clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

UFC 114 predictions, preview and analysis

New, 58 comments

UFC 114: "Rampage vs. Evans" is set to go down this Saturday, May 29, 2010 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, live on pay-per-view.

Remember: MMAmania.com will provide LIVE updates with 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 event, MMAmania.com Editor and Senior Writer, Jesse Holland (that’s me), will break down the main card matches and take a closer look at the intricacies of each contest.

One of the big stories coming into this event is of course the headlining fight between former light heavyweight champions and ex-TUF 10 coaches Quinton Jackson and Rashad Evans.

Has the "A-Team" layoff hurt "Rampage" physically? And will he have his head in the fight game after getting a taste of the glitz and glamor of Hollywood?

There are still a lot of unanswered questions regarding the future of Michael Bisping. Is he one or two wins away from getting back in the title hunt? And does he have the chops to hang with the 185-pound elite?

Dan Miller may help us answer that question on Saturday night.

Also on tap is a heavyweight throwdown between Todd Duffee and Mike Russow. Now that Duffee's seven seconds of fame are up, will he prove to be the next big thing at heavyweight? Or will the Chicago cop arrest his ascension up the divisional ladder?

There will certainly be a lot to talk about on Sunday morning.

I’ve also included the current betting lines for each fight so that you can get a feel for what the money has to say about the chances of each combatant.

Now, enough with the formalities … let’s get cracking:

205 lbs.: "Suga" Rashad Evans (19-1-1) vs. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (30-7)

Backgrounds (last five fights):

Evans:

Record: 4-1
Notable wins: Put Chuck Liddell on ice, chopped down Forrest Griffin to win the division title...
Notable losses: ...Which he graciously handed over to Lyoto Machida on the bus to Napsville.
Strengths: Good wrestling, deceptively fast, terrific dancer.
Weaknesses: Suspect cardio, doesn't control the pace, looked wobbly against Thiago Silva.

Jackson:

Record: 4-1
Notable wins: Took Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva out of the title picture for good.
Notable losses: Phoned it in against Forrest Griffin -- and it cost him the belt.
Strengths: Good striker, powerful, tons of experience.
Weaknesses: Long layoff, conditioning issues, unfocused.

Dumbass predicts: Man of science, man of faith. How else can I break down a main event that has the mixed martial arts fan base split equally in two? I'm a man of science, so expect me to pick Evans -- but believe me when I tell you it's by the slimmest of margins. How slim? I couldn't fit my Mania Christmas bonus between it -- and I've seen that shit slip through cracks that even water wouldn't penetrate.

Jackson might very well be the better all-around fighter. But I'm not sure where his head is at. What's with all those interviews in the past few weeks about how awful the UFC regime is? He must have really been infected by the Hollywood virus because he doesn't sound like a fighter who is committed to being the best.

And can we stop pretending he was lighting the world on fire before skipping town? Aside from playing patty-cake with Wanderlei Silva's face (which has gotten way too easy over the years), he turned in a stinker against Forrest Griffin and phoned it in against Keith Jardine -- the same mean dean who got KOed by Ryan Bader.

On its own, not being up for the game is a serious detriment. But couple that with Jackson's considerable layoff (and his considerable gut) and I have serious doubts about his physical and mental preparedness. Sure, he can show up in shape, but there is a marked difference between cramming for an a exam and studying for it all year.

That brings me to Evans.

Am I running to the bookie based on his Thiago Silva fight? Not exactly. But considering it was his first fight back (and a very dangerous one) after Lyoto Machida folded him up like a Trapper-Keeper, I can overlook his rubber legs in round three against Silva.

Where I favor Evans in this contest is in the preparation. Aside from a state of perpetual training (based on his fight schedule), he seems to be in the right frame of mind. Of course Jackson is every bit as angry, but Evans doesn't want to win and go back to making movies. He wants to win and go back to being light heavyweight champion.

He also has Team Jackson behind him, who knows a thing or two about formulating game plans. Rampage has Wolfslair, which is a solid camp, but hasn't been cranking out world beaters like the balding guru in New Mexico has.

In the end, I just see too many negatives to pick Jackson. I like Evans in a split decision and he may even get rocked, but the wrestling will find him in good graces with the judges. And if all else fails, "Suga" can juke, jive and dance his way across three rounds better than anyone in the sport.

"Yeah, but still, it's Rampage. He'll win," says the man of faith.

Which I am not.

