As always, I’d love to hear other people’s predictions for what’s going to happen at UFC 110.

Here are my official picks:

Main Card

* Heavyweight Bout:
Brazil – Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. United States – Cain Velasquez
Cain Velasquez is near the top of my watch list. At 7-0 with five of those wins coming in UFC, I’m intrigued by a NCAA Division I wrestler who has a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, especially when 6 of his 7 wins have been by knockout. He’s got skills, yet it’s his heavy hands which end his fights. He beat the very experienced Ben Rothwell in his last fight back in October, and he has a huge test coming up against legendary Minotauro Nogueira at UFC 110. You can bet that Nogueira is going to want to get into the hunt for the Heavyweight title, and the UFC 110 hype show Spike is currently showing gives you an insight into just how dedicated Nogueira is to being in top physical shape for his fights after losing to Frank Mir and battling Staph. After beating Couture back in late August (winning Fight of the Night honors), Nog was supposed to fight Velasquez at UFC 108 – a fight which – at the time – would’ve been for the #1 contender to the Heavyweight title, and now it’s being said that if the winner of the upcoming Mir vs Carwin fight is unable to fight Brock Lesnar in early July, the winner of Velasquez vs Nogueira will be Brock’s next opponent.
There’s lots at stake in this fight, and I just can’t find a way to bet against Nogueira – not against a guy who is going to look for the knockout. Minotauro only seems vulnerable to being KO’ed in fights where he’s not healthy during his training leading up to the event, and I haven’t heard anything about that lately.
Prediction: Minotauro Nogueira

* Middleweight Bout:
Brazil – Wanderlei Silva vs. England – Michael Bisping
I’ve not seen a ton of Wanderlei Silva fights, but in the past 6 fights Silva has only won one of them, so I tend to think that after 44 professional fights, this upcoming one might be his last, especially since I’m expecting him to lose to Michael Bisping at UFC 110. When I watched The Ultimate Fighter – USA vs UK, I came through it as a bigger fan of Michael Bisping than I was of Dan Henderson (a surprising turn, since Hendo was representing USA – a former Olympian). I was slightly disappointed when Henderson knocked Bisping out at UFC 100, and I wondered how Bisping would recover in his next fight. I wasn’t surprised that Bisping improved his record to 18-2 with his fight against Denis Kang, but the after-fight attitude from Bisping was one I was intrigued by. He was very gracious, and it was nice to watch his humanity show through as he played around with his kid in the octagon afterwards. He seems like a good guy, humble, and entertaining. I’d really like to see him continue to move up the ladder to see how he could do in a title fight. He’s probably one of my top 10 favorite fighters at this point. Given that I’ve not been too impressed by what I have seen of Wanderlei, I’m definitely looking for a Bisping win.
Prediction: Michael Bisping

* Lightweight Bout:
United States – Joe Stevenson vs. Australia – George Sotiropoulos
Joe “Daddy” Stevenson’s best days might be behind him now that he’s got 40+ fights in his career, but he’s still considered a viable fighter, and he’s won two straight. He’s a never-gonna-die veteran, at at UFC 110 he’s going up against George Sotiropoulos – a guy I know from watching TUF: Hughes vs Serra. With the fight in Sotiropoulos’ native Australia and a great record dating bac to early 2006 (aside from being disqualified against Shinya Aoki – one of the top fighters in the division), I’m sure Soti’ is going to put on a great fight against Stevenson.
Prediction: George Sotiropoulos

