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UFC 70 quick preview, analysis and predictions

ufc 68 predictions and analysis

Undeterred by the recent rash of upsets, UFCmania and special contributor Jesse Holland are back again to forecast the UFC future.

But, if it's one thing that the last few months and weeks have taught us, it's that anything can and often does happen inside the Octagon.

All the speculation and reasons a fighter should win really amount to a pile of steaming dog poop once someone gets caught -- and that happens often in mixed martial arts.

That's how I explain my record (8-6) since we started doing this back at UFC 68, anyway. I'm not sure what Jesse Holland (6-8), however, is smoking.

On that note, we've put together some more dog poop for you to consider this weekend and UFC 70: "Nations Collide" main card at the Manchester Evening News (M.E.N.) arena.

There are some nice match ups, which are made nicer by the fact that they will air free via tape delay on the Spike television network at 9 p.m.

As usual, just because we talk about a fighter doesn't mean we think that the person is going to win -- just trying to give different perspectives. And you'll see this time around we agree on every fight but one.

Stranger things have happened, right Matt Serra?

Here we go:

Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic (22-4-2) vs. Gabriel Gonzaga (7-1)
UFCmania: Gabriel Gonzaga is the Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) -- the premier grappling tournament on the planet -- 2006 world champion and 2005 runner-up. He's a demon on the ground with his Brazilian jiu-jitsu -- an area in which his opponent, Cro Cop, is still working on to improve. It's a distinct advantage for "Napau," but he has intimated in recent interviews that he wants to knockout the Croatian. With two stoppages in three fights because of strikes inside the Octagon (Kevin Jordan and Fabiano Scherner), Gonzaga has clearly demonstrated his punching power. And with a jiu-jitsu blackbelt, he has the luxury of drilling other "weaknesses" in his game -- such as striking -- to improve his stand up that much more. He has mentioned numerous times leading up to the fight that he intends to be aggressive and keep the pressure on Cro Cop (much like Fedor in 2003) so that he doesn't have time to set up the deadly kicks. I think that's easier said than done -- and it'll all most likely go out the window the moment the bell rings to start round one. Put simply Gonzaga, is delusional if he thinks he can out-strike Cro Cop -- he's no Fedor ... or Kevin Randleman for that matter. He should use his stand up to set up a submission from his tremendous skills on the mat. Otherwise, it might be a short night for the Brazilian.

Jesse Holland: The UFC hype machine likes to call Cro Cop the most dangerous striker in MMA. With roughly 70 percent of his wins coming by way of knockout or technical knockout, it's a claim that's hard to dispute. Part of what makes Cro Cop so dangerous is his experience against Pride's best. This isn't a fighter who pads his record by crumpling cans, and unlike many of today's top fighters, he averages four fights a year. He faces a very talented Brazilian in Gabriel Gonzaga and with the rash of recent upsets, it's easy to think that anything can happen. Critics still use the Kevin Randleman knockout as a reason to dismiss the Croats chin. But anyone who thinks this is the same Cro Cop that was phoning it in a few years back will also tell you that Chuck Liddell hasn't improved since his loss to Rampage. A Cro Cop left kick is the stuff of legend and for good reason. He can use it on the legs (Yoshida), the body (Magomedov), and the head (take your pick – mine is Silva). If you're lucky enough to escape the leg you'll have to avoid the straight left — the same straight left that folded Mark Coleman up like a beach chair and shattered Bob Sapp's orbital bone. Let's hope that Gonzaga has mastered the backpeddle ala Eddie Sanchez because it may be the only thing that saves him from going to sleep.

Final predictions:
UFCmania — Cro Cop via knockout
Holland — Cro Cop via knockout

Michael Bisping (12-0) vs. Elvis Sinosic (8-9-2)
UFCmania: For the first time in his career, Michael Bisping will step inside of the Octagon to fight in front of a hometown crowd. Perhaps more important, it'll also be the first time his young son will be in the stands watching him work. Clearly, there's a lot riding on the new "UFC poster boy" for British mixed martial arts. However, Bisping is talented enough and dedicated to his craft to live up to expectations ... and he'll do just that at the Manchester Evening News (M.E.N.) arena against Elvis Sinosic. Sure, Sinosic has paid his dues and fought his fare share of tough opponents—all unsuccessfully for the most part. Look for that trend to continue, despite what Joe Rogan, Randy Couture and Dana White try to make us believe on "UFC 70 Countdown." Sinosic is not a "contender" — he's a gatekeeper. However, he's extremely game. Therefore, look for Elvis to come our swinging for the fences because all he has in this fight is a puncher's chance. Put simply, Bisping is younger and hungrier. Plus, he'll have the added motivation of performing well in his hometown UFC debut before a special audience. He'll do just that en route to an early stoppage via strikes.

Jesse Holland: "The King of Rock ‘n Rumble" is back from obscurity to face off against Michael Bisping in a fight that's going to be a lot closer than people think. Sinosic was bounced from the UFC roster after consecutive losses to Forrest Griffin and Alessio Sakara but he's been able to rebound winning his last two fights by armbar in smaller promotions. Now he gets his third crack at the UFC and even at age 36 Sinosic can still get it done. He sports a losing record of 8-9-2 but two of those losses were from nasty cuts against Tito Ortiz and Evan Tanner. Another two were atypical submissions (chin to the eye and frustration). Add to that four decision losses and things aren't as bad as they seem. His biggest asset is his experience, one thing that Bisping doesn't have. Where Sinosic has battled titans like Frank Shamrock and Tito Ortiz, Bisping has squared off against England's best. You know, guys like Ross Pointon and Dave Radford. If you thought all Brit's sound like Hugh Grant you're probably right. Unfortunately most of them fight like him too. Sinosic has improved his striking but his real strength is on the ground. If he stays composed and out of range, he could earn his third submission in as many fights.

