We’re on our way to Dallas for UFC 103, but before we leave it’s time to give our predictions for the matches on the main card. I was at 3/5 in the top of the card for the last show – like many other people, I got surprised by Nogueira and overestimated Demian Maia (ouch). Let’s see if I can do better this time around.
Rich Franklin vs. Vitor Belfort. We have spotlights on both fighters up for even more analysis on this fight. Franklin needs to settle on a weight class to fight in, while Belfort, recently poached from Strikeforce, is widely thought to have his better days behind him. This one’s going to be decided on strikes – whoever can land that finishing blow will take it, and while Vitor Belfort’s lost some of the aggression that made him a fan favorite, he still has the skills to make that happen. But Franklin has great conditioning and submission defense. This is a hard one to call, but I’ll say Franklin by decision. I could be very, very wrong!
Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic vs. Junior Dos Santos. We loved Cro Cop back in the day, but he’s been out of competition for two years, he’s 2-2 in the Octagon, and it’s not certain whether the sport has left him behind. His opponent in Junior Dos Santos has serious KO power (tending to end fights before the third round) and may have what it takes to put the last nail in the Cro Cop coffin. Dos Santos by 2nd round KO.
Frank Trigg vs. Josh Koscheck. Koscheck is a dominating fighter and is just getting better and better. Trigg is sort of like last year’s model – they’re both wrestlers who moved more into the standup game, but tha’s not one in which experience can triumph over youth and power. As much as I dig Trigg, this isn’t going to be his night. Koscheck is going to take this one by 2nd round KO.
Martin Kampmann vs. Paul Daley. We interviewed Kampmann earlier this week, and dude impressed ups his last few times out. He was supposed to face Mike Swick for a potential title shot at Georges St-Pierre, but Swick got a concussion and had to pull out, leading to the rapid substitution of Englishman Paul Daley, who is making his UFC debut. Daley is a powerful, quick striker, but his ground game has been weak, so look for Kampmann to take him down and keep him there for a unanimous decision.
Tyson Griffin vs. Hermes Franca. This should probably be the nailbiter of the night – both of these guys are spectacular fighters, with complimentary skillsets. Franca has the edge on the ground, Griffin in the standup, but these are very slim margins, and this one could go either way. Griffin’s won his last seven by decision, and Franca is coming back from nearly a year off. These guys both have something to prove. Flipping a coin and calling it for Griffin by decision.