Brandon Vera | J. Sherwood/Sherdog.com
Following Friday’s preliminary picks, Sherdog.com staff put their reputations on the line with bold predictions of the UFC 125 main card:
Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard
Jordan Breen: What intrigues me most about the Edgar-Maynard rematch are the judges. I do think we're heading for a five-round decision, and one in which Edgar offers more in the way of offense on the feet, with Maynard getting a liberal amount of takedowns. I also see Maynard, who has slowed in the third round of many of his bouts, being easier prey for Edgar's slick boxing in rounds four and five. So, I think the judges scorecards will be of paramount importance. Patricia Morse-Jarman, Marcos Rosales, and Glenn Trowbridge is not exactly a great judging panel. Interestingly enough, Trowbridge gave all three rounds of Edgar's fantastic UFC debut against Tyson Griffin to Edgar. My gut likes Maynard to win at least three rounds on two of the judges' cards with his top control, but I really do think we might be in for a long week of ranting about judges after this one.
Brian Knapp: Something tells me Edgar will have figured some things out since the last time he fought Maynard. I think he's clearly the superior stand-up fighter, and his speed and craftiness will help me steer clear of Maynard's takedowns. Edgar by decision.
Todd Martin: With both men sporting 5-0 records since the first time they fought each other, the key question is whether Edgar has added enough tools to negate Maynard’s wrestling. Edgar showcased excellent speed and conditioning against B.J. Penn, but little in the way of power. Over the course of a five-round fight, it will be difficult for him to consistently avoid Maynard’s takedowns. As such, I see Maynard taking a decision and the title.
Guilherme Pinheiro: I was going to pick Maynard here but I have changed my mind after rewatching some of their recent fights. I was really banking on Maynard using his size to get an early takedown in every round and hold Edgar down until the end. However, I don’t think it’s a given that Maynard can take this to ground and keep it there. Edgar’s largely improved footwork is good enough to keep him away from Maynard and to avoid providing any takedown opportunities to his opponent. Also, if a fighter with such little foot movement like Nate Diaz was able to tag Maynard as much as he was, I can only assume that Edgar can do the same to say the least. In the end, I think Edgar manages to keep this fight standing as he hits and moves his way to a unanimous decision win over his only conqueror.
Chris Leben vs. Brian Stann
Freddie DeFreitas: While it might not be the most technical of fights on the bill, it will certainly go down as one of the best of 2011 as Stann and Leben throw caution and brain cells to the wind as they stand toe-to-toe for the better part of three rounds.Â Last man standing: Chris Leben, by TKO.
Joseph Myers: Leben had a good 2010, with wins over Aaron Simpson and Yoshihiro Akiyama in less than a month, and he's being rewarded with a semi-main event slot against Stann. I think Leben continues his resurgence and this time he won't have to have any late-fight heroics to do it. Leben via second-round stoppage.
Tony Loiseleur: I think Zombie Leben walks forward and just throws bolos until Stann falls down. That's kinda' how he fights these days, right?
Tomasz Marciniak: I think Stann, since hooking up with Greg Jackson, has more flair in his game. If he goes to the jab he could possibly outpoint Leben much like Michael Bisping did more than two years ago, but I don't think his striking is at that level just yet. I think he'll win some exchanges but also eat power shots from Leben, who is a more durable fighter. A slugfest favors “The Ultimate Fighter” alum; Leben wins with a late stoppage.
Thiago Silva vs. Brandon Vera
Tristen Critchfield: Both men enter this bout facing serious questions. Is Silva's back ready to withstand a three-round pounding? Can Vera rebound from a brutal beating at the hands (and elbows) of Jon Jones? Silva comes out aggressive and finishes Vera early. Silva by KO in round one.
Lutfi Sariahmed: Thiago Silva has two losses on his record. He came on too late against Rashad Evans; Lyoto Machida picked him apart. In between those bouts, Silva got the better of Keith Jardine with a KO in round one. I think what you learned from those three bouts is if you avoid the fire fight with Silva, you could walk away with a win. Vera's capable of doing that. The goal is try to keep Silva at distance and when that fails take him down. It's a risky proposition if there are holes in your wrestling or your stand up isn't as strong as it could be, but Vera could hold his own on the feet and I think wins a decision here.Â
Rob King: To say both guys need a victory here would be a massive understatement. Vera is the perfect opponent for Silva at this point in time, as very few people seem to give away more fights than Vera.Â Silva will take the decision.Â Remember four years ago when Vera was seen as a potential two division champion?Â My, how times have changed.Â
Clay Guida vs. Takanori Gomi
Pinheiro: If Guida thinks he’s going to wrestle his way to a decision, he’s wrong. Gomi is an underrated defensive wrestler and I firmly believe he can keep this fight standing, which is where he wants to be. That won’t stop Guida from giving him a hard time. Guida is going to put the pressure on Gomi from the opening bell and try to control Gomi on the fence throughout the fight. However, Gomi will handle the initial pressure and outbox Guida on his way to a decision win.
Breen: Everything hinges on Gomi's performance here. If he is in decent shape and fights with some level of the wrestling and boxing skill he possesses, I think he's a great candidate to stuff Guida's takedowns and smash him on the feet. However, if the lazy incarnation of Gomi shows up, misses wild haymakers and gets pushed into the fence for minutes on end, he's probably going to lose an unsatisfying decision. I favor Gomi, and think he's worth some play around +130, but betting on "The Fireball Kid" to come out hot is always a risky proposition.
Martin: Guida and Gomi aren’t at the top of the list of fighters who keep opponents guessing. Guida charges forward with wild punches and shoots for takedowns. Gomi stands and looks to knock opponents out. This fight is almost certainly going to come down to Gomi’s ability to block takedown attempts and hurt Guida in the standup. Guida is more likely to get the takedowns and score the decision or submission victory.
Nate Diaz vs. Dong Hyun Kim
Loiseleur: This is going to be an interesting fight in that Kim doesn't have to worry about wrestling with Diaz. I guess if it goes down, Kim has either thrown Diaz from the clinch, or Diaz has hurt Kim. I think the latter is less likely than the former given how rugged Korean fighters like Kim are, but if it does get to the floor, I can see Kim staying busy to mash on top. What I worry about is whether Diaz will be content on the bottom to throw short punches and try for subs. I'm not sure Diaz will be impressing any judges fighting from the bottom. Thus, I'm thinking Kim will get the decision in the end.
Critchfield: Kim has been effective but not necessarily exciting in his UFC career to date. Diaz will be the unbeaten Korean's most difficult test. Diaz has struggled against wrestlers in the past, but this time he utilizes his jiu-jitsu and forces Kim to tap. Diaz by submission round two.
Sariahmed: Interesting bout here. The odds are close, but Diaz should be the favorite in my eyes. Still without a loss on his record, Kim has shown some potential and he can be really good, but I think Diaz stifles him in the striking department and on the ground its no contest in favor of Diaz. I'll take Diaz via decision.Â