Fantasy Preview - UFC 94

Stephen Quinn, UFC - St-Pierre vs Penn. It’s the epic rematch that everyone is talking about, and it’s almost here. But are you ready to make all the right picks in the UFC Fantasy game for GSP-Penn and the other bouts on Saturday’s UFC 94 card? Read on to make sure you’re up to speed on all the main card matchups.
By Stephen Quinn

St-Pierre vs Penn. It’s the epic rematch that everyone is talking about, and it’s almost here. But are you ready to make all the right picks in the UFC Fantasy game for GSP-Penn and the other bouts on Saturday’s UFC 94 card? Read on to make sure you’re up to speed on all the main card matchups.

STEPHAN BONNAR VS. JON JONES
This is Jones' opportunity to show that he can compete with the best in the UFC's stacked 205-pound division. Bonnar, on the other hand, has already shown that, but people will be tuning in to see if his recent knee injury makes him a different fighter.

After being sidelined for over a year because of reconstructive surgery on his knee, Bonnar is looking to get himself back into title contention. Best known for his all-out war against Forrest Griffin in the finale of season one of The Ultimate Fighter, Bonnar is sometimes overlooked because of the spotlight Griffin has received. But he is considered by some to be a big reason why the UFC is where it is today. On Saturday, Bonnar knows that by showing fans that his injury had no ill effect on his fighting ability, "The American Psycho" may only be a short distance away from a title shot.

With a perfect 7-0 record, Jon Jones wants to take the opportunity that has been given to him of being the first fight on Pay-Per-View to show people watching what he's all about. In his Octagon debut, Jones went the distance, winning a decision victory over Andre Gusmao. With his first fight inside the Octagon out of the way, he knows that a stellar performance will help him start his climb up the 205-pound ladder, but will also add fans along the way, as well.

Fans have become accustomed to the brawling style that Bonnar possesses. While on his feet, he has the ability to end each fight with a single punch. It will be interesting to see if Jones stands with him for any period of time. If Jones, a junior college national wrestling champion who will most likely be looking to bring the action to the canvas, is unsuccessful - he may be in for a long fight with "The American Psycho."

Method of Finish? Decision
Likely to go the Distance? Yes

KARO PARISYAN VS. DONG HYUN KIM
Karo Parisyan is facing what some consider to be the most important fight of his UFC career. In his last bout inside of the Octagon, Parisyan lost via TKO at the hands of Thiago Alves. Prior to that devastating defeat, Parisyan had run off three straight wins and displayed many of the skills needed to become a champion in the UFC. With wins over Josh Burkman, Drew Fickett, and Ryo Chonan, Parisyan was seemingly destined for a title shot. But with the caliber of fighters in that division, one loss can be costly. Losing two straight would likely dash any hopes of him becoming a No.1 contender in the near future.

Unblemished in his mixed martial arts career, Dong Hyun Kim, who is 11-0-1, knows the significance of beating a credible opponent like Karo Parisyan on Pay-Per-View. With two UFC victories already under his belt, over Matt Brown and Jason Tan, it is now time for him to show fans that he has the stamina to win a 15-minute fight and the ability to win in impressive fashion (Ironically, Parisyan's cardio had also been questioned earlier in his UFC career).

Throughout Parisyan's UFC career, fans have been amazed at his ability to throw opponents to the canvas. If Parisyan is able to bring Kim – a fellow judo black belt - to the canvas, expect him to use his power to wear Kim down - hoping for a TKO. Kim, meanwhile, seems to be comfortable wherever the fight ends up. Whether it's the first or third round, expect him to try and force Parisyan into making a mistake that he can end the fight with.

Method of Finish? TKO
Likely to go the Distance? No

NATE DIAZ VS. CLAY GUIDA
Known for his high-energy fighting style, Clay Guida is never an easy opponent for anyone. His goal of a title shot seemed jeopardized when he lost two consecutive fights to Din Thomas and Tyson Griffin. But since those losses, Guida has won three out of his last four, and looks to be nearing the top of the food chain at 155 pounds. With a division that is seemingly getting deeper by the day, Guida knows that he cannot afford to lose if he wants a shot at the title in the foreseeable future.

Winner of The Ultimate Fighter 5, Nate Diaz has continued to improve each time he has entered the Octagon during his five-fight winning streak, including wins over Kurt Pellegrino and Josh Neer. Although each of his fights have been televised, it's a completely different atmosphere when you're fighting on arguably the biggest fight card in recent history.

People often say it's not so much the fighters themselves that make or break a fight but the styles they possess. Well, if that saying holds true, we are all in for a treat come fight time. Guida is known for his relentless pace - trying to bring his opponents to the canvas and punish them from the top. Diaz, who holds a brown belt in jiu-jitsu, is perfectly comfortable and dangerous fighting off his back. If there is one negative to Guida's fighting pace it would be his tendency to make a few simple mistakes, and fighting someone with the jiu-jitsu caliber of Diaz, one mistake may lead to Guida being submitted.

