Ugh, after working 40 a week and going to school I completely forgot that there was a UFC this weekend. Fortunately, I remembered halfway through my 4 – hour Street Fighter IV session that Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Jon “Bones” Jones would be settling their petty war of words in the Octagon and it was my duty to analyze this card. God I hate school . . .
Ben “North Star” Rothwell ( 31-7) vs. Mark “The Super Samoan” Hunt (6-7)
Okay both these guys could kick my ass, but it’s the battle between two of the . . . em . . . “jiggliest” heavyweights. Both these men are rather doughy in physique but both are battle tested veterans with hands that could drop a horse.
Granted, Ben Rothwell never really gets the attention he deserves because a great deal of his success came in the IFL which wasn’t really a great fight league. However, scrolling through the list of names reveals some pretty solid wins. He finished off feared submission artist and striker Krzysztof Soszynski TWICE with strikes and actually owns a hard fought win over recent TUF winner Roy Nelson. Rothwell’s biggest strength is that he’s actually very well conditioned for a man his size; at 6′ 5″ and topping out the scales at 265 lbs he still has the energy to grind out wins over the course of multiple rounds. He’s a jack of all trades, possessing solid firepower on his feet but very adept at take downs as well.
Oh Jesus, I feel like I’m about to spend the next 5 sentences defending Mark Hunt. Yes, as an MMA fighter under contract of the UFC his record is absolutely abysmal but the fact is he earned his place through his famed kickboxing career. Though he is rather stout at 5′ 10″ and close to 260 lbs, Mark Hunt garnered a 30-13 record in K-1 in which he beat legend Gary Goodridge while lasting the fearsome Mirko Cro Cop for a decision loss. Despite a heartbreaking, quick loss to Sean McCorkle in his UFC debut he followed it up by doing what he does best; knocking heads. He smashed Chris Tuchscherer with an uppercut that dropped the poor man face first onto the mat and walked away . . . the referee didn’t even hesitate to declare the fight over. He hits that hard.
Matchup: I love Mark Hunt, but I’m a realist. Ben Rothwell can take a punch while Mark Hunt flat out sucks on the ground.
Prediction: Ben Rothwell via submission 2nd round
Nate Diaz ( 13-7) vs. Takanori “Fireball Kid” Gomi (32-7)
Now the Diaz brothers always come to game, but the real story here is The Fireball Kid. Anyone who watched his days in Pride understands that Gomi has the skills to put on a show and possibly make a career inside the Octagon.
Nate Diaz: Baby Diaz has always had the same skills as his older . . . more volatile brother. He has a loopy, unorthodox boxing style that allows him to catch opponents from awkward angles. Just ask striker Rory Markham . . . who came in almost 7 lbs over the contracted weight limit and STILL got decimated by Diaz’s striking. Powerful boxer Marcus Davis found himself severely cut by Diaz’s strikes before finding himself being strangled by Nate’s vice like grip. He is the definition of wiry strength.
Takanori Gomi: Just like Rothwell or Hunt, I feel as though I need to justify Gomi’s place on this card. He’s an old pride legend with great wrestling and powerful hands. Just ask Tyson Griffin who face planted onto the mat within a minute of standing with Gomi. If you want to see more of his brilliance, it’s necessary to YouTube his Pride fights.
Matchup: As much as I love Gomi, his two losses have come to stronger and larger ground fighters such as Kenny Florian and Clay Guida. Unfortunately, Diaz fits the bill as well and the chances of Gomi landing the necessary haymaker to win the fight.
Prediction: Diaz via choke in round 1
Travis Browne (11-0-1) vs Rob Broughton (15-5-1)
Both these heavyweights hail from the land of chips and tea (that’s England for you culturally ignorant slags) and they will potentially put together the best heavyweight fight in recent memory.
Travis Browne: I want to go ahead and point out that in one of my previous articles I pointed out that Travis Browne had the potential to be the breakout. Coming into his fight with highly touted prospect Stefan “Skyscraper” Struve, he had 5 straight finishes (barring a no contest in a dirty fight against Cheick Kongo). Many counted on the lengthy Struve to quickly submit the still fairly new Travis Browne. I quickly pointed out that Travis Browne was 6′ 7″ AND around 250 lbs meaning that he was not only big but also fast. Sure enough, Browne is a frontrunner for knockout of the year with a flying superman punch that smashed the back of Struve’s head against the back of the canvas. The fact is that Browne is not only strong, he’s athletic. This means that unlike fighters such as Frank Mir or Shane Carwin, Browne has the speed to apply his punching power instead of solely relying on brute strength. Go ahead, YouTube that knockout I can wait.
Rob Broughton: At 6′ 3″ and close to 260 lbs, Broughton comes off as shorter but much more powerful than Travis Browne. Interestingly enough, his MO isn’t using his muscle to land powerful shots on the feet; 3 of his last 4 finishes have been via submission. It’s interesting to note that this not a case of a man being able to come back from a disadvantage in order to secure a submission (a.k.a. “Nogueira syndrome”); his submissions are mostly offensive submissions. A keylock and rear naked choke are not submissions one can achieve from a disadvantageous position while his guillotine submission of Neil Wain was a standing guillotine from simply outmaneuvering his opponent. It’s very interesting to see such a powerful hefty guy use deft ground tactics instead of slugging on his feet because we haven’t had a good one since Frank Mir.
