MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP: Anderson Silva vs. Patrick Cote
UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva defends his title against French-Canadian striker Patrick Cote. Silva comes off a quick stoppage victory over James Irvin at UFC Fight Night 14, while Cote won a lackluster decision over Ricardo Almeida at UFC 86.
Silva was originally anticipated to face Yushin Okami, but a hand injury prevented the Japanese fighter from challenging and Cote was given the chance for the title. Cote comes into the fight on a five-fight winning streak, including four victories in the UFC.
Most of the pre-fight hype has concentrated on Silva and talk about his retirement with not much concentrating on the actual fight itself. In either aspect of the fight, Silva has the advantage being both the better striker and grappler of the two. Cote's best chance will be to stay on the outside and pick his shots, possibly dragging the fight to a decision.
Silva should be able to outclass Cote on the feet, tagging him from all angles with an array of punches, kicks and knees. As the fight wears on, Cote will take it to the ground and Silva will be able to lock on a submission to successfully defend his title once again.
WELTERWEIGHT: Josh Koscheck vs. Thiago Alves
The Ultimate Fighter 1 participant Josh Koscheck steps in on late notice to take on American Top Team trained Thiago Alves. Koscheck comes off a dominating decision victory over Chris Lytle at UFC 86, while Alves comes off a stoppage victory over Matt Hughes at UFC 85.
Alves was originally scheduled to face Diego Sanchez, but an injury forced Koscheck to step in with about two weeks notice to get ready for the fight. It's fairly clear that the winner of this fight will be the number one contender for the UFC welterweight championship.
Koscheck has the advantage on the ground with his strong wrestling base and solid submission defense, where he can control the fight. If the fight stays on the feet, then Alves has a slight edge being more well rounded on the feet with kicks and knees, while Koscheck has better hands.
Unlike Hughes, Koscheck will be able to take Alves down and keep him there because of his superior wrestling technique and explosive attack. Expect Koscheck to get the fight to the ground and pound on Alves for three rounds, winning a decision.
LIGHTWEIGHT: Sean Sherk vs. Tyson Griffin
Former UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk faces off with versatile Xtreme Couture lightweight Tyson Griffin. Sherk comes off a stoppage loss to UFC lightweight champion B.J. Penn at UFC 84, while Griffin comes off a decision victory over Marcus Aurelio at UFC 86.
With a win over Sherk, Griffin would likely put himself in position to get a shot at the UFC lightweight title, while on other side, Sherk will look to get back on the winning track. This will be a battle of two of the best wrestlers in the UFC lightweight division, so it's interesting to see who will get the upper hand in this match-up.
Both fighters have such similar styles that the fight will basically come down to which fighter is able to capitalize on the other's mistake. Sherk needs to go back to his roots and take the fight to the ground as staying on his feet didn't work out too good for him in his last fight, while Griffin will want the fight on the feet.
Neither fighter can afford a loss at this point making this fight all the more important. Look for Sherk to take the fight to the ground and keep it there, smothering Griffin and not letting him work as he gets back on the winning track with a decision victory.
HEAVYWEIGHT: Fabricio Werdum vs. Junior dos Santos
Brazilian Jiu-jitsu world champion Fabricio Werdum faces off with the debuting Brazilian heavyweight Junior dos Santos. Werdum comes off a stoppage victory over Brandon Vera at UFC 85, while Santos comes off a stoppage victory over Geronimo dos Santos at Demo Fight 3.
With another victory under his belt, Werdum will no doubt be next in line to get a shot at the UFC heavyweight title -- once the UFC's four-man tournament plays out -- after his impressive streak of wins. Santos on the other hand will look to make a big splash in his UFC debut by taking down one of the division's better fighters.
Although Santos is a ground fighter, Werdum still holds the advantage in that area just because of his credentials and technique on the ground. On the feet, Werdum has improved by leaps and bounds since joining up with the Chute Boxe Academy and that gives him the edge too.
Santos is basically a sacrificial lamb for Werdum, as he needs something to keep him busy until he is given an opportunity to fight for the title. Look for Werdum to hurt Santos on the feet then take it to the ground where he'll finish it with a submission.
LIGHTWEIGHT: Gray Maynard vs. Rich Clementi
Xtreme Couture lightweight Gray Maynard puts his undefeated record up against longtime UFC lightweight Rich Clementi. Maynard comes off an impressive decision victory over Frank Edgar at UFC Fight Night 13, while Clementi won a decision over Terry Etim at UFC 84.
This fight was originally scheduled to be on the undercard but injuries in other fights gave these two a chance to display their skills in front of the TV audience. Either way, this fight is interesting because of the style clash between the two fighters.
Maynard looked really impressive in his last fight, so he'll be looking to use the same strategy by taking the fight to the ground and punishing Clementi with strikes. Clementi will also want the fight on the ground, but with him on top, where he can control position and the pace of the fight.
This should be a back and fourth affair with both fighters having their moments throughout the fight, but the difference will be in Maynard's size and strength advantage. He'll be able to bully Clementi to the ground and that will be the difference as he pulls out a decision victory.
MIDDLEWEIGHT: Thales Leites vs. Drew McFedries
Dynamic Brazilian middleweight Thales Leites faces off with the heavy handed Drew McFedries. Leites was originally set to fight Goran Reljic, but an injury forced him out and McFedries stepped in on late notice. In what was a tough fight for Leites turned into a much easier fight as long as he plays it safe by taking the fight to the ground, where McFedries has shown not to have too much submission defense. It will hit the ground and Leites should lock on a submission fairly early in the fight.
LIGHTWEIGHT: Spencer Fisher vs. Shannon Gugerty
Miletich slugger Spencer Fisher returns to action against submission fighter Shannon Gugerty. This is an interesting clash of styles with Fisher being more of a striker and Gugerty the ground fighter. Fisher's only weakness in the past has come against really good wrestlers, which Gugerty isn't much of. Fisher should be able to keep much of the fight on the feet and punish Gugerty with strikes until he is finally able to put him down for good.
MIDDLEWEIGHT: Dan Miller vs. Matt Horwich
IFL middleweight champion Dan Miller takes on former IFL middleweight champion Matt Horwich. Miller steps in on late notice as Ricardo Almeida pulled out due to injury and now we get a clash of former IFL champions. Horwich has shown to be inconsistent although he is a talented fighter and in this instance, he'll be hit by inconsistency again. Look for Miller to outwork Horwich on the ground and lock on a submission midway through the fight.
LIGHTWEIGHT: Hermes Franca vs. Marcus Aurelio
In a battle of former teammates, perennial UFC contender Hermes Franca takes on American Top Team lightweight Aurelio. There is no love lost between these two fighters and that makes the fight all the more interesting. Both fighters are coming off losses so expect them to let all out as they try to get a win. Look for Aurelio to slow the pace of the fight on the feet and control it on the ground with better positioning to win a decision.
WELTERWEIGHT:Pete Sell vs. Josh Burkman
New York native Pete Sell moves down to welterweight to take on The Ultimate Fighter 2 participant Josh Burkman. Both fighters are coming off losses and need a win badly or else they might see themselves gone from the UFC. This should be a scrappy fight with both men taking risks and not giving an inch as they look for the win. The difference in the fight will Burkman's strength and explosiveness as he'll be able to get a small edge to win a close decision over Sell.