An old adage reminds us “There’s A First Time For Everything”. That saying and I meet head up as it pertains to the UFC 119 card. As an MMA blogger for Take No Prisoners, I walk into September 25th’s lineup more uncertain about an event’s results than I have any other. Maybe it’s because I’m fairly new to this brand of the fight game. I’ve been a follower of it since Summer 2007, which still leaves me clueless about a lot of fighters. With the exception of the combatants in the main event, my other choices are results of coin tosses and clips of their previous fights. Given the risks that comes with Sin City, maybe this one should’ve been held in Las Vegas instead of Indianapolis’ Conseco Fieldhouse. 

Then again, this is what I do. I can’t let limited knowledge keep me from giving the fight fans of TNP Nation my outlook of upcoming card, can I? With that said, let me show you what I’ve got:

Cro Cop over Mir– Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a fan of Frank Mir. Maybe because he scoffed at the idea of Brock Lesnar coming into MMA from professional wrestling. Barring my grudge, he is a legend in the sport. To me, he’s easily the best submission artist in the heavyweight division. In the opposite corner, There’s  Mirko Cro Cop, who is a legend in his own right. No one can describe Cro Cop’s kicking power better than UFC’s Play-by-play analyst Joe Rogan, “Right kick hospital…left kick cemetery.” Mir, with his improved striking, will work endlessly to get Cro Cop to the ground, but I see his vulnerable chin giving way to one of Cro Cop’s incapacitating kicks. I’m taking the “Croatian Jack Bauer” in this battle of former MMA Heavyweight Champions.

Bader over Nogueira– The smaller half of the Nogueira twins (Little Nog as they call him), much like the main event combatants, is a legend of the sport. At age 34, he is looking to claim his first UFC Championship in the Light Heavyweight division. Standing in his way is Ryan “Darth” Bader. He is on a mission to be etched in the discussion of the best in his class behind Mauricio Rua, Rashad Evans, Quinton Jackson and Lyoto Machida. I’m going to take a shot with the youth movement and go with the evil empire by way of technical knockout.

Serra over Lytle– If I had to place a theme on this match, I’d go with “Until We Meet Again”. Well, that time has arrived for The Ultimate Fighter, Season Four finalists. Looking at the paths of these fighters since their last meeting, the edge easily goes to Serra. He’s one of only two men to beat current Welterweight Champion, Georges St. Pierre, who is considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport. Meanwhile, Lytle has 17 losses under his belt. No fighter is to be slept on, but I see Serra getting a second win in the series with Lyte.

Dunham over Sherk– While Sean “The Muscle Shark” Sherk is a former UFC Lightweight Champion, I’m once again taking the youth movement. The buzz that Evan Dunham has created is unreal. He’s 11-0 and is puttin’ UFC on notice about how deadly his submission game is. The name of the game is Mixed Martial Arts, not Mr. Universe, so I’m takin’ the youngsta over The Muscle Shark by way of tapout.

Mitrione over Beltran– To my savvy fight fans, I know you’re scratchin’ your heads on this one. I know Matt Mitrione has only two fights worth of experience, albeit undefeated. I know it’s an undercard fight, but I don’t think it should be. Think about it! Have we forgot that quickly what he did to Kimbo Slice on the main card of UFC 113?  I know that isn’t saying much given Slice didn’t succeed at making the full conversion to MMA fighter from street fighter, but the kid has tasted the spotlight and for me, placing him on the undercard is a step backwards. Then again, Dana White and his staff knows how to put together a card, and they’ve made believers out of millions, so why gripe? Mitrione adds another win to his young fight career, TKOing Joey Beltran.

There we have it ladies and gentlemen. We’re a mere 48 hours away from fight night. While this card may not have heavy title implications or major stars, it’s the element of the unknown, you know…the X-Factor, that makes this an intriguing event. If you’re able to, tune in and I’ll see you soon with my recap of UFC 119.

By Antoine Hoffman

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