Patrick Cote vs. Alessio Sakara
Dan Rose: Before we get into the winner and loser, let’s make something clear. Every single MMA fighter on planet earth should fire their manager and hire Alessio Sakara’s management. Alessio has been in the UFC since UFC 55 and is 6-6 in the Octagon. Never has such an average fighter had such a lengthy run in the big show. I am a little taken aback that he’s had a seven year UFC career, being that his victories are over a virtual “who’s that?” of MMA. Sinosick, Valimaki, James Lee, Joe Vedepo, Thales Leites (who once butt-scooted for a ufc title), and of course, James Irvin. Congrats Legionarious, you’ve proven that being Italian and a slugger is enough to stick around the uber competitive world of the UFC.
Patrick Cote knows a little something about coming back from a major knee injury, and this week he warned GSP to not be overconfident. Cote, who once upon a time impressed everyone in a last minute replacement effort against Tito Ortiz, needs this victory in a big, big way. You don’t have to have a crystal ball to see that this fight should be a stand up clash. Both fighters like to strike, and both men fancy their chances standing. Cote might be the more polished overall striker, but if he gets hit clean by Sakara, he’ll be in trouble. Whoever loses this battle will most likely be unceremoniously booted from the UFC, unless it’s Sakara (I kid, I kid.)
I think the home town crowd will be enough to lift Cote through some tough moments in the fight, and get Cote the win he desperately needs, likely by decision.
Dave Reno: After Patrick Cote was relieved of his duties fighting inside of the Octagon, he did what great fighters do. The French-language announcer for the promotion ran off four straight wins over a one-year period, earning himself a spot back in the big show after Rich Franklin was forced out of his UFC 148 bout with Cung Le. In his return bout, Cote extended his UFC losing streak to four but due doing the promotion a solid, he'll get another shot in what I believe is a win or stay home match up for him come Saturday night.
The last few years of Alessio Sakara's MMA career have been injury ridden. 2012 will be the first time he's competed twice in a year since 2008, when he made his middleweight debut against Chris Leben at UFC 82. Sakara has gone 3-3 at middleweight over the last four years, all the while never really getting the chance to establish his rhythm.
This is very much a must win situation for both fighters if they want to stay employed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship unless both men put on a fight of the night type performance. While both of these men are in their early 30's, I believe their best days in the cage are behind them. Sakara will not be able to find "The Predator" in the 1st, eliminating his chances of a T(KO) after Cote scores a takedown or three. Habs fans will watch Cote grind out a decision victory, thus keeping all of Montreal happy heading into another edition of the famed 'Baba O' Reilly' montage.
Cyrille Diabate vs. Chad Griggs
Rose: Chad Griggs became popular in Strikeforce by defeating Bobby Lashley in a fight that was supposed to highlight Lashley’s skills. He was once again supposed to be tied to a tree and dealt with by Gian Villante but once again, the lamb ate the lion. People love underdogs who perform and a semi-star was born. He was routinely dismantled in his UFC debut by Travis Browne and has decided to move to Light Heavyweight, which should be a much better weight class for him. What Griggs possesses is grit and solid standup.
Cyrille “The Snake” Diabate has always looked the part of a dangerous striker and budding MMA star. When he’s in the cage with someone who doesn’t posses a high level of striking, Cyrille looks tremendous. He has excellent kicks, and just an all around solid Muay Thai game. When he gets in there with guys who can grapple him, and control him, he struggles. I think he’ll find a willing combatant to slug it out in Griggs, but if things start going south for Chad, I expect him to take Cyrille down and control him. I expect Griggs to be physically stronger and I expect Griggs to take Cyrille down and smother and TKO him in the second round.
Reno: Chad "Gravedigger" Griggs of Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix reserve fame will test the waters in the UFC 205 pound division when he takes on kickboxing vet Cyrille Diabate live on FX.
This fight will not, I repeat, will not go the distance. I see Griggs dictating the pace of this fight early on. He'll either dig his own grave by being careless and letting Diabate get him to the ground, or he will land something flush, before the French "Snake" can find his rhythm and set his own pace. I can't think of another card in recent history full of this many crazy match ups forcing so many scenarios to run through my skull leaving me confused and hesitant to pull the trigger on either guy. Joe Silva earns his paycheck once again, and Diabate earns another victory to add to his combat sports resume due to crafty veteran smarts.
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Mark Bocek
Rose: Mark Bocek is a fighter I have a lot of respect for. I think he’s tremendously talented and on the verge of stepping to the next level. He has good hands, is slick on the ground and has mettle and determination. That said, this could be a tough fight for him.
Rafael dos Anjos is another tough fighter, who can do it all. I think he’s just a bit slower than Bocek and just a step below in skills. Everything he does, Bocek does just a hair better. I love this fight, and think while I’d almost bet the farm it goes the distance, I think it possesses the needed fireworks to steal the show. I expect a world class grappling match in the later rounds, with Mark Bocek getting the advantage with his top game and winning a unanimous decision.
Reno: Both of these lightweights are heading into this bout having emerged victorious in three out of their last four. They are consistently matched up against the best of the best of the division and just can't seem to get that big career defining win. These may just be the two most looked over men in the division.
Dos Anjos holds the advantage if this one stays standing due to sheer power. If, scratch that, when it hits the ground - it's a toss up. Both guys are slick, and legit jiu-jitsu black belts who would love nothing more than to put on a ground clinic for the educated Quebec fans. In the end I see Bocek grinding out a hard fought win with superior wrestling and a hearty side of ground and pound.
Sam Stout vs. John Makdessi
Rose: This is a very interesting fight in my estimation. Makdessi started his UFC career looking outstanding. He won his first two UFC fights, and was starting to look like a guy who could do some damage in the division. However, back to back losses to Dennis Hallman and Anthony Njokuani have him in deep water. His background is in Karate and Taekwondo and he’s a unique and dangerous standup fighter. He’ll be facing another striker in Sam Stout, which might be his kryptonite.
Sam Stout has always been just on the cusp of being great. He has a 7-6 record inside the UFC, but on any given night is capable of beating the best. His boxing is lights out, and he was trained to strike by the late Shawn Tompkins, who was married to Stout’s sister for more than ten years. Stout has had some incredible wars in the Octagon, and this fight with Makdessi could be a favorite for fight of the night. Both guys love to stand and let the hands go, and both guys need wins. In the end, I think Stout will land the more telling shots, and TKO Mekdessi late in the fight.
Reno: The Halifax born Makdessi currently resides in Montreal so he will be the fan favorite against London, Ontario's "Hands of Stone" Stout, although both men will have plenty of friends and family in attendance.
Makdessi is coming into this bout riding a two-fight losing streak after his incredible spinning back fist KO of Kyle Watson back at UFC 129 in Toronto. Five-time fight of the night award winner Sam Stout continues to remain relevant entering the 14th fight of his busy UFC career where he's earned wins over big names like Lauzon, Wiman, and most recently earning his second victory over Spencer Fisher closing out that trilogy. Makdessi is a talented guy but I don't think his stay in the UFC will last half as long as Stout's. It's highly unlikely that Makdessi (or anyone else for that matter) will finish Stout standing up. Makdessi isn't going to submit Stout either unless he stuns him first so I feel like the choice is pretty clear. Stout via unanimous decision. photo via yellmagazine
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