UFC Fight Night 12 is set for tonight (January 23) from the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. The two-hour event airs LIVE at 9 p.m. ET on SpikeTV.
Remember: MMAmania.com will provide LIVE updates and blow-by-blow, round-by-round commentary of the main card action throughout the telecast. As usual, it promises to be a great discussion during a decent line up of fights.
To get us pumped for the festivities MMAmania.com contributor Jesse Holland and site veteran "PW" went toe-to-toe below to try and predict the fighters who will leave the Octagon with their hands raised tomorrow during the featured fights of the evening.
It's important to note for the predictions that while someone may be lauding a certain fighter, he isn't necessarily the guy who he thinks is going to win. Basically, we never want this to come out sounding repetitive. At the end of each analysis, therefore, you will see the individual picks.
Let's get to it:
Mike Swick (10-2) vs. Josh Burkman (9-4)
Jesse Holland: Mike Swick is back, and that's bad news for welterweights not named Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck or Georges St. Pierre. While I'm not entirely behind his move to 170 pounds, there's no question he can bang with the best. Aside from a flash KO at the hands of Chris Leben back in 2004, Swick's only other loss was to the powerful Yushin Okami at UFC 69. Despite having rocked in the second round, Swick's frustration got the better of him as the much larger Okami muscled his way to a unanimous decision. Prior to that Swick was on a 5-0 tear through the middleweight division, disposing of Joe Riggs with a guillotine at UFC 60 and dominating the durable David Loiseau at UFC 63. His nickname is "Quick" for a reason: he's got blistering combos and can hustle on the ground. Burkman is tough but has yet to prove he can overcome a top five contender as seen in his losses to Jon Fitch at Fight Night 4 and Karo Parisyan at UFC 71. Swick may not be ready for GSP, but he's certainly ready for Josh Burkman.
MMAmania.com reader "PW:" This fight is huge for both Josh Burkman and Mike Swick because the winner will force his way into welterweight title discussions. Swick used a definitive speed advantage to compile a 5-1 UFC record as a middleweight, before dropping to welterweight after getting out-muscled by Yushin Okami. Burkman should be better equipped to deal with Swick's speed than the larger middleweights. He is also physically strong with good wrestling and grappling skills. While Swick is no slouch on the mat, as evidenced by two wins via "Swickotine," as though he invented the move, the ground game gives Burkman his best chance to win. He needs to maintain top position and outwork Swick for 15 minutes. Otherwise Swick's cleaner and more technical stand-up will decide the fight. Burkman's last four fights have all gone the distance, and I don't think this one will be any different.
Jesse Holland — Swick via unanimous decision
PW — Swick via unanimous decision
Drew McFedries (6-2) vs. Patrick Cote (11-4)
Jesse Holland: Drew McFedries has very dangerous hands and considering he hasn't gone to a decision in nearly eight years, he should be single-minded in his approach. To win he needs a first-round knockout. Cote is the type of fighter that can be content with letting McFedries swing away until he's out of gas and then slap on a submission. Whether Cote is more apt to engage after his TKO wins over Jason Day and Kendall Grove remains to be seen, but knowing McFedries power I'm sure he'll be in no hurry to stand and strike. McFedries has never been about technique and that's surprising considering his affiliation with Pat Miletich. If McFedries can have confidence in his hands and stalk the more reserved Cote, he should be able to finish him in the first.
MMAmania.com reader "PW:" After a 0-4 start to his UFC career, Cote was given new life with a spot in The Ultimate Fighter 4. He scored wins over Jorge Rivera and Edwin deWees before losing to Travis Lutter in the final. He has since scored a lackluster unanimous decision win over Scott Smith and an impressive first-round KO of TUF 3 winner Kendall Grove. Cote has knock-out power, although he is a cautious fighter and averse to taking big risks. Drew McFedries earned first round knock-outs in his two UFC fights that stayed on the feet but got choked out the one time he went to the ground. Cote would be wise to take this to the ground and use his superior submission skills, but McFedries' friends at Miletich FS surely have him prepared for this.
Jesse Holland — Cote via submission
PW — McFedries via technical knockout
Nate Diaz (7-2) vs. Alvin Robinson (9-2)
Jesse Holland: Nate Diaz may be known for his slick jiu-jitsu, but Alvin "Kid" Robinson actually holds a higher submission ratio with eight of his nine wins coming by way of tapout. Alvin hit a bump in the road with his loss to Kenny Florian at UFC 73, but that's nothing to be ashamed of considering the kind of performance KenFlo has turned in since graduating from The Ultimate Fighter. To overcome Diaz he's going to have to fight fire with fire. His submissions are what got him this far and they are clearly his best weapon. He needs to take it right to Diaz and while there is always a risk when you start mixing it up on the mat, it should be known that Diaz can be submitted. Nate was armbarred by Hermes Franca at WEC 24 so it's not unheard of to make him tap. Robinson shouldn't waste any time fooling around on his feet where he's at a disadvantage. If they both bring their grappling A-game, expect a very evenly matched, fight-of-the-night contender.
MMAmania.com reader "PW:" This fight will help either Nate Diaz or Alvin Robinson make a move up the incredibly stacked lightweight division. With both fighters being extremely well versed in jiu-jitsu this has Fight of the Night potential. In fact, it makes me wish Frank Mir was calling the action instead of Joe Rogan. Diaz defeated Manny Gamburyan in the TUF 5 finale due to an injury and got a first round submission win over Junior Assuncao. After getting completely overwhelmed by Kenny Florian in his octagon debut, Robinson rebounded with a dominant ground and pound win over BJJ specialist Jorge Gurgel. Robinson will try to do the same to Diaz, but Diaz is much better than Gurgel.
Jesse Holland — Diaz via split decision
PW — Diaz via submission
Thiago Tavares (12-1) vs. Michihiro Omigawa (4-5)
Jesse Holland: Michihiro Omigawa is going to face the 12-1 Thiago Tavares, whose only loss was a decision to lightweight phenom Tyson Griffin. I'm trying hard to build a case for the 4-5 Judo practitioner but against Tavares I find myself grasping at straws. On the plus side he does train with PRIDE veteran Kazuhiro Nakamura, who if nothing else can show him how to at least make it to the judge's scorecards. To his credit Omigawa has two TKO wins in 2007, but looked a bit flat against TUF graduate Matt Wiman. In order to win Omigawa needs to be flawless and hope that Tavares has some kind of undisclosed injury prior to the fight.
MMAmania.com reader "PW:" After opening his career 16 straight wins (12 if you believe the Sherdog site over the UFC site) Thiago Tavares suffered his first setback, dropping a decision to Tyson Griffin. Michihiro Omigawa also lost a decision to Matt Wiman in his first and only visit to the octagon. Tavares has a significant striking advantage with his Muay Thai. Omigawa is a judo specialist, so even if he manages to avoid Tavares' knees and elbows and throw the larger and stronger Tavares, he will then have to deal with Tavares' BJJ. Tavares is the younger, stronger, fitter and better fighter and will have the advantage on the feet and on the ground.
Jesse Holland — Tavares via anything he wants
PW — Tavares via technical knockout
That's a wrap, folks.
For the complete UFC Fight Night 12 fight card click here.
Remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and thoughts on the second major UFC event of 2008.
What do you think? Now it's your turn ... let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for UFC Fight Night 12.