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UFC 95 Predictions

UFC 95 Predictions

UFC 95 Predictions
by T.O. Whenham

It's time for another UFC event. UFC 95 won't be quite the spectacle that the bigger events are - it lacks a big headline event, and it's not a pay-per-view event. That's not all bad, though - it will be available on free TV, so that leaves you with more money to bet on the fights. Incidentally, the fights will be shown on Spike on a tape-delayed basis because the event is in London and the time zones don't work out. If you have dumb friends then you could make a killing by betting on the fights you are watching when you already know the results. If you are more honest than that then you'll want to make sure you bet early to avoid missing the fights. Here's a look at the card, with all odds from Bodog:

Diego Sanchez (-325) vs. Joe Stevenson (+250) - This is the main event, which tells you the general caliber of the card. These guys are lightweights, but they aren't exactly megastars. Stevenson is a reasonably big guy for a lightweight. His striking and wrestling skills are only decent, but he shines when it comes to earning a submission. His future seemed to be very bright, but he has lost his last two fights to bring him back to earth a bit. One of those losses was to Kenny Florian, who has also beaten Sanchez. Sanchez is almost the match of Stevenson on submissions, and he is much better when it comes to wrestling and takedowns. There's a big question, though - Sanchez is moving down to lightweight for the first time, and we've seen multiple examples of how hard dropping down is for a fighter. Sanchez has an overall edge, but it's not nearly as big as the price indicates. That puts the value on Stevenson.

Pick: Joe Stevenson

Demian Maia (-270) vs. Chael Sonnen (+210) -
Maia is undefeated in nine career fights. That's impressive, but you shouldn't read too much into it - he's been largely one-dimensional and has never had to stand and strike. Luckily, he probably won't have to here, either. Sonnen is a natural wrestler who will try to get this to the ground quickly. That will make this matchup strength against strength. Sonnen is good, but Maia is going to be too much for him. The UFC likes having unbeaten fighters to promote, and they like to put them in spots that give them a chance to stay that way.

Pick: Demian Maia

Nate Marquardt (-325) vs. Wilson Gouveia (+250) - This is a good fight between two middleweight submission specialists. Gouveia is a big guy for his weight class. He's also better than he gets credit for. That being said, I think that he is outmatched here. Marquardt is a very good fighter, and is just a couple of bad breaks away from being a huge star. His price is more than justified here.

Pick: Nate Marquardt

Josh Koscheck (-550) vs. Paulo Thiago (+350) - Thiago is undefeated, but he's making his UFC debut, and he is taking a huge step in up in class. Too much of one. Koscheck is good, and this is nothing more than a formal sparring session for him. Or at least it will be if he is focused. I hate betting chalky favorites, but I hate losing more.

Pick: Josh Koscheck

Dan Hardy (even) vs. Rory Markham (-130) - These guys are both determined strikers, so this is the closest thing to a boxing match that the UFC has to offer. They are well matched and both reasonably talented. Hardy's price is better, and he's a Brit so he'll have lots of support. That makes him worth a look.

Pick: Dan Hardy

Terry Etim (-240) vs. Brian Cobb (+190) - Cobb has had a decent career so far, but he is making his UFC debut. That's a hard thing to do, and it takes a special fighter to be worthy of support in his first fight. Etim matches up well physically, and he also has the advantage of fighting in front of a friendly local crowd.

Pick: Terry Etim

Junior Dos Santos (-290) vs. Stefan Struve (+230) - Struve has 16 wins in 18 fights, but this is his first time in the UFC. He's in tough against Dos Santos. The Brazilian heavyweight knocked Fabricio Werdum out in his last fight. That's not easy to do.

Pick: Junior Dos Santos

Per Eklund (-170) vs. Evan Dunham (+140) - Dunham is yet another fighter making his UFC debut. He's undefeated in seven fights. Eklund is more of an established veteran. He's not overly impressive, though. As much as I don't like picking rookies, I think that's where the value is this time.

Pick: Evan Dunham

Paul Kelly (-325) vs. Troy Mandaloniz (+250) - I have high hopes for this fight. Both guys are strikers who throw a mean punch and can take a blow without a problem. They should stay on their feet and beat on each other. Kelly is a bit more experienced and a bit more talented. That gives him the edge, as the price indicates.

Pick: Paul Kelly

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Re: UFC 95 Predictions

UFC 95 Sanchez vs. Stevenson: Previews and picks

UFC 95 throws down at the O2 Arena in London, England Saturday. The main event pits two former Ultimate Fighter champions, Diego Sanchez and Joe Stevenson, against each other in the lightweight division.

