I've included a video of my predictions for the three main fights on the main card. As you can see, I get plenty of sleep. Nothing like real-time news coverage to ensure you get a solid eight hours every night. Regardless, if you disagree or agree with my picks in the video or here in print, please provide feedback. Especially on the CroCop pick because I know some of you are going to accuse me of insanity.
In any event, here are the official predictions for the entire UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones card:
An extremely tough fight to call. Jones' liabilities are real. He has never been hurt in a fight and had to battle through adversity. He's never had an opponent get in his face and put him on the defensive. I don't know if Shogun will do that, but he's capable. Shogun, by contrast, will not be able to stop Jones' takedowns whatsoever. I also don't think he's going to be able to scramble to his feet or threaten from his back. That is ultimately where I think the fight will be decided. Shogun can win, especially if the fight goes long, but I don't think it's likely. Jones by TKO.
Wineland is very athletic, a hard puncher and has excellent hand combinations. But that's not enough for Faber. The Sacramento native is going to stay out of range until he gets the right moment to get inside. From there I suspect some sort of grappling battle to eventually go Faber's way. Faber by submission.
As I indicated in the video, I like CroCop here. I have no idea where he is in his career and I have a ton of respect for Schaub. He's athletic, well-trained and very capable. I just think CroCop's patience might be enough as Schaub charges in to pick the right shot. CroCop by TKO.
I don't expect Dan to do much here. He's either going to get outstruck on the feet or taken down and smashed. I respect Miller enormously, but this is not his day. He's simply out of his league here. Marquardt by KO.
Could be a boring fight. Two fighters with excellent defensive wrestling and sub-standard striking. But Shalorus is the better wrestler. While technically deficient standing, he's heavy-handed. Still, Miller's the better MMA fighter generally speaking. That should be enough. Miller by decision.
On Spike at 9 p.m. ET:
Luiz Cane vs. Eliot Marshall
I like Marshall, but this is a tough fight for him. Cane's a far superior striker, possesses decent takedown defense and is an adept BJJ player. He's also bloodthirsty. I can see moments where Marshall controls Cane physically, but can't hurt or finish him. Cane by TKO.
A dynamite match-up between two strikers. Njokuani's length gives me pause, but Barboza is more well-rounded (particularly in jiu-jitsu). More importantly, he's also quicker and shows better movement. It's close standing, but I expect Barboza to take over as the fight goes on. Barboza by TKO.
On Facebook at 8 p.m. ET:
Ricardo Almeida vs. Mike Pyle
I actually think this one is close and hard to predict. Almeida is the better pure grappler and maybe even the better wrestler. But Pyle's talented, battle-tested and more well-rounded. Pyle by TKO.
Tibau's not only bigger, stronger and probably a better MMA wrestler than Pellegrino, he also uses distance better. Pellegrino's going to have problems scoring points in virtually every dimension of the game. He might make for interesting scrambles, but that's about it. Tibau by decision.
Joseph Benavidez vs. Ian Loveland
Loveland looked good against Tyler Toner, but this ain't Shootboxing and he's going to mat in a hurry against Benavidez. Benavidez by submission.
I've been very impressed by Erik Koch and I like him in this fight. Assuncao is very, very technically sound. He's also an underrated wrestler, which I suspect will give Koch problems. Ultimately, though, I like Koch's guard and scrambling to open up opportunities and I suspect Koch will be able to score points on the feet in between. Koch by decision.
Not much to say about this bout. Philippou has decent boxing and obviously good BJJ coming from the Serra camp, but the wrestling of Catone is likely going to be too much. Catone by decision.