My intention is to do predictions for each of the big UFC events – whether on Spike TV or on PPV.  Once the event is over, I’ll update the entry and list who the winner was, as well as keeping track of the percentage I was able to correctly predict.

Preliminary card

Lightweight bout:
Marcus Aurelio (Brazil) vs. Evan Dunham (United States)
Aurelio – 18 & 7
Dunham – 8 & 0
I recognize the names of all three opponents Aurelio has lost to since the start of 2007.
Dunham has finished all but 1 of his professional fights without needing a decision (his first was by decision).
I don’t spend as much time researching the preliminary card fights unless I’m familiar with one (or both) of the fighters, so this is all the analysis I’m giving it.
Official Prediction: Evan Dunham by Knock Out

Middleweight bout:
Nick Catone (United States) vs. Mark Muñoz (United States)
Cantone’s record:  7-1
Muñoz’s record:  5-1
They’re both coming off the first loss of their career.  Nick Cantone made it into the second round before being submitted, whereas Mark Muñoz got knocked out in the first round by a guy who has faced some high profile opponents.  Very tough call since I haven’t seen either one before.
Official Prediction: Mark Muñoz by Decision

Heavyweight bout:
Tim Hague (Canada) vs.  Todd Duffee (United States)
Tim Hague’s record:  10-1
Todd Duffee’s record:  4-0
This is Duffee’s first fight in UFC, so he’ll probably feel like he has a lot to prove.  This is Hague’s second UFC match, his first a victory over Patt Barry.  Hague’s only loss was a split decision he has since avenged.  Hague is a little bit older than Duffee, and I think the pressure is the deciding factor.
Official Prediction: Tim Hague by Knock Out

Heavyweight bout:
Justin McCully (United States) vs. Mike Russow (United States)
McCully: 9-4-2  {age 33}
Russow: 11-1 {age 32}
McCully’s opponents have been tougher / more high profile than Russow’s.  McCully’s making his UFC debut, whereas Mike has been in the UFC for over two years.
Official Prediction: Russow by Decision

Heavyweight bout:
Gabriel Gonzaga (Brazil) vs. Chris Tuchscherer (United States)
Gonzaga:  10-4
Tuchscherer: 17-1
Gonzaga has faced plenty of high profile opponents and fared well against them.  His losses are to Fabricio Werdum twice, Shane Carwin and Randy Couture.  Tuchscherer hasn’t fought anyone I’ve ever heard of.
Official Prediction: Gabriel Gonzaga by Submission

Middleweight bout:
Ed Herman (United States) vs. Aaron Simpson (United States)
Herman: 15-7
Simpson: 5-0
Ed Herman has lost 4 of his last 8, either by decision or submission.  Even in a loss in the finals of The Ultimate Fighter season 3, Dana White awarded Herman a contract.
Aaron Simpson has finished all of his fights by knockout, but has far fewer fights to his record despite being 7 years older than Herman.
Official Prediction: Ed Herman by Submission

Main Card

Light Heavyweight bout:
Brandon Vera (United States) vs. Krzysztof Soszynski (Poland)
Vera’s record is 10-3 overall, but he’s 2-3 since the start of 2007.
Soszynski’s record is 18-8 overall, winning 7 of 10 since the start of 2007.

Brandon Vera is moving down into the Light Heavyweight division after a run as a Heavyweight that included a championship belt back when WEC had that division and a first-round victory over Frank Mir.  After losses to Tim Sylvia and Febricio Werdum, Vera moved down a weight class where he has won 2 of his three bouts – losing to Keith Jardine by split decision.

Krzysztof’s opponents aren’t nearly the quality that Vera has faced.  Two of his last three fights (all victories for Soszynski) have resulted in submissions via Kimura, winning him Submission of the Night honors.

Roughly the same age, that won’t be a factor.  Vera gets a bonus due to his experience edge in having opponents with higher profile, but Brandon loses me a bit in his record over the past five fights in addition to the fact that he’s relatively new to this weight class.  It’s a tough call.
Official Prediction: Krzysztof Soszynski by Submission

Middleweight bout:
Nate Marquardt (United States) vs.  Demian Maia (Brazil)

From what I’m hearing, the winner of this fight will have the next title shot at the Middleweight Title (after Anderson Silva’s already scheduled bout against Dan Henderson).

