Randy Couture is making a rather rapid return to the Octagon having retired only recently. He's going to be fighting Tim Sylvia, the current UFC heavyweight champ. This is a tall order for Randy but I am guessing he wouldn't be stepping into the ring again unless he thought he could do it.
Reading Randy's web-page interview on the subject of this fight gives me some confidence that Couture has thought this through. His jump to the light heavyweight was predicated on losses to big men in the heavyweight divisions, Bartnett, and Rodriguez. In those fights Couture lost when they managed to get him on his back, later in the fights. Early Couture was strong, winning takedowns and inside exchanges. But he is a small heavyweight. And that was a weakness when he found himself on the bottom against them.
Having said that, being on the bottom isn't going to be a worry for Couture in this fight. Sylvia isn't a submission guy. He doesn't try to take anyone down. He just paws with his left and throws a big right hand.
Therein lies the problem for Sylvia. His only real weapon is his right hand. His jab is just a feeler. Its not dangerous. Its just the set up for the right hand. I have no doubt he is in great condition and is a tough guy, he didn't bat an eye when Frank Mir snapped both his ulna and radial bones, but he is fairly one dimensional. That is his big weakness. His advantages lie mostly in his attributes. Namely he is 6'8", weighs 255lbs and has great reach. He has some pretty glaring weaknesses too, his tendency to drop his left hand to his waist when ever he throws the right hand isn't the least of them. I think this plays into Randy's hands. He may not have the reach or the size of Sylvia, but he has the savy and the skills to get the job done. Randy has shown over and over a ruthless ability to ferret out the weakness of his opponents, as well as himself and then come up with a game plan that capitalizes on his observations. Randy can look pretty dispassionately at himself and his skills. Its a skill few fighters have.
So I am picking Randy by dec. He maybe able to knock Sylvia out, his punhes are accurate enough, but I bet he just takes Sylvia down and ground and pounds him for a bit. Sylvia had good luck against the take down from Monsoon, but Monsoon rarely tried them from the tie up position, his shoots were always way outside. Randy won't do that. He will punch his way in for the tie up and that will be that.
Hughes vs. Lytle? I am rooting for Lytle, he trained at RingSports in Indy at the same time I did. He's a good guy, with strong striking skills and and a great ground game. On paper this doesn't look like a close fight. However as strong as Lytle is on the ground, he needs to just let his hands fly if he wants to win this thing. Watch the Penn/Hughes, GSP/Hughes fights, both those fights exposed some weaknesses in Hughes upright game, that can be capitalized on. Throw the freakin' jab. For Hughes, punch your way in, clinch, slam, ground and pound.
My pick? Hughes by dec. Though I hope Lytle has been doing his homework. This may have upset written on it if he does.
I think Rich Franklin wins his fight against Jason MacDonald. Franklin is a machine.
Sobral wins against Lambert. Why? He is with Gracie-Barra my new school. Not our dojo but the organizaiton.
Those are my picks for the only fights on this card I am interested in.