As with all UFC events, I’m going to make my predictions on UFC 116, which has arguably the biggest fight I’ve ever witnessed as its headlining bout.

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Preliminary card

I don’t typically spend too much time in analyzing the untelevised preliminary fights, so don’t take that as any indication on what the pay per view bout analysis write-ups are going to look like

* Heavyweight bout:

United States – Jon Madsen vs. Czech Republic – Karlos Vemola

Rob’s breakdown:  They’re both undefeated, but Madsen has UFC experience (2-0) whereas Vemola does not.  Madsen hasn’t put anyone away in his past three fights (all ending by decision), and Vemola has found a way (knockout or submission) to beat everyone he has faced.
Rob’s Prediction:  Karlos Vemola

* Welterweight bout:

United States – Daniel Roberts vs. United States – Forrest Petz

Rob’s breakdown:  Forrest Petz has been in UFC before, and he wasn’t impressive then.  He fought his way back into the UFC after 2.5 years, but his last two fights were by decision.  Daniel Roberts has done well prior to joining the UFC, though he lost in his debut.
Rob’s Prediction:  Daniel Roberts

* Middleweight bout:

United States – Gerald Harris vs. United States – Dave Branch

Rob’s breakdown:  Gerald Harris is 15-2 in his MMA career, but those losses came over 30 months ago.  Since the beginning of the year, he has already won two fights in UFC, both by knockout.  Dave Branch is an undefeated black belt in BJJ whose brothers are both professional boxers, but this is his UFC debut.  Tough call.
Rob’s Prediction:  Gerald Harris by knockout

* Middleweight bout:

United States – Kendall Grove vs. Croatia – Goran Reljic

Rob’s breakdown:  This one is super tough for me because I’m a big fan of Goran Reljic, but when he fought back in February he seemed to be lacking something in his return to the octagon from injury.  Kendall Grove is something of a roller-coaster fighter, winning and losing back and forth more than a ping-pong match (probably more like a volley-ball match).  I’m going to go with my gut on this one and say that Reljic’s stumbling back in February was just shaking the rust.
Rob’s Prediction:  Goran Reljic

Preliminary card (Spike TV)

* Heavyweight bout:

United States – Brendan Schaub vs. United States – Chris Tuchscherer

Rob’s breakdown:  I think when Brendan Schaub got to the finals of the Heavyweights season of The Ultimate Fighter, the lights got too bright and he got caught by veteran Roy Nelson.  He followed that up with a nice first MINUTE victory over Chase Gormley back in March in Colorado.  Chris Tuchscherer has a great record, but he’s only got two UFC fights to his resume – a loss to Gabriel Gonzaga in his UFC debut last August, and a victory in February against Tim Hague… by majority decision.  I hate decision victories, as I think it shows that there are exploitable weaknesses in ones game.  Brendan Schaub is also taller, leaner and likely faster.  I give Schaub the edge.
Rob’s Prediction:  Brendan Schaub

* Light Heavyweight bout:

United States – Seth Petruzelli vs. United States – Ricardo Romero

Rob’s breakdown:  The Kimbo Killer Seth Petruzelli is back in UFC.  Since losing in April 2007 to Wilson Gouveia by second round submission, Petruzelli has won four in a row, all in the first round, three by knockout and one by submission.  Ricardo Romero makes his UFC debut, bringing his submission skills along with him.  Looking at his resume, I don’t see anyone on there aside from James McSweeney who I recognize, so I’ll be watching this one closely… but I’ll have to go on the basic “feel” this time.  If Romero does well, it’ll speak volumes to what he’s capable of accomplishing.
Rob’s Prediction:  Seth Petruzelli

Main card

* Lightweight bout:

Australia – George Sotiropoulos vs. United States – Kurt Pellegrino

Rob’s breakdown:  I really like the skills that George Sotiropoulos brings to the octagon.  The Aussie is on a 6 fight win streak, 5 of them coming in UFC, and only his last fight reaching decision – a strong statement win by decision over veteran Joe Stevenson.  Kurt Pellegrino is on a four fight win streak, though two of them went to decision.  When he fought common opponent Joe Stevenson back in August of 2007, Pellegrino lost.  I just think Sotiropoulos is going to be a contender in the division, and he’ll make a statement on UFC 116.
Rob’s Prediction:  George Sotiropoulos