The Brazilian Demian Maia is undefeated at 10 wins, 0 losses.  His big wins are over Chael Sonnen and Nate Quarry.  Since the start of 2007, he has finished 5 of his 6 fights without needing a decision.

Nate Marquardt is much more experienced than Maia, with 36 fights to his record, losing eight of them.  Since the start of 2007, Marquardt has 4 wins to only 2 losses – suffered against Anderson Silva and Thales Leites – two of the top competitors in the division.  Although Nate didn’t make it out of the first round against Silva, his split decision loss to Thales Leites was probably due to the fact that he was deducted 2 points for 2 separate rule infractions during that fight.

Looking at their opponents, Marquardt has taken on seemingly tougher fights, but Maia’s opponents haven’t been pushovers.  Marquardt is younger, but having fought professionally in 3 times as many matches might take its toll, and i’m betting it will be the deciding factor.
Official Prediction:  Demian Maia by Submission

Middleweight bout:
Chris Leben (United States) vs. Jake Rosholt (United States)

Leben is about to return to the UFC from a 9-month suspension levied on him after testing positive for the performance enhancing drug Stanozolol. The last time he was in the octagon, he lost to Michael Bisping by decision.  Prior to that fight, he spent over a month in jail due to probation violation, which caused the fight with Bisping to be pushed back from its originally scheduled date.

Jake Rosholt’s last fight was his only loss thus far in his career.  It was originally scheduled to be a fight against Alessio Sakara, but injury caused Sakara to withdraw, and he was replaced by Dan Miller.  I’d be interested to hear the details on how far in advance Rosholt knew about the change of opponents, and how

Because I don’t know what to expect out of Chris Leben with potential personal demons, I’m going to pick against him in this fight.
Official Prediction:  Jake Rosholt by Decision

Light Heavyweight bout:
Keith Jardine (United States) vs. Thiago Silva (Brazil)

Starting off, let’s compare their records:
Jardine is 14-5-1;  3-3 since the end of 2006;  Been in UFC almost 4 years
T.Silva is 13-1; 5-1 since the end of 2006; Been in UFC for 2.5 years

Thiago Silva is 7 years younger than Keith Jardine.

The only opponent they have in common is Houston Alexander.  Thiago beat him in the first round.  Keith Jardine lost in the opening minute.

The more analysis I do, the more clearly I see this one.
Official Prediction:  Thiago Silva by TKO

Main Event:
Heavyweight bout
Randy Couture (United States) vs. Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira (Brazil)

Nogueira’s last fight, against Frank Mir on December 27th back in 2008, was not an accurate sample of what Minotauro is capable of.   Although Nog didn’t use it as an excuse for losing that fight, he had a Staph infection 20 days prior to the fight which resulted in 5 days in the hospital.  In addition to that, he had to get surgery in early 2009 for a knee injury suffered during training.  I’m not saying that Frank Mir wouldn’t have won the fight against Nogueira without the Staph and knee situation, but I’m saying that there’s a reason why many of Nogueira’s fans felt it was an uncharacteristic fight for Minotauro.

Randy Couture’s performance against Brock Lesnar was not the type of fight people are used to seeing from Couture, though Brock Lesnar’s physical stature, amateur wrestling background and pure power make him a difficult beast to approach.  I don’t know if Couture’s 15 months without a fight had any affect, but the side projects he was doing during that time (filming for both movies and video games, training other fighters) probably had some impact.  He has known for a long time that he’s going to be facing Nogueira (before the Lesnar fight even came up, UFC was sending contracts to Couture for a fight with Nogueira), and so he should be very well prepared.

I’m not going to break this one down by common opponents or records or anything like that, because with Couture and Nogueira, it’s unnecessary.  I think this fight could go either way, and I would be surprised if it wasn’t a good fight.  I’m sure there are people out there who have strong opinions about who the winner will be, but I’m not one of those people.  Nogueira seems like a very nice guy; he’s very accomplished and has a great reputation and win/loss record.  I’d like to pick him to win, but I can’t.  I have to go with Randy Couture because I’d like to see him win a couple more fights in UFC and then see him go off and beat Fedor Emelianenko before retiring for good.
Official Prediction:  Randy Couture by Decision