Hump day? This upcoming Wednesday night (Feb. 15, 2012) is going to be more like THUMP day.
With its live "Prelims" broadcasts for UFC on FX airing on FUEL TV, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is taking the next step in establishing the lesser-known FOX-owned network as a legitimate base of operations with an entire major mixed martial arts (MMA) event featured on the channel for the first time ever.
Leading the way are welterweight contenders Jake Ellenberger and Diego Sanchez, squaring off in a bout that may place one or the other in position to face either the division's interim champion, Carlos Condit, or its true kingpin, Georges St. Pierre, in the near future.
In addition, heavyweight Dave Herman will return to the Octagon against the ever-exciting Stefan Struve, while prospects Stipe Miocic and Philip De Fries will look to take the next step up the heavyweight ladder at the expense of one another.
Yesterday, we took a look at the first two bouts of the UFC on FUEL TV "Prelims" special that will stream live on Facebook right here. Follow me after the jump for breakdowns of the remaining to bouts on the UFC on FUEL TV: "Ellenberger vs. Sanchez" under card, which will take place at the Omaha Civic Auditorium in Omaha, Nebraska.
145 lbs.: Jonathan Brookins vs. Vagner Rocha
A member of Team St. Pierre on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 12, Jonathan Brookins (12-4) -- whose long hair and general mannerisms most likely left baby boomers around the nation shaking their heads and muttering "Get a job, hippie" under their breath -- stunned the competition with a grappling game that proved just about unstoppable. Despite fighting above his natural weight, he managed to secure a spot in the Finale against St. PIerre's top pick, Michael Johnson, and after surviving a terrible first round, stormed back to win a decision.
While he hit a roadblock in the form of Erik Koch, who outstruck Brookins while refusing to be taken down, the former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) veteran would make quite a statement by defeating ADCC competitor, Vagner Rocha (7-2).
Replacing fellow grappling ace Rani Yahya, Rocha -- a Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor working under grappling great Pablo Popovitch -- made his Octagon debut at UFC 131, replacing Mac Danzig against the vicious Donald Cerrone. Things didn’t go so well for "Ceara," who was crushed with leg kicks and easily stuffed every time he attempted a takedown. In his sophomore effort, however, he soundly dominated TUF 12 alum Cody McKenzie, submitting the guillotine ace with a rear-naked choke.
Dropping down to featherweight, Rocha could do great things if he can bring his world-class grappling game to bear.
What makes this fight fascinating to me is both men’s complete lack of any sort of a stand up game. Frankly, they both absolutely stink at punching people, which means we’re going to either get a hilariously incompetent kickboxing match or, preferably, an excellent grappling match.
Rocha has legitimately excellent jiu-jitsu, but seems entirely bereft of the wrestling necessary to utilize it. Brookins may have no striking game to speak of, but he is a very good wrestler with the jiu-jitsu chops to give a significant portion of the division fits on the ground. As good as Vagner ostensibly is on the ground, his inability to dictate position will be too big an obstacle to overcome. He could certainly threaten Brookins once they’re on the ground, forcing Jonathan to play conservatively, but he’s going to find himself on the wrong end of a clear decision.
Prediction: Brookins via unanimous decision
185 lbs.: Buddy Roberts vs. Sean Loeffler
The Greg Jackson-trained Buddy Roberts (11-2) scored an impressive victory in his most recent endeavor, a three-round decision win over 6'5" Tony Lopez, who regularly competes at heavyweight. The win was Roberts' fifth straight and only the second time in his career he's gone to the judges.
Roberts has a nice mix of knockouts and submissions (four and five, respectively) to his credit, proving him a threat anywhere the fight goes, and great things could be in his future if he takes out the experienced Sean Loeffler (25-5).
Loeffler's last 17 bouts have ended in the first round. In total, only four of his 30 bouts have gone past five minutes. Five of his last six have ended inside 60 seconds (13 in total). "The Destroyer" has been in the cage with the likes of Bellator contender Bryan Baker and UFC veteran Edgar Garcia. But, as gaudy as his record is, he'll need to score a dominant win over the rising Roberts to prove himself more than just another Jason Reinhardt.
As impressive as Loeffler's stats are, the fact is that he has what I call "Fulton Syndrome:" If you go to his Wikipedia page and check his record, there will be a big fat "LOSS" next to everyone with a page. His record is padded as all hell with incompetents, so much so that it's impossible to tell how good he really is.
Judging by the Baker fight, though, I think it's safe to say "not very."
Tony Lopez is a very legitimate win for Roberts, especially considering the size difference. Further, he's successfully gone five rounds before, which should prove a significant advantage over Loeffler.
Maybe I'm wrong and maybe Loeffler really is the type of fighter than can wear a 25-5 record with some sense of legitimacy, but I don't see it. Roberts pounds him out on the ground sometime in the late first or early second round.
Prediction: Roberts via technical knockout
That's a wrap. Be sure to check back tomorrow for the UFC on FUEL TV: "Ellenberger vs. Sanchez" complete odds and betting guide.
See you then!
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of UFC on FUEL TV, beginning with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook scheduled for around 6:20 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 weekend.