Written by: Mike Calimbas
The Ultimate Fighting Championship comes back to the Lone Star State tomorrow night with UFC Fight Night 22, slated to emanate from the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, TX with the televised card beginning 8pm Texas-time on Spike TV.
The main card features four televised bouts with the main event showcasing a matchup between two of the top contenders at 185 pounds in Nate Marquardt and Rousimar Palhares. With Chael Sonnen slated to take on Anderson Silva once more at the dawn of the New Year, these two submission wizards look to call “next” in the highly volatile mix of middleweights vying for championship contention. Beyond the main event, UFC Fight Night 22 features a lineup of largely unheralded matchups. Fear not though fans! These type of fights oftentimes bring about the best of times and not the worst for viewers as lesser-known fighters look to make a name for themselves with a bang! In fact, exciting fighters and current contenders such as Nate Diaz, Joe Lauzon, and Gray Maynard made a living off Fight Night cards.
Let’s preview the main event and the rest of the televised card.
Rousimar Palhares vs. Nate Marquardt
This matchup pits two submission wizards in a fight that will likely determine the next fighter to get a crack at the middleweight title after the eloquent poem-reading Chael Sonnen. In all actually, Marquardt would have already gotten his rematch with Anderson Silva after knocking out Damien Maia while he was in the air at UFC 102. The only problem was that he ran into the aforementioned Chael Sonnen, losing a unanimous decision back in February. In this fight, he looks to right the ship after 40 professional fights.
As well-rounded as Chad Robo’s MMA Hero is, he is going up against a fighter in Palhares who boasts a reputation as one of the premier submission wizards in MMA. With a penchant for heel hooks and the like, we can surmise that this Brazilian is definitely a leg man. But will he find that against Marquardt, who is not only well-versed on his feet but also no slouch on the ground? My guess is no.
Though Rousimar Palhares won’t end up crashing face first to the ground against Nate like Maia did, my guess is that he won’t be able to latch on to one of his legs either, and that’s likely his only Hail Mary chance to win. Look for Marquardt to set the pace in this bout on his feet and systematically take out the Brazilian fighter.
My Prediction – Nate Marquardt via unanimous decision.
Efrain Escudero vs. Charles Oliviera
Ultimate Fighter winner Efrain Escudero has will be sure to have a lot of momentum going into this fight with a Pro-Mexican Austin crowd sure to be behind him. Escudero, 2-1 in the UFC since his victory over Philippe Nover has only lost to Evan Dunham, a top up-and-comer in the lightweight division. His strengths primarily lie in his wrestling acumen but his boxing is also okay. I largely vie Efrain Escudero as a very workman-like fighter, sort of like Joe Stevenson but with a far less developed Jiu-Jitsu game as of now.
His opponent, the Brazilian Charles “Da Bronx” Oliveria is a debuting UFC fighter riding a 13-0 record in regional and international competition. He’s taller than Efrain and has finished every single one of his fights by KO or submission. That spells trouble for Escudero and honestly, if this fight doesn’t go his way in the opening minutes, I can see him wilting to the pressure. I’m a jelly man myself but I think Efrain is definitely going to find himself in a whole lot of jam in this fight. Plus, I don’t think I can pick against the a fighter with the nickname, “Da Bronx.”
My Prediction – Charles Oliviera via submission, Round 2.
Gleison Tibau vs. Jim Miller
Jim Miller walks into this bout riding a 4-fight win streak, with his only loss coming against title challenger and fellow wrestler Gray Maynard. On the other side of the cage, he’s taking on Gleison Tibau, who looks like he could be his teammate Thiago Alves’ not so little doppelganger. Seriously, this dude is huge for the lightweight division. They might have had to lay him down and go over him with a rolling pin to get that last bit of water out so he could make weight but I digress. All things considered, I don’t think his size advantage will make much of a difference against the New Jersey wrestler. With both guys being so well rounded in both the striking and ground aspects, this fight may come down to who makes the most mistakes. Jim Miller is tough as nails so I think he takes this one and may even finish the Top Team figther.
My Prediction – Jim Miller via knockout, Round 3.
Ross Pearson vs. Cole Miller
TUF 9 winner Ross Pearson looks to keep his UFC record unblemished in this classic striker vs. grappler contest. Pearson is a pretty tough, always looking to take his opponents out on his feet but at least he’s not a wrestler. Judging by his recent rant, Cole Miller would hate that. As a jiu-jitsu expert, Cole will actually want this one to hit the ground even if he has to wrestle himself to get it there. When that happens, it’ll be a matter of time before he pins the Englishman with his first loss in the octagon.
My Prediction – Cole Miller via submission, Round 1.
Preliminary Card Picks dedicated to Thug-Jitsu:
Yves Edwards over John Gunderson via KO in Round 1.
Jared Hamman over Kyle Kingsbury by Decision.
Tomasz Drwal over Dave Branch by TKO, Round 2.
Rafael Natal over Rich Attonito by TKO, Round 3.
TJ Waldburger over David Mitchell by submission, Round 2.
Brian Foster over Forrest Petz by decision.