June 20, 2008

Middleweight Bout: Evan Tanner vs. Kendall Grove

Former UFC middleweight champion Evan Tanner takes on The Ultimate Fighter 3 winner Kendall Grove. Tanner has a 32-7 record and is a freelance fighter out of Nevada. Grove has an 8-5 record and trains out of Cobra Kai with Joe Stevenson.

Tanner comes off a knockout loss to Yushin Okami at UFC 82, while Grove also comes off a knockout loss to Jorge Rivera at UFC 80.

Both fighters are at crossroads at this point in their careers. Neither can afford a loss because it may spell the end for their UFC tenure. With that being said, look for these two to fight with little caution as they look to continue their UFC career.

Tanner's strengths lie in his wrestling ability and his dirty boxing while in the clinch. Grove will want the fight on the ground, where he has a distinct advantage with submissions. No doubt that Tanner will look to exploit Grove's chin, which has been exposed for not being all that strong in his past couple of fights. Grove's best chance will be getting the fight to the ground and working a submission from the top, where he has had success in the past.

These two need to fight with a sense of urgency, being that the loser will more than likely be out of the UFC. Tanner should be able to use his ability in the clinch to work over Grove, setting up the takedown and pounding out a decision over Grove.

Prediction: Tanner by decision.

Sanchez comes off a much needed stoppage victory over David Bielkheden at UFC 82, while Fioravanti won a decision over Luke Cummo earlier in the night.

This is an interesting style match-up. Sanchez will push the pace of the fight and Fioravanti will look to slow it down. Either way expect an entertaining fight that should please the crowd.

Sanchez has the edge on the ground with submissions and aggression, that aggression also helps him on the feet. On the other hand, Fioravanti is the better striker when it comes to technique and his top game on the ground is one of his strengths.

Sanchez is going to come out full bore, taking the fight to Fioravanti and not letting him get settled. Once it hits the ground expect Sanchez to pound on Fioravanti, which will open up a submission for the victory.

Prediction: Sanchez by submission in the first round.

Team Miletich lightweight Spencer Fisher takes on young Midwest lightweight Jeremy Stephens. Fisher has a 20-4 record and trains out of the Miletich Fighting Systems with Jens Pulver. Stephens has a 13-2 record and trains out of Iowa.

Fisher comes off a decision loss to Frank Edgar at UFC 78, while Stephens finished Cole Miller with strikes at UFC Fight Night 12.

This is one of the most anticipated fights of the night as lightweights always bring the action and excitement. One sure thing is that these two will bang it out on the feet.

Both fighters are well accustomed to fighting on the feet. Fisher is the more powerful striker, while Stephens is the more technical striker of the pair. One thing that Stephens enjoys doing is pounding his opponents from the top, so it wouldn't be surprising to see him take the fight to the ground.

For Fisher to win, he needs to stay off his back and tag Stephens on the feet with power shots. These two are evenly matched, resulting in a close fight, but Stephens should win a close decision by putting Fisher on his back just enough to squeak by.

Prediction: Stephens by decision.

The always-smiling Amir Sadollah takes on the brash C.B. Dollaway for the title of the seventh Ultimate Fighter. Sadollah will be making his MMA debut, outside of the reality series, and is a freelance fighter out of the United States. Dollaway has a 6-0 record and trains out of Arizona Combat Sports with Jesse Forbes.

This will be a rematch of the last semi-final of The Ultimate Fighter 7. Sadollah was originally supposed to face Jesse Taylor in the final, having defeated Dollaway, but Taylor, who had defeated Tim Credeur, was removed due to his out of ring antics. As a result, the original losers of the semi-final battles, Dollaway and Credeur, were brought back to battle it out to give Sadollah an opponent. Dollaway won a close decision, catapulting him into the finals.

These two know each other very well and they should put on an exciting fight as they match up quite well.

Dollaway is the better striker and wrestler of the two fighters, while Sadollah, as he showed on the television series, is the better submission fighter. Dollaway needs to use his size and wrestling ability much like he did in their first fight before tiring and getting submitted. Sadollah will work well from his back and again look to catch Dollaway in a submission.

I expect this fight to go very much like the first with Dollaway using his size on the feet and the ground to muscle the smaller Sadollah. The only difference in this fight will be a much better conditioned Dollaway, who won't get caught again like in the first fight, taking home a decision victory.

Prediction: Dollaway by decision.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter Dante Rivera faces off with young prospect Matt Riddle. Rivera has a 10-2 record and trains out of Renzo Gracie Jiu-Jitsu with Renzo Gracie. Riddle will be making his MMA debut and is a freelance fighter out of the United States.

Rivera comes off a stoppage victory over Nissim Levy at the IFL World Semi-Fianls 2007, while Riddle will be making his official MMA debut.

Riddle is the better striker of the two and is the stronger. If the fight hits the ground, expect Rivera to be all over Riddle, who isn't as experienced on the ground. Rivera will be looking to use his experience advantage over the younger Riddle, who hasn't fought in front of a crowd of fans.

Riddle will get his shots in on the feet, but Rivera will be able to get the fight on the ground, attack with submissions and strikes en route to a decision. Although Riddle isn't ready for the UFC just yet, he does have the tools to be a great fighter and with some experience we'll see him make waves in the future.

Prediction: Rivera by decision.

The under card is filled with veterans and several fighters off Ultimate Fighter 7 who are looking to earn a spot on the elusive UFC roster.

In a welterweight fight, Josh Burkman and Dustin Hazelett will look to get back on the winning track; former ADCC champion Dean Lister rematches with journeyman Jeremy Horn; in a battle of strikers, Muay Thai fighter Marvin Eastman takes on boxer Drew McFedries; and Rob Yundt gets a second crack in the UFC against newcomer Rob Kimmons.

Ultimate Fighters Matt Brown and Matt Arroyo meet for a second time and semi-finalist Tim Credeur takes on former teammate Cale Yarbrough.

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