This upcoming Friday (March 2, 2012), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will pack its bags (again) and head off to the "Land Down Under" for its sophomore effort on the FX network.
Leading the way at UFC on FX 2 from the Allphones Arena in Sydney, Australia, are Welterweight striking elites Martin Kampmann and Thiago Alves, who will look to claw their way back into the 170-pound title picture. In addition, flyweights will grace the Octagon for the first time ever when bantamweight standouts Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez meet top five-ranked contenders Ian McCall and Yasuhiro Urushitani, respectively, in the first leg of the mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion's inaugural 125-pound tournament.
Once again, the "Prelims" will be available on the medium screen, this time on Facebook (Oli Thompson vs. Shawn Jordan) and the remainder of the under card on FUEL TV. Follow us after the jump for part one of our UFC on FX 2: "Kampmann vs. Alves" breakdown:
Amateur Urijah Faber impersonator Andrew Craig (6-0), fighting out of Team Tooke, was lauded as a future star by commentator Michael Schiavello after his impressive defeat of Bellator veteran Eric Schambari. Despite having debuted just two years ago, Craig already has some shiny hardware on his mantle, having beaten William Bush via fifth-round technical knockout to claim the Legacy FC middleweight title. He will replace an injured Jared Hamman against Noke and, considering the hype behind him, could make an immediate impact in the UFC with a victory.
A man sufficiently badass to act as Steve Irwin’s bodyguard, Kyle Noke (19-5-1) was one of the favorites to win The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 11, displaying well-rounded skills that had once taken him to a draw with the vicious Hector Lombard. Unfortunately for the Aussie bruiser, he had no answer for the wrestling prowess of eventual finalist Kris McCray. Unfazed, "KO" proceeded to win three straight in the UFC proper before falling victim to the resurgent Ed Herman.
Now he has a chance to get back on track, as well as pick up his sixteenth win on Australian soil at the expense of late replacement Craig.
Craig impressed me with his victory over Schambari with his striking ability, and while he does indeed have a bright future, he’s got one major issue that will bite him in the arse against Noke: Takedown defense. Even after completely rocking Schambari’s world with a head kick in the first round, after which Schambari was operating at about 30 percent, he still had moderate success bringing down Craig. Noke is by no means an elite wrestler, but he’s plenty capable of taking the fight to the ground if, for some reason, he finds himself in a bad spot on the feet. Craig is a competent grappler, but Noke is dangerous enough to get Craig’s back and lock in the RNC that has served him so well lately.
Craig is certainly one to watch in the future, but this is just too much, too soon, especially on his opponent’s home turf. Noke chokes him out in two.
Prediction: Noke via second round submission
In only his second UFC effort, T.J. Waldburger (14-6) was matched up against future Jon Fitch slayer Johny Hendricks, falling victim to the latter’s vicious left hand little more than 90 seconds into the bout. In his third bout, however, he demonstrated the skills that got him signed by the promotion in the first place, taking out Jeff Curran protege Mike Stumpf with a beautiful submission chain. With 11 submissions to his name, Waldburger is a migraine-in-the-making for anyone looking to take it to the ground, which should make for an entertaining scrap with fellow grappler Hecht.
Jake Hecht (11-2), a wrestler by trade, was paired up with fellow wrestling specialist Rich Attonito for the former’s first shot at the big time. After being controlled by "Raging Bull" in the first round, "Hitman" turned the fight on its head out of nowhere in the second round, crumpling Attonito with elbows to the temple while defending a single leg. Against another man looking to plant him on his back, Hecht will no doubt be aiming to prove his win wasn’t any sort of fluke.
I hold fast to the principle that there is no such thing as a lucky punch, kick, elbow or submission in MMA; however, as can be expected, my stoicism was tested after Fedor Emelianenko vs Dan Henderson and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Frank Mir 2. That said, if Hecht fought Attonito 100 times, that would happen once. His wrestling, which is pretty much his only method of attack, wasn’t on Attonito’s level, and things are going to go even more poorly against Waldburger. T.J.’s jaw is pretty questionable, considering he’s been knocked out five times, but Hecht doesn’t have the striking tools to exploit it.
