UFC 111: "St. Pierre vs Hardy" PredictionsThe Ultimate Fighting Championship adds to the stacked weekend of MMA tonight with UFC 111: “St. Pierre vs Hardy” from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The UFC Welterweight Championship will be on the line when Georges “Rush” St. Pierre faces Dan “The Outlaw” Hardy.

Also on the card, former champ Frank Mir will square off with undefeated rising star Shane Carwin for the UFC Interim Heavyweight Championship. MMARising.com offers predictions for all of the fights on the card, which is poised to feature a series of potential upsets.


UFC Welterweight Championship

Georges “Rush” St. Pierre vs Dan “The Outlaw” Hardy

Headlining tonight’s card is a UFC Welterweight Championship bout between champion Georges St. Pierre (19-2-0) and British striker Dan Hardy (23-6-0, 1 NC), who has yet to lose in the UFC.

Realistically speaking, St. Pierre should handily win this fight and is widely expected to dominate Hardy en route to a quick stoppage win. That is the most likely scenario. St. Pierre already dispatched of Brazilian knockout artist Thiago “Pitbull” Alves, who was thought to be his biggest challenge to date, and the prevailing frame of mind is that St. Pierre will have even less trouble with Hardy.

However, Hardy’s striking style is much different from the Muay Thai knees, leg kicks and big punches that Alves dishes out. Hardy is a counterpuncher who possesses one of the best counter left hooks in the sport. He is by no means the best striker in the UFC, or even in the division, but his style is the type that can cause St. Pierre problems if the champion lets his guard down.

St. Pierre will no doubt take the fight to the mat in round one and will likely grind out a lopsided 10-9 (or even 10-8) opening stanza. Hardy is a game opponent, however, and he simply needs to land one punch to turn the tides of the fight and shock the audience. As unlikely as that may be, upsets are good for MMA and this card could see a lot of them. Besides, predicting fight outcomes is no fun if you only stick to the status quo.

What Should Happen: St. Pierre by stoppage (TKO or Submission) in round one or two.
Upset Pick: Hardy by KO in round two.


UFC Interim Heavyweight Championship

Frank Mir vs Shane Carwin

The co-main event features a second title fight, as Frank Mir (13-4-0) and Shane Carwin (11-0-0) square off for the UFC Interim Heavyweight Championship and the next shot at Brock Lesnar’s title.

Much like the headlining bout, Mir is expected by many to pick up a quick submission win in this fight, and justifiably so. He has fought much tougher competition throughout his career and is coming off of stoppage wins over Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira and Cheick Kongo in two of his last three fights. Having said that, Mir is not a durable fighter and Carwin hits very hard.

Mir needs to take this fight to the ground as quickly as he can. His pride may tell him to stand and trade with Carwin – and Carwin did get into trouble early in his fight with Gabriel “Napão” Gonzaga – but that is not a winning strategy here. Carwin rebounded nicely in his bout with Gonzaga and wound up knocking out the former title challenger in spectacular fashion.

This is a huge step up for Carwin, but he needs to go through these challenges if he is going to get back into the immediate title picture that he was originally slotted into last year. Mir has been consumed with his obsession with facing Brock Lesnar for the third time and that may hurt him here.

If Carwin can survive early submission attempts from Mir or prevent Mir from taking him down altogether, this is Carwin’s fight to lose. The only concern is that Carwin has apparently been ill leading up to the fight and did not appear to be in as good of shape as he has in past fights. Whether that plays a factor or not will become clear tonight.

What Should Happen: Mir by Submission in round one.
Upset Pick: Carwin by TKO in round one.


Kurt “Batman” Pellegrino vs Fabricio “Morango” Camoes

Moved up to the pay-per-view main card after Thiago Alves was forced to withdraw from his rematch with Jon Fitch, lightweights Kurt Pellegrino (14-4-0) and Fabricio Camoes (10-4-1) will look to make the most of their opportunity.

This is actually a very interesting fight between two fighters who specialise in chokes. Pellegrino holds an advantage on the feet and will likely look to keep this fight standing, but Camoes is not to be overlooked and could take a big step forward if he is able to dispatch of the UFC veteran.

Pellegrino has been on the brink of contendership in the past, but has suffered tough losses to the likes of Joe “Daddy” Stevenson and Nate Diaz that derailed his plans. However, he is currently on a three-fight winning streak and is coming off of a big win over Josh Neer last August. He has been sidelined since then, but a fourth straight victory could put Pellegrino on a short list of title contenders.

Camoes’s performance in his UFC debut with Japanese legend Caol “Uno Shoten” Uno – a fight that was controversially ruled a Draw – was rather uninspiring and he will need to step it up considerably if he is going to have any chance of submitting Pellegrino. This one is likely to go the distance as the fighters’ styles cancel each other out.

What Should Happen: Pellegrino by Submission in round two.
Official Pick: Pellegrino by Unanimous Decision.


