Beasts in the east.
This Saturday morning (Nov. 10, 2012), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is coming to you bright and early from Macau, China with UFC on FUEL TV 6: "Franklin vs. Le." The free fight card, which is loaded with Asian mixed martial arts (MMA) talent, is headlined by a clash between former UFC and Strikeforce Middleweight champions, respectively, when Rich Franklin takes on Cung Le.
In addition, local star Tiequan Zhang will be back in action against Jon Tuck, while "The Fireball Kid," Takanori Gomi, looks to right the ship against former The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) winner, Mac Danzig.
But before all that, we've got a handful of "Prelims" bouts gracing your Facebook pages before the FUEL TV-televised event starts at 9 a.m. ET.
Follow me for a closer look:
125 lbs.: Yasuhiro Urushitani vs. John Lineker
Despite wins over the likes of Mamoru Yamaguchi and John Dodson and a decade of experience, most of which was spent in the flyweight elite, Japan’s Yasuhiro Urushitani (19-5-6) entered the UFC’s four-main 125-pound title tournament a massive underdog against Team Alpha Male’s Joseph Benavidez. A crushing knockout ended Urushitani’s run early, marking just his second loss since 2004.
In addition to the victories mentioned above, the slick counter-striker and Shooto champion has twice drawn with former division kingpin Shinichi "B.J." Kojima.
The Jungle Fight Bantamweight champion, John Lineker (19-6) entered the UFC with some high expectations and, despite succumbing to Louis Gaudinot’s grappling attack, showcased the endless aggression that made him such a hot commodity in the first place. Over two rounds of action, much of which he spent on his back, "Hands of Stone" threw an absurd 240 strikes, 150 of them in the first round alone.
The loss to Gaudinot snapped a 13-fight win streak for the 22-year-old Brazilian, who owns eight knockout victories.
Call me crazy (Seriously, call me crazy -- It’s the only way I can justify all the arson), but I’m probably more excited for this fight than for most of the main card. It’s just such an intriguing match up. Urushitani doesn’t have much stopping power, but he’s a damn good striker, while Lineker is an absolute animal whose idea of defense is to keep punching the guy who’s trying to hit him until he stops.
As much as I hate picking against Japanese fighters, I see Lineker’s aggression winning the day. He’s 14 years younger than Urushitani, has a concrete jaw that has about no chance in hell of being cracked here, and has the cardio to keep his insane punch output going all night. Urushitani may be able to do some damage from the outside, but he’s not going to be able to keep Lineker off of him, and the further the fight goes, the more he’s going to find himself on the wrong end of those hands of stone.
This is my early pick for "Fight of the Night." Expect Urushitani to look like a million bucks in the early going, avoiding his foe’s wild hooks and smacking his exposed jaw, before eventually succumbing to his relentless pressure and going down late.
Prediction: Lineker by third-round technical knockout
185 lbs.: Riki Fukuda vs. Tom DeBlass
A former teammate of recently-retired slugger Kazuo Misaki, Riki Fukuda (18-6) entered the UFC on a seven-fight win streak and looked to have made it eight against Nick Ring at UFC 127. Unfortunately, the judges did not agree, and Fukuda has since gone 1-1, dominating Steve Cantwell and absorbing some serious punishment against Constantinos Philippou.
The Japanese grinder has seven knockouts to his credit and has not been finished since 2006.
While Tom DeBlass (7-1) entered the UFC with some fanfare, the Canadian grappler did little to impress in his debut, gassing out badly on short notice against French bruiser Cyrille Diabate. When a match up with Nick Penner was scuttled because of injury, DeBlass elected to drop to 185 pounds, where he will meet Fukuda this weekend.
The former Ring of Combat champion has two wins by submission and two by knockout.
There are a whole lot of plausible explanations for the reason DeBlass looked so horrid against Diabate. He came into the fight -- his first outside of Atlantic City, N.J. -- on short notice and recovering from an injury. There is every reason to believe that he is significantly better than he looked in his debut.
