Thiago Alves vs. Josh Koscheck.
Koscheck, a late replacement for an injured Diego Sanchez, is probably the only fighter, save Georges St. Pierre, that could've walked into this fight without causing a big-time loss in excitement.
Now onto the predictions.
Anderson Silva (22-4) vs. Patrick Cote (13-4): Anderson Silva could quite possibly be the best stand up fighter in MMA history. Inside, he's a terror in the clinch with crazy knees, elbows, and surprising strength. On the outside, he utilizes his long reach, pinpoint accuracy, and underrated power to destroy people.
Oh yeah, and Silva also owns a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Along with this, he's quite capable of submitting you if you do take him down, as his guard is excellent. Perhaps his only weakness is wrestling. But we're talking about a relative weakness.
In other words, his takedown defense isn't bad by any means. It just fails in relation to his other skills.
Patrick Cote hits very hard and is solid technically on his feet. He's also a powerful man with solid wrestling skills. In terms of jiu jitsu, Cote doesn't tend to submit people; that's just not his game.
One important factor is that he's never been knocked out before. With a great jaw being a prerequisite to even having a small chance against Silva, that bodes well.
Prediction: Here's the question: Where is Patrick Cote safe? On the ground, he'll have to worry about submissions. On his feet, well, Anderson Silva is staring back at him. In the end, as tough as Cote is, he just doesn't appear to be a good match up for his Brazilian adversary.
Anderson Silva wins via second round TKO.
Thiago Alves (15-3) vs. Josh Koscheck (11-2): Thiago Alves is an excellent stand up fighter. Along with this, he possesses good technique, ridiculous power, and a whole lot of athleticism. On the ground, Alves is solid and difficult to stop. If you saw him against Matt Hughes, then you know that his takedown defense is excellent.
Still, in the past, Alves has had some difficulty with the ground game. Jon Fitch controlled and then TKO'd him there. Spencer Fisher submitted him there.
But it's been awhile since those things occurred. In other words, Thiago Alves is a different fighter these days.
Josh Koscheck is a man of similar athleticism to Alves. The difference is that he leans toward the ground game, as he's one of the best wrestlers in all of MMA. On top of that, his stand up, in part due to his sheer athleticism and reflexes, has gotten immeasurably better since his stint on TUF 1.
Though Koscheck isn't a stellar jiu jitsu fighter, he's not easy to catch in a submission either. Perhaps the main concern would be the way he keeps his hands low on his feet. Alves is not a guy that you want to eat a power punch from.
Prediction: Thiago Alves is a very tough guy with outstanding striking. But ask yourself this question: Which fighter can survive in the spot they don't want to be for longer? Koscheck has proven that he can strike pretty well these days against the likes of Dustin Hazelett and Diego Sanchez. Alves did well against Matt Hughes, as well. But if Koscheck is able to stay on top on the ground for a significant length of time, guess is that it will wear on Alves. And short of Georges St. Pierre, no one has better pure wrestling skills in the welterweight division than him.
Expect Josh Koscheck to take Alves down and work his way to victory.
Josh Koscheck wins via second round TKO.
The Rest of UFC 90
Fabricio Werdum (11-3-1) vs. Junior Dos Santos (6-1): Dos Santos is an excellent striker that hits very hard. But Werdum is one of the best grapplers in MMA. Since taking up with Mirko Cro Cop (formerly) and Chute Box (presently) his stand up has improved immeasurably as well.
Fabrico Werdum wins via second round submission.
Sean Sherk (32-3-1) vs. Tyson Griffin (12-1): Ever imagine a card so good that Sean Sherk vs. Tyson Griffin drops to the third or fourth spot in anticipation? No need, here it is. In the end, this is a tale of two awesome wrestlers. Griffin has better submission skills. They're about even on their feet. But expect Sherk to have a little bit better wrestling.
And the wrestling advantage will be what puts him over the top.
Sean Sherk wins via unanimous decision.
Rich Clementi (32-12-1) vs. Gray Maynard (5-0): Maynard is an awesome wrestler that isn't used to disappointment. To be honest, a year ago I would've thrown this one Maynard's way for sure. But ever since Clementi fought Melvin Guillard, he's looked different.
Rich Clementi wins via second round TKO.
Thales Leites (13-1) vs. Drew McFedries (7-4): McFedries can hit. But Leites has never been stopped for a reason: He's as tough as they come. Expect that and his ground skills to be the difference.
Thales Leites wins via second round submission.
Spencer Fisher (21-4) vs. Shannon Gugerty (11-2): Gugerty wants this fight to go to the ground so he can pull off a submission. Unfortunately for him, Fisher isn't easy to submit.
Spencer Fisher wins via unanimous decision.
Matt Horwich (22-10) vs. Ricardo Almeida (9-3): Who wins, the guy who pushes the pace and wears you down (Horwich) or the submission fighter (Almeida)? Tough call.
Ricardo Almeida wins via second round submission.
Marcus Aurelio (16-6) vs. Hermes Franca (18-7): Both guys are excellent on the ground, but Franca is a tad more heavy-handed on his feet.
Hermes Franca wins via unanimous decision.
Josh Burkman (18-7) vs. Pete Sell (7-4): This is a very tough one to call. Somebody is ending a losing skid in this one, and both fighters need it bad.
Pete Sell wins via a third round TKO.