UFC 86 Preview and Predictions Part 2


ufc 86 rampage vs. forrest

Patrick Cote vs. Ricardo Almeida

Ricardo Almedia is old school MMA. He is a throwback to the days where Gracie jiu-jitsu was the dominant discipline in the sport. The no-nonsense fighter has the attitude reminiscent of early mixed martial arts, when disrespect was not tolerated and would result in repercussions (Almeida exhibited this belief when he fought Nate Marquardt and refused to relinquish a guillotine choke because of the trash talk leading up to the match). The Gracie trained martial artist has always been slick on the ground. By maintaining solid control and mixing in effective striking while on top, Almedia is a legitimate threat on the ground.
Patrick Cote, on the other hand, is a far different breed of fighter than Almeida. Hailing from Canada, he has trained with a variety of top athletes and quality coaches, while specializing primarily on his striking. Despite losing his first four UFC fights, he has looked impressive in winning three straight for the organization. A win over the established Almedia would elevate Cote to upper echelon of the middleweight division.
  Cote’s success will depend solely on his ability to keep the fight standing. He has heavy hands and a big right. Almeida is fully aware that he cannot hope to win if the fight becomes a slugfest. He is clearly going to attempt to force the action to the mat and let his BJJ take over. Unfortunately for Cote, he has a track record of being taken down and submitted (by Joe Doerkson and Travis Lutter). Almeida is simply too crafty. He will find a way to put Cote on the ground and when he does, the fight should be over shortly after.
Prediction: Ricardo Almeida via submission, round one

Tyson Griffin vs. Marcus Aurelio

When watching Tyson Griffin during his UFC debut back in 2006, it became clear the kid had skills. Mad skills. Besides being an incredible physical specimen, it was his combination of athleticism, strength, stamina, and his variety of tools, which made it obvious he would one day become a star. Against Aurelio, he will have an opportunity to reach that level.
Griffin can grapple, strike, wrestle, work a couple of submissions, and defend well. The kid is exceptionally well rounded and his development has continued with each fight. However, Marcus Aurelio has a distinct advantage with his jiu-jitsu. He had enough offensive prowess to defeat top tier lightweight Tankanori Gomi back in Pride.
But, essentially, what you see is what you get with Aurelio. The guy realizes what his weapons are and will try to use his versatile submission skills to tap Tyson out. Tyson needs to be very careful with his arms. He cannot afford to be careless and allow Aurelio to grab hold of them. Throughout his career, Aurelio has a history of being able to transition from guard into an arm bar and Tyson must not over commit or get sloppy.
Yes, Aurelio is a quality fighter with a chance to win this fight. But, it won’t happen. Tyson’s ascension up the ranks will not be deterred by Aurelio. He will outlast his opponent and throw him a beatin’ in the process. Tyson has had a difficult time finishing fights so this could go the distance, but with way more weapons at his disposal, he should be able to secure a victory.
Prediction: Tyson Griffin via decision 

Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin

After almost a nine month layoff, two of the UFC’s most popular fighters will meet for the light heavyweight championship. Rampage versus Griffin has the potential to be a prolific fight. The two coaches of the last Ultimate Fighter never fail to entertain when performing in main events. Both have fan pleasing styles and neither shy away from a war on their feet. The bout has all the makings of an instant classic.

For those who fans who liked Rampage in Pride, they must love him now. The fighter has come full circle. No longer, is he a one trick pony, relying on just his sheer strength and heavy hands. Like all great champions must do, Rampage has dramatically improved his entire game. He has incorporated technique, conditioning, and vastly improved wrestling into his skill set.

We are seeing an athlete peak at exactly the right time. On the biggest stage in all of MMA, the UFC. Since joining the UFC, Rampage has looked like a complete fighter, the total package. And against Griffin, he matches evenly, or better, in almost every category.

Rampage will attempt to end this fight early. Nobody wants to allow a fighter with the heart of Griffins’ to gain confidence as the fight continues.

Boy, oh boy, Griffin has come along away since winning the Ultimate Fighter.
And, ever since losing to Keith Jardine, the world has seen a more focused and disciplined fighter. You will not see Griffin fight with his emotions. Instead, he is composed and efficient, as he displayed en route to choking out Shogun Rua.

The interesting subplot will be the strategies of both combatants. One would expect Rampage to keep things standing, simply because that is what he does best. The question is what will Griffin do?

Traditional wisdom says that Griffin will bang like he has done throughout his career. But, Griffin attempting a takedown should not be ruled out. Training at Extreme Couture, Griffin has learned a great deal about wrestling. Taking Rampage down would surely be a surprise and would throw him off his game plan (like Chuck Liddell did against Wanderlei Silva).

Griffin is not going to win this fight with one big punch. The reality is, despite being one of the larger 205-pounrders, he does not have knockout power. None the less, he wears his opponents down mentally and physically. This will need to have if he hopes to beat Rampage.

Once again, the odds are stacked against Griffin, as they were when he fought Shogun. But, in this writers opinion, the stage is set for another Griffin upset. Don’t get me wrong, on paper Rampage has all the tools to win this fight. He has looked virtually unbeatable in his last two fights. But, Griffin has that confident swagger, which always make him an enigmatic wild card. Regardless of the outcome, this fight will either solidify Rampage as one of the best in the world, or crown Griffin as the first Ultimate Fighter to win a championship. Either way, this should be nonstop action between two quality fighters in their primes.

Prediction: Forrest Griffin by TKO, round three