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UFC 107: Breakdown and Picks

The UFC is headed to Memphis, which means it’s time for our prediction’s panel to get back at it. Las Vegas Sun’s Brett Okamoto (33-22) is joined by Yahoo.com’s Kevin Iole (32-23) and ESPN Radio’s Steve Cofield (28-27) to offer insight and predictions on which fighters will come out on top this Saturday. Odds courtesy of The Venetian sports book, but subject to change.

Diego Sanchez

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 5’11''
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 10-2
  • MMA record 23-2
  • Out of: San Diego, Calif.
  • Betting line: +280

B.J. Penn

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 5’9''
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 10-4-1
  • MMA record 14-5-1
  • Out of: Hilo, Hawaii
  • Betting line: -360

Lightweight Championship Bout

Main Event

Last fight: Split decision win over Clay Guida at TUF Finale 9: Team US vs. Team UK.

Punch list: Sanchez was so amped at the thought of a title shot that he came running from his corner to start his last fight against Clay Guida. Guida survived the early onslaught, but Sanchez more than proved he was ready for a shot at the lightweight title. Expect another emotional, adrenaline pumped Sanchez this weekend.

Staff picks: Yahoo.com and ESPN Radio

Iole: Penn

Cofield: Penn

Last fight: Fourth round win by submission over Kenny Florian at UFC 101.

Punch list: A motivated Penn looked better than he has in years in his last title defense against Kenny Florian. Florian had no answer no matter where that fight went, as Penn dominated the standup and the ground game before finishing the fight in the fourth round with a rear naked choke.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Okamoto: Penn

Cheick Kongo

  • Age: 34
  • Height: 6'4''
  • Weight: 240
  • UFC record 7-3
  • MMA record 24-5-1
  • Out of: Paris, France
  • Betting line: +150

Frank Mir

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 6’3''
  • Weight: 240
  • UFC record 10-4
  • MMA record 12-4
  • Out of: Las Vegas
  • Betting line: -180

Heavyweight Bout

Co-Main Event

Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Cain Velasquez at UFC 99.

Punch list: Kongo is one of the most intimidating strikers in the game, but he becomes much less scary on the ground. The heavyweight was dominated in that aspect in his last fight, finding himself pinned to the canvas for most of the fight against Cain Velasquez. Expect Kongo to do everything he can to keep the fight standing and get Mir in trouble early.

Staff picks: Yahoo.com and ESPN Radio

Iole: Mir

Cofield: Mir

Last fight: Second round loss by TKO to Brock Lesnar at UFC 100.

Punch list: Arguably the strongest grappler in the heavyweight division, Mir has the capability to stand with Kongo but will probably look to take him down where he has the greatest advantage. After initial news of Brock Lesnar’s illness devastated Mir, the former champion says he regained focus on the task at hand and is well prepared.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Okamoto: Mir

Mike Pierce

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 5'8’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 2-0
  • MMA record 9-2
  • Out of: Vancouver, Wash.
  • Betting line: +325

Jon Fitch

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 6’0’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 10-1
  • MMA record 23-3, 1 NC
  • Out of: San Jose, Calif.
  • Betting line: -450

Welterweight Bout

Last fight: Unanimous decision win over Brock Larson at UFC Fight Night: Diaz vs. Guillard

Punch list: Pierce comes from a strong wrestling background and will probably hold the edge in sheer strength over his opponent on Saturday. His ground-and-pound is tough to survive.

Staff picks: Yahoo.com and ESPN Radio

Iole: Fitch

Cofield: Fitch

Last fight: Unanimous decision win over Paulo Thiago at UFC 100.

Punch list: The well-rounded Fitch is a master of controlling fights and wearing opponents down. A long-term vet of the UFC welterweight division, Fitch has fought the best of the best and only lost once to Georges St. Pierre in 2008.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Okamoto: Pierce

Clay Guida

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 5’7''
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 6-4
  • MMA record 25-7
  • Out of: Johnsburg, Ill.
  • Betting line: +160

Kenny Florian

  • Age: 33
  • Height: 5’10''
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 9-3
  • MMA record 13-4
  • Out of: Boston, Mass.
  • Betting line: -190

Lightweight Bout

Last fight: Split decision loss to Diego Sanchez at TUF Finale 9: Team US vs. Team UK.

