, and use his lanky 5’11” frame to hunt for submissions.
SILVA PREDICTION: YVES JABOUIN (33.35) OVER WALEL WATSON (23.86)
SILVA’s bet is that Jabouin will end up winning. It’s very reasonable to think that Jabouin could prevent Watson from taking the fight to the ground, as Jabouin has landed some takedowns in his recent fights. Like I said, even if it’s a striking battle, there’s no guarantee Jabouin wins, so Watson is a very “live” underdog, but according to SILVA, it is Watson who is the underdog, and Jabouin is the pick to win the fight.
155 lbs: Dennis Hallman vs. John Makdessi
John Makdessi is a fighter who I’ve identified in the past as having the potential to become one of the better lightweight fighters in the UFC. At 9-0, Makdessi has never been defeated in his MMA career, and he won each of his first two UFC fights. The reason I can’t get too thrilled about Makdessi yet is the level of those UFC opponents. With all due respect to Pat Audinwood and Kyle Watson, those are fighters who reside near the bottom of lightweights to compete in the UFC in the last 18 months. That’s why I’m happy to see Makdessi taking on a tougher opponent this time around in Dennis Hallman.
Hallman is a true veteran of MMA, with over 60 professional fights under his belt, so we know what he brings to the table. Hallman is a capable striker, but he much prefers to take fights to the ground, where he has a very sudden ground game. Ask Brian Ebersole, who had his back taken faster than I’ve ever seen anybody’s back taken in an MMA fight at UFC 133. There’s no doubt in my mind that Hallman will want to take Makdessi to the ground as fast as possible.
SILVA PREDICTION: JOHN MAKDESSI (53.04) OVER DENNIS HALLMAN (50.76)
Makdessi’s striking is pretty unique; in fact, when I try to think of fighters to compare him to, Cung Le comes to mind. Makdessi employs a number of kicks in his arsenal, and he devastated Kyle Watson with a spinning back fist in his last fight. But the biggest point in Makdessi’s favor in this fight is his takedown defense: despite facing two opponents who presumably badly wanted to get the fight to the ground, Makdessi has only been taken down once in his brief UFC career. Dennis Hallman will represent a much tougher test. If Hallman can get Makdessi to the ground, Hallman will win; if not, Makdessi will. It’s that simple.
185 lbs: Jared Hamman vs. Costa Philippou
This is a better fight than I think most people will give it credit for. Jared Hamman is an entertaining fighter, the kind of fighter who competes to finish his opponent, instead of playing the ten-point must system “game.” His reckless striking makes for good fights, but it also makes for some serious risk taking. This was shown perfectly in Hamman’s last fight, where he was on the brink of being defeated by C.B. Dollaway. Dollaway had locked up an arm-triangle choke, but somehow was unable to finish, and Hamman capitalized on a fatigued Dollaway to win by TKO.
While a reckless style makes for entertaining fights, it’s hard to imagine Hamman becoming a real title contender like that. He may, however, have a good chance to beat Costa Philippou. I touted Philippou as a middleweight to watch out for when he debuted at UFC 128, and he was promptly beaten by the underrated Nick Catone. Philippou bounced back in his last fight with a sloppy decision win over Jorge Rivera, but he’ll definitely need to step up his game if he wants to win consistently in the UFC.
SILVA PREDICTION: JARED HAMMAN (60.18) OVER COSTA PHILIPPOU (60.04)
What we have here is a coin flip. I anticipate that Philippou will want to take this fight to the ground, where he won’t have to worry about a barrage of Hamman strikes. If he can do that consistently, and opponents have been able to do that against Hamman, then Philippou can win the fight. Otherwise, I feel that Hamman’s high-volume striking attack would be too much for Philippou to deal with.
205 lbs: Igor Pokrajac vs. Krzysztof Soszynski
It’s been a little frustrating to watch the last two Krzysztof Soszynski fights. An outmatched Mike Massenzio did his best to get Soszynski to the ground, but ultimately was unable to. The result was a lot of clinching as Soszynski ended up winning on points. The same thing happened in Soszynski’s previous fight, against Goran Reljic. And here, against Igor Pokrajac, I hate to say it, but I expect more of the same.
I don’t blame Soszynski; he is a fighter who prefers to stand and bang with his opponents. When his opponent is willing, like Stephan Bonnar was, it makes for a very exciting fight. But when his opponent doesn’t want to strike, it ends up being a war of attrition, as Soszynski is a very big light-heavyweight fighter, with very strong takedown defense. I expect Igor Pokrajac, a fighter who has never been a very prolific striker, to want to take Soszynski to the ground, and ultimately fail.
SILVA PREDICTION: KRZYSZTOF SOSZYNSKI (63.37) OVER IGOR POKRAJAC (36.71)
I’m quite surprised at the high SILVA score for Soszynski, but the man is 9-2 in his last 11 fights, including a win over Brian Stann. I don’t think it will hold up if Soszynski starts fighting above-average UFC light-heavyweights, but Igor Pokrajac is not one of those. In fact, I would say that Pokrajac is exactly the kind of fighter Soszynski beats with such regularity.