Considering both fighters’ reliance on the ground game, the fight’s almost assured to hit the ground at some point, and Waldburger’s the superior submissions specialist by a fair margin. Whether he winds up on top or on the bottom, he’ll lock up something painful.
Prediction: Waldburger via first-round submission
145 lbs.: Daniel Pineda vs. Mackens Semerzier
While Daniel Pineda’s record (16-7) doesn’t look that great, an interesting fact is that, back in 2009, he was 8-6. "The Pit" has been on an absolute tear the last 1.5 years. The well-rounded Pineda proved the deceptiveness of his win-loss ratio in his debut against first-round-finish specialist Pat Schilling, submitting him in less than two minutes. Replacing an injured Robert Peralta against the well-regarded Semerzier, he will fight for the second time this year and could make a great leap up the featherweight rankings with a win on Friday.
Mackens Semerzier (6-3, 1 NC), best-known for his unbelievable triangle submission of grappling monster Wagnney Fabiano, was in the midst of a fantastic scrap with power-puncher Robert Peralta when everything suddenly went wrong. In the third round, the two clashed heads during a particularly violent exchange, sending "Mack da Menace" tumbling to the canvas, where he was put away with punches. While the fight was eventually deemed a "No Contest," Sermizer certainly desired revenge, but an injury to Peralta short-circuited that plan, and if he wants a second crack at Peralta, he’ll have to take out a bona fide finishing machine in Pineda.
If I had to make an early call for fight of the night, this would be it -- these guys just plain don’t go to the judges. Both of them are excellent strikers with very solid submission games. Honestly, this fight strikes me as a pick 'em because both of their skill sets match up extremely well.
And when that happens, you pick the more durable one, grapplingwise.
Yes, his most recent submission loss was two years ago, but Pineda has still been tapped six times and Sermizer has the tools to make it seven, and I expect him to have a slight advantage on the feet. It’ll be crazy while it lasts, which probably won’t be long, but Mack da Menace will get ahold of Pineda’s neck and won’t let go until he gets his second UFC victory.
Prediction: Semerzier via first-round submission
A successful competitor in StrongMan competitions, including a gold medal victory in 2006’s Britain’s Strongest Man, Oil Thompson (9-2) made the transition to MMA back in 2009 and, unlike fellow musclehead Mariusz Pudzianowski, took to it pretty damn well. Currently, he is in the midst of a five-fight win streak, one that made him the UCMMA heavyweight champion. He has finished his last four opponents, and after getting his UFC 138 bout with Philip De Fries axed because of injury, will finally get a crack at the big time against well-traveled Greg Jackson-trained fighter Shawn Jordan.
Shawn Jordan (12-3), who has fought for Strikeforce and Bellator in the past, scored literally the biggest win of his career last September, defeating Lavar Johnson by second-round submission in a highly-entertaining affair. A former fullback on the LSU collegiate football squad, Jordan’s paunchy exterior belies impressive athleticism that lets him throw Superman punches and execute impressive takedowns. Jordan, who has 11 finishes, including eight knockouts, could become someone to watch at 265 pounds if he manages an impressive defeat of Thompson.
Props to Thompson for developing a legitimate MMA game and not just relying on being strong to fight hand-picked competition, but he really doesn’t have much to offer Jordan. Thompson has a decent grappling game, but doesn’t seem to have a striking game to speak of, and while his build is pretty much the polar opposite of Jordan’s, the latter should have a noticeable speed advantage. Further, Jordan has a more technical wrestling game to match his striking advantage, meaning Thompson is most likely going to have to play whatever game Jordan wants.
Oli is an intriguing fighter based on his background, but there just isn’t much he does that Jordan doesn’t do better, and the latter’s far tougher strength of schedule, combined with his experience on the big stage, leaves Thompson’s chances quite slim. It should be a decent scrap, but Jordan’s going to find Thompson’s chin either from top position or on the feet.
Prediction: Jordan via first round technical knockout
Stop by tomorrow for part two, featuring a pair of intriguing Light Heavyweight match ups (James Te Huna vs. Aaron Rosa and Anthony Perosh vs. Nick Penner), as well as some fraternal revenge (Cole Miller vs. Steven Siler).
See you then!
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of UFC on FX 2, beginning with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook scheduled for around 5:30 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 Friday night.