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UFC 143 – Full Card Preview and Predictions





February 3, 2012 – The Ultimate Fighting Championship is back on pay-per-view this Saturday night with UFC 143: Diaz vs. Condit. This time around, the interim 170 title is on the line for Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit with the winner being called the champion until they take on Georges St. Pierre for the chance to be undisputed in the class sometime later this year.

There are 11 fights total set for this card with the majority of the undercard being broadcast on the FX cable network and the first 2 fights being shown on Facebook. Let’s jump right into it and take a look at every fight this card this card has to offer and give our readers our preview and predictions.

 

UFC 143 Preview and Predictions – Main Card (PPV)

 

170 lbs.: Carlos Condit vs. Nick Diaz (Interim Title Fight)

 

Carlos Condit and Nick Diaz were both slated to take on Georges St Pierre at one time or another but those fights did not come to fruition and instead we’re left with a much more exciting pairing between these two would-be champions. Forget the fact that this is for the interim title and we’re still left with a potential ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate between these two warriors.

Carlos has won his last four fights since last losing a split decision to Martin Kampmann way back in 2009.  Prior to that, he won 7 fights in a row. 11 out of 12 isn’t bad… Just ask Nick Diaz, who’s also won 11 out of his last 12 fights with his only loss being by a TKO (cuts) against K.J. Noons prior to his current 11 fight run.

In his last fight, Nick displayed a phenomenal output in throwing 436 total strikes at B.J Penn en route to a runaway decision while Carlos has won his 2 by spectacular KO. Both of these guys can fight all day long. “The Natural Born Killer” is the type of fighter than continuously goes for the finish all day long while Diaz is the type of fighter that is impossible to finish while constantly staying in your face.

This is going to be a very good one.

In order to win, Carlos is going to have to stifle the “Stockton Slap Boxing” offence that’s been so effective for Nick and his brother Nate. As has been mentioned before, Nick Diaz is quite possibly the best boxer in MMA and that’s something he will look to use to his advantage. Meanwhile, Carlos has the edge with knees and kicks so he’ll have to use that to his own advantage in this one. No matter how it plays out, this one will probably end up being a five-round war. We see it being fairly similar to Nate Diaz vs. Donald Cerrone stylistically thought it may not be that one-sided. Or could it? It’s tough to pick against Carlos Condit but Diaz is just on another level right now.

 

Prediction –  Nick Diaz over Carlos Condit  by decision.

 

265 lbs.: Fabricio Werdum (14-5-1) vs. Roy Nelson (16-6)

 

It’s been almost 4 years since Vai Cavalo’s “upset” loss to a young Junior dos Santos at UFC 90. Since then he’s gone 3-1 with wins over Fedor Emelianenko (first man ever to beat him) and Antonio Silva on his back to the UFC. Now that he’s octagon-bound again, look for him to make the most of the opportunity and show that he belongs in the top tier of heavyweights in the world. In order to validate that distinction, Fabricio Werdum will have to take out Big Country” Roy Nelson, a perennially underrated veteran who’s also long been trying to crash that top tier.

This fight presents an interesting contrast between the tall and rangy Brazilian and the port and stocky American. Both these guys are BJJ black belts but aren’t afraid to contest things on the feet. The interesting thing is that despite their physical attributed (tall vs. short), Werdum actually likes to fight close-in, attacking from the clinch, where Roy Nelson (the shorter man) prefers to jab from a distance to set up his overhand right hand (see how he knocked out Brendan Schaub on the TUF Finale in Dec. 2009). On the ground, both guys are proficient but it’s Werdum that’s got the world class guard that Nelson may want to stay away from. Roy usually loves to pass and secure that crucifix on his opponents but that strategy won’t work in this one.

Despite their ground pedigrees, this fight could play out largely on the feet with Nelson staying patient from the outside looking for that one right hand and Werdum looking to get in and tie him up or find the takedown. With that being said, this could turn into a three-round war of attrition. In that type of fight, Werdum should hold the edge and overtake Nelson in the later rounds.

