Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is once again doing its thing "Down Under" with : "Alves vs. Kampmann," live via the FX Channel on Friday night (March 2, 2012) at 9 p.m. ET from the Allphones Arena in Sydney, Australia. 2
In the featured fight of the night, welterweight warriors Thiago Alves and Martin Kampmann will hook 'em up in the main event in what is widely considered the last hurrah for each combatant as it pertains to their 170-pound title aspirations.
Also working their way towards gold will be a quartet of flyweights, who bracket up in the promotion's first-ever 125-pound tournament that will eventually determine a new division champion. Four men enter, two men leave.
Anyone ready to make an early prediction on tournament champion?
Rounding out the action will be Court McGee, who took home the Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 11 trophy and then validated his win with back-to-back victories over a couple of solid competitors.
If you don't have the 14-1 middleweight on your radar yet, now's a good a time as any.
Now that we know who's fighting, it's time to figure out who's winning. That's where I come in. Follow me after the jump to get some thoughts on tomorrow night's fracas.
Nostradumbass predicts: A couple of years ago, these guys seemed destined for greatness. Right around the same time Thiago Alves won nine of 10 with seven (T)KO stoppages, Martin Kampmann had won 11 of 12 with nine finishes.
In 2009, it all came undone.
The good news for Alves is that he at least got his shot at the division title before his downward spiral. Kampmann, on the other hand, got pasted by Paul Daley on his way to the top, worked his way back up, then gave one away to Jake Shields.
Simply put, these guys are getting one last chance to make a run on welterweight gold.
There's always a degree of difficulty in picking Alves, but I'm doing it anyway. Despite all his pre-fight fakery about how easy the weight cut is, and Mike Dolce has me where I need to be, and yadda yadda yadda, you just never know what you're going to get.
Even if he makes weight.
Sometimes he looks brilliant, like he did when dismantling John Howard across three rounds at UFC 124 in December 2010. Other times he looks asleep at the wheel, like he did in a lackluster effort against Rick Story at UFC 130. So which "Pitbull" shows up in Sydney?
That could depend on which "Hitman" we get.
Kampmann, too, is notorious for being hot and cold. While making weight is never an issue, he can come in and put on a clinic against Paulo Thiago, executing a flawless gameplan, then turn around and do something stupid like rock an exhausted Jake Shields and then try to wrestle him to the ground.
If we go on skill sets alone, I favor the Dane.
I believe he's got the more refined stand-up attack and better submissions. But I give Alves the nod in power strikes from his merciless Muay Thai and brute strength. I'm also picking him in this fight because for all of Kampmann's technical prowess, he wilts under pressure.
Not the "OMG there's a chance I could lose this fight" kinda pressure, the "Holy shit this guy's trying to take my head off" kind. He turned the face of Diego Sanchez into Alpo, but still lost the fight because he couldn't defend the barrage.
The same kind that had him looking at the lights against Nate Marquardt and "Semtex" Daley.
I'm predicting a good, competitive fight, but when the "Pitbull" is unleashed, I expect a third round stoppage. Then again, you might want to check back with me on this pick after the weigh ins.
Prediction: Alves def. Kampmann via technical knockout
Nostradumbass predicts: The opening round of the flyweight tournament is getting lumped into one prediction because it's my column and I'll do whatever the hell I feel like doing. Also because I believe this is nothing more than a preview for the inevitable.
I'm not going to say Urushitani is a Shooto can crusher, but Joseph's resume reads like a who's-who while Yasuhiro's reads like a "who's that?" There's a reason Benavidez is -1450 on some of the betting sites and it's not because of his affinity for strange little creatures (not named Urijah Faber).
When's the last time you saw him in any kind of trouble?
His only two losses were in a heavier weight class to the division champion and he's been fighting the top of the 135-pound food chain since joining the WEC back in 2008. He was one of the best bantamweights in the world and I believe he'll be the best flyweight.
Urushitani, who loves rematches (just three different opponents in his last seven fights), has a nice five-fight winning streak going, but at 35, he's too old and too slow to handle the vaunted Joe-Jitsu.
That's what makes Johnson such an intriguing opponent.
Like Benavidez, "Mighty Mouse" has also taken "The Dominator" to a decision and holds wins over Norifumi Yamamoto and Miguel Torres. Outside of Cruz and his off-night opposite Brad Pickett in 2010, he's been unbeatable.
Ian McCall has -- you guessed it -- also lost to Dominick Cruz, as part of a 1-2 fight campaign under the WEC banner that sent him back down to the regional circuit. He's done fairly well there, but again, the level of competition hasn't been anything to write home about.
True, his opponents have all had stellar records, but when you overlap the resumes of Johnson and "Uncle Creepy" on the overhead projector, you have to give the nod to "Mighty Mouse." This one is going to the scorecards and when it does, expect to see Johnson as the winner.
Prediction: Joseph Benavidez vs. Demetrious Johnson coming soon to a pay-per-view (PPV) near you
Nostradumbass predicts: If you're not paying attention to Court McGee because he doesn't have the "it factor," or doesn't take a verbal dump on his opponent every time some hack reporter jams a microphone in his face, then maybe you should ignore the marketing and look at the cold, hard facts.
McGee is a winner.
He proved that on TUF 11, coming back to win the entire season and a UFC contract. He validated his reality show championship by winning his next two fights inside the Octagon. Think it's no big deal? Jonathan Brookins couldn't do it. Neither could Efrain Escudero, Amir Sadollah and Mac Danzig, among others.
It's not as easy as it sounds.
Outside of a unanimous decision loss to wily veteran Jeremy Horn in 2007, no one has been able to figure this guy out. And ten of the 15 people who've tried got finished in the process. I just haven't seen anything from Constantinos Philippou that leads me to believe he's the guy to do it.
Hell yeah, but you expect that from someone under Ray Longo. That said, he was unable to get past Nick Catone in his UFC debut and barely squeaking past a 40 year-old Jorge Rivera doesn't have me breaking out the party hats. He put Jared Hamman to sleep a couple of months back, but that guy fights rock 'em-sock 'em robot style so it's to be expected.
I don't think he'll secure the finish, but "Crusher" is too well-rounded and too intelligent of a fighter to give this one away. I predict he controls this fight from bell to bell and stamps his ticket to bigger and better opportunities at 185-pounds.
Prediction: McGee def. Philippou via unanimous decision
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 2 click here and remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Alves vs. Kampmann."
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.