Dan Hardy (above) and Anthony Johnson will be a fan's treat. | Stephen Albanese/Tailstar.com
Following Friday’s preliminary picks, Sherdog.com staff put their reputations on the line with bold predictions of the UFC Fight Night 24 main card, which airs tonight on Spike at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Five of the prelim bouts will stream live on the UFC’s Facebook page.
Phil Davis vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Brian Knapp: Davis looks like one of those special athletes who can help alter the landscape of the sport. The only question in this is timing. Is this too much too soon? Jon Jones faced similar questions ahead of his bout with Mauricio Rua and answered them resoundingly. I see Davis doing the same. He's too big, too strong and too athletic for Nogueira. He keeps the Brazilian on his back and defensive en route to a one-sided decision.
Jordan Breen: "Minotoro" represents a step up in competition for Davis, but an entirely manageable one. If Davis can't get past Nogueira's boxing with his own striking, he can simply change levels and bull him to the mat. We've seen the issues that the Brazilian has faced against strong wrestlers recently, such as Jason Brilz and Ryan Bader. Davis offers a more dynamic wrestling threat than ever, and has the submission chops to even perhaps put a scare into the Brazilian, as the aforementioned Brilz did. Because he's still so nascent as far as MMA goes, Davis might not be able to dazzle against the sturdy, veteran Nogueira, but prodigious grappling ability should still get him to the pay window, courtesy of three rounds of takedowns and top position dominance from another budding 205-pound star.
Lutfi Sariahmed: Not even five minutes after “Bones” was through beating Shogun for the light heavyweight belt did fans move on to the next one. Who was going to dethrone the now "invincible" Jones? Davis has been dubbed as the guy and while I groan at that concept, “Mr. Wonderful” certainly has potential. I like Davis' top game to win out when he gets the takedowns. My only concern is if Davis trades with Minotoro for too long; that's the part of the wrestler’s game that needs to come along if we're to look at him as the guy to take down Jones.
Freddie DeFreitas: Nogueira struggled to mount any decent offense from his back last time out against Bader and Davis presents an arguably tougher task ahead for the Brazilian. Minotauro's best chance lies on the feet, but even if he were to stun "Mr. Wonderful," odds are he'll be promptly taken down for all of his efforts. Nogueira has two submission wins in his last sixteen on tests dating back to 2005, making his chances of walking out a winner against Davis slim at best. While "Mr. Wonderful" is still considered to be very green, he's a natural athlete who possesses a veteran's poise; that alone will carry him to a decision win and the biggest of his young career.
Dan Hardy vs. Anthony Johnson
Tomasz Marciniak: I have my doubts whether Johnson will make weight, but regardless of those issues he's well equipped to handle Hardy's game. Johnson may not be as technically skilled in the standup, but more than makes up for it with his power and if need be, the American should be able to take the fight to the ground as well. I don't think Johnson will be able to finish Hardy in any other fashion other than a KO thanks to his immense power, but even if he doesn't put the Brit away he should win on points.
Rob King: I'm expecting fireworks in this one. Johnson will be much bigger come fight time, and will be able to hit Hardy long before the Brit gets within striking range. Hardy will really have to get inside of Johnson to connect. Both guys have heavy hands and solid chins, and whoever lands the big shot first should win this fight. Give me Hardy to land that big blow first.
Guilherme Pinheiro: We are probably looking at a stand up war here. While Anthony “Rumble” Johnson might have an edge in pure punching power, Hardy is definitely the more technical striker. Come Saturday night, both fighters will probably come in swinging for the fences, but IÂ´m not sure a kickboxing affair is really a good thing for Johnson. Sure, he has a chance to do the same that Carlos Condit did, but I donÂ´t think that’s likely to happen. I see Hardy holding off Johnson in a good fight on his way to a decision.