But, picking a guy with cardio issues who’s making his first weight cut over a proven grinder with at least somewhat of a home-field advantage? Not happening.
Fukuda is a limited fighter, but he’s damn good at what he does, which is plowing you into the fence (or the ground) and roughing you up for 15 awful minutes. DeBlass doesn’t have the striking chops of Philippou nor the wrestling to impose his will on Fukuda. The first five minutes or so should be pretty even, but Fukuda will slowly and steadily pound the will out of DeBlass as the latter’s increasingly-unsuccessful takedowns leave him at Fukuda’s mercy.
Prediction: Fukuda by unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Takeya Mizugaki vs. Jeff Hougland
The Bantamweight division’s eternal bridesmaid, Takeya Mizugaki (15-7-2) was unable to capitalize on his impressive stoppage of Cole Escovedo, losing a close decision to Chris Cariaso in Japan despite spending most of the fight in top position. Mizugaki, who has split every bout he’s had since 2009, is best-known for his slugfest with Miguel Torres under the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) banner and has faced a Murderer’s Row under the Zuffa banner, including Scott Jorgensen, Urijah Faber and Brian Bowles.
The only man to finish him in the past six years was Faber, who did so via rear-naked choke.
Jeff Hougland (10-5) stepped into his May bout with Yves Jabouin the proud owner of a nine-fight win streak and a successful Octagon debut opposite Donny Walker. Once the cage closed, however, it became clear that "Hellbound" was out of his depth, getting battered post-to-post by the Canadian striker en route to losing a wide unanimous decision.
Hougland, who started his career 1-4, has finished eight opponents, seven by submission.
Surprise homework assignment! Find me one thing Hougland does better than Mizugaki. You have 10 minutes. Time’s up! It was a trick question. The answer is, "speak English."
Honestly, what does Hougland do here? He’s nowhere near capable of handling Mizugaki’s boxing, doesn’t have the wrestling to stay off his back or put Mizugaki there, and isn’t submission-savvy enough to tap him out in either case. Mizugaki isn’t a great finisher, but he’s as scrappy as they come and solid anywhere the fight goes. Plus, he’s never lost two straight during his Zuffa career.
I just don’t see this being anything other than a one-sided beating, with Hougland only surviving through the "dead fish" technique he used after getting his world rocked by Jabouin. Mizugaki by hurt.
Prediction: Mizugaki by unanimous decision
170 lbs.: David Mitchell vs. Hyun Gyu Lim
After he and T.J. Waldburger set the UFC record for submission attempts in what was both men’s debut, David Mitchell (11-2) was given the unenviable task of taking on Brazilian supercop Paulo Thiago on the latter’s home turf and wound up getting outstruck and outgrappled for a unanimous decision loss.
Korean colossus Hyun Gyu Lim (10-3-1), fighting out of Korean Top Team (KTT) alongside the "Korean Zombie," has quickly established himself as one of the scarier men on the Asian circuit, stringing together five consecutive first-round finishes.
At 6’2" with a 79-inch reach, the towering "Ace" has seven victories by knockout, including one over Lucio Linhares in just his fifth fight, and has already picked up two wins in 2012.
Mitchell with a full training camp on neutral ground might give Lim some trouble. Mitchell with an abridged training camp, fighting in Asia after more than a year off? Screwed.
Lim has every conceivable physical advantage and some solid striking technique to go with it. And while I’d like to see him off his back or against a tight striker before jumping too enthusiastically onto his war wagon, it’s hard to picture any other outcome besides him beating Mitchell to a pulp.
Don’t expect Mitchell to get his solid ground game going before getting either battered at long distance or smashed in the clinch during a failed takedown attempt. KTT represent.
Prediction: Lim by first-round technical knockout
Set your alarms and pour some coffee, Maniacs. You're not going to want to miss this.
See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of UFC on FUEL TV 6: "Franklin vs. Le," beginning with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook scheduled for around 7 a.m. ET. In addition, we will also provide LIVE, real-time results of the main card action as it happens throughout the early morning this upcoming Saturday.