Very Detailed UFC 61 Preview, Shamrock-Ortiz II, & More

Drew Fickett vs. Kurt Pellegrino

Our first preliminary bout of the evening features some hot up-and-coming Welterweights mixing it up. Drew Fickett is on the radar at 170 lbs. due to some unexpected wins over Josh Neer and Josh Koscheck after losing his debut efforts in the octagon against Nick Diaz. Fun fact, Fickett has a win over Kenny Florian, a fight that catapulted Florian into the original Ultimate Fighter season one reality show. Fickett's last outing was a quick submission loss to the impressive Josh Burkman. So this fight is important for Fickett. Pellegrino is the real deal, but an unknown name so Fickett is expected to win here to get another semi-big fight. I've never watched a Pellegrino fight, so I'm talking based strictly on statistics here. Basically, jump to the next fight breakdown, as I'm just filling space to avoid skipping fights on my little column here. Pellegrino is apparently a good submission fighter, as he's already guaranteed a spot in the 2007 Abu Dhabi world submission grappling tournament. Yeah, you have to know a thing or two about submissions to accomplish something like that. Knowing what little I know here, and taking the odds into account (they do the research and they've got this fight pretty close, Fickett a slight favorite) I'll go ahead and pick Fickett by ground and pound stoppage, or decision. Don't expect much from me on specific predictions. I'll pick a winner, but choosing how (especially in MMA) is no easy task. I always love when I see all the "experts" out there doing predictions and listing "split decision" for a bunch of fights. Come on.

Gilbert Aldana vs. Cheick Kongo

Aldana came into the UFC with a little bit of hype. He was coming in as a knockout artist to be paired with a similar type of fighter in Paul Buentello. He lost that fight by stoppage from strikes, but showed everyone what they expected - a slugfest with Aldana taking punches as good as he dishes them out. This is Aldana's second chance in the UFC, and things look to be the same for him. He's in with another striker who has a reputation of being a banger. He's a Dutch striker, and thanks to guys like Ernesto Hoost, Bas Rutten, Alistair Overeem, etc. - those are the kind of strikers who people expect big things from in terms of their stand-up ability. So if all goes as planned, this should be a rock-em-sock-em robot fight, with two guys swinging until one falls down. Always good to have one of these on a card, especially during the prelims. Get the crowd pumped up and more lively for the fights "that matter" later on. Oh yeah, prediction. I'll say Aldana based on zero knowledge of Kongo, although everyone is telling me not to sleep on Kongo in this fight. I just can't pick someone I've never seen or even heard of until he was booked for a big show, even if he is the real deal. Silly logic, but I don't have much to work with for this one.

Jeff Monson vs. Anthony Perosh

This is somewhat of a "gimmie" fight for Monson, at least that's what the "experts" say, and that's what the betting odds show as Monson is the biggest favorite on the card - even bigger than Ortiz over Shamrock. I've never seen Perosh fight, but have heard of him in the submission grappling world, so I guess he's a submission fighter who UFC expects Monson to handle without problems. If that's the case, explain to me why this fight is a prelim? A win that isn't televised for a guy who you would think UFC is getting ready to feed to the Arlovski-Sylvia winner doesn't mean much. A loss that isn't televised does, however. So, Monson is going to need to take this fight seriously as a loss here would obviously set him back a notch and move Brandon Vera up one. I guess it doesn't matter though, as outside of Monson and Vera, UFC has no one at Heavyweight ready for Arlovski or Sylvia in the title picture. I doubt Monson submits him, as Perosh is no slouch on the ground and I doubt Monson takes many risks in trying to do so. If it's there, he will, but I don't see him going out of his way to make it happen. I think Monson is coming in to get his win and nothing else. His stand up game is reportedly improved since his earlier days in the UFC when Chuck Liddell could beat him just with leg kicks, but a novice striker in Marcio Cruz was having his way with him just with leg-kicks (and a jab) and we all know if he fights for the title, Arlovski and Sylvia have more than leg kicks to offer. I'll take Monson by decision.

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