UFC 162 PRELIMINARY PREDICTIONS
David 'Daudi' Mitchell vs Mike Pierce
David Mitchell is coming off an exciting battle when he out-fought Simeon Thoreson for a unanimous decision win. The fight showcased Mitchell's jiu jitsu skills, both defensive and offensive, but not much else. He has officially been thrown in to the deep ends for his next fight against Mike Pierce, leaving many to believe he has no chance. Mike Pierce is currently on a three fight winning streak, with the only losses of his career coming from NCAA wrestling standouts. The UFC don't seem to be taking his streak seriously, and have matched him up with a fighter who only has one win in the UFC. Hopefully another win will change Mike's circumstances.
Striking - David Mitchell's striking is not his strong point. He has a 32% overall striking success, with 69% of these coming on the feet. David displayed some varied striking in his last fight, but that was facing Simeon Thoreson, a fellow BJJ specialist. Against Mike Pierce he will be at a huge disadvantage.
Mike Pierce is a capable boxer, who holds some knockout power in his fists, although that is rarely on show. He has a solid chin as well, which should help him avoid any nasty shocks from Daudi Mitchell. The striking advantage goes to Mike Pierce.
Wrestling - When it comes to wrestling, David Mitchell isn't one for double leg takedowns or clinch throws. Most of his fights I've seen outside of the UFC include a whole lot of guard pulling, which is an adequate tactic due to his skill of his back.
However, Mike Pierce's wrestling is the foundation on which he has built his career on, whether it's grinding an opponent against the fence, or ground and pounding them from guard, it's his bread and butter. Even though Pierce has only been defeated by wrestling champions, he has landed takedowns on; Johny Hendricks, Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck. Most recently, Pierce landed a huge six takedowns on Seth Baczynski, proving this category has by far the largest skill discrepancy between the two fighters.
Jiu Jitsu – This may be where David Mitchell holds an advantage against Mike Pierce. Never the less, I'm not sure it will matter. I doubt David Mitchell will be able to submit or sweep Mike Pierce from the bottom, but it's his best chance of winning the fight.
As for Mike Pierce, he utilises his strong wrestling on the ground, and translates that to good submission defence. He has been in the guard of Carlos Eduardo Rocha, a fine BJJ fighter, and survived that. Although the actual advantage for jiu jitsu goes to Mitchell, in an MMA sense it will not matter.
I think Mike Pierce easily controls David Mitchell, and will probably look to stand for half a round, and then bully Mitchell in the clinch and taking him down for the other stages of the round.
Prediction – Mike Pierce defeats David Mitchell by unanimous decision
Seth 'The Polish Pistola' Baczynski vs Brian Melancon
This fight will most likely be won by the man with the better strategy on the night. Neither of these two fighters seems to excel in any given area, and are fairly well rounded tough-nosed guys. Seth Baczynski was recently denied an extension to his four fight winning streak when he lost a tough decision to Mike Pierce. Brian Melancon will be making his UFC debut on Saturday, and has a fairly hard first fight for a man with only eight fights under his belt.
Striking – Seth Baczynski likes to come forward with his muay thai, which can leave him susceptible to takedowns, resulting in him getting taken down six times in his last fight. Seth has six stoppages via strikes, and has stunned a few of his opponents before submitting them. He likes to use knees and boxing combinations that string in plenty of uppercuts in an attempt to ward off wrestlers.
Brian Melancon has some real power in his hands, and a solid chin to go with it. The man is mainly a boxer, and swings for the fences from the get go. Brian definitely has the power to put Seth away or at least win him a few rounds, which is why I think this could possibly be a great fight. Overall, due to variation of attack and experience on the feet in the UFC, I'd have to give the advantage to Seth.
Wrestling – Seth Baczynski likes to grapple, but he can't always take it to the ground, and sports a somewhat measly 14% takedown rate. He does however have a 50% takedown defence rate, and is very comfortable fighting off his back, even though that can end you up on the wrong side of a judge's decision.
