As you might’ve noticed, I try my hand at predicting each of UFC’s events, and this Saturday night is UFC 111.

Main Card

Welterweight Championship
Georges “Rush” St. Pierre (c) vs Dan Hardy
I’m not going to waste much time and effort on this match.  Sure, it’s the main event, and sure, it’s a title fight, and I guess there’s A SLIM CHANCE that Dan Hardy could win, but I don’t think many people would predict that.  Georges “Rush” St Pierre is arguably the best fighter in the world right now, and Dan Hardy would have to be really lucky to catch Georges St. Pierre in a bad position on Saturday night to take away the Welterweight Title.  When GSP’s first run with the title came to an end, it was because he wasn’t prepared for Matt Serra.  He admittedly took him lightly, but he has said that he learned his lesson since then, and he won’t be over-looking Dan Hardy.  I saw the past few fights Hardy had, and I don’t think he’s a top notch fighter, he was just lucky enough to win a fight which someone deemed as a #1 Contender fight.
Prediction:  Georges St Pierre by decision

Interim Heavyweight Championship
Frank Mir vs. Shane Carwin
It feels weird to even have an Interim championship fight when Brock Lesnar has a fight of his own scheduled for early July, but because Lesnar was unable to fight against Shane Carwin when that title fight was originally scheduled, his illness and the questions surrounding whether Brock would ever return to the octagon forced UFC into creating the Interim Heavyweight Title.  Now the former champ Frank Mir gets the opportunity to reclaim the role of Interim champ over UFC’s Heavyweight division, but Shane Carwin – who has never lost a fight, finishing all 11 of his opponents in the first round – will get the chance to deal Mir another big loss.
Carwin is not experienced enough to make me comfortable saying he will defeat veteran Frank Mir.  If the former champ can find a way to avoid getting hit (which he wasn’t able to do against Lesnar in either of their two fights), Frank could get a takedown on Carwin (or find a lucky grab while Shane is still on his feet) and force a submission.
Even with that said, however, I don’t want to see another Frank Mir vs Brock Lesnar fight, and I certainly don’t want to see Frank Mir holding a championship belt after his reported death threat comments aimed at Lesnar.  I will be rooting for Shane Carwin, and because I don’t like to be split-minded on such things, I don’t want to have any reason to hope Mir wins, so I’ll bet against him.
Prediction:  Shane Carwin by knockout

Welterweight bout:
Ben Saunders vs. Jon Fitch
This bout was initially supposed to be Ben Saunders vs Jake Ellenberger, but when Thiago Alves was removed from the card due to the results of a pre-fight CAT scan, apparently Ben Saunders asked for Alves’ opponent, Jon Fitch, to take the place of Ellenberger (Jake will reportedly still receive the money he was set to earn had he been present in a fight on the card).
In the fights I’ve seen Fitch compete in, he has looked really good, but I hate the fact that his past 6 fights have gone to decision.  He only lost one of those fights, the shot at Georges St Pierre at UFC 87, but to me, if you can’t finish any fights over a two year span in the allotted 15 minutes, you’re not an elite fighter.
Ben Saunders only has one fight in his UFC career which went to decision, a victory in late 2007.  I like Saunders because he brings strong Jiu Jitsu skills in addition to his Jeet Kune Do striking, and he can win a fight either way.
Both guys have good records (Saunders – 8-1, Fitch 21-3), but given how they finish matches (or fail to, as the case may be), I know which route I’m going.
Prediction:  Ben Saunders by knock out

Lightweight bout:
Jim Miller vs. Mark Bocek
This fight could very well be the winner of Submission Of The Night honors, which Bocek earned in his past fight back in December, with Jim Miller earning the honors in October 2008.
Jim Miller only has two strong (victorious) finishes since joining UFC – once in his debut where he earned a submission victory in the third round with a rear naked choke, the other coming at the start of 2010 with a first round submission win via armbar.  Three of his other fights ended in decision (losing one of them), and his UFC 103 victory last September was due to a shoulder injury of his opponent.
The last three fights he has competed in have culminated in Rear Naked Choke victories by Mark Bocek.  Nearly 2 years ago (in the fight prior to those aforementioned victories) was his last defeat, coming ironically by Rear Naked Choke to Mac Danzig.
I don’t foresee either of these guys defeating BJ Penn for the Lightweight title, but this should be an entertaining fight to the educated MMA fan.  If you’re looking for some good stand-up and don’t care about BJJ offense / defense or round points, then you probably won’t be interested in seeing this one.
Prediction:  Mark Bocek by submission

