Posted by Tommy Hackett on September 15th, 2010
It would be easy to describe UFC Fight Night: Marquardt vs. Palhares (aka UFC Fight Night 22) as hobbling its way into the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, TX tonight — with several of its scheduled bouts scratched due to one injury after another. But, it would also be a bit dishonest.
This show, which leads off the new season of Ultimate Fighter, may have lost some of its luster with the loss of such names as Alan Belcher — but it’s also benefitted from some creative shuffling of ZUFFA talent. Nate Marquardt and Rousimar Palhares would be a solid undercard bout for a PPV show; so it’s fair to classify them solid entries for a “free TV” (Cable isn’t free where I live, but whatever) main event. The undercard features some familiar faces like TUF winners Ross Pearson and Efrain Escudero, along with some exciting developing talent like Charles Oliveira.
So many changes occured with this lineup, that I can barely remember the original card. Maybe that’s to its benefit. I didn’t exactly mark this one on the calendar, but the more I look at it, the more I like this show and am looking forward to it.
Predictions for ths show are by Jacob Lawton (JL) and me (TH). As always, these are for entertainment purposes only. Don’t blame us if you end up selling a kidney to pay off your gambling debts which resulted from reading our humble blog.
Main Event Middleweight Bout: Nate Marquardt (29-9-2) vs. Rousimar Palhares (11-2)
JL: The main event is an interesting clash between a well rounded journeyman in Marquardt, and one of the best jiu-jitsu players to enter the division for a while in Palhares — a disciple of former UFC champ Murilo Bustamante. Palhares got himself in trouble following his bout with Tomasz Drwal, after holding a fight ending heel hook for too long following his opponent’s tap, resulting in a brief suspension. But now the Brazilian maestro rides a three fight win streak, and his bout with often nearly man Marquardt has serious title implications. Marquardt is trying to rebound from a loss to Chael Sonnen, another fighter many have dubbed one dimensional, after failing to find away take away the explosive wrestler’s strong suit. Marquardt has a black belt in jiu-jitsu, but he is not at nearly the same level as Palhares, who has made other top notch grapplers such as Lucio Linhares look decidedly average with his superlative submission skills. There is a chance that Marquardt will do what only Dan Henderson has managed in Palhares’ UFC career and use smothering clinchwork and commanding takedown defence to grind himself a decision, but I don’t think that Marquardt’s wrestling credentials are up to scratch. I have Palhares weathering an early Marquardt assault before earning the second round tapout via trademark heel hook.
TH: I’m not sure I’m sold on Palhares’ ability to impose his brilliant jiu-jitsu in MMA, especially against a guy with good all-around skills like Marquardt. Look for Marquardt to do just enough standing, and mostly survive on the mat, but that should be enough here. Marquardt by decision. I’ll note that I hope he proves me wrong and a new contender is born here.
Co-Main Event Lightweight Bout: Efrain Escudero (13-1) vs. Charles Oliveira (13-0)
JL: This interesting lightweight bout pits jiu-jitsu ace Oliveira against the Season 9 Ultimate Fighter Escudero. Escudero is continuing his rebound from his armbar loss to lightweight super prospect Evan Dunham, while Oliveira is hoping to continue his UFC unbeaten run following a submission marker over Darren Elkins. The young Brazilian has a solid all round game to go with his jiu-jitsu credentials, including some decent wrestling and a dangerous stand up game. Escudero is at his best when outside an opponent’s guard; he can pass positions superbly and has some damaging ground and pound amongst his often-rubbished submission skills. However, I think Oliveira is simply the better all round package – and inside the guard Escudero seldom has much offence to offer. Look for Oliveira to outstrike Escudero and out grapple him too, before earning a third round submission and extending his unbeaten run to fourteen.
TH: The undefeated Charles Oliveira showed some beautiful jiu-jitsu in his UFC debut, and I’m interested in seeing how he deals with the wrestling of Escudero. Escudero can take you down, and flatten you out — just ask Philipe Nover about the former, and Cole Miller about the latter. Oliveira may be dynamic enough to avoid either fate. Watch for some basic striking exchanges to begin, but I’m thinking this one will heat up on the mat, where Oliveira gets an armbar, round three.
Lightweight Bout: Jim Miller (17-2) vs. Gleison Tibau (21-6)
JL: Two veterans of the lightweight division clash here as both look to extend impressive win streaks. Miller’s is more so than Tibau’s; the American has suffered one loss in his UFC career, to future 155 title contender Gray Maynard, and has since then racked up 4 straight victories, over fighters like Duane Ludwig and Mac Danzig. He is a tidy fighter with a dangerous all round game complete with dangerous submissions and dominant wrestling. His foe Tibau is something of a litmus test for Miller; he is a competent competitor with the patented AKA mix of deadly jiu-jitsu and solid striking, and in his last two fights he has beaten the both since cut Josh Neer and Caol Uno. The defining feature of Tibau’s career, though, has been victories over fellow journeymen, but constant failures against those just slightly above that – a happy spot that his opponent here occupies. Tibau is too savvy to be tapped out and heavy hands have never been a part of Miller’s game, so look for the American Miller to pick up a decision win.
TH: This is a pick ‘em for me where I hope to learn about both guys.Both have scored wins over the likes of Josh Neer and Mac Danzig but have failed to rise above the pack. I know Tibau is huge at this weight, and in recent memory he was caught by Stevenson in a bout he was winning, and stopped a legend in Caol Uno. Both have shown submission savvy, but Miller may be a bit crisper in his striking. Pretty even, so a decision would seem a likely result. I’ll go with the slightly more proven commodity in Tibau by decision.
Lightweight Bout: Cole Miller (16-4) vs. Ross Pearson (11-3)
JL: The second Miller on the card has very different prospects to the first. The first is the quality of his opponent. Pearson, one of the winners of TUF 10, is one of the new breed of dangerous, well rounded mixed martial artists who are steadily becoming the norm; he has heavy hands, decent wrestling and good jiu-jitsu. Add to that a three fight undefeated run in the UFC, admittedly against some of the lesser lights at 155, with the biggest name being German-Russian Denis Siver, shows that he is a dangerous up and comer with a bright future ahead of him. This is exactly the type of fighter that Miller has struggled against in the past; his sole losses in the UFC have been to rugged, well rounded, never say die individuals in Jeremy Stephens and Efrain Escudero. Unfortunately for Miller, Pearson has similar tools, and will find Miller’s chin for a second round stoppage.
TH: I agree here. Ross Pearson brings a stronger striking game than Cole Miller and I think that will make the difference — and I think it may happen quickly. I like a big Pearson flying knee to bring the T/KO finish in round one.