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UFC 86 quick preview, analysis and predictions

ufc 86 predictions
UFC 86: "Jackson vs. Griffin" is set for tomorrow (Saturday) night, July 5 from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The pay-per-view (PPV) event airs LIVE at 10 p.m. ET.

Remember: 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 a solid line up of fights.

To get us pumped for the festivities Editor and Senior Writer Jesse Holland and site contributor Chris Cosme went toe-to-toe below to try and predict the fighters who will leave the Octagon with their hands raised tomorrow during the featured fights of the day.

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:

Tyson Griffin (11-1) vs. Marcus Aurelio (16-5)

Chris Cosme: This is a big fight for Griffin due to the fact that a win here could put him as the next man in line for a lightweight title shot behind Roger Huerta or Kenny Florian. But Griffin has to finish this fight impressively. Period. All of his wins inside the Octagon have been by decision and granted those fights have been exciting, but you have to finish fights too. Unfortunately, it's not going to be easy finishing Marcus Aurelio. 'Maximus' is clearly going to be a daunting task for Griffin because he's so well versed with his jiu-jitsu. Aurelio's striking has come leaps and bounds since fighting in PRIDE, and he could look to beat Griffin on the feet before the fight goes to the ground. This is a fight that could come down to who can impose their will on their opponent and in turn determine who wins this fight.

Jesse Holland: Tyson Griffin has a lot of hurdles in front of him in the lightweight division. Despite his talent, he's still playing second fiddle to some of the more recognizable names like Kenny Florian, Joe Stevenson and Roger Huerta. Like Jon Fitch at welterweight, Griffin must continue to win until the UFC is forced to put him in a title match. A loss could send him into the realm of Karo Parisyan, where every fight brings you closer to…well, nothing. If he's going to defeat Aurelio, he's going to have to out-work him. "Maximus" only loses via decision and finished ten of his fights by submission, including a shocking arm-triangle on Takanori Gomi back in PRIDE Bushido 10. He's been a bit inconsistent since then and I thought he looked a little dogged in his fight against Luke Caudillo at UFC 78. Is age catching up with him? Perhaps, but a submission over the wily Griffin will once again prove age ain't nothin' but a number.

Final Predictions:
Cosme: Griffin via split decision
Holland: Griffin via unanimous decision

Gleison Tibau (15-5) vs. Joe Stevenson (28-8)

Chris Cosme: It's going to be very interesting to see what Joe Stevenson's mindset is heading into this fight. It's no secret that he was thoroughly dominated by BJ Penn at UFC 80 last January and this is a tough first fight back since that loss. Tibau is a big lightweight who has competed in the UFC's welterweight division at one point in his MMA career. Tibau is going to have the height and reach advantage and it would serve him good to keep Stevenson at bay to avoid any takedowns. Stevenson will have to close the distance against Tibau, just as Tyson Griffin did in Tibau's 155 lb debut back in February. Tyson bullied Tibau in the cage long enough to get a takedown and score some points. Stevenson will have to take some risks in order to utilize the same gameplan Griffin did in defeating Tibau. If he can take Tibau down and keep him there, it's going to be an easy night for Stevenson. But nothing comes easy in this sport.

Jesse Holland: Joe Stevenson got his ass kicked by BJ Penn. So what? That's like getting out-putted by Tiger Woods or Aced in a serve against Roger Federer. Aside from Penn and perhaps Sherk, Joe Stevenson owns this division. It's amazing to think that the youthful Stevenson has 36 fights or that he's 18-3 since 2001, but that's a testament to the kind of fighter "Daddy" is. Since moving to lightweight he's never looked better and his strength and conditioning will give Tibau plenty of problems. I haven't seen anything in Tibau's past that indicates he's able to topple someone of Stevenson's caliber. He was stopped by Nick Diaz, outpointed by Tyson Griffin – and how in the world do you allow yourself to lose to a guy named Anaconda Anaconda? Joe Daddy is going to put him on the mat and grind him into little pieces.

Final Predictions:
Cosme: Stevenson via unanimous decision
Holland: Stevenson via TKO

Josh Koscheck (10-2) vs. Chris Lytle (25-15-5)

Chris Cosme: This is my 'Fight of the Night' pick right here in what could be a slugfest. A win for Koscheck puts him right back in the title picture of the welterweight division. A win for Lytle could be monumental to his career and could possibly leapfrog Koscheck in the welterweight rankings. Like I've stated in the FNT, Lytle is 0-2 against top tier competition in the division. A win here could snap that streak and Josh Koscheck is the perfect opponent to do so. Koscheck may have a hell of a chin, but Lytle has the power to knock dudes out cold. This fight all hinges on which Josh Koscheck shows up to this fight. Koscheck wins this fight 9 out 10 times if he relies on his superior wrestling, but it's a crapshoot if he decides to stand and trade with Lytle. We'll all have to wait and see on tomorrow night.

