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Struve vs Miocic predictions and prognostications

Before we get started and before you take any advice from Your Humble Narrator, consider the following:

MMA Playground all-time predictions: 270-150 (.643 winning percentage)

So, if you're right more than 64% of the time, don't read this.

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Featherweight fight (145 lbs)

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Jason Young, 26, American Top Team
Record: 9-5, 1-2 UFC
Last fight: Defeated Eric Wisely by decision, April 14, 2012
Streak: Won 1
Style: Kickboxer, 3 T/KO, 1 submission, 5 decisions
Losses: 3 submissions, 2 decisions

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Robbie Peralta, 26, Team Xplode MMA
Record: 15-3, 1-0 UFC
Last fight: No contest against Mackens Sermezier, Nov. 12, 2011
Style: Kickboxer, 11 T/KO, 2 submissions, 2 decisions
Losses: 2 submissions, 1 decision

This is a really interesting fight. Both fighters are young, relatively new to the UFC, with great standup and exciting styles. Peralta has only been fighting professionally for five years, but has made his biggest splash in the past year. You could say he got the attention of the UFC by defeating Hiroyuki Takaya by split decision in his Strikeforce debut in April, 2011, which was no small accomplishment at Takaya was (and is) the DREAM Featherweight Champion.

Peralta made good on his UFC debut as well, defeating Mike Lullo soundly (30-27, 30-27, 29-28), before following it up with a TKO win over Mackens Sermezier. Unfortunately, replay later showed Peralta accidentally headbutted Sermezier before the finish, leading the California State Athletic Commission to rule it a no contest. A rematch was scheduled for March, but the injury bug delayed the fight.

Jason Young, meanwhile, followed up two heartbreaking decision losses to up-and-coming Dustin Poirier (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) and Michihiro Omigawa (29-28, 29-28, 29-28), with a decision win over young Eric Wisely (30-28, 29-28, 29-28). Young has never looked out of a fight since his UFC debut, and his exciting style has led the Zuffa brass to bring him back for a fourth contest. Although fighting since 2006, the Brit has fewer professional fights than Peralta.

Neither have been knocked out before, and while both are susceptible to elite grapplers, this war will take place on the feet. Peralta has heavy mitts for 145, but Young is a former K1 British kickboxing Champion in the UCMMA league and can hold his own. Expect this fight to be an early BANGFEST.

Prediction: Peralta by unanimous decision

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Catchweight fight (175 lbs)

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DaMarques Johnson, 30, Elite Performance
Record: 15-11, 4-5 UFC
Last fight: Defeated by Mike Swick, Aug. 4, 2012
Streak: Lost 2
Style: Brawler, 6 T/KO, 7 submission, 2 decisions
Losses: 4 T/KO, 6 submissions, 1 decision

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Gunnar Nelson, 24, Renzo Gracie
Record: 9-0, UFC debut
Last fight: Defeated Alexander Butenko by armbar, Feb. 25, 2012
Style: Karate/BJJ, 3 T/KO, 6 submissions

This fight is a nice warmup for the young undefeated Icelandic fighter. Although only in his fifth year of professional MMA, Nelson has a black belt in Goju-Ryu Karate and one in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to boot. As if that wasn't a deadly enough combination, Nelson has two golds and silver medals in international Jiu-Jitsu grappling competitions from 2009. He's deadly on the feet, as well as the ground.

Nelson received his BJJ black belt under Renzo Gracie in 2009 and has since made good use of it, winning his previous four MMA matches in the first round by quick submission. Although he has beaten nobody of serious note, his 3:51 dispatching of undefeated Eugene Fadiora at BAMMA 4 is nothing to sneeze at.

DaMarques Johnson, meanwhile, is a well-known UFC vet who has a very familiar brawling style that's fun to watch, even if it's not good for his health. Compiling a 4-5 record since his appearance on TUF 9: United States versus United Kingdom, it's appropriate he's appearing in this UK card on short notice to replace an ailing Pascal Krauss.

Johnson has decent power, stopping Brad Blackburn in Abu Dhabi that won knockout of the night, and a walk-away lights out of Clay Harvison last November. But he hasn't proven he has the grappling to compete with Nelson on the ground, and his blue belt in BJJ doesn't inspire much confidence either.

