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UFC 90 predictions, preview and analysis

UFC 90: "Silva vs. Cote" is set go off LIVE from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill., on pay-per-view (PPV) at 10 p.m. ET on October 25.

Remember: will provide LIVE updates and blow-by-blow, round-by-round commentary of the main card action on fight night, which is slated to air at 10 p.m. ET.

To get us pumped for the festivities, Editor and Senior Writer Jesse Holland (that’s me) will be breaking down the main event matches and revealing each fighter’s keys to victory.

If you’re looking for an unbiased and objective examination of each contest, then I’m happy to report you will be extremely disappointed.

Why else do you think I would depose the former contributors and take this act solo like the selfish blowhard you already know me to be?

But enough about me ... at least for the time being.

Let’s get cracking:

Anderson "The Spider" Silva (22-4) vs. Patrick "The Predator" Cote (13-4)

Like most underdogs, Cote plans to shock the world. Unless he decides to circle the globe using nothing more than electrical outlets like Horace Pinker, the only shock will come from the defibrillator that's used to restart his heart after Silva demolishes him. To be fair, Cote has definitely earned this opportunity by going 7-1 with six stoppages after suffering back-to-back losses to Joe Doerksen and Chris Leben in 2005. His performance against Ricardo Almeida at UFC 86 was nothing to write home about, but Cote knows how to hit hard and has a competent submission game. But the question is: What can Cote do against Silva that Franklin and Henderson couldn't? That's my biggest concern going into this fight. Better than Cote have tried to figure out Silva and failed ... and failed miserably. There is really no place Cote can go where he's not at a distinct disadvantage. Forget about trying to be elusive -- Silva hasn't gone to the judges since outpointing Lee Murray back in 2004. There isn't much to say about "The Spider" that we don't already know. He is without a doubt one of if not THE best fighter in the world and his striking is without flaw. Watching someone of his ability compete in his prime is a special thing. Enjoy it while it lasts because Silva wants to call it quits in 2009.

Keys to victory:

Silva: Show up.

Cote: Henderson and Lutter were able to give Silva a lot of trouble on the ground. Unfortunately, Henderson and Lutter also ended up getting submitted. Picadors stab a mound of muscle on a bull's neck prior to engaging the vicious beast. Perhaps "The Predator" can send GSP over to Silva's locker room to help soften him up.

Prediction: Silva by technical knockout

Thiago "Pitbull" Alves (15-3) vs. Josh Koscheck (11-2)

A lot of credit has gone to Josh Kosckeck for taking this fight on short notice after Diego Sanchez bowed out with an injury. But let's be fair, Alves deserves credit as well. Having to change your entire strategy so close to a fight is a difficult task. Assuming Alves can make weight, he will be a dangerous test for Koscheck. "Pitbull" has a fantastic and devastating striking arsenal, whether it’s crushing knees, strafing kicks or powerful punch combinations. He’ll need to keep this fight upright if he has any hopes of toppling Koscheck, which could be troublesome because Kos will more than likely do everything in his power to take him down. For all the heat that Koscheck takes about his fight style, it does get results. He’s a tremendous wrestler who can take down just about anyone at will. He's also starting to utilize that position more effectively as we saw in his drubbing of Chris Lytle at UFC 86. I see the advantage going to Koscheck based on his superior wrestling and history of taking fighters out of their game. Koscheck, who showed his durability in a decision loss to Georges St. Pierre, also trains with Jon Fitch who already fought and defeated Alves at Ultimate Fight Night 5.

Keys to victory:

Alves: Find a way to get inside and utilize those knees. Be prepared to spend a lot of time defending the takedown. Do it as well as you did against Hughes and you control the fight.

Koscheck: Hughes relied on his wrestling against Alves and got tooled for it. Still, don't let it discourage your strategy. You will succeed where Hughes failed because you're younger, faster and not sacrificing your training time to bail hay.

