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Friday, May 25th, 2018



Don Abato checks in with his picks and thoughts for UFC 91.

Nate Quarry (16-2) vs. Demian Maia (9-0): Nate Quarry’s last fight was quite forgettable (literal track meet with Kalib Starnes) and his name invokes repeated replays of getting KTFO by Rich Franklin.  The opposite is true of Maia.  He invokes images of Zhou Zhitsu applied perfectly, earning him three “Submission of the Night” victories inside the Octagon.  But don’t sleep on Nate’s skills. He’s quite BJJ literate. Demaian may have Nate’s number on the ground, but I see Quarry being more well-rounded of the two. What’s Maia going to do when he’s eating straight punches and can’t get the takedown? Nate via unanimous decision.

Jeremy Stephens (13-3) vs. Rafael dos Anjos (11-2): Simply put, Stephens is submission prone and dos Anjos looks for the tap more often than not.  RdA by T-A-P 1st round.  I’ll say armbar is the finishing move.

Alvin Robinson (9-3) vs. Mark Bocek (5-2): Although both sport 1-2 records in the UFC, I’m more impressed with what I see from Robinson. He looks like the better athlete and seemed more competitve with his opponents than Bocek did with his.  Alvin dominated against Jorge Gurgel, but I’m looking for him to give us an impressive finish.

Dustin Hazelett (11-4) vs. Tamdan McCrory (9-1): This gets bumped up from the dark card because Amir Sudollah vs. Catone fell through because Sudollah is suffering from a leg infection.  Hate to see a fighter drop out, but I am excited to see Hazelett make the PPV.  Point blank: Hazelett has looked like the better fighter against stronger competition.  The BJJ expert will tap McCrory in the second round.

Gabriel Gonzaga (9-3) vs. Josh Hendricks (15-4): This is the battle of two big heavyweights.  Gabriel has great physical tools: size, mobility on the ground, and powerful leg kicks.  If his head is in it he’s a handful.  But when his head is not–like when he lost to Fabricio Werdum–then it’s a big waste of talent.  Hendricks is no doubt tough, but there’s a reason Gonzaga was a top ten heavyweight last year.  Gonzaga by some sort of ko/tko stoppage.

Kenny Florian (10-3) vs. Joe Stevenson (29-8): Both lightweights are looking to contend for the 155 belt.  KenFlo can get a title shot with a win, Joe Daddy is a step closer to returning for his 2nd shot at the title.  While both are wizards on the ground, Kenny has more tools in the standup game.  Florian has been on a quiet-yet-not-so quiet mission for the strap.  So I’m going with the ‘Flo on this one.

Randy Couture (16-8) vs. Brock Lesnar (2-1): I’ve learned over the years not to underestimate Randy Couture. But the Natural hasn’t fought in almost 15 months and he’s now 45 years old.  Captain America has built a reputation for great conditioning, which served him well for five rounds against the 6’8″ 265 pound Tim Sylvia.  But when a larger and more explosive Brock Lesnar gets the takedown and lays on top of him for 2 rounds how will Randy’s gas be then.  It’s one thing to work the top game against the Mainiac, it’s another when a monster lays in his guard.  Couture has historically failed against other large heavyweights when they keep him on his back.  The problem for Lesnar is he isn’t exactly a cardio machine.  If he can’t maintain a solid effort in the 4th and 5th rounds, Couture could stall his takedowns and eke out a victory.  I’m going to go with Brock for the decision win, but the real loss here will be the fact a Couture/Fedor fight loses some of its promotional appeal.  Which actually is fine, cuz then the UFC doesn’t have to worry about dealing with Fedor’s agent Vadim Finkelstein.

[tags]Randy Couture, Brock Lesnar, UFC, Dustin Hazelett, Kenny Florian, MMA[/tags]

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