Tonight’s latest installment of the Ultimate Fighting Championship will take place in Dallas, Texas. Although recent past cards have featured bigger names, tonight’s event features a strong lineup that should feature some good fights.
195 pound catch weight contest – Rich Franklin vs. Vitor Belfort
Rich Franklin has been trying to make the move from middleweight to light heavyweight but keeps having to take detours through the 195 pound highway. His last fight was at this same catch weight when he defeated Wanterlei Silva by unanimous decision at UFC 99 back in June. In that fight, Franklin showed a patient game plan and improved boxing skills to keep Silva off balance. Although Silva was able to land a couple of solid shots, Franklin controlled the pace of that standup contest throughout. Meanwhile, Belfort returns to the Octagon for the first time in over four years. In his last fight against Matt Lindland back in January, in what turned out to be Affliction’s final event, Belfort scored one of the most devastating knockouts of his career. No one has ever denied that Belfort is a solid striker but I see this eventually going to the ground where Franklin has the better skill set. Belfort had trouble making weight initially for the fight and I feel that’s a factor that will eventually show itself in the second or third round. My prediction is Franklin by split decision.
Heavyweight bout – Mirko Cro Cop vs. Junior Dos Santos
Back in his days of competing in the now defunct Pride Fighting Championships Cro Cop earned a reputation of being one of the most feared strikers in the sport. After making the transition to the cage Cro Cop suffered a devastating KO loss at the hands of Gabriel Gonzaga. That loss was followed by an uninspiring defeat at the hands of Cheick Kongo. Even in his most recent fight, which was a win over Mustapha Al-Turk at UFC 99, Cro Cop did not look nearly like his old self and was aided by a controversial non call when he accidentally poked Al-Turk in the eye and the ref did not step in. Dos Santos is 8-1 overall in his young career and 2-0 in the UFC with two wins coming by TKO. That tells me that he is a very good striker who is aggressive and likes to finish opponents quickly. Cro Cop no longer looks like the hungry fighter that he once was. My prediction is Dos Santos by TKO in the second round
Welterweight bout – Martin Kampmann vs. Paul Daley
This matchup was originally supposed to feature Kampmann taking on Mike Swick but Swick had to withdraw after suffering a training camp injury. Kampmann is coming off an impressive split decision victory over Carlos Condit. In that fight Kampmann showed impressive overall skills. Whether the fight was standing up or on the ground, Kampmann looked very comfortable in his surroundings. I have not watched Daley fight but from what I’ve read he’s a solid striker. I look for Kampmann to display his superior ground skills and take Daley out of his comfort zone. My prediction is Kampmann by second round submission.
Welterweight bout – Josh Koscheck vs. Frank Trigg
At one time Koscheck was considered one of the best young up anc coming fighters. After going 3-3 in his last six fights including a devastating TKO loss in his most recent fight against Paul Thiago some of that luster has worn off. Trigg returns to the octagon for the first time in four years. When looking through his win-loss record I see a reoccurring theme in that Trigg has a tough time against fighters with strong ground skills. Koscheck falls into that category and as long as he tries to exploit that strength he should be able to win. If Trigg keeps the fight on its feet I think he stands a good chance of emerging victorious but I see Koscheck learning the lessons from his last fight against Thiago and taking things to the ground. My prediction is Koscheck by second round submission.
Lightweight bout – Tyson Griffin vs. Hermes Franca
These two fighters are evenly matched with both of them possessing good striking skills. Griffin is considered better at taking down his opponents. Franca will have to display a better takedown defense in this contest to have a good chance. I look for both guys to keep the fight standing up and trade punches which should make for a good fight. My prediction is Griffin by split decision.