Antonio McKee | J. Sherwood/Sherdog.com
The UFC 125 preliminary card is examined by Sherdog.com staff:
Dustin Poirier vs. Josh Grispi
Tony Loiseleur: I think Grispi is very hittable, especially with that stationary head of his. He's got decent kicks that I'm guessing will help keep Poirier at range, but his punches aren't particularly straight. Against a good striker like Hominick, he was getting hustled on the feet until Hominick got lazy and gave him the choke. I haven't seen much of Poirier, but if he comes out swinging like a crazy person as he did against Zack Micklewright, he just may put Grispi on roller skates for a bit. He's not the level of striker that Hominick is, but I'm guessing he at least has better grappling defense. Even if Poirier connects, I don't think he puts Grispi away. This one's a real toss-up for me, because I don't really feel strongly for either guy to win it, but I guess I'll just side with Grispi for the moment by decision. I figure they call him "the Fluke" for a reason.
Freddie DeFreitas: Grispi would be wise to avoid any crazy exchanges on the feet as one shot from Poirier could put an end to any featherweight title aspirations. Grispi will play it smart and utilize his speed and grappling advantage by submitting Poirier in the second with a rear-naked choke.
Joseph Myers: Grispi was on the cusp of a shot at the WEC's 145-pound title before champion Jose Aldo went down with a back injury. A win against Poirier -- who's 8-1 in his own right -- should be enough to keep him in the No. 1 contender's slot. The winner of this one is probably next in line for a title shot, and Grispi will be the one who remains in title contention. Grispi via decision.
Tomasz Marciniak: Grispi has one of the more apt nicknames in MMA as it is so easy to dismiss all of his lightning-fast finishes as "Flukes." Quite often right until that first-round finish comes, Grispi wasn't really in control of that fight. If anything that says he's got true instincts and capitalizes on his opponent's simple mistakes. My guess is Grispi does his magic again and gets a first-round stoppage.
Antonio McKee vs. Jacob Volkmann
Tristen Critchfield: McKee is bringing a newfound taste for finishing fights to his UFC debut. The question is, will that desire compromise what was a successful style for much of his 15-fight winning streak? Volkmann is an accomplished wrestler as well, so it might be best for McKee to be aggressive rather than attempting to grind out a victory. McKee by submission in round three.
Lutfi Sariahmed: How many ways are we going to have some variation of this discussion during McKee's tenure in the UFC: "McKee isn't boring. He just does what he needs to do for the win"? I have the number set at 1005.5 and I'm taking the over. He'll have a successful UFC run and he'll drive a lot of fans mad because of the things he'll do to win. Volkmann may find him boring, but he'll be on the wrong side of a decision come Saturday night.Â
Rob King: McKee is one of my favorite personalities in the sport. If he fights how he did for the majority of his career, then he takes a clear cut unanimous decision in his UFC debut.Â However, he seems to have rededicated himself and he wants to be a more exciting fighter; this could get him into some trouble against some of the guys on the UFC roster, but not against Volkmann.Â McKee will take a decision.
Jordan Breen: There's not many fights were Antonio McKee has a pronounced stand-up advantage, but this is one of them. Volkmann is a great wrestler, but entirely too one-dimensional. His incredibly awkward, rigid stand-up should allow McKee to land strikes standing, in addition to the fact McKee's wrestling in the MMA context should be good enough to put Volkmann on his back. My bold prediction: no one in this fight earns a bonus.
Jeremy Stephens vs. Marcus Davis
Todd Martin: It remains to be seen how much juice Marcus Davis has left. He has taken a lot of punishment over the course of his career and has looked like a deteriorated fighter in recent bouts. I don’t see him doing well moving down to 155 against a hungry, prime Jeremy Stephens.
Guilherme Pinheiro: Marcus Davis did not get an easy assignment in his lightweight debut. First of all, he hasn’t been looking like the fighter he once was. Let me remind you that he was outboxed by Nate Diaz until being submitted in the last round. Stephens, on the other hand, has been steadily improving in his last fights. My gut tells me to go with “The Irish Hand Grenade,” but I’m going to pick Stephens to win this standup fight on points.
Brian Knapp: Stephens by TKO. I think youth wins out in this one.
Mike Thomas Brown vs. Diego Nunes
Myers: It speaks to the depth of the UFC's cards that a fight between two world-ranked featherweights falls this low on the card. Heck, it's not even going to be on the prelims special on Ion Television. Nunes was 4-1 during his time in the WEC, but all of his fights went to decision and Brown has shown an ability to finish fights -- he has finishes in four of his last five wins -- and I think that will be the difference in this one. Brown stays in the hunt for another shot at Aldo's title by outlasting Nunes in a darkhorse choice for “Fight of the Night.” Brown via decision or late stoppage.
Loiseleur: Mike Brown is one of the most experienced guys in his division, and so far, his troubles at featherweight come from guys who just hit as hard as he does. Nunes is hyper aggressive and likes to kick a lot. He will neither have the inclination to punch, nor the power to put Brown away the same way that Aldo and Gamburyan did. Brown will be looking for those low- and spinning-back kicks that Nunes likes so much. I like Brownie to either evade or walk thru them, muscle Nunes around the cage a bit, and overwhelm him with punches like Raphael Assuncao did to take the decision.
DeFreitas: Brown's strength and experience will prove to be too much for Nunes to handle as he’ll dish the Nova UniÃ£o product only the second defeat of his career by unanimous decision.
Phil Baroni vs. Brad Tavares
Marciniak: Baroni might be doing fine in the standup, and as long as his cardio allows, he definitely can steal the first round. I don't have faith in the New Yorker’s stamina holding up though, and Tavares should have an easier time as the fight goes on. I think he cinches up a late submission on a tired Baroni.
Sariahmed: There's a phenomenon in MMA that I don't think I'll ever understand. An older fighter says he's still got "it" and people believe him. Baroni has lost his last two bouts and is 3-5 since 2007. No matter how many judges’ decisions Baroni got screwed out of, he's not that far off from a 3-5 fighter at this point. Is Tavares a world beater right now? No. But Baroni is a perfect opponent for him so early in his career. They'll stand and trade and Tavares will be just fine. Don't forget that if Tavares is in any trouble standing at any point during this fight, he's more than capable of going to the ground with Baroni. Once that happens it'll be over for the NYBA. Tavares wins by TKO in the second frame.
Critchfield: Baroni took a tremendous amount of punishment in his loss to Amir Sadollah at UFC 106. Losses in four of his past seven fights make his foothold with the company tenuous at best. Tavares by TKO.
Daniel Roberts vs. Greg Soto
Breen: Roberts and Soto were both pleasantly surprising in their last bouts. However, Soto is the considerably better wrestler here, and should be able to ground Roberts. Soto's major issue is not his submission defense, as is the case with a fighter like Mike Guymon, but rather that he needs a wrestling advantage to be successful. He's got one here, and should be able to pin down Roberts and beat him up en route to a decision.
Martin: Roberts has utilized a solid ground game to defeat a higher level of competition than Soto has yet fought. I think he’ll take Soto to the ground and finish him relatively quickly.
Pinheiro: Though I was positively surprised with the way Greg Soto came back to win his fight against Nick Osipczak, I don’t think this is a good matchup for him. I believe Roberts takes Soto down and imposes his ground game en route for a submission win in the very first period.
Knapp: Roberts by submission.