Brian Melancon stands at 5'8, and as a result is a complete powerhouse. Whilst he does not have the most technical wrestling, he has the ability to pick his opponents up and slam them on their heads. He also has some vicious ground striking, which he has put past opponents away with. I'd have to give the wrestling edge to Melancon, due to his power.
Jiu Jitsu - Baczynski prefers to try and submit his opponents, with over half of his wins coming by submission, and many through triangle chokes. He has no problem fighting from the top or bottom, and has a good chance to submit Melancon.
I don't know too much about Melancon's BJJ skills, except that he is a purple belt under Ricco Rodriguez, and has won a few grappling tournaments in Texas. I think his skills will be enough to survive if he is on top of Seth, but I doubt he'll be submitting him. I'd have to give the BJJ advatange to Seth.
I think a 6'3 Seth will be able to keep Brian on the outside, peppering him with his muay thai whilst using knees and elbows on the inside. Brian will tire out by the third round, and leave himself open for a triangle choke.
Prediction – Seth Baczynski defeats Brian Melancon via submission in the third round
Gabriel 'Napao' Gonzaga vs Dave 'Pee Wee' Herman
This is an intriguing matchup, in which Dave Herman probably finds himself fighting for his job. His last matchup could be considered similar to this one, and it did not bode well for him. Herman has been stating that jiu jitsu does not work on him, and although he was submitted in his last fight by an aging Nogueira, he has not changed his tone. Gabriel Gonzaga is coming off a quick loss to Travis Browne, where he was stopped by elbows on a takedown attempt.
Striking – Gabriel Gonzaga owns one of the most famous knockouts in history, with his head kick stoppage of the famous kickboxing champion, Mirko Flipovic. Gabriel is 34 years old, and his slowing down physically, but he obviously still possesses stopping power in his strikes. He was however completely outworked on the feet by Schaub, and seemed to want nothing to do with striking when facing Ben Rothwell. I believe if Gonzaga stays on the feet too long he will get clipped many times.
Dave Herman is an athletic heavyweight, with some decent striking and power to boot. Most of his wins are by T(KO) and he does utilise a variety of attacks. Nevertheless, his striking defence is lacking, and he often moves backwards in a straight line with his chin up instead of circling away. If he becomes overconfident in his striking he will get tagged and likely submitted whilst in a daze. Neither of these guys are great strikers, but I'd have to give the advantage to the younger and more athletic Dave Herman.
Wrestling – Gabriel Gonzaga has surprisingly good wrestling statistics at hand, with a 79% average takedown defence, and a 49% takedown offence. We can likely cancel out his takedown defence as Dave won't be rushing to take this fight to the ground. Gonzaga's wrestling offense is becoming more predictable, and he lacks mixing up his approach to his wrestling. In his fight against Rothwell, Gonzaga dived for a leg every time Ben came to engage, yet still landed 3 takedowns in the fight.
Dave Herman has succeeded in every takedown he has attempted in the UFC, which is three. He was also taken down by Stefan Struve, Big Nog and John-Olav Einemo. These three fighters are not known for their takedown ability, and I do believe that Gonzaga will also be able to take Herman down at some point. Due to this, I'd have to give the wrestling advantage to Gonzaga, as he will be the one looking to take this to the ground, whereas Herman will want to keep it standing.
Jiu Jitsu – Gabriel Gonzaga is a 4th degree black belt in jiu jitsu, Mundials gold medallist and one of the top five Brazilian Jiu Jitsu heavyweight specialists in the UFC. He has nine wins by submission, and is very capable of submitting Dave Herman given the slightest chance.
Dave Herman firmly denies the efficiency of jiu jitsu, even though he was submitted in his last fight. What makes his statement more odd is the fact that Dave Herman is three submission wins, one coming from a rare omoplata in Bellator. Gonzaga definitely has the advantage in this category.
