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UFC 78: Preview and Predictions...By Jay Graziani

UFC 78: Validation
Saturday, November 17th, 10 PM ET
Prudential Center, Newark, NJ
Weigh-in: Friday, November 16th, 4 PM ET

UFC 77 was a lackluster card, and this month's installment is no better. Originally rumored to feature promising bouts in Brandon Vera vs. Andre Arlovski and Sean Sherk vs. B.J. Penn, it has now been reduced to a showdown of "The Ultimate Fighter" reality show contestants, and the debut of 2 more PRIDE veterans, the novelty of which has already worn off.

Here's a preview of Saturday night's fights, with current odds from

Akihiro "The Japanese Sensation" Gono (27-12-7) vs. Tamdan "The Barn Cat" McCrory (8-0-0)
Current Odds: Gono -255; McCrory +205

Gono has an extensive career, holding stints in Shooto, Pancrase, and, most recently, PRIDE. McCrory is extremely lanky for a welterweight, measuring in at 6'4", 9 inches taller than his opponent. He is also very young at 21, 12 years the junior to Gono. This is McCrory's second UFC effort, previously winning against Pete Spratt at UFC Fight Night 10. Gono's experience and endurance will likely be too much for McCrory. Prediction: Gono, 1st round TKO.

Luke "Lil' Hulk" Caudillo (13-8-0) vs. Marcus "Maximus" Aurelio (14-5-0)
Current Odds: Caudillo +350; Aurelio -450

Like McCrory, Caudillo also made his UFC debut at Fight Night 10, although Caudillo took a decision loss on the night at the hands of Nate Mohr. Aurelio followed in the footsteps of other PRIDE veterans by losing his UFC debut to Clay Guida at UFC 74. While Aurelio came into the UFC highly regarded, he has lost his last 3 fights. Aurelio's tough BJJ should give him an easy slump-breaker win over an inexperienced opponent who looks to be over his head. Prediction: Aurelio, 1st round TKO.

Jason Reinhardt (18-0-0) vs. Joe "J-Lau" Lauzon (15-3-0)
Current Odds: Reinhardt +400; Lauzon -550

Reinhardt comes out of the same mold as numerous recent UFC newcomers - an impressive record built through minor promotions against weak competition. Regardless, he is an aggressive fighter, who in 18 wins has only seen the second round twice and has never made it to the third. Lauzon is talented and experienced for his age, and training in Hilo with BJ Penn won't hurt. Lauzon has 4 inches in height and 15 years on his opponent, and Reinhardt is also coming up significantly in weight. Lauzon should win handily, but the long odds favor a lean towards Reinhardt in the always-surprising UFC. Prediction: Lauzon, 1st round submission.

Chris "Lights Out" Lytle (24-14-5) vs. Thiago "Pitbull" Alves (12-3-0)
Current Odds: Lytle +160; Alves -200

Alves is a lesser-known UFC veteran who has gone 5-2 in UFC including winning his last 3. He is a strong Muay Thai fighter and can also mix it up on the ground. Though Lytle has more name recognition, he has struggled against his best opponents. The line is about right here, so I'll lean towards the experienced underdog. Prediction: Lytle by TKO.

Frank "The Answer" Edgar (7-0-0) vs. Spencer "The King" Fisher (20-3-0)
Current Odds: Edgar -140; Fisher +110

Fisher is a decent 3-2 in the UFC, but flying under the radar to most fans. Edgar is undefeated including a notable unanimous decision over Tyson Griffin in February, and is fighting in front of a friendly New Jersey crowd. Should be a fairly even fight, but Edgar's wrestling background should give him the necessary edge over Fisher when this fight inevitably makes it to the mat. Prediction: Edgar, 2nd round submission.

Ryo "Piranha" Chonan (14-7-0) vs. Karo "The Heat" Parisyan (17-5-0)
Current Odds: Chonan +275, Parisyan -345

Chonan takes his experience from the Japanese circuit as a rollover from PRIDE. One of the few Judo experts to migrate to UFC, Parisyan is an impressive 8-2 during his 3-1/2 years in the UFC, with those 2 losses being close decisions to tough fighters. Chonan is a tough fighter, but Parisyan is among the best in MMA and, given the freshman jitters of PRIDE imports to the UFC lately, worth a bet even at the steep odds. Prediction: Parisyan, 3rd round submission.

Joe "El Dirte" Doerksen (39-10-0) vs. Ed "Short Fuse" Herman (13-5-0)
Current Odds: Doerkson +130; Herman -160

It has been almost 2 months since Doerksen saw the inside of a UFC octagon, putting together a 1-3 stint in the big leagues before retreating to smaller promotions. He is back here as a late replacement for David Terrell and fighting on only about 2 weeks notice. Herman is starting to get back on track with consecutive wins following losses in his first two UFC events. These two met over 3 years ago in a small event that saw Herman losing via triangle choke in the 3rd round. Herman is much improved since then, and this should be little more than a stepping stone fight for him. Prediction: Herman, 2nd round TKO.

Thiago Silva (11-0-0) vs. Houston "The Assassin" Alexander (8-1-0)
Current Odds: Silva +125; Alexander -155

Alexander is 35 years old, but grabbed the attention of UFC fans with a stunning upset of Keith Jardine. He is a tough striker who finishes fast - only 2 of his fights have made it out of the first round, and half his wins have come in 1:01 or less. Silva is an undefeated BJJ black belt out of the Chute Boxe camp who has made fairly short work out of his opponents thus far. Silva is one of the more talented up-and-comers and I'm surprised to see him as an underdog with 10 years and a much better ground game in his favor. Prediction: Silva, 2nd round submission.

Michael "The Count" Bisping (14-0-0) vs. Rashad "Sugar" Evans (10-0-1)
Current Odds: Bisping +245, Evans -305

Originally rumored to be the second installment of Evans vs. Tito Ortiz, Evans still has a tough fight on his hands in the likewise undefeated Bisping. Though Bisping was unimpressive in a decision win over the ox-like Matt Hamill, both of these fighters have shown plenty of talent but haven't had a chance to really showcase it yet. This fight is closer than the odds would suggest, and I will take a shot on a strong bounce-back performance from Bisping. Prediction: Bisping, 2nd round TKO.

Picks (19-19 -6.60 units; Best Bets: 4-5, -1.60 units)
Karo Parisyan -345
Ed Herman -160 (Best Bet)
Thiago Silva +125 (Best Bet)
Michael Bisping +245

Opinions (26-21 -4.05 units)
Akihiro Gono -255
Marcus Aurelio -450
Jason Reinhardt +400
Chris Lytle +160
Frank Edgar -140

Jay Graziani

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