It's that time again.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is once again packing its bags for Canada, heading to the Air Center Center in Toronto, Ontario, to stage its latest pay-per-view (PPV) event on Sat., Dec. 10, 2011.
UFC 140 will feature a main event between the seemingly-invincible 205-pound champion, Jon Jones, who will try to bring out his inner Dovahkiin to slay "The Dragon," Lyoto Machida, who himself appeared to be seemingly-invincible not too long ago.
In addition, two legendary Brazilian brothers will be in action, with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira gunning for revenge against Frank Mir, while Antonio Rogerio Nogueira will look to finally bury Tito Ortiz's once and for all.
As usual, we've got a bevy of undercard bouts to whet our appetites before the big boys sling leather. However, things will be a little different this week -- f the seven fights, three will be broadcast on the UFC's Facebook page as usual, but the other four will be shown on ION television.
Follow me into the extended entry for a breakdown of the three fights that comprise the Facebook portion of the UFC 140 under card:
155 lbs.: Mark Bocek vs. Nik Lentz
In the acidic morass that is the lightweight division, Canadian grappling whiz Mark Bocek (9-4) looked to be finally on the verge of breaking into the elite. Going into his UFC 129 clash with Ben Henderson, Bocek was on a fantastic streak, having submitted four of his past five opponents and giving Jim Miller the fight of his life. Unfortunately, despite Bocek’s bravado, Henderson once again proved himself inhumanly unsubmittable, battering his Canadian foe with short, vicious blows en route to a unanimous decision. The high-octane Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt has fallen short when trying to break into the elite, but he’ll look to finally prove himself a legitimate contender with a submission of Lentz.
While not doing it in the most stylish manner, Nik Lentz (21-3-2, 1 NC) is the proud owner of one of the longest unbeaten streaks in mixed martial arts (MMA), going 12-0-2 with one No Contest since 2007. That’s not to say it’s been a smooth ride -- his split-decision win against Tyson Griffin was debatable, his third-round submission over Waylon Lowe came with him down two rounds, and Charles Oliveira was frankly beating the tar out of him before the illegal knee that made it a No Contest. Without a signature victory to his name and without the most fan-friendly style, "The Carnie" could very well need a win over Bocek to stay employed.
Let me be blunt: Lentz is one of the luckiest sons a’ guns in the UFC. He’s yet to definitively beat high-level opponents, and he was in the process of losing in the draw and no contest he got against Tavares and Oliveira, respectively. Plus, in the Oliveira bout, he seemed unable to handle his foe’s grappling prowess. And considering Bocek’s skills on the mat, that doesn’t bode well for him. Lentz is almost exclusively a wrestler, and does not possess anywhere near the striking, submission, or ground-and-pound skills of Miller or Henderson.
There really isn’t all that much to say. This is a terrible match up for Lentz, who’s going to get his back taken and throat compressed in short order.
Prediction: Bocek via submission in round one
170 lbs.: Rich Attonito vs. Jake Hecht
Attonito (10-4) made quite a few fans in his Octagon debut, stopping loudmouthed fellow "The Ultimate Fighter" (TUF) 11 competitor Jamie Yager with strikes in the second round of their fight. The American Top Team-based Attonito was originally forced off the show after suffering a broken hand while being illegally kneed by Kyacey Uscola, but was invited to the UFC afterward and has so far made the most of it. After falling to the wrestling prowess of Dave Branch, "The Raging Bull" dropped down to welterweight and looked very solid in his victory over Cesar Gracie disciple, Daniel Roberts. He will be hoping to go undefeated (2-0) against Octagon debutants by stopping his Ireland-based opponent.
Jake Hecht (10-2), a wrestling specialist, has been quite busy in the past two years, fighting six times since Jan. 2010 and winning five of those contests. His sole loss came at the hands of recent UFC signee Che Mills, who proved in his fight with Chris Cope that losing to him was no shame. The Mills loss was Hecht’s first since his debut, and he’s scored seven stoppages in that time. The well-travelled "Hitman," who is replacing the upgraded Claude Patrick, has a great opportunity ahead of him and could establish a solid foothold in the welterweight division with a win over Attonito.
Attonito really impressed me against Roberts, both in his wrestling prowess and in his complete neutralization of "Ninja’s" grappling. The best win on Hecht’s record, on the other hand, is TUF washout Charlie Rader. And despite his impressive finishing percentage, I’m just not that impressed by him. Attonito, despite the loss to Branch, has the wrestling prowess and power to impose his will on Hecht, and as much as I’m peeved by non-ferocious people being labeled "Raging Bull", I’m even more annoyed by the prevalence of false "Hitmen". Expect Attonito’s experience on the big stage to carry him to a dominant victory.
Prediction: Attonito via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Mitch Clarke vs. John Cholish
Saskatchewan’s Mitch Clarke (9-0), a wrestler and submission specialist, has been bouncing around various promotions, scoring seven stoppages among his nine wins. Clarke was last seen defeating Eddie Rincon under the EFC banner, and will look to make the most of this step up in competition and prove himself a legitimate prospect.
Strikeforce veteran and Renzo Gracie protégé John Cholish (7-1) lost in his debut and went to a decision in his second fight. Both outcomes have yet to be repeated, as Cholish has tapped out four and knocked out two. Cholish has picked up two of those submissions in the current year, pulling off a rolling kneebar against "The Ultimate Fighter" alum Marc Stephens and guillotining WEC vet Jameel Massouh for the CFFC lightweight title. Cholish -- a wrestler at Cornell who currently puts his degree to use as an institutional energy broker -- will look to replicate fellow part-timer Shane Carwin’s success in the UFC by outgrappling the unbeaten Clarke.
Honestly, Clarke doesn’t have much going for him here. Yes, he has a zero where Cholish has a one, but his competition has been seriously questionable. Just three fights ago, he fought 5-14 Brandon MacArthur, and the aforementioned Rincon was 3-4 and in the middle of a three-fight skid. Cholish, on the other hand, has faced and beaten some serious competition, demonstrating solid stand up and excellent wrestling in addition to his submissions skills. I consider him a legitimate prospect at lightweight and a highly entertaining one to boot, and I think the massive gap between their strengths of schedule will be too much for Clarke to overcome. Look for Cholish to control where the fight goes and dominate wherever that may be.
Prediction: Cholish via submission in round two
Join us tomorrow for a look at the four fights comprising the two-hour UFC 140 ION Television broadcast.
See you then.
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of UFC 140, beginning with the preliminary card bouts on Facebook scheduled for 5:30 p.m. ET. In addition, we will also provide LIVE, real-time results of the main card action as it happens throughout the evening this upcoming weekend.