Prediction: Koscheck by unanimous decision

Fabricio "Vai Cavalo" Werdum (11-3-1) vs. Junior "Cigano" Dos Santos (6-1)

Sans a bad unanimous decision loss to Andrei Arlovski, Fabricio Werdum has shown that he is among the top heavyweights on the planet. He has two wins over Gabriel Gonzaga, a submission victory over Aleksander Emelianenko, as well as Alistair Overeem, and recently pounded out the spiraling Brandon Vera at UFC 85 "Bedlam." He can cause anyone some major problems if he's able to impose his will and has time to work his top shelf submission game. While not known known for his striking, he still has an advantage over Dos Santos in every aspect of competition. Junior's career is off to a good start and all six of his wins have come by way of stoppage, but the majority of his fights were held in smaller promotions down in Brazil while Werdum has been battling world-class athletes on the big stage since 2005. "Cigano" needs to try and keep it standing and be aggressive with his strikes. Without disrespect to Dos Santos, it's almost a step backwards to see Werdum fighting a UFC newcomer after two big wins.

Keys to victory:

Werdum: You were promised a title shot in 2009. The last thing you want to do is delay that any further by losing to Dos Santos while experimenting with your stand-up. Get in there and submit him and wait for the big four to sort out their differences.

Dos Santos: It's your first fight in the UFC against an established MMA vet. You're not expected to win, so why not go for broke? Swing hard and often.

Prediction: Werdum by submission

Sean "The Muscle Shark" Sherk (32-3 –1) vs. Tyson "Peter" Griffin (12-1)

Sean Sherk is back in action after getting whipped by BJ Penn at UFC 84 following last year's steroid scandal. While the division seems to have moved on without him, it's hard for me to be down on a guy who is 32-3-1 with his only losses coming against Matt Hughes, Georges St. Pierre and BJ Penn -- three of the UFC's all-time greats. Sherk is a tremendous wrestler and one of the few fighters who can go five rounds without breaking a sweat. He knows how to ground and pound and, despite his alligator arms, actually has serviceable stand-up. Tyson Griffin has kind of snuck into the upper ranks of the lightweight division with his recent wins over Marcus Aurelio and Thiago Tavares, but I put him at a disadvantage here because his one loss came against a great wrestler in Frankie Edgar at UFC 67. He then came close to losing to Clay Guida at UFC 72 who is also (surprise) a good wrestler. Also weighing against him is his inability to finish fights. His first eight fights were stoppages, his last five have all gone to a decision. That won't fly against an aggressive, in-your-face fighter like Sherk, who may be too strong to get submitted. Expect Griffin to be handled for three rounds en route to a decision loss.

Keys to victory:

Sherk: Pick him up and slam him down. Elbows to the face. Rinse and repeat.

Griffin: How good is your jab? If you can keep the distance and somehow use Hawaiian magic like Penn did to get Sherk to abandon his wrestling you should be fine.

Prediction: Sherk by unanimous decision

Gray "The Bully" Maynard (5-0) vs. Rich "No Love" Clementi (32-12-1)

Gray Maynard is calling himself "The Bully" these days and that's a pretty good way to describe his victory over Frankie Edgar at UFC Fight Night 13. I had actually picked Maynard to lose but instead he showed his progression as a mixed martial artist by dominating Edgar for three rounds. Now Maynard must continue that evolution as he takes on a very dangerous veteran in Rich Clementi. "No Love" has experienced something of a rebirth, going 7-1 with five stoppages after back-to-back losses to Caol Uno and Din Thomas back in 2006 (sounds like Cote!). Clementi has a very well-rounded game with a nice balance of 10 (T)KO and 14 submission wins to his credit. Maynard, despite the flash knockout of Joe Veres at UFC Fight Night 11, is still considered a one dimensional fighter. However, Gray is so successful at that one dimension he controls the fight from start to finish. I expect the same in this contest and Clementi had best polish his ground work. Maynard is strong and "No Love" will have to maintain a full tank of gas to score (and retain) the submission. It will be close, but I'm going with Maynard.

Keys to victory:

Maynard: Pressure and pain. You're coming off two decision wins -- an early stoppage over a tough veteran will boost your stock and give you contendership status.

Clementi: It's going to the ground. What are you going to do when you get there? Stay composed and when in doubt, go for the triangle.

Prediction: Maynard by unanimous decision

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 90 "Silva vs. Cote."

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 90.

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