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UFC 88: Preview and Predictions...By Jay Graziani

UFC 88:Breakthrough
Saturday, September 6th, 10 PM ET
Philips Arena, Atlanta
Weigh-in: Friday, September 5th, 4 PM ET, live on
Current odds from

Roan "Jucao" Carneiro (12-7-0) vs. Ryo "Piranha" Chonan (14-8-0)
Current Odds: Carneiro -110; Chonan -120

Carneiro is coming off a stunning loss to Kevin Burns, a fight in which he was a 9-to-2 favorite before being submitted in the 2nd round. Chonan migrated from the PRIDE and DEEP promotions to lose his Octagon debut to Karo Parisyan via decision. These two have faced off before, a DEEP fight stopped in Chonan's favor. Carneiro's jiu-jitsu gives him the technical edge, but Chonan went the distance with Parisyan and he should be able to handle whatever Carneiro throws at him. Prediction: Chonan by decision.

Jason "The Punisher" Lambert (23-8-0) vs. Jason "The Athlete" MacDonald (20-10-0)
Current Odds: Lambert +150; MacDonald -180

Lambert has now lost 3 of his last 4, including a KO loss to newcomer Luiz Cane in June. MacDonald is also on a slide, losing 3 of his last 5, the most recent loss less than a month ago against Demian Maya. MacDonald will have a significant height and reach advantage which should help him hold off Lambert in standup. Lambert should hold his own on the mat, though MacDonald might be able to turn the jiu-jitsu to his advantage. I'm a little concerned with the short layoff for MacDonald, especially considering his recent performance, but the line is low enough to lean his way. Prediction: MacDonald, 3rd round submission.

Dong Hyun "Stun Gun" Kim (10-0-1) vs. Matt "The Immortal" Brown (7-6-0)
Current Odds: Kim -350; Brown +280

Kim made his UFC debut in May, winning as a 3-to-1 favorite. He has a strong background in Judo and is undefeated in mixed martial arts competition. Matt Brown is a TUF 7 contestant who trains with Rich Franklin and is known primarily as a heavy striker. He won his UFC debut against Matt Arroyo at The Ultimate Finale 7, but he may be a bit over his head here against a much more well-rounded opponent. Nonetheless, the line is high enough to lean his way. Prediction: Brown, 2nd round TKO.

Tim "The Barbarian" Boetsch (7-2-0) vs. Michael Patt (12-2-0)
Current Odds: Boetsch -375; Patt +300

Patt is making his UFC debut, having compiled a decent resume in small promotions, including Bodog Fight. He has good kickboxing skills and an excellent submission game, with 9 of his wins coming via tapout. Boetsch is coming off a loss to Matt Hamill after winning his UFC debut, bringing him to 1-1 inside the Octagon, though it's notable that both of his appearances were as a replacement fighter coming in on short notice. Both have limited experience, and while Boetsch holds the edge in strength and wrestling, Patt is more talented in standup and should be able to finesse his way around his opponent on the ground. I'll call for the upset. Prediction: Patt, 1st round submission.

Thiago Tavares (13-2-0) vs. Kurt "Batman" Pellegrino (11-4-0)
Current Odds: Tavares -300; Pellegrino +240

Tavares is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist with a 3-2 record in the UFC, including losses against Tyson Griffin and most recently Matt Wiman, a fight which saw him KO'ed as a 4-to-1 favorite. Pellegrino has put together a 3-3 record in the Octagon with notable losses to Nate Diaz and Joe Stevenson, the latter his last pay-per-view appearance. While Pellegrino has the better wrestling background, both have excellent jiu-jitsu and Tavares will hold the advantage in standup, especially in the clinch, giving him the edge in this fight, though not enough of an edge to warrant laying the heavy chalk. I'll lean towards the dog in a fight that should be closer than it looks on paper. Prediction: Tavares, 2nd round TKO.

Martin "The Hitman" Kampmann (13-1-0) vs. Nate "The Great" Marquardt (26-8-2)
Current Odds: Marquardt -145; Kampmann +115

Marquardt has dropped 2 of his last 3 contests to Anderson Silva and Thales Leites, the latter by split decision in June. Though Kampmann is known for his standup, 3 of his 4 UFC victories have come via 1st round submission. He is well-rounded, and that should serve to counteract some of Marquardt's skill on the ground. Marquardt has the experience, but Kampman is loaded on talent making this an extremely close fight. I'll lean towards the underdog. Prediction: Kampmann, 3rd round TKO.

