The weekend is almost back, which should be good news for fight fans. In contrast to last weekend, where there was seemingly wall to wall championship boxing, with a minor MMA event to supplement the weekend’s action, the highlight of this weekend will be the UFC pay per view on Saturday night, with some boxing action scattered about the weekend to supplement. At any rate, there’ll be plenty of action to keep folks interested.
Friday Night Fights – Friday 10 pm – ESPN 2
Delvin Rodriguez – 6’0”, 147 lbs. – (23-2-2, 14 KO) vs. Shamon Alvarez – 5’7”, 170 lbs. – (20-1, 11 KO)
Friday Night Fights will feature this 12-round welterweight eliminator bout, for a shot at Joshua Clottey and his IBF welterweight title at some point down the line. Although both fighters come into this one with respectable records, neither has been able to prove themselves viable at the top levels of the welterweight division.
Alvarez, the southpaw, stepped up against Josh Clottey in December of 2007; losing a 12-round unanimous decision, in his only fight against a “known” fighter thus far. Since then, he’s had just one more fight picking up a majority decision victory over Terrance Cauthen 11 months later in November of 2008. Alvarez currently ranks 31st amongst welterweights in the boxrec.com world rankings.
Rodriguez has seemingly fought better competition that Alvarez in his career so far, although not much better. Despite having a worse record than Alvarez, Rodriguez currently ranks 16th in the world in the boxrec.com welterweight rankings. A lanky, orthodox fighter, Rodriguez has piled up 3 wins, 2 by knockout, and one draw since last losing, in March of 2007 to Jesse Feliciano.
Rodriguez should enjoy a substantial height and reach advantage, in addition to the benefit of his experience against better opponents than Alvarez. Since only one of Rodriguez’ last 11 fights have even gone to the cards, in one capacity or another this one should be over before the judges are called on.
My Pick: Rodriguez by TKO – Round 10
Saturday Night Boxing on HBO – Saturday 10 pm
James Kirkland – 5’9”, 154 lbs. – (24-0, 21 KO) vs. Joel Julio – 5’10”, 154 lbs. – (34-2, 31 KO)
Call it light middleweight, super welterweight or junior middleweight, it’s all 154 pounds, and it’s being billed as the fight of the weekend, but may be no more than a showcase for Kirkland’s knockout power. Kirkland, the favorite, comes into this weekend’s match up at 24 years old, with a win total to match. The southpaw knockout artist has piled up win after win on his way to the #10 ranking among Jr. Middleweights by Ring Magazine, and the #8 ranking by boxrec.com. He’ll be looking to end this one quickly, having posted knockout wins in the first 2 rounds in 4 of his last 5 fights.
Julio, a knockout artist in his own right, will have the advantage in this one in height (1”), reach (2”), and experience (153 pro rounds vs. Kirkland’s 75). An orthodox fighter, Julio ranked 18th in the world by boxrec.com at Jr. middleweight, is looking to right things following the second loss of his pro career, in his last fight a 12-round unanimous decision loss to Sergiy Dzinziruk for the WBO light middleweight title in November of 2008. Prior to that, Julio had won 7 straight fights dating back to 2006, 4 by knockout.
On paper, this looks like one of those fights that could take place in a phone booth. Both fighters should be swinging for the fences in this one, and both have the power to finish the fight. There’s probably a reason why they put 2 under card fights on the broadcast, this one could be over in a hurry.
My Pick: Kirkland by KO – Round 3
The Under Card:
Victor Ortiz – 5’9”, 140 lbs. – (23-1-1, 18 KO) vs. Mike Arnaoutis – 5’10”, 140 lbs. – (21-2-2, 10 KO)
My Pick: Ortiz by KO – Round 5
Robert Guerrero – 5’8”, 126 lbs. – (23-1-1, 16 KO) vs. Daud Yourdan – ?’?”, 126 lbs. – (23-0, 17 KO)
*Guerrero is boxrec.com’s #2 ranked Super Featherweight
My Pick: Guerrero by KO – Round 4
UFC 96 – Saturday 10 pm on Pay-Per-View
Quentin Jackson – 6’1”, 205 lbs, (29-7) vs. Keith Jardine – 6’2”, 205 lbs. – (14-5-1)
There were many who thought that Rampage Jackson might simply destroy himself following his upset loss to Forrest Griffin for the UFC light heavyweight title. Prior to that fight, Jackson was a house of fire, and in scoring a quick knockout win over Wanderlei Silva in his last fight, the loss to Griffin appears like little more than a momentary stumble.
Stumble may be the most apt term to describe what happened to Jackson that night, as the fight changed on a kick to Jackson’s lead leg to begin the second round. Without a base underneath him, Jackson’s power and mobility were compromised, and Griffin took advantage. Jackson though, still looks far from done at this point in his career.
