It's going to be a "big" Friday night (Oct. 5, 2012) of fights under the Target Center lights in Minneapolis.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will continue its four-week march of mixed martial arts (MMA) of fights with UFC on FX 5, which will feature Heavyweight colossi Travis Browne and Antonio Silva in the main event of the evening. The former will look to score the biggest win of his career, while the latter trying to break a two-fight skid.
In addition, Welterweight bruiser Jake Ellenberger will return to the ring for the first time since his knockout loss to Martin Kampmann against Jay Hieron and, in other main card action, former Flyweight kingpin Jussier da Silva makes his Octagon debut opposite John Dodson.
But before all that, we've got a nice set of "Prelims" under card matches to whet your MMA appetites. Check out part one of our UFC on FX TV 5 "Prelims" breakdown, featuring the first four bouts of the fight card below:
145 lbs.: Bart Palaszewski vs. Diego Nunes
While his heavy hands made him a threat to anyone who stepped into the cage with him, International Fight League (IFL) and World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) veteran Bart Palaszewski (36-15) never could crack the elite of the Lightweight division, falling short against the likes of Jim Miller and Anthony Njokuani.
Making the cut to 145 pounds last October, however, "Bartimus" scored the biggest win of his career since taking Anthony Pettis’s "0," knocking out Tyson Griffin in vicious fashion. Before he could enjoy his time in the limelight, however, he ran into the elite grappling of Hatsu Hioki and dropped a clear-cut decision at UFC 144.
Palaszewski has won five of his last six, four by stoppage.
Former Nova Uniao representative Diego Nunes (17-3) entered the WEC as one of Brazil’s top finishing machines, finishing every opponent and most in the first round. Since joining the Zuffa umbrella, however, "The Gun" has gone the distance nine straight times. That’s not to say he hasn’t impressed, however; he’s gone 6-3, beating Mike Thomas Brown and former title challenger Manny Gamburyan in that time.
At 1-2 in his last three, however, he could need a more definitive win to get his name back in the title picture.
As awesome as Bart’s knockout of Griffin was, it didn’t show us anything new -- he’s still a hard-hitting brawler with above-average wrestling. He can most likely put a good portion of the division’s lights out with a good shot, but he has to hit them first, something I don’t foresee him doing against Nunes.
"The Gun" has what I call "Sam Stout Syndrome," wherein his knockout percentage evaporates on the big stage, but he’s excellent at keeping range and going to work with a wide variety of kicks. He’s also got a solid wrestling game to back it up, one impressive enough that I expect this to be contested entirely on the feet. Yes, he lost to Dennis Siver in the stand up, but the German has a much more varied striking game than Palaszewski.
I used the same logic when picking Jason Young over Robert Peralta, which ended in embarrassing fashion for me, but I don’t see Palaszewski getting his hands on Nunes enough to bring his power to bear. "The Gun" ought to have success on the outside, taking potshots at his foe’s legs and torso while steering clear of those nasty hands and earning a competitive, but clear decision.
Prediction: Nunes by unanimous decision
125 lbs.: Darren Uyenoyama vs. Phil Harris
Despite his experience in Strikeforce and the Japanese circuit, which included a win over number-one strawweight Rambaa Somdet, Darren Uyenoyama (7-3) was considered little more than cannon fodder for former K-1 HERO’s superstar Norifumi Yamamoto. Impressively, "BC" not only survived "KID’s" vaunted power, he overcame the one-time Olympic hopeful’s wrestling to utterly dominate him on the mat.
He was slated to face John Dodson in his flyweight debut back in May, but was injured and replaced by Tim Elliott. Uyenoyama has three submission wins to his credit.
Stepping in on just over a month’s notice to replace the injured Louis Gaudinot, the United Kingdom’s Phil Harris (21-9) has yet to taste defeat at flyweight. The owner of 17 career stoppages, including 13 submissions, Harris has fought and won twice in 2012 under the CWFC banner.
Most recently, "Billy" decisioned The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 14 hopeful Casey Dyer.
While Harris’s record is impressive, his fight with Remi Morvan earlier this year indicates that he may have a bad case of British Wrestling. As much as Yamamoto has declined, taking him down is no mean feat, and the fact that Uyenoyama managed to do so is damn impressive and bodes ill for Harris.