* Light Heavyweight Bout:
United States – Keith Jardine vs. United States – Ryan Bader
I will admit that I started liking Ryan Bader during TUF: Nogueira vs Mir because his nickname is “Darth Bader” (I’m not a 100% Star Wars nerd, but I’m close to it), but the more I learn about this sport, the more I respect wrestlers from Arizona (of which Bader is one). He won “The Ultimate Fighter” that season, which really caused me to take notice. I’m biased towards fighters who I’ve seen fight a lot (especially when they’ve won the fights I’ve seen). Since knocking out Vinny Magalhaes, Bader hasn’t been able to finish either of his two fights without the judges’ decision, which I’m not a big an of. He’s fighting Keith Jardine, who has fought some of the division’s top fighters – and beaten a few of them (Gouveia, Griffin, Liddell, Vera). Should be an interesting test for Bader, and an opportunity for Jardine to find his way back into the pecking order in the division. Keith has lost three of his past 4, but his loss to Rampage Jackson by decision was his closest chance at getting on a roll and moving towards a title shot. Instead, Jardine’s on the verge of being a welcome mat after losing to Silva in his last fight. Some decent questions to be answered in this one.
Prediction: Ryan “Darth” Bader

* Heavyweight Bout:
Croatia – Mirko Filipović vs. Australia – Anthony Perosh
This fight was supposed to be Cro Cop taking on Ben Rothwell, but because of an illness, Rothwell is replaced by Perosh. In the little bit of research I’ve done on the Australian, I found that he lost to James Te-Huna, who is in the opening contest of the event (which doesn’t typically happen to stars-on-the-rise). That makes me question why Perosh is on the card now, since he wasn’t originally, and while I respect the fact that he’s stepping up to fight Cro Cop nearly last minute, I don’t like his odds.
Prediction: Mirko Filipovic

Preliminary Card

* Light Heavyweight Bout:
United States – Stephan Bonnar vs. Poland – Krzysztof Soszynski
Another one I’m looking forward to watching is Stephan Bonnar – who a lot of MMA fans who have seen lots of Bonnar’s fights enjoy watching him. Following a loss in the semi-finals of The Ultimate Fighter, I’ve been keeping an eye on Krzystof Soszynski, who I’ve been impressed with. Sure, Sos’ lost to Brandon Vera back at UFC 102, but Vera nearly defeated Couture following that fight (and many thought Vera was robbed in the decision loss to the Hall of Famer). Well respected veteran vs potential star on the rise. Interesting storyline to me. I like to watch Krzysztof fights and I hope he continues to make a name for himself, so that’s how I’m deciding this one.
Prediction: Krzystof Soszynski

* Welterweight Bout:
United States – Chris Lytle vs. United States – Brian Foster
This one should be explosive. Both guys have been involved in Fight of the Night contests in 2009, both can end a fight in the first round, and both have some submission skills. I will admit to not being as familiar with Lytle, but I really liked what I’ve seen of Brian Foster thus far.
Prediction: Brian Foster
(secondary prediction: This will be the additional fight shown on the ppv broadcast)

* Middleweight Bout:
United States – C.B. Dollaway vs. Croatia – Goran Reljic
The other fight that I care about on this card is C.B. Dollaway (another Arizona State wrestler) who I’m familiar with from The Ultimate Fighter, taking on BJJ brown belt Croatian fighter Goran Reljic, who is 8-0 and was impressive in what I’ve seen of him. It’s been almost two years since he’s fought, though, which makes me wonder what’s going on with him. He had an injury going into UFC 90, and I’m hoping he healed up well, because I think he could be a force at middleweight.
Prediction: Goran Reljic

* Light Heavyweight Bout:
New Zealand – James Te-Huna vs. Croatia – Igor Pokrajac
I don’t know much about Igor Pokrajac other than the fact that, as a fellow Croatian, he trains with Cro Cop and he has a pretty good record (21-6). It will be interesting to see what he’s capable of doing (even if it’s just reading the results and then going online to try to find a video of it). I’ve never heard of Pokrajac’s opponent, either (not surprising since it’s James Te-Huna’s UFC debut). I can’t bare to pick all the Croatians on the card, and for some reason I’m predicting that James Te-Huna brings his success from CFC (the company he fought for in Australia) and translates it to UFC – if only for this event in his backyard.
Prediction: James Te-Huna