Saturday night the UFC will kick off the fall season with plenty of fireworks to make the Fourth of July Jealous. UFC 135 will be live from the Pepsi Center in mile high Denver, Colorado tomorrow, September 24. Headlined by a light heavyweight title bout between current champion Jon “Bones” Jones and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, UFC also boasts a solid supporting lineup of fights sure to entertain the masses before Sunday football. Check out our picks and give us yours to see how we do tomorrow night!
Jon “Bones” Jones vs. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson
If you’re not excited for this fight, please check your pulse! Rampage always makes for an entertaining fight, and Jones does nothing but improve and impress with each minute in the cage. It will be interesting to watch Jones’ unorthodox style matchup against Rampage’s headhunting and incredible wrestling skills. The problem area for Jones will be his lengthy reach. If Rampage can find a way to close the distance he will have a solid chance at landing some devastating strikes, as he only needs mere inches to power up his fists. Problems arise for Rampage if the fight goes beyond three rounds. Even though he looked great at the weigh ins today, I don’t see his gas tank improving that much. Watch for Bones to keep his distance to throw some crazy kicks and strikes, and watch Rampage look for the takedown from minute one.
Pick: Don’t expect Jones to handle Rampage the way he did Shogun. I expect Jon Jones to pull off a decision victory, but I won’t be surprised if Rampage pulls off the “upset” and gets the TKO in round 2 or 3.
Matt Hughes vs. Josh Koscheck
This fight will be pretty interesting. Both are coming off devastating losses, and have identical 5 fight records (loss, followed by three wins then another loss). The difference between their losses is Hughes is coming off a 21 second knock out loss to B.J. Penn, while Koscheck went through a 5 round boxing clinic taught by GSP and his jab. The result was a crushed orbital and desire for another fight. Koscheck will be a little hungrier for the win and will be looking for any chance to land his heavy right hand. Hughes will obviously look for the takedown early and try to control the bout with superior wrestling, which will be no easy feat against another high level wrestler. If Koscheck has been spending too much time improving his striking, expect and easy night for Hughes. If both fighters are healthy and hungry, expect a fun, entertaining three rounds.
Pick: I’m going out on a limb here and picking Hughes in a decision. If he can protect himself on the feet until he gets the takedown, he will be just fine with some well times takedowns.
Travis Browne vs. Rob Broughton
I still feel Travis Browne has not had a solid test in the UFC. His fight with Kongo at UFC 120 ended in a draw as a result of points lost by Kongo, due to pulling on Brownes shorts. He should have a solid test against UFC newcomer Rob Broughton, a solid standout from the Wolfs lair in Liverpool. Browne is great standing up, but he has yet to face a solid ground game, which Broughton has heavily improved on.
Pick: Browne is riding high on his first round knockout of Stefan Struve, but expect him to fall of his high horse when he meets a hungry fighter in Broughton. Look for a second round submission win for Rob Broughton
Nate Diaz vs. Takanori Gomi
Nate Diaz will be coming into this fight desperate for a win after dropping his last two bouts in tough decisions. Gomi is coming off a tough submission loss to a soaring Clay Guida (who hasn’t loss since 2009), and will be looking for a solid bounce back into the picture. The Fireball Kid already has experience with one of the Diaz brothers, losing to Nick Diaz at Pride 33 via gogoplata (this was later overturned by the NSAC due to a failed drug test from Diaz), so expect him to be thinking of this when he enters the cage. Diaz has solid hands, but his grappling skills are no secret. Gomi will look to stuff the takedowns and let his punches do the work.
Pick: Takanori Gomi will be well on his way to being back in the picture with a solid TKO victory in round 3.
Ben Rothwell vs. Mark Hunt
I’m actually quite excited about this fight. Ben Rothwell has yet to show his potential in the UFC. Now 1-1 under the promotion, Rothwell will be looking to get things back on track in easy fashion against a 6-7 Mark Hunt, who just ended a severe six fight losing streak. But don’t let that record fool you. Three of those losses in a row came from Josh Barnett, Fedor, and Alistair Overeem, all in their prime of the Pride days. Don’t forget, Hunt has serious decision wins over Wanderlei Silva and Mirko Filipovic in Pride as well. If Ben Rothwell is looking for an easy road back to success, he better be prepared for a rocky drive to start off the trip.
Pick: It will be a rough first round, but look for Rothwell to find his timing and distance and get the TKO early in round two, but don’t be surprised if Hunt pulls off the upset.
Tim Boetsch vs. Nick Ring
This fight has Fight of the Night potential written all over it, we just have to hope for a solid performance from the TUF vet, Nick Ring. Boetsch, 2-1 in the UFC, will be looking to continue to move up the ranks with a solid performance of wrestling and stand up. Nick Ring is looking to stay undefeated in the UFC and take his professional record to 13-0 tomorrow night. The Canadian has solid hands, but a well versed ground game. Hopefully it’s enough for Ring to handle quick takedowns of Boetsch.
Pick: A tough decision win for Nick Ring.
Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson vs. Aaron Riley
“El Cucuy” will get his first taste of the UFC after his dominant win in the TUF finale over Ramsey Nijem. It comes against Aaron Riley, a solid veteran wrestler who will be looking for any opening to take this fight to the ground. Ferguson will be doing the exact opposite, looking for any and every punch to land and result in a KO early on.
Pick: Tony Ferguson will do his best to stuff the takedowns and go 2-0 in the UFC with a second round TKO.
Prelim Quick Picks:
Takeya Mizugaki def. Cole Escovedo
Ricardo Romero def. James Te Huna
Eddie Yagin def. Junior Assuncao