Tap Selections: UFC 74

Consider this our biggest set of Tap Selections to date.

Five former UFC champions, nine active fighters, three veterans of the sport, and a slew of MMA writers and bloggers have joined Scott and I as we try and predict who will win tonight’s main event - Randy Couture vs Gabriel Gonzaga for the UFC Heavyweight Title.

Maurice Smith, Former UFC Heavyweight Champion: Gonzaga has all the tools to win the belt tomorrow night but I’ve learned never to doubt what Randy can do. Couture by unanimous decision.

Evan Tanner, Former UFC Middleweight Champion: I’m taking Randy in this one. Having trained with him in the past, I know first hand about what he brings to the table. He’s improved so much more since then and I believe he has what it takes to beat Gonzaga in this fight. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens if Randy is able to overwhelm Gonzaga from the top position with strikes.

Ricco Rodriguez, Former UFC Heavyweight Champion: I like Gonzaga in this one. Randy has admitted himself that he’s had trouble in the past with guys who are well-versed in submissions. He definitely has his work cut out for him against Gonzaga.

Carlos Newton, Former UFC Welterweight Champion: I see Gonzaga submitting Couture at some point in this fight.

Dave Menne, Former UFC Middleweight Champion: I’m leaning towards Couture in this one.

Nate Quarry, UFC Middleweight: I’m picking Randy to win but he’s going to have to stay on point for the entire fight in order to do so.

Chris Lytle, UFC Welterweight: I think that Couture is going to win this fight but I just don’t know how.

Yves Edwards, BodogFight Lightweight: I’m picking Couture to win. After the Sylvia fight I’ll never bet against him again.

Guy Mezger, UFC and PRIDE Veteran: Gonzaga by KO. Couture’s hands may have improved but he doesn’t want to stand with a guy like Gonzaga.

Jonathan Goulet, UFC Welterweight: Damn, it’s the hardest fight to pick. Gonzaga has the potential to beat Couture but I’ll go for Couture because I really like him and I saw his UFC All-Access last night. Damn, I want a house like that.

John Marsh, UFC Veteran: I like Couture in this one. If he plays it safe and waits for Gonzaga to make the first mistake, I think he’ll be able to capitalize and push the momentum in his favor on the way to a hard-fought but deserving victory for him.

Frankie Edgar, UFC Lightweight: I think I’m going to go with Gonzaga in this one. He has slick submissions and will probably be able to catch Couture in one once they go to the ground.

Alex Karalexis, WEC Lightweight: I know that Gonzaga is the favorite in this fight but I think it’s going to be a lot closer than everyone thinks. I don’t really want to bet against either one of them but if I was forced to make a pick then I’d go with Couture based on experience.

Leonard Garcia, UFC Lightweight: I got to go with Randy. He’s the Energizer Bunny, always have a new trick up his sleeve.

Cole Miller, UFC Lightweight: Gonzaga by TKO in the 2nd round.

Tamden McCrory, UFC Welterweight: I’m taking Couture by unanimous decision.

Chris Liguori, UFC Veteran: This fight is going to be a lot different than everyone thinks. Both fighters respect each other’s ability on the ground. It’s going to be a standup war and Gonzaga will go home the winner.

RJ Broadhead, Rogers Sportsnet: Gonzaga - Even though Gonzaga looked a little wide eyed at the media attention, he has too many tools for even the legend to deal with.

James Brydon, Rogers Sportsnet: I’m going with Couture.

Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports: I’m picking Couture by decision. Logic tells me Gonzaga should win. The matchup certainly suits him. But I think Couture is a master strategist and will come up with a plan to expose Gonzaga’s weaknesses. As good as he is, he’s not as good as he looked against Mirko Cro Cop and I think Couture will take advantage of those flaws. Tight fight, but I say Couture by decision.

Dave Doyle, Yahoo! Sports: I spent two days at Gabriel Gonzaga’s camp and the more I saw, the more I became convinced his win over Mirko Cro Cop was not a fluke. Couture will likely try to wear Gonzaga down since he has yet to be tested over five rounds, but he’s not going to be able to stop the inevitable. Gonzaga, TKO, round 2.

Zach Arnold, Fight Opinion: Gonzaga should win the fight. He presents terrible match-up problems for Couture style-wise. Great size, good striking, good kicking, and he’s a BJJ fighter. Couture’s only hope of winning is if the gas tank empties quickly for Gonzaga, and I just don’t see it happening. Gonzaga by KO.

Dann, UFC Junkie: While I have learned never to doubt Randy Couture, I really do think Gabriel Gonzaga is the real deal. He’s a very powerful guy, and as he showed in his fight with Cro Cop, he knows how to use his size to control an opponent. I’m going to give Gonzaga the nod—with a third-round submission. (With that said, the longer the fight goes, the better I like Couture’s chances to pull out a decision win.)

