Fight Picks and Predictions for UFC 106: Reheated Leftovers

By Nicholas Bailey (

It should be sinking in around now that Zuffa is desperate with respect to main event fights for the next couple of months. They’ve put the money down for the venue and the PPV slot, but with all the various injuries, illnesses, and movie roles keeping top-tier fighters off of cards, they are in quite dire straits in terms of putting together a salable product to put at the center of all the support infrastructure that has been so expensively set up for it. Beyond the names they can’t put in fights right now, the dominance of their champions is compounding their problems; fans agree that Dan Hardy is an impressive fighter with some quality wins, but there is only the most flaccid interest in seeing him step into the cage against GSP because he isn’t believed to have much of a chance.

So we have the UFC marketing machine pushing Ortiz/Griffin as a tilt between two fighters that are on the brink of a serious run at the title strap, even though Forrest has gone 4-3 since they last met and Tito hasn’t been relevant since then. Fortunately life is not all doom and gloom for fight fans, as the UFC has a bevy of talent on their roster and this card is stacked with interesting fights, even if Luis Cane doesn’t sell like Lesnar to casual fans, so cheer up and enjoy the relevant and well-matched fights of UFC 106: Reheated Leftovers.

Forrest Griffin (-135) vs. Tito Ortiz (+115)

This fight, for all the hoopla around it, is going to come down to two things: Ortiz’s takedowns and Forrest Griffin’s wrist control guard game. Ortiz must be able to regularly take Griffin down in order to win, and Griffin must, when playing guard, continue to be overly loose and attempt the dreaded double wrist control, enabling Tito to get in good work and score points. Failing that, Griffin will win.

Double wrist control (simply grabbing and attempting to control your opponent’s wrists from your guard) is fine and dandy for grappling purposes, as if you lose it you can simply attempt to re-capture their wrist, and they’re playing a grappling game with you anyway, so you don’t have to force them to grapple. In MMA, any momentary loss of control of the wrist means you’re eating a solid punch or elbow, as you are not controlling your opponent’s posture and their arm is free to rain down punishment. There are really only two fighters that regularly have success with double wrist control in MMA: Semmy Schilt and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Both have very long fingers, letting them really wrap around an opponent’s wrist with an iron grip, and long arms that make it hard to break the grip effectively. Forrest Griffin is neither of these two men and often plays a very loose guard to his detriment, which is exactly what Tito needs to do work and bust him up.

Because, lets be honest here, nothing Tito brings to the table is a game-changer anymore. There are plenty of well-conditioned, large, athletically gifted wrestlers in the sport now, and many of them have threatening standup skills and some submissions as well. Nothing about Tito’s ground-and-pound is exceptional anymore, with any innovations he ever made in the technique having been long ago adapted by other fighters, including some fighters that actually show interest in passing the guard. Fun fact: you have to go all the way back to 2001 to find the last person not named Ken Shamrock that Tito finished. He’s a grinder that is forced to fight in a fifteen minute sprint, which is no longer sufficient to wear down a top-tier fighter with his style.

All of the above is assuming that Tito can take Forrest down in the first place, which is far from certain. The storyline you’re supposed to buy is that this back surgery fixed Tito and he’s back at 100% again and any problems he ever displayed as a fighter are to blame on the now-cured back problem. Any time a fighter claims to “finally be 100%” it should be taken with a grain of salt, as Tito gave the exact same assurances before the Machida fight, only to later claim that his back hurt his training. Furthermore, the time taken off competition takes its toll on a fighter and back problems can only account for so much. If Tito truly is repaired, can he train better? Of course, but does that mean that, at 34, his shot is going to be as fast and explosive as it was when he was 25 years old? Without competition for more than a year, does Tito even know what 100% fight-ready should feel like anymore? Don’t be surprised at all if Tito again wears down wrestling with a big, strong guy, and again isn’t as fast and explosive as he was when he was younger. Age and the evolution of the sport are a nasty combination.

Even at 100%, Forrest Griffin is a stiff test for Tito, giving up no size and possessing a tough skill-set to deal with for 15 minutes. Forrest has never shown the kind of double-leg Tito had in his prime, but he uses his strength well to defend against most wrestling and will be hard to get inside on. Tito has underrated standup skills, but he still isn’t a big hitter and can’t threaten Forrest’s average chin. Forrest, with his long limbs and excellent kicking repertoire can keep Tito far away from him if he decides to throw some actual heat instead of just trying to score points. Forrest isn’t a big knockout puncher, but he can throw with ill intentions when he chooses to, which will be more than enough to back Tito off and take control of the fight.

In short, the sport has left Tito behind and the growth between fights that Forrest will show in this fight will be all the evidence one needs. Forrest Griffin by decision.

I strongly favor Forrest here, but with his back-to-back losses and short training camp, there are some intangibles working against him. That’s enough to keep me from putting down a bet on him when there are much better bets to be made on the card. If you’re a Forrest fan or a Tito hater, you’re certainly not throwing your money away by betting Griffin here.

