Well guys, I’m in the midst of my final training phase. I’m finally allowed to comment that yes, as you all know and have known for some time, I will be fighting Kendall Grove in a few short weeks. The UFC has presented me with the opportunity to fight another tough guy in Grove, which is truly an honor. I’m not going to comment much about my own fight, as I like to keep my cards close to my chest. I may not be much of a poker player but I sure as hell intend to show that I’m a damn good fighter on my way up in the middleweight division.
I have an interesting view on this weekend’s fight card because it is held in the O2 Arena. Its fair to say my foray into the O2 was not what I intended or expected. The changes that a continental shift in venue from North America present are unique and cover every aspect of the fight game. I lived them and I hated them. I’ll also be watching as an interested spectator in a quiet place rather than “host” of a viewing party. Now off to my picks:
Lightweight: Diego Sanchez vs. Joe Stevenson
I really believe that this is a marquee match up that would play to a much larger audience if it were held in Las Vegas. Stevenson has changed up his focus and priorities and that should serve him well over the duration of his career but I just don’t see it benefiting him so soon. Joe Daddy has been caught a few times because of his aggression and as a result of his opponent’s aggression. Diego Sanchez is one of the most aggressive fighters in the UFC. Plus, Joe has a tendency to get cut which might cause him to rush things a little more than he’d like. I think Diego is just too much rabid dog for Joe. While the two would probably go back and forth in training based on skill and technique, I think Sanchez overwhelms Joe after frustrating him with a relentless attack. My gut just says this isn’t going past the second round with Sanchez winning by tap out.
Middleweight: Nate Marquardt vs. Wilson Gouveia
How can you count out a guy who trains with GSP and the rest of camp Jackson? I think Nate has always been a tough guy whose skill set and Octagon intelligence is finally catching up to his toughness. While Gouveia took care of MacDonald recently, I hardly think that would happen to J-Mac again. Sometimes you just get caught and I know J-Mac wants to avenge that one. I think that Nate will be able to control the direction on this fight and eventually control his way to a win. I’d love to see a knock out but I’m going to give you guys some reasons to roast me by picking Nate by decision in a three round battle of opposing wills.
Middleweight: Damian Maia vs. Chael Sonnen
If I’m picking Marquardt and rooting for J-Mac, my head has to logically pick Maia in this one. Sonnen should have finished Filho. That was his chance to take his game to the next level. I think he has a tendency to fight to the caliber of his opponents and he had better live up to that with Maia because Damian’s confidence is rising as evidenced by his decision to start calling out some of the top middleweights. I think the fight will be technically entertaining and will end with a slick BJJ finish in the first round as Maia pretzels Sonnen into an uncomfortable position and forces a tap.
Welterweight: Dan Hardy vs. Rory Markham
I can’t speak with too much authority on either of these guys. I’ll put all my eggs into one basket and suggest that Markham’s KO of the Night was no fluke and he’s going to put Hardy to sleep as well. Dan will be watching for that head kick and wont get caught easily. I’m thinking that Markham is going to utilize some striking and ground and pound to eventually finish Dan in the second round.
Welterweight: Josh Koscheck vs. Paulo Thiago
After his last performance and a little bit of business side drama, I think Koscheck is going to come out and overwhelm Thiago with his wrestling. Josh is becoming a better and better MMA wrestler because of his hard training and natural abilities. I think he has the power to control this fight because of his skill set and the chip on his shoulder. After his last knock out I hope he walks out to a few more cheers than he’s used to and uses the inevitable boo’s to fuel the fire and welcome Thiago to the UFC with some vicious ground and pound and subsequent referee stoppage.
Thanks again to the Fightlinker.com boys and all you jackals for the soap box. I am fit as ever and working hard as ever to get ready for Grove. I’m finally a full time fighter and I fully expect for it to show. He poses some interesting challenges, as Randy Couture would say. We’ve prepared for the challenges and now I am preparing my mind and my body for the battle. Whether he looks at me as the relatively unknown Canadian or an up and coming middleweight is irrelevant. I will enter the cage ready to brawl, ready to submit and ready to test his stamina over three hard fought rounds. The only acceptable outcome is to smash Kendall Grove in Ohio. But first, I’m going to watch UFC 95. Thanks again, check out www.jaydaymma.com and count down the days to Columbus.