Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is all set to blow the roof off the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans as it brings a "Battle on the Bayou" to the Spike TV airwaves this Saturday night (Sept. 17) in "The Big Easy."
And what UFC event would be complete without live results and round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage right here on MMAmania.com? Be sure to check back with us on fight night for soup-to-nuts coverage starting with the Facebook "Prelims."
Headlining the Spike TV portion of the card is former UFC welterweight number one contender Jake Shields, who begins his slow climb back to the top of the division -- unless fellow 170-pound headliner Jake Ellenberger gets there first.
Can "The Juggernaut" prove himself worthy? Or will Shields return to form?
Mr. McGee, don't make him angry. You wouldn't like him when he's angry.
Here's my best guess:
Jake Shields vs. Jake Ellenberger is one of those fights that can tempt you to make a bad pick. In two fights, Shields has failed to impress UFC fans, mailing it in against Martin Kampmann and then succumbing to a one-eyed jab versus Georges St. Pierre earlier this year.
And it's impossible to overlook the recent death of his father.
Couple that with the success of Ellenberger, who has been a heart attack since a close split decision loss to Carlos Condit in his UFC debut way back in September 2009. Four straight wins, three violent stoppages.
So "The Juggernaut" should be the pick, right?
Not so fast. Ellenberger is a big, strong puncher. He can knock out any 170-pounder if he lands clean. But so can Dan Henderson, who found out that finishing the Cesar Gracie disciple was a lot harder than he expected.
In fact, "Hendo" couldn't out-wrestle him, Robbie Lawler and Paul Daley couldn't knock him out and submissions? That ain't gonna happen. Shields has proven time and time again he has heart, grit and determination.
Ellenberger may have those qualities as well, but the former Strikeforce middleweight champion has proven it against the very best fighters across two separate divisions.
It wouldn't surprise me to see Jugs get the better of the stand-up in round one, send Shields to the canvas, then get subbed in a reckless attempt to finish the fight.
Prediction: Jake Shields def. Jake Ellenberger via submission
Court McGee vs. Dongi Yang is going to let us know which one of these middleweights is the real deal. What's interesting is that on paper, they are both formidable combatants.
Yang has 10 wins and all 10 of them have been finishes including nine technical knockouts. Scary. Sure, he faltered in his UFC debut against Chris Camozzi, but we can chalk that up to jitters as he came back and gored Rob Kimmons in his very next fight.
The only knock on "The Ox" is that he has been cremating a collection of Korean crab cakes and hasn't really done anyone dirty that you would recognize. That could change dramatically on Saturday night.
Or he could get tapped out.
McGee is no slouch and what I like the most about him is his constant improvement. The once-beaten "Crusher" made a dramatic turnaround on TUF 14, roared back to capture the finale and followed that up by strangling Ryan Jensen last October.
Is it enough to get past Yang?
I think McGee spends the first round on his back trying to survive the Korean's offensive attack, but slowly takes control of the bout as his opponent begins to fade midway through the second. He may need a submission to secure the win, because if it goes to the cards, it could be too close to call.
I say he gets it done.
Prediction: Court McGee def. Dongi Yang via submission
Let's not overlook the fact that he was well on his way after being paired up against Demian Maia for UFC Fight Night 22 before his retina detached and forced him to withdraw. He's 4-1 over his last five fights and that one loss was to Yoshihiro Akiyama -- and let's not pretend that decision wasn't a gift for the sexy one.
MacDonald is in trouble.
The Canadian "Athlete" has his share of problems against sizable strikers and Belcher will give him the fits, even with the long layoff. MacDonald folded his leg in two at UFC 113 and came back with an impressive outing nearly a year later, but I just can't see him being durable enough to withstand the onslaught.
He can threaten with the submission but without the strikes to soften up his foe, I really think this is going to be a short night for both men, with Belcher stopping him early in the opening frame.
Prediction: Alan Belcher def. Jason MacDonald via technical knockout
I know the grass is always greener on the other side, but in this weight class, it's redder. That's what happens when you have guys like Erik Koch stalking the division.
The Duke Roufus disciple is 12-1 with 10 finishes and his one loss is to Chad Mendes, which is hardly a knock on someone's career. He can strike, he can grapple, hell, he can do it all.
So too, can Brookins, but "New Breed" does it better. Brookins has heart and surprised a lot of people with his well rounded game, but not fighting for nine months and then coming back against Koch is just too tall an order.
Look for Koch to establish control early and often, and finish the TUF guy with strikes late in the second stanza.
Prediction: Erik Koch def. Jonathan Brookins via technical knockout
Alright folks, you've heard what I've had to say about tomorrow night's fights, now it's your turn. Let's hear some main card predictions in the comments section below.
Who ya' got?