Saturday, August 25, 2007

UFC 74 Preview

Couture vs Gonzaga

Okay let me just say this from the get-go. I’m not buying the Gonzaga hype and I’ll see about catching a seat on his bandwagon later. Looking at the cold hard facts I see little reason for people to take him over Randy Couture who’s fought and beaten some of the best fighters in the world. It’s entirely possible that Gonzaga is going to prove all his fans correct but in looking at their respective records I have to say Couture will win.

Neither am I necessarily buying into this “this is the best Randy Couture we’ve ever seen” stuff. I do think that Randy is the better all around fighter and the most experienced by far. Look for him to be aggressive early so that, should it make it to the later rounds, he would have the advantage of experience and quite possibly stamina.

Randy technically sound on the standup, don’t look for his hands to dip low enough to allow a kick to the head. In fact Gonzaga would be better served utilizing low kicks, trying to chop the champ’s legs. If he lands a few it could really impact Randy’s speed and takedown attempts. Not that Gonzaga doesn’t want to go to the ground but it’s always nice to limit your opponent’s ability, not to mention that that is the best way to lower a fighter’s hands, by going low. If they go to the ground look for Randy to be on the top and I really wouldn’t expect him to get caught in a submission attempt from the guard at this stage of his career. Unfortunately, the Natural isn’t one of those guys who can do massive damage from the guard either, so he’ll need to improve his position which I think he could have trouble with. So, bottom line, we could see some stall-outs and stand-ups when it goes to the ground unless Randy can get to side control on his takedowns.

Some issue has been made of the fact that Randy has trouble with the big heavyweights but I don’t know that Gonzaga really qualifies. He’s the same height, or maybe even an inch shorter, and about twenty or thirty pounds heavier. That’s not exactly Ricco Rodriguez or Josh Barnett dimensions.

Winner: Randy Couture

Georges St. Pierre vs Josh Koscheck

Much talk in this fight has been about GSP’s heart. Against Matt Hughes, the first time he did have a mental lapse. Against Matt Serra though, I’m not sure he did. He got belted numerous times and got totally dominated yes but I’m not sure most other fighters wouldn’t have succumbed to those shots. If history is any lesson GSP comes back stronger after his losses. Just look at his overwhelming performance in the revenge match with Hughes. Has Koscheck fought anyone on Hughes’ level, the most dominant welterweight in the world, let alone beat them? Hell, no. Has he had a three round battle with BJ Penn? No. Koscheck is the fighter with something to prove, period.

There are several interesting facets of this fight. Can Kos, probably the best wrestler in the UFC now take down St. Pierre, one of the very best takedown defenders? Matt Hughes couldn’t in their second fight and he looks a bit stronger than Josh Koscheck. Can “Rush” take down Josh who has fantastic sprawl-work as well. Remember the Canadian took Sean Sherk down at will.

Also Josh’s hands look very strong against Diego, he seemed to be a better boxer than what GSP has shown himself to be but St. Pierre has the quicker hands and probably better kickboxing.

Winner: Georges St. Pierre

The rest of the card look to have some really nice looking fights. Huerta is an up and comer with strong all around skills, look for him to showcase them. Cote against Grove is a tough one to call. Grove’s toughness and stamina make him seem like he’s carved from wood or something. Cote though has serious punching power. I’ll take Grove but it could be a war. Mir vs Hardonk is intriguing. A former world champ, and BJJ stylist against a kickboxer. Look for this to go to the ground and Mir to win but Hardonk is improving and at some point he’s going to go on a tear, will this be that time?

My money says that the show stealing fight will be Clay Guida against Marcus Aurelio. Guida makes great fights, his bout with Tyson Griffin is probably my favorite all-time fight. Aurelio is a dangerous ground fighter who beat Pride champ Takanori Gomi in a shocker not too long ago.

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