Pictured: Pablo Garza.
What's entertaining, violent, and rhymes with "bree bites?"
If you guessed "free fights," congratulations, you get to read this preview while beaming with pride at your savvy smarts.
This coming Sat., May 5, 2012, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will be making its third trip to network TV with UFC on FOX 3: "Diaz vs. Miller," which features some solid match-ups that should make up for the decision-fest we were treated to back in Januray.
In the main event of the evening, lightweight contenders Jim Miller and Nate Diaz will go toe-to-toe with a shot at the 155-pound title presumably on the line. In addition, knockout machines Pat Barry and Lavar Johnson will go head-to-head, while Johny Hendricks and Josh Koscheck look to take the next step towards a crack at Carlos Condit ... or Georges St. Pierre.
But before all that, a solid lineup of preliminary card bouts is scheduled for earlier in the night, which can be found on Facebook and FX. Part one of our breakdown after the jump.
155 lbs.: Danny "Last Call" Castillo (13-4) vs. John Cholish (8-1)
Team Alpha Male's top representative north of the featherweight division, Danny Castillo's effective wrestling attack has carried him to victory in three of his four UFC efforts, most recently defeating the vicious Anthony Njokuani on short notice. Castillo, the last man to defeat super-prospect Dustin Poirier, bounced back from a head kick knockout courtesy of Anthony Pettis to win five of his last six, and while he couldn't overcome the relentless grappling assault of Jacob Volkmann, he's got the skills to give most of the division a headache. Cholish will definitely need his "A" game if he wants to extend his unbeaten streak to nine.
Having caught the attention of the UFC with his kneebar submission of Marc Stevens in Strikeforce, Cholish, a Renzo Gracie protégé, made his Octagon debut a memorable one, dominating Canadian grappler Mitch Clarke for nine minutes before pounding him out from back mount. A proven finisher with solid striking to back up his impressive grappling, Cholish is one of the brighter prospects at lightweight, and considering how stacked the division is, that says a lot about his skill-set.
I'm willing to give Castillo a pass for his poor effort against Njokuani based on the fact that he took the fight on short notice and the fact that Njokuani is a damn monster on the feet, but I can't shake the feeling that Cholish is going to take him out. Both guys match up very evenly, with solid wrestling and submission abilities, but I'm leaning more towards Cholish once the fight gets to the ground, and he might have a bit of a striking advantage as well.
In all honesty, this fight is pretty much a pick-‘em, as the two are very evenly-matched. In the end, however, Cholish's submission advantage should carry the day, as he constantly threatens Castillo on the ground enough to pick up a decision.
Prediction: Cholish via unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Pablo "The Scarecrow" Garza (11-2) vs. Dennis "The Menace" Bermudez (7-3)
Not one to keep the highlight creators waiting, Garza produced two of the most stunning finishes you're likely to see at featherweight, nuking Fredson Paixao in his debut with a colossal flying knee and submitting Yves Jabouin out of nowhere with a flying triangle. While Paixao has come a long way since getting submitted by Tiequan Zhang in the WEC, he suffered his first UFC setback at the hands of Dustin Poirier, who manhandled "The Scarecrow" before locking in a fight-ending D'arce in the second round. He'll be out to prove that his lights-out defeats of Paixao and Jabouin were no flukes.
Living by Han Solo's words of wisdom, "Never tell me the odds," Bermudez stopped early favorite Jimmie Rivera in the elimination rounds of TUF 14 and scored two more impressive finishes en route to a clash in the finale with wrecking ball Diego Brandao. Surviving an early knockdown, Bermudez pasted the hard-hitting Brazilian with a counter right straight. Unfortunately, in the ensuing ground-and-pound flurry, he left his arm exposed just a little too long, allowing Brandao to lock up a vicious armbar. Having now dropped three straight official bouts, "The Menace" will look to bring home his first featherweight victory at Garza's expense.
There is no such thing as a lucky punch. There is even less such thing as a lucky submission. That said, I really think Paixao and especially Jabouin beat Garza more often than not. Garza's only a handful of fights removed from his loss to Zhang and really had absolutely nothing to offer Poirier. He's got decent standup and alright submissions, but I really don't think he's as good as he was made out to be after those two big wins.
