UFC 125 predictions, preview and analysis

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UFC 125: "Resolution" from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, is set to kick off Zuffa's 2011 fight campaign in "Sin City" tomorrow night (Jan. 1) live on pay-per-view (PPV).

Remember: MMAmania.com will provide LIVE updates with blow-by-blow, round-by-round commentary of the main card action on fight night, which is slated to air at 10 p.m. ET (with three featured prelim fights beginning at 8:55 p.m. ET on ION Television).

Like Bono used to say, all is quiet on New Year's Day.

That's because a lot of fight fans are having trouble getting amped for the lightweight title fight (and inevitable rematch) between division champion Frankie Edgar and undefeated number one contender Gray Maynard.

Personally, I think it has the potential to be a great fight and even if it falls short of expectations, we can at least validate the championship run of Frankie Edgar if he wins (and throw him under the bus if he loses).

Will history repeat itself on Saturday night?

I've also included the current betting lines for each fight so you can get a feel for what the money has to say about the chances of each combatant.

Now, enough with the formalities ... let's get cracking:

155 lbs.: Frankie "The Answer" Edgar (13-1) vs. Gray "The Bully" Maynard (10-0)

Nostradumbass predicts: I don't want to say Frankie Edgar's had a hard time selling this fight, but the champ makes Gil Gunderson look like Hafid the camel boy. Of course he hasn't had much help from opponent Gray Maynard, who cuts a promo like he's recording the automated phone message for the upcoming showtimes at the local Cineplex. That's unfortunate, because a lot of fans are overlooking the importance this fight has within the division. Apparently defeating BJ Penn in consecutive fights isn't enough for some fans, who won't validate Edgar's ascension to the throne until he avenges his loss to "The Bully."

I think he gets it done.

I know the go-to analysis for this fight begins with "Well they're both different fighters since they first met in 2008 ..." which is rapidly approaching "Styles make fights" as the most annoying thing to say when breaking down a match-up. Really? They're different? So they've each had five fights and five full training camps and haven't completely stayed the same? Stunning revelation.

/rant.

Edgar is the better fighter. I think he was the better fighter when they first met in 2008, but a laissez-faire defense and high altitude arena put him in an environment he wasn't prepared for. Now, I agree with Maynard that if he gets his hands on you, you're going to the ground. But will he be able to get his hands on Edgar? Probably, but I don't see him doing it enough to win every round.

In fact, I think "The Answer" to this fight is Edgar's peek-a-boo offense, which should win at least the first two rounds, if not more. I have a feeling that Maynard is a little too enamored with his hands and that, coupled with his perceived disgust with the praise for Frankie's, may leave him boxing a little longer than he should.

That's a battle he doesn't win.

I'm also not convinced that a run-and-gun offense is something that Maynard is prepared to stretch across five rounds, whereas Edgar has already done it twice this year without breaking a sweat. This time it's Gray who's out of his element and since he hasn't secured a knockout win in over three years, a one-hitter-quitter seems unlikely.

Maynard is a downright menace inside the cage, but his usual rough-and-tumble tactics will be neutralized by Edgar's constantly changing angles and a piston-like jab.. Speed kills -- and Maynard's title hopes will be dead on arrival.

Betting lines (as of Dec. 31):

Edgar: +110 ((Bet Now))

Maynard: -140 ((Bet Now))

Prediction: Edgar via unanimous decision

185 lbs.: Chris "The Crippler" Leben (25-6) vs. Brian "All American" Stann (9-3)

Nostradumbass predicts:  Color me reactionary, but I was really looking forward to a Roy Nelson vs. Shane Carwin co-main event. Instead we get Chris Leben vs. Brian Stann, which is kind of like going from Bo and Luke to Coy and Vance, but I'm confident "The Crippler" will put on a show.

Assuming he's still motivated.

The Chris Leben that took consecutive victories over Aaron Simpson and Yoshihiro Akiyama earlier this year walks over Brian Stann all day. But when your heart is set on fighting Wanderlei Silva after a possible coaching spot on TUF 13 and the company gives you an "All American," you can understand why he may not have the same juice for this particular contest.

And that could be his undoing on Saturday night.

Stann is no Cann, and you can believe he wants to do some catapulting of his own. He might be counting on Leben to fall on bad habits, maybe dog it a bit in training or show up arrogant. Is it outrageous to think that Stann can out-gameplan Leben and stay away from the big punch to grind out a decision? Not at all, which is why this fight will likely be a lot closer than some people think.

I'm still taking Leben here, albeit cautiously, because I think he believes a win here gets him that Silva match-up or even a TUF coaching gig. It's make or break time and I can also see Stann (still wet behind the ears as a middleweight) running out of gas late in the second -- and we know what happens when you lose a step against Leben. You go to sleep.

It wouldn't surprise me to see Stann win rounds one and two with a tactical performance, only to fall short when he makes a winded mistake amidst a Leben haymaker late in the third.

Nighty-night.

Betting lines (as of Dec. 31):

Leben: -180 ((Bet Now))

Stann: +150 ((Bet Now))

Prediction: Leben via knockout

205 lbs.: Brandon "The Truth" Vera (11-5) vs. Thiago Silva (14-2)

Nostradumbass predicts: Brandon Vera wants "The Truth?" He's lucky to be employed. In fact, if it wasn't for Jose Aldo's insubordinate vertebrae, he'd be throwing hands on the preliminary card. Instead, he gets a chance to erase the memories of his last fight, when Jon Jones treated him like a watermelon at a Gallagher concert.

