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UFC 122: Preview and Predictions

The UFC is back in Germany and back on Spike TV Saturday, with a fight card that doesn't look particularly strong on paper, but should produce some fairly entertaining scraps -- and will produce the next title contender in the middleweight division.

What: UFC 122: Marquardt vs. Okami

When: Saturday, the main card begins at 3 PM ET and will be broadcast on tape delay on Spike TV at 9 PM ET.

Where: König Pilsener Arena, Oberhausen, Germany

Predictions on the five televised fights below.

Nate Marquardt vs. Yushin Okami
The winner of this bout has been promised the next chance at the UFC middleweight title, which Anderson Silva will defend against Vitor Belfort in February. I'm extremely tempted to pick Okami to pull the upset, as I think Okami's strength and wrestling technique give him a very good chance of holding Marquardt down and controlling him on the ground in much the same way that Chael Sonnen beat Marquardt.

But I also think Marquardt's striking has improved a lot over the last few years (take away the Sonnen fight and he's won four in a row by KO or TKO) and I'm going to say Marquardt's takedown defense will be just good enough to keep most of the fight standing up and win a hard-fought slugfest.
Pick: Marquardt

Jorge Rivera vs.
Alessio Sakara
In terms of its relevance to the middleweight division, Rivera-Sakara really doesn't belong in a co-main event slot. In terms of the pure fun of seeing these two guys bash each other for 15 minutes, it should be a lot of fun. The 38-year-old Rivera is bound to slow down eventually, but lately he's been on a tear, and I think he's going to keep it going and out-strike Sakara on his way to winning a decision.
Pick: Rivera

Dennis Siver vs. Andre Winner
Siver is far from being a great fighter, but he's certainly an exciting fighter, with two Knockout of the Night bonuses and one Fight of the Night bonus in his last five fights. Fighting at home in Germany he'll be a big fan favorite, and I expect him to put on a show in beating Winner, the former Ultimate Fighter finalist who's trying to bounce back from a dreadful loss to Nik Lentz.
Pick: Siver

Amir Sadollah vs.
Peter Sobotta
Frankly, neither one of these guys is really a UFC-level fighter, but this is the kind of fight that gets made when Spike wants a former Ultimate Fighter winner like Sadollah, and the local fans want one of their own like the German Sobotta. The loser probably loses his spot on the UFC roster, and I think that's Sobotta.
Pick: Sadollah

Krzysztof Soszynski vs.
Goran Reljic
I can still remember attending Reljic's first fight inside the Octagon, at UFC 84 two and a half years ago, and coming away thinking he looked like one of the most promising young fighters in the sport. Unfortunately, Reljic sat out the next year and a half with a back injury and has gone 0-2 since returning early this year. But I like him to keep this fight standing and bounce back against Soszynski, who's better than Reljic on the ground but seriously lacking in his striking.
Pick: Reljic

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