Prediction: Nelson by submission in round 1

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Middleweight fight (185 lbs)

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Tom Watson, 30, Jackson's Submission Fighting
Record: 15-4, UFC debut
Last fight: Defeated Jack Marshman by TKO, March 24, 2012
Streak: Won 3
Style: Muay Thai, 7 T/KO, 1 submission, 7 decisions
Losses: 2 submissions, 2 decisions

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Brad Tavares, 24, Xtreme Couture
Record: 8-1, 3-1 UFC
Last fight: Defeated Dongi Yang by decision, May 15, 2012
Streak: Won 1
Style: Kickboxer, 4 T/KO, 2 submissions, 2 decisions
Losses: 1 decision

Although young Brad Tavares already has a healthy career in the UFC, England's Tom Watson is the fighter to watch here. A professional since 2006, Watson is 11-1 since 2007 and the reigning, defending BAMMA middleweight champion fighting in his own country in front of his own fans. Although he hasn't faced elite competition, he's certainly no scrub. He's also as cocky as Phil Baroni, whom Tavares defeated, and just as flashy.

Watson owns a KO over well-past-his-prime Ninja Rua, finished undefeated Jack Marshman by TKO, and holds a second round TKO over Gypsy-Jiu-Jitsu fighter John Maguire from 2009. His only loss in the past five years came against wrestler Jesse Taylor at MFC 26 in Manitoba in 2010.

Although Watson owns a belt, Brad Tavares probably is the favourite in this one. He has the power and wrestling to put up a good fight wherever this ends up, which will likely be on the feet. If Watson starts getting the better of it there, you can bet Tavares will take it to the ground.

Tavares hasn't fought much since he beat Seth Baczynski in the TUF 11 Finale, and I think he'd benefit greatly from dropping down like his former opponent, but I think he can handle his own against Watson. Taking into the account the home crowd, let's guess this one is going to be close.

Prediction: Tavares by split decision

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Featherweight fight (145 lbs)

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Andy Ogle, 23, Yasamasu MMA
Record: 8-1, UFC debut
Last fight: Defeated Shay Walsh by decision, Nov. 12, 2011
Streak: Won 7
Style: Kickboxer, 2 T/KO, 3 submissions, 3 decisions
Losses: 1 submission

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Akira Corassani, 30, Renzo Gracie
Record: 9-3, UFC debut
Last fight: Defeated by Paul Reed by TKO, Feb. 26, 2011
Streak: Lost 1
Style: Karate/BJJ, 1 T/KO, 3 submissions, 5 decisions
Losses: 3 T/KO

You probably remember these two from TUF Live (15) and 14, respectively. The reason they haven't fought in a while is a mixture of injuries and the fact the two were on the show. Ogle did well on the show despite being selected 14th of 16 by Team Faber, taking out Mike Rio before being knocked out by finalist Al Iaquinta.

Ogle is pretty well-rounded, tenacious, and one of those kids who never got into a traditional martial art before moving to MMA. That's also his shortcoming, since he's a jack of all trades with decent power, submissions, and wrestling, but master of none.

Akira Corassani was the loud-mouthed Swede on TUF 14, who tapped out to a submission by Dustin Neace but later denied he tapped when the ref botched the call. When he later was choked unconscious by Dennis Bermudez in the semi-finals, he didn't believe that either.

A cocky and aggressive fighter, Corassani has a purple belt under Renzo Gracie and a black belt in karate. Despite his training in the latter discipline, he doesn't have much knockout power. This is honestly a difficult fight to predict, since neither have really proven themselves outside of Europe and have no wins against notable opponents.

If I had to guess, I'd say Andy Ogle has a little more heart, has had a shorter layoff from fighting, is younger, and wants it more.

Prediction: Ogle by TKO in round 3

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Light Heavyweight fight (205 lbs)

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Kyle Kingsbury, 30, American Kickboxing Academy
Record: 11-4, 4-3 UFC
Last fight: Defeated by Glover Teixeira by submission, May 26, 2012
Streak: Lost 2
Style: Kickboxer, 4 T/KO, 2 submissions, 5 decisions
Losses: 1 T/KO, 1 submission, 2 decisions

versus

Jimi Manuwa, 32, Lions Pride MMA
Record: 11-0, UFC debut
Last fight: Defeated Antony Rea by TKO, Dec. 10, 2011
Style: Kickboxer, 10 T/KO, 1 submission

The long-awaited debut of UCMMA Light Heavyweight Champion Jim Manuwa is here, and it's difficult to guess what will happen. The last time Kyle Kingsbury faced a knockout artist from abroad, he was choked out in 1:53. But can Manuwa do the same?

