UFC 111 Inside Fights Roundtable

UFC 111 is set for Newark, New Jersey on March 27 and features a welterweight championship between Georges St. Pierre and Dan Hardy. Also on the card is a heavyweight interim title fight between Frank Mir and Shane Carwin. The full main card is set for 10 p.m. ET on Sat. night.

Take a look at the Inside Fights UFC 111 Roundtable, as we examine the evening’s match ups and pick the winners for tomorrow night.

Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre vs. Dan Hardy

Shawn Smith: Everyone seems to think that the only chance that Dan Hardy has in this fight is a “one punch” opportunity, but he is a well-rounded fighter. He’s just not “on that level” yet, but he’s highly likeable and marketable and will rebound from this loss just fine. St. Pierre by TKO (Round 2)

John Schubert: I’m picking St. Pierre by submission in the second round. I don’t think he’s brave/stupid enough to stand toe to toe with Hardy. GSP will take Hardy down and pound on him until he makes a mistake and leaves an appendage open for the tap out.

Will Cooling: St. Pierre is the most complete, well-rounded mixed martial artist fighting today. He is the best wrestler in the sport, and in his last two fights has out-grappled a BJJ specialist in BJ Penn and out-struck the KO machine Thiago Alves. His athleticism is second to none – allowing him to develop a style that is a superb mixture of speed and strength. On the other hand, Dan Hardy can punch really, really hard. I would love to see Dan Hardy win but I just don’t see it happening. indeed, I expect George St. Pierre to finish Hardy before the championship rounds. I will however love to be proven wrong once again by The Outlaw.

Nate Lawson: There has been a lot of talk surrounding Hardy’s striking power, it won’t be enough to put away a disciplined champion. St. Pierre knows how to handle strikers and will be able to get this fight down early and often en route to a unanimous decision.

Frank Mir vs. Shane Carwin – Interim Heavyweight Championship

Shawn Smith: I hate how this is suddenly an “Interim Heavyweight Title” fight. Brock Lesnar, the champion, will be back in July presumably, so he’s still the champ until he is stripped. This is a number one contender bout; even Vince McMahon would get that angle correct. The matter of who his opponent is, however, will be decided at UFC 111. While I would rather see a Cain Velasquez-Lesnar fight in July, I think that Shane Carwin has the edge here (or will at least pull out the win somehow), setting up the goliath title fight in July. Mir can then fight either Velasquez or Junior dos Santos in the Summer to determine the number one contender at that time, and we’ll take it from there. But for this weekend, Shane Carwin via Split Decision.

John Schubert: I’m picking Carwin by KO in the second round. Mir could easily be too fast and technical for Carwin, but I just don’t believe he can stay untouched for five rounds. Carwin’s power is so devastating I just believe Carwin will drop him eventually.

Will Cooling: This is a fight that could easily go either way. Shane Carwin may lack the experience of Mir, but all he needs to do is land one big shot on Frank’s chin and the fight is over. To me, that’s a nice way of saying that Carwin has a puncher’s chance. A really good puncher’s chance, but a puncher’s chance none the less. Mir is the more rounded fighter, with the ability to test the unproven submission defense of Carwin and exploit the technical gaps in his stand-up. Providing he can avoid the big shot early on, Mir should have enough to finish Carwin in the second round.

Nate Lawson: Carwin boasts the heaviest hands in all of mixed martial arts and allegedly has a solid background in wrestling to back it up. However, throughout his 10 professional fights, we are yet to see him utilize his wrestling. If his ground game is as good as some would assume, he would certainly have a good chance of taking the victory. However, Mir is a more fluid, technical striker with solid submission skills. A second round stoppage due to strikes would fit the bill.

Ben Saunders vs. Jon Fitch

Shawn Smith: Ben Saunders like challenges. After a loss to Mike Swick at UFC 99, Saunders stepped into the Octagon again for a battle with Marcus Davis that ended with his hands raised in triumph after a decisive knockout. Jon Fitch is well, a blanket. He bores me, kills the crowd, isn’t exciting and while I was looking forward to the clash of styles against Thiago Alves at UFC 111 (Alves had to pull out due to his CT Scan “irregularity”), I still have hope that this fight will be just as vicious. Here’s me going out on limb. Ben Saunders shocks the world. By world, I mean Joe Silva and UFC fans. Ben Saunders by KO in Round 1.

John Schubert: Fitch by decision. Fitch’s takedowns and top control will stifle Saunders’ striking and jiu-jitsu. It won’t be pretty, but Fitch earns another win over anyone not named St. Pierre.

Will Cooling: Poor Ben Saunders. Thanks to the Thiago Alves’ MRI complications, he gets to step in against the man puts the ‘best’ in the title ‘The Second Best Fighter In The Division’. While he doesn’t have the most exciting style and when he finally earns that rematch against George St. Pierre its going to be another one-sided massacre, Fitch is head and shoulders above any other full-time welterweight in the UFC and will be too much for poor Ben Saunders.

