So after a 7-week hiatus (which not only wore me down mentally in anticipation but I think physically too…) we are now just days away from UFC 74: Respect and one of the greatest cards the UFC has put together. If you couldn’t tell already, I can’t wait for 7pm Saturday to finally see these fights.
Couture vs. Gonzaga
You’ve got Randy “the Natural” Couture (cue the music and read with mock Bruce Buffer’s voice) who is coming off an unbelievably dominating performance against the previous Heavyweight champ in Tim Sylvia, a fighter who had an 8 inch height advantage and about 12 inch reach advantage. Going against Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga who delivered a shock of his own in knocking CroCop out with a leg kick to the head from hell. I mean God damn, this fight is going to be sick.
If you don’t believe in Gonzaga, then you’re going to pleasantly surprised when you see him this Saturday. The guy is for real. He’s got the excellent ground game and he can really stand up and battle you. All I know is Couture is going to be in for the fight of his life here. As far as picking a winner goes, this is extremely hard for me. I consider myself a fan of Randy Couture, he’s a really nice person as well as a great fighter so rooting for him is extremely easy. I honestly think this is a 50-50 fight perhaps 55-45 in Gonzaga’s favor. But I’ll tell you what, I’m going to be rooting for a winner based on who I think would provide the more exciting match-ups down the line. I think with Couture you get some fights that we haven’t seen before. If say, CroCop defeats Cheick Congo (which is still a big if because Congo is a beast) and gets the title shot that would be a brand new fight. While CroCop vs. Gonzaga would be the 2nd and while the revenge factor could really build that up, I don’t really like seeing repeat fights. Couture also leaves his heart out there on the mat each time he fights and that makes for great entertainment. But you know what, I think Gonzaga is very similar in that way and he fights well so I’d like to give the guy a shot.
In the end I’m going to be rooting for a Classic 4 or 5 round war won by submission or knock-out. If I truly had to predict a winner, I’d go with Gonzaga.
St. Pierre vs. Koscheck
What an insane fight this is going to be for an undercard matchup. One of my favorite fighters in the entire UFC, Georges St.-Pierre, going up against a guy that is a battler, let’s just say that. I mean Koscheck just picked an unbeaten Sanchez apart in his previous fight. On the other hand you have St.-Pierre who is coming off a shocking upset, losing his belt to Matt Serra, someone who truly had no business being in the ring with St.-Pierre. That truly had to be a wake up call for St.-Pierre. St.-Pierre who is easily one of the top 5 fighters pound-for-pound in the World is going to be on a mission Saturday night and I would be afraid if I were Koscheck. St.-Pierre is going to be a brand new fighter, he’s going to showcase something brand new to us all Saturday night and I can’t wait to see it, honestly.
Winner: St.-Pierre with a rd. 2 KO
Huerta vs. Crane; Lightweight Bout
On one side you have Roger Huerta a rising fighter who is really coming into his own and putting on a clinic as of late with his recent wins. On the other is Alberto Crane, someone who I honestly know very little about. He’s 8-0, 31 yrs old (7 yrs Roger’s senior) and same height and weight as Roger. However, I like Huerta’s ability a lot and I think he’s just a solid fighter, gotta go with him here.
Winner: Huerta with 1st round KO
Pellegrino vs. Stevenson; Lightweight Bout
You’ve gotta like Joe Stevenson, the guy seems to be really coming on in the lightweight division a lot like Huerta. In his last fight against Melvin Guillard he looked very impressive. I thought going in that Guillard was a tough opponent for Stevenson and ultimately too much for him to handle and boy was I wrong. He really just picked him apart in a quick first round submission wasn’t it?
Winner: Stevenson with 2nd Rd Submission
Cote vs. Grove; Middleweight Bout
This is another interesting matchup between two sorta big name guys. Kendall Grove is just really long and lean who obviously is going to use his length to his advantage. Meanwhile Cote is sorta hard-nosed and aggressive style of a fighter who’s going to press the action. I think Cote will be able to withstand Grove’s length and really put the pressure on him.
Winner: Cote by decision
It’s interesting because perhaps some of the 3-5 fights aren’t that big-name type of appealing but the 6-9 fights are pretty interesting as well, which makes me say this card is pretty loaded with solid fights. For instance, I really hope the Mir – Hardonk fight is broadcast, I think that could be a war. And personally, I really am interested in how the former Heavyweight Champion, Frank Mir, shows in his comeback. Thales Leites as well is an intriguing fighter so I’d be interested in seeing his fight…
But this card really begins a 5 week outpouring of UFC events and they’re all going to be great ones. Sept. 8th is UFC 75: Champion vs. Champion with another incredible card of fights. Then on the 22nd is UFC 76: Knockout featuring Liddell vs. Jardine and the debut of Shogun Rua. Sprinkled in the middle is a nice little appetizer called UFC Fight Night 10 on the 19th of September.
So it’s really going to be interesting to see how this all unfolds in the next 4 weeks or so. For information on those events click on UFCmania link on the right side bar or go here . Also, come back here periodically in the coming weeks for previews of the other events. And enjoy UFC 74!!