Tonight is UFC 74 "Respect" at the Mandelay Bay in Las Vegas. UFC 73 was called "Stacked" but the card did not live up to its title as the co-main events were both boring and slow. I believe tonight's card is much more stacked than last month's show in Sacramento. Tonight's undercard should be just as good as the live card on pay per view. Unless the main event ends quickly, the fans might not be able to see any of the undercard matches.
Clay Guida vs Marcos Aurelio should be a great fight. Aurelio makes his debut in the UFC Octagon tonight after previously fighting in Pride. Guida thinks he has the advantage because Aurelio has not fought in almost 8 months. Aurelio has fought and beaten the best in the world such as Takanori Gomi. Guida's last fight ended in a decision loss to Tyson Griffin. Aurelio has a great ground game which we should see tonight. I wil go with Aurelio in this one.
Ryan Jensen from Team Quest is fighting Thales Leites. Both only have one loss to their record. Leites has been very impressive in the cage. Jensen plans to stuff his takedowns and keep it standing. Leites was a last minute replacement for Travis Lutter who had to pull out due to injury. Leites predicts that he will finish off Jensen by the second round. My bet is on Leites by TKO in the second round.
Frank Mir will be taking on kickboxer Antoni Hardonk in a heavyweight clash. Hardonk was last seen losing to Team Punishment's Justin McCully on Spike Tv a few months ago. Mir is attempting to come back from a loss to Brandon Vera. Mir plans to take it to the ground and use his jiu-jitsu and wrestling skills to defeat Hardonk. Hardonk, on the other hand, needs to keep the match standing up and use his punches to set up his powerful leg kicks. This match is very important to both since they are both coming off losses. I will have to go with Mir as Hardonk needs to prove he can fight on the ground.
Renato Sobral, better known to MMA fans as Babalu, will be taking on David Heath in another undercard battle. Heath had a unimpressive performance against Lyoto Machida in his last fight while Sobral's last fight in the UFC was a TKO loss to Jason Lambert. Heath will try to keep the fight standing up but Sobral plans to take it the ground and gain a submission victory. I will go with Babalu by submission although there is a chance Heath can knock out Babalu if he displays more sloppy stand-up.
In the live card that will be shown on pay per view, the first fight will be Patrick Cote vs Kendall Grove. Cote says he feels relaxed, and claims to have had the best training camp ever to prepare for this fight. He trained with taller sparring partners in order to prepare for the 6'6 Grove. Cote was working muay thai with guys in Boston and Canada. He plans to stop Grove before the third round. Grove knows that Cote is a tough competitor and expects a war. This match could be a stand-up war but if it goes to the ground, Grove will end up victorious. I must go with Grove in this one as Cote does not have a great win-loss record.
Alberto Crane, from New Mexico, will be taking on Roger Huerta. Crane is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist. Huerta has been working with Dave Menne on the ground. Huerta perfers to keep the fight standing up while Crane wants the opposite. Crane believes Huerta is aggressive but sloppy and plans to catch Huerta when he makes a mistake. If Huerta wins this fight, I hope UFC matchmaker Joe Silva gives him a higher profile opponent in his next match. Fans are tired of seeing Huerta defeat no-named opponents. Huerta is the obvious choice here.
In a battle of lightweights, "Daddy" Joe Stevenson will be taking on Kurt "Batman" Pellegrino. This match is a" fight of the night" candidate. Whoever wins this fight could be in line for a title shot. Pellegrino trains with Hermes Franca while Stevenson trains with Marc Laimon. My prediction is Pellegrino in an upset by submission.
Georges St-Pierre will be taking on Josh Koscheck in a highly anticipated battle. The winner will get a title shot against the winner of the Matt Hughes vs Matt Serra fight which will happen in the fall. St-Pierre is now training with the highly respected Greg Jackson and his Team Jackson camp. He switched managers and trainers after his last fight, the loss to current champion, Matt Serra. Just like his teammate, Patrick Cote, St-Pierre says he is in the best shape of his life and ready fo the three round war. Koscheck, a highly decorated amateur wrestler, is one of the most athletic fighters in the UFC. His fights are known to be very boring and dull. While I hope for a great battle between the two, I don't plan on seeing it. Until Koscheck might be capable of a great fight, I won't believe it until I see it. So far, his fights are as exciting as watching PBS on a Friday night. St-Pierre has seen a pyschologist to help him with his mental game. He has all the physical tools but his mental game has been called weak by many, including Koscheck. I will go with Koscheck by decision as I think his wrestling is too strong for St-Pierre.
The main event is a heavyweight title clash between the champion, Randy "The Natural" Couture and challenger, Gabriel "Napao" Gonzaga. Gonzaga impressively defeated legendary MMA fighter Mirko Cro Cop to get his title shot. Couture became champion by defeating Tim Sylvia. Gonzaga should win as he is younger and bigger than Couture. Couture is 15 years his senior. Gonzaga has not shown many weaknesses in the cage. Couture will have to have a solid game plan to defeat the talented and hungry Brazilian. My prediction is Gonzaga by TKO in the third round.
Tonight's card is stacked and I expect a great night for the UFC and its fans.