UFC on Versus 3: "Sanchez vs. Kampmann" is all set to go down tomorrow night (March 3, 2011) live from the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE updates with blow-by-blow, round-by-round commentary of the main card action on fight night, which is slated to air at 9 p.m. ET on the Versus network.
The original "Ultimate Fighter," Diego Sanchez, will cartwheel his way into tomorrow night's main event to face fellow welterweight stalwart Martin "The Hitman" Kampmann.
Joining them in the promotion's trip to the "Bluegrass State" will be middleweight hopeful Mark Munoz, who may be one or two big wins away from cementing his status as 185-pound title contender.
First he has to put down "The Doberman," CB Dollaway, in the night's co-main event.
Rounding out the televised portion of the network television special is Italian stallion Alessio Sakara welcoming UFC rookie Chris Weidman to the Octagon while former bantamweight champion Brian Bowles returns from the injured reserves to rematch Damacio Page.
I've also included the current betting lines for each fight so you can get a feel for what the money has to say about the chances of each combatant.
Now, enough with the formalities ... let's get cracking:
170 lbs.: Diego Sanchez (22-4) vs. Martin Kampmann (17-4)
Nostradumbass predicts: Diego Sanchez, who by my estimation ranks third behind BJ Penn and Kenny Florian as most talented fighter afraid to compete in the lightweight division, is back for his third consecutive appearance as a UFC welterweight since his 170-pound homecoming in May 2010.
Not only is he back to his original post-TUF weight class, he's also back with Greg Jackson and no longer considers himself a "Nightmare." Though I'm not sure Paulo Thiago would agree with that assessment after their UFC 121 showdown last October.
I mentioned the Brazilian supercop because I think that's the Sanchez that beats Martin Kampmann on Thursday night, especially after the Jake Shields fight "The Hitman" gift-wrapped on the main card of the "Lesnar vs. Velasquez" pay-per-view last Fall.
I believe the Dane is "great" in all aspects of MMA -- except strategy. Is he a better striker than Sanchez? Absolutely. A better grappler? Let's call it even. But what I saw in the Shields fight was puzzling. Why, when you have a distinct advantage on the feet, would you take your gassed opponent to the floor where you're outclassed?
The strategy for Kampmann should be the same as it was against Paulo Thiago at UFC 115: Stay out of the pocket, strike from the outside and cruise to a unanimous decision win. The gameplan was executed perfectly last June but that seemed to be the exception and not the rule, as he cost himself the Paul Daley, Nate Marquardt and nearly the Carlos Condit fights by playing to his opponent's strengths instead of his own.
It's hard not to expect the same here.
A lot of people are convinced Sanchez doesn't have a place in the welterweight division despite the Thiago win because he was manhandled by John Hathaway in his 170-pound return. I believe getting rocked by a knee in round one had more to do with his performance than his failure to execute, and the only reason he left the division in the first place was a result of decision losses to Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck, two of the best welterweights in the world.
And he wasn't exactly in a "Rush" to challenge the king of the weight class.
I'm a Kampmann fan and always have been, but he just hasn't done enough to convince me he's acquired the discipline to execute the right gameplan for this fight. Sanchez wants a brawl and the Viking will give him one, even at the expense of a decision loss.
Betting lines (as of March 2):
Kampmann: -150 ((Bet Now))
Sanchez: +120 ((Bet Now))
Prediction: Sanchez via split decision
185 lbs.: Mark Munoz (9-2) vs. CB Dollaway (11-2)
Nostradumbass predicts: Mark Munoz needs to do something special here if he's going to avoid becoming the Josh Koscheck of the middleweight division. There's no question "The Philippine Wrecking Machine" is a fantastic wrestler, but Munoz gets hit way too easily in his fights. Kendall Grove had him in big trouble, it cost him the Okami fight and Aaron Simpson, despite losing, was able to land at will.
Fortunately I don't think it will be much of an issue against Dollaway, but again, if he's going to present himself as a credible threat to the top three in this division (like he says he is), he needs to make a statement and put "The Doberman" down for good. That means no dicking around on the feet. Shoot, score, ground and pound.
Repeat if necessary.