Punch list:= Guida is a strong wrestler who mixes in takedowns well with his boxing-style standup. He’ll also certainly go down as having one of the biggest hearts ever in the UFC, as he’s built the reputation of a fighter that will never give up.

Staff picks: Yahoo.com and ESPN Radio

Iole: Florian

Cofield: Florian

Last fight: Fourth round loss by submission to B.J. Penn at UFC 101.

Punch list: After stringing together six straight wins to earn the lightweight title shot, Florian is back to the drawing board after a disappointing loss to B.J. Penn in August. If his motivation is still there (or even higher), he’ll remain in the division’s elite category of fighters.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Okamoto: Guida

Stefan Struve

  • Age: 21
  • Height: 6’11’’
  • Weight: 238
  • UFC record 2-1
  • MMA record 22-3
  • Out of: Beverwijk, the Netherlands
  • Betting line: -125

Paul Buentello

  • Age: 35
  • Height: 6’2’’
  • Weight: 235
  • UFC record 3-1
  • MMA record 27-10
  • Out of: Amarillo, Texas
  • Betting line: -105

Heavyweight Bout

Last fight: First round win by submission over Chase Gormley at UFC 104.

Punch list: It’s been a busy rookie year for Struve, as Saturday will mark his fourth fight in the 2009 calendar year. Struve stepped in to replace the injured Todd Duffee.

Staff picks: Yahoo.com and ESPN Radio

Iole: Struve

Cofield: Buentello

Last fight: Third round win by TKO over Kirill Sidelnikov at Affliction – Day of Reckoning.

Punch list: Buentello’s last fight in the UFC dates back to 2006, although the fighter has stayed busy maintaining a 5-1 record since then fighting with Strikeforce and Affliction.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Okamoto: Struve

Wilson Gouveia

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 6’1’’
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 6-3
  • MMA record 12-6
  • Out of: Coconut Creek, Fla.
  • Betting line: -150

Alan Belcher

  • Age: 25
  • Height: 6’2’’
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 5-4
  • MMA record 13-5
  • Out of: Biloxi, Miss.
  • Betting line: +120

Catchweight Bout

Last fight: Third round loss by TKO to Nate Marquardt at UFC 95.

Punch list: Many believed Gouveia was one win away from becoming a major player in the UFC light heavyweight division before it came crashing down in an upset loss to Goran Reljic at UFC 84. Gouveia dropped to the middleweight division following the loss.

Staff picks: Yahoo.com and ESPN Radio

Iole: Belcher

Cofield: Belcher

Last fight: Split Decision loss to Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 100.

Punch list: Belcher comes into UFC 107 still a little heated over losing a split decision loss to Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 100 in which he thought he clearly won the fight.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Okamoto: Gouveia

Shane Nelson

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 5’9’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 2-1
  • MMA record 13-4
  • Out of: Hilo, Hawaii.
  • Betting line: +210

Matt Wiman

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 5’10’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 4-3
  • MMA record 10-5
  • Out of: Dallas, Texas
  • Betting line: -270

Lightweight Bout

Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Aaron Riley at UFC 101.

Punch list: This will be Nelson’s first official fight in the UFC against someone not named Aaron Riley. The TUF 8 contestant defeated George Roop in that year’s finale before splitting back-to-back contests with Riley at UFC 96 and UFC 101.

Staff picks: Yahoo.com and ESPN Radio

Iole: Wiman

Cofield: Nelson

Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Sam Stout at UFC 97.