Prediction: Fabricio Werdum over Roy Nelson by decision,

 

170 lbs.: Josh Koscheck (16-5) vs. Mike Pierce (13-4)

 

Josh Koscheck is back and one again looking to make his way to the top of the division once again after scoring a ‘knockout of the night’ win in his last fight against Matt Hughes this past September. “Kos” has been quiet as of late so it’s easy to forget that he hasn’t lost to anyone not named GSP in the past 3 years. If he wins this one, he could easily find himself at the top and challenging for the title yet once again. As for Mike Pierce, well he’s won 4 out of his last 5 as wekk with his only loss being a split decision against Texan Johny Hendricks at UFC 133. With that in mind, he’s also looking to make his case for top billing.

Both Hughes and Koscheck are tough fighters with an expert wrestling base. Despite that acumen, they both also like to throw punches on the feet as well. In most of fights, Pierce uses his boxing to set up the takedown but that will be tough in this fight. Koscheck should have the edge in both the boxing and takedown department. Look for him to stand with Pierce and try to not him out in this one unless he needs to put the Oregonian on his back.

This fight could very well end up as a showcase of two guys who do the exact same things well. Aside from timing, the edge will come down to who is faster and more efficient and that’s Koscheck. Look for him to win this one going away.

Prediction: Josh Koscheck over Mike Pierce by decision.

 

135 lbs.: Renan Barão (27-1-1) vs. Scott Jorgensen (13-4)

 

This bout could quite possibly determine the next challenge to the 135 belt currently held by the “Dominator” Dominic Cruz and it should be a good. Scott Jorgensen is an exceptional wrestler who hasn’t lost to anyone but the current champion in his last 8 fights. Meanwhile, Renan Barão has won his last 17 fights in a row.

This should be a very good one. Both these guys like to come forget and fight aggressively for the takedown which not being afraid to throw punches either. Jorgensen in particular is an “in your face” type of fighter that likes to throw the right hand in order to get his opponents uncomfortable before putting them on their back and smashing them whereas Barão likes to use his striking to set up the submission.

Look for this fight to be a test of Jorgensen’s ability to work ground-and-pound from within a very active guard. Scott will try to wear the Brazilian down and Renan will look to sweep and create scrambles in order to take his opponent’s back. This is a tough call but we like Barão in this one by a late submission.

Prediction: Renan Barão over Scott Jorgensen by submission in round 3.

 

185 lbs.: Ed Herman (19-7) vs. Clifford Starks (8-0)

 

This fight pits a longtime octagon veteran against an undefeated newcomer looking to make his way up the ranks. Ed Herman has won 2 in a row against Kyle Noke and Tim Credeur in 2011 while Clifford Starks is coming off a successful UFC debut with a win over Dustin Jacoby this past October.

Ed Herman may not be a great fighter but he is a very good one, the kind of guy that makes for the perfect gatekeeper to test new talent. He can expose serious weaknesses in guys no matter where they lie – standing or on the ground. Meanwhile, Clifford Starks is a solid wrestler who has a pretty good counter left hand. He likes to grind out fights by establishing dominant position and controlling from there.

Clifford Starks is pretty good at what he does but if he can’t take “Short Fuse” down and keep him there then he’s likely to be at a huge disadvantage. Herman is likely to be the superior striker in this one and also possesses enough ability with his grappling to not only avoid trouble, but put Clifford in rough spots as well.

Prediction: Ed Herman over Clifford Starks by submission in Round 3.

 

UFC 143 Preview and Predictions – Preliminary Card (FX)

 

145 lbs.: Dustin Poirier (11-1) vs. Max Holloway (4-0)

 

23 year old Dustin Poirier is now one of the brightest prospects in the UFC featherweight division after dispatching of Pablo Garza and Josh Grispi in his last 2 fights. He won’t be too far away from a title shot if he beats the debuting Max Holloway in this one.

“The Diamond” is fast becoming a polished diamond as opposed to a hidden one with his striking and submissions both looking up to par in the UFC. Meanwhile, Holloway is an exciting young prospect and an unorthodox striker reminiscent of Anhony Pettis but he hasn’t quite faced anyone like Poirier in the pros just yet.

