Fighter vs. Writer is back, this time for a showdown with a legend. After speaking with former UFC light heavyweight champion and MMA great Chuck Liddell to get his recollections from the last UFC event in Japan, I was also fortunate enough to get his predictions on some of the fights on UFC 144’s main card.
And while I may not be a famous man in Tokyo (thanks to Ariel Helwani, now we know that), I can still hold my own in a head-to-head fight-picking contest with the best of them. Mr Liddell, it’s an honor and a privilege.
Frankie Edgar vs. Ben Henderson
Liddell: Edgar via TKO. "That’s going to be an exciting fight. I like both those guys, but I’ve got to go with Frankie. That guy can fight. I can’t go against Frankie...I mean, I have before, both times with B.J. and the second time with Gray. But he’s tough, man."
Fowlkes: Edgar via decision. I’ve also been burned when I picked against the undersized, underrated Edgar, and I’m not making the same mistake again. Henderson may very well prove to be his toughest test yet, but I think Edgar’s quickness and overall savvy with be enough to edge the challenger on the scorecards.
Quinton Jackson vs. Ryan Bader
Liddell: Jackson via TKO. "Bader, I think there’s a question mark on his chin after getting dropped by Tito. Tito’s not known for his power (laughs), and Rampage is. That’s dangerous for him."
Fowlkes: Bader via decision. It’s somewhat unfair, since Chuck made his prediction before Rampage missed weight and blamed it on injuries, but I’ll take my advantages however I can get them. Jackson’s motivation was already a question for me (as was Bader’s chin), but knowing that he’s not coming into this fight at 100 percent makes me rethink my initial pick. I like Bader’s chances to take out a diminished Jackson -- as long as he can stay conscious.
Mark Hunt vs.
Liddell: Hunt via TKO. "I like this one just to sit down and watch. Those two guys should hit each other a bunch. As long as they don’t turn it into a wrestling match, I’m good."
Fowlkes: Hunt via TKO. It’s possible that Kongo will out-wrestle him, but I doubt it. He’s giving up too much size and strength, and Hunt’s grappling gets better every time we see him. If Kongo has to stand in front of him -- and eventually he will -- he’s getting knocked out.
Jake Shields vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama
Liddell: Shields via decision. "You know, I’m a little biased here. I like Jake. I think he takes him down and controls him. I’d like to see him submit him, but I think it’ll probably go to decision."
Fowlkes: Shields via decision. He’s the superior grappler, and unlike Akiyama he never seems to feel the need to take unnecessary risks just to make sure the crowd gets its money’s worth. It’s resulted in fewer bonuses for him lately, but more victories.
Anthony Pettis vs. Joe Lauzon
Liddell: No pick. Chuck explained that he hadn’t watched enough footage on either man, and didn’t feel comfortable making a blind pick. Can’t blame him for that. Of course, the Fighter vs. Writer Unified Rules clearly state that he cannot receive credit for this one unless it ends in a draw, a no contest, or just flat out doesn’t happen for any reason.
Fowlkes: Pettis via decision. It’s going to be an interesting challenge for him, but he’s better than Lauzon on the feet and a good enough wrestler to keep it there. I think he clearly outpoints Lauzon down the stretch, even if he might not be able to put him away.
Liddell picks: Edgar, Jackson, Hunt, Shields, nobody
Fowlkes picks: Edgar, Bader, Hunt, Shields, Pettis