UFC 99 predictions

NEIL SPRINGER and KENAI ANDREWS -- SLAM! Sports

, Last Updated: 2:09 PM ET

At UFC 99: The Comeback, Wanderlei Silva and Rich Franklin look for redemption following their recent losses. One will find it during the 195-pounds catch-weight main event.

Also, Cheick Kongo looks to inch closer to a heavyweight title shot when he takes on up-and-comer Cain Velasquez.

Mirko Filipovic (24-6-2) vs. Mostapha Al Turk (6-4-0)

NEIL

It's great to see 'Cro Cop' back in the UFC, but his recent performances in Japan have me worried. He still doesn't seem like the deadly striker who tore through PRIDE's open-weight grand prix.

But it was Cro Cop himself who said he was ready to return and he seems incredibly confident.

If he shows up in top form, Al Turk will be on the receiving end of a vicious knockout. If not, Cro Cop will be eating ground-and-pound for dinner.

Prediction: Filipovic by first-round KO/TKO.

KENAI

Are Cro Cop's past accomplishments enough to faze Mostapha? Hard to say. I could see either fighter taking this, but it's Cro Cop's fight to lose. All the pressure is on him.

If he performs like his former self, he will win. If he tanks it, Al Turk is dangerous enough to steal it. I will go for the underdog and say Al Turk takes it.

Prediction: Al Turk by second-round submission.

Spencer Fisher (22-4-0) vs. Caol Uno (25-11-4)

NEIL

Speaking of fighters it's good to see back in the UFC -- I present Caol Uno!

If Uno can keep this a grappling affair, he should be able to earn or a decision over Fisher -- or perhaps even hand 'The King' his first submission loss in 26 fights.

If Fisher can avoid being taken down, he will put Uno away on his feet.

My gut says Fisher, but my heart says Uno. I guess we'll find out which one I should stop listening to.

Prediction: Uno by decision.

KENAI

Spencer Fisher is a gamer, but Uno is a well-traveled fighter with a 27-11 record. I'm taking Uno's experience over Fisher's aggressiveness.

Prediction: Uno by first-round KO/TKO.

Marcus Davis (16-4-0) vs. Dan Hardy (21-6-0)

NEIL

There's been a lot of trash-talking going into this fight. Let's just hope it translates into more fireworks than the somewhat sterile Matt Serra-Matt Hughes match.

You can probably give Hardy the edge in stand-up exchanges, but it's close. However, if Davis is smart, he'll avoid striking for too long and take it to the ground.

Hardy's ongoing verbal assault seems like a weak ploy to anger Davis enough that he decides to make this a kickboxing affair.

If Davis remain composed and keeps his emotions out of the equation, he will expose Hardy's ground game.

Prediction: Davis by first-round submission.

KENAI

This is definitely the grudge match of the evening.

Not knowing too much about these guys other than what I've seen on YouTube, I'm going to go with Hardy.

Prediction: Hardy by second-round KO/TKO.

Mike Swick (13-2-0) vs. Ben Saunders (7-0-2)

NEIL

Though Swick has proven to be an effective striker in the past, he should not spend too much time exchanging with Saunders. He also needs to avoid the Thai clinch that stopped Brandon Wolff.

However, Swick does have power in his strikes and may only require one well-placed shot to end this.

If he's smart, he'll take Saunders to the ground and keep him there.

Prediction: Swick by decision.

KENAI

Former Ultimate Fighter contestant Swick takes on the up and coming Saunders, who is on quite a winning streak.

Saunders has great striking ability and I think he'll frustrate Swick enough to earn a decision.

Prediction: Saunders by decision.

Cheick Kongo (14-4-1) vs. Cain Velasquez (5-0-0)

NEIL

Kongo is a dangerous striker and will no doubt dominate the stand-up exchanges. His one weakness, however, is wrestling, which Velasquez excels at.

For Kongo to win here, he will have to swarm his opponent and put him away with a flurry of strikes. If he's forced to move backwards, he'll have a difficult time generating enough power to knock Velasquez out.

Kongo needs to end this early, or else he's getting taken down and pounded into oblivion.

Prediction: Velasquez by second-round KO/TKO.

KENAI

Kongo's riding a nice three-fight winning streak, with TKO wins over tough opponents Antoni Hardonk and Mostapha Al Turk in his two most recent outings.

The promise of a potential title shot should be enough motivation for him to topple the very capable Velasquez.

Prediction: Kongo by second-round KO/TKO.

Rich Franklin (24-4-1) vs. Wanderlei Silva (32-9-1)

NEIL

As a huge Wanderlei Silva fan, it pains me to say this: I don't like his chances here.

If Franklin can survive the early onslaught, he should be able to chip away at 'The Axe Murderer,' earning either a late stoppage or a decision victory.

Silva will no doubt rely on his usual style -- coming forward aggressively with looping punches, while ignoring any kind of intelligent defense.

Expect Franklin to keep him at bay with jabs and straight punches, as well as kicks to the body and legs. If Silva gets overanxious, Franklin could drop him with a well-placed counter punch.

I would like nothing more than to see Silva win this one in violent fashion, but Franklin will most likely have a very smart game plan.

Prediction: Franklin by decision.

KENAI

After debating the issue with a number of fighters at the MMA Expo in Toronto, I have to side with Franklin.

If he is smart enough to not trade in close with Wanderlei and use his strength to his advantage, he will eke out a win.

Prediction: Franklin by decision.


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