UFC 99 'The Comeback' Preview

UFC 99: The Comeback will come to us all live on June 13, 2009 from the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany. Interestingly, this event will be watched by hardcore MMA fans for three likely reasons. First, the UFC will be in Germany, which is kind of cool. Second, Wanderlei Silva will be dropping down to a catch weight to take on Rich Franklin in a battle of two MMA legends. And finally, Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic is back (say what you will, but people do tend to tune in to see what the former kickboxer might do, good or bad).

Rich Franklin (26-4) vs. Wanderlei Silva (32-9-1): Rich Franklin seems to define the term mixed martial artist, as he possesses the full repertoire of skills needed to compete at the highest level of the sport. Franklin has power on his feet and demonstrates diverse striking skills. He also possesses strong takedowns, takedown defense, and underrated submission skills. Beyond that, Franklin always comes to fights in shape.

Putting it another way, his only losses have come at the hands of Lyoto Machida, Anderson Silva, and Dan Henderson. That says something.

Wanderlei Silva is a legend in the sport. Yes, he possesses excellent striking skills, to include a tremendous amount of power, excellent kicks, and a devastating clinch. But it's his sheer ferocity- his killer instinct, if you will- that has mesmerized fans for so long. On the ground, Silva is difficult to submit and has pretty good takedown defense. But he's never been a submission threat in MMA.

Unfortunately, Silva has been on a terrible downward slide lately, losing four of his last five fights (three by devastating knockout).

Prediction: On the ground it would appear that Franklin will have the edge here. There was a time when on his feet, no one seemed to hold an edge over Silva. But he's taken a lot of abuse in recent fights and Franklin is a very smart and dangerous striker. Expect the combination of the threat of Franklin taking this fight to the ground- giving Silva something else to worry about- to give Franklin an edge on his feet. Connecting with more strikes will eventually allow him to finish things off on the canvas.

Rich Franklin wins via TKO in round two.

Cheick Kongo (24-4-1) vs. Cain Velasquez (5-0): Cheick Kongo is a freak of nature when it comes to size and athleticism. Further, he has very good striking skills (and of course, power). On the ground, he's improved immeasurably over the last several fights. Along with this, his takedown defense is solid and his submission defense is improving.

Cain Velasquez has outstanding wrestling skills. Further, he's proven to be quite adept on his feet as well, having looked good in winning all five of his fights by way of TKO. It's hard to know what his submission skills or submission defense is like, as that really hasn't been a point of contention in his short career to date.

Prediction: Kongo's ground skills and takedown defense have improved a lot. But with Velasquez, he still may find it difficult to stay on his feet. Since Kongo isn't much of a submission threat, expect Velasquez to do just enough on his feet to keep the bout close. Eventually, that will lead to a takedown and ground and pound.

Cain Velasquez wins via decision.

THE REST OF UFC 99

Mike Swick (13-2) vs. Ben Saunders (7-0-2): Both guys have strong striking skills and lots of reach. Expect Swick's more vast experience against top flight competition to be the difference.

Mike Swick wins via decision.

Marcus Davis (21-5) vs. Dan Hardy (21-6): First, there's some bad blood here, making this an interesting encounter. Both guys are also quite tough and like to strike. But the difference is that Davis's striking skills, particularly in the area of boxing, are world class. His better technical skills on his feet should be the difference.

Marcus Davis wins via decision. Hardy is a tough guy to stop.

Spencer Fisher (23-4) vs. Caol Uno (25-11-4): It's hard to find a more compelling match up amongst guys that are just under championship radar than this one. Uno is a huge submission threat that's crafty and good at everything. Fisher may be the better stand up fighter and is stronger. His better wrestling will allow him to dictate where the fight goes, and that may be the difference.

Spencer Fisher wins via decision.

Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic (24-6-2) vs. Mostapha Al Turk (6-4): Lately, it's been hard to call Cro Cop's fights; you never know which guy will show up. Still, you have to believe that Turk doesn't have a chance unless he gets things to the ground. Perhaps Filipovic's UFC coming out party?

Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic wins via TKO in round one.

Terry Etim (12-2) vs. Justin Buchholz (9-2): Etim is a tough guy and a well-rounded fighter.

Terry Etim wins via first round submission.

Dennis Siver (13-6) vs. Dale Hartt (6-1): Siver is a good fighter. But Hartt, coming from Team Sityodtong, has some excellent striking skills.

Maybe he pulls one out here.

Dale Hartt win via third round TKO.

Paul Taylor (9-4-1) vs. Peter Sobotta (8-1): Taylor has been on the big stage before.

Paul Taylor wins via decision.

Paul Kelly (9-1) vs. Rolando Delgado (8-3-1): Kelly is probably just too physical.

Paul Kelly wins via first round TKO.

Denis Stojnic (12-2) vs. Stefan Struve (20-3): If Struve takes this fight to the ground, he wins. If not, he loses.

Denis Stojnic wins via first round TKO.

John Hathaway (11-0) vs. Rick Story (7-2): Tough fight to call.

John Hathaway wins via TKO in round three.

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