UFC 107 Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 12/10/2009
The year started for the UFC with UFC 93 on Jan. 17 in Dublin when Dan Henderson beat Rich Franklin by split decision in the main event. Now we're almost at the end of the year, and we just have one event left. UFC 107 will take place on Saturday, Dec. 12 at the FedEx Forum in Memphis and will feature a main event between B.J. Penn and Diego Sanchez for the lightweight championship. Here's a look at how the main card sets up for this season-ending event (all odds are from Bodog):
B.J. Penn (-275) vs. Diego Sanchez (+215) - Sanchez originally made his name by winning the first season of "The Ultimate Fighter". He then spent some time trying to break through in the welterweight division, but it's very crowded and he wasn't getting anywhere. Two fights back he made the sound decision to drop down to lightweight, and it has made all the difference. He beat Joe Stevenson in the main event of the weak UFC 95 card, then beat Clay Guida last time out. That was good enough to earn himself his first title shot. Penn has also found his place since dropping back to lightweight. He is just 4-3 in his last seven fights since returning to the UFC, but he is undefeated in that stretch at lightweight. The three losses have all been at welterweight - two to Georges St.Pierre and one to Matt Hughes. Going back further, it has been eight years since Penn has lost as a lightweight.
Penn is as good as anyone in the UFC at defending against a takedown. Fighters that fail against him generally burn themselves out trying to get him down, and then leave themselves vulnerable. That's bad news for Sanchez - he is at his best when he is on the ground and on top. That means that the fight is likely to be fought on foot. that means we have a contrast in styles. Penn is a master at using his hands, while Sanchez favors his feet. Penn needs to dodge Sanchez' brutal kicks to the head, while Sanchez will have to be wary of Penn's fists - especially the jab.
Penn will be able to control the fight with his jab, and will likely be able to dictate when and how the fight goes to the ground. He knows that Sanchez thrives on top, so he can make sure he doesn't get there. Sanchez is very dangerous when he gets his way, but Penn has vastly superior skill if Sanchez is off guard or out of his comfort zone. That gives him a clear edge and makes him the pick.
Pick: B.J. Penn
Frank Mir (-240) vs. Cheick Kongo (+190) - Both of these fighters are coming off lopsided losses - Mir was destroyed by Brock Lesnar, while Kongo lost a resounding decision to Cain Velasquez. There may be opportunities at the top of the heavyweight division because of Brock Lesnar's health issues, but there are several young fighters in line for a title shot, so both of these guys risk irrelevance if they lose here again. That means that these fighters will be desperate. Desperation almost always leads to entertaining fights. The winner of this fight is the one who can assert their style - Kongo is a striker who isn't great at defending the takedown or fighting once he hits the ground, while Mir is a pretty lousy striker who is absolutely deadly on the ground. Glaring differences in styles like that mean that the fighter who is more tactically sound has the edge. In this case that is definitely Mir.
Pick: Frank Mir
Jon Fitch (-550) vs. Mike Pierce (+375) - Injuries to Thiago Alves and Ricardo Almeida led us to this welterweight matchup. Both guys need a win here to stay in the welterweight title picture. This one ultimately is going to turn into a pure wrestling match, so it only makes sense that the better wrestler has the edge. Given the prices I really wish I believed that that was Pierce. I just don't see how he can keep it even close against Fitch, though. Pierce's best chance is a knockout, but Fitch can take a punch as well as anyone. I expect a decision - a unanimous one - for Fitch.
Pick: Jon Fitch
Kenny Florian (-205) vs. Clay Guida (+165) - Another lightweight fight, and potentially the more interesting one. Like the Mir-Kongo fight, the loser is likely irrelevant in the title picture so these fighters are desperate. Florian is better on his feet and the better defender. Guida is ruthless on the ground, though, and has faced enough decent defenders by now that he probably has a good sense of how to get to the ground. The fight is basically a coin toss, so that means that, given the odds, Guida is the value.
Pick: Clay Guida.
Stefan Struve (-120) vs. Paul Buentello (-110) - As the odds suggest, this is a wide-open contest. It should also be very interesting to watch. Buentello is a knockout machine - his fists are made of lead. If he catches hold of Struve then Struve will be unconscious. If Struve can avoid that shot and get the fight to the ground, though, then Buentello doesn't stand a chance. I love watching a knockout, but I have to favor the more versatile Struve here.
Pick: Stefan Struve
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