UFC 148 Picks

UFC 148 - Saturday, July 7, 2012, 9pm ET, MGM Grand Garden Area, Las Vegas, NV, Pay-Per-View
by Evergreen, UFC Handicapper, Predictem.com

Forrest Griffin (6’3″ 205 lbs, 16-6-0) v. Tito Ortiz (6’3″ 205 lbs, 17-9-1)
The penultimate match of UFC 148 will be the last time Tito Ortiz enters the Octagon as a mixed martial artist and it is fitting that the UFC legend gets a chance to go out on what maybe the most watched pay-per-view of the year.

The “Hungtington Beach Bad Boy” takes on Forrest Griffin in the final installment of their three fight series that now stands at one win a piece.Ortiz got the better of Griffin with a split decision win at UFC 59 with Forrest earning the split decision nod at UFC 106.The rubber match of this saga has little to no impact of the light heavyweight division but fans may be seeing the last fight for both competitors and we could see a heck of a fight if both decide to let it all hang it out.Bovada has Forrest as the heavy favorite, currently -315 with Tito at +245.

Not much has gone right for Ortiz since his win against Forrest in their first battle, going just 3-6-1, although that record was compiled against premier competition like Chuck Liddell, Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans.Injuries have hampered the former Light Heavyweight Champion in recent years but a stunning submission victory against Ryan Bader saw him thrust back toward the top of the division.KO losses against Evans and Little Nog have followed and now he faces Saturday’s farewell bout.

Griffin is a former division champ himself and he is an appropriate foe for Ortiz not only to settle the score from past fights but to figure out just where the TUF legend’s career is heading.A win from Forrest won’t do much past getting him another PPV match but a loss will likely send him to Dana White’s office for a chat about who he may want to fight in his retirement bout.

Both fighters are well rounded and plenty experienced but Griffin is the better pure striker and does possess a three inch reach advantage.Ortiz all but invented the ground and pound game and remains most dangerous after the takedown with submissions also a strength.I can’t imagine anything other than these two coming straight at each other, Forrest looking for a knockout and Tito for an opportunity to shoot, and we should see a war similar to what we have seen twice already.

This match is tough to handicap because there is no knowing how Ortiz will approach this fight inside the Octagon.There is no doubt that he wants to win his last fight but will that lead to taking some greater risks and maybe getting caught by a very capable striker?Griffin has his back against the wall and needs to be impressive in victory if he wants to be more than a gatekeeper in the division, so I see him coming out firing.If Tito can avoid getting tagged early he should be able to strike effectively and find a way to get this one to the ground where he will be able to score.Although both fighters have plenty of cardio for the three rounder, look for Ortiz to be better as the fight goes longer.These two have essentially fought to a six round draw and we should expect a decision this weekend as well.

My Pick to Win: Ortiz (decision)
There would have been a lot easier opponents for Tito to go out against but I see “The People’s Champ” finding a way to make Forrest fight defensively and then take him down.Griffin is hard to put away but has been prone to the knockout.Ortiz won’t likely look to end this on the feet but if he can clip Forrest and gain control, he still has the advantage on the ground from an offensive standpoint.Check with the MMA betting sites as the weekend gets closer, as I’m sure the prop bet lines will have some juicy lines for an early Ortiz win by KO.You never know, some wars get ended with one shot.

Anderson Silva (6’2″ 185 lbs, 29-4-0) v. Chael Sonnen (6’1″ 185 lbs, 25-10-1)
The main event of UFC 148 may be the most highly anticipated rematch in UFC history and may be the most hate-filled bout considering all the trash talk that has occurred.You couldn’t have missed the verbal barbs that have been traded between the Silva and Sonnen camps so I won’t reset those, mostly because this is such a great matchup without all the smack.

If you have followed MMA for more than a few years, you know all about how dominant Anderson Silva has been in defending the Middleweight title since 2006.He had controlled the division so completely that no one thought that the first Chael Sonnen contest at UFC 117 would be anything other than another easy defense.Shockingly, we saw Sonnen all but dominate Silva both in the striking game and on the ground for four and a half rounds before the champion threw a hail-mary of a submission and ended the challenger with a triangle choke.Both fighters have gone on to win both of their respective fights since and we get the treat of seeing the rematch with Sonnen promising to retire with a loss, further adding juice to an already electric matchup.The MMA sportsbooks have Sonnen as a big underdog, most commonly listed in the +225 range with Silva at -285 to retain the title.

Anderson obviously had to prove that the August 2010 was a fluke and certainly has with knockout wins against Vitor Belfort and Yushin Okami.The second round win against Okami was Silva’s 18thprofessional KO and you won’t found a more dynamic and impactful striker in the UFC.Silva knows that Sonnen will try to get him to the ground and Anderson has a history of being taken down but he does possess a great Brazilian Jiu Jitsu game, as he proved in the first match.If “The Spider” can keep this standing, there is little chance Sonnen can win a striking match.

Sonnen has recovered from his UFC 117 loss very well with wins against Brian Stann and Michael Bisping to earn another title shot.He’s been talking an unbelievable amount trash since, the kind that WWE fans would find excessive, and has even prompted Silva to break his stony demeanor and fire back.All that might be an attempt to try and unseat Silva from his game plan but no matter the reason for all the chirping, Chael does have the tools to win this weekend.Being the better wrestler, Sonnen will test the takedown defense of the champ as he did in the first match and will look do so to end the fight once on the ground.Chael is a smart striker, making counter strikes tough and he’s obviously been working on not getting caught in a submission.

My Pick to Win: Silva (3rdround KO)
Sonnen found a way to survive Silva’s striking for longer than anyone but I think that means he is due to get caught.I doubt Anderson will let himself get in or stay in trouble as he did the first time around and he seems sufficiently pissed off to send Sonnen on his way.Look for Silva to strike in order to keep Sonnen at bay and utilize a superb clinch game that he didn’t in the first fight.If Sonnen can succeed with a takedown, he’s likely to be a little tentative and it’s hard to do damage from the top when you’re not aggressive with the ground and pound.There are few maybe none that can hang with Anderson for five full rounds.Chael did it once and lightning won’t strike twice.