The staff weighs in on UFC Fight Night

Originally Published: March 22, 2011
ESPN.com

Leonard GarciaJosh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC/Getty ImagesLeonard García, right, delivers punishment but also absorbs a lot. Can Chan Sung Jung do the same?
Here are our picks for UFC Fight Night Seattle:

Leonard Garcia versus Chan Sung Jung

Jon Anik: Garcia by TKO -- Technical it was not, but the first fight between Garcia and Jung was one of the most memorable of 2010. Expect a more controlled atmosphere for the rematch, with the Korean Zombie trying to hit the canvas and secure a submission, as opposed to engaging in a 15-minute exchange of haymakers. Garcia has been submitted only once in his career, though. He'll get the better of the stand-up and eventually the TKO.

Josh Gross: Garcia TKO -- Everyone watching Saturday will expect Garcia and the "Korean Zombie" to engage in the kind of wild brawl that captivated fans 11 months ago. But that hardly seems fair. The likely outcome, based on Garcia's participation, is some sort of split decision (five of his last six fights have split the judges), yet I'm calling a stoppage. Jung was knocked out by a kick to the head in his last bout, and while it's impossible to know for sure just how much was taken out of him after his last two outings, I think it's enough that he'll be unable to put together another prolonged war.

Franklin McNeil: Jung by decision -- Every fight Garcia participates in seems to be an all-out assault. He delivers punishment but also absorbs a lot. Too many wars eventually take a toll on every fighter. One must wonder if Garcia has reached his limit. Despite having lost two fights in a row, the most recent by vicious KO, Jung has much fewer battle scares than Garcia. The Zombie was wronged the first time these two slugged it out, losing by split decision. He will be just as aggressive in this rematch, but the judges should get it right this time around.

Chuck Mindenhall: Jung by decision -- Garcia's anticipated rematch with Nam Phan would have been fun; Garcia's anticipated rematch with the Korean Zombie? Must-see TV. Their first scrap in the WEC won fight of the year honors, but you're a romantic if you think they'll duplicate that brawl (though they have a better shot at it than Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin did when they rematched). Having lost two in a row, I see Jung getting off the schneid and eking out a decision to even the score with Garcia.

Brett Okamoto: Garcia by decision -- Very tough fight to predict. Garcia's coach, Greg Jackson, wants more technique, less street brawl in the rematch, but I don't know if he's going to be able to talk his student into doing so. If anyone in the cage is hesitant to throw caution to the wind, it will likely be the Zombie, who has his UFC career to think about (0-2 so far under the Zuffa brand). Then again, if the fight goes anything like the first, hard to believe it will do anything but help the careers of both guys.

Darius Ortiz: Garcia by decision -- Garcia and Jung gave a whole lot to MMA fans in their first fight, but they left a little bit of themselves in the cage. Jackson's game plan for Garcia goes out the window before his charge even steps foot in the arena, but Garcia's heart and durability should see him earn the nod in another close contest.

SadollahJosh Hedges/Getty Images"The Ultimate Fighter" Season 7 champion Amir Sadollah has had mixed fortune in the Octagon so far.

DaMarques Johnson versus Amir Sadollah

Anik: Sadollah by decision -- Count me among those who have doubted Sadollah and Johnson. A win here is a virtual must for both fighters, as the UFC roster has never been more swollen. Sadollah is smart enough to stay away from Johnson's hands and strong enough to win the war in the clinch.

Gross: Sadollah by decision -- One of the least interesting fights on the card gets TV time because of Sadollah's "The Ultimate Fighter" victory in 2008. Johnson, a late replacement for James Wilks, another TUF welterweight winner, is a puncher and can find submissions. However, neither fighter has made the kind of statement in competition that leads me to believe he'll contend at welterweight (or anywhere else) in the years ahead. Sadollah's striking game offers more variety than Johnson's, and he seems to have a knack for going the distance.