* Light Heavyweight bout:

Poland – Krzysztof Soszynski vs. United States – Stephan Bonnar

Rob’s breakdown:  Aside from a loss last August against Brandon Vera, the last 8 fights Krzystof Soszynski has competed in over the past 2.5 years have been quality, including two Submission Of The Night superlatives.  He will have to get back on track, though, as his past two fights have ended questionably for him (the decision loss to Vera and a win by TKO due to an accidental-headbutt-caused cut against Stephan Bonnar).  The thing about Bonnar is that 5 of his last 7 fights have ended in losses for him, four of the five by decision.  If he loses to Krzystof again, this could be it for him, which makes him especially dangerous.  Unfortunately for Stephan, I think very highly of Soszynski.
Rob’s Prediction:  Krzystof Soszynski

* Welterweight bout:

United States – Chris Lytle vs. United States – Matt Brown

Rob’s breakdown:  This could be the sleeper fight of the night.  I highly respect Matt Brown’s capabilities, though he hasn’t looked as sharp since his UFC debut against Matt Arroyo two years ago.  Chris Lytle is a name you should remember, though.  His last four fights have won superlatives, three of them getting Fight Of The Night honors (though he lost one of them by split decision) and his last fight back in February he got Submission Of The Night honors against a very dangerous Brian Foster.  This is a very tough fight for me to predict, but I’ll go with the guy who has proven the most.
Rob’s Prediction:  Chris Lytle

* Middleweight bout:

Japan – Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. United States – Chris Leben

Rob’s breakdown:  Brock Lesnar is not the only highly touted competitor fighting at UFC 116 who has been sidelined since UFC 100.  Yoshihiro Akiyama broke his orbital bone 51 weeks ago in his fight against Alan Belcher but won the contest awarded Fight Of The Night by split decision.  Some people will tell you that Akiyama lost that fight, and I wouldn’t argue with them too much on that, though I really couldn’t say either way (though I was watching it closely).  Keep an eye on Akiyama’s entrance – which was entertaining last year.  Chris Leben seems to go on streaks of winning two fights then losing two fights – going all the way back to late 2006.  Two of the four wins he has over that span of time have been awarded Knockout Of The Night, which is likely what’s keeping him in UFC.  After fighting just a month ago, I’m not sure how Leben is going to be ready to fight Akiyama, and frankly I think he might just be looking for a pay day.
Rob’s Prediction:  Yoshihiro Akiyama

* Heavyweight Championship bout:

United States – Brock Lesnar (c) vs United States – Shane Carwin (ic)

Rob’s breakdown:  This is the big one, arguably the most highly anticipated fight of the year (with Evans vs Rampage being close, though with no direct title implications, not so much).  Both of these guys have hugely heavy hands, and I’d be very surprised to see it get to the second round – with it almost certainly avoiding needing the judges to be involved in any kind of decision.  The biggest storyline in this one is going to be whether or not the time away from the octagon and the illness that caused that hiatus has taken away any of his explosiveness.  I don’t think it’s going to take enough away for Carwin to be able to inflict his gameplan.  You’d think that Shane Carwin would likely try to get Lesnar up against the cage, using his knees to strike Brock’s legs and wear Lesnar down, taking away some of his explosiveness in the process.  Carwin would also want to use as many jabs as possible in those situations to see if he can’t knockout Lesnar, but I don’t think it’s going to get pushed into the cage.  I think Lesnar moves around well enough to avoid those spots and has a great takedown offense which will ultimately result in Carwin being on his back.  If Shane can somehow muster enough strength behind his punches to knock out Brock Lesnar from underneath, it’ll be great to watch… but I think Brock Lesnar’s huge hands are going to hammer away at the side of Carwin’s head, bringing home the win in the process to reunite the Heavyweight straps.
Rob’s Prediction:  Brock Lesnar by knockout