As the dust settles on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "The Smashes," four tournament fighters remain, each intent on getting their hands on the legendary "six-figure" contract, which will be on the line at UFC on FX 6, which takes place at the Gold Coast Convention Centre in Gold Coast, Queensland, this Friday night (Dec. 14, 2012).
The Welterweight finals feature Aussie Robert Whittaker, taking on the United Kingdom's Brad Scott, while Norman Parke faces Colin Fletcher in the all-English Lightweight final. In addition, the clash of coaches, Ross Pearson and George Sotiropoulos, who will headline the mixed martial arts (MMA) main event, is accompanied by a battle between two of the most terrifying men at Middleweight: Rousimar Palhares and Hector Lombard.
Yesterday, we previewed the first three bouts that comprise the initial UFC on FX 6 FUEL TV portion of the "Prelims" under card right here. Today, we share breakdowns of the remaining three that will air live -- and for free -- on FUEL TV before the FX event starts at 9 p.m. ET.
Let's get cracking:
145 lbs.: Chad Mendes vs. Yaotzin Meza
Team Alpha Male’s torchbearer at 145 pounds, Chad Mendes (12-1) rebounded from his vicious knockout loss at the hands (and knee) of Jose Aldo to blow Cody McKenzie away in less than on minute with a punch to the body. The 27-year-old wrestling specialist also owns wins over standouts Erik Koch and Cub Swanson during his undefeated (4-0) stint in World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC).
"Money" was recently fined $560 and placed on probation after being in the wrong place at the wrong time when a bar erupted.
Stepping in on ultra-short notice to replace the injured Hacran Dias, Yaotzin Meza (18-7) is a member of reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight Champion Ben Henderson ’s MMA Lab. In fact, "Smooth" actually implored the UFC to sign Meza after the former’s win over Jim Miller. Following consecutive defeats in 2009, Meza reeled off six straight victories, only to suffer a technical knockout loss to Greg Jackson product Andres Quintana.
So far in his six-year career, Meza has knocked out five opponents and submitted six.
Man, the only reason I’m not calling this the biggest mismatch of the year is because McKenzie would probably lose to Meza if the pair ever crossed paths inside the Octagon. Meza is coming off a loss to someone who had all of three fights beforehand, has never beaten anyone of note, is fighting on short notice, and will have less time to acclimate to Australia.
Mendes is quite literally better than him in every facet of MMA and can win this handily however, and where ever he wants. Meza presents no threat to him on the feet or on the ground that can compare to what Mendes has already overcome in his career.
I’m thinking Mendes keeps this one standing and smashes him there, although a wrestling clinic would not be unexpected. I will eat my shorts if this is anything other than annihilation.
Prediction: Mendes by first-round technical knockout
205 lbs.: Igor Pokrajac vs. Joey Beltran
After narrowly escaping a Vinny Magalhaes armbar in the first round of their UFC 152 clash, Igor Pokrajac (25-9) made what may be one of the dumbest tactical moves in UFC history, taking him down of his own volition only to get immediately caught in a triangle followed by a fight-ending armbar. Prior to this debacle, "The Duke" had won three straight, including an organ-busting decision over Fabio Maldonado.
After getting his legendary chin shattered by a series of Lavar Johnson uppercuts, Joey Beltran (14-8) -- who is now 1-4 in his previous five -- was released from the UFC. Making the long-overdue cut to 205 pounds, "Mexicutioner" defeated Anton Talamantes in his light heavyweight debut and was given another shot in the UFC when Brandon Vera was forced out of his fight with James Te Huna. While Beltran survived the Kiwi’s hellacious power, he nonetheless dropped a wide decision, making his UFC record 3-5.
Though his collection of "Fight of the Night" bonuses is impressive and his willingness to brawl much-loved by company president Dana White, he could find himself on the chopping block once again should he taste defeat.
Beltran’s durability and mentality are both admirable, but the fact is that he’s just not a good fighter. He has solid power, but his technique is nonexistent and his wrestling is awful. Sure, he’s got a puncher’s chance, but Pokrajac is incredibly durable, having only been stopped once on strikes since 2006 ... and by Te Huna, no less.
Beltran is the inferior striker of the two and the far inferior wrestler; Pokrajac can win this on the feet or on the ground. The fight will almost certainly be entertaining, but Beltran is simply not UFC-material. Pokrajac is simply too tough and too well-rounded; therefore, expect a fairly one-sided fight with Pokrajac mixing in a superior striking attack with takedowns, wearing down Beltran for an eventual ground-and-pound technical knockout.
Prediction: Pokrajac by third-round technical knockout
170 lbs.: Mike Pierce vs. Seth Baczynski
Eternal welterweight bridesmaid Mike Pierce (15-5) looked on his way to having his contendership hopes dashed once again this past October when he found himself badly hurt and nearly submitted by Aaron Simpson in the first round. Desperate to get his knockout-to-decision ratio back to even, Pierce blew Simpson’s doors off with a monstrous counter right in the second that would surely have gotten "Knockout of the Night" were it not immediately preceded by Michael Johnson’s own insane comeback.
Though he found himself a bit befuddled by Simeon Thoresen’s striking in the early going of their UFC 152 clash, Seth Baczynski (18-8) reaffirmed his place as one of the division’s premiere finishers by putting the Norwegian submission ace to sleep with a single left hand for his seventeeth victory inside the distance. TUF 10 veteran is currently on a six-fight win streak since narrowly losing his UFC debut to Brad Tavares.
The 6’3" Baczynski will own a seven-inch height advantage come fight night.
This is one of those fights where I could analyze every aspect and only one would actually matter: Baczynski is nowhere near as good a wrestler as Pierce and his bottom game is inferior to Pierce’s top game. Even with the enormous height and length advantage of "The Polish Pistola," Pierce is sufficiently superior in the wrestling department that he can find success with long shots.
The Thoresen knockout was a thing of beauty, but Baczynski generally isn’t a one-shot knockout artist and, with Pierce’s toughness, his odds of ending the fight on the feet are low. He would need to fight an absolutely perfect fight to win this, with top-tier footwork and a constant stream of long jabs.
As soon as Baczynski’s power hand moves to throw, Pierce will drag him into his world of "30-27's" and, hopefully, a Top 10 opponent will await Pierce once the final bell rings.
Prediction: Pierce by unanimous decision
Two free cards in two days? Sounds good to me.
See you this weekend, Maniacs.
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of UFC on FX 6: "Smashes," beginning with the "Prelims" bouts on FUEL TV 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 Saturday, starting promptly at 9 p.m. ET on FX Network.