Fedor Emelianenko vs. Andrei Arlovski
This is a really strange fight. The buildup to the fight has centered on Andrei Arlovksi and whether or not he’s capable of being the man who can finally dethrone the Last Emperor. That’s not the weird part, though; the strange thing is that somehow, for some inexplicable reason, people are actually believing that Arlovski has a real shot at beating Emelianenko.
I think everyone is so desperate for a real challenger to Emelianenko’s mythical throne that they tend to forget who Fedor is. Before the Tim Sylvia fight last July, I saw plenty of people predicting a Sylvia win; that didn’t happen, but it’s not stopping people from doing the same thing for the fight against Arlovksi.
Arlovksi has exactly one advantage over Emelianenko: his boxing. Training with the legendary Freddie Roach has taken his already good boxing skills to the next level, giving him a technique advantage over the Russian. But while Arlovksi may be more technically sound, Emelianenko hits harder than anyone else in the heavyweight division outside of Brock Lesnar, and mixing that with his very good striking game equals a dimension that can almost negate Arlovski’s boxing game entirely.
Fedor is far more polished in every other aspect of mixed martial arts than Arlovski. If this were a boxing match, then I would likely pick Arlovksi to win, but it’s not. In the game of mixed martial arts, there is no fighter more complete than Fedor Emelianenko, and Andrei Arlovsi is going to find that out the hard way on Saturday night.
Picking against Fedor is neither “cool” nor “risky” — it’s downright stupid.
PREDICTION: Fedor Emelianenko by submission, Round One
Josh Barnett vs. Gilbert Yvel
I’m still reeling from the news that Gilbert Yvel was actually licensed to fight. I fully expected the licensing charade to continue until Friday, when Affliction would announce that Yvel couldn’t be licensed after all, and that Barnett would be facing off against Ben Rothwell, Roy Nelson or some other fat dude, where a win would magically earn him a title shot against Fedor.
It doesn’t matter if Barnett wins this fight, because he’s not getting a shot at Emelianenko either way. It’s not because he doesn’t deserve it, because his past record would certainly indicate that he does. I don’t think Barnett will get a title shot because I think Day of Reckoning will be Affliction’s last show.
What does Josh Barnett have to look out for in his fight against Yvel? Eye gouges, biting and groin shots would be a good place to start. Gilbert is a master of all of those art forms, and it’ll be a short fight if Barnett hasn’t trained to be ready for all of them. Knowing Yvel the way I do, it’s highly likely that he knows Barnett is probably ready for those dirty tactics, so he’s probably worked up some new ones to surprise Josh with. Be on the lookout for hooking (where you take your finger, put it in your opponents mouth, and try to rip his cheek out from the inside), headbutts and perhaps even using the referee as a human shield.
In all seriousness, this is a fight Josh Barnett will win nine times out of ten. I fully expect that this Saturday night will be one of those nine times.
PREDICTION: Josh Barnett by TKO, Round Two
Vitor Belfort vs. Matt Lindland
This will be the fight where I go outside to check the grill and magically stay there until the fight is over.
To be honest, watching Matt Lindland fight is barely more exciting than watching paint dry. To help you understand just how boring Matt Lindland is, I drew up a quick list of the most boring things I could think of:
1. Watching the Houston Comets
2. Watching the grass grow
3. Watching Matt Lindland fight
4. Watching paint dry
As you see, it’s right up there.
I know I haven’t offered much in the way of an outstanding preview for this fight, but that’s only because my eyes glaze over and I start drooling whenever I think about watching it. I’m going to go with Vitor Belfort in this fight simply because my conscience will not allow me to pick Matt Lindland.
PREDICTION: Vitor Belfort by TKO, Round One
Renato “Babalu” Sobral vs. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou
I think Sokoudjou is going to be a fish out of water in this fight. As much as I dislike Sobral, it’s easy to see that he’s a much more well rounded fighter than Sokoudjou. The African Assassin has striking skills to spare, but it was proven during his UFC run that if you can get him off his feet and take the fight to the ground, your chances of beating him rise exponentially.
Sokoudjou has a gas tank that’s barely bigger than Mark Coleman’s, and I think he’ll fall into the same pattern of expending his energy early going for the kill, gas out, and then either get choked out or pounded into oblivion by the much more talented Sobral.
PREDICTION: Renato Sobral by submission, round two
Paul Buentello vs. Kiril Sidelnikov: The fact that they call him “Little Fedor” is enough for me to predict that Fedor’s protege will take this fight. Sidelnikov by TKO, Round Two
Vladamir Matyushenko vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: Little Nog isn’t nearly as talented as his brother, but he’s certainly talented enough to dispatch Matyushenko. Nogueira by decision.
Jay Hieron vs. Jason High: Heiron’s highest profile career fight came in a loss against Georges St. Pierre at UFC 48. High can claim a victory over Kevin Burns at a Victory Fighting Championship show back in 2007. Neither one is going anywhere. High by TKO, Round Two.
L.C. Davis vs. Bao Quach: Davis has a stellar career record, with his only loss coming to Wagnney Fabiano late in 2007. Quach has an awesome name, and he also lost to Wagnney Fabiano. Davis by TKO, round one.
Antonio Duarte vs. Albert Rios: Duarte loves to work for submissions (and especially chokes), and he’ll do the same here. I’ve never actually seen Rios fight, so it’s tough to make an accurate prediction. Duarte by submissions, Round Three
Patrick Speight vs. Brett Cooper: This fight was clearly made to give the fans an exciting fight to open the show, because both of these guys like to trade punches. Call it Marcus Davis vs. Chris Lytle, except not nearly as good. Speight by TKO.
Tags: Affliction, Andrei Arlovski, Fedor Emelianenko, gilbert yvel, Josh Barnett, Mixed Martial Arts