Today at Sydney, Australia's Acer Arena the Ultimate Fighting Championship will present UFC 127 featuring welterweight fighters Jon Fitch (23-3-0 with 1 no contest) and B.J. Penn (16-7-1). This pay-per-view looks poised to have its two biggest fights end in decison. This will not make UFC president Dana White happy because he hates decisons in big fights like Mike Mathison hates obnoxious parents at a Little League game.
Both fighters in the main event are looking to position themselves to sit atop the 170-pound division in the likelihood dominant weight class champion Georges St. Pierre defeats Jake Shields at UFC 129 and makes the rumored permanant move up to middleweight to take on Anderson Silva in a mixed martial arts super fight.
Penn comes off a 21-second destruction of former longtime welterweight kingpin Matt Hughes at UFC 123 in November. Penn has followed that up by training with his former nemesis, Hughes, to prepare for the strength and wrestling ability of Fitch who has been known to grind out many a decison with his superior wrestling skills.
Fitch, who is an incredible 13-1 in his UFC career, is still looking to shed his moniker as probably the best fighter in MMA to not hold a major championship in his career. His lone loss in the UFC came via decison to St. Pierre in his only title shot and he has been patiently waiting as he watches competetion inferior to himself get their cracks before he is sent back to the front of the line.
If the fighters stay on their feet and get in a standup war Penn should have a significant advantage and pick Fitch apart. Fitch has solid kickboxing from training with his American Kickboxing Academy teammates but let's not pretend he's something he's not. He's a wrestler and that is where his greatest advantage lies. If Fitch is able to secure takedowns I believe his strength and wrestling ability should counter Penn's world-class Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills.
I see the latter ocurring with Fitch grinding out a decision over Penn as "The Prodigy's" once legendary takedown defense has been tarnished by the success Frankie Edgar had in their two lightweight title fights.
The co-headliner features Michael Bisping (20-3) against Jorge Rivera (19-7) in what has become a heated grudge match.
Rivera has fueled the fire of this fight with a series of videos mocking the British fighter's accent and fighting style. While I don't typically get behind these sort of antics I have to admit that Rivera has been quite funny and he has seemed to get under Bisping's skin. The Monty Python and the Holy Grail spoof was my personal favorite. Rivera's goal with these videos is to draw Bisping into the one style of fight he can't beat Rivera at - an all-out brawl.
Bisping has won quite a few decisons in his time with the UFC since making a name for himself on the Ultimate Fighter Season Three. He is far too technical a striker for Rivera to box with and while his ground game isn't world class it is superior to Rivera's.
Rivera on the otherhand has explosive punching power and can end a fight at any moment. If Rivera can draw Bisping into exchanging punches with him it is likely that "The Count" will be the one that falls first.
I don't see that happening though as Bisping will not be drawn out of his style of fight by Rivera's trash talk and he will be the one talking after a decison win. I wouldn't mind being wrong though as seeing Rivera drop Bisping the way Dan Henderson did would warm the cockles of my heart.
The rest of the main card pay-per-view-card features George Sotiropoulos (14-2) against Dennis Siver (17-7) in a lightweight battle, Chris Lytle (30-17-5) against Brian Ebersole (46-14-1 with 1 no contest) in a welterwight skirmish, and Kyle Noke (18-4-1) against Chris Camozzi (14-3) in a middleweight fight.
Sotiropoulos is an Australian native who is lining himself up for a future lightweight title shot. Currently it is thought that if he can win this fight and one more he will put himself in position to get a chance at the championship after the winner of the Edgar, Gray Maynard rematch takes on WEC champion Anthony Pettis in a unification fight.
I believe that Sotiropoulos will come out a little tight fighting in front the Australian fans but he is a superior fighter to Siver both standing and on the ground and should come away with the win. Both fighters have won a majority of their fights by submission and in those types of fights where both fighters have the same strength it usually comes down to another aspect of the fight. That's why I think Sotiropoulos will get teh third round knockout.
Lytle against Ebersole has fight of the night candidate written all over it. Well any fight with Lytle in has that potential as he is one of the most exciting fighters in the game and he loves to put on a stand up war for the fans.
Ebersole is making his UFC debut after 62 career fights and many who finally get their shot after that kind of wait have withered under the lights. Not to mention he is a replacement for the injured Carlos Condit. Ebersole should do his best to avoid getting into a standup battle with Lytle as he is more known for his submissions.
Unfortunately for him Lytle also has a terrific ground game that will prevent Ebersole from being able to submit him and Lytle should be able to keep it standing long enough to show where his biggest advantage is. Look for Lytle to secure a second round knockout of Ebersole. Lytle is a gatekeeper who tends to lose only to top fighters. Ebersole is not ready to walk through the gate.
Noke and Camozzi are two guys trying to make a name for themselves in the UFC middleweight division. Both fighters sit at 2-0 in their UFC careers and are looking to use eachother as a launching pad into bigger and better fights.
I believe Noke is the more well-rounded fighter and he has finished both his fights on the big stage, one by submission and one by TKO, while Camozzi has won his two fights by unanimous and split decisions against similar level competition. Look for Noke to secure a guillotine choke for the win in the second round.