Rashad Evans vs. Michael Bisping
The main event for UFC 78 features two unbeaten fighters but, while that sounds good on paper, they’re both coming off less than impressive performances in their most recent fights. Bisping (14-0, 4-0 UFC) won a razor thin decision against Matt Hamill at UFC 75, a fight in which the decision could easily have gone to Hamill. Evans (10-0-1, 6-0 UFC) fought to a draw against Tito Ortiz at UFC 73 in which Ortiz being docked a point for avoiding a takedown by grabbing the fence played a crucial role in the outcome of the fight. Evans managed to, once he got into his rhythm, impose his will on Ortiz but would have been upset at his performance in the first half of the fight where he perhaps gave the UFC veteran a little too much respect and was rather hesitant in engaging. The same can be said for Bisping as it was in round three of the Hamill fight that Bisping truly took the fight to a pace that he wanted and this is a round that most commentators universally agree went to the Englishman.
This is the second fight in a row in which Bisping is facing a wrestler of some pedigree. You could see throughout the Matt Hamill fight that Bisping was very wary of Hamill’s takedown ability and had trained extensively in avoiding what he thought would be Hamill’s main tactic. It came as a surprise to Bisping, though, that Hamill was willing to stand and trade for large portions of the first two rounds and was even more surprised to learn that Hamill was winning a boxing match. Bisping underestimated his opponent in that situation but you’d have to assume that he is only too aware of Evans’ KO power, as evidenced by his brutal KO of Sean Salmon.
Rashad Evans is the heavy bookmakers favorite going into this fight, but if you ask anyone in Bisping’s camp they’ll say just the opposite. Bisping is a very precise, technical striker and is extremely competent on the ground. You can be sure that he has worked a lot on submissions from his back in training as this is one situation that will almost certainly present itself when you’re facing a wrestler of the caliber of Rashad Evans.
Since we’ve seen Evans in the UFC his hands have improved a great deal. I imagine he’ll trade punches with Bisping until he decides to bring the fight to the ground and it’s with this tactic that I see Evans overpowering his opponent and working his way to a unanimous decision victory.
Prediction – Rashad Evans by Unanimous Decision.
Houston Alexander vs. Thiago Silva
Houston Alexander (9-1, 2-0 UFC) is something of an enigma in the MMA world these days. He’s picked up two highlight reel knockouts within a few months of each other in his first two fights in the UFC but so many unanswered questions about him as a fighter still remain. We’ve yet to see him go past three minutes of a fight, let alone three rounds. Does he have the cardio? A ground game? Takedown defence? A lot of people whose opinions I respect have told me that the answer to those three questions is yes. He’s facing a very difficult opponent in Chutebox member Thiago Silva (11-0, 2-0 UFC) though. Silva has excellent striking, is good on the ground and will be very aware of the Nebraskan’s power, so don’t expect him to stand in front of Alexander for large portions of the fight but to pick and choose when he wants to engage. Alexander has unbelievable power though and will have taken heart from that fact that Silva’s last opponent, Thomas Drwal, dropped him with a punch. And punching is something that Alexander does very well – save for two knees against Alessio Sakara, he’s almost literally thrown nothing but right hands thus far in his UFC career. I think the deeper this fight gets, the more chance Thiago Silva has of winning but, what the hell, I see Houston Alexander picking up the TKO sometime in the middle of the first round.
Prediction – Houston Alexander by TKO, Round 1
Ryo Chonan vs. Karo Parisyan
Former PRIDE fighter Ryo Chonan is one of the few fighters that has beaten current Middleweight king Anderson Silva – and with a spectacular flying heel hook submission no less. That fight took place at a weight of 183lbs but it’s at 170lbs that he’ll take on the UFC’s resident Judo expert Karo Parisyan. Chonan (14-7) is a replacement for Hector Lombard who was denied a visa to enter the US and will prove a more than able substitute for the Cuban Judoka. He has a wealth of experience having previously fought the likes of Silva, Paulo Filho, Dan Henderson and will have one more top name to add to his resume in Karo Parisyan (17-4, 7-2 UFC). Parisyan, who was at one point a number one contender in the Welterweight division until an injury denied him a shot at Matt Hughes, has a habit of eeking out decision victories and I think this will be no different.
Prediction – Karo Parisyan by Unanimous Decision
Spencer Fisher vs. Frank Edgar
Forget ‘Fight of the Night’, this fight has ‘Fight of the Year’ written all over it. Both have already participated, and won, incredibly intense and exciting fights this year – Fisher over Sam Stout and Edgar over Tyson Griffin. Spencer Fisher (20-3, 5-2 UFC) has the experience edge over Frank Edgar (7-0, 2-0 UFC) and I think a particular advantage on the feet too. This fight could go any number of directions. If the majority of the fight is spent on the feet I see Fisher winning, on the ground I’d give it to Edgar.
Prediction – Spencer Fisher, TKO Round 2
Ed Herman vs. Joe Doerksen
Ed Herman (13-5, 2-2 UFC) last fought at UFC 72 in Ireland where he looked very impressive against Scott Smith. He was very sharp in that fight, took it exactly where he wanted it to go and finished the fight on his own terms. It was one of the most polished performances of his career and he’ll be looking to continue that against the experienced Canadian Joe Doerksen (38-10, 1-3 UFC). Doerksen, last seen losing in the WEC to Paulo Filho, is a replacement for perennial injury victim David Terrell who was initially supposed to compete against Herman. Unlike Scott Smith, Doerksen will be able to compete on the ground against Herman and is very capable of pulling off all manner of submissions. However, I see Ed Herman as the hungrier fighter at this point in their respective careers and for this reason I think he’ll find away to win.
Prediction – Ed Herman by Submission, Round 3