UFC 83: Serra vs. St. Pierre 2 is set for tomorrow, Saturday April 19, from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec. The main card action is set to begin at 10 p.m. ET on pay-per-view.
Remember: MMAmania.com will provide LIVE updates and blow-by-blow, round-by-round commentary of the main card action throughout the telecast. As usual, it promises to be a great discussion during an exciting night of fights.
To get us pumped for the festivities, columnist and mixed martial arts zealot Chris Cosme will try and make his presence felt by going toe-to-toe with senior writer and invective blowhard Jesse Holland with predictions for the upcoming event.
The mission: Forecast which fighters will leave the Octagon with their hands raised later on during the featured fights of the 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 at the conclusion of the write ups.
Let's get to it:
Matt "The Terror" Serra (9-4) vs. Georges "Rush" St. Pierre (15-2)
Jesse Holland: Georges St. Pierre is angry. He's angry that he lost the title, he's angry that Matt Serra is running his mouth and he's angry that everyone thinks he's a mental case. With that in mind, I don't expect to see the laissez-faire approach he had in their first fight. I expect to see the steamroller that blew away Frank Trigg and Sean Sherk like a man possessed. This may actually work in Serra's favor. "The Terror" may want to stand and bang, but GSP is going to try and force him to the mat for some brutal ground-and-pound. Because Serra has heavy hands, it's easy to overlook how good his ground game is. In addition to becoming the first American black belt under Renzo Gracie, Serra won first place at the Pan-Am games and took home a gold medal at the World Games. He gives up a definitive size and strength advantage to St. Pierre, but Serra can still out work him on the ground if he's able to lure "Rush" into a bad position. It's not that unrealistic a scenario if St. Pierre is hell-bent on punching Serra right back across the border. Serra needs to keep it standing as long as possible and then pull a rabbit out of his grappling hat if they go to the floor. In the end, his composure will dictate whether or not this fight lasts more than one round.
Chris Cosme: This is the moment GSP has asked for since he defeated Josh Koscheck at UFC 74 and Matt Hughes at UFC 79: A title fight against the man that dethroned him almost one year ago in his native homeland of . What more can you ask for, right? This fight could be GSP's defining moment in his tenure in the UFC - or a moment he would never forget about for the rest of his life. We all saw Anderson Silva come into Cincinnati and demolish Rich Franklin for a second time in front of the hometown crowd. Now, Matt Serra is no Anderson Silva by any means-but if there is another man who can focus on the fight and not the arena they are fighting in-it's Matt Serra. Serra has embraced the fact that he's going to be booed by over 20,000 Canadian fans the minute he steps out of the curtain. It's because of this I really can't count out Matt Serra in this fight no matter the circumstances. He has heavy hands, his jiu-jitsu is simply world class and could give St.Pierre problems when the fight hits the ground. The key in this fight is for Serra to get inside St.Pierre's range and throw bombs there. It worked in their first fight and it happens again, lightning could strike twice. For GSP, the plan is keep Serra at bay with jabs and leg kicks. From there he has to look take Serra to the ground and pound him at will once it goes there. In the end, I see GSP overcome the barrage of Serra's strikes in the first round and then going to the ground and pound in the second en route to a TKO in the second round.
Jesse Holland: St. Pierre via TKO
Chris Cosme: St. Pierre via TKO
Rich "Ace" Franklin (22-3) vs. Travis "The Serial Killer" Lutter (9-4)
Jesse Holland: Rich Franklin may have been annihilated by Anderson Silva, but that's not going to stop him from laying claim to the title of second-best middleweight in the UFC. Aside from Silva and his KO at the hands of Brazilian enigma Lyoto Machida back in 2003, Franklin has simply dominated the competition. The man has 22 wins and only two of them have gone to the judges. He may have KO power in his strikes but just as importantly he knows how to use them for something other than haymakers. His accuracy and combinations are matched only by his speed and timing. Despite lingering in the danger zone against Yushin Okami, Franklin is also adept at staying out of submissions which of course happens to be Lutter's strength. I don't think Lutter will be fast enough or agile enough to effectively shoot on "Ace' and he will slowly start to become target practice for Franklin's hands. Too much is made out of Lutter's performance against Anderson Silva - considering the champ had two bum knees and couldn't stop the shoot if it was being phoned-in in advance. Still I think the biggest disadvantage for Lutter will be his layoff. Having missed over a year of fighting only to face a fighter of Franklin's caliber is a tall order for any fighter.
If there is one thing both men have in common, it's this: they were both dominated by Anderson Silva. If one thing the two don't have in common when it comes to their fights against Silva is this: Lutter; had he made the weight and was in peak condition was THIS close in stopping Silva. I know I'm going to hear it from the woodwork folks, but the fact still remains that Lutter had Silva mounted and landed a few convincing shots before Silva took over. Rich, on the other hand was able to take Silva down in their second meeting-only to be unable to gain mount and allowing Silva to work his way back up. From there it was almost textbook when it came to end of that fight. In comparing these two fighters in their fights with Silva, you can see that Lutter had the better chance in almost finishing Silva. Franklin had no chance in both fights. Where am I getting at here? The fact that Lutter cannot be underestimated heading into this fight. Although his striking is above average (that flash knockout over Marvin Eastman is simply that-a flash knockout), it's the ground game of Lutter that gives him a hell of a chance against Franklin. Lutter has made in no secret in recent interviews that he wants to take this to the ground. If he does, his chances of winning is good. Unfortunately, Lutter reminds me of Jason McDonald; a man that had great jiu-jitsu but was simply overwhelmed by Franklin. I see that happening again, with Rich sprawling every takedown attempt by Lutter and overwhelming him with strikes in the first round.