But it won't be easy.

Thiago Silva should be the pick here, but the voices in my head that I sometimes confuse for legitimate sources tell me that the same back problem that plagued him in his last fight is bound to rear its ugly head once again, especially if this fight goes the distance.

And an admission like "I have to be careful to avoid hurting my back in training" isn't the kind of footage your camp should be allowing to make the final cut in the UFC's pre-fight video interviews.

Vera is probably the more technical striker but when you're the only thing that kept Keith Jardine from losing seven in a row, it's hard to make a bet in your favor. I'm doing it anyway, despite my better judgment, because Silva hasn't seen the inside of the cage in almost a year and it's not like his cardio was that fantastic to begin with.

On the surface, we have two good strikers who want to stand and trade. Does this thing go to the cards? That's hard to predict. "The Truth" never shows any kind of urgency in his fights, even when he's losing. They both have good jits but I don't expect to see this thing hit the ground unless someone starts shooting out of desperation.

Look for the Brazilian to come out hard and heavy in the opening frame, only to suck wind in the second and third rounds while Vera leg kicks his way to a unanimous decision victory.

Betting lines (as of Dec. 31):

Vera: +130 ((Bet Now))

Silva: -160 ((Bet Now))

Prediction: Vera via unanimous decision

170 lbs.: Nate Diaz (13-5) vs. Dong Hyun "Stun Gun" Kim (13-0-1)

Nostradumbass predicts: Just think, Nate Diaz was this close to beating Gray Maynard at UFC Fight Night 20 less than one year ago. Imagine where we'd be now? A lot of people believe the Stockton native won that fight, but it didn't stop him from moving back up to 170. And to be quite frank, he's never looked better (or more comfortable).

That probably won't mean a whole lot to Dong Hyun Kim, who's looked pretty good himself as a welterweight. The difference here is that Diaz has stopped his last two opponents while Kim was dragged into a decision by the likes of TJ Grant and Amir Sadollah. The latter wasn't even close as "Stun Gun" showed a marked improvement in his cardio and worked a suffocating ground game for the easy win.

I'm sure it will be tempting for the Korean to try and replicate that performance tomorrow night, especially in light of what Joe Stevenson and Clay Guida were able to do against Diaz with their respective attacks, but (now wait for it...3...2...1...) Diaz is a completely different fighter than he was in 2009.

I like the maturity he now shows as a fighter. While I still wish he'd be a little more aggressive in the earlier rounds, he does exhibit better control over himself and I think that ability to not give in to frustration has made it easier for him to execute from both offensive and defensive positions.

Just ask Rory Markham and Marcus Davis.

Still, Kim is no chump, as evidenced from his perfect record, but after the pitter-patter of little fists make him weary on his feet, he's going to take this thing south, where a paint-by-numbers offense will leave him wondering what happened after he abruptly goes to sleep.

Betting lines (as of Dec. 31):

Diaz: -105 ((Bet Now))

Kim: -125 ((Bet Now))

Prediction: Diaz via submission

155 lbs.: Clay "The Carpenter" Guida (27-11) vs. "The Fireball Kid" Takanori Gomi (32-6)

Nostradumbass predicts: I know the PRIDE fanboys (present company included) get all warm and fuzzy every time a former hero shows a glimpse of their past triumphs and Takanori Gomi's jawbreaker against Tyson Griffin was no exception. Still, I'm taking it at face value, and I refuse to sweep his recent struggles under the carpet of my memory bank.

While earlier I made it pretty clear that this generation of fighters will improve from fight to fight, "The Fireball Kid" could make a fairly good counter-argument. Would I be out of line to suggest that the Gomi of 2010 is the same as the Gomi of 2008? What about the Gomi of 2006? I don't think he's any worse, but the sport's definitely gotten a whole lot better.

That brings us to Clay Guida, who also seems to have reached a plateau in his mixed martial arts career. Should we expect "The Carpenter" to be challenging for the 155-pound title in 2011? No, but at least he knows how to put on a show.

Tomorrow night will be no exception.

Aside from the whooping he took at the hands of Kenny Florian, he looked great (even in defeat) against Diego Sanchez and put together consecutive wins over Shannon Gugerty and Rafael dos Anjos, who had his jaw put on layaway after "The Carpenter" gave it his awl.

Gomi is (and always will be) dangerous on his feet. A lot of opponents don't realize what kind of power he has until he lands. That has to be a concern for Guida, who will try and prove he can hang in the stand-up. He can't, and his best chance of bringing home the bacon is a smothering ground attack. If Gomi wins this it's in the first round. After that, the former Japanese superstar will run out of gas and be taken down and roughed up for the remainder of the fight.

I'm taking Guida by rear naked blanket.

Betting lines (as of Dec. 31):

Guida: -150 ((Bet Now))

Gomi: +120 ((Bet Now))

Prediction: Guida via unanimous decision

That's a wrap, folks.

Remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of UFC 125: "Resolution."

What do you think? Now it's your turn ... let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for tomorrow night's event.

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