UFC 129 Picks & Predictions

nullUFC 129 takes place tonight from the Rogers Centre in Toronto featuring a very exciting card with two title fights.

Here are my picks for each of the five main-card bouts. The PPV begins at 9PM ET.

UFC Welterweight Championship – Georges St. Pierre (21-2) vs. Jake Shields (26-4-1) – Shields may be the toughest opponent St. Pierre has faced in a while, but I still see the champion running through him. Shields’ striking is miles behind GSP and Shields’ takedown ability is nothing St. Pierre hasn’t seen before. I see St. Pierre keeping the fight standing and picking Shields apart before finishing him in the fourth round by TKO.

UFC Featherweight Champion – Jose Aldo (18-1) vs. Mark Hominick (20-8) – Aldo is an absolute beast and seems unstoppable. Hominick has very quick and powerful hands, but he has not had to deal with someone that has the leg kicks of Aldo. I see Aldo landing a few leg kicks in the first and throwing Hominick off his strategy. From there, look for the champion to pounce and eventually knock the challenger out in the second round.

Light Heavyweight Bout – Randy Couture (19-10) vs. Lyoto Machida (16-2) – My heart says Couture, but my head says Machida. I think Couture will have a good strategy and look to leave it all in the cage, but Machida has some solid grappling ability and will be too elusive in the striking to allow Couture to really implement his game plan. Give me Machida by decision in Couture’s retirement fight.

Lightweight Bout – Mark Bocek (9-3) vs. Ben Henderson (12-2) – Henderson is making his UFC debut and looking to make a statement against Bocek. I see Henderson controlling the fight on his feet and on the ground as he will be too strong for Bocek in both areas. Henderson is smart enough to stay out of submission attempts by Bocek, and that is all the Canadian really has to offer. Give me Benson by decision.

Light Heavyweight Bout – Vladimir Matyushenko (25-5) vs. Jason Brilz (18-3-1) – This fight should be competitive, but I like Brilz to win by decision. He has a good chin and he is relentless with his pursuit to grapple. I suspect once Brilz gets a hold of Matyushenko, he will be able to consistently get him to the ground and get the win in the judges’ eyes.

UFC 129 Weigh-In Results: All but one make weight

nullThe weigh-ins for UFC 129 took place on Friday and all 24 fighters made weight, with the exception of lightweight Ben Henderson.

Henderson weighed in at 156.5 pounds, which is ½ a pound over the limit the athletic commission allows a fighter for a non-title lightweight bout. Henderson will be taking on Mark Bocek on the PPV card Saturday night. If Henderson is unable to make weight after two hours from when he originally weighed in, he must surrender a percentage of his purse to the athletic commission and Bocek. Henderson, a former WEC champion, is making his UFC debut against Bocek.

In the main event, both Georges St. Pierre (169.5) and Jake Shields (169) came in under the 170-pound limit for their welterweight championship bout. GSP received a big ovation from the Toronto crowd while Shields tried to milk up the bad guy role.

Same can be said for the co-main event as Jose Aldo (145) was the villain to local Mark Hominick (145) as both hit their weigh-in marks for their featherweight championship contest.

For complete weigh-in results for UFC 129, check out the jump.

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Updated UFC 129 Odds: Shields closing the gap on GSP

nullUFC 129 takes place from the Rogers Centre in Toronto and all 12 bouts now have betting odds.

I gave the early money lines last week, and now Sportsbook.com has posted the latest odds for all the fights for tomorrow night.

In the main event, Georges St. Pierre opened as the clear favorite against Jake Shields with a money line of -500, but now that line has fallen back all the way to -350. Shields opened with a line of +300 and that is now down to +275. Perhaps betters are starting the believe the hype that this fight is the toughest of GSP’s career.

In the co-main event, UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo opened with odds of -500 but that money line keeps climbing, and is now up to -575. The challenger, Mark Hominick has a money line of +375 after opening at +300. Aldo appears to be unbeatable in the division, which is why his money line just keeps growing.

In one of the other featured bouts, Hall of Famer Randy Couture (+240) is an underdog against former champion, Lyoto Machida (-300).  “The Natural” opened with odds of +250 and is now starting to close the gap on Machida, who opened with odds of -325. Knowing this may be his last fighter, betters are expecting Couture to put on one of his best performances to date.

Click on the jump to find all the odds for UFC 129.

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Anti-Doping Agency feels UFC needs tougher testing

nullIn an article that hasn’t gotten a lot of play nationally, I discovered this piece by Steve Keating from Reuters.com

The article discusses the World Anti-Doping Agency and their desire to see the UFC step up their drug testing for their fighters.

With a record 55,000 mixed martial arts fans expected to pack into the Rogers Center on Saturday for UFC 129, organizers say every fighter stepping into the cage for a title bout will be tested for performance-enhancing drugs.

But the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the Canadian Center for Ethics in Sport (CCES) and USADA say they have had no role in the UFC’s anti-doping efforts and have not tested a single fighter.

Instead, testing has been left to individual state and provincial athletic commissions, which USADA chief Travis Tygart describes as woefully inadequate.

“They want, for public relation and marketing reasons, to say they have something that makes them look better than they truly are,” Tygart told Reuters.

“Why don’t they have better rules to give athletes and sports fans comfort that there is not a rampant culture of cheating with dangerous drugs going on in their sport?

“They’re trying to pull a fast one here.”

The UFC may be dropping the ball a little bit for this event when it comes to drug testing, but as a whole, the organization has seemingly done a good job of keeping fighters honest.

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Hughes vs. Sanchez in the works for 2011

nullIn a little bit of surprising news, MMAMania is reporting that the UFC is working on a future bout between welterweights Matt Hughes and Diego Sanchez.

Hughes, a current UFC Hall of Famer and former welterweight champion, is coming off a 21-second knockout loss to B.J. Penn at UFC 123, but had won his last three fights prior to that.

Sanchez is coming off back-to-back decision wins over Paulo Thiago and Martin Kampmann. He is 2-1 since making his return to welterweight after losing to Penn for the lightweight championship back in December of 2009.

This fight would be intriguing as Sanchez has a high motor and is somewhat reckless. He relies on his grappling and pressure to really win fights, but will be facing a stronger grappler in Hughes. Hughes also shows more composure and patience with his fighting.

I am a little surprised to see Hughes taking this fight as I felt like he was leaning toward retirement following the loss to Penn. If he was to fight again, I thought it would be more along the lines of another fight with Matt Serra or a fight against an older fighter to allow himself a better chance to go out on a win. This is a tough fight for Hughes, but is still one that he can win.