Lightweight bout:
Kurt Pellegrino vs. Fabricio Camoes
This fight was pulled up from the preliminary card to be part of the pay per view due to the cancellation of Alves vs Fitch, which is why I list it last as part of the Main Card.
Kurt Pellegrino has taken 3 of his last 6 fights to decision, losing one of them.
Camoes only has one decision on his resume dating back nearly 4 years, but he only has one UFC fight on his resume – a draw against Caol Uno back in late November of last year.  Fabricio is going to want to do something significant in this fight if he hopes to stay in UFC for a while, so I’m thinking he’ll come into this event highly motivated and well trained.  There is a story that 14 years ago, Camoes lasted over 25 minutes in a bare-knuckle fight against Anderson Silva, and although I don’t necessarily believe that, Fabricio is likely looking to increase his reputation, so anything less than 100% in this fight would be a shock.  UFC had to see something in this guy to want to sign him, so I’m predicting that he overcomes the jitters / whatever caused him to not get a victory in his UFC debut.  If he doesn’t, I likely won’t have to worry about Camoes ever again, since I only do predictions for UFC events, and Kurt Pellegrino would likely take care of business.
Prediction:  Fabricio Camoes by decision

Spike TV Card

Welterweight bout:
Nate Diaz vs. Rory Markham
Having lost three of his last four fights, this is an important fight for Nate Diaz, though I am optimistic about his chances.  He recently stated “I don’t make enough money to have to drop this much weight so I’d like to fight at 170 and only go to [155] every once in awhile.”  Well, he got his wish as he gets set to enter his first Welterweight fight in UFC, and I’m betting that he has more success at a weight he’s more comfortable at on Saturday night.
Rory Markham has heavy hands, winning a number of fights by first-round knockout.  In his last fight a year ago, he made the mistake of questioning the strength of his opponent, Dan Hardy, and got knocked out in the first round.  He would’ve fought since then, but a knee injury forced him out of that fight (scheduled for 1/2/2010).
As a brown belt in BJJ facing a boxer with a history of knee injuries, Nate Diaz is likely to not want to keep the fight on their feet too long, moving to the mat and looking for a submission.  Typically when it comes to a fighter who is strong at submission skills taking on someone who is decent at stand-up, I always go the route of BJJ, especially when the submission artist has something to prove (like Nate Diaz looking to prove he can end his losing streak and be a force in the Welterweight division in UFC).
Prediction:  Nate Diaz by submission

Welterweight bout:
Ricardo Almeida vs. Matt Brown
Ricardo Almeida might be a black belt in BJJ going up against a guy who is gaining a reputation as a good striker, but four of Almeida’s past 5 fights have gone to decision, and Matt Brown is increasing his knowledge in martial arts (Brown Belt in Judo and Blue Belt in Jiu Jitsu), so although typically I go the opposite direction in making picks when faced with opponents with skills such as these, I’m going to go the opposite course.  I really like Matt Brown as a fighter and the more he learns, the more dangerous he’s going to be.
Prediction:  Matt Brown by knockout

Preliminary Card

Light Heavyweight bout:
Rodney Wallace vs. Jared Hamman
In the previous fight that each of these two were in, they lost their UFC debut.  Wallace lost to up-and-comer Brian Stann by decision, whereas Hamman lost in 41 seconds to uber-dangerous Alexander Gustafsson.
Other than those fights?  The records for both these guys look pretty good.  I’m basically flipping a coin here, but I’ll go with the guy who didn’t get taken to decision in his last fight.
Prediction:  Jared Hamman by knockout

Middleweight bout:
Rousimar Palhares vs. Tomasz Drwal
These are two of my favorite names in UFC.
Palhares is 10-2 in his MMA career, with his only loss coming against Dan Henderson 18 months ago, which is a very understandable loss.  The fact that he took Hendo to a decision speaks volues about Palhares’ ability.
Tomasz Drwal won all three of his fights in 2009 after knee surgery kept him out of competition in 2008.
This is a tough one to call, but I do like to go with submission artists, and Palhares is the only one with a belt.  The fact that he was able to avoid the heavy hands of Dan Henderson is also a huge factor.
Prediction: Rousimar Palhares by submission

Welterweight bout:
Matthew Riddle vs. Greg Soto
Matt Riddle has three victories in UFC, but they were all by decision.  His fourth fight was headed for decision, but he lost by TKO due to elbow strikes back in mid-November 2009.
Greg Soto is filling in for Riddle’s initial opponent Ricardo Funch, making his UFC debut.  Although Soto is currently undefeated, his only fight outside of New Jersey was his previous bout (which was in North Dakota), and none of his fights were in any organizations I’ve heard of.
This one would’ve been a coin-flip prediction, but I’ve decided to go with the fighter who I’ve seen in action before.
Prediction:  Matt Riddle by decision