Final predictions:
UFCmania — Bisping via knockout
Holland —Bisping via technical knockout

Andrei Arlovski (10-5) vs. Fabricio Werdum (9-2-1)
UFCmania: Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski has got to be excited about this fight. Because with a win, he most likely earns himself another shot at the title. Prior to his consecutive losses to Tim Sylvia, Arlovski was considered by many as unstoppable. However, that probably had more to do with his opponents' lack of talent than his own invincibility. Regardless, he is still one of the top fighters in the division in the sport. And on Saturday, he'll lock horns with a fighter in Fabricio Werdum who is dangerous in all aspects of the fight game. Arlovski will be able to handle himself on the ground with the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, and most likely will be able to take it to him on the feet. In addition, Arlovski has the distinct advantage of cage experience, which is a big factor that hasn't received much ink. It's doubtful that the Sambo specialist will be able to submit Werdum, but he can drop him if this thing stays upright.

Jesse Holland: Filipovic cohort Fabricio Werdum looks to end Arlovski's bid for another title shot and on paper he may have the tools to do it. Over half his wins have ended by submission and although Arlovski has never been submitted it's probably because he has yet to face a heavyweight with decent BJJ skills (other than Rodriguez who stopped him with strikes). Arlovski has the edge in both experience and striking but it's hard to call it an advantage since Andrei's chin seems to suffer from osteoporosis and Werdum does have decent power. Fabby needs to avoid the mistakes he made against Nogueira last July when he was dropped twice in a decision loss because a shot like that from the Belarusian and it's lights out. Look for Werdum to try and tie him up and get him down and if it happens we'll have a chance to see if Arlovski's Sambo is as good as his striking. If it isn't, this one will end with a snap, tap or nap.

Final predictions:
UFCmania — Werdum via decision
Holland — Werdum by submission

Ryoto Machida (9-0) vs. David Heath (7-0)
UFCmania: David Heath is looking to keep his perfect UFC record (2-0) intact against the decision master (five in nine fights), Ryoto Machida. Clearly, this is a big step up for the Oklahoma native and his toughest test to date as far as his mixed martial arts career is concerned. He volunteered to take this fight when Forrest Griffin had to withdraw because he knows that a win over Machida would be a springboard into the top-half of 205-pound class. Therefore, he's clearly not intimidated, and without a doubt, is motivated. Heath – who traditionally finishes fights early – is coming off of a controversial split-decision win over Victor Valimaki at UFC Fight Night at Miramar. He can't afford to let the judges determine the outcome in this fight, however. Therefore, Heath needs to come out strong and set the tone early for this bout. Otherwise Machida — who has a knack for fighting his kind of fight — will have his hand raised after 15 minutes ... or sooner.

Jesse Holland: Ryoto Machida must hate The Ultimate Fighter. I mean really hate it. How else can you describe his improbable wins over Rich Franklin, BJ Penn, Stephan Bonner, and Sam Hoger? Ok so maybe the Bonnar and Hoger wins weren't that improbable but make no mistake about it this guy has skills. He describes his style as "karate" which is unusual for a Brazilian but it seems to be working for him up until now so if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Most of his fights go the distance, which makes this an interesting match-up because only one of Heath's wins have gone three rounds. Machida is the more experienced fighter not by record but by quality of opponents. I don't want to spend a lot of time knocking David Heath but you can't compare Sean Salmon and Doug Sour to BJ Penn and Rich Franklin. Like Heath, Machida has been perfect up until this point so it's difficult to assess weaknesses. Perhaps his inability to finish fighters as indicated by his high percentage of decisions but this might be nitpicking. Overall I see Ryoto as the superior and more polished fighter.

Final predictions:
UFCmania — Machida via technical knockout
Holland — Machida by unanimous decision

Cheick Kongo (9-3-1) vs. Assuerio Silva (12-5)
UFCmania: Cheick Kongo is a former kickboxer-turned-mixed martial artist. He's got the kicks, knees and strikes to give any opponent fits while upright. However, at UFC 64 collegiate wrestler Carmelo Marrero exposed an apparent hole in his ground game, dry humping Kongo en route to a split decision win. It was a major setback for the Frenchman — one that he's looking to put behind him with a win over a tough competitor like Assuerio Silva. With Silva, Kongo is up against a top grappler and a guy who can do some damage in the heavyweight division. If Kongo can keep this thing standing, he should be able to rock Silva with a barrage of strikes. However, if the Brazilian can take him down, he has the skills—unlike Marerro—to end the fight via submission.

Jesse Holland: I'm sure a lot of fans can remember the not too distant past when Kongo and Silva were being presented as up-and-coming contenders in the heavyweight division. That was before the signings of Cro Cop, Nogueira and even Herring. That was also before Kongo was tooled by Carmelo Marrero and Silva went 0-2. Now they get to battle each other and all we can hope for is a quick finish. They've both been around awhile but Silva's had the tougher journey and for my money is the more complete fighter. Despite several uninspired performances he does have a well-rounded win ratio (6 submissions, 4 (T)KO's, 2 decisions). He's also got an iron chin and if he's spent any time watching tapes on Kongo he's going to follow Marrero's lead and take him down at will. From there he can do what Marrero couldn't and submit him.

Final predictions:
UFCmania — Kongo via technical knockout
Holland — Silva via submission