Manuwa has the rare distinction of deliberately taking his UFC debut slow, turning down previous offers from Zuffa to try his hand in the premier division. After winning the belt in 2009, he defended it five times, all by knockout, most in the first round. And although his challengers weren't exactly world beaters, it's safe to say Manuwa packs some power.

Kyle Kingsbury is another TUF alumni, who has found some decent success after the show, beating Razak Al-Hassan, decisioning punch drunk Jared Hamman, and destroying Ricardo Romero, before winning a controversial decision to Fabio Maldonado.

Kingsbury's ground game was exposed, however, in back-to-back fights against Stephan Bonnar and Glover Teixeira. But although he can't compete with the elite on the ground, Kingsbury has reasonable success against Maldonado's devastating hands by taking it to the ground.

Assuming Manuwa will hurt Kingsbury on the feet, you've got to assume he'll try the Maldonado strategy and take it to the ground. The question is, does Manuwa have what it takes to stay off his back? His lightning quick hooks and sprawl and brawl, so reminiscent of Hector Lombard, make me think he can. And will.

Prediction: Manuawa by KO in round 1

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UFC on Fuel TV main card

Welterweight fight (170 lbs)

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Che Mills, 29, Trojan Free Fighters
Record: 14-5, 1-1 UFC
Last fight: Defeated by Rory MacDonald by TKO, April 21, 2012
Streak: Lost 1
Style: Muay Thai, 7 T/KO, 4 submissions, 3 decisions
Losses: 1 T/KO, 3 submissions, 1 decision

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Duane Ludwig, 34, Grudge Training Center
Record: 21-13, 4-4 UFC
Last Fight: Defeated by Dan Hardy by KO, May 26, 2012
Streak: Lost 2
Style: Kickboxing, 10 T/KO, 6 submissions, 1 decision
Losses: 6 T/KO, 6 submissions, 1 decision

Although Che Mills was destroyed by Canadian Rory MacDonald, you've got to consider that he lost to arguably one of the top 170-pounders on the planet. In a straight standing fight, few fighters can withstand the power and ruthlessness of Che Mills.

Mills is 5-1 in his last six fights, with wins over Jake Hecht and a brutal finishing of TUF scrub Chris Cope. He also holds a pair of wins over Marius Zaromskis. An explosive fighter with fast twitch muscles, you can count on him bringing the fight to Ludwig early like he did MacDonald. Catching Rory a few times early, the Canadian did the smart thing and took it to the ground where he dominated him. Ludwig won't have that luxury.

Duane "Bang" Ludwig is an old school MMA veteran, who debuted over 12 years ago professionally, and first fought at UFC 42. He's gone up against a who's who in the MMA world, including BJ Penn, Jens Pulver, Josh Thomson, and others. But at 2-4 since his return to the UFC after a long stint in Strikeforce, this lion is getting long in the tooth.

His wins against British fighter Nick Osipczak and Amir Sadollah weren't exactly awe-inspiring. The American Muay Thai kickboxing champion has more than impressive standup, but I don't think he can withstand the fury of Che Mills. Although Mills isn't the incredible monster that Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg hyped him up to be prior to the MacDonald fight, I got this one ending after Ludwig takes some harsh punishment through one and a half rounds of action.

Prediction: Che Mills by TKO in round 2

* * *

Lightweight fight (155 lbs)

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Paul Sass, 24, Team Kaobon
Record: 13-0, 3-0 UFC
Last fight: Defeated Jacob Volkmann by submission, May 26, 2012
Style: Submission specialist, 12 submissions, 1 decision

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Matt Wiman, 29, Skrap Pack
Record: 14-6, 8-4 UFC
Last Fight: Defeated Mac Danzig by decision, Oct. 1, 2011
Streak: Won 1
Style: Kickboxing, 4 T/KO, 4 submissions, 6 decisions
Losses: 1 T/KO, 5 decisions

Forget everything you know about style, technique, power. Paul Sass just finds a way to submit guys. When he caught Mark Hulst in the first round with a triangle during a sloppy UFC debut Oct. 16, 2010, it didn't seem like he would survive long in the UFC. But after two followup first round submissions against dangerous Michael Johnson and technically proficient submission grappler Jacob Volkmann, people realized this kid was for real.

