Fight Picks and Predictions for UFC 113: Strategies Make Fights

By Nicholas Bailey

UFC 113 is what it is. A fairly weak card that could produce some entertaining, if meaningless fights, capped off by a gem of a fight that should cause extreme arousal in all types of MMA fans. It’s a card short on both serious contenders and prospects, but hey, Kimbo is there, so hooray.

Champ Lyoto Machida (-185) vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (+160) (for light heavyweight title)

A rematch of the highly contentious UFC 104 main event (for the record, it should have been a draw, with a 10-10 second round, Machida winning the 1st and 3rd, and Shogun taking the last two rounds), this fight represents one of the most interesting fights to have come down the pipe in a long time.

In the first tilt, Shogun, who has appeared unfocused and ill-trained in the UFC, and had never in his career shown much discipline, gameplanning, or cardio, fought the best fight of his life, with five strong rounds of cardio, a strict gameplan, and the kind of focus and discipline that makes a champion in MMA. Machida, for his part, showed weakness for the first time in the UFC, failed to adapt to the challenger, but fought gamely and hit Shogun enough to be given a bit of a gift decision, although he would have kept the belt anyway if the tilt had been scored a draw.

What most impressed the judges for Machida was probably the fact that he was the only fighter actually hitting the other guy in the head. There’s nothing MMA judges seem to like more than actually hitting the other guy in the grill, and with Machida’s enormous advantage with the hands he should continue to land upstairs far more than Shogun.

The big problem for Shogun in this rematch is that he’s already shown his hand. He fought the best fight he could be expected to in their first match, and it’s hard to see how he could develop a new wrinkle that would let him threaten Machida in a different way. He hardly ever threw punches, and it’s very unlikely he’s going to develop the hand skills to deal with Machida’s intercepting style in seven months. Similarly, Machida got the better of the clinch, shutting down Shogun’s takedowns and scoring some ripping shots to the body as well as the brutal step-knees when Shogun closed with him. It’s not likely that Shogun is going to be able to handle the clinch game of Machida this time around, so he’s going to have to come out and try to kick the legs and body to bits again, with Machida having seven months to prepare for it.

The question for Machida is can he adapt. He’s been refining and improving his style for his entire life, but he’s never before had to make an adjustment to it in order to counter a weakness. He couldn’t do this on the fly against Shogun, but that doesn’t mean he can’t study the fight and adjust. Machida is a very thoughtful and intelligent fighter, so it’s likely he’ll come up with something.

Machida’s most effective weapon throughout his career has been a diving overhand punch combined with a slip into the clinch. He used this very sparingly against Shogun, and if he can find a way to make it work, the damage he did in the clinch and the ineffectiveness of Shogun’s leg kicks in a phone booth could be enough to radically alter the fight outcome. Similarly, Machida’s most effective strikes against Shogun were his brutal step-knees to the guts, which provided exactly the kind of closing the distance that Machida could really use. If he can clinch Shogun up and make him use his muscles for more than skipping around and throwing kicks at his own pace, that will really inflict a much higher cardio cost on Shogun, who may not be able to go for five rounds of that.

Machida controlled the wrestling before, but only defensively. He showed pretty clearly that he was going to stuff any takedown attempts from Shogun, but he never looked for a takedown. If this fight goes to the ground, Machida will be on top. Shogun is a super-slick grappler with the same great omoplata sweeps everyone else in Chute Boxe developed under Nino Schembri, but Machida really seems to be able to channel the weight of a sumo when he has to, and can be lead-heavy on opponents. With Shogun on his back, fighting to maintain a guard, absorbing some punishment, with Machida putting his weight on him very hard, this fight could be much more one-sided, especially as Shogun wears out.

So, a fantastic matchup that will be fascinating to see unfold, with the best gameplan for Machida to be to wear Shogun out so even if he does accumulate damage to the legs and body, he’s too gassed to take advantage of it late in the fight. Lyoto Machida by decision.

Paul Daley (+205) vs. Josh Koscheck (-230)

It’s easy to see it. Koscheck throws a ridiculous fastball that misses, and Daley slips a little to the left and cracks him with that perfect left hook right in the side of his head, and he topples over, completely wrecked. It wouldn’t be the first time Kos got plonked by a shot he shouldn’t have let hit him, and Kos throwing that right so far out of position does leave him beautifully open to the counter. However, for all the hype Daley’s striking gets, he’s not actually that great a boxer. He just has huge killshot power. Kos is a durable guy, but he can’t let himself get bopped like that in this fight.

Fortunately, Kos wants to win, and he wants it bad, and he knows how to do it. He’s fast enough to just shoot that double straight through Daley, and he is a good enough wrestler to finish even a poor set-up. Once Daley is on his back, fans will be reminded why he wasn’t regarded as a major force prior to stomping Martin Kampmann. The normally tepid ground and pound of Jake Shields looked ferocious on top of Daley, and Kos is a mean dude that will be working Daley over in revenge for all the pre-fight smack talk. Kos wants to hurt Daley, but he’s smart enough to do it on the ground. Josh Koscheck by TKO round 1.

Jeremy Stephens (+175) vs. Sam Stout (-200)

This is a bad style matchup for Stephens. He fights an “open” style that relies on his power to do damage and win rounds or fights, rather than controlling the fight and setting himself up for the win. Unfortunately for him, Sam Stout should really be nicknamed “face of stone” although that doesn’t sound as badass. Maybe “Moai” would be more accurate. Stout is impervious to damage, in terms of being marked up, knocked down, or avoiding punishment. The guy is just a tank. He has more technically refined striking than Stephens, although he doesn’t have big power.