Nate Lawson: Ben Saunders better be prepared to work off of his back in this fight. Fitch will look to bring it to the floor as often as he possibly can. Saunders does have solid jiu-jitsu under Ricardo Liborio and he could certainly be a threat off of his back. However, the fight starts on the feet in all three rounds and one of those times, Saunders will get a chance to utilize his striking. I’m going Saunders via technical knockout in Round 2 for my upset pick of the evening.

Kurt Pellegrino vs. Fabricio Camoes

Shawn Smith: I wish I had more so to say, but I just think that “Batman” will win. Let’s, for these intents and purposes, chalk it up to “ginger intuition”.

John Schubert: Pellegrino by decision. Pellegrino’s grappling will be too tough for Camoes to overcome in only his second UFC fight. Also, Pellegrino will have the whole arena behind him being a Jersey boy and all.

Will Cooling: With his hometown fans cheering him on, I expect Pellegrino to be too much for Camoes. Should be a good, competitive fight though.

Nate Lawson: Pellegrino’s improvements over his last couple of fights have been very noticeable. The guy loves to learn and progress in this sport. Camoes is going to be a tricky guy in most areas, but Pellegrino holds an advantage in just about everything. I’m going with the hometown boy via unanimous decision.

Jim Miller vs. Mark Bocek

Shawn Smith: Gingers need to stick together. I like Bocek, he’s a solid fighter with his only UFC losses coming to Mac Danzig and Frankie Edgar. I think he’s in for a big night. Jim Miller is riding a three fight win streak with wins over Duane Ludwig and Mac Danzig. He’s well-rounded and well conditioned, and, with Thiago Alves off the card, this fight (save for the main events) is the one we’ll be most interested in. Mark Bocek via submission in Round 1.

John Schubert: Miller by decision. Both guys are strong grapplers but I like Miller’s wrestling better. Plus Miller will also have the home field advantage. I think he grinds out a win in top control.

Will Cooling: A really pick-em fight here, with both guys having put together a decent run in the lightweight division and having convincingly won their last fights, admittedly against lesser opposition. The key will be whether Miller can use his wrestling in reverse and keep the fight on the feet. If he can, then with his improving stand-up he should have enough to best Bocek standing.My hunch is that while it’ll be close, eventually Bocek will be able to overwhelm Miller and get the submission.

Nate Lawson: This is an intriguing fight and a tough one to call. Bocek is an active fighter on the ground with his submission game, but Miller is a dangerous grappler as well. Miller should be able to keep this fight standing and beat Bocek up for three rounds en route to a unanimous decision victory.

Nate Diaz vs. Rory Markham

Shawn Smith: Nate Diaz is a well-rounded and, while a bit ornery, very likeable fighter. Rory Markham is a knock-out away from becoming very well-known, so having this fight headline the Spike TV coverage makes perfect sense. Rory Markham via TKO in Round 2.

John Schubert: Diaz by decision. Diaz has the length and striking skills to win on the feet even with limited power. Obviously he’s the better fighter on the ground but I don’t know if the fight will go there. Markham’s also been out for a year and Diaz has an iron jaw.

Will Cooling: I’m really looking forward to seeing Nate Diaz at welterweight. To me, he always looked slightly undersized at lightweight and there’s a good chance he’ll be able to follow the example of his brother and gain in power and strength while moving up a weight class. I’d expect him to send a message to the rest of the division by outclassing Rory Markham.

Nate Lawson: Diaz has never been a fan of the weight cut to get to 155 pounds, and now he doesn’t have to do it anymore. I think a happy Nate Diaz utilizes his length and constant punches to frustrate Markham on the feet. When the frustration leads to an opening, Diaz will look for a finish with a guillotine choke in the third round.

Ricardo Almeida vs. Matt Brown

Shawn Smith: This will be the second time I have had the privilege of seeing each of these fighters in person. I am big fan of The New Jersey native Almeida, but would like to see something other than a decision victory from him. He’s a Renzo Gracie product, so we can only hope he’s set for the challenge and wants another UFC submission win under his belt. On the other hand, Matt Brown needs wins like this on his resume to be seen as more than “that guy from The Ultimate Fighter that didn’t want to fight Amir (Sadollah) and kind of just sucked in that fight”. Matt Brown needs to come out vicious and focused like he has in his last two fights (which lead to two TKO stoppages). Ricardo Almeida via decision

John Schubert: Almeida by submission in the second round. They’re both tough grapplers and everyone is talking up Brown. Maybe I’m stuck in the past but I still believe Almeida’s ridiculous jiu jitsu game will win out.

Will Cooling: While Brown has put together a decent set of performances since The Ultimate Fighter, his weakness is still on the ground with Wilks almost stealing a victory against him at UFC 105 with an armbar in the third round. Experienced grappler Almeida is well placed to exploit that weakness and I’d expect him to get the submission victory on Saturday.

Nate Lawson: Brown is extremely confident with wherever the fight takes him, and that will be his downfall. Almeida’s wrestling and submission game are going to be too powerful for Brown to handle, and I see a second round submission victory for Almeida.

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