'Affliction: Banned' predictions

Former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia (left) faces former Pride heavyweight champion Fedor...

Former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia (left) faces former Pride heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko at 'Affliction: Banned' July 19. (Photo courtesy of Affliction)

NEIL SPRINGER -- SLAM! Sports

, Last Updated: 9:14 PM ET

Former Pride champion Fedor Emelianenko faces former UFC champion Tim Sylvia on Affliction's first ever MMA show.

Also, Andrei Arlovski takes on Ben Rothwell and Josh Barnett looks to avenge his loss to Pedro Rizzo.

Event card and predictions

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (13-3-0) vs. Edwin Dewees (35-12-0)

Both guys are submission fighters, but Nogueira's BJJ is on a totally different level. His striking is also far more refined.

Prediction: Nogueira by first round submission

Aleksander Emelianenko (13-3-0) vs. Paul Buentello (25-10-0)

This could be a stand-up war, but if Emelianenko is smart, he'll take this fight to the ground and go for a submission. Buentello's a very dangerous striker, but it's no secret that he lacks a solid ground game.

Prediction: Emelianenko via first round submission

Renato Sobral (29-7-0) vs. Mike Whitehead (21-5-0)

On paper, Sobral is the better fighter, but is only 3-2 in his last five fights. His BJJ is excellent and he's shown that he can throw the leather when he needs to. Whitehead is very well-rounded and is currently riding a 12-fight win streak.

If Sobral is focused he should be able to out-grit Whitehead.

Prediction: Sobral by decision

Matt Lindland (20-5-0) vs. Fabio Negao (8-3-0)

Negao has dangerous submission holds, but Lindland's top-notch wrestling skills and aggression will be enough to earn him the judges' nod.

Prediction: Lindland by decision

Josh Barnett (22-5-0) vs. Pedro Rizzo (16-7-0)

Back at UFC 30 Rizzo knocked out Barnett. A lot has changed since then, however. While Rizzo is still a very dangerous kickboxer, Barnett's ground game will simply be too much for him.

Expect Barnett to play it smart and control the fight by taking Rizzo down. From there he'll gradually work his ground-and-pound.

Prediction: Barnett by third round KO/TKO.

Andrei Arlovski (12-5-0) vs. Ben Rothwell (29-5-0)

It's been a tough couple years for Arlovski. He really hasn't been the same explosive fighter since his loss to Tim Sylvia at UFC 59. This could be his chance to show MMA fans that he's still got it -- even if he's still a little gun-shy, he knows how to win.

Rothwell, on the other hand, has everything to gain here. He's a very big and well-rounded competitor. He was also brought in to help Sylvia train for his last two bouts with Arlovski, mimicking 'The Pitbull's' style in the ring. So needless to say he's done his homework.

The fact is Arlovski hasn't been the same since UFC 59, so I'm calling the upset.

Prediction: Rothwell by second round KO/TKO

Fedor Emelianenko (27-1-0) vs. Tim Sylvia (24-4-0)

This is a fight many have been waiting years to see.

In his last three fights, Sylvia has gone 1-2. Though both losses were to top-level opponents -- Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Randy Couture -- his most recent win was a boring decision over the much smaller Brandon Vera.

Emelianenko, on the other hand, has fought little in the way of top competition lately. Still, he was considered the most dominant fighter in MMA for years. His sole loss was the result of a cut from an illegal elbow that should have resulted in a no contest.

On paper, this fight favours Fedor. Though Sylvia is bigger and has a sizable reach advantage, this is nothing new for the former Pride champion. Emelianenko has beaten superior strikers who are either as large as or larger than 'The Maine-iac.' Current K-1 super heavyweight and world GP champion Semmy Schilt instantly comes to mind.

Though Tim has better takedown defense than Schilt, Fedor should be able to get him to the ground if he's persistent. Then you can expect him to work his work his elite submission skills.

Prediction: Fedor by second round submission

Click here for live coverage of Affliction: Banned.


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