Anthony Johnson (-115) vs. Josh Koscheck (EVEN)

This is a very simple fight, although many fans can’t see through the smokescreen here. That being the fact that Anthony Johnson is not a great striker. Yes, he has scored some ridiculous knockouts and obviously throws serious heat, but do not forget that he took Kevin Burns into the third round twice. The guy is huge, a very fast starter, and throws very hard. He doesn’t throw in complex combinations, exhibit excellent footwork or other forms of ringcraft. He simply punches unbelievably hard and has managed to hit most of his opponents. It should not be forgotten that not too long ago, following a few knockouts that leveraged his own impressive endowment of fast-twitch muscle fiber, that Josh Koscheck was seen as a damn good striker himself. Of course, a couple fights later it became painfully obvious that there were some technical flaws in his game, namely that he had cyborg punching power but also moved and behaved like a robot, leading to easy counters.

Johnson is still a relatively inexperienced fighter, and it remains to be seen if he’s improved his ground skills since Rich Clementi absolutely schooled him on the ground. Josh Koscheck isn’t a stupid man; he knows his own mortality and is certainly going to try to play to his strengths by flexing those NCAA wrestling credentials again and trying to put Johnson flat on his back. From there, everyone will get to see the current state of Johnson’s game, and it’s reasonable to expect that those who talked about Rumble vs. GSP fantasy matchups will realize they’d jumped that particular gun. I think with Johnson working off his back, Kos will wear him down by the middle of the second round and finish him off. Josh Koscheck by TKO round 2.

This is a great bet, as bettors seem to be thinking this will be a replay of the Paulo Thiago knockout (a fight where Koscheck was clearly the superior striker on every strike save the last one). Johnson does have the power to screw up anyone’s day and starts very quickly, while Koscheck often feels opponents out initially, or I’d probably be making a play that’s double or triple my normal size.

Phil Baroni (+180) vs. Amir Sadollah (-200)

Dana White is taking no chances. Strikeforce is in desperate need of fighters with even the most tarnished remnants of star power, so Baroni is back in the UFC to keep him out of their hands, while Amir, a charismatic and telegenic fighter that seems willing to step into Forrest Griffin’s vacated role as company spokesman, got wrecked (early stoppage or no) in his last fight out.

It became immediately clear in the Hendricks fight that Amir is still a very green fighter and will need many fights worth of seasoning if he’s ever to be in the mix in the UFC, but Baroni is completely shot, assuming there was ever a time where he wasn’t a garbage fighter. If Amir can make it through the first minute or two, Baroni will be gassed and his power will be gone. With Baroni’s tendency to go into survival mode and fall back on desperation takedowns and Amir’s lack of any real wrestling, this could lead to repeats of such embarrassing moments as Ross Hose literally standing up from playing guard, with Baroni too enfeebled to offer any opposition to such a ridiculous maneuver.

Baroni does have a chin, and Amir doesn’t have massive offensive firepower, so you can expect this to drag into the second round at least, by which time Baroni will have entered full debacle mode and will fall into some kind of submission. Amir Sadollah by submission, round 2.

With Baroni’s early power, Amir getting clipped last time out, and Amir’s recent plagues of injuries there is the potential for Amir to somehow place himself out of the fight before Baroni can fall apart, so, again, with the great bets available, I will pass on what is likely a decent edge here.

Luis Cane (+140) vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (-140)

Luis Cane as a striker always bring the same word to mind: Vicious. He’s very durable, throws a variety of strikes, and throws each one with very bad intentions. Minotoro, despite being a Nogueira and very talented on the ground (with one of sweetest armbars from top position you’ll see in the sport) has lately been buttering his bread with his striking, which is serviceable, but not on a level where he can win against Cane. This should be a competitive and engaging bout, but Cane’s striking advantage and diet Nog’s lack of gameplanning or wrestling ability will find Banha victorious yet again. Although Cane has the power to knock him out, I think Nogueira will likely make it to the final bell. Luis Cane by decision.

At +140 Cane is a great bet, good for a double-size play.

Paulo Thiago (-250) vs. Jacob Volkmann (+240)

Thiago looks to avoid the Sokoudjou treatment by actually getting an easy matchup after upsetting an elite fighter rather than being thrown in against more top fighters until he is a wasted talent. Volkmann is quite out of luck here, being primarily a submission fighter against Thiago, who showed that he really does have elite grappling skills when he gave Jon Fitch a much harder time than many expected. Volkman will probably get zapped by the bright lights of the UFC and then wilt under the attack of Thiago. Paulo Thiago by submission round 2.


Marcus Davis (-210) vs. Ben Saunders (+190)

Ben Saunders is overmatched yet again. He has potential, but that’s it. He should have learned Lyoto Machida’s lesson and won his early fights in as unimpressive a fashion as possible, rather than trying to nuke Brandon Wolff’s face off, make highlight reels, and immediately get put in WAY over his head. If Swick’s power and hand technique was too much for him, Davis is going to knock his sideburns off. Marcus Davis by KO round 1.

I don’t usually like betting on favorites like this, but Davis is just far superior to Saunders here.

