Tuesday, December 11, 2007

UFC 78: Validation – Preview, Analysis, and Opinion

Prudential Arena
Newark, New Jersey

By Nathan Schafer

It’s been almost two years since the UFC has visited the east coast to put on a show. That was UFC 55 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. That card featured legendary matches such as Forrest Griffin vs. Elvis Sinosic and Sean Gannon vs. Brandon Lee Hinkle. I’m only kidding, this UFC 78 event was to feature Sean Sherk vs. BJ Penn for the lightweight championship, which is a fight a lot of people would like to see, but Sean Sherk’s steroid scandal has put him on the backburner. Is addition, Dave Terrell was supposed to make his long awaited return against up and comer Ed Herman and revitalize the UFC middleweight division. Also, Tito Ortiz was to rematch Rashad Evans and Matt Hamill was to rematch Michael Bisping. Now we’re left with Rashad Evans vs. Michael Bisping. While the show is lacking a credible main event, the rest of the card seems pretty decent with some exciting match-ups, despite what I read from the fans. Now on to the fight card.

Michael Bisping (14-0) (4-0) vs. Rashad Evans (10-0-1) (5-0-1)

The underlying storyline in place is undefeated TUF 2 champion Rashad Evans faces off against undefeated TUF 3 champion Michael Bisping. This fight poses two fighters with undefeated records, and there’s nothing more I enjoy watching than two guys with undefeated records facing each other because it seems they fight so much harder to keep that undefeated record intact. That being the case, both of these records should have an asterisk next to them due to their last fights. This is a classic wrestler vs. striker match-up, however both are well rounded and have good cardio. The two fighters have both been waging a war of words the last few weeks over at the UFC homepage trying desperately to build up this fight.

Michael “The Count” Bisping

England’s Michael Bisping is coming off a controversial split decision win over Matt Hamill at UFC 75 that created an uproar in the MMA community and has fans questioning how MMA fights should be scored. Bisping began his UFC career as a contestant on TUF season 3. He breezed through his competition on the show by defeating Kristian Rothaermel in episode 4. He then beat Ross Pointon in episode 12 with both fights ending via TKO and both fights ending in the first round to place himself in the finals. He then faced Josh Haynes at the TUF 3 finale in June of last year. He managed to win via TKO in the second round but the win did not come as easily as the prior two. Bisping made his PPV debut against Eric Schafer at UFC 66 last December where he weathered an early storm of takedowns and escaped from an arm triangle showing good submission defense, good scramble ability, and decent ground and pound. He finished Schafer late in the first round via TKO. At UFC 70 he faced journeyman Elvis Sinosic in his home country of England. He was not able to finish the Aussie in the first round but Bisping showed a relentless ground and pound that very well could have stopped the fight. Early in the second round he ate a big knee and was almost finished. He managed to survive the blow and finish the fight via TKO showing that he has a decent chin and can overcome adversity in a fight.

Most of us expected an immediate rematch against Matt Hamill, but Hamill was unable to fight to due surgery. Dana White says that the rematch will definitely occur as soon as Hamill finishes his recovery, squashing any rumors of Bisping dropping to middleweight. Bisping has also decided to stay and train at his home gym the Wolf’s Lair, instead of going back to Big Bear, California to train like he did for UFC 75.

“Sugar” Rashad Evans

I’ll have to disclose that I am not a big Rashad Evans fan. If you count his fights on TUF 2, 7 of his 9 UFC fights have gone to decision. Some of them have been rather boring even though he put on some dominant displays. On season 2 of TUF, Evans competed as a heavyweight defeating Tom Murphy, Mike Whitehead, Keith Jardine, and in the finale Brad Imes. He then went on to defeat Sam Hoger and Stephan Bonnar before knocking out Jason Lambert at UFC 63 in September 2006. In his most famous win, he kicked Sean Salmon in the head solidifying his place in a future spot of Ultimate Knockouts at Fight Night 8 this January. Despite his win over Salmon, he showed he is not as good of a wrestler as many would believe. He was easily taken down on multiple occasions in the bout. Rashad’s next bout would solidify him as a serious contender in the UFC Light Heavyweight Division if he could pull out a win over former champion Tito Ortiz. I had a feeling that he would not make it out of his next bout against Tito Ortiz with a win due to his first round performance against Salmon. He managed to draw Ortiz due to a point deduction in round two when Ortiz held the fence.


