UFC 114 Preview & Picks

One of the most anticipated fights in recent UFC history is finally going to happen. “Suga” Rashad Evans and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson are headlining UFC at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.

The two fighters have been trash-talking since Jackson’s victory over Keith Jardine in March 2009. After the fight, Evans and Jackson exchange words in the ring and they have been feuding ever since.

They were set to face off a year ago in a title bout at UFC 98. Evans was supposed to defend his light heavyweight title against the former champion, but the injuries Jackson suffered in his UFC 96 fight kept him from stepping into the cage. Lyoto Machida took Jackson’s place and beat Evans by knockout in the second round.

The UFC didn’t want to let the rivalry slip and selected Evans and Jackson as coaches for The Ultimate Fighter Season 10. The two showed their dislike for each other on the show and kept the rivalry going. Team Rashad dominated the Season. Marcus Jones was the only fighter from Team Rampage to advance past the preliminary round. He made it to the semifinals where he lost to Brendan Schaub.

* all odds in the headlines are from Bodog

Rashad Evans (-125) vs. Quinton Jackson (-105)

Bodog has Suga as the favorite, while Bookmaker has both fighters at -115.

Evans holds a 19-1-1 record in his MMA career. He is the quicker of the two and that might be his way to victory Saturday. Jackson (30-7-0 in MMA) is known for his power, but this strength might be fading. His last UFC knockout victory came almost a year and a half ago against Wanderlei Silva at UFC 92. Three of his last four fights went the full distance as he beat Jardine and Dan Henderson by unanimous decision and lost to Forrest Griffin in the same manner.

While Jackson might not be as powerful as he used to be, Evans knows about his opponent’s strength. He will try to use his own strength, his takedown ability. He will try to avoid a stand-up brawl and get Jackson down to the ground early.

Jackson’s background in wrestling could come in to play here. He wrestled for Raleigh-Egypt High School where he received All State honors. He went on to wrestle at the Junior College level and then decided to switch to MMA.

In pictures recently released on CombatLifestyle.com, Rampage looks in great shape. He will be ready to take on the quick Evans and might surprise with his ground game. I think he has a good shot at beating Evans and if you feel the same way, you should hit up Bodog for more value in the odds.

Michael Bisping (-170) vs. Dan Miller (+140)
Bookmaker has Bisping at -190 and Miller at +150.

Bisping (19-3-0 in MMA) is the favorite in this bout, and rightfully so. Miller (11-3-0) comes off of two straight losses, and his strengths might be negated by Bisping’s style of fighting in this match. Miller relies heavily on his Jiu-Jitsu background and tries to go for the takedown the majority of the time.

Bisping will make this difficult for Miller by applying his stick and move technique. He moves into his opponent to land a quick blow and then moves back out of range, making it hard for Miller to get him to the ground.
If Miller manages the takedown however, Bisping could be in trouble. However, he is known to adapt to any situation he faces and I see him winning this fight.
If you are with me, Bodog is the place for you to go. If you think Miller can score the upset, check out Bookmaker’s odds for better value.

Todd Duffee (-325) vs. Mike Russow (+250)
Bookmaker: Duffee (-341), Russow (+271)

Duffee made history in UFC 102 scoring the quickest knockout in the organization’s history. It took him only seven seconds to dispose of Tim Hague. Duffee, fighting out of Las Vegas, holds a perfect 6-0-0 record in his MMA career, with his only UFC fight coming in the seven-second destruction of Duffee.

The record setting performance and his punching ability have made Duffee the clear-cut favorite for Saturday’s fight, but Russow can’t be overlooked. The 33 year-old out of Kankakee, Ill. holds the edge in experience and is one of the most underrated heavyweights in the organization. He has won his last eight fights, including his sole UFC appearance, a victory over Justin McCully by unanimous decision at UFC 102.

If you are looking for good value in an underdog, this bout might be the one for you. Russow’s 12 years in the sport could provide enough experience to surprise the up-and-coming Duffee.

