Has it been only 2 months since the last show? Seem to me like it has been forever, but maybe that’s because this next UFC will host a few rematches that could prove to be better than the original battles. Three big rematches to be exact and each one had a strange, quick, or both strange and quick ending. No doubt these fighters have been itching to get back in there with each other, now they get their chances. On top of that we’ll have some other great NEW bouts that will undoubtedly make this UFC one to remember. Still, on top of that we are going to have a new feature in the preview mainly because I have been very fortunate with my predictions in the last few shows calling BJ over Hughes, Diaz over Lawler and Chuck over Tito just to name a few. So in addition to going over the fights I have included a link to TheGreek.com – Olympic SportsBook and my own personal opinions on what would make for the big bets, so you will have an opportunity to make your own wagers. What a show this should be, and with the chance to put your money where your mouth is, this should be one of the most exciting events the UFC has ever put together.
The headlining bout will be a rematch between Ken Shamrock and Kimo who fought each other in UFC 8. Ken walked away from that fight with a win via kneebar, but this time may be a bit different. At the previous fight Kimo claimed to have no submission experience, and since he went to Hawaii and earned himself a black belt in Jiu Jitsu, did a little pro wrestling and learned some Muay Thai skills. Ken Shamrock had been doing many different things, from WWE to movies. At UFC 40 he made his debut at 205, and he did very poorly. As the story goes Ken thought his main flaw against Tito Ortiz was staying with his gym, The Lion’s Den, and not getting any experience with other trainers or other training routines. So this time he has been focusing his training outside of the Lion’s Den. Ken says he’s been using different partners than his previous fights to get away from the training partners he is used to and focus on some new skills and experience. Also he is healing from an ACL injury, and claims to be back at 100%. In my opinion Kimo will win this fight. He has been fighting much more than Ken, doing both K1 and UFC, and he has also been seriously working on his Muay Thai. Not to mention that he is also just plain bigger and stronger than Ken. Most people are favoring Ken, but they know him from his WWE fame and the early success he had in UFC and Pancrase. Ken has the odds as favorite but I am predicting Kimo, the underdog, will win via submission. There are other underdogs on this card that may win, but many of them seem to be risky bets as the bouts could go either way, not so true in this case. I just don’t see how Ken could beat Kimo this time, making this the best underdog to bet on, and in my opinion the big bet of the night.
The former Heavyweight champ Tim Sylvia is back with a clean bill of health and ready to go head to head with the number one contender Frank Mir. Everyone knows Tim will be looking to keep the fight on his feet and basically do exactly what he did to Ricco a few months prior. Tim is expected to defend the takedown and strike effectively, ultimately getting the KO. Mir obviously knows this and will not want to stand with Sylvia. Frank just doesn’t have the reach or the chin for a standup exchange. The less time on their feet, the better for Frank, so look for Mir to try and close distance quick. He’ll try and get in the clinch or the pummel and get a takedown, but I don’t see it happening. I see a KO by Tim Sylvia, and most experts agree with me giving Tim the big odds as heavy favorite. Not much money to win here unless the wager is high, but this should be a fairly safe bet. There is only a small chance Frank could turn it around, like I said I look for Tim by KO.
Matt Hughes is taking on Renato Verissimo, who is coming out of BJ Penn’s Jiu Jitsu camp. Seeing as BJ has since been stripped of the belt for participating in K-1, not only will Matt have to wait for a rematch, he may not get one at all. Now he’s taking on Renato in a way to prove his ability to beat BJ Penn. This fight could be a huge mistake for Matt, unless he can win and he should win. Matt is a dominant wrestler and frankly, just a tremendously strong fighter. Still, his BJJ skills are not like Renato’s and hopefully for Matt he knows this and will avoid trying to play a submission game. This is a tough call for me, on one hand I see Matt learning from his mistake and dominating this fight albeit in a boring fight, but on the other hand I know he is weak in submissions and may be a victim to Verissimo. If Renato can pull the win this will be a great payout for those betting fans out there, and he has a very good chance of doing just that. With Matt being the force he has been he is the favorite, but seeing how well BJ did there is a good chance Renato will win. Twice in a row is too much for the former champ, and even though I have frequently bet against him in the past, I’ll be predicting a win for the Miletich Camp on this evening. My money however, will be in my back pocket on this one because even though Matt is a tremendous fighter, Renato poses too much of a threat. However, still not enough to make me put any money behind Verissimo, even as the underdog with a fair potential payout. Matt Hughes should take the win and return to his winning ways.
Another rematch on this wonderful card, Phil Baroni vs Evan Tanner and it should be a fight for the ages. What a strange bout this turned into the first time, with Baroni ultimately striking the ref. Personally I agreed that the ref made the mistake of stopping the fight too soon, but it was outrageous to see Phil’s reaction. Assuming there is no questionable ref interference, this fight will be a question of conditioning and endurance. Phil came in with a flurry of huge KO punches that put Tanner in the clouds quite early, but he also brought with him fairly poor conditioning and I fear he may do the same again. Baroni will come in with big bombs and is hoping to get the KO early, but watch out for Evan. If he can get Phil down early he may wear him out and be able to get a decision, or maybe even a stoppage or TKO like the last questionable bout. Evan does have a seriously poor chin, this time around I see Phil hurting him there. I’ve flip flopped as to who will win this fight as well, but now looking forward to it; I’m going with the NY Bad Ass Phil Baroni. Be warned, this is a tough fight to call and may easily go the other way. With the possibility that Tanner can use the same skills Matt Lindland has used to beat Phil, this may be a risky bet for either fighter. Tanner can turn this fight around and in doing so take the wind out of the sails of many betting fans, be careful. I say Phil will take it with big punches but I’m not going to put any money on this one.
