My boys Joe Daddy and Kendall will both be fighting, as well as GSP at UFC 74 - Respect on August 25th in Las Vegas, Nevada. The UFC heavyweight title will also be on the line, the weltwerweight log-jam will continue to clear up, and it's taking place at Manadaly Bay, which is one of my favorite venues here in Vegas. The rest of the card is starting to shape up nicely as well with a few curious TBA's that could also end up being good fights. Here's what it looks like so far...
-Randy Couture vs. Gabriel Gonzaga (Heavyweight Title Bout)
-Josh Koscheck vs. Georges St. Pierre (Welterweight Bout)
-Diego Sanchez vs. Hayato Sakurai (Welterweight Bout)
-Kurt Pellegrino vs. Joe Stevenson (Lightweight Bout)
-Patrick Cote vs. Kendall Grove (Middleweight Bout)
-Tim Sylvia vs. TBA (Heavyweight Bout)
-Ryan Jensen vs. Travis Lutter (Middleweight Bout)
-Seth Petruzelli vs. TBA (Light-Heavyweight Bout)
-Christian Wellisch vs. TBA (Heavyweight Bout)
Couture will surely have his hands full with Gonzaga, as Couture has always had difficulty against larger opponents who are very adept on the ground (see: Josh Barnett and Ricco Rodriguez). Gonzaga also has proven to be explosive on his feet, which could negate Couture's only equalizer. I'm taking Gonzaga via TKO in Round 4.
The winner of the Koscheck-GSP fight will be next in line for a title shot, but will more than likely have to fight once more before getting that shot at the winner of Serra vs. Hughes, because that fight doesn't take place until December. The most likely scenario would see the winner of Koscheck vs. GSP fight the winner of a possible Parisyan vs. Fitch fight, that ideally would be put on the UFC 76 on September 22nd in Anaheim. I would have to pick GSP via TKO and Parisyan via decision. That would set up a GSP vs. Parisyan rematch in December, right around the time that Serra and Hughes will fight. The winners of those two matches would then fight sometime in early April of 2008.
Diego Sanchez is certainly not being eased lightly back into his winning ways, as the UFC is throwing one of the biggest Pride stars in Hayato Sakurai at him in his first fight back since suffereing his first career loss via decision in April. Sakurai is a small welterweight, fighting more naturally at 160 and dominating at 155, but should certainly give Diego a competitive fight, as he easily stopped a very formidable grappler in Mac Danzig at the Pride show in February.
I train with Joe Daddy and Kendall and don't see them losing any time soon. They are better known as former TUF champions, but more importantly, Joe Daddy has been unstoppable at 155 and Kendall is flawless a 3-0 in the UFC. I see Joe Daddy submitting Kurt Pellegrino and Kendall doing likewise by submitting Patrick Cote.
Travis Lutter will also be making his return to the UFC (and the building Mandalay Bay), where he is notorious for missing weight in his title shot last February against Anderson Silva. Even though Lutter was weak and dehydrated in that fight, he dominated Anderson in the first round, before succumbing to a triangle in the second. He will have to look to use the same strategy he tried with Anderson against Ryan Jensen. Jensen is a very proficient striker who will be making his long-awaited UFC debut. He holds an impressive 11-1 record with his only loss coming to WEC #1 contender Brock Larson who is 21-1. Jensen is also no slouch on the ground, but Lutter will definitely have the edge there. I'm taking Lutter via decision (if he can make weight).
Tim Sylvia, Seth Petruzelli, and Christian Wellisch still have not found out who they will be facing, but Joe Silva has plenty of interesting possibilities. Sylvia is coming off a disappointing loss to Couture and Fabricio Werdum is coming off a disappointing loss to Andrei Arlovski. I think Sylvia vs. Werdum would definitely give the fans something to get excited about, as they will both be hungry for a win in this classic striker vs. grappler match-up. Petruzelli is desperate for a win as he is 0-2 since competing on TUF 2. I don't see his luck changing any time soon and would love to see Forrest Griffin follow up his win over Hector Ramirez by jumping back in the cage with Petruzelli in August. As for Wellisch, he has left much to the imagination after a 1-1 tenure in the UFC. He trains with a great camp at AKA and I wouldn't mind seeing him fight Brandon Vera, after Vera sat out the past few months due to slowed contract negotiations. If that happens, I see Vera jumping all over Wellisch in the first round as a statement to the rest of the UFC heavyweights that he is back and should not have been forgotten.