UFC 131 Quick Picks

The Facebook prelims are about to start, and I’m just going to run down my picks for tonight’s card.

Darren Elkins vs. Michihiro Omigawa

Omigawa has the takedown defense to negate Elkins best skill, his wrestling, and even if he does get taken down, he’s been able to submit the likes of Cole Escovedo on the ground which is no easy task. Elkins took about three seconds flat to get tapped out by Charles Oliveira, and I expect he won’t find much more success against Omigawa. Michihiro Omigawa via 1st Round Submission.

Aaron Rosa vs. Joey Beltran

Beltran is scrappy, but when you’re nearly universally described as scrappy it means you probably don’t have the skills necessary to survive at this highest level of the sport. Rosa possesses enough wrestling and submission acumen to give Beltran some significant troubles.  Aaron Rosa via 2nd Round Submission.

Dustin Poirier vs. Jason Young

Jason Young’s achilles heel has always been his submission defense, and while Dustin Poirier is no Demian Maia on the ground, he does have a very high-pressure style, as well as a serviceable sub game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him use his inside game like he did against Grispi, wearing Young down and then finishing late, I’m just not quite sure how. Dustin Poirier via 3rd Round TKO.

Nick Ring vs. James Head

It’s hard to have confidence in Nick Ring after his uninspired “win” over Riki Fukuda, not to mention his knees which have seen more surgeries than Joan Rivers. Still, James Head is nearly unknown to me, and despite a win over Gerald Harris, I think Ring’s striking and way with the judges should be enough for him to take this bout. Nick Ring via Unanimous Decision.

Krzysztof Soszynski vs. Mike Massenzio

Massenzio is doing the UFC a huge favour by stepping in on short notice for this fight AND moving up a weight class to take on Soszynski. Considering Massenzio was submitted from Brian Stann’s guard, I imagine once Massenzio wears down a bit, Soszynski gets top position and we’ll likely see him lock on that Kimura he loves so much. Krzysztof Soszynski via 3rd Round Submission.

Yves Edwards vs. Sam Stout

I expect to see the Yves Edwards renaissance tour come to an end in this one. He plays perfectly into Stout’s wheelhouse. Yves is a guy who lets his opponents dictate the pace of fights, and when Stout is allowed to do that, he finds excellent success with his striking. Yves from five years ago would make this a very competitive fight, but present day Yves will merely make it a fun, one-sided affair. Sam Stout via Unanimous Decision.

Chris Weidman vs. Jesse Bongfeldt

Bongfeldt’s kryptonite has been strong wrestlers who can avoid his submissions, and Chris Weidman is that in spades. Weidman’s exploits ADCC 2009 put him on the map to many MMA fans, and he impressed against Alessio Sakara in his UFC debut despite it being only his fifth pro MMA fight. He should continue to find success against Bongfeldt in this one, and will be someone to watch in the Middleweight division for some time. Chris Weidman via Unanimous Decision.

Donald Cerrone vs. Vagner Rocha

Another fight that isn’t what it was originally supposed to be, as Vagner Rocha has entered on short notice to take on Cerrone. Rocha’s submissions are his ace in the hole, which could give Cerrone trouble if he gets lazy as he has a tendency to do in fights. Still, Cerrone’s submission game is dangerous and his striking is likely his avenue to victory in this fight. Donald Cerrone via Unanimous Decision.

Demian Maia vs. Mark Munoz

Will Maia be able to replicate the success he’s found against wrestlers in the past, or will Munoz prove to be a different breed able to negate the Brazilian’s ground game? I think Munoz will have what it takes to avoid Maia’s potent ground arsenal, at the very least. If this stays on the feet, Demian has improved considerably, but Munoz is still more dangerous on the feet, and I see him holding the advantage as long as this stays standing. Mark Munoz via Unanimous Decision.

Jon Olav Einemo vs. Dave Herman

There are very few fights that I have no idea how they’ll play out (whether I’m right or wrong in my prediction), but this is one of them. Einemo is coming off a supremely long layoff, so who knows how he’ll react being back in the cage.  Dave Herman is one of MMA’s biggest headcases, and despite being a very talented Heavyweight days where he just doesn’t seem like he wants to be fighting. I’m leaning towards Herman because I think being in the UFC will motivate him enough to be into this fight, and Einemo’s absence from MMA is simply too much to overlook. Dave Herman via 2nd Round TKO.

Kenny Florian vs. Diego Nunes

As a huge fan of the sub-155 divisions, this fight is very intriguing to me. Florian’s debut in the division marks the first elite Lightweight to drop down to 145 to see how the divisions stack up. We’ve seen lesser 155ers find good success at Featherweight (Gamburyan, Brown, Omigawa, etc), so it will be an interesting litmus test of how the newer breed of 145ers have developed when Florian takes on the top 10 Nunes. While stylistically Florian presents many problems for Nunes kick-happy style, exactly how the fight plays out will determine much about the Featherweight division moving forward. Kenny Florian via Unanimous Decision.

Shane Carwin vs. Junior dos Santos

While this wasn’t the intended main event, and it doesn’t have the drawing power of Lesnar/dos Santos, it is just as interesting to me. Carwin actually presents more problems for dos Santos as he can use his wrestling or connect with one of his bombs standing. Still, I think Junior is the better boxer, and if he does get taken down he should be able to stand up, as he did against Gonzaga. In the end, I expect that even the new, slimmer Carwin will fade late, and dos Santos will be able to put him away, as Shane hasn’t shown the same durability as someone like Roy Nelson. The fight that people were clamouring for last year prior to Velasquez’s title shot, which I was saying would be better later in their careers, and it will be. Junior dos Santos via 3rd Round TKO.

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About bradtaschuk

An MMA enthusiast who also fancies himself a writer, I've been following the sport in depth since moving off to University in the fall of 2004 allowed me more free time than I knew what to do with. Quickly, an obsession with watching as much MMA as possible developed, which has continued to this day in the form of writing and editing articles for various MMA sites, and now to my own blog about my views on the sport.
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