UFC 79: "Nemesis" is set for tomorrow (Saturday) night on December 29 from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The pay-per-view (PPV) event airs at 10 p.m. ET.
Remember: MMAmania.com will provide LIVE updates and blow-by-blow, round-by-round commentary of the main card action throughout the telecast. It promises to be a great discussion as usual for an amazing line up of fights.
To get us pumped for the festivities MMAmania.com contributor Jesse Holland and site veteran "C-War," went toe-to-toe below to try and predict the fighters who will leave the Octagon with their hands raised tomorrow 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.
Let's get to it:
Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell (20-5) vs. Wanderlei "The Axe Murderer" Silva (31-7-1)
MMAmania reader "C-War": The fight we have all been waiting for has finally come. If this fight were to happen a year ago, would you predict a different victor than whom you would think to win now? Both were once at the top of the food chain in the 205lb division, and now both are coming off 2 consecutive losses. Liddell isn't a very happy guy when he loses, so I believe him to now be twice as mad. I think both fighters want to keep this fight standing. Even though he has proven to be defeated, you are always taking a risk when you want to stand with Liddell, no matter who you are. Actually, the same could be said for Silva. I don't expect this fight to last past the second round with the amount of KO power being brought in from both sides. Someone's gonna take a nap.
Jesse Holland: A lot of fans have been coming down hard on the timing of the Liddell/Silva fight but to me it couldn't have happened at a more apropos time. Have the stakes ever been higher for either fighter? Critics are also pointing to the two consecutive losses of each fighter and while it's not the ideal situation it does create an even playing field. Silva's fury can create problems for the Iceman ala Liddell/Jackson 1 and his clinch is the stuff of legend. But by the same token Wandy has a tendency to be a little more reckless in his offense. Chuck of course is a dangerous counter puncher and if he's able to weather the storm I can see him ending it via strikes in Round 2. There is no point in going crazy trying to analyze this fight. It's going to be one-dimensional and for once that's not such a bad thing. Whoever hits the hardest with the most accuracy is going to take it. I happen to think it's going to be Liddell.
C-War: Liddell via knockout
Jesse Holland: Liddell via technical knockout
Matt Hughes (41-5) vs. Georges "Rush" St. Pierre (14-2)
MMAmania reader "C-War": Two of the most accomplished mix martial artists enter the octagon once again. I know we have anticipated a Hughes-Serra fight for a while now, but the bout between these two was bound to happen sooner or later again anyways. St. Pierre is the more athletic of the two, but Hughes isn't far behind him while carrying the strength advantage. GSP looked very good in his last fight, but Hughes won't be as timid as Koscheck was, and will test him quite a bit more. You could look at this fight from so many different angles and there's almost no way to predict a winner. So, I'm going with my gut instinct here and picking Hughes to win because I believe he's on a mission. I think Serra has lit a new fire in Hughes and I don't see it burning out before December 29. I love St. Pierre but someone has to lose here. I'm just sorry it has to be him. GSP will eat some GnP.
Jesse Holland: Some of MMA's top stars fell victim to the upset bug in 2007. Had GSP been the only one than perhaps I could be a little more critical of his loss to Serra. While that loss was a tough pill to swallow, it does not diminish the reign of terror he inflicted on the welterweight division including his dismantling of then-champion Hughes at UFC 65. Is GSP the better fighter? My personal opinion is that he could be the greatest fighter of our generation if he could only conquer his psychological demons. I don't expect him to walk through Hughes as easily as he did in 2006, but he's still the more complete fighter and should dominate most of the fight. No question Hughes will employ a more controlled and methodical pace, but St. Pierre will have an answer for every attack.
C-War: Hughes via technical knockout
Jesse Holland: GSP via unanimous decision
Rich "No Love" Clementi (29-12-1) vs. Melvin "Young Assassin" Guillard (20-6-2)
MMAmania reader "C-War": Clementi is going to have his hands full for this fight, that's all of the advice I can give him. After a very long suspension, Guillard has finally returned. He is going to be full of Power, full of determination, full of will, and hopefully NOT full of cocaine (Let's pray that wasn't his source of energy). From what I know, Guillard and Clementi hate each other with a passion. But if Guillard can keep his anger in control, and keep out of the danger zone he sometimes likes to put himself in, he will end this in the first round by a vicious knockout. Guillard's real weakness has been underestimating his opponents, but I give Guillard the right to drive a steam roller into the octagon this time and just ride it right over Clementi. It might be less painful for him that way.