Jason Brilz (+475) vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (-675)
Bookmaker: Brilz (+450), Nogueira (-600)

This is the most lopsided fight of the night. Brilz replaced Forrest Griffin who isn’t able to fight because of a shoulder injury.
Brilz will try to knockout Nogueira with his heavy punches. He is going for the big blow at all times and this will be his problem Saturday night. Nogueira can box, and he will find the right moments to hit Brilz with counter-punches.
Noguiera also has shown more stamina in his fights, and he will be the better fighter, should this bout go on for a long time. His experience in jiu-jitsu will allow him to keep up with Brilz in the ground game.
Barring the biggest upset of the night, Nogueira should handle this one easily.

John Hathaway (+170) vs. Diego Sanchez (-210)
Bookmaker: Hathaway (+172), Sanchez (-212)

Hathaway, 22, comes into the fight with a perfect 13-0-0 record. He beat Paul Taylor (UFC 105 – Unanimous Decision), Rick Story (UFC 99 – Unanimous Decision) and Tom Egan (UFC 93) in his three fights in the UFC. He is a well rounded fighter and might be able to land an upset here.

However, Sanchez brings eight years of MMA experience to the table. He won ten of his 13 UFC bouts, his last victory coming against Clay Guida at the Ultimate Fighter Team US vs Team UK Finale. He is well-rounded as well and holds the edge in the grappling department.

This one will be a close fight, and it might go the distance. While Hathaway isn’t a lock to score the upset, the +172 seems like good value.

Dong Hyun Kim (+115) vs. Amir Sadollah (-145)

Bookmaker: Kim (EV), Sadollah (-130)

Sadollah’s is well-rounded and seems to improve from fight to fight. He has the advantage in striking over Kim and has a background in Muay Thai and Sambo. His lack of experience could be a problem – he has only five MMA bouts to show for.

Kim is the more experienced fighter and is well-rounded as well. He might be less effective with his striking than Sadollah, but his ability to control his opponents could be decisive here. He comes into the fight with a 12-0-1, 1 NC record.

This should be another close fight, with the slightly better chances on Sadollah’s side.
Efrain Escudero (-500) vs. Dan Lauzon (+325)

Bookmaker: Escudero (-500), Lauzon (+350)

Escudero (13-1-0 – UFC: 2-1-0) comes in as the clear-cut favorite.  For the young age of 24, the fighter from San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico has a lot of fights to show for. Escudero’s strength is the ground game and he holds a strong advantage over Lauzon in this aspect of the fight.

Lauzon, 22, has a lot of fights to show for himself, but his two UFC fights ended in losses. Lauzon’s impatience could be his biggest downfall. It got him in trouble Spencer Fisher at UFC 64 and Cole Miller at UFC 104.

This one should be an easy win for Escudero.

Melvin Guillard (-295) vs. Waylon Lowe (+235)

Bookmaker: Guillard (-310), Lowe (+250)

Guillard is more experienced and more athletic. He holds the advantage in striking and should dispose of Lowe handily.
Luiz Cane (-500) vs. Cyrille Diabate (+325)

Bookmaker: Cane (-355), Diabate (+285)

Cane is stronger on the ground and if he can get the takedown, he will dominate Diabate. He has to watch for Diabate’s strong striking, but overall he is the better fighter. This is Diabate’s first fight in the UFC and I don’t see him beating Cane.

Joe Brammer (+145) vs. Aaron Riley (-175)

Bookmaker: Brammer (+165), (-205)

Better value fort he underdog here on Bookmaker. Riley is better-rounded and has more experience, but if Brammer can get Riley on the ground, he has a shot with his strong submission techniques.
Jesse Forbes (-125) vs. Ryan Jensen (-105)

Bookmaker: Forbes (-140), Jensen (+110)

There’s some value in Bokmaker’s +110 line. This will be a close one and Jensen has a legitimate shot at winning. He is 1-4 in his UFC career, but that doesn’t mean much when he faces off against Fobes, who lost all three of his UFC bouts.

Forbes will try to use his power and speed against the well-rounded Jensen. Jensen seems to have a slight advantage in the standup game, but this one will be a tight bout.

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