Oh, how I hate to brag, but when you hit a perfect set of prelims, how can you help it. Sure, it was only 3-0, but I have a fair amount of confidence that should Sean Loffler’s foot not have been injured, it would have been 4-0. (Stay tuned for an interview with him in the near future.) However, we will never know for sure. What I do know, is that the UFC on Fuel card was one of the least talked about in recent history. Loads of people complaining about not having the channel and complaining about the match-ups. I have one quick response to that (if you haven’t already caught my MMAjunkie.com entry yet http://mmajunkie.com/news/27490/the-sunday-junkie-feb-19-edition.mma): how many of you watched Spike TV before it started showing UFC fights. The popularity will come.
On to this upcoming card, it’s easily one of the most talked about pay-per-views in recent history. With a influx of WEC talent taking over, as well as some Pride throwbacks, this is sure to have fireworks. My personal hope for it, is we get to see a glimpse of prime time Rampage and that Kongo chooses to stand and bang with Hunt. Maybe not the most realistic hopes, but I’m allowed a wishlist.
Issei Tamura vs. Tiequan Zhang
- My Pick: Tiequan Zhang
- Reasoning: The lone, Zuffa-owned Chinese MMA fighter, Zhang, may be coming off a fresh loss, but he has looked impressive as of late. With recent fights including a pair of guillotine submissions, one over high-touted Pablo Garza and a 48-second victory in his UFC debut, the Mongolian Wolf is certainly no slouch in the grappling department. Stepping in on short notice, and giving up a huge experience advantage, there seems to be very few outs for Tamura.
- Confidence: Great
Chris Cariaso vs. Takeya Mizugaki
- My Pick: Chris Cariaso
- Reasoning: Both of these fighters have less than impressive recent records, Cariaso dporting a 2-2 record and Mizugaki with a 3-3. With that being said, all of the losses have been to the cream of the crop in their divisions (Michael McDonald, Renan Barao, Brian Bowles, Urijah Faber and Scotty Jorgensen). When it all boils down, the most impressive fighter in those losses, as well as the wins, has been the Kamikaze. His absolute battle with Michael McDonald sticks out as a testament to his skills. Mizugaki’s most impressive mark on his resume recently is the knock out win over Cole Escovedo.
- Confidence: Fair
Steve Cantwell vs. Riki Fukuda
- My Pick: Riki Fukuda
- Reasoning: The Robot’s transfer over to the UFC was less than pleasant when compared to his WEC nemesis Brian Stann. Despite signs of serious skill, he’s seemed to have a lot of trouble staying effective throughout the fight. Fukuda, on the other hand, is a budding prospect who has only been derailed recently by a car crash and one of the worst disasters of a decision I’ve ever seen.
- Confidence: Good
Vaughan Lee vs. Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto
- My Pick: Vaughan Lee
- Reasoning: Kid was once one of the most feared in his division. However, recently, he seems to have lost that killer instinct that brought him his fame. His opponent hasn’t had the same problem. He seems to be looking for the big shot the whole match and it has worked well for him, much like it did early in Yamamoto’s career. Still not convinced? Try to remember that both of Kid’s UFC losses have come to those significantly smaller than him.
- Confidence: Fair
Takanori Gomi vs. Eiji Mitsuoka
- My Pick: Takanori Gomi
- Reasoning: Once again a short notice fight makes a world of difference here. Although he’ll be fighting in front of his hometown, Mitsuoka is behind in prep time, UFC experience and overall fight experience. His submission record is admittedly very impressive, the fact that Gomi qualified for Abu Dhabi this year negates that quickly.
- Confidence: Extreme
Enjoy the prelims, enjoy the main card, enjoy my picks.