Last big fight of the night is a rematch between Frank Trigg and Dennis Hallman. This was a really weird situation the first time, with Frank Trigg winning via an illegal groin strike in the WFA. Technically he came forward with a front kick and it landed right between Dennis’s legs. Hallman went down and despite a long recovery period he could not continue. Rather than a No Contest they just gave the fight to Trigg. Apparently the rule has been changed since then but what a weird situation it turned into. I was at the first fight and I was leaning toward Trigg until the questionable kick. Dennis was looking good but Frank just seemed too big and dangerous for him. I understand Hallman is surprisingly strong for his size, like Hughes, and that will help him greatly. This fight will be a big one with both guys talking a little trash back and forth about the other, both saying they plan to make the fight very entertaining. Trigg is often looked over as a skilled wrestler, and striker, so usually I would go with him but this time he is fighting Dennis Hallman, who has an unreal record, and unreal skills. Hallman boasts 2 wins over Matt Hughes, as well as many other great accomplishments and lastly, I doubt they call him superman for nothing. Like I said, I often lean towards Trigg, but I’m going to go with Hallman this time. I figure Dennis is hungry and looking to make an example of Frank, but since Trigg has fought in the UFC before, he has the odds on his side. This will also be a big bet for fans looking for those winning underdogs I pick Hallman by submission. This could prove to be a close fight, but I am confident in Dennis this time.
On the other side of the coin, we have some fairly new blood in this next UFC. Curtis Stout will be coming back to the UFC and fighting Trevor Prangley in his UFC debut. They may spend a little time feeling each other out, but hopefully they will let loose and throw down standing. Seems like Curtis has the better standup of the two with his Muay Thai training, but Trevor has been working hard on his kickboxing. On the ground it looks like Prangley will be more dominant with his great wrestling, Jiu Jitsu and Judo. I’m going to take Trevor by submission, I think he’ll be able to do well enough standing, get the takedown and get the win. It might be best to pass this wagering opportunity by, with the odds being for Prangley and like I said before, I pick the favorite to get the victory over Stout.
The next bout may be interesting, Georges St. Pierre will be facing newcomer Jay Hieron. Sometimes we see fighters come into the UFC with little name recognition, and usually that is because they have experience in another organization or have made some kind of an impact elsewhere. Georges St. Pierre has been fighting for the UCC and just made a great impression by defeating upcoming star Karo Parisyan in his UFC debut, so I expected Jay to be a great fighter. Maybe he is, but his record is not very impressive. He hasn’t fought but a few times against opponents that have had little to no experience. Maybe someone knows something we do not because so many people are saying Jay is the next big thing. For me, this fight seems like an easy call, St. Pierre via TKO, or maybe a small chance for a submission. I’ve been reading that Jay is a real tough kid and will give it his all but I doubt he can match the skill of Georges’s previous opponents. No doubt St. Pierre is the heavy favorite by far so a fan would have to bet a hefty sum to win a few pennies, and while this seems like a safe bet, it might not be. This is the fight game where anything can happen so I wouldn’t bet on this one, but my pick is still St. Pierre with little possibility of being upset.
Lastly we see Matt “The Terror” Serra will be in the UFC again, this time he’ll be fighting Ivan Menjivar. Matt should have his work cut out for him, but if you go with the paper facts, then Serra should take the victory via submission. Ivan has been fighting hard for a while now and has a very good record, but seems like he has more of a submission style and that won’t prove to be effective against Matt. Matt’s main problem with other fighters has been getting them down and controlling them. Still I’ll have to go with Matt Serra by submission on this one. Ivan is the underdog but does have some serious talent and could pull out a victory, maybe not the best risk for a betting fan, but I think Matt will get the W.
Mandalay Bay will erupt when the UFC makes its mark June 19th and we the fans will get to see what happens when fighters are looking for extreme payback. Should prove to be a great show and as always I expect to see some real slugfests along with some technical battles. Even though this show isn’t as anticipated as the last, we the true fans have some real treats ahead of us. With UFC 50 just a few months away, the big show is gearing up for a huge explosion. I am sure we will see some seriously entertaining fights this show. Make your picks, place your bets and get your seats early cause it’s going to be one wild night!
Ken Shamrock Vs Kimo Leopoldo
Tim Sylvia Vs Frank Mir
Matt Hughes Vs Renato Verissimo
Phil Baroni Vs Evan Tanner
Frank Trigg Vs Dennis Hallman
Trevor Prangley Vs Curtis Stout
Georges St. Pierre Vs Jay Hieron
Matt Serra Vs Ivan Menjivar
Winner = Red
Big Bets (Upsets) = Red & Underline
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