Home > Uncategorized > UFC 140: Betting against Brazil, Nogueira Bros.

UFC 140: Betting against Brazil, Nogueira Bros.

We’re on the eve of another stacked UFC card in Toronto. While not quite as hyped or historic as UFC 129 at Rogers Centre back in April, Saturday’s UFC 140 card at Air Canada Centre is every bit as intriguing.

Headlined by a light-heavyweight title fight between champion Jon (Bones) Jones and challenger Lyoto (The Dragon) Machida, a former holder of the 205-pound belt, the evening also includes the Nogueira brothers fighting on the same card for the first time since 2006. In co-main events, Big Nog (Antônio Rodrigo) rematches Frank Mir in a heavyweight bout that he originally lost in late 2008, and Little Nog (Antônio Rogério) meets Tito (The People’s Champ) Ortiz in a light-heavyweight tilt that could also produce fireworks.

For those wondering, yes Tito changed his moniker — he’s no longer the Huntington Beach Bad Boy — and no, Little Nog isn’t that much smaller than his twin bro. Big Nog tips the scales at about 245 pounds, while his brother cuts some weight to make the 205-pound limit in his division.

Rounding out the 12-fight card, which features a United States-versus-Brazil theme in the three marquee matches, are six homegrown Canadian fighters — Toronto’s Claude Patrick, London, Ont.’s Mark Hominick, Polish-born-but-Winnipeg-raised Krzysztof Soszynski, Halifax, N.S.’s John Makdessi, Montreal’s Yves Jabouin, Toronto’s Mark Bocek and, last but not least, an acquaintance of mine, Saskatoon’s Mitch Clarke.

Kelowna’s Rory MacDonald was also expected to face Brian Ebersole, but withdrew due to injury with Patrick replacing him on the main card. It’s been a tough year and a bit for MacDonald since moving to Montreal to train with welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, who is also sidelined with a knee injury that requires surgery.

Those still physically capable of climbing into the cage shouldn’t disappoint us on Saturday night. Without further ado, here’s my picks:

Jon Jones (14-1-0) vs. Lyoto Machida (17-2-0)

Oddly enough, if the weigh-ins are any indication, Machida will be the fan favourite after getting greeted with cheers and even chants of his name to a mixed reaction, mostly boos, for Jones. I’m not sure where the hate comes from, but the love is likely a result of Machida’s most recent performance — a front-kick KO that retired Randy Couture in the UFC’s Toronto debut. I’m not expecting a repeat performance, as Jones will only use those jeers as added motivation.

Regardless, this is a fun fight from a stylistic perspective, both being elusive with innovative striking. Dana White always says styles make fights and this could be one for the ages if Machida comes to scrap and doesn’t stay on the defensive. We all know Jones will be pushing the pace and attacking from all angles, which is why it’s impossible to bet against the uber-confident champ. I don’t think this one goes the distance and it might be over in the blink of an eye, but I’ll say Jones by second-round TKO, possibly ground-and-pound after a takedown.

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (33-6-1) vs. Frank Mir (15-5-0)

I’m expecting more of the same from their initial encounter, where Mir dominated the stand-up and eventually scored a TKO win. I do believe Big Nog took Mir lightly the first time around and that his preparation was also affected by a staph infection, but I’m not convinced a healthier, hungrier Nogueira is enough to avenge that loss. He’s also older and Mir’s striking has only gotten better in the last three years, so unless Nogueira can get this fight to the ground or Mir gets cocky and takes it there himself, I think history repeats itself in this case. I’ll say Mir by TKO late in an action-packed first round.

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (19-5-0) vs. Tito Ortiz (16-9-1)

Ortiz is really trying to cultivate his legacy as more hero than heel, more role model than ruthless villain, and sporting a Leafs jersey to the weigh-in was a nice touch. I personally preferred his old-school, take-no-prisoners approach, but as long as he still brings it after Bruce Buffer announces his new nickname, then I’ll accept this squeaky clean, boy-next-door image he’s portraying. And if Friday’s stare-down was as serious as it looked, then Ortiz still means business.

Both these fighters are well-rounded, seasoned veterans, but both seem willing and wanting to stand and bang, vowing to knock each other out. That is easier said than done, with Nogueira only having one KO loss and Ortiz three TKO defeats, none of which he was actually unconscious. Ortiz has eight (T)KO wins to Nogueira’s five, yet they sound equally confident in the ability of their striking skills to finish this fight. I’m not buying it, I think this fight goes to the ground at some point and Ortiz will be able to control Little Nog with superior wrestling combined with submission defence, doing enough damage on the mat to score a decision victory.

