UFC 99:Inside Fights Main Card Writer’s Picks

Brian Oswald:

Rich Franklin vs. Wanderlei Silva
Cheick Kongo vs. Cain Velasquez
Caol Uno vs. Spencer Fisher
Dan Hardy vs. Marcus Davis
Ben Saunders vs. Mike Swick
Mustapha al Turk vs. Mirko Cro Cop

Derek Bolender

Rich Franklin vs. Wanderlei Silva
Cheick Kongo vs. Cain Velasquez
Caol Uno vs. Spencer Fisher
Dan Hardy vs. Marcus Davis
Ben Saunders vs. Mike Swick
Mustapha al Turk vs. Mirko Cro Cop

Nate Lawson

Rich Franklin vs. Wanderlei Silva
Cheick Kongo vs. Cain Velasquez
Caol Uno vs.   Spencer Fisher
Dan Hardy vs. Marcus Davis
Ben Saunders vs. Mike Swick
Mustapha al Turk vs. Mirko Cro Cop

Aki Kuwabara

Rich Franklin vs. Wanderlei Silva
Cheick Kongo vs. Cain Velasquez
Caol Uno vs. Spencer Fisher
Dan Hardy vs. Marcus Davis
Ben Saunders vs. Mike Swick
Mustapha al Turk vs. Mirko Cro Cop

John Shubert

Rich Franklin vs. Wanderlei Silva
Cheick Kongo vs. Cain Velasquez
Caol Uno vs. Spencer Fisher
Dan Hardy vs. Marcus Davis
Ben Saunders vs. Mike Swick
Mustapha al Turk vs. Mirko Cro Cop

Jad Semann

Rich Franklin vs. Wanderlei Silva
Cheick Kongo vs. Cain Velasquez
Caol Uno vs. Spencer Fisher
Dan Hardy vs. Marcus Davis
Ben Saunders vs. Mike Swick
Mustapha al Turk vs. Mirko Cro Cop

Jessy Morris

Rich Franklin vs. Wanderlei Silva
Cheick Kongo vs. Cain Velasquez
Caol Uno vs. Spencer Fisher
Dan Hardy vs. Marcus Davis
Ben Saunders vs. Mike Swick
Mustapha al Turk vs. Mirko Cro Cop

Overall Results

Rich Franklin (5) vs. Wanderlei Silva (2)

Franklin gets the nod here for a couple reasons. Silva comes into this fight having lost four of his last five with three of those coming by brutal KO. His body has been battered for years by fighting at a weight class where he was at a distinct size disadvantage his entire career (including some fights at heavyweight). While he is actually younger than Franklin the mileage on his body is much greater than Franklin.
Franklin should also enjoy a reach advantage in this fight. Franklin was exposed by Anderson Silva on the inside with the muay thai clinch. While Wanderlei has great knees from the clinch it would be hard for him to get inside on Franklin who can stay on the outside unlike against Anderson Silva who he had to get inside of to strike.
Franklin should be able to use his length, create angles, and wear down Silva over the course of the fight. With limited exception Franklin doesn’t carry the type of KO power Silva does but he’s great at wearing his opponent down and finishing via TKO. Silva, as always, has more than a puncher’s chance, especially if he can get inside, but if Franklin executes his game plan he should get the win.

Cheick Kongo (1) vs. Cain Velasquez (6)

Cain is the pick here for one simple reason – wrestling. Granted he has never faced the level of striking Kongo possesses but Kongo has never faced the level of wrestling Velasquez has. Kongo had a lot of problems against lesser wrestlers in Carmello Marerro and Heath Herring and was unable to solve the problems they posed.

My only concern for Velasquez is that he has never faced anyone on the level of Kongo and he may try to beat him at his own game which is a dangerous proposition. Assuming he is humble enough to take direction and execute a game plan it should be a straightforward prescription of takedown, ground and pound, and repeat.

If Velasquez can execute and not get caught up in trying to finish with style on the feet it should be another win for the heavyweight phenom.

Caol Uno (2) vs. Spencer Fisher (5)

While many hardcore fans are excited to see Uno back in the Octagon it will probably be a short lived reunion. Uno is a tremendous grappler and if Uno can get the fight to the mat we could see this pick going the other way. However, I’m betting most people don’t see the fight getting that far and Fisher has to get the nod with his striking. For as long as Uno has been in the game his striking has never really evolved and that will ultimately be his downfall in this fight.

Dan Hardy (3) vs. Marcus Davis (4)

This appears to be the biggest toss up of the bunch. Both of these guys have displayed good striking. I think either man has a puncher’s chance but there are a couple reasons the nod goes to Davis. Davis has been in this game longer and has faced the better competition. He is more prepared through experience and his camp (the highly touted team Sityodtong) which gives him a distinct advantage.

I don’t think Davis will get caught up in all the smack talk once the fight hits the cage. If he does, Hardy could easily pull off the upset. Hardy is the young gun and my guess is he’s going to come out like he has something to prove. Davis, being the savvy veteran that he is, should be able to handle the hype and the pressure better. I think Davis will use his ring generalship to create angles and opportunities for himself while Hardy will probably come out wild.

I would recommend Davis take the fight to the mat where Hardy’s night would be over really quickly but I know he won’t do that. Hardy has talent and should have a nice future in this sport but I see Davis pulling this one out.

Ben Saunders (1) vs. Mike Swick (6)

While I personally picked Swick I was a little surprised at how one sided this was. A lot of people like Saunders to use his length and his brutal muay thai clinch to break down the speed of Swick.
I think Swick is the pick here for two reasons. First of all this is a huge test for Saunders. He’s never beaten anyone that anyone except for the 1% of hardcore MMA fans has ever heard of. Swick has been in the cage and fought some of the best in the world at 185 and 170 lbs.

On top of that Swick’s speed is a huge advantage. He had power at 185 and it has remained at 170 while his speed has improved. It’s a scary proposition for Saunders who will not see many of Swick’s punches coming.
If Saunders can somehow catch Swick, Swick could be in trouble, especially if he gets him in the clinch. However, I’m sure Swick’s all star crew at AKA has prepared him thoroughly for Saunders main offensive strategy. I think the tools are there for Saunders to pull the upset but Swick is just too fast and has too much experience to lose to Saunders right now.

Mustapha al Turk (0) vs. Mirko Cro Cop (7)

This fight is pretty much a no brainer. It was the only unanimous pick of the bunch and for good reason. Cro Cop had his issues in his last stint in the UFC but this fight was handpicked for him. His last two opponents in the UFC were good strikers and fairly heavy handed.

This time around he faces a submission grappler who would prefer to stand and bang. If you can’t see a brutal KO coming Al-turk’s way then I want whatever you’re smoking. Cro Cop may have trouble against the better competition at heavyweight but he’s destroyed the last two no name fighters he’s faced. Enough said.

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