UFC Fight Night 14: "Silva vs Irvin," is set to go off this Saturday, July 19 from "The Pearl" in the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada.
It's a FREE fight card that will air on Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET, which was slapped together to compete with the Affliction: "Banned" card hitting the pay-per-view (PPV) airwaves the same night.
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 an exciting line up of fights.
To get us pumped for the festivities, site contributor Mr. NC-17 will try and prove himself worthy by going toe-to-toe with senior writer and turgid egomaniac Jesse Holland with predictions for the upcoming show.
The mission: Forecast which fighters will leave the Octagon with their hands raised later on 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 at the conclusion of the write ups.
Let's get to it:
Jesse Taylor (6-2) vs. CB Dollaway (6-1)
Mr. NC-17: Jesse Taylor will finally get his chance to prove that he should of been the guy standing across the Octagon from Amir Sadollah at the last Ultimate Fighter Finale. The battle between the two former contestants on the show is more than likely set to be a wrestling match rather than a typical MMA match. The strength of both of these fighters is the wrestling background they have. Now, the winner of this match will most likely be the one who has the better takedown defense and I am giving that edge to the all-American CB Dollaway. I also believe CB can not take down Jesse but has the better striking of the two. But if this fight goes into the later rounds, I believe that Jesse Taylor will have better conditioning and that will open up the takedowns for Jesse and eventually the fight. I am taking Jesse Taylor by split decision.
Jesse Holland: If there was ever a time to implement a WWE style match into the UFC, now's the time. Anyone else think a Ric Flair retirement-style bout is in order? Both Dolloway and Taylor should be thanking their lucky stars that this card was assembled from whatever parts were lying around the shop floor, because it gives both guys an opportunity for redemption that many fans (present company included) feel is undeserving. Now that's not to say there is no future for either fighter because there is, but ready for prime time? Hardly. Forget about the off-camera antics from Coco the Monkey or even Taylor's chronic case of diarrhea of the mouth. My biggest issue is the unrefined skill set. Despite their above-average athleticism, I have seen little inside the cage from either fighter that constitutes the mixed, or even the martial in their arts. Based on their backgrounds and previous fights, I'm expecting the first round to be an excellent display of wrestling technique that will quickly deteriorate into lots of laying and very little praying. Taylor might have the edge in cardio and probably strength as well, so I'm leaning towards him by decision, but in actuality this fight could be determined by a last minute takedown in round three.
Mr. NC-17 — Taylor via split decision
Jesse Holland — Taylor via split decision
Anthony Johnson (5-1) vs. Kevin Burns (6-1)
Mr. NC-17: Kevin Burns is coming off an incredible submission victory over Roan Carneiro and now looks to defeat a talented stand-up striker in Anthony Johnson. This match should be your classic grappler vs. striker match-up because those are the strengths of each fighter. Anthony Johnson is possibly the biggest 170 pound fighter that I have ever seen come fight time. He is 6'2" 170 at the time of the weigh-ins and by the time he steps into the cage he might be at 180-185. Johnson has decent sprawl and brawl and that is what he needs to win this fight. Kevin Burns is coming in undersized against Anthony Johnson and I think the only way that Kevin Burns wins this fight is with a completely sick submission attempt. But I do not think that will happen. I think that the bigger and stronger Anthony Johnson will add another KO to his record in round one.
Jesse Holland: After giving Tommy Speer a near-death experience at Fight Night 13, Anthony Johnson reminded both UFC fans and officials just how scary his striking can be when he's locked in. While at first glance he looks to be the favorite, I can't shake the sight of him tapping to Rich Clementi at UFC 76. Like Mr. "No Love" himself, Burns has a capable submission offense and I'm not buying into the pre-fight hype that he wants to stand and bang with Johnson. Why should he? "Rumble" has yet to finish a fight that has gone past round one. His goal here should be to survive the first and let Johnson burn himself out looking for the knockout. From there he needs to pick his spots and wait for the overeager Johnson to make a mistake. Like any good striker, there is very little margin for error, so working from the guard may be Burns' best chance. Hopefully he's there by choice, and not because he can't feel his legs.
