It All Begins Again – UFC 125 Picks

And it starts all over again. The UFC has got a New Year’s Day card that is kinda lacking star power, but has the potential to deliver some great fights.

Preliminary Fights on ION Television (wtf is ION TV by the way? Would MyNetworkTV not prempt Smackdown for this?)

Phil Baroni vs. Brad Taveres
Udefeated wrestler Tavares gets his first test against the veteran New York Bad Ass. Baroni hasn’t fought at middleweight since May 2008, but he’s gone through a rough patch, losing his last 2 fights by UD. He’s got the wrestling credentials to take it to the ground, but expect him to swing with Tavares and look to take the fight to the ground and unleash some ground and pound.

Josh Grispi vs. Dustin Poirier
Grispi hasn’t lost in more than 4 years and was originally in the main event against Jose Aldo for the UFC featherweight title. An injury to Aldo had knocked Grispi down to the prelims temporarily. He has a Carwin-like look to his record, since it’s been more than 2 years since he’s been out of the 1st round and hasn’t passed the 3rd minute in his last eight fights. He’s explosive, heavy-handed, and very adept on the ground. Poirier comes off a win over Zack Mickleright and is in his third fight with the WEC/UFC. He’s also a fast striker, but is solid on the ground and can work submissions from the top.

Marcus Davis vs. Jeremy Stephens
The Irish Hand Grenade needs this one. He’s 1-3 in his last 4 fights, although he’s coming off a fight of the night performance in August against Nate Diaz. Stephens lost his last outing in a split decision to Melvin Guillard, but had a FotN, and a KOotN in his previous 2 bouts. There’s never a mystery to Davis’ game plan: use his boxing to try to stun his opponent, then go for the KO or hope that a takedown and submission is open. Stephens should be just fine with throwing hands. He’s a devastating muay thai striker and got 13 of his 18 wins via KO. This could be an early fight of the night candidate.

Main Card

Clay Guida vs. Takanori Gomi
I will admit it right up front: I am a mark for Clay Guida. You’ve got to love his tenacity, toughness and out-there personality. He’s extremely comfortable on the mat and will likely try to get the fight down there fast. The Fireball Kid’s reputation is very well known. He may be the greatest living lightweight right now. He’s a strong striker but has plently of background in submission wrestling if Guida wants to go there. I know I just said this, but another fight of the night candidate and not just because I’m a Guida fan.

Nate Diaz vs. Dong Hyun Kim
Damn, he’s another one that could be FotN. Diaz is a tenacious striker but is known for his BJJ. Despite his thug personality, you can’t deny his ground skills and a choke is always a strong possibility from him. He’s very creative with his submission. Kim, who is officially Armando’s first dickride of 2011, is undefeated in the UFC, and overall with just the NC to Karo Parisyan the only blemish on his record. He’ll have to use his judo experience to keep Diaz off-balance, make sure he is well versed in submission escapes and can keep Diaz in his range to stay undefeated.

Brandon Vera vs. Thiago Silva
Two guys looking to get back into the mix at light heavyweight. Vera hasn’t fought since getting destroyed by Jon Jones in March, while it’s been almost a year since Silva’s competed due to a back injury. These two actually look pretty similar on paper. They both have a Brazilian ju jitsu background but prefer to strike, and they’ve been successful. Of their combined 25 wins, 18 have come by knockout. I’d expect more of the same. Fists flying, although they could always surprise and turn this into an interesting game of human chess.

Chris Leben vs. Brian Stann
No offense to either fighter, but I’m not sure why this fight was picked to be promoted as the new co-main event after the Aldo/Grispi title fight fell through. Leben in on a 3-fight win streak and is coming off that amazing win over Sexyama back in July. If you look at the ideal background for a mixed martial artist, Leben pretty much has it. He’s worked in boxing, ju jitsu, and wrestling and it has all paid off for the UFC vet. He can come at you from so many different angles and has shown that throughout his careen. Stann is a heavy-handed former WEC LHW champ whose adapted to multiple styles as well. He’s coming off of a fight of the night performance over Mike Massenzo back in August. He got his first submission win with a 3rd round triangle. I’d imagine this one would stay on the feet while these two throw leather.

UFC Lightweight Championship: Frankie Edgar (c) vs. Gray Maynard
For some reason, Edgar is again the underdog coming into a LW title fight. He beat BJ Penn twice with speed and wrestling, avoiding Penn’s superior BJJ while showing that he’s got the skills on the ground to compete at an elite level. The only blemish on his record is a 2008 UD loss to Maynard. The former All-American Michigan State wrestler has used plenty of his mat game en route to his 10-0 record. He’s ground out most of his wins by decisions, and can keep an accomplished striker (Roger Huerta) off-balance and force mistakes and has kept some of the best submission artists in the division (Ken-Flo, Nate Diaz). The winner will face WEC Lightweight Champ Anthony Pettis later in 2011 to unify the UFC and WEC belts.

So here’s how we see it going down for this, the first event in our 2011 Interrobang MMA Challenge.

Fight Armando Casey TJ
Baroni vs. Tavares Baroni Tavares Baroni
Grispi vs. Poirier Grispi Grispi Grispi
Davis vs. Stephens Stephens Stephens Stephens
Gomi vs. Guida Guida Guida Guida
Diaz vs. Kim DHK DHK Diaz
Silva vs. Vera Vera Silva Silva
Leben vs. Stann Leben Leben Leben
Edgar vs. Maynard Edgar Edgar Edgar

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