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UFC 69 quick preview, analysis and predictions

ufc 68 predictions and analysis
Believe it or not but there are actually more fights on tonight at UFC 69 other than Diego Sanchez vs. Josh Koscheck.

The media microscope has focused in on the two bitter rivals because the tension and drama between them is akin to the Tito Ortiz-Ken Shamrock saga.

In fact, I didn't think it was possible to dedicate more coverage of this welterweight showdown until yesterday, when Sanchez popped off at the weigh-ins.

That's all in the past now and it appears that the only thing left to do is get busy in the Octagon later on this evening ... I think.

There are some other matches that should keep us entertained before and after the two settle their score.

And, Jesse Holland and UFCmania once again took some time to write up some previews and predictions for the UFC 69 main card bouts.

As usual, we each talk about a specific fighter, but that doesn't necessarily mean we think that fighter will win. Our individual predictions follow each preview.

I'm going out on a big limb with one of my picks against my better judgement ... it's all about the gut folks.

Enjoy the show tonight -- I'll stop in and let you know about the love blogging situation. In the meantime, happy reading.

Georges St. Pierre (13-1) vs. Matt Serra (7-4)
UFCmania: Jason Miller, Frank Trigg, Sean Sherk, BJ Penn, Matt Hughes ... Matt Serra? During the past two years, UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre has ripped through the stiffest competition in the 170-pound division. Now, he's set to face a 32-year old jiu-jitsu specialist, Serra, whose claim to fame is besting castmate Chris Lytle at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 4 Finale. Sure, he's been up against top guys like Penn and Karo Parisyan; however, the difference with Serra is that he hasn't won those fights like St. Pierre. Clearly, Serra is a great guy and a tremendous grappler, but that's where the superlatives end. Of course, being the consummate professional that he is, St. Pierre refuses to admit that he outclasses his opponent in every area besides jiu-jitsu. But I can say whatever I want, and tomorrow night, Serra is headed for a beatdown. St. Pierre's takedown defense is killer, and the only chance Serra has at all in the fight is to get it to the ground. "Rush�? is too good and too savvy to let that happen often. Serra has heart and determination, which makes me think he'll last longer than most expect. It could get ugly, in which case Serra's hamburger meat face hopefully heals by the time he's scheduled to make his walk toward the altar.

Jesse Holland: Matt Serra gets a free pass here. Since the only people in the world who think he has a chance are named Serra, it's safe to say that a loss here would do nothing to tarnish his future in the UFC. A win? Well let's just say stranger things have happened. Serra can pull this off but in order to do so he has to stay loose. He doesn't stand a chance on his feet but on the ground he can take advantage of an overconfident champion. In fact, the more dominating GSP is, the more likely he is to get sloppy or showboat. Spinning backfist notwithstanding, Serra can take punishment. He's gone the distance against BJ Penn and Karo Parisyan and has a grappling win over Takanori Gomi. He's also a BJJ black belt under Renzo Gracie and a gold medal winner at the World Games. Simply put, GSP (whose lone defeat was a submission) cannot let down his guard (literally and figuratively) for even a second.

Final predictions:
UFCmania -- St. Pierre via technical knockout
Jesse Holland -- St. Pierre via technical knockout

Diego Sanchez (17-0) vs. Josh Koscheck (8-1)
UFCmania: Josh Koscheck is either super dumb or super smart. He's agitated his opponent tomorrow, Diego Sanchez, to such a point that he seems destined for stint in the mental ward. In fact, it might not be a bad idea to have the ringside physicians on standby before the bell for round one even dings — Sanchez' blood pressure could be at lethal levels. It'll be interesting to see if the emotional side of this feud affects the outcome of the bout — much like it did the other night when Melvin Guillard failed to exhibit any semblance of composure and Joe Stevenson was there to capitalize on his mistakes instantly. For all the crap that Koscheck takes — from Sanchez and others — about his "boring�? fight style, it does get results. He's a tremendous wrestler who can takedown just about anyone at will. Sanchez prepared for this fight with world class boxers such as Oscar De La Hoya and Panchito Bojado. However, if I were fighting a guy like Koscheck, I'd be calling guys like Matt Lindland and Randy Couture. I think Sanchez will be the UFC welterweight champion in the near future — I truly do. There's just this gut feeling I can't shake that at UFC 69, Koscheck will smother him en route to a victory.

Jesse Holland: Diego Sanchez is called Nightmare for a reason: The guy is unstoppable. People like to make fun of his religious antics and whacky behavior but in my opinion this makes him even more dangerous. Fighters like Koscheck and Guillard can talk a good game and be jittery in the ring but Sanchez is a guy that truly believes winning it all is his destiny. I've never seen him nervous or tentative, only focused and driven. After the shove he laid on Koscheck at the weigh-ins you can bet your bottom dollar he's in Kos's head. When it comes to matching up, anything Kos can do Sanchez can do better. What was a very close fight during TUF will be anything but here. Sanchez always comes in with great conditioning even fighting as hard or harder in the later rounds when most guys start to drag. Kos has great takedowns but at Fight Night 6 Karo Parisyan dropped Diego on his head with some of the best Judo I've seen in the Octagon-and it didn't even faze him. As for his striking? Ask Joe Riggs if Sanchez hits hard. Diego Sanchez is undefeated for a reason and if that wasn't enough he's aligned himself with Greg Jackson. This one ain't gonna be pretty folks.