The "Sassangle" has caught eight victims, including Volkmann, with a flawless technique that sinks up the triangle before the fighter even knows what's happened. But hardly a one trick pony, his heel hook wins show he will finish a guy with any limb he gets a hold of. Sass has 11 first round submissions in 13 fights. That's got to terrify Matt Wiman.

Although Wiman has never been submitted, there's a first for everything. The only way he wins is by keeping his distance and outlanding Sass from range, which shouldn't be too difficult. Wiman has great standup to begin with, and he showed it against Mac Danzig, Thiago Tavares, and Cole Miller.

Wiman has survived against other top level jujitsu guys before, including Jim Miller. But I don't think he survives this one. I could be wrong, and Sass could pull a Jimy Hettes. But I don't think he will. Let's assume Wiman plays it safe for a round and escapes a few close calls, but gets caught early in the next round as his confidence grows.

Prediction: Sass by submission in round 2

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Bantamweight fight (135 lbs)

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Brad Pickett, 34, American Top Team
Record: 21-6, 1-1 UFC
Last fight: Damacio Page by submission, April 14, 2012
Streak: Won 1
Style: Brawler, 6 T/KO, 10 submissions, 5 decisions
Losses: 1 T/KO, 3 submissions, 2 decisions

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Yves Jabouin, 33, Tristar Gym
Record: 18-7, 3-1 UFC
Last Fight: Defeated Jeff Hougland by decision, May 15, 2012
Streak: Won 3
Style: Kickboxing, 11 T/KO, 1 submission, 6 decisions
Losses: 2 T/KO, 3 submissions, 2 decisions

Although Yves Jabouin, who fights out of the same gym as Georges St-Pierre, is on a three-fight win streak, I wouldn't say he's top of the food chain like Pickett. Jabouin has been tooling around the pro MMA curcuit for 11 years now, and although he has decent knockout power, he has fallen against every serious challenge set before him.

Prior to his WEC stint, he was knocked out by Sam Stout in 2004 and elbowed to submission by Jonathan Brookins in 2007. In the WEC he lost a split decision to Raphael Assuncao, was knocked out by Mark Hominick, and owns a win against Brandon Visher, who retired afterward. In the UFC, he dropped to Bantamweight where he's faced mainly low-level competition. Having said that, he's done well at 135.

Brad Pickett, meanwhile, is definitely a guy who commands respect in this weightclass. A fighter with serious hands and excellent submission finishes, Pickett's only losses in recent memory came against former WEC number one contender Scott Jorgensen, and current number one contender Renan Barao. Inbetween those losses he's submitted Damacio Page, and beaten Ivan Menjivar, and even handed the new 125-pound champion a loss back in 2008.

This should make for a great brawl, but Pickett should outpoint him for the victory.

Prediction: Pickett by unanimous decision

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Welterweight fight (170 lbs)

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John Hathaway, 25, London Shootfighters
Record: 16-1, 6-1 UFC
Last fight: Defeated Pascal Krauss by decision, May 5, 2012
Streak: Won 2
Style: Kickboxer, 5 T/KO, 4 submissions, 7 decisions
Losses: 1 decision

versus

John Maguire, 29, Tsunami Gym
Record: 18-3, 2-0 UFC
Last Fight: Defeated DaMarques Johnson by submission, April 14, 2012
Streak: Won 7
Style: Gypsy Jiu-Jitsu, 3 T/KO, 10 submissions, 5 decisions
Losses: 1 T/KO, 2 decisions

John Hathaway is best known for shutting down Diego Sanchez in that fighter's return to 170 after taking a shellacking from BJ Penn for the UFC Lightweight title. Then he met a very game veteran in Mike Pyle, who used takedowns and superior grappling to win a decision, handing the British fighter his first professional MMA loss. He followed up that minor setback with wins over Kris McKray and Pascal Krauss, two middle to bottom of the pack welterweights .

Hathaway has better than average sprawl and brawl, and some of the best and most consistent standup in the division. Although only Mike Pyle has been successful in taking him down enough to win, it's not as though Hathaway is weak in the wrestling department. Not only does he own that win against Sanchez, he shut down Rick Story at UFC 99 in his second fight for the promotion.

John Maguire is an unorthodox submission grappler who calls his style Gypsy Jiu-Jitsu, and he's fairly decent at it, finishing his opponents by way of tapout in three of his last five wins. Maguire has looked good so far in the UFC, but he's also faced some pretty low level competition at 170, beating borderline UFC-calibre TUF alumni Justin Edwards by decision, and then submitting the aforementioned unreliable DaMarques Johnson.