Jesse Holland: It's a battle of the bayou brothers and to be honest this is a hard one to call. On paper it looks like an easy fight for Guillard (who hits as hard as any lightweight) but his loss to Stevenson and subsequent suspension for white lighting gives me pause. Clementi is experienced and knows how to finish fights but he may not be able to handle Guillard's intensity. Of Melvin's six losses, five have come via submission. This has got to be something that Clementi is training for and the real question is will Guillard be able to defend the sub? He may not need to if his striking is sharp but again the layoff comes into question. Clementi needs to stay on the outside, avoid Melvin's range and wait for a mistake - assuming he can survive the first round.
C-War: Guillard via knockout
Jesse Holland: Guillard via technical knockout
Rameau Thierry "The African Assassin" Sokoudjou (4-1) vs. Lyoto Machida (11-0)
MMAmania reader "C-War":This fight just tops off a very well put together card. I don't like predicting a winner of this match, because I have very high hopes for both fighters, so I know my "anticipated" thoughts for at least one of them will end up being shattered. Sokoudjou is extremely powerful and talented, knocking out a few of the top names in PRIDE (Arona and Nogueira). Some think he is the next name that will make his way to the top of contention in the UFC 205-pound division. The only problem is, Machida is in the way. Machida has yet to be defeated, and is one of the best, if not THE best, technical fighters in the game. The African Assassin will be the aggressor in this fight, which leads exactly to Machida's bread and butter, the counter punch. His style has proven to be very effective against the toughest of opponents, and I don't think that trend is going to change any time soon.
Jesse Holland: Sokoudjou made a name for himself by knocking out two respectable opponents in PRIDE but like Houston Alexander before him, what happens when KO power is not enough? Judo be damned according to Sokoudjou, who's fought a total of two and a half minutes in the past year. Machida on the other hand makes a living out of going to the scorecards - and stifling opponents. Though not a finisher, Machida is a very skilled fighter and going 11-0 with wins over Rich Franklin and BJ Penn is no easy feat. It's also important to note that Sokoudjou was stopped via strikes as recently as October of 2006 by Glover Teixeira who is not anywhere near the striker that Machida is. Lyoto does not have to do anything differently than he's done in the past to win. All he needs to do is simple be the better striker - which I believe he is.
C-War: Machida via unanimous decision
Jesse Holland: Machida via technical knockout
Eddie Sanchez (7-1) vs. Soa "The Hulk" Palalei (8-1)
MMAmania reader "C-War": Maybe this bout made the main card to give Liddell/Silva a little televised competition for KO of the night. Although, I still will not be able to stop thinking about why I'm not seeing Dean Lister or James Irvin as this fight goes on, I'll still make the most of it. Both guys have won most of their fights by KO or TKO, so they will most likely keep it standing. I also see Sanchez being the aggressor of the two, and possibly getting the best of the exchanges. These two guys remind me of a can of Natural Light. It will never be as good as a Bud, but it'll always still be on the shelf next to it.
Jesse Holland: Eddie Sanchez is probably best known for his mambo against Mirko Cro Cop at UFC 67 and that's a shame because he happens to be a hard-hitting heavyweight with a ton of potential. He faces a heavyweight who like himself was a rising star a few years ago. Palelei is coming off a flash KO win back in October but prior to that hasn't fought in three years after losing to Mu Bae Choi in PRIDE. He's aligned himself with Team Quest which is of course a good thing but his inactivity will hurt him against the busier Sanchez. Palelei also has to drop a lot of weight to make 265 so I question not only his gas tank but his overall conditioning. It may not matter much since both fighters are looking for the KO. For my money Sanchez has the better chance of getting it.
C-War: Sanchez via knockout
Jesse Holland: Sanchez via knockout
For the complete UFC 79: "Nemesis" fight card click here.
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 79.