Dan "Hendo" Henderson (22-7-0) vs. Rousimar "Toquinho" Palhares (8-1-0)
Current Odds: Henderson -210; Palhares +170

Hendo is 0-2 inside the Octagon since migrating from PRIDE, though those defeats came at the hands of standouts Rampage Jackson and Anderson Silva, both title shots. While he is getting up in age at 38, he still has devastating power and an excellent ground game. Palhares made his UFC debut in May, defeating Ivan Salaverry and showing off his extensive jiu-jitsu ability in the process. Nonetheless, Hendo has fought much more experienced opponents and it's doubtful that Palhares can throw anything at him that Henderson hasn't already dealt with. Look for a big comeback from Henderson to avenge his back-to-back Octagon losses, at what looks to be a generous line. Prediction: Henderson, 2nd round TKO.

Karo "The Heat" Parisyan (18-5-0) vs. Yoshiyuki "Zenko" Yoshida (10-2-0)
Current Odds: Parisyan -240; Yoshida +190

Parisyan was widely considered among the top middleweights until losing to Diego Sanchez and, most recently, Thiago Alves. He has had trouble finishing his opponents, with 8 of his 11 appearances in the Octagon going to the scorecards. He is looking to regain some headway towards the title by defeating Yoshida, a Japanese fighter who made a successful UFC debut by submitting Jon Koppenhaver in May. This is an interesting matchup of two fighters who have trained primarily in Judo, somewhat of a rarity in the UFC. Parisyan's Octagon experience should hold the edge here, and his recent losses have given us a betting line worth biting on. Prediction: Parisyan by decision.

Rich "Ace" Franklin (23-3-0) vs. Matt "The Hammer" Hamill (4-1-0)
Current Odds: Franklin -255; Hamill +205

Franklin rebounded from his 2nd loss to Anderson Silva to defeat Travis Lutter in April, though he is now moving back up to his original fighting weight as a light heavyweight from the middleweight division which he dominated for so long. He faces TUF 3 alum Matt Hamill, whose sole loss in the Octagon was a controversial split decision to Michael Bisping. Franklin's skill level is off the charts, but he faces a tough style matchup in Hamill, whose strong wrestling may pose a problem, especially considering Franklin's move up in weight from a big middleweight to a smaller light heavyweight. Nonetheless, the odds are a bit low with a proven fighter like Franklin, and I can't forsee many situations where Hamill is able to finish this fight. Prediction: Franklin by decision.

Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell (21-5-0) vs. Rashad "Sugar" Evans (9-1-0)
Current Odds: Liddell -285; Evans +225

The Iceman was riding a 7-fight win streak before being derailed by Rampage Jackson and Keith Jardine in back-to-back losses. Just as Liddell seemed on the verge of obscurity, he rebounded with a well-executed decision win over Wanderlai Silva last December. He was originally slated to face Mauricio "shogun" Rua at UFC 85, but a string of injuries led to this match with the up-and-coming Evans. Rashad Evans has a solid wrestling background via Michigan State and is undefeated in the Octagon, but has looked less than impressive in his fights thus far, including snooze fests against Michael Bisping and Tito Ortiz, the latter ending in a draw. This is a very unfavorable matchup for Evans, as Liddell's wrestling background and superb takedown defense have served him well against similar opponents, including 2 wins over Tito Ortiz and 2 out of 3 over Randy Couture. Evans has also had difficulty in finishing fights, with 7 of his last 9 going to the scorecards, a very dangerous tendency when facing a knockout artist like Liddell. There were questions about Chuck's motivation level in his two losses, but his impressive showing against Silva proves he still can hang with the best in the Octagon. Evans is simply outclassed here. Prediction: Liddell, 2nd round TKO.

Picks (2008: 19-16 +4.15 units; Best Bets: 5-2, +3.00 units)
Michael Patt +300
Dan Henderson -210 (Best Bet)
Karo Parisyan -240
Rich Franklin -255
Chuck Liddell -285 (Best Bet)

Opinions (2008: 24-21 +5.55 units)
Ryo Chonan -120
Jason MacDonald -180
Matt Brown +280
Kurt Pellegrino +240
Martin Kampmann +115

Jay Graziani

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