Take off to the "Great White North" for UFC 140: "Jones vs. Machida."
Dana White and co. are making their way to the Air Canada Centre tomorrow night (Dec. 10, 2011) in Toronto with Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones, former champ Lyoto Machida, and oodles of fantastic fights in tow.
In addition to the titular fighters, former PRIDE Heavyweight Champion and UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion Antonio "Minotauro" Nogueira will look to parlay his momentum into revenge over the first man to ever stop him: Frank Mir.
And that's not even mentioning the excellent prelims coming your way.
Earlier this week, we examined three bouts set to be shown on the UFC's Facebook page. Join us after the jump for a closer look at the four bouts making up the ION Television portion of the broadcast.
The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 8 veteran and unintentional nemesis of closed-captioners everywhere, Krzysztof Soszynski, has made a name for himself as one of the most entertaining fighters in the UFC, with 23 of his wins coming inside the distance. "K-Sos" had one of the more entertaining 2010s in the UFC, splitting a pair of fantastic fights with Stephan Bonnar and defeating vaunted Croatian striker Goran Reljic. The Polish bruiser has won two straight, and with his dedication to providing outstanding fights, will definitely be one to watch this Sautrday.
Pokrajac has not had the smoothest ride during his time in the UFC. The well-rounded Croatian has gone 2-3 under the ZUFFA banner, defeating James Irvin and Todd Brown while falling to Stephan Bonnar, James Te-Huna, and the resurgent Vladimir Matyushenko. The man they call "The Duke," while consistently entertaining, could very well be on thin ice, and he’ll need a dramatic victory over "K-Sos" if he doesn’t want to go the way of fellow Croats Mirko Filipovic and Goran Reljic.
I’ve seen several of Pokrajac’s fights and, for the life of me, I still can’t find anything he’s really good at. He’s decent across the board, but he doesn’t seem to have the skill in any one particular area to overcome Soszynski. "K-Sos" is a limited fighter in his own right and is, by his own admission, nowhere near technical, but he’s still got heavy hands and one of the most wicked kimuras in the game. Further, only managing to beat Todd Brown, who really shouldn’t have been in the UFC in the first place, and a broken James Irvin doesn’t speak volumes about Igor’s skills. It always pains me to pick against a Croat, but I just don’t see an avenue of victory here. This one should be good while it lasts, but Soszynski will land something solid before too long and pick up his first legitimate (T)KO since flattening Gusmao back in ’09.
Prediction: Soszynski via second-round TKO
Heavy-handed striker Jared Hamman looked to be just another also-ran at light-heavyweight, going 1-2 in admittedly-entertaining bouts. Everything changed, however, when he dropped down to middleweight and was paired up with C.B. Dollaway in a bout most (including me) expected him to be dominated in. Impressively, Hamman survived an ugly first round to absolutely batter Dollaway in the second, securing a TKO win and a second wind for his career. With 12 finishes to his credit, Hamman has proven an extremely entertaining fighter and will look to prove he belongs with the best of the division against the Matt Serra-trained Philippou.
Fighting out of Serra-Longo alongside top prospect Chris Weidman, Philippou, who was defeated in the elimination round of TUF 11, immediately entered into the UFC’s good graces by replacing Dan Miller (who himself was replacing Yoshihiro Akiyama) against Nick Catone at UFC 128 in a 195-pound catchweight bout. While Philippou found himself unable to overcome his foe’s wrestling prowess, his sophomore effort was far superior, as he managed to outstrike and outgrapple veteran Jorge Rivera en route to a unanimous decision. Certainly unwilling to be overshadowed by his red-hot teammate, Philippou will be out to establish himself as a legitimate middleweight contender at the Air Canada Centre.
While I’ve still got concerns about Hamman’s ability to stay on his feet against wrestlers with cardio, he’s shown enough for me to pick him over Philippou. His strikes are clean and he’s definitely got some pop behind them, and while Philippou did some good work against Rivera, the latter came back strong in the late rounds. Hamman is completely capable of lasting long enough to where, even if Philippou manages to bring him down in the early going, he’ll be able to take control of the fight. Look for Constantinos to find some success in the takedown game early, but eventually wilt from Hamman’s punching power and drop the latter two rounds.