Jesse Holland: Fight of the night? Slugfest? This is Koscheck we're talking about, right? Look, Chris Lytle is a skilled boxer and a helluva nice guy. Unfortunately that's about it. To be fair the guy knows how to choke people out – he's done it twelve times in his career – but that won't matter against a wrestler like Koscheck. A lot of people are questioning whether or not Kos will be doing any striking and personally, I don't see it. There is too much on the line to be experimenting with a striker of Lytle's ability. Koscheck knows he's in a very tough division so I expect him to do what he does best: Take Lytle down and punish him on the mat. Lytle is nearly impossible to finish– he hasn't been submitted in 45 fights and his only two losses via TKO were due to cuts. He's a tough dude but I see this playing out much like his fight against Matt Hughes back at UFC 68. He's going to be on the defensive the entire bout, most of which will be spent on his back.

Final Predictions:
Cosme: Koscheck via TKO
Holland: Koscheck by unanimous decision

Ricardo Almeida (9-2) vs. Patrick Cote (12-4)

Chris Cosme: The battle between Patrick Cote and Ricardo Almeida clearly can go either way. If Patrick Cote can defend the takedowns, he has a shot of winning this fight. If Ricardo takes Cote down, it's just simply textbook from there. Who is going to utilize their gameplan in winning this fight? I'm not sold on Patrick Cote's takedown defense even if Almeida's isn't the best in the world. All of his wins inside the Octagon have come against strikers and two of his three losses have come against submission fighters. Almeida's chin is sure to be tested by Cote and that's where Cote wins this fight. If Almeida can weather the storm and take Cote down, he's winning this fight. So Patrick, be sure to stay standing and you'll be just fine!

Jesse Holland: Well here it is, the striker versus the grappler. At first glance I want to lean towards Almeida because of Cote's submission losses to Joe Doerksen and Travis Lutter, but that was long before the new and improved Patrick Cote arrived, who seems able to punch through steel walls as of late. This one isn't brain surgery folks. Cote has to stay off the ground. Fortunately this isn't amateur wrestling so he has at the very least the start of each round to make some noise. To his credit, not only has his last three wins been via TKO, they've also all ended in the first round. He needs to try for the same result here. We know Almeida will be looking for the shoot just as Cote will be looking for the bomb. Whoever gets it first is going home the winner.

Final Predictions:
Cosme: Cote via TKO
Holland: Almeida via submission

Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson (28-6) vs. Forrest Griffin (15-4)

Chris Cosme: I've been torn in picking this winner of this fight since the fight was announced earlier this year. Who has the bigger heart? Who's going to have the better cardio? There is just so many unknowns in this fight which could make this fight one of the better ones of the year. The key for Griffin will be to utilize his height and reach advantage to make Rampage maybe over commit for a takedown or letting his hands go too much. Much has been made of Griffin possibly using the Muay Thai clinch because it has become an effective tool to defeat Jackson. The problem with that is that it was Wanderlei Silva and Shogun Rua delivering those knees to defeat Jackson, not Griffin. Griffin's height if anything makes it easier for Jackson to take him down in the clinch. Silva and Rua were about the same height as Jackson, thus making it easier for them to keep Jackson close to deliver those devastating knees. That alone eliminates the possibility of Griffin defeating Jackson by knees in the clinch. The fact of the matter is that anything Griffin does in this fight, Rampage will do better. It's going to be close after three rounds, but it will be in the championship rounds that Rampage will dominate en route to an easy victory.

Jesse Holland: So according to Cosme you have to be Billy Barty to land knees in the clinch. When I spoke to Rampage last December I asked him if Forrest had any chance in hell against Shogun. He told me that he had a very good chance because Forrest is a big guy who knows what tough is. That tells me he's never underestimated Griffin and may have even more concerns about their match-up after Griffin's destruction of Shogun Rua, a man who annihilated Jackson. A lot of people can't shake the Jardine KO from their memories but I think Griffin is the better fighter because of it. He's more careful, more tactical and of course his cardio speaks for itself. Unfortunately for him, as good as he is in all of those categories, Rampage is just a little bit better. He was on shaky legs in PRIDE but since coming to the UFC he seems to have refined his ability and matured greatly as a fighter. I don't think he will be able to stop Forrest, but he will definitely out-strike him. Look for an exciting five round fight that may be a lot closer than some people think.

Final Predictions:
Cosme: Jackson via TKO
Holland: Jackson via unanimous decision

That's a wrap, folks. For the complete UFC 86: "Jackson vs. Griffin" fight card click here. Remember to come check us out this weekend for the latest results, recaps and thoughts on Saturday's fights.

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 86.

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