Mr. NC-17 — Johnson via knockout
Jesse Holland — Johnson via technical knockout
Cain Velasquez (3-0) vs. Jake O'Brien (10-1)
Mr. NC-17: How do you defeat Jake O' Brien? Stop his takedown attempts. Jake O'Brien is really only known as a wrestler in the UFC, who imposes his gameplan on other fighters by taking them down and putting them on their backs. Now this is a perfect match-up for Cain Velasquez who is also a phenomenal heavyweight wrestler, who should be able to stuff the takedowns of Jake. Cain Velasquez is the future of this heavyweight division and is very well rounded. Jake O'Brien on the other hand is a very one dimensional fighter. I see Cain Velasquez showing his well rounded fighting skills in this fight by dominating Jake with his stand-up - causing Jake to shoot in. Once Jake shoots in it will be stuffed by Cain and this will keep the fight on its feet causing Jake to get worried. If Cain gets taken down, you could see him sweep Jake and end up on top and pounding out Jake for a victory. Either way, I see Cain being a better fighter in every aspect of the game than Jake O'Brien.
Jesse Holland: I'm probably in the minority here but I've had just about enough of the Cain Velasquez hype train that makes more noise at every stop than the 42nd street shuttle. Every camp thinks their guy is top dog but if you wanna be the man, you gotta beat the man (yes, two gratuitous Flair references in one post). Jake O'Brien isn't exactly "The Man", but at 10-1 he's certainly a formidable opponent. In fact, there was a time not long ago when O'Brien was 8-0 with eight straight (T)KO's. Not bad for a guy who is only known for his snoozer against Heath Herring and a farewell loss to Andrei Arlovski. At 3-0 I need to see a lot more of Velasquez before I anoint him as the savior to the heavyweight division and a victory over O'Brien would be a good start. Velasquez has a good wrestling background but I believe that O'Brien's is better - just as I think Velasquez has the advantage in striking. The key to victory for O'Brien is the takedown. If he can secure it, the fight is his. And doing some damage after he does secure it will go a long way in the eyes of many blase UFC fans.
Mr. NC-17 — Velasquez via technical knockout
Jesse Holland — O'Brien via split decision
Frank Edgar (8-1) vs. Hermes Franca (18-6)
Mr. NC-17: Warning: This will be the fight of the night. Okay, since I got that out there, Frankie Edgar and Hermes Franca are returning to the Octagon after losing their last fight. This is an incredible style match up for the fans as we have a phenomenal wrestler taking on a brilliant Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu artist in Hermes Franca. Hermes Franca has not been inside the Octagon since his incident at UFC 73: Stacked. Now a full year later, will the cage rust affect Hermes Franca's game and cardio? The key to defeating Hermes Franca is to be in his face and push the pace and beat him with cardio. Frankie Edgar has fantastic cardio and could take a page out of Sean Sherk's book. Basically he needs to work on takedowns and submission defense to wear down Hermes Franca. But is Frankie Edgar's submission defense as good as Sean Sherk's? Hermes Franca to me has the better stand-up out of the two, but will he use his stand-up or will he attempt to shoot on the wrestler Frankie Edgar to find a submission? Either way, this fight is three rounds, and I see it going the distance with Frankie Edgar breaking Hermes Franca with his cardio and getting the win via split decision.
Jesse Holland: Frankie Edgar has come a long way in the lightweight division, but after the Gray Maynard fight, has proven he still has a long way to go. This is going to be an amazing fight if Hermes can hold up his end of the bargain. By that, I mean his cardio needs to be nothing less than 100%. Anything below that and he gives this fight away. After a twelve month layoff, it's definitely going to be his biggest hurdle. I give an immediate advantage to Franca in both the striking and the submissions, but Edgar has proven in his win against Tyson Griffin he can be difficult to submit. Franca needs to be the aggressor on the feet and let Edgar do all the work for him on the ground. When you have jiu-jitsu like he does, the guard is like a second home. It would not surprise me to see this fight end via armbar, but again the question is, how fast can Hermes apply it? Things move fast in the UFC and neither can afford defeat. A loss by Hermes and fans might see him as nothing more than a post-roid has-been. A loss by Edgar and suddenly he had a fluke win over Griffin and belongs in the WEC at 145lbs. While both or neither of them may be true, perception is often reality in this business.