Final predications:
UFCmania -- Koscheck via split decision (touche!)
Jesse Holland -- Sanchez via technical knockout

Mike Swick (10-1) vs. Yushin Okami (19-3)
UFCmania: Mike Swick has his work cut out for him in his homecoming — Yushin Okami is downright nasty. He's taller, stronger and has been competing against top international talent over the past five years. For Swick to be successful in the fight, he's going to have to do what no man has done before him — submit Okami with something other than strikes. That's because Okami gets stronger as the game goes on ... kinda like an old school Emmitt Smith. Someone really smart once said that a fighter is only as good as his last fight. And if that's the case, Swick might be in trouble after a subpar performance (compared to his standards) in his most recent outing against David Loiseau. However, Swick trains with a top-notch camp at American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) and has mentioned numerous times that he has trained like never before for this showdown. That's because this upcoming bout is more than just returning home to Texas for Swick. Indeed, it's about returning to his same ‘ole "Quick�? self. It's against my better judgement, but don't be surprised to see the Swickatine make an appearance in the Toyota Center ...

Jesse Holland: Jason MacDonald, meet the real TUF killer: Yushin Okami. Yushin got his feet wet at UFC 62 against a talented Alan Belcher where he cranked out an impressive decision. Frustrated at his own performance, he turned things up a notch and toyed with Kalib Starnes at UFC 64 before pounding him out in the third round. He followed that up by submitting Rory Singer with strikes at UFC 66 and cementing himself as a force to be reckoned with at 185. Of his last ten wins, only one has gone to the judge's scorecards (Belcher). Swick is no pushover and may have a slight advantage on the ground, but Okami still has the overall advantage in experience with eleven more fights under his belt. There's no substitute for frequency and despite his recent tear across the middleweight ranks Swick going to be stymied by the Japanese juggernaut.

Final predictions:
UFCmania -- Swick via submission
Jesse Holland -- Okami via unanimous decision

Kendall Grove (7-3) vs. Alan Belcher (9-2)
UFCmania: Kendall Grove is coming off of a broken hand that has kept him out of action since October 2006. Ring rust and conditioning — despite his Team Punishment association —are always concerns for fighters who return from significant layoffs. At 6'6,�? Grove is a freak at 185 pounds, enjoying a height advantage in nearly every fight. His previous opponents and professional record aren't the best. In fact, can someone tell me how he lost to Savant Young, the 5'6�? IFL fire hydrant? Regardless, he's learned a ton since his appearance on TUF and has clearly dedicated himself to being the very best he can be in this sport. I like Belcher — he's no slouch. He's a striker, but I think Grove can keep him at the end of his jab and neutralize Belcher's strength for a majority of the 15 minutes. I'm going to give Grove the slight edge here and feel that he will hang on to pullout a controversial decision win over "The Talent.�?

Jesse Holland: Alan Belcher is back after putting TUF veteran Jorge Santiago to sleep with a third round KO at Fight Night 7. Belcher and Grove have similar records and equal experience, but for my money Belcher has been the more impressive fighter. Out of nine wins, seven have ended due to strikes. He threw in a toe hold against Evert Fyeet at WEF 2006 just to prove that he could, but Belcher is a striker at heart. His two defeats went the distance so he's proven that he can hang. Kendall Grove on the other hand has two KO's against him and with Belcher's striking ability that huge frame of his just makes for a bigger target. Belcher fought nine times in 2006 and lost only once (a decision to Yushin Okami). The only way I see him losing to Kendall Grove is by burnout.

Final predictions:

UFCmania -- Grove via decision
Jesse Holland: Belcher via technical knockout

Roger Huerta (16-1-1) vs. Leonard Garcia (9-1)
UFCmania: Leonard Garcia hasn't fought in more than a year. And before that, he also fought only once. He's apparently a submission specialist, forcing most of his opponents to tapout. I'm not going to pretend he's got a shot here. In fact, his presence on a UFC pay-per-view card is mindboggling. But, there's good news for Garcia fans — he will last a little longer that Huerta's most recent opponent, John Halverson. That's not saying much ... and neither is the fact that the UFC continues to spoon-feed Huerta. Put simply, this kid is good — let's see him fight legitimate contenders.

Jesse Holland: Roger Huerta is back from the Guillard Greaseball Fiasco at FFC-14 to take on UFC newcomer Leonard Garcia. Well, he's actually been back for quite awhile but how often do you get to use an intro like that? All kidding aside, Roger Huerta can do no wrong as of late. He debuted at UFC 63 with a decision win against Jason Dent and then made a statement at UFC 67 with a TKO win over John Halverson. At 16-1 he's practically steamrolled the competition and 50 percent of his wins have come by way of (T)KO. He can just as easily end it on the ground finishing three of his fights with a choke. He needs to proceed with caution against Garcia who has seven of his nine wins via submission. I think Huerta is too dynamic a fighter for the newcomer and the debut jitters will be working against him (Garcia).

Final predicitions:
UFCmania -- Huerta via knockout
Jesse Holland -- Huerta via technical knockout

Agree or disagree? Let us know what you think and share your picks in the comments section.

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