Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is back in action tomorrow night, and just like last weekend's network television offering, the UFC on FX 5 main event could go a long way in establishing the next big thing in the promotion's 265-pound division.
Expect Stefan Struve to be watching with vested interest.
That's because "Skyscraper" could be looking at a future rematch against Travis Browne, assuming "Hapa" can overcome the Brazilian "Bigfoot" known as Antonio Silva, who meets the undefeated Hawaiian in the featured fight of the night, which emanates from the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
That's not all.
Jake Ellenberger looks to recapture the momentum that had him teetering on the brink of a 170-pound title shot when he tangles with wily veteran Jay Hieron. In addition, Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 14 Champion John Dodson will look to stake his claim to a flyweight fight against division kingpin Demetrious Johnson with a big win over Jussier da Silva.
Lots to see and do in the "Land of 10,000 Lakes."
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the main card action on fight night (Fri., Oct. 5, 2012), which is slated to air at 8 p.m. ET on the FX Channel. The latest quick updates of the live action will begin to flow earlier than that around 5 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook and FUEL TV.
So, who gets it done tomorrow night in Minneapolis? Let's find out.
Nostradumbass predicts: Quick -- you're riding the Travis Browne bandwagon and the light turns yellow -- do you slam on the brakes or step on the gas? I think I'm going to choose the former, because I'm still not entirely sold on "Hapa" just yet.
True, the towering Hawaiian is perfect inside the Octagon since his 2010 debut, but he's built his name on the Superman punch knockout over Stefan Struve. Pounding out James McSweeney and strangling Chad Griggs does not impress me, as both men are natural light heavyweights.
Decisioning Rob Broughton in Denver?
Meh. I put that up there with his stinkfest against Cheick Kongo at UFC 120. He's got a formidable ground game but his striking is erratic. Power is nothing without control and Browne has been known to swing like a wildman. What's really unfortunate, is I'm not sure stepping on "Bigfoot" does anything to help him.
We're talking about a guy that was nearly knocked out by Mike Kyle.
Silva broke a lot of hearts by crushing Fedor Emelianenko, and I think that unjustly raised the Brazilian's stock as a heavyweight contender. He split a pair of ugly slapfights against Andrei Arlovski and Fabricio Werdum and I think we all saw what happened when he tried to get loud with Daniel Cormier and Cain Velasquez.
It's a shame, too.
Silva is a talented mofo with a terrific ground game. Regrettably, his size -- which has proven to be his biggest asset -- is also his biggest liability. Browne will be too fast and too athletic to get stuck under the bus on Friday night. Look for "Hapa" to avoid the clumsy offense of his lumbering foe en route to a sweep on the judges' scorecards.
Final prediction: Browne def. Silva via unanimous decision
Nostradumbass predicts: Jay Hieron was able to beat Jake Ellenberger when they first went to battle for the International Fight League (IFC) back in 2006. In spite of this, "The Juggernaut" has assured fans he's a much different fighter for their second go-round.
I believe him.
The ex-Marine was only 12 months into his mixed martial arts (MMA) career and had not yet been able to get the kind of training and partners that are available now. Keep in mind, this was almost seven years ago, which is like dog years (multiply by seven) in this rapidly-evolving sport.
And Hieron is no spring chicken.
"The Thoroughbred" is now 36, which is far from ancient, but he's also got a lot of wear and tear on that body. His first run inside the Octagon didn't start out so well, considering he was turned inside out by Georges St. Pierre, but he did manage to compile some impressive wins on the regional circuit.
Still won't be enough.
For my money, Ellenberger has faced the tougher opponents -- and faced them more often -- en route to the upper echelon of the promotion's 170-pound division. His stock plummeted when Martin Kampmann stopped him earlier this year, but prior to that, he won six straight and is still 7-2 in one of the UFC's most competitive weight classes.
In 2012, he's simply the better fighter.
Final prediction: Ellenberger def. Hieron via unanimous decision
Nostradumbass predicts: Jussier da Silva comes into the UFC with some pretty impressive credentials from his time spent toiling away on the International circuit. In addition to winning five fights in a row, he's finished his last four victims by way of submission.
To give you an idea of how shallow the flyweight division is, "Formiga" is ranked number three in the world, despite never having stepped foot inside the Octagon. Sure, he's racked up a crazy number of wins, but laying waste to a bunch of people I've never heard of (or can't pronounce) is not getting me all hot and bothered.
His one test came against Ian McCall in Feb. 2011 and he came up "short" (ba-dum-dum, tish).
It also alarms me that in 15 professional fights, he's never had a victory via knockout or technical knockout. That might be forgivable if he bagged nearly every win by way of submission, like Paul Sass, but Da Silva has also been to the scorecards in seven of 14 fights.
Dodson is going to steamroll him.
Outside of Johnson, "The Magician" is probably the fastest fighter at 125 pounds and now affords you another opportunity to listen to Nostradumbass, since you ignored me when I said "Mighty Mouse" was too quick for Joseph Benavidez last month in Toronto. Dodson also has power, pounding out fools on five separate occasions.
How does this one play out?
Da Silva will try his damnedest to get this thing to the floor, but he won't have the speed to seal the deal. Even if he does, the former TUF champ is too squirrely to stay grounded and will likely pop right back up like a turkey timer. From there, he's going to pick the Brazilian apart with lightning-fast combinations until the inevitable happens.
Get the smelling salts ready.
Final prediction: Dodson def. Da Silva via technical knockout
Nostradumbass predicts: This is about as easy as it gets, folks. Josh Neer has 17 wins via knockout or technical knockout and 12 by way of submission. Justin Edwards has nine professional fights. A lot of bouts you can get away with a mismatch by saying "Well, on paper..."
Crumple that paper up and toss it into the furnace. This is grotesque matchmaking.
Edwards was a replacement fighter on TUF and already has two losses in three trips to the Octagon. To compound the problem, he's pushing 30 and trains out of Team Jorge Gurgel. Not exactly a winning formula. I know that sounds harsh (it's not meant to) but "Fast Eddy" just doesn't have the experience or background at this stage of his career to give a guy like Neer the fits.
We have seen "The Dentist" get overwhelmed by wrestling in the past and when Neer gets frustrated, he unravels faster than your Nana's itchy sweater. Edwards also has a decent ground game and could, conceivably, grind his way to the judges' scorecards like he did against Jorge Lopez in September 2011.
Possible, but not plausible.
I expect Neer to show up with a chip on his shoulder after getting pasted by Mike Pyle his last time out. That's bad news for Edwards, who will get lit up like the Times Square Christmas tree in the stand up and instinctive change levels to find safety on the ground.
Final prediction: Neer def. Edwards via submission
That's a wrap, folks.
For previews and predictions on the preliminary card fights click here and here. To see all the odds and betting lines for UFC on FX 5 click here and remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Browne vs. Bigfoot."
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.