Claude Patrick (14-1-0) vs. Brian Ebersole (48-14-1)

Turns out, we still have a Bad Boy on this card with Ebersole boasting that nickname. It certainly sounds meaner than The Prince and Ebersole has lived up to it in beating Chris Lytle and Dennis Hallman in his only two UFC fights to date. Patrick is also a perfect 3-0 in the UFC, winning here over Daniel Roberts in April. This one is somewhat of a toss-up as the combatants appear similarly skilled, but I’ll go with the Canuck and say Patrick by submission based on the fact 64 per cent of his wins have come by submission while 64 per cent of Ebersole’s losses have also ended in submission.

For the record, I would have taken MacDonald (12-1-0) over Ebersole by first-round TKO, reminiscent of his August rout over Mike Pyle.

Mark Hominick (20-9-0) vs. Chan Sung Jung (11-3-0)

This matchup has Fight Of The Night written all over it, and maybe another bonus for best nicknames — The Machine vs. The Korean Zombie. Both 145-pounders are known for their frenetic pace — aren’t they all in the featherweight division? — and for engaging in memorable brawls. Hominick is coming off a fight-of-the-year candidate against reigning champion Jose Aldo, while who could forget last year’s war between Jung and Leonard Garcia. The judges awarded that slugfest to Garcia by split decision, but Jung got the last laugh earlier this year by submitting Garcia via a rare Twister in their rematch. Hominick also dropped a decision to Aldo in the co-main event of that record-setting Rogers Centre show, and has since endured the loss of longtime coach and mentor Shawn Tompkins.

The more times I watch the original Jung-versus-Garcia barnburner, the more I realize Jung can take a beating and keep pressing forward. However, I think Hominick’s precision striking can stop The Korean Zombie in his tracks over time. I’ll say The Machine by third-round stoppage, perhaps even a buzzer beater to open the main card.

Krzysztof Soszynski (26-11-1) vs. Igor Pokrajac (23-8-0)

Again, a job well done by UFC matchmaker Joe Silva. Flip a coin here as their records and even their competition are comparable, with both losing to Stephan Bonnar last year, but both rebounding with wins earlier this year. Both have a history of finishing fights (only six decision wins between them in 49 victories) and doing so in diverse fashion — Soszynski with 11 subs and 10 (T)KOs to Pokrajac’s 12 (T)KOs and eight subs.

I’m taking Soszynski by second-round TKO solely based on home-cage advantage and a slight edge in Octagon experience with eight UFC fights to Pokrajac’s five.

John Makdessi (9-0-0) vs. Dennis Hallman (50-14-2)

Hallman missed weight on his first attempt, tipping the scales at 158.5 pounds in his return to the lightweight (155-pound) division. This isn’t his first rodeo — not even close — so that tells me Hallman’s cut and/or his camp didn’t go as planned. Dropping down from welterweight after an embarrassing loss to Ebersole — embarrassing in effort and attire — Hallman’s best years appear to be behind him, while Makdessi is trending upward. I expect The Bull to be bullish in pursuit of the aging and ailing Superman, with Makdessi scoring a TKO stoppage sooner than later for another Canadian victory.

Yves Jabouin (16-7-0) vs. Walel Watson (9-2-0)

I’ll admit I had to Google Watson to see what he’s all about, not usually a good omen for a fighter when this longtime fight fan has never heard of you. What I found was a lanky bantamweight — standing 5-foot-11 with a 135-pound frame, aptly nicknamed The Gazelle, though The Giraffe also would be fitting — but all joking aside, Watson made short work of his first UFC foe by stopping Joseph Sandoval with strikes just over one minute into their October match. Jabouin will be a step up in competition — having faced the likes of Hominick, Sam Stout, Pablo Garza and Jonathan Brookins, among others — so expect that experience to be evident. Jabouin is also a striker by trade, so if Watson let his last finish get to his head, he could be grounded early in this one. Jabouin will be giving up three inches in height and maybe even more in reach, so it might take time to find his range, but I’ll keep picking Canadians and say Jabouin by second-round KO.

Mark Bocek (9-4-0) vs. Nik Lentz (21-3-2)

This fight seems buried for some reason, but don’t sleep on it. And don’t look too much into Bocek’s less-than-impressive record; instead read his resumé, which boasts bouts against Ben Henderson (decision loss in Toronto), Dustin Hazelett (submission over rising contender at the time), Jim Miller (decision loss to another top contender) and lightweight champ Frankie Edgar (TKO loss in Bocek’s UFC debut in 2007). Lentz is no slouch, beating both Tyson Griffin and Andre Winner by decision and unbeaten in his last 15 fights dating to 2007 (two draws and a no contest over that span).

