Clash of the Titans – UFC 116: Lesnar vs. Carwin Predictions

Matt and Bruce make our picks for tomorrow night’s blockbuster UFC event.  Because we are experts.  Or maybe just because we like making predictions.

(If it’s not obvious enough, all photos come from the folks at Heavy.com)

MAIN EVENT: Heavyweight Title Match
Brock Lesnar v. Shane Carwin

BRUCE: Let’s see, Lesnar won the title by overwhelming Randy Couture.  Then he beat Frank Mir to re-unify the title.  Then he nearly died from mono.  Lesnar has had quite a turbulent UFC career.  Following Fedor’s loss last week, Lesnar is ranked by many as the top heavyweight in the world.

I’m sure Shane Carwin would disagree.  I’m sure that “interim” in front of his title pisses him off.  I’m sure Carwin wants nothing more than to beat Lesnar the way Werdum beat Fedor last weekend.

With all that being said who am I picking?  You hate to pick against Lesnar, but the guy nearly died last year.  No matter how good his conditioning is, respiratory illnesses linger.  If Carwin can stretch the fight out to 4 or 5 rounds, I think he can be the man to hand Lesnar his first UFC title loss and reunify the UFC heavyweight title.

WINNER:  CARWIN by split decision

MATT: Lesnar has a lot of haters, but this one feels just as epic as they’re making it out to be, especially in light of Fabricio Werdum’s upset of Fedor last Saturday.  Part of the reason it seems so huge is that there is almost no way to predict what will happen.

Shane Carwin uses his wrestling pedigree to keep fights standing, whereas Brock Lesnar uses his to ground and pound.  Meanwhile, Lesnar has never been rocked on his feet and Carwin has never been in trouble on the ground.  We assume Carwin might not be as strong on the ground, and we assume Lesnar might not be as good on his feet…but we don’t know the truth in either of these cases.  In a matchup of the UFC’s two biggest and strongest heavyweights, it’s the weaknesses (the as-yet-unknown weaknesses) that will determine a winner. 

I think Carwin has more than a puncher’s chance – he’s basically hitting people with bowling balls.  I can easily see him catching Brock with one good shot (just as Brock did with Couture) and making short work after that.  But I think it’s more likely that Lesnar’s explosive takedowns put this fight where he wants it to be.  Carwin has not made it past the first round in any fight, so Lesnar has more proven cardio, and that could be the difference.

WINNER: LESNAR by TKO in 3rd round. 

The rest of the card after the break…

CO-MAIN EVENT
Yoshihiro Akiyama v. Chris Leben

BRUCE: This one was originally set to be Akiyama against Wanderlei Silva, but Silva had to withdraw due to injury.  Chris Leben took the fight with two weeks notice.  Akiyama is not happy about it.  Leben is unhappy that Akyama is unhappy.  I’ve seen a lot of Chris Leben fights.  He always stays in the fight and usually surprises his opponents.  Add the tension between the two fighters and this one could steal the show.

WINNER:  LEBEN by TKO in the 3rd round.

MATT: Akiyama will be fighting on 12 months rest.  Leben will be fighting on 12 DAYS rest.  The Crippler’s consistent gameplan of imposing his will and initiating a brawl is only helped by being a last minute replacement.  Akiyama prepared for Wanderlei and might have no choice but get pulled into fighting Leben’s fight.  HOWEVER, I think Akiyama has had plenty of time to get his feet in the UFC after his suspect debut win over Alan Belcher, and I think he plays it safe (read: boring) and grinds out another unpopular decision. 

WINNER: AKIYAMA by split decision.

 

Chris Lytle v. Matt Brown

BRUCE: Brown lost to Lytle in the now defunct UFL back in 2007.  Brown is on a two fight winning streak.  Brown saw his win streak stopped by submission at UFC 111.  I look for Lytle to take the fight to Brown and win with an early submission.

WINNER:  LYTLE by submission in the 1st round.

MATT: The prohibitive favorite for Fight of The Night ought to have a lot of fireworks.  Neither man has been knocked out, and both have a reputation for toughness…but Brown’s record shows a weakness for submissions, and Lytle has pledged to work the ground game in this fight. Given that his previous W over Brown came via choke, I don’t think he’s bluffing.

WINNER: LYTLE by submission in the 3rd round.

  

Krzysztof Soszynski v. Stephan Bonnar

BRUCE: These two fought at UFC 100 with Soszynski winning by TKO in a controversial finish.  Both men wanted this rematch.  Bonnar has lost three straight, including the fight with Soszynski.  He needs this one to stay relevant in the UFC.  That’s strong motivation.  Just ask Keith Jardine.  I just don’t think it will be enough.

WINNER:  SOSZYNSKI by KO in the 2nd round.

MATT: Here’s a thought:  does Dana White promising that Bonnar will always have a home in the UFC (unlike the aforementioned Jardine) affect his motivation for fights?  He’s hosting clip shows and acting as an ambassador in his free time, so he will basically be employed for life…unlike Soszynski, who has to keep winning to keep getting paid. 

WINNER: SOSZYNSKI by TKO in the 1st round.

 

George Sotiropoulos vs. Kurt Pellegrino

BRUCE: Is there a war going on between Greece and Italy that I missed?  These two lightweights have 9 consecutive wins between them.  Somebody’s streak is going to end.  I’ve not seen either of them fight so I’m just going to pick one.

WINNER:  SOTIROPOULOS by split decision.

MATT: Really tough one here.  Sotiropoulos has been on an upward climb ever since The Ultimate Fighter 6.  Pellegrino kicked around the lightweight division for the past couple of years before stringing some wins together.  I think the latter has more quality wins, but the former has less incriminating losses. Pellegrino has more character, but the Australian with the Greek name has more upward mobility.  After a win here, I could see him lining up against Kenny Florian (well, after Gray Maynard slaps KenFlo around in Boston).

 WINNER: SOTIROPOULOS by submission in the 1st round.

 

Brendan Schaub v. Chris Tuchscherer

BRUCE: Schaub lost to Roy Nelson in the finals of The Ultimate Fighter – Heavyweights.  There is no shame in that.  I don’t think anyone on that cast could have beaten Nelson.  Here is where Schaub can make his mark.  He’s a good fighter with a really bright future in the Heavyweight division.

WINNER:  SCHAUB by KO in the 1st round.

MATT: Great job by UFC matchmaker Joe Silva to pit Shane Carwin’s training partner against Brock Lesnar’s. Schaub is younger and more dynamic, but he’s a prime candidate for my personal Kickboxer Kaveat™: a dynamic striker with no known grappling skills can’t handle a quality wrestler.  Plus Tuchscherer has more to prove: in his last fight, the Minnesotan got kicked so hard in his Timberwolves that I threw up a little.  His record says he’s tougher than that ensuing (and asterisk-worthy) beatdown from Gabriel Gonzaga, so I think he works hard for this win.

WINNER: TUCHSCHERER by unanimous decision.

 

Seth Petruzelli vs. Ricardo Romero

BRUCE: This one is interesting to me.  Petruzelli has wins over Dan Severn and Kimbo Slice.  That’s quite a dichotomy.  Romero is making his UFC debut.  I’m picking Petruzelli, but it won’t surprise me if Romero wins.

WINNER:  PETRUZELLI by split decision

MATT: Ultimate Fighter 2 vet Petruzelli is making his first octagon appearance since 2007, whereas Romero will be fighting somewhere other than Atlantic City, N.J. for the first time ever.  They have exactly one decision win between them, so it could be a fun start to the Spike TV broadcast.

WINNER: PETRUZELLI by TKO in the 2nd round.

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