Canadian based mixed martial arts promotion Maximum Fighting Championships (MFC) will host the twenty-fifth event of its young history tonight (May 7) from the Edmonton Expo Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
"Vindication" will feature a clash between former UFC 185-pound number one contender Thales Leites and The Ultimate Fighter 7 finalist/castoff Jesse "JT Money" Taylor in the main event of the evening. That fight and the rest of the main card will air live on HDNet beginning at 10 p.m. ET.
Several other ex-UFC fighters will be in action as well, including Wilson Gouveia, Pete Spratt, Luigi Fioravanti and Richie Hightower.
To help get you better prepared for tonight's festivities, here's some quick analysis and predictions for the three most anticipated fights on the card.
Thales Leites vs. Jesse "JT Money" Taylor
I think this is a really bad match up for Jesse Taylor. His MO is usually to take his opponents down and try to overpower them into submissions or just grind out a decision, and that's just not going to work against Leites.
The Brazilian, despite all his criticism from the Anderson Silva fight, is a fantastic jiu jitsu practitioner. "JT Money" is really going to have to be careful when this fight hits the mat, because despite being boring and inept on his feet, Leites is an aggressive nightmare on the ground.
The best strategy for Taylor would be to test his stand up in this fight and see if he can keep Thales off balance and backpedaling like other fighters have had success with in the past. The only problem there, however, is that Taylor isn't necessarily anything special on his feet either.
He may try to keep this fight vertical early on, but that doesn't mean he's going to find success there. I really don't think he's that much better than Thales as a striker. The truth is that these guys are both a lot more comfortable on the ground, and eventually that's where this fight is going to end up.
And once it gets there, I expect Leites to have an overwhelming advantage. Both guys are good with submissions, but the reason why Leites is so much better is because he does it with technique, as opposed to Taylor who uses his strength to secure subs.
The second that Taylor leaves his arm out there or his neck exposed, Thales is going to find the opening and end the fight. Leites is especially good at working on his opponents arms, which is why I think he wins this fight by armbar or arm triangle. But regardless of how he does it, I got Leites by submission.
Final Prediction: Thales Leites via submission.
Wilson Gouveia vs. Ryan "Big Deal" Jimmo
From a technical standpoint, Gouveia is the superior mixed martial artist. He's very talented and sort of a jack of all trades in that he can win just about any type of fight. However, he has been accused of lacking focus and being lazy in the past.
Taking this fight in the MFC is a step down for him from his last ten professional fights, which were all fought inside the UFC's Octagon. There is legitimate concern for Gouveia fans that their guy might display those bad habits again in this fight.
If he comes out focused and ready to go, however, this is a fight that he should be able to win.
It's also worth noting that this will be Gouveia's first fight at 205 pounds since registering a (4-2) record as a UFC light heavyweight during a two year period between 2006 and 2008. The American Top Team product was not as successful as a middleweight, however, dropping his last two fights under the UFC banner by TKO at the hands of Nate Marquardt and Alan Belcher.
A return to the light heavyweight division may be exactly what Gouveia needs to turn his career back around.
Jimmo, on the other hand, hasn't lost a fight since his professional debut over three years ago. He's a very disciplined fighter with a background in karate. He's really strong in the clinch and he has a nice variety of strikes on his feet because he mixes in a lot of kicks.
His problem is that he can't finish fights. All three of his most recent fights under the MFC banner have gone the distance, and a couple of them could have easily gone the other way. If he keeps taking that same grind-it-out mentality into his fights, eventually, he's going to come out on the losing end.
And I think that's exactly what's going to happen in this fight.
Jimmo isn't going to just turn up the aggression on a guy like Gouveia. Gouveia is the most talented fighter that he's ever faced, and he's not going to just throw caution to the wind and go for broke. He'll stick to his bread and butter and try to grind out another win.
He won't have success this time though. Gouveia has too much experience in big fights, and as long as he comes out focused on getting the win, his technical ability should be enough to carry him through on the scorecards.
I got Gouveia by decision.
Final Prediction: Wilson Gouveia via unanimous decision.
Emanuel "The Hardcore Kid " Newton vs. Dwayne Lewis
Lewis has been on fire since joining the MFC a year ago, and he has quickly become a fan favorite. The Canadian knockout artist has posted four straight early (T)KO wins for the promotion, including a first round highlight reel finish over Marvin "The Beastman" Eastman at MFC 23.
Meanwhile Newton finds himself on the other end of the spectrum, having dropped his last three fights after winning nine in a row before that. He is in desperate need of a win, and I think that may end up costing him the fight.
Because of that desperation, everybody in the world, including Lewis, knows he's going to be shooting for takedowns and looking to avoid the Canadian's power at all costs.
Lewis' entire training camp was probably based around defending against those takedowns and landing with his power when Newton shoots. I'm having a hard time envisioning Newton successfully holding him down for three rounds even if he can get him there, and I certainly don't like his chances in any scenario where they stay on their feet for longer than a minute or so at a time.
Lewis just hits too hard.
As long as he can avoid being surprised by a submission, Lewis should be able to score another victory with his fists. Newton isn't going to be able to grind his way to victory like he wants to, and when he gets forced into trading strikes, he'll end up sleeping.
Get the highlight reels ready.
Final Prediction: Dwayne Lewis via knockout.
Don't forget that the fights will air live on HDNet tomorrow night, beginning at 10 p.m. ET. And of course MMAmania.com will also have the results of the event posted shortly after the doors have closed at the Edmonton Expo Centre, so check back here after the fights.