Stephens biggest weakness has always been his takedown defense, and Stout, while primarily a striker, has matured enough as a fighter, both in terms of his skills and his mental game, that working takedowns and control on top is a realistic proposition for him. Stephens is just out of luck in this fight, and it’s going to be long and one-sided, because Stout really isn’t the kind of killer that can just put him away quickly. Sam Stout by decision.

Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson (-105) vs. Matt Mitrione (-115)

It’s unclear why anyone would be impressed by Kimbo’s performance against a borderline catatonic Houston Alexander. He was physically evenly matched with a strong light heavyweight with no gas, completely befuddled by the entire concept of a leg kick, and ridiculously bad on the ground. Mitrione is MUCH bigger man. Kimbo weighed in at 212 against Alexander, 225 for this fight. Mitrione weighed in around 255 then and now. He is going to manhandle Kimbo, and he’s going to hurt him. He can take Kimbo’s punches and he can throw back hard, with his natural power and size being enough to hurt Kimbo.

The smart fight for Mitrione is to just muscle Kimbo to the floor, put his weight on him, and soften him up with ground and pound. Neither man is very good on the ground, but in such unskilled matchups, the heavier man on top has a big advantage. Kimbo doesn’t seem like a naturally gifted fighter, as all the rhetoric about him taking the sport seriously and training hard doesn’t seem to be reflected in any of his performances. Don’t be surprised if this is another clunker of a performance from the internet sensation and he gets crushed. Matt Mitrione by KO round 1.

Mitrione is very untested and he as no seasoning, with only one pro fight, but he should be favored here. He was available as high as +160, which would be an excellent bet. I still take him at -115.

Alan Belcher (-115) vs. Patrick Cote (EVEN)

Belcher is a flake, but Cote isn’t offensively brilliant and has been on a very long layoff. In Cote’s favor, he’s very solid, won’t get finished by Belcher, doesn’t get out of control, and has a monstrous chin. As Belcher floats around the ring randomly doing stuff, Cote should be closing the distance and scoring points, busting up the tough Belcher, potentially stopping him but more likely just scoring points for a decision. Patrick Cote by decision.

I like Cote at EVEN. Belcher just isn’t reliable enough and his offense won’t be any use against Cote’s beard.


Joe Doerksen (+400) vs. Tom Lawlor (-485)

Doerksen is shot. Lawlor will pick up another win that lets him keep rocking his gimmicks and putting on entertaining fights. Lawlor isn’t a fantastic fighter or athlete, but he exceeds Doerksen in every respect at this point. If he just gets rough he should put Joe out of there without too much fuss. Tom Lawlor by TKO round 1.

Marcus Davis (-450) vs. Jonathan Goulet (+400)

Goulet needs to stop taking fights against people with good hands. Remember how Mike Swick knocked him out in twenty seconds? Davis doesn’t have the handspeed Swick does, but he has better boxing and more power. Goulet has good, well-rounded skills, but he just has no chin at all, so Davis is going to lay him out the instant he puts power on him. Marcus Davis by KO round 1.

T.J. Grant (+350) vs. Johny Hendricks (-450)

Grant has always had a strong ground game, and he’s improved his striking recently too, but he’s going to end up underneath Hendricks and he is more adept at creating scrambles and being active from the bottom than he is at submitting high-level opposition from his back. This will be a competitive, scramble-filled fight, but Hendricks should spend more time on top working Grant over with some ground and pound. Johny Hendricks by decision.

Joey Beltran (+200) vs. Tim Hague (-240)

Beltran was brought in to lose to Gracie, but Gracie sucked even worse than expected, so Beltran is still around. Hague is not a great fighter but he’s much bigger and actually probably has more skills than the wild brawling Beltran. With crappy heavyweights swinging around all over the place, anyone could get knocked out, but Hague should be able to handle Beltran. Tim Hague by TKO round 1.

Mike Guymon (+220) vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida (-240)

Yoshiyuki Yoshida deserves this fight. After being mauled by Josh Koscheck and a monstrous Anthony Johnson, he’s getting a soft touch here. Guymon is a decent fighter, but Yoshida will be the class of the match here, with much more refined skills and a better offensive arsenal. He should be able to execute his traditional game of controlling the fight using judo, using infighting to deal damage to his opponent, and then finishing them off with a submission once they are softened up. Yoshiyuki Yoshida by submission, round 2.

Jason MacDonald (-145) vs. John Salter (+135)

It’s hard to have faith in MacDonald after his very unimpressive loss to Travis Lutter in the MFC. Salter is primarily a wrestler (notable for getting bashed up by Gerald Harris) and has very little seasoning with only 5 pro fights, and he doesn’t seem to be a Cain Velasquez type transcendent talent that’s ready for the big show out of the box.

MacDonald is just a useful journeyman at this point in his career, but his ground skills and veteranship cannot be denied. Salter will get takedowns, but he’s too green to go three rounds with MacDonald without falling into a submission at some point. The risks for MacDonald are that he will be on his back and isn’t super-durable (as a quick thrashing by Nate Quarry showed) but he should be able to protect himself against Salter, who hasn’t shown massive offensive capabilities. MacDonald by submission round 1.

My Plays:
1u on Patrick Cote at (EVEN) to win 1u.
1.15u on Matt Mitrione at (-115) to win 1u.


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