Bermudez, on the other hand, has looked pretty damn good since dropping to 145-pounds, and considering his wrestling pedigree and chin, I expect him to dictate where this fight goes, and I don't see him being outmatched anywhere. Expect some entertaining striking exchanges before Bermudez drags his foe down and goes to town for fifteen painful minutes.
Prediction: Bermudez via unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Roland "Stunning" Delorme (7-1) vs. Nick "The Ninja of Love" Denis (11-2)
After running afoul of eventual finalist T.J. Dillashaw in the early going of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 14, Delorme was invited back to compete on the finale and completed his destruction of the Ferguson family, finishing Josh Ferguson with a rear-naked choke. The win was his first outside of Canada, where he had amassed six wins, all by first- or second-round stoppage. Considering the hype behind his opponent, there's no telling how high Delorme's stock will go if he pulls off the upset on short notice.
After choke-slamming Nick Mamalis into oblivion for his ninth knockout inside two rounds, Denis was called upon to make his UFC debut against Joseph Sandoval for the UFC's first trip to FX. It took all of 22 seconds for him to score a vicious elbow knockout and endear himself to the viewing public. Unbeaten at 135-pounds, Denis has only ever seen the third round once, and at the age of 28, may have one hell of a future ahead of him.
Denis's big weakness is the ground game; while it's not bad per se, his takedown defense is nowhere near as developed as his striking. For this reason, I was all set to call a Bedford upset back when those two were scheduled to lock horns.
Luckily, for "The Ninja of Love," Delorme hasn't got the same wrestling ability, and considering how poorly standing up Denis has gone for everyone not named Marlon Sandro, this is not good news.
Denis has the kind of power normally reserved for featherweights or lightweights, and while I'm waiting for him to fight a top-tier wrestler before jumping too enthusiastically onto his war wagon, I have reason to believe his fists and Delorme's frontal lobe are going to have a rather vehement disagreement, with the former coming out on top.
Prediciton: Denis via first-round knockout
185 lbs.: Karlos "The Terminator" Vemola (8-2) vs. Mike "The Master of Disaster" Massenzio (13-6)
While his UFC debut, a loss to Jon Madsen, was nothing to write home about, Vemola became an instant fan favorite after HULK SMASHing Seth Petruzelli into a puddle on the Octagon floor on the UFC 123 undercard. Sadly, the joy was not to last, as he was completely stifled by the then-unknown wrestling prowess of Nova Uniao's Ronny Markes. Vemola, who has competed with success at heavyweight, will be making his first cut to 185, and if it goes well, he could be one of the scariest guys in the division.
If nothing else, never let it be said that Massenzio doesn't own some brass ones. Not only did he take on light heavyweight Krzysztof Soszynski on short notice, but he replaced Alexandre Ferreira against Rousimar Palhares. Unfortunately, incredible gameness may not be enough to keep him employed, as he's 2-4 in his last six fights with the organization with only one of those wins coming against someone currently employed by the UFC. Massenzio desperately needs a win this Saturday if he wishes to stay where he's at.
Maybe it's my fond memories of the Petruzelli beatdown or the fact that I have yet to see Massenzio look good against anyone but the free falling Steve Cantwell, but I really think Vemola has a good chance here. While many jokes were made about his wrestling credentials, Markes proved that his takedown defense is pretty damn solid, as evidenced by his win over Simpson. Further, while I have my concerns about the weight cut, Vemola was only 222-pounds against Madsen and, despite being insanely strong, has never been all that shredded.
Massenzio is a good grappler, but that's pretty much it. His wrestling is decent and his striking is alright, but he's just not that great of a fighter.
I don't really expect either of these guys to make too much of an impact, but Vemola's size and aggression should win the day before his cardio has a chance to come into question.
Prediction: Vemola via first-round TKO
Stop by tomorrow for Part II of our breakdown, which includes two fantastic flyweight throwdowns.