Lentz strikes me as more of a grinder, good at everything but not great at anything, thus many of his fights end in decisions. Bocek is more of a finisher with submissions and jiu-jitsu his specialty, so officially call me a homer and put me down as picking Bocek to earn Submission Of The Night.

Mitch Clarke (9-0-0) vs. John Cholish (7-1-0)

I couldn’t help but feel for Clarke on Friday, making his UFC debut on home soil in a pressure-packed situation and having to be the first to set foot on the scale. Looking slightly sheepish, he shed his shorts for Dana White’s towel treatment to ensure he made weight, only to have the athletic commissioner announce 149.5 pounds — well short of the 156-pound maximum. Suddenly looking a little more puzzled, Clarke was about to step off when the commissioner corrected his weight to a more reasonable 154.5.

Considering he often cuts down from as much as 190 pounds — yes 35 pounds from his walking weight, not entirely uncommon for mixed martial artists or wrestlers — Clarke looked like a weight was lifted from his shoulders prior to a brief-and-good-natured stare-down with Cholish.

There’s no ill-will in this fight, no trash-talking in the build-up, just two guys looking to make a name for themselves on MMA’s biggest stage. I admittedly know next-to-nothing about Cholish, another debutant, but more-than-most about Clarke. The latter is your prototypical well-mannered, soft-spoken Prairie boy that doesn’t look the part of a professional fighter. But I’ve watched him fight in person at my last job posting in Lloydminster and he can certainly flip the switch when given permission by the referee. Speaking of refs, Clarke is also quite capable in that capacity, officiating several matches for the Evolution Fighting Championship and Lloydminster Proving Ground. But given his competitive nature as a former college wrestler, Clarke would much rather be part of the action than overseeing it.

He’ll be front and centre come Saturday night with plenty of Prairie supporters in his corner. Providing Clarke can guard against a Jason Miller-esque adrenaline dump and perform up to his potential, I’m confident he’ll turn heads and have his hand raised when the dust settles. I’m thinking this bout could go to a decision with neither fighter wanting to make a mistake and their skill-sets essentially cancelling each other out, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if Clarke pulls off a submission with six already to his credit.

As for the remaining two fights — Jared Hamman (13-3-0)-versus-Constantinos Philippou (8-2-0) at middleweight (185 pounds) and Rich Attonito (10-4-0)-versus-Jake Hecht (10-2-0) at welterweight — I’ll roll the dice on Hamman via TKO and Attonito by decision.

For a split second there, I thought Jochen Hecht the NHL player had a career change, but it’s probably in his best interests to stick to hockey. And in case you’re curious, I highly doubt there’s any relation between them, with Jochen hailing from Germany and Jake from Missouri.

Nevertheless, this could be quite a night for Canadian fight fans if my predictions come to fruition and one Brazilians would sooner forget. Of course, the likelihood of every Canadian winning and every Brazilian losing is rather remote, with Brazil often touted the birthplace of MMA thanks to the legendary Royce Gracie. That’s the best part about MMA, though, anything can happen and nothing is truly predictable, so let’s all just sit back and enjoy another entertaining UFC card from top to bottom.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Joe Boser
    December 10, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    Great blog, I agree with you for all but one…I think Little Nog is going submit Tito in Rd 2. I’m a Tito fan and don’t really like Little Nog at all but I think Tito is messed up in the head. There is only one “People Champ” and that’s the Rock hahahaha. Who Knows though, maybe he can make another run for the title. If Tito loses this one, I think the “Peoples Champ” should hang em up.

    • December 10, 2011 at 11:42 pm

      I couldn’t agree more and I could see the possibility of both happening. Or maybe Tito and the Rock could have a tables+ladders+chairs match in the Octagon or throw James (Lights Out) Toney into the mix and make it a Triple Threat match haha here’s hoping Tito has more fight left in him than most think. Rashad dominated him, but Tito was there to scrap and took that beating like a man, so I expect no different tonight, except that he emerges victorious this time around!

      Thanks for reading the blog and giving your thoughts, greatly appreciated!

  2. December 11, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    So much for beginner’s luck as I went 4-8 in my predictions. In my defence, Showdown Joe Ferraro of Sportsnet made the exact same picks just prior to the card starting.

    I knew picking all the Canadians would come back to bite me in some way, shape or form, but by no means did I expect Canada to go 2-5 on home soil. That was disappointing. I haven’t seen video from Clarke’s fight yet, but it sounds like held his own and made a good impression. The same can’t be said for Mark Hominick who also went down swinging, but after only seven seconds and a sloppy lead left hook.

    At least I got 2 of the Big 3 right, with Mir’s comeback and Jones keeping his belt. All in all, it was a great night of fights and it sounded like it was enjoyed by everybody, including the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team, who were in attendance at their home rink, the ACC.

    That’s all folks, better luck next time!

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