Punch list: Wiman is a former TUF 5 contestant and was defeated on the show by current WEC fighter Manvel Gamburyan. There seems to be no love lost between Wiman and Nelson, as Dana White had to separate them at the official UFC 107 weigh-in.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Okamoto: Wiman

Ricardo Funch

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 5’10’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 7-0
  • Out of: Ludlow, Maine
  • Betting line: +280

Johny Hendricks

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 5’9’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 3-0
  • MMA record 6-0
  • Out of: Las Vegas
  • Betting line: -360

Welterweight Bout

Last fight: Unanimous decision win over Denis Grachev at Cage Fight – MMA 2.

Punch list: Funch is not well-known among UFC fans quite yet, but his training partner is. Funch trains with Team Link in Massachusetts, the same camp as UFC heavyweight Gabriel Gonzaga.

Staff picks: Yahoo.com and ESPN Radio

Iole: Hendricks

Cofield: Hendricks

Last fight: First round win by TKO over Amir Sadollah at UFC 101.

Punch list: Hendricks is a wrestler at heart, but has shown great striking, including a TKO win over fellow Las Vegas-based fighter Amir Sadollah.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Okamoto: Hendricks

Lucio Linhares

  • Age: 35
  • Height: 6’2’’
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 13-4
  • Out of: Helsinki, Finland
  • Betting line: +300

Rousimar Palhares

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 5’8’’
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 2-1
  • MMA record 18-2
  • Out of: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
  • Betting line: -400

Welterweight Bout

Last fight: First round win by submission over Mikhail Zayats at M-1 Global - Breakthrough.

Punch list: Palhares looks huge standing next to Linhares, but the Brazilian has submitted larger opponents before. He’s currently on a run of five consecutive fights in which he finished his opponent in the first round.

Staff picks: Yahoo.com and ESPN Radio

Iole: Palhares

Cofield: Palhares

Last fight: Unanimous decision win over Jeremy Horn at UFC 93.

Punch list: On pure strength alone, Palhares has many of his opponents beat. Adding to it is he’s a very technical Jiu-Jitsu artist, who at one point recorded six first-round submissions in a row.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Okamoto: Palhares

Edgar Garcia

  • Age: 25
  • Height: 5’10’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 1-1
  • MMA record 7-1
  • Out of: Yuma, Ari.
  • Betting line: -190

DaMarques Johnson

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 6’1’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 0-1
  • MMA record 14-7
  • Out of: Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Betting line: +160

Welterweight Bout

Last fight: Split decision loss to Brad Blackburn at TUF Finale 9: Team US vs. Team UK.

Punch list: Garcia fell victim to some questionable scoring in the first loss of his career to Brad Blackburn in June. Garcia hasn’t had to worry about that problem too much though, as he’s only had two fights in his entire career go the distance.

Staff picks: Yahoo.com and ESPN Radio

Iole: Garcia

Cofield: Garcia

Last fight: First round loss to James Wilks at TUF Finale 9: Team US vs. Team UK.

Punch list: Johnson is looking to bounce back after a disappointing showing against James Wilks in which Wilks dominated him on the ground.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Okamoto: Garcia

T.J. Grant

  • Age: 25
  • Height: 5’10’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 1-1
  • MMA record 14-3
  • Out of: Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia
  • Betting line: EVEN

Kevin Burns

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 5’11’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 2-2
  • MMA record 8-3
  • Out of: Des Moines, Iowa
  • Betting line: -130

Welterweight Bout

Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 100.

Punch list: Grant stepped in on short notice for the injured Jonathan Goulet to fight Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 100. The result was his first loss in the UFC, but he should be well prepared to go this weekend.

Staff picks: Yahoo.com and ESPN Radio

Iole: Burns

Cofield: Grant

Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Chris Lytle at TUF Finale 9: Team US vs. Team UK.

Punch list: Although very dedicated to his Jiu-Jitsu skills, Burns chose to stand and trade throughout most of his last fight with Chris Lytle. He suffered a bad gash above his left eye that poured blood down his face the remainder of the fight, but he fought through it and won fight of the night honors.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Okamoto: Burns