Betting lines (as of May 28):

Jackson: -115 ((Bet Now))

Evans: -115 ((Bet Now))

Prediction: Evans via split decision

185 lbs.: Michael "The Count" Bisping (18-3) vs. Dan Miller (11-3)

Backgrounds (last five fights):

Bisping:

Record: 3-2
Notable wins: Beat a chemically enhanced Chris Leben, gave Denis Kang his UFC pink slip.
Notable losses: Wrong end of a Hendo Shoryuken, looked dull against the blade of "The Axe Murderer."
Strengths: Technically sound, always in shape, has heart.
Weaknesses: Pitter-patter punches, has been known to play it a little too safe.

Miller:

Record: 3-2
Notable wins: Strangled Jake Rosholt and Rob Kimmons, decisioned Matt Horwich.
Notable losses: Back-to-back butt-whoopings at the hands of Chael Sonnen and Demian Maia.
Strengths: Great wrestling, underrated ground game.
Weaknesses: Getting outstruck by Demian Maia does not look good on a resume.

Dumbass predicts: For a guy that's facing a possible pink slip, Dan Miller sure doesn't exhibit the kind of urgency you would expect from a fighter that's dropped two straight. Aye, the dreaded 0-3 hole is a one-way ticket to Strikeforce but Miller's interviews in the last three weeks have sounded like an unconditional surrender.

That's a shame, because he has the tools to beat Michael Bisping. But he won't. "The Count" is the kind of guy who can hang with anyone, but when he fights scared like he did against Dan Henderson and Wanderlei Silva, he ends up throwing the fight away.

Bisping is not scared of Miller. And why should he be? All the Sparta-native seems to talk about is how awful his predicament is. And it doesn't help that he was outstruck by Demian Maia, who isn't exactly known for his hands.

This is exactly the type of scenario Bisping loves and I expect him to capitalize on it. His fluffernutter fists won't stiffen Miller, but his striking is technically sound and continues to improve. It can certainly do enough damage to win this fight.

Can he stop the wrestling attack? I think he only needs to stuff one or two before Miller abandons them and it turns into a stand-up battle. Then it all boils down to who has the better hands.

Against upper-tier middleweights, as we've seen, it wouldn't be enough to get Bisping the "W."

Dan Miller is not upper-tier.

Betting lines (as of May 28):

Bisping: -170 ((Bet Now))

Miller: +140 ((Bet Now))

Prediction: Bisping by unanimous decision

205 lbs.: Antonio Rogerio "Minotoro" Nogueira (18-3) vs. Jason "The Hitman" Brilz (18-2-1)

Backgrounds (last five fights):

Nogueira:

Record: 5-0
Notable wins: Thunderous TKO win over Luis Cane in mini-Nog's UFC debut.
Notable losses: Hasn't been beat since Sokoudjou nearly killed him at PRIDE 33.
Strengths: Excellent grappling, one of the sport's better boxers, trains with the best of the best.
Weaknesses: Not many, but I can only hope he's not overlooking Brilz.

Brilz:

Record: 4-1
Notable wins: Decisioned Eric Schafer and Tim Boetsch. Not sure if they qualify as "notable."
Notable losses: Split decision to Eliot Marshall last September.
Strengths: Good wrestler, not easily rattled.
Weaknesses: Unproven on the big stage.

Dumbass predicts: Anyone else unsettled by this fight? There's nothing I hate more than one of my favorite fighters getting stuck on the wrong end of a Cinderella story. Against Forrest Griffin, I had "Minotoro" all day. Now against Brilz, I'm not so sure.

Hey, I'm still picking Lil' Nog to win, didn't you read that whole "Man of science" thing earlier? Nogueira has a rare combination of ridiculous boxing and world class grappling along with a resume that includes wins over Dan Henderson and Alistair Overeem (twice). Think of him as Rodrigo minus the head trauma.

Aside from that horrible "anything can happen" aspect of our sport, I really don't see any way Brilz wins this. Maybe he can grind out a decision with a relentless wrestling attack? Perhaps, but is the ground a place you really want to be fooling around with against a Nogueira?

And Brilz has only one finish in his UFC career. He defeated but couldn't put away Eric Schafer and Tim Boetsch and lost a split decision to Eliot Marshall. In fact, toss in Brad Morris and none of the fighters he's faced are still with the UFC. If your previous four wins have come against competition the Zuffa brass has no interest in keeping on the payroll, it's hard to make a case for you in this fight, even at 18-2.

I expect Brilz to take a few more shots to the dome than he cares for which will force him to try and implement his wrestling game. I'm predicting a TKO stoppage for the Brazilian but a standing guillotine or textbook armbar would not surprise me.

Neither would a Brilz upset, which is why this sport drives me crazy sometimes.