Method of Finish? TKO
Likely to go the Distance? No

LYOTO MACHIDA VS. THIAGO SILVA
Records are meant to be broken and on Saturday one of these fighters will have their perfect record snapped.

People often criticize Machida for his methodical fight style, but it's hard to question a fighter who has a perfect 13-0 record. Quite obviously, he is getting the job done. When a fighter steps into the Octagon for a fight, one of their top priorities is to get hit as little as possible. Well, in all five of his fights inside of the Octagon, Machida has taken arguably the least amount of punishment of any UFC fighter during that span. In his last outing, Machida's methodical counterpunching style frustrated Tito Ortiz. Machida clearly showed that he had the mental advantage - seemingly neutralizing everything the former champ had to offer. Now that Machida has put together this long string of victories inside of the Octagon, he knows that a victory over a formable opponent like Thiago Silva may earn him a shot at UFC gold.

Like his opponent, Thiago Silva has put together an impressive winning streak that he hopes will continue on Saturday night. After winning four consecutive fights, he too knows that a chance at UFC gold is only fifteen minutes away. Since winning due to a freakish injury to James Irvin in his Octagon debut, Silva has gone on to win his past three fights - with only one foe making it out of the first round. Silva knows that Machida, a fellow Brazilian, will likely pose challenges that the American Top Team fighter has not seen in his UFC career.

Known for his karate and slow-paced fighting style, Machida will likely look to keep the fight standing - trying to eventually chip away at Silva and then, if he sees a big mistake, he may pounce and look for the finish. For Silva on the other hand, expect him to try and bring the action to the canvas, showing his black belt jiu-jitsu skills -- though Machida, too, is a BJJ black belt.

While Machida is normally content to win unanimous decisions, he has shown a killer instinct whenever he hurts his opponents or they dare to be aggressive with him. That is also what makes this fight so intriguing, because Silva -- unlike many of Machida's opponents -- has a reputation as an ultra-aggressive fighter who has a mean streak and likes to punish his foes. Yet Silva's aggression is perfectly suited to Machida's style, and may be just what Machida needs to truly show fans how dangerous and exciting he can be.

Method of Finish? Decision
Likely to go the Distance? Yes

GEORGES ST-PIERRE VS. BJ PENN
For the past three weeks, we have all gotten unprecedented access into the lives of both Georges St-Pierre and BJ Penn on 'UFC Primetime.' Cameras have followed the archrivals throughout their training camps leading up to their meeting on Saturday. Besides watching both fighters at home and in the gym, their escalating war of words has added to this already highly anticipated rematch.

After showing that he is the ultimate force at 155 pounds, Penn -- who once held the UFC welterweight title after dethroning Matt Hughes -- is looking to become the only fighter in UFC history to hold two different belts simultaneously. Although he has steamrolled the 155-pounders, with notable wins over former lightweight champions Jens Pulver and Sean Sherk, as well as Joe "Daddy" Stevenson, Penn is aware of the immense skills that St-Pierre possesses. But the pride of Hilo, Hawaii insists that he's going to make a statement on Saturday night. Prior to beating Pulver, Penn struggled through a tough time in his career - losing two consecutive fights. One of those losses came to St-Pierre. Although the judges sitting Octagonside didn't deem Penn to be the winner, many people believe "The Prodigy" did indeed win that night, especially since it was GSP's face that got busted up that night, not Penn's. Well, on Saturday night, Penn will get his chance to win the more significant of the two fights.

For all of BJ's unlimited potential, it would be hard to argue that there's been another fighter that has looked sharper inside of the Octagon than St-Pierre. With an impressive 17-2 record, his fight on Saturday will undoubtedly be his most important. With a 10-1 record in his past 11 fights, St-Pierre has put together notable wins over Sean Sherk, Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch, Matt Hughes, and of course, Penn.

It's hard to base your decision of who you think will win by analyzing their March of 2006 fight. Both St-Pierre and Penn have evolved into much better fighters. St. Pierre's wrestling, striking and Brazilian jiu-jitsu have all improved, and Penn seems to be taking the sport and his training much more seriously, and he has shown improved cardio during his recent outings. It's as if there will be two completely different fighters fighting on Saturday. Penn has vowed that he is a much more dedicated fighter then back in 2006 and St-Pierre has seemingly became a mentally stronger fighter - not to mention his alliance with Greg Jackson.

When the gate closes on Saturday, it will be interesting to see which game plan each fighter employs. People assume that St-Pierre will look to continue showing his ever improving standup skills. Penn, who is the first non-Brazilian to win a Mundials jiu-jitsu championship at the black-belt level, would welcome St-Pierre into a war on the ground, although Penn may need to find a way to put GSP on his back to fully exploit the welterweight champ on the ground. One thing that is nearly certain is that St-Pierre will look to push the pace on Penn, who has continually had his cardio called into question. With this being a 25-minute fight, Penn's stamina, or lack thereof, could drastically change the outcome of this championship bout.

Method of Finish? TKO
Likely to go the Distance? No

Médias

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