McNeil: Sadollah by decision -- "The Ultimate Fighter" Season 7 champ possesses enough talent to be a successful mixed martial artist, but he has struggled to find his rhythm inside the Octagon. But in his most recent win, a unanimous decision in November over Peter Sobotta, he showed glimpses of the fighter most expected him to become. The key for Sadollah is to keep this fight standing; he doesn't want to be on the ground against Johnson. Sadollah is an intelligent fighter who will figure out ways to remain on his feet and walk away victorious.

Mindenhall: Sadollah by decision -- Sadollah was supposed to fight kickboxer Duane Ludwig (scotched with an injury), then submission wrestler Wilks (who got hurt in training), and now he ends up with boxer Johnson. If Sadollah doesn't know who he's punching, it's understandable, but having centered on three guys with distinctly different technical talking points over the last eight weeks, he hasn't skimped in any one area coming in.

Okamoto: Sadollah by decision -- Both guys having little time to prepare for one another. My guess is Sadollah's Muay Thai is more difficult to adapt to on the fly than Johnson's boxing. On paper, it looks like a close fight, and I think it will play out that way. In the end, I like Sadollah on points.

Ortiz: Sadollah by decision -- Sadollah's game lacks firepower, but it's also a bit more dynamic. All bets are off if Johnson taps Sadollah on the chin, but I suspect Sadollah fights from a distance, clinches when things get too close for comfort and racks up points for a unanimous-decision victory.

Dan HardyJosh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty ImagesReady for "Rumble": Dan Hardy, right, is out for revenge and redemption.

Dan Hardy versus Anthony Johnson

Anik: Hardy by TKO -- Perhaps Hardy is a custom-made opponent for Johnson, as the latter reacquaints himself with the Octagon for the first time since 2009. Despite few notable wins on his résumé, "Rumble" is among the most popular fighters in the UFC because of his killer combination of size and power. Physically, Johnson may look the part of future UFC champion, but Hardy is far more experienced against top competition, having gone 25 minutes with UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. Hardy is a hungry dude following two straight losses, and if the Brit can keep his chin tucked and hands up he can extend the fight and take the bigger man out in the third round.

Gross: Hardy by decision -- Fighters with questions to answer meet in this welterweight clash, which based on their styles should result in an entertaining contest. Despite Hardy has lost his last two (including the first true knockout of his career against Carlos Condit), he's still worth picking against Johnson, who returns to fight for the first time since November 2009. Johnson has all the power a fighter could want, but will he find his target? I say probably not. Hardy will do enough to score and impress the judges.

McNeil: Hardy by decision -- Johnson is the more gifted fighter in this matchup, but two variables could work against him: the weight cut and a long layoff. Johnson is a huge welterweight who has resisted suggestions that he move to middleweight. In his most recent fight, he struggled to make weight against Josh Koscheck, and his performance suffered. Koscheck submitted him in two rounds. The loss to Koscheck occurred in November 2009. Cage rust is likely to hinder Johnson early in this fight. Hardy will be the fresher fighter in this stand-up battle.

Mindenhall: Johnson by KO -- It's been a long 17 months for Johnson, who before losing to Koscheck in November of 2009 was being groomed for stardom. A knee injury has sidelined Rumble until now, and bad weight cuts have hurt him (he has shed nearly 50 pounds to compete at welterweight). All true. But if Hardy arrived to the cage wrapped with a bow, it would be apt because his style will make for a nice "knockout of the night" bonus check for the hard-hitting Johnson.

Okamoto: Johnson by KO -- Rumors of Johnson's weight ballooning to 230 pounds does warrant a little risk. We've seen Rumble fail to make weight in the past, despite killing his body in the effort. That will be a storyline to follow, but regardless I think Johnson's return to the cage following a knee injury will be a successful one. Thus far, Hardy has looked overwhelmed against the elite fighters of the division, and I consider Johnson on the fringe of that.