In a bout where both fighters have bigger egos than Tito Ortiz, I am not a fan of either fighter. The last time we had two fighters who thought so highly of themselves was Shamrock vs. Baroni. The betting lines have Evans as a heavy favorite, while I think this bout is going to be closer than the odds indicate. It was apparent that Bisping did not focus enough on his takedown defense in Big Bear; this has been a weakness of his since he joined the UFC. I also don’t believe his takedown defense is going to get any better with him training at home for this bout, however I don’t think Evans is half the wrestler that Hamill is, which is beneficial to Bisping. What Bisping does possess is an ability to get back to his feet in fights that is similar to strikers like Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin. Bisping also has done very well against grapplers in most of his bouts. He is also extremely confident which could play into his favor. Will Rashad make the mistake and try to keep this fight standing believing he is the better striker? It could be a mistake that costs him the bout if he tries to entertain the crowd and appease the fans. If Rashad does what he is supposed to do, which is take Bisping down and lay and pray, we could be for an uneventful main event. Something also tells me this bout will again be surrounded in controversy. Rashad Evans via split decision.

Ryo Chonan (14-7) (0-0) vs. Karo Parisyan (17-4) (7-2)

Ryo “The Butchering Piranha” Chonan

Ryo Chonan is a Pride and Deep veteran who has fought a who’s who list of MMA veterans. He has a mixed record holding victories over former UFC champion Carlos Newton, Mach Sakurai, and current UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva. However, Chonan also has losses to current WEC Middleweight Champion Paulo Filho, Pride Welterweight Champion Dan Henderson, and Phil Baroni. He is a fighter who has powerful standup skills and despite KO losses to Henderson and Baroni, he has a very good chin taking plenty of shots from a game Anderson Silva in their bout. His ground and pound is also decent as well, as is his submission defense. Ryo’s takedown defense however is off and on. His weakness is that allows himself to be put in some bad positions, regularly giving up his back and finding himself in multiple submission attempts in a single bout. Many of his victories end in unanimous decisions. He is most famous for his flying scissor heel hook over Anderson Silva in Shockwave 2004. Chonan is riding a two fight winning streak in Japan’s Deep organization this year since losing to Paul Filho in August of 2006 at Bushido 12.

Karo “The Heat” Parisyan

Karo Parisyan holds a (7-2) record in the UFC, with seven of those fights going to decision. He has incredible judo skills and was originally slated to fight Hector Lombard on this card. Lombard is also a judo practitioner who fought in Pride FC but never won a fight there. That made me wonder what was the rationale for the UFC setting up that fight, beyond just the judo vs. judo match. Parisyan began his career with an armbar over Dave Strasser at UFC 44 in September of 2003. After that he lost a unanimous decision to Georges St. Pierre in his debut at UFC 46, the following January. He then rattled off five straight victories over an impressive list of notable fighters: Shonie Carter, Nick Diaz, Chris Lytle, current UFC welterweight champ Matt Serra, and current Bodog welterweight champion Nick Thompson. Diego Sanchez was able to stop the trend by out working Parisyan at Fight Night 6 in August of last year, a fight that was considered by many fans to be one of the best of 2006. Since the loss he has posted two straight wins over Drew Fickett and Josh Burkman both via unanimous decision. He has begun to complain about being overlooked in the title picture, but with the loss to Sanchez just over a year ago it appears the UFC is making him earn his way back.