Matchup: Browne is such a powerhouse on his feet that we haven’t had the opportunity to see how he fairs on the ground off late. If Broughton can get the fight to the ground, there’s a good chance he holds a significant advantage and can secure a submission. That being said, Browne is the strongest and largest fighter Broughton has ever fought in my opinion and the likelihood that he gets tagged with a powerful punch as he comes in for the clinch is extremely high.
Prediction: Browne via KO round 1
Matt Hughes (45-8) vs Josh Koscheck (15-5)
Now we get to the prime cuts, the “meat” of the card if you will. The most heralded welterweight of all time will now match up against the perennial bad boy of the UFC as they both try to avenge devastating losses at the hands of the rivals.
Matt Hughes: This is going to be Matt Hugh’s twenty-fifth fight. Many MMA fighters are lucky to have their entire careers last that long yet Hughes has had over 50 fights with almost half of them occurring in the Octagon. In that run, he is 19-6 and has fought the who’s who of MMA meaning that he has literally watched the game evolve before his eyes. He has a stellar college wrestling background and has primarily out grappled all of his opponents for his 19 UFC wins. That’s not to say he’s a one trick pony though; he decimated Renzo Gracie on his feet with powerful leg kicks and pinpoint punches that dropped the grappling legend. He also has wins over B.J. Penn, Frank Trigg and Georges St. Pierre cementing his status as one of the best welterweights of all time.
Josh Koscheck: If Matt Hughes is the “grizzled veteran”, Josh Koscheck is the young lion hungry for the crown. Despite his recent (and frankly devastating) loss at the hands of welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, Koscheck remains the best athlete in the welterweight division. He’s the only fighter since Rich Clementi who has legitimately beaten welterweight phenom Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and he has forever cemented his place in the highlight reel annals with cringing knockouts over Frank Trigg and Yoshiyuki Yoshida. Koscheck’s strength lies in his athleticism; he has a balance between physical strength and speed that allows him to take down his opponents with ease instead of grinding it out in the clinch like many wrestlers are forced to do. When the fight does stay on its feet, Koscheck has the nastiest overhand right in the division that he loves to throw in the manner of a fastball. It’s not technical, but the knockout over Yoshida proves that it’s lethal nonetheless.
Matchup: Hate me for saying this, but I always that Matt Hughes was highly overrated. His greatest streak of dominance came against rather lackluster competition: Carlos Newton, Sean Sherk, an aging Royce Gracie? Meanwhile he is 1-2 against B.J. Penn and Georges St. Pierre both who flattened him in their rematches and got knocked the hell out by Thiago Alves. This isn’t to mention that the man has gotten slower with age. Koscheck is the new Hughes, brimming with wrestling talent and rudimentary stand up while having the advantage of youth on his side.
Prediction: Koscheck via unanimous decision.
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (32-8) vs. Jon “Bones” Jones (13-1)
This is it, the main event. One the one hand, we have a large angry howling man who nicknames himself “Rampage” after the style in which he beats his opponents. On the other hand, we have a very tall and very young champion who seems to be the result of a genetic experiment that bred a giraffe with Bruce Lee. That’s right, it’s Quinton Jackson vs. Jon Jones!
Quinton Jackson: There’s so little left to say about the man they refer to as “Rampage”. He has been one of the UFC’s most marketable fighters and defined the light heavyweight highlight reel. He’s 7-2 in the UFC after an amazing stint in Pride FC in which he first made his mark by stopping UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell. Then in the UFC, he knocked out Liddell again and recorded one of the greatest fights in history against Dan Henderson. Even his loss to Forrest Griffin was spectacular. The man has dynamite in both hands and is blessed with enormous physical strength, evident in his trademark slam that knocked out Ricardo Arona. He has now recorded two wins in a row over ex-champion Lyoto Machida and the tough as nails veteran Matt “The Hammer” Hamill. He positively begged for a title fight, so it’s clear this Rampage is motivated.
Jon Jones: The phenom, the star, the prodigy. The man who is so good that many are calling him the spiritual successor to Anderson Silva. The odd thing is, his fight resume wasn’t that impressive leading into his title shot against Mauricio Rua. Stephan Bonnar, Jake O’Brien . . . Ryan Bader? Yes they’re good fighters, but nothing that justified a fight against one of the most terrifying strikers in the history of the 205 lb division. So the young, green fighter rose to the challenge and knocked . . . him . . . out. Jones is known for his very flashy fighting style; suplexes, flying knees, long range liver shots, spinning elbows. He can afford to do this for two reasons; he has the longest reach in the UFC at 84.5 inches and possesses superb athleticism with a college wrestling background. He proved his ground prowess against Bader by taking down the heralded wrestler and submitting him and decimated famed striker Rua on the feet. This man has nowhere to go but up.
Matchup: While this fight is the most hyped, it’s also the most predictable. Jackson showed against Rashad Evans that his wrestling defense is nowhere as good as it should be with all of the stellar light heavyweights lurking around and his failure to knockout either Machida or Hamill despite tagging them multiple times leaves many questions to be asked. Against an athlete of Jones’s caliber, it’s quite possible that the champion will run laps around Rampage in the manner of a sheepdog rounding up a group of particularly dumb sheep before taking him down and unleashing ferocious ground and pound.
Result: Jones via unanimous decision