This will be Sanchez’s first fight at 155 pounds after fighting at 170 pounds since his days on TUF.

Prediction: Sanchez has the better wrestling so the fight will end up where he wants it to. On his feet, he seems to have more skills than his adversary. On the ground, submissions are close but Sanchez's wrestling and fearsome pace may dictate things.

Sanchez is too much for Stevenson, as good as he is. Diego Sanchez at lightweight is a scary proposition for would-be opponents.

Pick: Diego Sanchez by third round TKO

Demian Maia (9-0) vs. Chael Sonnen (21-9-1)

Prediction: Sonnen’s wrestling allows him to determine where the majority of this fight takes place. He’d be best off standing. Anytime opponents hit the canvas with Maia, they’re in danger. Maia will get that moment on the ground, even if he pulls guard, before Sonnen can knock him out. This one could go either way and determines the future of the UFC Middleweight division.

Pick: Demian Maia by second round submission

Nate Marquardt (27-8-2) vs. Wilson Gouveia (12-5)

Prediction: After both fighters most recent bout, I said I’d go with them in their next fight. Of course, I didn’t realize they’d be taking one another on. In the end, Marquardt’s sheer strength will be the difference.

Pick: Nate Marquardt wins by second round TKO

Josh Koscheck (14-3) vs. Paulo Thiago (10-0)

Prediction: Thiago has been a submission nightmare on smaller venues. But this is the UFC and Josh Koscheck.

Pick: Josh Koscheck wins by first round TKO

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Re: UFC 95 Predictions

London Calling
By Brad Young

The Ultimate Fighting Championship travels back to London, England’s O2 Arena Saturday, February 21 for UFC 95: Sanchez vs. Stevenson. The main event is a lightweight battle between Diego ‘Nightmare’ Sanchez (19-2) and Joe ‘Daddy’ Stevenson (29-9) in a matchup between two former winners of The Ultimate Fighter.

Both fighters enter this bout facing a couple of challenges on different fronts. Sanchez currently entertains a $3.30 favorite status (bet $330 to win $100) over Stevenson, the $2.50 underdog. 'The Nightmare' opened as a $2.50 'chalk' before being bet up to the current price.

This marks Sanchez’s first foray into the lightweight division after spending most of his career as a welterweight. The 27-year-old won the first season of TUF as a middleweight before becoming a force at 170 pounds. The weight cut to 155 hasn’t been easy for Sanchez, who commented on the situation during a recent UFC media conference call.

“The reason I went down to 155 pounds is because it’s a challenge,” stated Sanchez. “I was 193 pounds Christmas Eve, so I don’t see myself staying at lightweight forever.

“I better do it now because I’m still in my 20’s, but once you hit your 30’s it’s so hard to lose weight. I don’t want to go down a weight class and lose my strength.”

Some people believe that Sanchez will struggle with his first fight as a lightweight, but Stevenson doesn’t think it will be an issue.

“I think Diego is such a professional, that his first weight cut to 155 pounds won’t be a problem,” said Stevenson. “I know he’s prepared hard, and everyone will get to see two guys at their peak performance.”

Another issue that arose on the conference call was the fact that the fight will be held in England. Fighters have struggled dealing with such a huge time difference, with Sanchez making his first trip abroad to fight while this will be Stevenson’s second trip across the pond. Stevenson’s first England trip didn’t go as planned when he suffered a second-round submission loss to lightweight champion B.J. ‘The Prodigy’ Penn.

“I woke up at 2 a.m. California time and went to bed at 6 p.m. to prepare for the time change, but it didn’t make that much of a difference,” noted Stevenson. “The London fans are amazing, the energy you can feel is awesome.”

The winner of this matchup will find himself in somewhat of an awkward position concerning a shot at the lightweight title. Penn is still recovering from the beatdown that Georges ‘Rush’ St. Pierre dealt him at UFC 94, and probably won’t fight inside the octagon again until this summer against top-contender Kenny Florian. The winner of the Sanchez-Stevenson fight will probably want another fight before a title shot to avoid nine months or more of inactivity.

Sanchez was knocked out of the welterweight title picture with back-to-back losses to Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch, but has since rebounded with victories over David Bielkheden and Luigi Fioravanti. ‘Nightmare’ can instantly move into title contention in the lightweight division with a victory over Stevenson, a person he admires.

“I think Joe is an amazing fighter and an amazing person, and I knew he was going to win season two of TUF,” said Sanchez. “I would much rather punch a guy in the face that I don’t like.”

Stevenson was equally complimentary during the media session.

“I watched the first show of TUF and know Diego from King of the Cage,” noted Stevenson. “We run into each other all the time, we’re just two young guys who are advanced in their career.”

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