This Saturday begins a very busy month for major MMA cards. From May 28th to July 2nd, there 6 major fight cards with a couple of semi major cards thrown in the mix. Unfortunately UFC 130 marks the beginning of this streak, and it probably won’t compare to some of the other cards. This fight card just never really materialized as a major force due injuries most notably to Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard. I will still end up watching the action; however, I won’t even bother considering paying full price for the card. With any fight, I hope for excitement, and there are certainly some intriguing match ups, and I hope I am wrong with my assumptions that this will be a disappointing card, and that it will exceed expectations.
- Thiago Alves 18-7-0 vs. Rick Story12-3-0
The night starts off with a bang as Thiago “Pitbull” Alves faces Rick “Horror” Story. Story comes in on a 5 fight win streak and looks to move up in the upper echelon of the welterweight division with a victory over Alves. After being on the receiving end of back to back losses against GSP and Jon Fitch, The Pitbull focused working on his diet and training regimen and that dedication helped him return to the win column with a decision victory over John Howard. Both of these fighters have heavy hands that should be on display for most of the fight.One thing that can cause a hiccup to a stand up battle everyone expects is the wrestling of Story.
Not only does Story have KO power in his punches, but he also has some pretty solid wrestling. Alves counters this with some very solid take down defense, and when he does get taken down, he is able to scramble to his feet fairly quickly as he demonstrated in his fight against Koscheck. Also, Story does not have the same wrestling pedigree that of Fitch, Koscheck, or GSP, but we can’t completely disregard it at the same time. However, Alves should be able to counter Story’s wrestling enough to keep the fight predominantly on the feet.
On the feet, Alves should be able to use his superior Muay Thai to pick apart Story especially with his devastating leg kicks. An interesting note about both fighters is there is only one (T)KO loss on their combine record with Alves being the one to be KOed back in 2006 against Jon Fitch from an up kick. With both fighters showing a solid chin that can with stand punishment, this fight should go the distance with both men trading shots the whole way and compete for fight of the night honors.
Alves by Decision due to superior Muay Thai
- Jorge Santiago 23-8-0 vs. Brian Stann 10-3-0
Former USMC Brain Stann looks to welcome Jorge Santiago back into the UFC in the 2nd fight of the night. Stann is riding a 2 fight win streak as well Jorge Santiago who hasn’t fought in the UFC since his 2006 KO loss to Alan Belcher. This fight is going to come down to if Stann can dictate his boxing and if it hits the mat (to paraphrase Clint Eastwood in Heartbreak Ridge) his ability to adapt, improvise, and overcome.
If this fight goes to the ground, Stann will definitely need to fight to get the fight back to his feet as more than half of Santiago’s victories have come by submission. Stann has looked great since dropping down to 185, but his jiu jitsu does not appear to be on the same level as Santiago’s. Stann’s jiu jitsu game should be good enough to keep him out of danger while he works to get the fight back standing.
When the fight is standing, Stann will look to work his boxing to exploit Santiago’s chin. Santiago has been KOed 5 times and Stann will certainly want to add an 8th (T)KO victim especially after his impressive TKO victory over Chris Leben. This does not mean that Santiago is a slouch when it comes to the stand up game as he does have 9 (T)KOs but his greatest strength still lies with his submission victory.
Stann will win by Decision after out pointing Santiago and then Channel Gunny Highway and declare “My name’s Captain Stann and I’ve drunk more beer and banged more quiff and pissed more blood and stomped more ass that all of you numbnuts put together.” During his interview with Joe Rogan
Here is another great Gunny Highway quote for your enjoyment
- Travis Browne 10-0-1 vs. Stefan Struve 21-4-0
We now have the giant match up of the night, and no I am not talking about a great fight that has everyone talking. I am talking about the fact Travis Browne stands at 6’7” tall and Stefan Struve dwarfs Browne by standing at 6’11” inches tall, truly earning his nickname Skyscraper. Browne also looks to rebound from a disappointing draw against Cheick Kongo while Struve is riding a 2 fight win streak.
The biggest question about this matchup is how Struve will want to fight. Out of his 21 victories, 14 have been by submission and 5 have been by (T)KO. In his last 2 fights, he won 1 by TKO (Punches) and the other by KO (Punch). Struve can certainly KO someone, but if he decides to implement this strategy, he will definitely be playing into Browne’s game plan. Out if Browne’s 10 victories, 8 have come from (T)KO. Struve definitely should have the advantage on the ground with his jiu jitsu and the ability to use those long legs to search for submissions, traditional and unorthodox submissions. Because of those spider legs, Sturve has the ability to setup triangle chokes from awkward angles, and I fully expect Struve to play that strategy.
Struve is going to use his Dutch trained kick boxing to punish Browne before moving to take Browne to the mat. If Browne lands a clean punch and demos the Skyscraper, he will immediately need to swarm him and finish him. If Struve recovers, Browne should back off and continue to look for the KO finish.