Jon Fitch vs Ben “Killa B” Saunders

After Thiago Alves was forced to withdraw from this fight, Ben Saunders (8-1-2) has stepped in on very short notice to face his toughest test to date when he meets former title challenger Jon Fitch (21-3-0, 1 NC) in welterweight action.

Here again, we have another fight that is poised to potentially feature an upset. Saunders enters this fight as a massive underdog on short notice and will unquestionably be facing his toughest opponent yet, but this matchup favours Saunders for a couple of reasons. Whether he can take advantage of that is another story.

First, Fitch is a notoriously slow starter while Saunders is known for his explosive Muay Thai and fast starts in round one. Second, Fitch is coming off of lacklustre performances in recent fights while Saunders just picked up his biggest win when he knocked out Marcus Davis. Third, Fitch will look to close the distance for takedowns, which is the perfect chance for Saunders to land a barrage of knees.

On paper, this should be a cakewalk for Fitch, but Saunders has been given a tremendous opportunity and definitely has the ability to shock and upset Fitch. It has been reported that Saunders will even receive a title shot if he wins. With that added motivation and Fitch’s poor first-round efforts, this could be one of as many as three shocking upsets on the card.

What Should Happen: Fitch by Unanimous Decision.
Upset Pick: Saunders by TKO in round one.


Jim Miller vs Mark Bocek

The final pay-per-view bout pits lightweight standout Jim Miller (16-2-0) against submission specialist Mark Bocek (8-2-0) in a battle that could propel the winner into lightweight contendership.

Both fighters possess excellent ground skills and this one could hit the mat early, but Miller showed in his fight with noted striker Duane “Bang” Ludwig that he has no problems standing and trading strikes. Miller’s striking, once a hindrance, has improved in leaps and bounds in recent months and he will have a huge edge over Bocek if he opts to stay on the feet.

Bocek is regarded as one of the top jiu-jitsu practitioners in the lightweight division and he is deserving of such accolades, but Miller’s ground game is equally strong and it will take a miracle for Bocek to trap him. Miller’s best course of action is to keep the fight on the feet and avoid scrambles en route to a one-sided decision that solidifies his place in the division.

What Should Happen: Miller by Unanimous Decision.
Official Pick: Miller by Unanimous Decision.


Undercard Fights:

Nate Diaz (11-5-0) meets Rory Markham (16-5-0) in a catchweight bout after Markham weighed in well over the 170-pound welterweight limit. Markham has never gone to a decision in his career and hits very hard. All of his losses have come by knockout and Diaz is not known for his punching power. Diaz must find a way to take Markham down and secure an early submission or he may suffer the first knockout loss of his career. Prediction: Markham by TKO late in round one.

Ricardo “Big Dog” Almeida (11-3-0) takes on Matt “The Immortal” Brown (13-7-0) in welterweight action. Almeida was once the number one middleweight in the world before his 2004 retirement. He has looked decent since his return, but has gone to a decision in three straight fights and has struggled with cardio. Brown, a perennial underdog, needs to do little more than survive the first round and he should be able to score an upset here. However, Almeida will make the most of his welterweight debut. Prediction: Almeida by Submission in round one.

Rousimar “Toquinho” Palhares (10-2-0) faces Tomasz “Gorilla” Drwal (17-2-1) in a middleweight clash. Palhares is known for his vicious leglocks, but has offered little else thus far in the UFC. Drwal is one of the hardest punchers in the promotion and could finish Palhares with strikes if he can stay on his feet. As long as Drwal can avoid Palhares’s tricky submission game, this fight will probably go to a decision. Either fighter could take the nod from the judges. Prediction: Drwal by Split Decision.

Rodney “Sho Nuff The Master” Wallace (9-1-0) squares off with Jared Hamman (11-2-0) in a light heavyweight contest. Wallace is known as a decision king and was defeated in his UFC debut. Hamman also dropped his debut Octagon appearance, but he has never been to a decision in his career and holds nine wins by knockout. Wallace needs to take this fight to the ground immediately and keep it there or he will suffer a quick and painful knockout. Hamman has 15 minutes to get the job done and he will dispatch of Wallace along the way. Prediction: Hamman by KO late in round one.

Matt Riddle (3-1-0) opens the card against Greg Soto (7-0-0) in a welterweight matchup. Riddle is coming off of an uncharacteristically poor performance against Nick Osipczak and will have to be at his best when he meets Soto, who makes his UFC debut tonight. Riddle has yet to finish an opponent, but his ground control has gained praise from observers and could be enough to spoil Soto’s first appearance in the Octagon. This will be Soto’s toughest fight to date and will likely go the distance, with Riddle edging out a close decision. Prediction: Riddle by Unanimous Decision.


UFC 111: “St. Pierre vs Hardy” takes place later this evening at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The event is headlined by a pair of title fights and could potentially feature some shocking upsets. Either way, champions will be crowned and new contenders will emerge.


(Photo Credit: MMAjunkie.com)