I see this fight as another unanimous decision victory for Parisyan. While I feel it is a good decision for Chonan to drop to welterweight, I do not feel he will be able to stop the takedowns of Karo. Karo on the other hand does not have the power to knock out a game Chonan with his wild looping punches. Chonan on the other hand has good enough submission defense to avoid anything Parisyan has to offer in that department, besides the fact that Karo is no longer a fight finisher. Both fighters generally show good cardio in their bouts and this should be a good war. Assuming I have the prediction correct I’d like to see Parisyan fight Fitch next with the winner getting a title shot, and Chonan to fight Forest Petz.

Houston Alexander (8-1) (2-0) vs. Thiago Silva (11-0) (2-0)

Houston “We Have A Problem” Alexander

Houston Alexander is to the UFC as Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou was to Pride FC. While Jardine and Sakara may not have been as impressive as the names of Arona and Rogerio, the knockouts themselves have been. Alexander is one of the greatest unknowns in the division. It is not clear if he possesses any ground game whatsoever, although thus far he has not needed it. He has instantly become a fan favorite judging by the amount of people swarming him at UFC 77 last month. From what I’ve seen he has explosive power in his hands and he has remarkable precision or an ability to hit the button when he throws. His hooks seem to always hit the temple and his uppercuts seem to always hit the jaw. His fight at UFC 71 against Jardine only lasted 48 seconds and his fight against Sakara at UFC 75 last only 61 seconds. Is Alexander the real deal?

Thiago Silva

Thiago Silva is just as much of an unknown to me and most fans as Houston Alexander. Silva is an undefeated Chute Box fighter out of Brazil and made his debut at UFC 71 against the hard-hitting James Irvin. The bout lasted just over a minute as Irvin ended up blowing out his knee forcing a stoppage. Silva’s bout at UFC 75 this September against Tomas Drwal was not televised although Silva won via TKO in round 2. He does appear to look for takedowns and is skilled in jiu-jitsu.


It’s hard to make a serious prediction in a bout where I’m not extensively familiar with either fighter. I am aware that the UFC does set up fights to showcase a certain fighters skill set. Therefore for this bout I’ll jump on the Houston Alexander hype train and say first round KO against the smaller Thiago Silva. However, I believe the tables could quickly turn into Silva’s favor the longer the bout lasts or if he is able to score a takedown.

Frankie Edgar (7-0) (2-0) vs. Spencer Fisher (20-3) (5-2)

Frankie Edgar

Frankie Edgar made his debut against the tough Tyson Griffin at UFC 67 in February of this year. Edgar won the bout via unanimous decision in one of the best fights this year. He managed to survive a deep knee bar late in the third round to survive and win. In his next bout he TKO’d Mark Bocek late in round one on the undercard of UFC 73 this July. Edgar has shown us explosive takedowns, ground and pound, great cardio, good hands, great scrambles, positioning, and guard passing.

Spencer “The King” Fisher

Miletich camp fighter Spencer Fisher is a veteran with seven UFC bouts. The losses on his 5-2 record have come at the hands of Hermes Franca and Sam Stout. He was being groomed for a title shot until he ran into a looping punch from Hermes Franca in round two. He was able to redeem the loss to Stout at Fight Night 10 this June winning via unanimous decision. Fisher also holds wins over Thiago Alves, Aaron Riley, Matt Wiman, and Dan Lauzon. While he favors the stand up game, he has good wrestling and jiu-jitsu skills being a Miletich fighter.


I think Edgar’s hands are just as fast as Fisher’s hands, however he lacks the kicks and is less technical striker than Fisher. Fisher did not show good takedown defense against Franca in January and I think Edgar is going to be much faster than Franca. Fisher holds the edge in jiu-jitsu, while Edgar holds the edge in the cardio department. That being said I see Frankie Edgar winning this one via unanimous decision in what could very well be the fight of the night.

Thiago Alves (18-4) (5-2) vs. Chris Lytle (19-14-5) (3-6)

This is a bout where the UFC records are deceiving to the eye.