In tests against elite fighters in the European MMA divisions, he lost to Simeon Thoresen and was knocked out by Tom Watson at BAMMA 1. This is a real test for Maguire, but ultimately I don't think it's one he will pass. Hathaway is a young lion with a bright future at 170.

Prediction: Hathaway by TKO in round 3

* * *

Welterweight fight (170 lbs)

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Dan Hardy, 30, Team Rough House
Record: 24-10, 5-4 UFC
Last fight: Defeated Duane Ludwig by KO, May 26, 2012
Streak: Won 1
Style: Kickboxer, 12 T/KO, 4 submissions, 8 decisions
Losses: 1 T/KO, 4 submissions, 1 decision

versus

Amir Sadollah, 32, Xtreme Couture
Record: 6-3, 6-3 UFC
Last Fight: Defeated Jorge Lopez by decision, May 15, 2012
Streak: Won 1
Style: Kickboxer/Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, 2 submissions, 4 decisions
Losses: 1 T/KO, 2 decisions

Despite the fact TUF 7 winner Amir Sadollah owns no knockouts in his professional MMA career, he still tries to stand and bang with guys. It usually doesn't work out so good. Sadollah is at his best when he's on the ground, preferably on his back, where he has good armbar submissions and triangles. His foray into kickboxing may have won him a decision or two, but it's completely useless and boring.

Sadollah won perhaps one of the most boring fights of the year against Jorge Lopez back in May, a fight I actually awarded to Lopez. And before that, he was treated to a rude awakening of his lack of depth in kickboxing by Duane Ludwig, when he was battered for three rounds. If he thought that was bad, wait until he meets the guy who knocked out Ludwig.

Everybody is aware of Dan Hardy and what he's been through. And while many were asking Zuffa to cut him, it would have been foolish, to say the least. Hardy has great standup, decent submission defence, and surprising power. In his four fight losing streak, he went the distance with the champion, lost by way of knockout to the interim champion, and was laid upon for three rounds by a Light Heavyweight cutting 50 pounds of weight.

His lowest point in his career was likely Chris Lytle, but even that loss isn't a total disaster. Although Lytle was never a top-10 welterweight, he dispatched the likes of Matt Serra, Matt Brown (twice), Brian Foster and Kevin Burns. The dude was notoriously impossible to finish.

Hardy has the kind of power and hunger to get back in the mix that he'll be headhunting right from the bell. I expect him to make a connection some time in the second round.

Prediction: Hardy by KO in round 2

* * *

Heavyweight fight (170 lbs)

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Stefan Struve, 24, Team Beverwijk
Record: 24-5, 8-3 UFC
Last fight: Defeated Lavar Johnson by submission, May 26, 2012
Streak: Won 3
Style: Submission fighter, 6 T/KO, 16 submissions, 1 decision
Losses: 4 T/KO, 1 submission

versus

Stipe Miocic, 30, Strong Style Fight Team
Record: 9-0, 3-0 UFC
Last Fight: Defeated Shane del Rosario by TKO, May 26, 2012
Style: Boxer, 7 T/KO, 1 submission, 1 decision

It's unbelievable to think that Stefan Struve is 24 and is already on his 12th fight in the UFC. And although he's a little gangly and awkward, he's been awfully successful, submitting Lavar Johnson and Pat Barry, and knocking out Dave Herman in his brief winning streak recently.

Struve is a giant, and uses his long limbs to secure quick submissions against stronger guys with bigger power. Despite his submission prowess, he's no weakling, and has knocked out guys like Sean McCorkle and Christian Morecraft.

But Stipe Miocic is another animal. A former Golden Gloves boxing champion NCAA Divison I wrestler, the Croatian-American brings big power backed by superior grappling. In his UFC debut he demonstrated his wrestling and power against the always brick-chinned Joey Beltran, before following that up with knockouts of Phil De Fries and former undefeated Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Shane del Rosario.

The worst thing in this matchup is that Struve is a slow starter, while Miocic slows as the rounds progress. Expect Miocic to do heavy damage early and get the finish. If he can't, the odds of Struve scoring a knockout in the late second round or submission in the third will be pretty good.

Prediction: Miocic by KO in round 1

* * *

By the way, if the formatting is fucked up, blame the new SB Nation website.

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