Elias Cepeda, Inside Fighting: Gonzaga may just be the nightmare match up for Couture. He’s bigger, younger, has dangerous stand up striking and has the world class BJJ skills to perhaps make the champ’s life difficult even if he gets the takedown. But despite all this, I just have to go with the proven quantity in Couture. Despite being older than everyone he fights, Couture seems to have the conditioning advantage every time out and that may be a factor in the fight with Gonzaga, who has yet to go five championship rounds. I pick Couture in a close, grinding fight where he closes the distance and gets the takedowns continually on Gonzaga while doing just enough scoring with strikes on the ground to get the decision after five rounds.

Benjamin Glossop, Knockout Radio: Gonzaga is a proven athlete with fantastic BJJ skills. And he’s also shown that he’s well rounded with his striking abilities. But, it’s hard for me to go against Randy Couture. When Randy is the underdog he has a great ability of stepping up and proving the world wrong. That said, I pick Randy Couture to win the fight and remain as the Heavy Weight Champion.

Erin Bucknell, MMA California: I’m going with Randy as he has more experience and has an amazing knack for pulling out wins that people don’t think he has a chance at.

Adam Morgan, Sprawl N’ Brawl: Gonzaga has all the tools to beat Randy and is tailor made to give Randy fits. History has shown us that when Randy gets into trouble, it’s usually with a much larger opponent. His fights with Josh Barnett and Ricco Rodriguez have shown us that much. Randy’s also vulnerable to submissions. Gonzaga is a Mundials Champion. Put two and two together. All of the odds are stacked in Gonzaga’s favor. He has everything to prove. Don’t count Randy out, however, as that is the same thing that everyone did when he fought Tim Sylvia. Randy’s career has been built off of fights where people told him he couldn’t do it and he marched out there and did it anyways. His last fight wasn’t just a victory, either. It was a complete domination by a 43 year old cardio machine. If this fight goes into the championship rounds, it’s Randy’s fight to win. Gonzaga has a tendency to gas and Couture’s been in these types of situations plenty of times before. Randy’s cardio, experience, and mental toughness will be too much for the young Gonzaga, especially if the fight goes into the later rounds. Couture by decision

Craig, MMA HQ: The main event of UFC 74 features the heavyweight title fight between current champion Randy Couture and rising star Gabriel Gonzaga.  This fight also just happens to be the toughest fight of the night to call, in my opinion.  Randy Couture’s history and career are widely known and I don’t really need to do much analysis on Randy’s game.  We all know that Randy will be ready and prepared with an excellent gameplan to attack Gonzaga.  Whether that plan will be to roll with Gabriel on the ground or stand with Gonzaga as he did against Sylvia really is unknown.  Whatever the method of attack I’m sure it will be well executed. Gabriel Gonzaga became an overnight star with his brutal upset win KO against Mirko Filipovic at UFC 70 in England.  Gabriel was considered a strong fighter in the division, but wasn’t expected to get past Cro Cop; much less dominate him that way he did.  Now, no one is sleeping on Gonzaga and he has garnered much respect since his abysmal UFCdebut against Kevin Jordan at UFC 56.  A dominating ground fighter, as evidenced in his easy first round victory over Carmelo Marrero, Gonzaga also showed that he can hang in the standup game against Cro Cop. In the end, I think Gonzaga takes this fight in the fourth or fight round by ground-and-pound.  I think Gonzaga will try to work his BJJ game against Randy and will wear Couture down physically as the fight proceeds into the later rounds. But, then again, Couture proved he can go strong through a five-round title fight against Tim Syliva.  I think Gonzaga will bring more to the table and be able to press Randy a lot more than Sylvia was able to and that will be the difference in this fight.  Tim Sylvia fights not to lose; Gabriel Gonzaga fights to win.  While I’ll be pulling for Couture to win, my head is telling me to go with Gonzaga.

Scott White, MMA on Tap: Randy Couture versus Gabriel Gonzaga is a tough bout that has had me going back and forth for the past week. My heart says Randy but my head says Gonzaga. I’m going to go with my heart and pick “The Natural” Randy Couture. Couture needs to be smart early and force the fight into the later rounds where he can either look for a stoppage or grind out a decision.

David Singer, MMA on Tap: I’m picking Couture, we have the same haircut.

John Chandler, MMA on Tap: Many people see Gonzaga as the perfect type of fighter to be able to take out Couture and I agree for the most part. However that doesn’t mean I’m not going to pick Couture to keep the belt. The Sylvia fight showed me that Couture finally learned to stray away from his instincts and develop a strategy that works. He has always been articulate about what he is going to do against his opponents but two minutes into the fight, his gameplan has usually floated out the window. That didn’t happen in the Sylvia fight and something tells me that he’s going to have a nice counter attack against Gonzaga as well. I’m picking Couture by TKO in the 3rd round.

Scott White (106-48)

Randy Couture
Georges St. Pierre
Roger Huerta
Joe Stevenson
Patrick Cote
Clay Guida
Renato Sobral
Frank Mir
Thales Leites

John Chandler (107-47)

Randy Couture
Georges St. Pierre
Alberto Crane
Joe Stevenson
Kendall Grove
Marcus Aurelio
Renato Sobral
Frank Mir
Thales Leites

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