The UFC tries to make its annual New Year's show one of the biggest fight cards of the year, but for the second straight year, the New Year's card has taken some big hits because of injuries, and UFC 125
is an average pay-per-view, not a great one.What
: UFC 125: ResolutionWhen
: Saturday, the pay-per-view starts at 10 PM ETWhere
: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas
Predictions on the five pay-per-view fights are below.
Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard
It's a shame that there's not more fan excitement for this fight, because it's a great one. The consensus No. 1 and No. 2 lightweights in the world fighting for the UFC belt, with the champion, Edgar, getting the chance to avenge his only career loss against the undefeated Maynard. Why aren't MMA fans more jazzed?
Some of it has to do with their personalities; both Edgar and Maynard are quiet and respectful, which is great -- except when the UFC wants them to hype their fight. And a lot of it has to do with the way the first fight went down: When they met in the Octagon in 2008, Maynard won a unanimous decision, 30-27 on all three judges' cards, and the fight wasn't particularly entertaining. If you had told the fans watching at the time that in a couple years these two guys would be meeting in a pay-per-view main event with the lightweight title on the line, no one would have believed you.
But the fact is, Edgar and Maynard are the two best lightweights in the world, and that makes this a compelling matchup if you love MMA. Unfortunately for fans who want fireworks, however, I think this fight is basically going to be a five-round version of their previous fight, with Maynard using his superior wrestling to grind out a decision and take Edgar's belt. Pick: Maynard Chris Leben vs. Brian Stann
Leben had a great 2010, going 3-0 in the Octagon, and now he's looking to start 2011 with a bang. Stann has won three of his last four, and it wouldn't shock me to see Stann take Leben down and win a ground-and-pound TKO. But I think the more likely result is that they stay standing and Leben wins the striking exchanges to take a decision. Pick: Leben Brandon Vera vs. Thiago Silva
Silva hasn't fought in a year because of injuries and has lost two of his last three, while Vera has lost two in a row. That means the loser of this fight could be in danger of losing his job in the UFC. But I'm expecting them both to put on the kind of show that makes their jobs safe: This is my pick for Fight of the Night. I'll take Silva to hit Vera hard, knock him down and finish him on the ground in the third round. Pick: Silva Nate Diaz vs. Dong Hyun Kim
Diaz lost a split decision to Maynard a year ago, and that loss might have been the best thing to happen to him, because it convinced him to move up to welterweight, where he has looked great in winning two straight fights. Kim will present Diaz with a lot of problems on the ground, but I think Diaz can use his high-volume striking to win a decision and hand Kim his first career loss. Pick: Diaz Clay Guida vs. Takanori Gomi
Gomi is coming off a one-minute knockout of Tyson Griffin that was his best performance since his brilliant 12-1 run in Pride from 2004 to 2006. But one fight after a string of disappointing outings isn't enough to convince me that the Gomi of old is back. I think Guida will outwork Gomi and win a decision. Pick: Guida