Todd Martin: A year and a half sabbatical is a tough obstacle to overcome in any fighter’s first fight back. It’s even more of an issue when you go up and down in weight a lot more than the average fighter. And when your opponent is training like a maniac because he needs a win desperately, that spells trouble as the fight progresses. Johnson hits hard so the danger is there early, but I think Hardy will take over as the fight progresses.
Amir Sadollah vs. DaMarques Johnson
Tristen Critchfield: Multiple opponent changes may have made foe-specific training difficult for Sadollah, but these days most fighters subscribe to a well-rounded camp as it is. Sadollah has struggled most against opponents with a solid wrestling background. Johnson should be able to get the fight to the ground because Sadollah doesn't have the type of power to inspire fear in anyone. That said, the Ultimate Fighter Season 7 winner has the ability to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Sadollah fends off Johnson's submissions and earns a hard-fought decision.
Tony Loiseleur: Even if Johnson hadn't come in as a late replacement for James Wilks -- himself a replacement for Duane Ludwig -- I don't see him beating Sadollah. The relatively inexperienced Sadollah has turned into quite the mixed martial artist since showing up out of the blue to commandingly win TUF 7. He's a smart, disciplined fighter with solid muay Thai and a good ground game, as C.B. Dolloway will attest to. Johnson's avenue to victory is to bully or overwhelm Sadollah with wrestling and/or ground-and-pound -- the latter being a tall task given Sadollah's strengths on the ground. While Johnson might get Sadollah down, I'm confident in the TUF 7 king's ability to either sweep or threaten with subs. I expect Sadollah to take the decision here, if not finish sometime by or before the third.
Breen: Injuries and a shaky wrestling game have held Sadollah back following his surprise win on "The Ultimate Fighter" Season 7. However, against a late replacement in Johnson, he should be able to work the kind of methodical striking game we've seen in Sadollah's past fights, such as his win over Brad Blackburn. Johnson's recent tenure at Power MMA in Arizona -- alongside the likes of Ryan Bader, Dollaway and Aaron Simpson -- might give him some enhanced wrestling chops. However, as Dollaway found out first-hand twice, Sadollah is no slouch on the ground. Even if Sadollah ends up on his back, this is not Dong Hyun Kim; Johnson doesn't have that hyper-physical, mauling top game. Sadollah's active striking and grappling should be able to carry him to a win on points.
Knapp: I think Sadollah, though he appears to lack the one-strike knockout power that would make him truly dynamic, has too many skills for Johnson to withstand. I see him pounding out a late TKO or taking a decision.
Leonard Garcia vs. Chan Sung Jung
DeFreitas: Jung's recent pledge to put his “Korean Zombie” days behind him will inevitably come back to haunt him. Garcia will win over the judges yet again with his uber-aggressive style and walk out with another decision victory against his Korean counterpart.
Knapp: I have seen and heard nothing to make me think this one plays out any differently than their first encounter, with the exception of how the decision goes. Jung finds justice on the judges scorecards this time after another wild encounter.
Sariahmed: No one could possibly have any faith picking Jung in this bout. I certainly don't. Jung's striking is superior to Garcia's and should be enough to win.
Breen: I'm not sure if it can live up to the wild and woolly brawl that their first fight was, but I expect Garcia and Jung to fight again with similar reckless abandon. And, as a man who scored all three rounds of their first bout for "The Korean Zombie," I fully anticipate him to deserve another victory. In the first bout, he proved himself to be the superior submission grappler to Garcia, as well as the more active and accurate -- or perhaps "less inaccurate" is more appropriate -- striker. I don't think anything has changed. The only question that need be asked is who is judging the bout, and whether or not each get a good enough view of Jung winning the fight, so they can be so enterprising as to give him the righteous win.
Tomasz Marciniak 42-18
Brian Knapp 41-19
Guilherme Pinheiro 39-21
Rob King 39-21
Jordan Breen 39-21
Tristen Critchfield 38-22
Tony Loiseleur 38-22
Todd Martin 37-23
Lutfi Sariahmed 35-25
Freddie DeFreitas 35-25