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The Downes Side: UFC 141 Predictions

UFC/WEC veteran Dan Downes talks strategy and predictions for UFC 141.
Welcome to the inaugural edition of my column, the Downes Side. So what will this column contain? Basically, think of it like that movie the Blind Side, but with fight predictions. There will be an engaging character, a giant football player-type, a feel good story and it will culminate with me getting an award as undeserving as Sandra Bullock’s Oscar (Helen Mirren got robbed!). 

Shifting from UFC fighter to UFC writer may seem quite different, but there are a number of similarities. For one, they both disappoint your relatives. As one unnamed family member told me, “Great, you’ve traded one dead end profession for another.” Plus, both are hazardous to your health: Writing has less physical trauma, but supposedly comes with more alcoholism and drug abuse. 

December 30's UFC 141 and New Year's Eve have a lot in common, too. Both are highly anticipated events with winners and losers. So come Saturday morning after the Friday night fights, who will be buying champagne by the magnum and who be alone at midnight with no one to kiss, searching for some type of sign to tell them they everything they’ve worked for the last few years hasn’t been in vain, crying into their pillow as they workshop their one-liners for the UFC 142 prediction column.... anyway, on with my picks.

Vladimir Matyushenko vs Alexander Gustafsson
Both of these guys come into this fight looking to build on the momentum they’ve been gathering. Alexander Gustafsson has rattled off three in a row, the most recent being TKOing Matt Hamill into retirement. Vladimir Matyushenko is coming in after a 20 second finish of Jason Brilz in August and 15 years of experience ("The Mauler" was 10 when Matyushenko made his pro MMA debut.)

Gustafsson has a great future in the UFC, but he won’t have a great Saturday night. The deciding factor here is power and Matyushenko’s will be too much for Gustafsson to handle.

Prediction: “The Janitor” cleans up and the Swede goes down in the second round; which is still longer than my last piece of IKEA furniture lasted. 

Jon Fitch vs Johny Hendricks

Jon Fitch hasn’t lost a fight since 2008 and his last loss before that was 2002. Despite that impressive record, his fighting style hasn’t endeared himself to fans. The good news for fans is that Johny Hendricks has a wrestling pedigree that could prevent Fitch from executing his game plan. The bad news is that fans don't get to pick fights, otherwise GSP and Anderson Silva would headline every event, which would take place under PRIDE rules.

Plus, all the blue-chip rasslin' won’t matter, because Hendricks also has the tendency to want to stand and bang. He’ll tag Fitch with a couple good strikes, rush for the kill, overcommit himself to a big shot and that will give Fitch an opening to get him down.

Prediction: Fitch wins this one after 15 and then takes the title from GSP—the one for most decision victories in UFC history.

Nate Diaz vs. Cowboy Cerrone
This has fight of the night written all over it. We could talk about who would take the edge with regards to grappling ability, but let’s be honest, the only way one of these guys is going to the ground is if he's unconscious. And with the chins on these two, that’s probably even more unlikely. 

Both of these scowling scrappers have slick submission games and good cardio, leaving this bad blood bout to be determined on the feet. Both like to use their long limbs and range to tag opponents (sometimes even at pre-fight press conferences) and don’t focus on big power shots. Diaz may be more of a “quantity over quality” guy when it comes to strikes, but Cerrone isn’t too far behind.

Prediction: This one goes to the judges and Cerrone wins by split decision. That’ll make Nate angry, and you wouldn’t like it when a Diaz gets angry.

Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem

The general consensus about this fight is that Overeem wins this easily because Lesnar “can’t take a punch” (one of the few things I excelled at - he should have called me to help him train).  I don’t know if Brock has gotten a better chin since his last fight, but it won't come to that. I see him charging like a mustang to secure the takedown, and this will be one horse that Overeem can’t eat.

Prediction: Once he gets top control, Lesnar will use his ground and pound and the ref will stop this one in the first round.

That concludes the first edition of the Downes Side. If you liked it, leave some comments, suggestions and predictions of your own. If you didn’t – keep it to yourself. I can’t afford to get fired from another job.

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