Come on, feel the noise.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is heading down to "Music City" this Friday night (Jan. 20, 2012) for its first-ever free card on FX, and the mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion is definitely ready to rock.
Lighting up the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., are lightweight contenders Jim Miller and Melvin Guillard, headlining the card as they attempt to regain the momentum recently stripped from them by Ben Henderson and Joe Lauzon, respectively.
And that's just the main card. Once again, the UFC will show the "Prelims" on the big(ger) screen, this time on FUEL TV.
Join us after the jump for the first part of our breakdown of the UFC on FX 1 "Prelims:"
145 lbs.: Daniel Pineda vs. Pat Schilling
A veteran of both Bellator and Legacy Fighting Championships, Daniel Pineda (15-7) has a rather interesting statistic associated with those 15 wins of his: They’re all stoppages, with six knockouts and nine submissions, including a kneebar victory over The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) stand out Johnny Bedford. "The Pit" enters the Octagon having won seven of his last eight, including a wicked spinning backfist knockout in his most recent endeavor. The Texas-based finishing machine will look to take the next big step of his career at the age of 26 with a win over the unbeaten Schilling.
With an average fight time of almost exactly two minutes, Pat Schilling (5-0) has quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with in his young career. After debuting in Jan. 2010, "Thrilling" went on to fight three more times that year, and after just one bout in 2011, is itching for a chance to prove himself in the cage once again, this time on the biggest stage there is and against another hungry up-and-comer.
Finding recent footage of these two has proven a fruitless endeavor. And I don’t trust the two- and three-year-old fights. Therefore, this is probably going to devolve into scouring their records for what I need to know.
What really strikes me (aside from the obvious experience gap) is the difference in competition level. As of today, only one of Schilling’s five opponents has a winning record (4-3) and his most recent victim was winless (0-6) going in, including a submission loss to Jason Reinhardt. Pineda, on the other hand, has fought and beaten solid foes, including World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) veteran Frank Gomez and the aforementioned Bedford.
In addition, four of Pineda’s losses came in sequence two years ago in an awful patch. He has not lost in his last five. While Pineda has historically struggled when trying to take the next step, but he’s proven himself far more than his opponent has, and that experience will carry the day for him.
Prediction: Pineda via first-round technical knockout
135 lbs.: Nick Denis vs. Joseph Sandoval
Some people call him Maurice.
When it comes to absurd knockout rates below 155 pounds, they don’t come much crazier than Nick Denis (10-2), who has nine of them to his credit, with all but one coming inside two rounds. After getting wiped out by the monster that is Marlon Sandro for the first loss of his career and being guillotined by Japanese veteran Yuji Hoshino two fights later, "The Ninja of Love" roared back with a knockout of Bellator veteran Nick Mamalis, which -- were it not for Yusup Saadulaev turning Hideo Tokoro’s brains into scrambled eggs on New Year’s Eve -- would probably be the slam of the year.
He’ll be gunning for another hellacious knockout for the FUEL TV audience.
Joseph Sandoval (6-1), then-unbeaten, debuted against Walel Watson in the UFC’s final show on Versus. The Texas-based banger, unfortunately, found himself unable to overcome a height and reach disadvantage that bordered on unfair, suffering a technical knockout loss after eating a head kick. He can go a long way toward putting that loss behind him by quelling the rise of the dangerous Denis.
Denis is undoubtedly still a work-in-progress. His takedown defense needs work, and considering how dangerous he is on the feet, he’s going to need to improve it quickly, because a good chunk of the division isn’t going to want any part of him standing.
It’ll be enough on Friday, though.
Sandoval has good striking and decent takedown defense, but against someone with the power of Denis, it’s not going to be enough. This is a massive step up in competition for him, while the same can’t be said for the more experienced Denis. Expect some nice striking exchanges early before something big from the Canadian lands flush and brings some glory back to the beleaguered Tristar.
Prediction: Denis via first-round knockout
155 lbs.: Fabrício Camoes vs. Tom Hayden
A 14-year veteran of the sport -- who had the misfortune of facing Anderson Silva in only his second MMA bout -- Fabricio Camoes (13-6-1) got his first crack at UFC glory in 2009, going 0-1-1 with a loss and draw to Kurt Pellegrino and Caol Uno, respectively. After being cut by the promotion, "Morango" went right back to work, knocking out UFC veteran Steve Lopez in just 23 seconds with a head kick and upsetting fellow exile Efrain Escudero by decision. Now 9-1-1 in his last 11 bouts, Camoes can get right back in Zuffa's good graces with a win over late replacement Hayden.
Replacing Swedish-Iranian prospect Reza Madadi on less than a week’s notice, the Jorge Gurgel-trained Tom Hayden (8-0) has only gone out of the second round once in eight bouts, owning a submission win over TUF veteran Dustin Neace. A grappling specialist, five of his victories have come via submission. Having fought just twice in the past two years, Hayden has an enormous opportunity in front of him to, at the age of 25, make an impression in the vicious UFC lightweight division.
As was the annoying case in the Pineda-Schilling fight, footage of Hayden appears nonexistent, so record analysis must be utilized. To be honest, what I’m seeing doesn’t speak well of his chances. Fabricio’s record is quite deceiving -- he’s only lost once since 2006, and speaking of, he has more than three times the experience of Hayden, chronologically speaking. Camoes has faced the better opposition by far and has had a full training camp, both major advantages over Hayden.
There’s always a chance that Hayden could surprise everyone and prove himself major-league material, but I don’t see it.
Prediction: Camoes by decision
See you then!
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of UFC on FX 1, beginning with the "Prelims" bouts on FX scheduled for around 6 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.