Jesse Holland: Franklin via TKO
Chris Cosme: Franklin via TKO
Kalib Starnes (8-2-1) vs. Nate "The Rock" Quarry (9-2)
Jesse Holland: Anyone who can suffer a highlight-reel knockout and then career-ending spinal surgery only to come back and win a fight is hard to pick against no matter who the opponent is. Fortunately for Quarry he's facing Kalib Starnes who may have a world of potential but has yet to realize it. Quarry isn't going to do anything out of the ordinary here - this is all about the hands. He's a better striker than Starnes but he's definitely outmatched in the submission game. Nate had timing and endurance issues in his return fight against Pete Sell - as expected - but I believe they'll be worked out for this fight. His biggest asset will be takedown defense. If Quarry can stay off the ground and give himself a chance to do some damage on his feet then he has a strong chance of putting Starnes away. I don't believe Starnes will be interested in trading so it's up to "The Rock" to have a Plan B if things end up on the ground. If they don't, it could be an early night for Starnes, who may crumble like he did against Okami at UFC 64.
Chris Cosme: It has been a rollercoaster ride for these two men heading into their fight . Both Starnes and Quarry have seen the highs and lows of being a TUF alum and UFC fighter. From Quarry's comeback win over Pete Sell after a year of therapy from spinal fusion surgery to Starnes' last fight which was stopped due to one of the nastiest cuts I have ever seen against Alan Belcher at UFC 77. This could be a fight for not only survival but being relevant in the UFC. But if you ask who needs this fight more-you have to go with Starnes on this one. Thought to be the favorite to win TUF 3 only to quit after his fight with Kendall Grove in the semifinals. He has gone 2-2 since and lost fights that could've catapulted him into the spotlight that Grove once attained. As for Quarry, he is remembered for being on the end of a highlight reel knockout from Rich Franklin two years ago. But the man has heart coming from spinal fusion surgery and winning his return bout in knockout fashion. In the end though, Starnes is the more complete fighter and can end this fight on the ground and if both men decide to trade shots-Starnes can end it too.
Jesse Holland: Starnes via unanimous decision
Chris Cosme: Starnes via unanimous decision
Michael "The Count" Bisping (15-1) vs. Charles "Chainsaw" McCarthy (10-4)
Jesse Holland: Michael Bisping is now a middleweight - and hopefully that change can bring out the star both the fans and the UFC have been waiting to see. Bisping is a good, hard striker but his first real test against Rashad Evans at UFC 78 was a bust and he almost gave away his fight against Matt Hamill at UFC 75. Still, you don't get to be 15-1 by pure luck. To overcome McCarthy he needs to execute the same strategy he did against Eric Schafer and Elvis Sinosic: Avoid the submissions and fire at will. McCarthy is coming off a win against Gideon Ray at Ultimate Finale 4 but that was in 2006 - ancient history in the fight world. In addition, McCarthy doesn't have the kind of big win on his record that would indicate he has the skill set to defeat Bisping. "The Count" must set the pace early and not waste anytime showboating and he will cruise to a first round victory.
Chris Cosme: TUF 3 Light Heavyweight winner Michael Bisping is moving down a weight class since his first loss at the hands of Rashad Evans. His first opponent is no pushover in Charles McCarthy, a man who last won at the TUF 4 finale against Gideon Ray. It's brutally obvious that McCarthy was brought in to lose. But McCarthy has a good chance in this fight. He gave David Loiseau fits in their fight-McCarthy took Loiseau down repeatedly and almost secured a rear naked choke. Of course, that was until the spinning back kick was the beginning of the end for McCarthy. "Chainsaw" has been talking plenty of smack to get Bisping upset. He wants to get inside of Bisping's head which could be a good thing or a bad thing. For McCarthy to win, he has to take Bisping down and look for submissions. If he ends up standing with Bisping, it's going to be a looooong night for McCarthy.
Jesse Holland: Bisping via TKO
Chris Cosme: Bisping via TKO
Mac Danzig (17-4-1) vs. Mark Bocek (5-1)
Jesse Holland: Mark Bocek is being fed to Mac Danzig for his lightweight debut but the way upsets happen in this sport nothing is a foregone conclusion. No matter how good Danzig looked on The Ultimate Fighter 6, he's not invincible. People often cite him as a PRIDE veteran but neglect to mention that his only PRIDE appearance was a KO loss to Hayato "Mach" Sakurai. Bocek has good, but not great jiu-jitsu and decent hands. If he is going to get past Danzig who is more experienced and more complete, he's going to have to outwork him. He needs to fight a smart fight and at the risk of sounding boring, engage and retreat. Any time spent on the ground should be defensive with the goal of getting back to the stand-up. Or Bocek could just swing for the fences and hope to get lucky.
Chris Cosme: TUF 6 Winner Mac Danzig makes his anticipated PPV debut and a debut at his more natural weight of 155 lbs against UFC vet Mark Bocek. Without a doubt, Mac was a cut above all of his TUF 6 alumni in winning the show. This fight is a showcase for Danzig and if he wins in impressive fashion-the 155 lbs division is just as stacked as it's ever been. Bocek is a solid wrestler with average striking, so Danzig can dictate not only the pace, but where the fight takes place as well. Much like Forrest Griffin's PPV debut against Elvis Sinosic; this is a fight that will garner Danzig the attention he's deserved. He was just as unknown to TUF generation fans much like Jon Fitch when he debuted in the UFC. Danzig, a King of the Cage and PRIDE veteran has been looking forward to this moment all of his life. He will win this one convincingly.
Jesse Holland: Danzig via submission
Chris Cosme: Danzig via submission
That's a wrap, folks.
Remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and our coverage of UFC 83: Serra vs. St. Pierre 2.
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 83.