While almost all of the media's attention has been focused on the UFC's inaugural FX show tonight, there's another MMA card taking place this weekend on HDNet. Pro Elite returns with its third event on Saturday night (Jan. 21, 2012) in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The main card will air on the newly redesigned cable network, beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET.
This card will feature a main event between former Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season three winner Kendall Grove and Japanese star Ikuhisa Minowa, AKA "Minowaman." Grove is looking to continue his run outside of the UFC and eventually earn an invite back into the promotion.
Also on the card will be the semifinals of the Pro Elite heavyweight grand prix as Jake Heun takes on undefeated Richard Odoms and Cody Griffin battles Ryan Martinez. Martinez notably handled former NCAA Division I champion Mark Ellis in his quarterfinals of the grand prix.
Lastly, Sara McMann, one of the most heavily credentialed women's MMA prospects, puts her undefeated record on the line against highly ranked former Smackgirl champion Hitomi Akano in what should be her toughest test to date.
Our complete ProElite 3: "Grove vs. Minowa" preview and predictions after the jump:
185 lbs.: Kendall Grove vs. Ikuhisa Minowa
Kendall Grove is long, lanky and still very dangerous as evidenced by his lightning quick submission of Joe Riggs in his debut with ProElite last year. He's got power in his hands as well and his reach is going to be significantly longer than his Japanese opponent. He's on the warpath to earn another crack at the UFC and he's so confident heading into this bout, he's already got another fight scheduled for next month against Jay Silva.
"Minowaman" is heading into this bout with a nine inch height differential and while he's on a five fight win streak, the men he's beaten in the past year are complete no-names, most likely fed to him to keep him relevant to the Japanese fans. Needless to say, this is by far the strongest opponent he's faced since losing a decision to Satoshi Ishii in September of 2010.
Minowa is getting up there in years at 36 years old and all those years of competing and professional wrestling have surely begun to take their toll. I don't expect this one to last long as Grove should have Minowa outclassed just about everywhere. I think "Da Spyda" takes this fight any way he wants it.
Prediction: Kendall Grove via submission in round one
265 lbs.: Cody Griffin vs. Ryan Martinez
Cody Griffin literally punched his ticket to the semifinals with a third round TKO victory over Justyn Riley at ProElite 2. He's very powerful, having won four of his five fights thus far by knockout or TKO. His biggest issue this fight may be his size as he's just 5'10, packing 257 pounds into that frame.
He'll be taking on the collective tournament favorite, Ryan Martinez, who handled NCAA champion Mark Ellis in the quarterfinals, stuffing the aspiring AKA fighter's takedowns and pulling out a unanimous decision. Martinez is powerful, skilled and capable of finishing the fight both on the feet or with ground and pound.
I think he'll just be too much for Griffin, both size-wise and technique-wise.
Prediction: Ryan Martinez via technical knockout in round three
265 lbs.: Jake Heun vs. Richard Odoms
Jake Heun had the most emphatic victory at the last Pro Elite show, knocking out his opponent Ed Carpenter inside the first round. He's still very young in his career, however, as he welcomed Mark Ellis to MMA in the first Pro Elite show, losing via second round submission.
His opponent, Richard Odoms, may be older at 36 years old, but he's been unstoppable thus far in his career. Currently sporting a spotless 6-0 record, "The Black Eagle" controlled Rodney Housley en route to taking a unanimous decision victory. Odoms is all about control as he's won four of his pro fights via unanimous decision.
Heun has some talent, but he doesn't have Odoms' experience and he's been controlled before by Ellis. I'm going with Odoms all the way here.
Prediction: Richard Odoms via unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Sara McMann vs. Hitomi Akano
Sara McMann has one of the most distinguished credentials of female MMA fighters. Like Ronda Rousey, she was a medal winner in the Olympics, although her sport was female wrestling, not judo. In fact, she was the first American woman to medal in wrestling ever. McMann has transitioned well to MMA, going 4-0 thus far in her career and she has progressed up the ladder quickly.
She could potentially be biting off more than she can chew when she takes on Hitomi Akano, the former Smackgirl champion from Japan. Akano,if you remember, competed in the single night women's grand prix for Strikeforce in 2010, defeating Carina Damm via submission before falling short to Miesha Tate in the finals, which is nothing to be ashamed about. She's got a massive experience edge on McMann and is coming off an impressive decision victory over former Strikeforce title challenger Roxanne Modafferi this past July.
Akano has shown weakness to strong top control wrestlers with good submission defense in the past so I have a gut feeling we could be seeing more of that this time around. As long as McMann doesn't make any mistakes on the canvas with the Japanese grappler, she should be able to at least grind out a decision.
Prediction: Sara McMann via unanimous decision
185 lbs.: Brent Schermerhorn vs. Kaleo Gambill
This fight is a bout between two young prospects as Schermerhorn (4-1) takes on Gamill (2-0). The key to this fight is two things. The first is size, as Gamill is more of a natural middleweight while Schermerhorn will be stepping up a division. The other is experience, as Schermerhorn holds a significant experience edge. Both men have been victorious in prior ProElite bouts with both Gambill and Schermerhorn scoring first round knockouts in just over three minutes combined.
I feel that even though Schermerhorn will be the smaller fighter, his experience will carry him to victory here. He's also a finishing machine, having had all five of his prior fights getting finished quickly.
Prediction: Brent Schermerhorn via knockout in round two
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Will "Da Spyda" continue his short winning streak outside the UFC, or will the "Minowaman" pull off the big upset? Is Sara McMann one of the next big things in women's MMA?