Dollaway has quietly strung together three consecutive wins, but his competition has been mediocre at best. Two of those three wins were against Jay Silva and Goran Reljic and both combatants took him to the scorecards. His UFC 119 submission over Joe Doerksen was impressive, but it didn't do much to erase the memories of his submission loss to Tom Lawlor and "Tapgate" against Mike Massenzio.
And for the record, Silva, Reljic and Doerksen have all since been released from the UFC.
In the end, I think this is one CB that doesn't have enough squelch and it's hard not too envision Munoz taking him down at will. Dollaway has advanced grappling skills but I predict he'll wilt under the Philippine's power. Look for the stoppage to come late in the opening frame or early in the second stanza.
Betting lines (as of March 2):
Munoz: -200 ((Bet Now))
Dollaway: +160 ((Bet Now))
Prediction: Munoz via technical knockout
185 lbs.: Alessio Sakara (15-7) vs. Chris Weidman (4-0)
Nostradumbass predicts: Chris Weidman will be making his UFC debut on Thursday night after compiling a 4-0 record under the Ring of Combat banner in Lou Neglia's Atlantic City promotion in southern New Jersey. Having seen Chris in action, I can tell you he's the real deal and will likely make a big splash at the Yum! Center in Louisville.
Of course I also said that about Ricardo Romero and Gian Villante, two other outstanding ROC vets, who both got smashed in their last appearances. Based on those previous recommendations, Weidman will probably be staring at the lights in under a minute.
As per my usual approach, I'm coming back with my Dumbass shield -- or on it -- and I just can't get behind Sakara despite his advantage in both striking and experience. "Legionarius" started his 2010 fight campaign with a bang, concussing James Irvin at UFC on Versus 2 but hasn't been heard from since. He was booked against Rousimar Palhares and then Jorge Rivera later that year but suffered a death in the family and a last-minute illness and was forced to withdraw from both contests.
That means he's been on the shelf for over a year whereas Weidman is fresh as a daisy, having just competed at ROC in December. The Italian won't lose any of his offensive prowess but I don't expect his Serra-Longo trained opponent to spend much time on the feet.
His advantage is on the ground and he'll likely exploit the rusty ex-boxer with frequent takedowns and dominant top control. I'm not sure he'll secure the finish but I do think he wins convincingly. Octagon jitters can be a factor for a lot of rookies but Weidman turned down offers from both Bellator and Strikeforce to wait for the UFC's call.
He finally got it, and I predict he'll make the most of his opportunity.
Betting lines (as of March 2):
Sakara: +190 ((Bet Now))
Weidman: -250 ((Bet Now))
Prediction: Weidman via unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Brian Bowles (8-1) vs. Damacio Page (15-5)
Nostradumbass predicts: Also coming back from the land that time forgot is southern-fried slugger Brian Bowles. The former WEC bantamweight champion broke his hand against Dominick Cruz to surrender his title, then shattered his foot while on the road to recovery. Fast-forward one year later and he's back in action in a rematch against Damacio Page.
And as it stand, it's Bowles 1, Page 0.
That's because the "angel" was near "death" thanks to a fight-ending guillotine when they first met under the WEC banner back in 2008. Like most of his fights, Bowles ended it early and turned the Page en route to his short-lived title run.
I know cage rust is a factor and I can't deny that Damacio looked good in his stoppage over Marcus Galvao (WEC 39) and submission of Will Campuzano (WEC 43), but he failed to save the day against "Mighty Mouse" at WEC 52.
It's also difficult to build a case against Bolwes based on his accomplishments and if you look at what he's done in the WEC, the only real concern here is the layoff. I get the feeling Bowles is amped to get back into the 135-pound title hunt and if he doesn't empty his tank in the first two minutes, I think he catches Page trying to end this thing early.
I know the Jackson pupil has never been stopped, but Bowles has never gone to a decision either. The guillotine lightning won't strike twice so we should have one or the other to open the card.
If I had to pick, it's Bowles by TKO.
Betting lines (as of March 2):
Bowles: -300 ((Bet Now))
Page: +240 ((Bet Now))
Prediction: Bowles via technical knockout
That's a wrap, folks.
Remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of UFC on Versus 3: "Sanchez vs. Kampmann."
What do you think? Now it's your turn ... let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for tomorrow night's event.