Prediction: Hamman via unanimous decision
GSP training partner and kickboxer extraordinaire, John Makdessi, first turned heads in his UFC debut, showing an impressive arsenal of kicks and pulling out a dominant decision. He entered into "must watch" territory at UFC 129 when, after soundly controlling the match, he wiped out Kyle Watson with a beautiful spinning backfist. Makdessi was supposed to face English striker Paul Taylor on the UFC’s penultimate Versus card, but injury forced him to delay his return until now. Makdessi will look to cement his place as one of the finest prospects in the division in his home country this Saturday against his well-travelled foe.
Things were going so great for Dennis Hallman until his poor fashion sense reared its ugly head. Hallman, legendary for submitting Matt Hughes twice in a combined time of thirty-seven seconds, rode into UFC 133 having won 7.99 of his previous eight bouts, having been five seconds away from winning a decision over John Howard. He also rode into UFC 133 with some shorts that were to regular shorts what thongs are to sweatpants. Brian Ebersole took this fashion affront personally and, after spinning his way out of back control, blasted "Superman" with elbows for a first-round stoppage, earning the UFC’s first ever "Getting Those Shorts off of TV" bonus in UFC history. There is a whole lot of that fight we want to forget, and I think I speak for everyone when I say that Hallman will need something special to override our memories of that incident.
The thing that consistently bugs me about Makdessi is that he’s far too passive; he’s got a very impressive arsenal of kicks and some real power behind them, but even when it’s clear that he has a major advantage standing, he just doesn’t commit as much as he should. In addition, he’s fairly undersized for 155.
Good for him, then, that Hallman isn’t the man to expose those liabilities.
This reeks of a desperation cut for Hallman, who hasn’t been at 155 in ten years. He’s still a dangerous opponent, but I expect Makdessi’s takedown defense to hold up and make this as standup affair, where "The Bull" has a major advantage. Finishing a washed-up Karo Parisyan isn’t enough to convince me that he has the tools to beat his younger foe, and Hallman should find himself kept at bay on the feet before eating one too many left hooks sometime in the late going and adding another trophy to Makdessi’s wall.
Prediction: Makdessi via third-round TKO
Yves Jabouin is one of those people who just always finds himself on the highlight reel in one way or another. The Tristar-based striker, in his second WEC battle, put on one of the finest fights of 2010, slugging it out spectacularly with Mark Hominick for two rounds before succumbing to the Canadian’s vicious body attack. After beating Brandon Visher at WEC 52, he made his UFC debut against Pablo Garza, and despite controlling the early going with vicious leg kicks, was caught in a flying triangle, setting the stage for one of the most entertaining events in UFC history. After upsetting Loveland in his bantamweight debut, Jabouin is out to score his first knockout since 2008 against his lanky opponent.
The appropriately-nicknamed Walel Watson, who stands at a ridiculous 5’11" also made his mark in his UFC debut, clipping fellow newcomer Joseph Sandoval with a beauty of a head kick before finishing the fight with punches. Watson, primarily a submissions specialist, has never been out of the second round, and has secured six of his nine victories in the first round. Boasting a three-inch height advantage, he’ll be eager to prove his win was anything but a fluke by getting his wiry limbs around Jabouin’s neck.
Early stoppage or no, Watson looked pretty damn slick against Sandoval.
Unfortunately for him, however, that bout was a bit of an anomaly, as he has historically proven awkward on his feet and with a tendency to back straight up after getting hit. That, in addition the thinness of his legs and the massive leg kicks Jabouin was inflicting on the similarly-built Pablo Garza, have me rather worried for "The Gazelle." While Watson has demonstrated solid submissions skills, Jabouin looked very impressive stuffing the takedowns of Ian Loveland, who is a good wrestler in his own right. As such, I doubt Watson will get the chance to put those skills to use, and despite his height and reach advantage, I expect Yves to have his way with him standing. Neither Garza nor Hominick, both of similar stature to Walel, could keep Yves off of them, and considering Watson’s lesser striking skills, things just aren’t looking good for him. "Tiger" eats up "The Gazelle" in geographically-inaccurate fashion.
Prediction: Jabouin via first-round knockout
"Bones," "The Dragon," "Big Nog," Brian Ebersole, and "The Korean Zombie." What's not to love about UFC 140?
Remember: MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of UFC 140, beginning with the pay-per-view telecast at 9 p.m. ET on Dec. 10. In addition, we will deliver up-to-the-minute quick results of all the under card action much earlier on fight night.
See you tomorrow, Maniacs.