I expect Herman to do well in the first round, peppering Gonzaga with solid shots, but he will be hesitant to follow Gonzaga to the floor if he knocks him down. I expect Gonzaga to eventually tag Herman, take him down and grab a neck.
Prediction – Gabriel Gonzaga defeats Dave Herman via submission in the second round
Edson Barboza vs Rafaello Oliveira
Edson Barboza is a Brazilian star, who owns some of the most technical striking in the lightweight division. He rebounded from his first loss with a knockout win over Lucas Martin, and is looking to start a new winning streak. Rafaello Oliviera has a UFC record of 2-4, with his most recent losses being dominating stoppages. This is likely Oliviera's do or die fight for the UFC, and if he gets knocked out he'll be sent packing to the lower leagues.
Striking – Edson Barboza is one of the best strikers in the division, and loves to use his crisp combinations to keep guys on the outside. He has a devastating arsenal of kicks, from damaging leg strikes, to spinning wheel kicks. Fighters like Ross Pearson and Jamie Varner have shown that if you get on the inside and throw heavy boxing combinations Barboza does not always circle the right way out. I expect if Oliviera tries rushing in, he will be knocked out.
Oliviera is not a great striker. I guess that is all you really need to know when he's fighting a man like Edson Barboza, but I'll supply you with some facts. Oliviera is an orthodox fighter, who owns three stoppages due to strikes, and has also been stopped only once by strikes, but has been out worked on the feet by Andre Winner as well. Whilst Oliviera is certainly no Jake Shields on the feet, he will not want to be striking with Edson. The striking advantage goes to Edson Barboza.
Wrestling – Edson has completed four takedowns in the UFC, but against fellow strikers. He gave up two takedowns against Terry Etim, and two against Jamie Varner. I think Edson will be fast enough to avoid takedowns in the first and second round, but if it goes to the third he may end up on his back.
Rafaello has a 42% success rate when it comes to takedowns which isn't bad, it's pretty average. His takedown defence is 11%, which is really pretty awful, and he has only one submission win in his career off his back. Whilst his takedown offence will be enough to drag down a tired Edson, I don't see him taking down a fresh Barboza. The wrestling advantage, surprisingly, goes to the younger explosive Barboza.
Jiu Jitsu – Edson is a purple belt in BJJ, and obviously prefers being on his feet. He did take down Njokuani, and whilst Anthony is one of my favourite fighters, he is fairly easy to control on the ground. Off his back, Edson can keep a tight guard, and protect himself from damage, but won't be throwing many triangle chokes and armbars from the bottom when fighting Rafaello.
Rafaello Oliviera is a black belt in BJJ, and has four submission wins in his career. He is certainly not amazing on the ground, but definitely experienced enough to put Edson in bad places on the matt. The advantage goes to Oliviera for the jiu jitsu.
I expect this fight to be a fairly simple one for Barboza. He will throw his jabs and leg kicks out there in the opening minutes, and then start throwing combinations. He will probably end up knocking him out in the opening round.
Prediction – Edson Barboza defeats Rafaello Oliviera via technical knockout in the first round
Norman Parke vs Kazuki Tokudome
Norman Parke is looking to improve his UFC record from his debut where he won The Ultimate Fighter Smashes in a lacklustre performance. Norman is an incredible talent on the ground, and is not afraid to attack any area of the body with submission locks. Kazuki Tokudome made his debut in March, winning a decision against Jiu Jitsu specialist Cristiano Marcello, and has a fairly well rounded game.
Striking – Norman has good boxing and good defence. In his fight against Fletcher he showed that he can deal with a long limbed fighter, and can time his strikes in order to get the fight to the ground. Norman has hurt a few opponents and proceeded to take their neck, but he does own three stoppages via strikes.
Kazuki Tokudome isn't a fantastic striker by any means, but does have good enough boxing to provide Norman with problems on the feet. He landed the same amount of strikes as Cristiano Marcello in his fight, and only outworked the BJJ technician on the ground, but I'd put this down to UFC jitters. I'd have to rule this area even, as Tokudome has looked good on the feet, but against weaker competition, and has also been finished by strikes.