Struve wins by submission in the 2nd round
- Frank Mir 14-5-0 vs. Roy Nelson 15-5-0
Now on to the “rematch” fight of the night. Rematch you say? When has Big Country fought Frank Mir? Back in 2003 Nelson faced and defeated Mir in jiu jitsu match in Grappler’s Quest, and here is the video of the match.
How much stock should be place in Nelson defeating Mir (who is regarded as having some of the best submissions in MMA) in jiu jitsu; probably not so much.. Since the match Mir has gone on to continue training in jiu jitsu ans uses it as the basis of his MMA game, while Nelson usually stands and bangs. Mir has also developed solid boxing and kick boxing that he has been show casing in his previous fights. But Nelson wins more fights by KO (8 out of 15 victories) than Mir (3 out of 14 victories), and Mir wins more by submission (8 out of 14 victories) more than Nelson (5 out of 15 victories). With the win break down, both fighters show a nice balance of victories with Nelson having the more balance of the two which is a little surprising as Mir is regarded as the more complete fighter.
Mir’s last fight ended when he KOed Cro Cop, he also rocked Cheick Kongo before submitting him, and more importantly, Mir was the first person to TKO Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira. The Minotauro fight is important because Nelson took some monstrous shots by Junior Dos Santos and kept pushing forward. In fact, Nelson has only been KOed once in his career, and Andrei Arlovski did the honors in a 2008 EliteXC fight. Mir has publically stated that he believes he hits harder than Dos Santos, and on Saturday we can find out. Nelson has also stated that he believes he is the better athlete, and that will be the difference maker in defeating Mir.
For a big guy, Nelson moves quite well and he also hits hard. But for him to win he will need to maintain dominate position though out the fight. Even if he does put Mir on his back, Mir can still pull out the submission victory but that is unlikely as Nelson is very difficult to submit, having only been submitted twice in his career. It is also doubtful that Nelson will be able to submit Mir. This fight is either going to end in a KO, or who ever maintains top position, a decision.
Frank Mir uses his much improved boxing to dictate the fight pace and place for the decision victory
- Matt” The Hammer” Hamill 10-2-0 vs. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson 31-8-0
The headlining fight features a fighter who talked his way into fighting and a fighter who has publicly stated that the fight does not interest him. Rampage was originally slatted to fight Thiago Silva before Silva’s recent suspension. When Silva was suspended, Hamill jumped at the chance and asked to fight Rampage to help propel him in the rankings and his search for a Title fight. Rampage on the other hand, never even considered fighting Hamill and believes Hamill is not on the same level as himself. If Rampage is in fact taking this fight lightly, it may just be the opening Hamill needs to move one step closer to a title fight.
Hamill is riding a 5 fight win streak which really shouldn’t be at 5 fights. Hamill really should be billed as riding a 2 fight win streak as his victory over Jon Jones came from Jones being DQed due to an illegal elbow. In that fight Jones was all over Hamill and made him the nail. Since that fight, Hamill has shown some improved and more dynamic stand up, but he hasn’t improved enough to make it impossible for Rampage to KO him. Hamill still has the nasty habit of dropping his hands when trading shots which leaves him open for Rampage’s devastating left hook. When not on the attack, Hamill tends to cover his head and leaves his body wide open. Both scenarios leave Rampage plenty of chances to do some devastation; Hamill needs to fight smart and use his wrestling to control the fight and unleash some vicious ground n’ pound.
If there is one place that Rampage looks absolutely horrible, it is fighting off his back. But it is sometimes easier to talk about putting Rampage on his back than actually putting him down. Rampage has shown some great takedown defense in his fights against Dan Henderson and Matt Lindland, but then he looks absolutely horrible against Lyoto Machida, and many people believe Machida actually won that fight. There are really two fight scenarios and out comes for this fight: Rampage KOs Hamill or Hamill controls Rampage on the ground and wins by TKO or Decision. Hamill does have some heavy hands and can KO people, but I do not think his striking has improved enough to KO Rampage. Hamill’s best bet is to use his boxing to make Rampage over commit so he can do a quick double leg take down. Once in a dominant position on the ground, Hamill will have a prime chance to TKO Rampage. The longer this fight goes on the better chance Hamill will have to pull the upset win. If there is one thing that can be said about Hamill, he has ton of heart.
Scenario 1: Rampage wins by KO in the late 1st or early 2nd round
Scenario 2: Hamill wins by Decision.
Everyone loves an underdog story, and Hamill has lived the underdog story his whole life………I will go with Scenario #2 (I think, I may change it tomorrow)
I now have successfully convinced myself that Rampage will win by KO. ( Let’s see if I change my mind again)
Also, Matt Hamill also has a feature film about his life that has won 1st in recent film festivals. Look for it at a theater near you and visit the official website