In Jardine, the UFC may have their toughest fighter to predict outcomes. The power that Jardine has displayed in his hands gives him the proverbial puncher’s chance, on any given night, and he has been able to capitalize on that strategy with great success against a number of big named opponents. Against Brandon Vera in his last fight, that power never came out, although Jardine did manage to win by decision.
It’s a safe bet that this will end on a knockout. It’s also fairly safe that it will happen early. The longer the fight goes on, the more it should tend to favor Jackson, as would the fight going to the ground. I doubt however that either of these fighters will be looking to do much more than stand up and bang. And if Jardine has done his homework, maybe some work on Jackson’s legs would be in order too.
My Pick: Jackson by KO – Round 1
Gabriel Gonzaga – 6’1”, 242 lbs. – (10-3) vs. Shane Carwin – 6’3”, 262 lbs. – (10-0)
In a battle for relevance in the suddenly exciting heavyweight division, Gabriel Gonzaga will look to keep his 2 fight win streak going, and position himself for another shot at the heavyweight championship, once the dust settles around Frank Mir and Brock Lesnar.
After dropping his title shot against Randy Couture, Gonzaga lost a second straight fight 5 months later to Fabricio Werdum. A submission specialist, Gonzaga has been susceptible to punches in his career, but little else. Considering the power of Shane Carwin, Gonzaga will be looking to keep this fight in close quarters or more likely on the ground.
Carwin burst onto the UFC scene in May of 2008 knocking out Christian Wellisch in the first round of Carwin’s UFC debut. He followed it up in October with another first round KO win over Neil Wain. In Gonzaga, Carwin is taking a big step up in competition, and wading into the deep waters against a submission specialist.
My Pick: Carwin by TKO – Round 2
Pete Sell – 5’11”, 170 lbs. – (8-5) vs. Matt Brown – 6’0”, 170 lbs. – (11-7)
I’m not sure how or why this match up made it to the TV broadcast, but hopefully UFC matchmaker Joe Silva has something in mind here. Both are likable enough guys, which is fine for the reality show. But in the ring, neither has done much to make themselves relevant to the title picture, or inspire much hope for the future.
Sell has lost 4 of his last 6 fights since beginning his career at 6-0. Brown has lost 2 of his last 4 and 4 of his last 7 fights. Sell it appears is susceptible to the knockout, and Brown to the submission. So each fighter will have a clear-cut blueprint to follow, and there could be a clear air of desperation about this one too.
I won’t discount the possibility that this could be an interesting fight, but in terms of relevance, not so much.
My Pick: Sell by Split Decision
Matt Hamill – 6’1”, 205 lbs. – (7-2) vs. Mark Munoz – 6’0”, 205 lbs. – (5-0)
Matt Hamill, a perennial crowd favorite because of the long odds that he’s overcome as a deaf person to become a wrestling champion and viable UFC contender, has a strong wrestling background and gorilla like strength on the mat. Noteworthy, for his potential, since his stint on the Ultimate Fighter reality show, Hamill has made big strides in moving toward realizing that potential. Despite 2 losses in his last 4 fights, Hamill is still a highly regarded dropping only a controversial decision to Michael Bisping and a tough liver punch KO at the hands of Rich Franklin.
Munoz, on the other hand will be making his UFC debut, having fought most recently as part of the WEC promotion. In 5 career professional wins, Munoz has only been past the first round once, and has finished 3 of his 5 opponents on punches. He should be able to take advantage of Hamill’s raw technique with his hands, and push the pace against the wrestler.
My Pick: Munoz by KO – Round 2
Gray Maynard – 5’8”, 155 lbs. – (7-0-1) vs. Jim Miller – 5’8”, 155 lbs. – (13-1)
My Pick: Maynard by Unanimous Decision
Tamdan McCrory – 6’4”, 170 lbs. – (11-2) vs. Ryan Madigan – 6’0”, 170 lbs. – (5-0)
My Pick: Madigan by Submission (Choke) – Round 2
Kendall Grove – 6’6”, 185 lbs. – (11-5) vs. Jason Day – 6’1”, 185 lbs. – (17-6)
My Pick: Day by TKO – Round 3
Tim Boetsch – 6’0”, 205 lbs. – (8-2) vs. Jason Brilz – 5’11”, 205 lbs. – (16-1-1)
My Pick: Brilz by Submission (Choke) – Round 1
Brandon Vera – 6’2”, 205 lbs. – (9-3) vs. Michael Patt – 6’0”, 205 lbs. – (15-3)
My Pick: Vera by Unanimous Decision
Aaron Riley – 5’8”, 155 lbs. – (27-10-1) vs. Shane Nelson – 5’9”, 175 lbs. – (12-3)
My Pick: Nelson by Submission (Choke) – Round 1
Enjoy the fights!!!