We see this one as a fight where Poirier will take Holloway where he’s uncomfortable and put him in trouble there. He’s the bigger fighter and vastly more experienced on the ground so look for him to try and gain the submission in this one.

Prediction: Dustin Poirier over Max Holloway by submission in Round 1.

 

135 lbs.: Alex Caceres (6-4) vs. Edwin Figueroa (8-1)

 

Alex Caceres hasn’t exactly lit the MMA world on fire after his stint on The Ultimate Fighter but he did dominate Cole Escovedo in his last fight while showing some more polish in both his striking and grappling game. Meanwhile, DFW resident Edwin “El Feroz” Figueroa also showed more of his own skills by beating Jason Reinhardt via TKO after dropping his UFC debut on short notice against highly-touted Michael McDonald.

This could be a fight of the night candidate as both of these guys fight with a pretty high intensity. Edwin is definitely the more powerful of the two but Alex isn’t afraid to stand and trade either. We’re not use which of these two is better on the ground but it’s not likely the bout is contested there anyways. Look for this to be a ferocious striking battle. With that being said, we’re pulling for TEXAS in this one.

Prediction: Edwin Figueroa over Alex Caceres by decision. (fight of the night candidate)

 

155 lbs.: Matt Brown (12-11) vs. Chris Cope (5-2)

 

Both of these guys are coming off losses. Matt Brown has actually lost 4 out of his last 5 while Chris Cope was knocked off by Che Mills after winning his UFC debut on the TUF 13 Finale last June.

This bout likely won’t be anything to write home about but look for both guys to come out banging as both their jobs are likely to be on the line in this one with only the winner being allowed to stay in the UFC when all is said and done. Brown came through in that kind of fight before when he beat John “Doomsday” Howard. We look for him to do the same again to keep his UFC contract “Immortal” for the time being.

Prediction: Matt Brown over Chris Cope by TKO in Round 1.

 

170 lbs.: Matt Riddle (5-3) vs. Henry Martinez (8-1)

 

Matt Riddle is the more well-known of the two in this fight with his stint in The Ultimate Fighter and 6 UFC fights (.500 UFC record) but Henry Martinez is a legit sleeper who could knock him out of the UFC with his third loss in a row. Known as “Lil Monster,” Martinez has wrecked shop in the regional circuit with his only loss being to Wilson Reis in Bellator back in 2009.

Matt Riddle, a wrestler, will be headed into this fight with a significant size advantage over his opponent. He’ll likely use that to his advantage against Martinez who’s competed much of his career at lightweight and featherweight. Taking this fight on short notice, Martinez will prove to be an active fighter who won’t go down easy but he’s giving up a lot of weight in this one. Against a wrestler such as Riddle, that’s too big of a disadvantage to ignore.

Prediction: Matt Riddle over Henry Martinez by decision.

 

UFC 143 Predictions – Preliminary Card (Facebook)

 

Middleweight bout:  Rafael Natal (13-3-1) vs.  Michael Kuiper (11-0)

 

BJJ black belt Rafael Natal take on incoming Judo black belt Michael Kuiper in this one, the latter fighter’s UFC debut. Fighting primarily in Belgium and elsewhere in Europe, the Dutchman Kuiper has amassed an 11-0 record prior to making his way into the UFC. Meanwhile, Natal has gone 1-1-1 in the octagon after making his own way into the league in late 2010. We see this as a tossup fight but when in doubt, choose the guy that’s been there.

Prediction: Rafael Natal over Michael Kuiper by Decision

 

Welterweight bout:  Dan Stittgen (7-1) vs.  Stephen Thompson (5-0)

 

Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson is a kickboxer with a 56-0 record and a former #1 ranking in Chuck Norris’ World Combat League. Dan Stittgen is a veteran of the midwestern regional circuit with most of his wins coming by way of submission. Seemingly a classic “striker vs. grappler” matchup here but we hear that Thompson also holds the rank of black belt in BJJ under his brother-in-law Carlos Machado. That has to give him the definitive advantage.

Prediction: Stephen Thompson over Daniel Stittgen by Decision

 

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