Thiago “The Pitbull” Alves

Thiago Alves has a (5-2) UFC record. His losses are at the hands of Jon Fitch and Spencer Fisher. His wins while impressive in nature, have come against lesser names than his losses. His wins are over Ansar Chalangov, Derrick Noble, John Alessio, Tony DeSouza, and Kuniyoshi Hironaka. All of Alves UFC wins have come via TKO except the Alessio fight which was a unanimous decision. He served a nine-month suspension after his UFC 66 bout with DeSouza for testing positive for a diuretic, an agent used for cutting weight and/or masking steroids.

Chris “Lights Out” Lytle

Chris Lytle sports a (3-6) UFC record. He holds wins over Tiki Ghosn. Ron Juhn, and Drew Fickett. Some of his losses include Robbie Lawler, Karo Parisyan, and Matt Hughes. That being said, I think Chris Lytle is better than his record would suggest and I believe he should have been declared the winner over Robbie Lawler at UFC 45. Chris Lytle has good boxing and jiu-jitsu skills and has the ability to make a lot of good fighters look less than impressive.


I think this bout is going to be a lot closer than some people would suggest. I also feel Alves is an example of a fighter who is being groomed by the UFC. Lytle has proven against Lawler that he can hang with big sluggers. I expect this bout to be similar in nature and am disappointed it is not being shown as part of the broadcast.

Ed Herman (13-5) (2-2) vs. Joe Doerksen (39-10) (1-3)

Ed Herman was slated to fight the injury prone Dave Terrell on this card. Luckily, the UFC was able to get a legitimate opponent to replace him on only two weeks notice. The story behind this bout is that Joe Doerksen has already beaten Ed Herman once before. The fight was just over three years ago at Sport Fight 7. Doerksen won the fight via a triangle choke in round three. Has Herman matured enough as a fighter to find a piece of redemption pie waiting for him this Saturday?

Ed “Short Fuse” Herman

Team Quest submission fighter Ed Herman appeared on TUF 3, beating Danny Abbadi and Rory Singer. He appeared to be one of the most well rounded fighters on the show and fought a scrappy Kendall Grove in an exciting bout in the finale. Herman came up short in that bout and would again lose his next bout. This time Jason MacDonald would beat him at his own game and submit him via triangle choke. Herman was able to get back on track and rattle off two straight wins via submission to opponents Chris Price and Scott Smith.

Joe “El Dirte” Doerksen

Joe Doerksen has not fought in the UFC in over a year and half. His last fight UFC fight was against Nate Marquardt where he lost via unanimous decision at UFC 58. He also holds UFC losses to Matt Lindland and Joe Riggs. His lone UFC win was against Patrick Cote at UFC 52 in April of 2005. Despite those losses he is a crafty veteran who holds wins over notable fighters such as Chris Leben and Denis Kang. Most recently he lost a title bout against Paulo Filho for WEC Middleweight Championship, which was three months ago, where he was TKO’d in the first round.


The question to be answered in this bout is did Joe Doerksen have enough time to physically prepare for this bout? My guess is probably not. Ed Herman’s strength in submissions also happens to be his weakness, while submissions also happen to be the strength of Joe Doerksen. Doerksen also holds the edge in confidence holding a victory of Herman. Herman has to be better prepared than Doerksen in the cardio department. Despite his UFC record I think Doerksen is an enjoyable and exciting fighter to watch and usually puts up a good fight against top-level middleweights. I think Doerksen’s experience and jiu-jitsu gives him the edge in this one over a not quite fully developed fighter in Herman. Doerksen wins via guillotine choke in the first round.

Quick Picks:

Marcus Aurelio (14-5) (0-1) vs. Luke Caudillo (12-7) (0-1)

Marcus Aurelio by split decision.

Akihiro Gono (27-12-7) (0-0) vs. Tamdan McCrory (8-0) (1-0)

Tamdan McCrory by unanimous decision.

Joe Lauzon (15-3) (2-0) vs. Jason Reinhardt (18-0) (0-0)

Joe Lauzon by submission.

This article originally appeared on www.bloodyelbow.com on 11-15-07

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