Ortiz: Hardy by decision -- This is serious business for both men. No matter how colorful and popular he is, Hardy has admitted he can't afford another loss in the UFC. Johnson's body has proven to be as tough a challenge to overcome as anyone standing across from him in the Octagon. Rumble has the style to take out Hardy, but by the time he finds his rhythm and shakes the rust Saturday, it will be too little, too late.

Phil DavisJosh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC/Getty ImagesPhil Davis', right, wrestling acumen allows him to dictate where the fight goes.

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira versus Phil Davis

Anik: Davis by submission -- This fight is all about the Penn State product Davis, who won an NCAA wrestling title (at 197 pounds) in 2008. They say you can't beat a top-level fighter until you actually face one. Here, Nogueira qualifies. "Lil Nog" may be removed from his prime, but he did beat Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem twice back in the day and still packs some of that fight-finishing power and overall savvy. It won't be on display here, as the physically gifted Davis will work his magic on the mat and hand the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt the first submission loss of his career. The talk of Davis someday facing newly minted UFC champion Jon Jones is already underway, and this performance will only give that conversation more traction.

Gross: Davis by decision -- Here we go again. Tried and true veteran versus a wildly talented and athletic kid. Much of the outcome depends on what Nogueira brings to the table. He's still capable of pulling out a meaningful effort, but his last two fights suggest the Brazilian has slowed down. If that's the case, he won't have any space to work against Davis, who can wrestle anyone and has quickly realized his body and grappling style work together perfectly in MMA. I don't think Davis finds a submission here, and it would be out of character for him to stand and finish Nogueira. But a points win is highly likely.

McNeil: Davis by TKO -- The future looks bright for Davis, but there is one glaring hole in his game: striking from the stand-up. According to those close to Davis, he continues to improve in that area. But he isn't likely to test his improving stand-up skills against a skilled boxer such as Lil Nog. Davis will get this fight on the ground, where his speed, power and superior wrestling abilities will neutralize any attempt by Nogueira to apply a submission hold. This fight will end with Davis pounding out the 34-year-old Nogueira. Defeating Nogueira will be a major feather in Davis' MMA cap and likely move him up a few spots in the ESPN.com light heavyweight rankings.

Mindenhall: Davis by TKO -- With the UFC's new crop of stars, Davis is certainly one of the most intriguing. With his wrestling base and Dwight Howard physique, Davis is materializing as a possible (and maybe the only) challenger to Jones, but this appointment with Lil Nog is the stiffest test of his career. Given that Ryan Bader was able to dictate his fight with Nogueira at UFC 119, it's hard to imagine a scenario in which Davis can't. I think he clips Nogueira and pounces for his first TKO in the UFC.

Okamoto: Davis by decision -- No question a big step up in competition for Davis, but one I feel he's ready for. Davis' style might resemble the man Nogueira was supposed to fight (Tito Ortiz), but his speed, strength and length make him a nightmare of a matchup. I can definitely see Davis ending the fight, but considering how dangerous Nogueira is on the ground his willingness to take risks might be lower than in previous fights. I predict a dominant, 30-27 score.

Ortiz: Davis by decision -- A young, athletic wrestler such as Davis is Nogueira's worst style matchup. It's hard to imagine Davis stopping or submitting Lil Nog, but not too hard to envision him taking down the Pride vet over and over again en route to a decision victory.

Jon Anik is the host of "MMA Live." Follow him on Twitter at Jon_Anik.

Josh Gross covers MMA for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter at JoshGrossESPN.

Franklin McNeil covers MMA and boxing for ESPN.com. He also appears regularly on "MMA Live," which airs on ESPN2. Follow him on Twitter at Franklin_McNeil.

Chuck Mindenhall covers MMA for ESPN.com and is a features writer at FIGHT! magazine. He can be followed on Twitter at @ChuckMindenhall.

Brett Okamoto covers MMA for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter at bokamotoESPN.

Darius Ortiz is the boxing and MMA editor for ESPN.com.