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article imageOp-Ed: UFC 130 Preview and Predictions

By Ustad Khaira     May 27, 2011 in Sports
The UFC makes it return to Las Vegas with UFC 130: Rampage vs Hamill, a card originally headlined by the rematch between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard for the Lightweight Championship.
With both fighters having to pull out of the bout because of injury, the main event now sees Quinton “Rampage” Jackson face off against Matt Hamill in a fight that could determine the next contender for Jon Jones’ Light Heavyweight title.
The card also has two Heavyweights fighting to get into title contention, an Iraq war veteran entering the octagon on Memorial Day weekend against someone returning to the UFC for the first time since late 2006, and a rising Welterweight facing one of the top in the division.
Rampage Jackson (31-8) vs Matt Hamill (11-2)
There is no question that Matt Hamill, is a heavy underdog in this fight, he is challenging one of the very best 205-pound fighters the UFC has to offer, and a win would likely vault Hamill into most people’s top 10 Light Heavyweight rankings. Meanwhile, a win for Jackson would mean a shot at the title against Jon Jones, and with Rampage, saying he intends to retire at age 35 in two years, he will be looking to make one last run at the championship.
The key for Hamill in this fight will be his wrestling. Jackson doesn’t have the best takedown defense, so if he’s able to take Rampage down and wear him out, he might be able to grind out a decision. The biggest mistake Hamill can make is deciding to stand and trade with Jackson.
Rampage has one punch knockout power (see Wanderlei Silva and Chuck Liddell), and so a fight on the feet is one that Rampage will have the advantage in. Matt Hamill isn’t as hard to figure out as Lyoto Machida, so look for Rampage to have no hesitation in going for the finish.
Prediction: Rampage Jackson wins via 2nd Round TKO
Frank Mir (14-5) vs Roy Nelson (16-5)
With Brock Lesnar looking to be on the shelf with diverticulitis again, the winner of this fight will find themselves in the number two contender spot behind the winner of Junior dos Santos and Shane Carwin.
Despite Mir being a former Heavyweight Champion and having more high profile fights, there isn’t much to separate him from Nelson. Both hit hard and are good grapplers and so this fight is likely very close. Where Nelson may have the advantage is his ability to take damage. He went three rounds with Junior dos Santos and was picked apart by a lot of punches, but was never finished. Mir on the other hand, has been brutally finished in the past by Shane Carwin and Brock Lesnar.
Frank Mir thinks he hits harder than dos Santos, pointing to his win over Cheick Kongo as proof, and if he's able to connect with a few clean shots on Nelson, he might be the one to finish him.
It’s a tough fight to call and could go either way. It might very well win fight of the night honours when the event is done.
Prediction: Frank Mir wins via Unanimous Decision
Stefan Struve (24-4) vs Travis Browne (10-0-1)
Struve has show in the past that he can take a lot of punishment and come back to win a fight and in his last fight with Sean McCorkle, showed his ability to finish a fight on the ground. Struve will have his hands full though with heavy hitting Travis Browne, who has won 8 of his 11 fights by knockout.
Struve would be making a big mistake by standing up with Browne, so look for him to take this fight to the floor and try to finish Browne with ground and pound or a submission.
Prediction: Struve wins via 2nd round submission
Thiago Alves (23-6) vs Rick Story (12-3)
Rick Story is on a five fight win streak coming into this fight but is taking a big step up in competition, Thiago Alves is without a doubt the toughest opponent he’s faced in his career. While Story is definitely a tough fighter himself, he may not be ready to take on somebody the calibre of Alves yet.
After dropping two straight decisions to Georges St-Pierre and Jon Fitch, Alves rebounded with a dominant victory over John Howard. He’ll be looking to keep himself involved at the top of the welterweight division with a win in this fight.
Look for Alves to control the fight from start to finish by using his superior striking and avoiding the takedown of Story.
Prediction: Alves wins via Unanimous Decision
Brian Stann (10-3) vs Jorge Santiago (23-8)
In his New Year’s Day fight, Brian Stann did what only Anderson Silva had done before, knockout Chris Leben. A win over Jorge Santiago would move Stann further up the middleweight ladder and he will be the crowds favourite come fight time as the Iraq war veteran fighting on Memorial Day Weekend.
Jorge Santiago comes into this fight with a record of 11-1 since leaving the UFC after a loss to Alan Belcher in December 2006. If Santiago is able to get Stann to the ground he can create a lot of problems with his submission game.
Stann will look to end this fight early with a knockout. Look for him to go after Santiago for the finish in the first round.
Prediction: Stann wins via 1st Round TKO
Under-card Fights:
Miguel Torres (38-3) vs Demetrious Johnson (13-1)
Kendall Grove (14-8) vs Tim Boetsch (12-4)
Gleison Tibau (32-7) vs Rafaello Oliveira (14-3)
Michael McDonald (12-1) vs Chris Cariaso (11-2)
Renan Barao (27-1, 1 NC) vs Cole Escovedo (17-6)
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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