I’ve got some concern about Uyenoyama’s nearly 11-month layoff and his lack of experience at 125 pounds, but he just seems like the superior fighter in practically every regard. While Harris has a Judo background, I doubt it fares any better against Uyenoyama than KID’s wrestling did. I don’t anticipate them mixing it up for long before "BC" shoots in, brings him down, works his way to the back, and picks up his second UFC win.
Prediction: Uyenoyama by first-round submission
155 lbs.: Carlo Prater vs. Marcus LeVesseur
A nearly 10-year veteran of the sport, Carlo Prater (30-11-1) made his UFC debut this past January in the midst of a four-fight win streak that included an arm-triangle submission of Brazilian standout Gleristone Santos. After less than thirty seconds, "Neo" had his first UFC victory via disqualification, as the brutal onslaught Erick Silva put him down with included one too many to the back of the head for Mario Yamasaki’s taste.
The hard-hitting Marcus LeVesseur (21-6) looked every bit as promising as his nickname suggests in the early going of his short-notice UFC debut opposite Cody McKenzie, dropping the guillotine specialist before making the monumentally stupid decision to follow him to the ground. Predictably, McKenzie got a hold of his neck and forced the tap just over three minutes into the first round.
"The Prospect" is now 6-2 over his last eight, picking up a decision win over TUF 12 competitor Dane Sayers in that span.
LeVesseur may have the fight IQ of a gerbil and he may have made me look equally stupid in my UFC 146 predictions, but as I’ve said before, I have no sense of pattern recognition. Prater just isn’t that good of a fighter -- he’s not a good enough wrestler to bring his Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt to bear and he’s at a major disadvantage on the feet. All LeVesseur has to do to win this fight is not do anything stupid.
Yes, that’s all he had to do against McKenzie and he failed spectacularly, but I have a good feeling about this one. Expect LeVesseur to fend off some early takedown attempts from Prater with relative ease before connecting with something big and putting his (and my) failure firmly in the past.
Prediction: LeVesseur by first-round technical knockout
170 lbs.: Aaron Simpson vs. Mike Pierce
One of the most decorated wrestlers in the sport, Arizona State University’s Aaron Simpson (12-3) entered the UFC on a rampage, taking out Tim McKenzie, Ed Herman and Tom Lawlor as part of a streak that included seven stoppages. While he hit a roadblock in the form of Chris Leben and Mark Munoz, "A-Train" has rebounded to win four of his last five.
While his welterweight debut against Kenny Robertson proved successful, Simpson has not finished an opponent since 2009 and most likely needs an authoritative win to break into the stacked welterweight elite.
Mike Pierce (14-5) first raised eyebrows in the UFC in his sophomore effort, giving eternal bridesmaid Jon Fitch everything he could handle in a decision loss. Since then, he’s more or less inherited the mantle, dropping razor-thin decisions to Johny Hendricks and Josh Koscheck while taking out all other comers. In his most recent effort, however, he stunk up the joint against Carlos Eduardo Rocha and will probably have to make one hell of an example of Simpson to work his way back onto the main card.
I’m going to be blunt: the fight is going to suck. In fact, it’s going to suck a lot. Their wrestling is about even, which means we’re in for a long night of one guy leaning on the other against the fence. If they actually do try to exchange, Pierce is the cleaner striker of the two but the less devastating; that’s not going to matter, though, because they’re both going to just fling takedowns at each other until something sticks.
I mean, how much can I break this down? They’re both tenacious wrestlers with unbelievable patience when it comes to grinding someone down. Simpson shot for 15 takedowns against Brad Tavares and 14 against Robertson, while Pierce attempted 10 against Rocha. They’re going to deadlock against the cage for 15 painful minutes and, considering Pierce’s luck with the judges, things aren’t going to end in his favor.
Simpson wins by shooting more often and spending more time with Pierce between him and the fence.
Prediction: Simpson by split decision
Stop by tomorrow at the same time for breakdowns of the four remaining "Prelims" bouts on FUEL TV.
See you then, Maniacs.
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of UFC on FX 5: "Browne vs. Bigfoot," beginning with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook scheduled for around 4 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 Saturday, starting promptly at 8 p.m. ET.