Wrestling – Norman has very strong takedowns and takedown defence, and on the regional circuit rarely ended up fighting on the bottom when he didn't want to. He dominated Colin Fletcher in the wrestling front, even though he was the smaller man. I think Tokudome is not a big enough 155er to stop Norman from taking him down, but I don't necessarily think he will have to, as Norman could really be looking for a knockout in this fight.
Tokudome has some decent takedowns and judo trips, which he has utilised in his career, and has quick hips and reactions to takedowns himself. From the clinch he can randomly end up in side control, but I doubt he'd get their against Norman. I'd have to give the advantage to Norman here, as he can time his takedowns very well against the 'forward coming' Tokudome.
Jiu Jitsu – Norman has incredible skills on the ground, and will be looking to attack every limb of Kazuki. From guard, Norman will pound Tokudome until he is able to pass, and ultimately has the ability to give the Japanese fighter his first submission loss.
Kazuki showed great ground skills in his last fight against Marcello, when he stifled Cristiano's guard attacks, and made passes of his own. Tokudome will probably want to keep this fight standing, but if he is taken down, he may be able to get up and make the fight interesting. The BJJ advantage goes to Parke, the man has thirteen wins by submission, with a variety of locks.
Norman Parke defeats Kazuki Tokudome via unanimous decision
Chris 'The Crippler' Leben vs Andrew 'Highlight' Craig
A potential fight of the night candidate matches tough men Chris Leben and Andrew Craig. Chris is coming off an incredibly boring performance against Derek Brunson where he was pinned down for most of the fight, and gassed after the first round. Andrew Craig is coming off is first loss from Ronny Markes, where he was simply outclassed on the ground.
Striking – Chris Leben has explosive power with his punches, but not much technique. He does utilise muay thai, but when he loses himself in the fight he turns into a windmill of destruction. He has several comeback wins, and really just needs one time to touch someone's chin to win a fight. He likes to stand toe to toe, but does avoid 54% of strikes thrown at him.
Andrew Craig also has an incredible chin, and at times enjoys a brawl. He also has power in his strikes, and uses muay thai when thinking with calculated strategy, as you could see in his fight against Natal. Craig only has a 44% striking rate, and his striking defence is pretty low at 37%. When you're getting hit by roughly 65% of Chris Leben's strikes, you're not going to have a good day. I'd have to give the stand-up edge to Leben.
Wrestling – Chris Leben is able to take his fights to the ground, and also keep it off the ground. He's pretty average wrestler, but does have some nice trips and throws from the clinch position. Chris also has some explosive ground and pound, and his heavy hands can end the night on the ground, or set-up a submission.
Andrew Craig is not a great wrestler, but his composure could help him takedown Chris Leben if he survives in the later rounds. Andrew Craig has only landed one of takedown attempts, and has been taken down seven times in his last three fights. I'll have to leave the wrestling as even, Chris looked pretty terrible in his last fight in the wrestling department, and if he is still rusty Craig will be able to take him down.
Jiu Jitsu – Chris Leben is a BJJ blue belt, and holds five wins by submission. He showed he had a dangerous guard when he submitted Akiyama by triangle choke, but in his other fights he has shown to vulnerable off his back.
Andrew Craig is a brown belt in BJJ under Travis Tooke, who is a great jiu jitsu coach. In tournaments I have seen Craig hit the brabo choke a few times, and has shown he has quite a good top game. He was completely outworked by Ronny Markes on the ground, but I'd say Ronny is better than Brunson. I'd have to give the BJJ edge to Craig.
The thing that still stands out to me if Andrew's poor striking defence combined with poor takedown offence. That combination just spells trouble to me against a powerhouse like Leben.
Chris Leben defeats Andrew Craig via KO in the second round