UFC 84 predictions

NEIL SPRINGER -- SLAM! Sports

, Last Updated: 9:22 PM ET

BJ Penn and Sean Sherk faceoff for the UFC Lightweight Championship. Over the last few months, the two have been engaged in a war of words. Now it's time for them to duke it out.

Also, Wanderlei Silva looks to stop Keith Jardine's momentum dead in its tracks and Lyoto Machida puts his unbeaten record on the line against Tito Ortiz.

Event card and predictions:

Joining me again is Calgary Sun Editor-In-Chief and MMA expert, Jose Rodriguez.

Thiago Silva (11-0-0) vs. Antonio Mendes (14-2-0)

Neil: It sucks that Silva isn't being given a bigger name opponent. In his last fight he massacred the then-hot Houston Alexander on the ground.

I don't know much about Mendes other than he's a dangerous striker. So expect this to be a stand-up war.

Prediction: I'll take a stab in the dark and say Silva by first round KO/TKO

Jose: Mendes has an impressive 14-2 record, but he hasn't fought anyone with the multi-faceted attack of Silva. The undefeated Silva will make short work of his fellow Brazilian.

Prediction: Silva in first round KO/TKO

Tito Ortiz (16-5-1) vs. Lyoto Machida (12-0-0)

Neil: This is an interesting fight. Machida is a very elusive and tricky opponent, but Ortiz's style could be what the doctor ordered. If Ortiz can get a hold of him, take him down and work his ground-and-pound from the guard, he could walk out of the UFC a winner.

But I think Machida is too crafty for that -- his biggest asset is his ability to neutralize his opponent's strengths. Expect a somewhat boring yet tactical cat-and-mouse affair.

Prediction: Machida by decision.

Jose: Machida is one of the most underestimated fighters in the world. The undefeated (12-0) scrapper should dominate Ortiz every round but the slippery Huntington Beach Bad Boy won't be submitted.

Prediction: Machida by decision, which is too bad because the highlight of UFC 84 could be Ortiz's microphone time if he wins.

Wilson Gouveia (10-4-0) vs. Goran Reljic (7-0-0)

Neil: Another tough one to call since I know little about Reljic. According to his fight record, he's won most of his fights by submission.

Gouveia, a BJJ black belt, is going to be very difficult to submit. He's also shown in the past that he can throw the leather.

Prediction: Gouveia by second round KO/TKO

Jose: This will be Wilson Gouveia's sixth fight in the big show, but the upstart Reljic seems by all accounts to be the real deal. Unlike his countryman CroCop, I think this is one Croatian who will find a home in the UFC.

Prediction: I'll go with the upset and pick Reljic in third round submission.

Wanderlei Silva (31-8-1) vs. Keith Jardine (13-4-1)

Neil: Jardine looked fantastic against Chuck Liddell. He took a bit of a beating in the first round, but then gradually picked The Iceman apart with kicks to the body and legs.

Silva, on the other hand, had a tough go with Liddell. Instead of trying knees (his specialty) he threw looping, hooking punches at an opponent with a sizable reach advantage. He can't afford to make that mistake against Jardine.

This will no doubt be a stand-up war, but I still expect Silva to make an impact in the UFC.

Prediction: Silva by second round KO/TKO.

Jose: Silva is coming off three straight losses to the who's who of mixed martial arts (Chuck Liddell, CroCop and Dan Henderson) but he's due. Jardine is coming off a win over Liddell, but he's never fought anyone with the raw aggression Silva brings to the cage.

Prediction: Silva in second round via KO/TKO.

BJ Penn (13-4-1) vs. Sean Sherk (35-2-1)

Neil: After all the trash talk and insults, they're finally going to settle it.

Looking at this fight, I have a difficult time believing Sean Sherk can beat a motivated and in-shape BJ Penn (Did you see those abs in his fight with Stevenson!?). If the fight stays standing, Sherk's getting knocked out. If Penn takes him down, you can forget about it.

If Sherk secures the takedown, he can't afford to get caught in BJ's guard -- Penn is very dangerous off his back. Sherk's stubby arms will also make it difficult to effectively strike from this position.

The only way the Muscle Shark can take this is if he blankets Penn for five rounds. But I don't see that happening.

Prediction: Penn by second round submission.

Jose: This one has all the makings of a classic. And the fact they dislike each other should only add to the pace. Two strong ground guys with heavy fists and reinforced chins.

As with any BJ Penn fight, advantage goes to his opponent if it goes into the late rounds, but by that time, BJ should have done enough damage to take a decision. My prediction is that it won't get there.

Prediction: Penn by third round submission.

Click here for live coverage of UFC 84 starting Sat., May 24 at 10 p.m. EST.


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