Inside Fights Roundtable: UFC 76 – Knockout

The UFC once again tries to overload our minds with a fourth major card in a four week period, coming to you LIVE from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. Shouldn’t that be the Los Angeles Honda Center of Anaheim or something ridiculous like that?

This time around, we have:

Trent Pusey, Intrepid Editor
Gordi Whitelaw, The Guy Who Trounced Me in VS.
and me, Kevin Wong, Going From Kitchen Nightmares to Octagon Nightmares

Let’s get it started:

Keith Jardine vs. Chuck Liddell

Trent: I doubt we’ll see a lot of ground work in this one. Liddell hasn’t gone to a decision in over five years so it doesn’t look like it will be a long fight either. Have you heard both fighters are coming off of TKO losses? I have. About 74 times this week. Liddell is smarter with his striking than Jardine and I can’t pick against experience in this one. Liddell by 1st Round TKO.

Gordi: Knocking Griffin out made Jardine look like a killer, but then getting knocked out by Houston Alexander made him look like a can. He’s got a puncher’s chance, I guess, but if he tries to stand and bang with Chuck (which is what he apparently intends to do) he’ll end up on his back. Lidell, R1 KO

Kevin: Tough one to call. OK, it’s not. Chuck will win this one by TKO. The question, really, is when this will happen, and whether “The Dean of Mean” will give a good account of himself. There’s no shame in losing to Chuck, so with that in mind, Jardine should be trying to hit a home run here. But to cover my ass, I should note that age could be catching up to Liddell, and if he’s lost a step, Jardine is more than capable of taking advantage. Liddell, TKO R1

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Forrest Griffin

Gordi: I also pretty much need Shogun to school Griffin to keep my faith in former PRIDE fighters (and my burning love of MMA) alive. Stomps and soccer kicks have always been huge weapons in Shogun’s arsenal, and he’ll suffer a bit for losing them here. He is, however, still the fighter that beat Rampage, Rogerio Nogueira, Overeem and Arona in a four-month span to take the 2005 PRIDE Tournament. I believe that he’s a far superior fighter to the always-entertaining Griffin. Shogun, R2, KO.

Kevin: Like Jardine, Forrest Griffin has nothing to lose, and I expect him to swing for the fences in the vein of his Bonnar fights. No shame in losing to arguably the best 205er in the world, right? Rua loses stomps and kicks in the transition from ring to cage, but he gains elbows and a fighter as good as Rua should be able to make that adjustment without any problems. The real adjustment is the cage itself. There is a feeling out period as you adjust to an unfamiliar fighting venue, but for a veteran fighter, that shouldn’t last very long. Thus, I figure that Griffin should come hard right out of the gate and try to take advantage. I say this, but I fully expect Rua to hit the pay window here. Rua, TKO R2

Trent: So Shogun is my most favorite MMA fighter ever of all time and stuff. He’s a nasty aggressive fighter but PRIDE’s rules allowed for him to be a more dangerous fighter. If Shogun Cro Cops against Griffin then I might very well give up on MMA forever. Forrest is undoubtedly a tough kid but I refuse to even imagine a scenario in which he is victorious. Shogun by 2nd Round TKO.

Jon Fitch vs. Diego Sanchez

Kevin: A real test here for Fitch, who is on a 13 fight win streak (6-0 in the UFC). Like teammate Josh Koscheck, Fitch has a wrestling pedigree but is considered a better fighter at this point (I would still contend that Koscheck has a greater upside). Now, Fitch COULD get some pointers from Koscheck, but I think anyone could throw lazy jabs for 15 minutes against an opponent with a staph infection. So the key for Fitch is to maintain control of the match, because if Sanchez is healthy, he’ll be trying to set a torrid pace. But is Sanchez healthy, and will he be affected by his new team? Quite possibly. We’ll see. Fitch, Split Decision

Trent: Fitch is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the UFC while Sanchez is one of the most enigmatic since his loss to Koscheck. If Diego is on then this will be the fight of the night. I’m going to flip a coin and it’s telling me that Diego will NOT be on his game. He’s still tough to put away so Fitch will out-hustle Diego to a unanimous decision.

Gordi: I’d assume that Sanchez has been in hard training since his incredibly dull loss to Kos. He pretty much needs to dominate Fitch if he wants to put himself back into the title picture. It won’t be easy. Fitch has been on a roll lately, going undefeated in six fights since coming to the UFC in 2005. He’s also been training with the only man to beat Sanchez: Josh Koscheck. My head says Sanchez by decision, my heart would like to see the lesser-known fighter become the first man to stop the Nightmare. This time, the head wins. Sanchez, Decision.

Lyoto “Cure For Insomnia” Machida vs. Kazuhiro Nakamura

Gordi: Karate vs. Judo! Machida is an undefeated defense-first guy who is known for dancing around and throwing out Karate jabs on his way to stultifying decision victories. Nakamura is the protege of judo superhero Hidehiko Yoshida. My head says that the Brazilian karateka will pull off yet another decision win, but my heart is crying out for the judoka to pull off the upset. This time, the heart wins. Nakamura, R3, KO.

Kevin: In terms of karate in MMA, Machida is the polar opposite of Georges St. Pierre. GSP brings the excitement, Machida brings the suck. So much suck, that his fight at UFC 70 was replaced on the Spike TV telecast. However, Machida is undefeated, and GSP has two losses, so if you’re one to judge fighters by their records, I suppose Machida is better. Machida is up against a world class judoka in Nakamura, but don’t expect a rehash of GSP/Karo here. Machida has the ability to pull the opponent into his game, and if Nakamura can’t touch him, we won’t get to see any sweet judo throws. Anyway, Machida probably wins this, and at some point the UFC will have to put Machida in a high profile fight. I look forward to the day when I can say something like Henderson def Machida, KTFO. Until then… Machida, Decision

Trent: Machida sucks. He’s as intolerable as an MTV dating show. You may want to use Parental Control to block this fight from your television and just move on to the Next bout before you are Exposed to what will be Singled Out as the worst fight on the card. Sorry, I really need to quit channel surfing late at night. Machida will win by unanimous decision just to continue this sick joke.

Tyson Griffin vs. Thiago Tavares

Trent: I almost made it through the entire card on name recognition until this butthole Tavares ruined it. I thought I knew him but it turned out I was thinking of Thiago Alves. The kid is undefeated but recognition always outweighs record when doing MMA Pick’ems. Tyson Griffin is fun to watch so it ought to be a good fight. I hate picking knockouts when UFC 76 is telling me they’re going to happen, so I’m going with Griffin by submission in the 2nd round.

Gordi: This could be the fight of the night. Griffin, who looks like a lost Nogueira brother, has already been involved in two of the best fights of 2007: An all-action decision loss to Frank Edgar at UFC 67, and an all-action split decision win over Clay Guida at UFC 72. Tavares is a Brazilian fighter with 10 submissions on his perfect 13-0 record. He’s also got good stand-up skills. I’m still going to give Griffin the nod here, mainly because he’s been training with Randy Couture. I believe that training with the best is the only way for an elite fighter to improve. Griffin, Decision.

Kevin: Griffin’s undersized at 155. He should be in WEC beating up Uriah Faber (again). He’s up against the unibrowed wonder, Thiago Tavares, who last fought at UFN 10 and beat Jason Black with a slick submission. This should be an exciting fight that goes the distance, and I think that if Griffin has learned to utilize dirty boxing, he can pull this one out. Griffin, Decision

And there you have it. Keep reading Inside Fights for the results of UFC 76.

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