Friday, 3 February 2012

UFC 143: Best of the Rest Preview

UFC 143 is one of the most stacked cards we have seen in a while.  It features the biggest fight in the welterweight division for years, a fun heavyweight bout and a fight between super exciting bantamweight.  Previews of Diaz vs Condit and Nelson vs Werdum are already out, here we go with two other fights from the main card.

Koscheck vs Pierce
Recent History

  • Josh Koscheck has been itching to fight since his TKO win over Matt Hughes at UFC 135 and was originally slated to fight Carlos Condit this weekend.
  • Mike Pierce has been hovering around this level of opponent for some time without really breaking through.
  • At UFC on FOX 1, he defeated Paul Bradley by an underwhelming split decision.

Josh Koscheck is a powerful wrestler who has spent great effort bringing his boxing up to speed.  So much so, that for a time he neglected his wrestling.  Against Matt Hughes there was little needed for that grappling acumen as he knocked the veteran out in some style.  Having only fought once in over 12 months, it is tricky to predict how Koscheck will have developed.  He will surely still be a powerful and explosive wrestler capable of taking down most opponents at welterweight, but will he look to utilize powerful boxing too?

Mike Pierce is another heavy handed wrestler and a bit of a decision machine.  His hands are sloppier than Koscheck's and his wrestling style more grind than explosion.

Head to Head
To my mind, Koscheck has some of the best MMA wrestling in the UFC and I cannot see Pierce matching him there.  In spite of progress in the boxing skills of both guys, neither man is the new Mike Tyson.  For that reason, on the feet this could go either way with both men powerful enough to connect with a knockout blow but sloppy enough to let one in.

For that reason, expect to see Koscheck attempt to control Pierce on the mat and work him over with ground and pound.  Pierce should employ defensive wrestling and take his chances on the feet.


Koscheck by unanimous decision.

Renan Barao vs Scott Jorgensen

Recent History
  • Barao beat British contender Brad Pickett by first round submission at UFC 138 to extend his winning streak to a formiddable twenty seven fights.
  • Since losing to Dominic Cruz in December 2010, Jorgensen has looked great against Jeff Curran and Ken Stone.
  • Given that bantamweight is a relatively shallow division, the winner of this bout could well be close to title shot.

Before I saw Renan Barao defeat Brad Pickett at UFC 138, I was not sure if this youngster was a legitimate contender or someone with a padded record.  That fight proved that the Nova Uniao product has what it takes to destroy top level competition.  And destroy is the right word.  Barao is well rounded with the capacity to transition from standing to ground, to submissions in the blink of an eye.  He has great power and a diversity to his strikes that reminds me of his team mate Jose Aldo.  He has the chin and the aggressive mentality to make the most of these characteristics as he takes the chances necessary to land killer blows.

Jorgensen is another exciting and well rounded fighter.  He has an explosive kickboxing arsenal and the ability to take the fight to the ground should he need to.  In the video below he highlights his wrestling background and he will sure look to employ that to control the Brazilian.

Head to Head
While both fighters are aggressive, powerful and tough with the ability to fight wherever the fight goes, Barao has the advantage in two key areas.  He has a fluid and creative approach to all aspects of the game, so that he can take advantage of almost any glimpse of an opening.  This aided also by his immense speed..  Jorgensen will find this speed deficit tricky to deal with.  The American is in danger of being out thought and out struck.

Barao by TKO, round 2.

More UFC 143 Coverage from jiMMA

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