I have been eagerly awaiting this weekend’s UFC 98 event for some time now, particularly due to the strong under card.
Phillipe Nover makes his return to the Octagon after having lost to Efrain Escudero in the TUF 8 finale, Soszynski and Larson both make quick turn arounds coming off strong wins in April and others beef up the night’s schedule of preliminary bouts.
Let’s dig into what could lead 6 of these 12 men to victory…
Phillipe Nover vs. Kyle Bradley: Quite likely to make pay-per-view time if Nover wins in convincing fashion, due to his name recognition from the TUF 8 finale. Bradley has lost his last two fights in the UFC and desperately needs a win, but Nover is a tough test. Phillipe’s key to success lies in pushing the aggression while never letting Bradley score a solid take down.
Brock Larson vs. Mike Pyle Chris Wilson: I love this match-up and see it possibly going to decision if Wilson is able to utilize his crisp striking to keep Larson at bay. That being said, Brock is the definition of powerful at 170 lbs and will likely keep Chris uncomfortable in the pocket, setting up take down opportunities which could translate into a submission win for Larson.
Wilson was unable to provide detailed enough medical paperwork to be cleared to fight, so replacement Mike Pyle will now fight Brock Larson.
Tim Hague vs. Patrick Barry: After wrecking Dan Evensen at UFC 92, the kickboxing specialist Barry will return Saturday night to display why his striking should be feared by all up-and-comers in his division. Hague has plenty of (T)KO victories to his credit, yet the UFC jitters could rob him of some power as he makes his first entrance into the big show.
Andre Gusmao vs. Krzysztof Soszynski: Gusmao has openly stated he suffered from the Octagon jitters in his last outing, but is certainly not being done any favors by receiving Soszynski as a replacement opponent after Houston Alexander was injured during training. Andre must stick to his game plan from beginning to very end if he should pull off a win against the ever-improving and crafty Soszynski.
Yoshiyuki Yoshida vs. Brandon Wolff: Wolff was serverely dominated in his UFC debut by surging welterweight Ben Saunders. In this second chance at proving himself on the world’s biggest MMA stage, he must avoid Yoshida’s world class Judo throws and maintain excellent balance during the stand-up exchanges.
Dave Kaplan vs. George Roop: Kaplan will need to showcase improved speed and versatility on the ground if he wishes to quickly best fellow TUF 8 castmate George Roop this weekend. Roop’s ground game is solid for his skill level and is the route to a win against Kaplan. I expect this bout to hit the mat soon after action gets underway.