Kendall Grove (+160) vs. Jake Rosholt (-170)

This will be an interesting one. Grove has all the skills to match a far superior wrestler, with solid striking and a dangerous guard that makes use of his freakish length to constantly surprise opponents. However, Grove has a garbage chin and Rosholt appeared to have improved in leaps and bounds in his fight with a Chris Leben fallen off the wagon and directly into the cage.

Rosholt’s striking may still be developing, and he may be at a reach, technique, and power disadvantage to Grove, but the fact is that he has a serious beard and Grove does not. While Rosholt can wade through enemy fire the way he did in his atrocious bout with Nissen Osterneck, Grove has to be careful when using an electric razor or he’ll knock himself silly. If Rosholt can take a dominant position and land any kind of quality ground and pound, this fight is over. Similarly, if they exchange on the feet and Rosholt sneaks one in, Grove will become indistinguishable from a pile of dowel rods in the corner of the cage.

However, Rosholt is not an experienced submission fighter, nor is he a polished striker. The ability to take punishment and continue to output effective offense is the most important in MMA, but surely ones skills come into play. Rosholt is being pushed too far too fast and it should become apparent here that, while he has talent, he needs time to hone his non-wrestling skills for MMA. Kendall Grove by decision.

A chin really is massively important to have lasting success in MMA (ask the skilled Johnathon Goulet or Jorge Santiago) but I think Grove’s past failures and lack of fans is affecting this line more than the skill match up, so I am making a small play.


Brian Foster (+400) vs. Brock Larson (-465)

Brock Larson looks to rebound from a deflating loss to superior wrestler Mike Pierce by challenging unheralded Brian Foster. Foster probably won’t be able to stop the bull-rush takedowns of Larson, which will put him in a world of trouble as Larson drops gorilla strength all over his face and muscles in submission attempts. Foster has huge power in his hands, so Larson will have to be careful, but Brock should be able to have his way with an inexperienced opponent here. Brock Larson by submission round 1.

Fabricio Camoes (+230) vs. Caol Uno (-242)

Camoes has a big opportunity here. Uno is a quickly fading star, but most people haven’t seemed to catch on to this yet. If Camoes can use his very impressive submission skills to score a rare submission win over the well-respected Uno, it could do a lot to raise his profile in the fight game. Since Uno doesn’t really bring much to the table at this point aside from takedown defense, positional grappling, and submission defense, it’s very likely that Camoes can win a decision under the unified rules simply by showing some effective offense. Fabricio Camoes by decision.

Another good bet, with Camoes being criminally underappreciated here, but keep the size low due to the tendency for UFC debuting fighters to be “zapped” by the bright lights of the big show and underperform.

Jason Dent (+360) vs. George Sotiropoulos (-460)

Really? These two are still around? Who knew. I’ll take Giraffes for a billion, Alex.

Dustin Hazelett (-115) vs. Karo Parisyan (-110)

[Karo Parisyan has withdrawn from his fight with Dustin Hazelett the day before weigh ins and was subsequently cut from the UFC.]

This should be a very interesting fight. Hazelett is one of the most aggressive and creative grapplers in MMA today, but one who doesn’t deal with damage well, and Karo is a basket case at this point, but still one that’s never been tapped, so there’s the possibility for some real wildness.

Parisyan, when faced with a bunch of low-level fighters and a Diego Sanchez that doesn’t believe judo will work because it’s not in the bible, looks like he has a big, impressive skill-set full of threatening Kimuras and high-amplitude throws. However, when he is matched up against fighters with real skills, his game becomes much more pedestrian and it becomes clear he’s a pudgy, undersized 170 that struggles to take down large, strong fighters and is forced to resort to his average striking game.

Hazelett, while he doesn’t have the physical gifts of an Anthony Johnson, is a big 170, which will be difficult for Karo to deal with, and if Karo gets in close and tries to get physical with him for some Judo, Hazelett will tie him up and start working his submission offense from whatever position he can.

If, as he’s done recently, Karo simply tries to outstriker Hazelett, he may find some success, as Dustin hasn’t deal well with getting cracked, but Karo doesn’t have much power in his hands and, while he’s not a great striker, Hazelett has show that he has some natural pop in his strikers, and will have a big effective reach advantage.

Really though, Karo will have a very hard time getting in the driver’s seat here. If he takes Hazelett down, Dustin has the kind of dynamic game that can threaten even Karo with a real finish, and certainly win him rounds, and on the feet Karo’s game isn’t good enough to overcome Hazelett’s reach advantage. We may never have seen it before, but the most likely outcome is Dustin Hazelett by submission round 1.

I’ve loved this bet since the line was hung. I don’t see any reason not to go heavy on it. Even the intangibles, with Karo’s panic attacks and time away from the ring, are in Hazelett’s favor.

My plays:

2u on Luis Cane at (+140) to win 2.8u
3u on Dustin Hazelett at (+110) to win 3.3u
2.1u on Marcus Davis at (-210) to win 1u
.5u on Kendall Grove at (+160) to win .8u
2u on Josh Koscheck at (EVEN) to win 2u
.5u on Fabricio Camoes at (+230) to win 1.15u


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