Mr. NC-17 — Edgar via split decision
Jesse Holland — Franca via submission
Brandon Vera (8-2) vs. Reese Andy (7-1)
Mr. NC-17: Brandon Vera has lost two straight to some of the top heavyweights in mixed martial arts. He did not look impressive against Fabricio Werdum and is very angry about how the fight ended. Now with Brandon Vera dropping down to 205, it should make Vera a bigger threat than before and it should make him a faster and stronger Brandon Vera. BUT... Reese Andy is not a can that the UFC is throwing in there to get Brandon Vera back on the winning track. Reese Andy has some of the best wrestling in the 205 division and has decent enough stand-up to survive and work the takedown against Brandon Vera. Brandon Vera is the heavy favorite in this match and rightfully so, he is more well rounded than Reese. Vera can use his Muay Thai in the stand-up and he has good submissions off his back. But, Reese has very strong wrestling that could keep the submissions from not happening. I see Reese taking down Brandon Vera and frustrating him. When Brandon gets frustrated he makes mistakes and I see Reese having the game plan of frustrating Brandon Vera with the takedowns. In all honesty, I think this match-up is not a good one for Brandon Vera and I see Reese Andy winning this fight via unanimous decision.
Jesse Holland: Either Mr. NC-17 has a fear of commitment or severe schizophrenia. Vera is good and Andy isn't but that's because Andy is better than Vera. Say what? Vera is going to clobber Andy after finally losing the freshman fifteen. He's had a bit of bad luck lately but I'm not going crazy over the loss to Sylvia because Vera was injured early in the fight and against Werdum he made a mistake that he definitely learned from. Vera has demonstrated a superior level of striking and his amateur accomplishments in jiu-jitsu are nothing to sneeze at. More than that, Vera ends fights. Of his eight wins, only one has gone to the scorecards. He's fought many of the worlds best and without disrespect to Andy or the IFL, there is nothing on his record that indicates he'll be able to overcome the more battle-tested Vera. This is about more than just beating a "name", Andy needs to string together a couple of dominant victories before I consider him a threat to any of the talent in a very crowded light heavyweight division. This one will be all Vera.
Mr. NC-17 — Andy via unanimous decision
Jesse Holland — Vera via TKO
Anderson Silva (21-4) vs. James Irvin (14-4)
Mr. NC-17: Anderson Silva is the most dominating fighter in the UFC as of today and is moving up in weight class to fight the best in the world. James Irvin has said all of the right things and it sounds like music to my ears. James Irvin has fairly good stand-up and he has a iron jaw and has only been knocked out once in his UFC career. James Irvin has stated that he is going to be the bigger, stronger fighter when it comes to the fight against Anderson Silva. James Irvin might be right about that, but does bigger and stronger really matter if you are catching multiple punches, knees or kicks to the jaw from a very talented fighter like Anderson Silva? Anderson Silva has never been in deep trouble with any fighter. Will James Irvin be that fighter than can give him trouble? James Irvin to me is going to go in there with a reckless game plan. He wants to go in there and bang and keep this fight standing. Well as we have seen with fighters like Chris Leben or Rich Franklin if you go in there and attempt to stand with Anderson Silva, he will pick you apart and cause you to do something that will end your night. James Irvin literally has nothing to lose and has all of the confidence in the world that he is going to defeat Anderson Silva and that is something that has not been there since Anderson Silva destroyed Rich Franklin at UFC 64. Even though everything in me wants to pick James Irvin via TKO in round two, I think Anderson Silva will pick him apart on the feet and defeat James Irvin with a round three TKO.
Jesse Holland: It's hard to do a prediction for Irvin without it sounding like a eulogy but truth be told, Anderson Silva deserves every bit of praise that's come his way. In my recent interview with "The Sandman", he told me he has no desire to do anything but stand and bang - which basically means this fight will never see a second round. Irvin has some sensational knockouts to his credit and come Saturday night he'll have one more. That's right folks, I'm riding the Irvin camel right into the sunset and calling this the greatest upset since Serra/St. Pierre I. Irvin is not only a solid technical striker, he hits hard. And he knows how to use his knees as good as anyone. Mr. NC-17 thinks Anderson Silva has never been in deep trouble, which means he either became an MMA fan after UFC 67 when Travis Lutter had him mounted and was dropping bombs, or he was still in that self-induced coma he likes to call "recreational smoking". Irvin's biggest weapon going into this bout is his mindset. He's not afraid of Anderson Silva and I don't believe he'll be reckless either. Silva on the other hand might be a bit too comfortable atop his throne and that little smidgen of carelessness will be his undoing. Silva will feel bloated and sluggish at 205 and the extra weight will decrease his usually deadly speed. Irvin on the other hand will be firing on all cylinders, will out-muscle him in the clinch and bomb him right back to middleweight where he belongs. It's time to believe!
Mr. NC-17 — Silva via TKO
Jesse Holland — Irvin via TKO
That's a wrap, folks.
Remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and our coverage of Ultimate Fight Night 14.
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 14.