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UFC 99: Preview and Predictions...By Jay Graziani

UFC 99: The Comeback
Saturday, June 13th, 3 PM ET live on pay-per-view, replay at 10 ET
Lanxess Arena, Cologne, Germany
Weigh-in: Friday, June 12th, 10 AM ET, live on
Current odds from John "The Hitman" Hathaway (10-0-0) vs. Rick "The Horror" Story (7-2-0)
Current Odds: Hathaway -165; Story +135

Hathaway made his UFC debut on the undercard of Rich Franklin's last headliner, a fight Hathaway won by 1st round TKO as a 5-to-2 favorite. He's green in the Octagon, but so is his opponent Story, who's making his UFC debut after a run of 6 straight wins in smaller promotions. We haven't seen much of either, and while Hathaway certainly has a better resume, this fight is a pass from a gambling perspective. Prediction: Hathaway, 1st round TKO.

Denis "The Menace" Stojnic (5-2-0) vs. Stefan "Skyscraper" Struve (16-3-0)
Current Odds: Stojnic +120; Struve -150

Stojnic's UFC debut didn't go well, as he was TKO'ed by Cain Velasquez. Struve is a tree of a man, standing a full foot taller than Stojnic, though his height didn't help in his UFC debut where he was dropped in less than a minute by Junior dos Santos. Struve has the better ground game, and as long as he can use his reach effectively in standup he should roll to a victory. Prediction: Struve, 2nd round TKO.

Paul "Tellys" Kelly (7-1-1) vs. Rolando "The Crazy Cuban" Delgado (6-3-1)
Current Odds: Kelly -400; Delgado +300

Kelly rebounded from a loss to Marcus Taylor to ground-and-pound his way to a decision over Troy Mandaloniz. Delgado is a TUF reality show contestant who won his UFC debut at the TUF 8 Finale, despite going 0-2 during his television stint. This is Kelly's first fight since dropping down to lightweight, and his power and ground and pound will be too much for a thus-far unimpressive Delgado. Prediction: Kelly, 1st round TKO.

Paul "Relentless" Taylor (9-4-1) vs. Peter Sobotta (8-1-0)
Current Odds: Taylor -350; Sobotta +280

Taylor was defeated by Chris Lytle at UFC 89 in a very close decision, bringing his UFC record to a mere 2-3. Sobotta's a German fighter, the token local entry, who has no big-fight experience to speak of. This is a must-win for Taylor if he expects to continue his Octagon career, and his close losses show he has what it takes to compete at this level - whether Sobotta does is another story. Prediction: Taylor, 3rd round TKO.

Dennis Siver (13-6-0) vs. Dale Hartt (6-1-0)
Current Odds: Siver -180; Hartt +150

Siver has been struggling through the ranks of the UFC, losing key bouts against Gray Maynard and Melvin Guillard. Hartt is best known as owner of the shin upon which Corey Hill brutally broke his leg at UFC "Fight for the Troops". While we haven't seen much out of Hartt in the UFC yet, Siver's recent struggles make him too unreliable to bet on. Prediction: Siver, 3rd round TKO.

Terry Etim (12-2-0) vs. Justin Buchholz (8-2-0)
Current Odds: Etim -330; Buchholz +270

Etim's striking has looked crisp lately, serving him well in back-to-back wins, though his takedown defense was challenged his last time out. He'll need to improve on that against Buchholz, coming off a 11-month hiatus, who will look to keep this on the mat as much as possible. Etim's reach advantage will work in his favor, and if he is taken down his submission skills are far from elementary. Prediction: Etim, 2nd round TKO.

Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic (24-6-2) vs. Mostapha al Turk (6-4-0)
Current Odds: Filipovic -400; al Turk +300 Once heralded as the deadliest striker in mixed martial arts, Cro Cop fell off the radar after putting up a measely 1-2 record in the Octagon after a dominating run in PRIDE. Al Turk's octagon debut saw him on the wrong end of a savage beating from Cheick Kongo, and he looks to be little more than a tomato can for Cro Cop's UFC homecoming. While Cro Cop has struggled in the cage (as opposed to his successes in the PRIDE ring), he still has to be considered a top striker and will be too much for Al Turk to handle. Prediction: Filipovic, 1st round TKO.

Spencer "The King" Fisher (22-4-0) vs. Caol Uno (25-11-4)
Current Odds: Fisher -210; Uno +170

Fisher has put together a solid 7-3 record in the Octagon, though he's struggled against top-level fighters. Uno hasn't been in the Octagon in nearly 6 years, preferring to build his record in K-1 and DREAM events overseas. Uno will be one of the tougher submission fighters Fisher has faced, but his superior standup and history of never being submitted make Fisher a solid choice. Prediction: Fisher by decision.

Marcus "The Irish Hand Grenade" Davis (16-4-0) vs. Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy (21-6-0)
Current Odds: Davis -220; Hardy +180

Davis put in a solid effort in a slugfest split decision win against Chris Lytle at UFC 93. Hardy is 2-0 since making his UFC debut, knocking out Rory Markham in just over a minute in his last bout. While both are strikers, Davis has the superior boxing. That, combined with his speed and power, should make this a short night of work. Prediction: Davis, 1st round TKO.

Mike "Quick" Swick (13-2-0) vs. Ben "Killa B" Saunders (7-0-2)
Current Odds: Swick -240; Saunders +190

Swick has an impressive-looking record, but he's had trouble finishing fights with 4 of his last 5 going the distance. Saunders is still undefeated, including 3-0 in the Octagon, and his striking will benefit from his height advantage over Swick. This will be the toughest opponent Saunders has faced so far, but he's a live dog at these odds, particularly if he gets the fight to the mat. Prediction: Saunders, 2nd round submission.

Cheick Kongo (14-4-1) vs. Cain Velasquez (5-0-0)
Current Odds: Kongo +165; Velasquez -205

Kongo is taking this fight on just one month's notice, having last fought on April 18th. He's stepped up his fight game lately, looking impressive in his fights against Antoni Hardonk and Mustapha al Turk. Velasquez is undefeated (all knockout wins) but only against undercard stiffs. Kongo should have a marked advantage in standup, and he's shown an ability to keep himself out of trouble on the ground. While the sharp money seems to be on Velasquez, the experienced Kongo is worth a look in the underdog role. Predcition: Kongo, 2nd round TKO.

Rich "Ace" Franklin (24-4-0) vs. Wanderlei "The Axe Murderer" Silva (32-9-1) Current Odds: Franklin -140; Silva +110

Franklin, having given up on Anderson Silva and the middleweight division, began a quest for the light heavyweight title only to lose a split decision to Dan Henderson. Wanderlei Silva has dropped 2 of 3 since signing with the UFC, and has lost 4 of his last 5 overall. While Franklin recently moved up in weight class, Silva is on his way down to middleweight, and this fight will be at a middle ground catchweight of 195 lbs. This would have been a barnburner back in 2005 or so, but now it looks more like two guys just trying to hold onto their careers. While both are world class strikers, Silva is elite and has faced (and defeated) the best of the best, and I have to lean towards him as an underdog. Prediction: Silva, 2nd round TKO.

Picks (2009): 10-14 -5.3 units units; Best Bets: 3-2 +0.55 units
Stefan Struve -150
Mirko Filipovic -400
Marcus Davis -220 (Best Bet)
Ben Saunders +190
Cheick Kongo +165

Opinions (2009): 14-24 -16.10 units
John Hathaway -165
Paul Kelly -400
Paul Taylor -350
Dennis Siver -180
Terry Etim -330
Spencer Fisher -210
Wanderlei Silva +110

Jay Graziani

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