Betting lines (as of May 28):

Nogueira: -550 ((Bet Now))

Brilz: +375 ((Bet Now))

Prediction: Nogueira via technical knockout

170 lbs.: Diego "Nightmare" Sanchez (21-3) vs. John Hathaway (12-0)

Backgrounds (last five fights):

Sanchez:

Record: 4-1
Notable wins: Fight of the year against Clay Guida, no "Daddy" issues versus Joe Stevenson.
Notable losses: Looked lost against the considerable might of BJ Penn.
Strengths: Incredible pace, very strong, relentless.
Weaknesses: Flip-flopping weight classes is never a good sign.

Hathaway:

Record: 5-0
Notable wins: Perfect through 12 -- though some of his opponents were bargain-bin competition.
Notable losses: None!
Strengths: Big for a welterweight, good ground and pound.
Weaknesses: Hard to knock a guy who hasn't lost, but this is a big step up for him and a good test.

Dumbass predicts: Will Diego Sanchez regret moving back to welterweight? YES! What a shame. It may have been a "Nightmare" against BJ Penn, but he was ideal for that weight class and who didn't want to see a rematch with Kenny Florian? He's talking about facing KenFlo at a catchweight, apparently forgetting the cardinal rule about forecasting future fights when a dangerous opponent lies in wait.

I've always liked Sanchez as a fighter, but dropping out of the Thiago Alves fight in 2008 left a bad taste in my mouth. So does the flip-flopping between weight classes. Diego used to always talk about destiny and pursuing his goal to be champion, etc. And now he just seems lost.

Can he still hang with the best? Sure, but that single-mindedness (I think) took his game to another level. Is he still the same "Nightmare?" John Hathaway is going to be a very good test. Sanchez has an excellent skill set. Good, but not great at everything. What he lacks in technical acumen he makes up for in viciousness. He's going to need that here because Hathaway has the kind of big welterweight frame that can give Diego problems.

I don't want to put too much stock in the Brit's perfect record because quite frankly, some of his opponents would have a hard time being identified by their own kin in a police line up. Still, he has a good head for the game and while they were both decisions, I saw a lot of promise in the Ricky Story and Paul Taylor fights.

Sanchez should win this because he's going to be the more aggressive fighter. But he's likely to find himself having a much harder time than he -- or the casual fan -- anticipates.

Betting lines (as of May 29):

Sanchez: -220 ((Bet Now))

Hathaway: +175 ((Bet Now))

Prediction: Sanchez via split decision

265 lbs.: Todd Duffee (6-0) vs. Mike Russow (12-1)

Backgrounds (last five fights):

Duffee:

Record: 5-0
Notable wins: Thrashed Tim Hague's machine, clowned Assuerio Silva in Brazil.
Notable losses: None!
Strengths: Big, athletic, hard-hitting heavyweight. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Weaknesses: Bouncing around from camp to camp, head may not be screwed on straight.

Russow:

Record: 5-0
Notable wins: Pissed off Mother Russia by submitting Roman Zentsov, made Jason Guida tap in two minutes.
Notable losses: None since being armbarred by Sergei Kharitonov under questionable circumstances back in PRIDE.
Strengths: Quick for a heavyweight, outstanding submissions.
Weaknesses: Gives up a lot of size in the new-look heavyweight division.

Dumbass predicts: FAME! I'm gonna live for-everrrrr... That would be the perfect theme song for the one-hit wonder known as Todd Duffee, whose hype train can barrel through the walls of reality like The Polar Express. Choo! Choo! All aboard! Lest you think I'm making fun of Duffee, know that I am in awe of his potential.

But can we slow down and take it one fight at a time? A seven-second knockout was impressive, but let's keep in mind it was over Tim Hague, who is no longer employed by the UFC.

Duffee is going to be a great fighter. UFC fans have only seen a glimpse of his power, but go back and find videos of his fights in Brazil and the Dominican Republic. For a guy with only six fights, he looks like he's been doing it for years. That's important. You can teach fighting, but you can't teach instincts -- and Duffee has the lion's share.

It's almost a shame that he's facing Russow, because Chicago's finest is a pretty good fighter himself. He gets overlooked because he doesn't have the body of an Adonis, but he's an excellent grappler and pretty quick for a big man.

Having said that, he's just not big enough to stop Duffee's incoming assault. Is he technically superior? In my opinion he is, but Duffee is too big and powerful to get hung up in a submission. This has shades of Mir vs. Lesnar II. Russow will be too busy trying to keep from getting punched in the face to set up a submission and will ultimately be pounded out.

Betting lines (as of May 28):

Duffee: -375 ((Bet Now))

Russow: +275 ((Bet Now))

Prediction: Duffee via technical knockout

That’s a wrap, folks.

Remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Rampage vs. Evans."

What do you think? Now it’s your turn … let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for Saturday’s event.