The best things in life are free, including knock-down, punch 'em-ups.
To overwrite the memory of the mediocrity of its last visit to FOX, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has put together a solid mainstream mixed martial arts (MMA) card with match ups guaranteed to deliver entertainment at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sat., May 5, 2012.
Lightweight stalwarts Nate Diaz and Jim Miller will throw down with a possible crack at the 155-pound title on the line in the main event, while Johny Hendricks will trade leather with Josh Koscheck in the Welterweight division. In addition, leglock machine Rousimar Palhares will look to add another black belt’s tibia to his collection as he takes on Alan Belcher.
We took a deep dive into the first four UFC on Fox 3 "Prelims" bouts yesterday right here. Now join us after the jump for breakdowns of the remaining four that will air live -- and for free -- on FUEL TV:
155 lbs.: Anthony Ferguson vs. Michael Johnson
One of the most terrifying men to win The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) in recent memory, Anthony Ferguson’s (13-2) run on the show was as devastating as they come, scoring three straight knockouts before flattening runner-up Ramsey Nijem in the first round at the Finale. He is currently undefeated (3-0) in the world’s biggest MMA promotion, breaking Aaron Riley’s jaw in his lightweight debut and scoring a decision win over veteran Yves Edwards. With so many former show winners falling off the map, "El Cucuy" has a chance to bring some honor back to the title "Ultimate Fighter" with a win this Saturday.
Georges St. Pierre’s first pick on TUF 12, Michael Johnson (7-5) impressed with his solid wrestling attack, which he used to grind his way to the show’s finals. After a strong first round against teammate Jonathan Brookins, however, his gas tank betrayed him and he was soundly outgrappled en route to a unanimous decision loss. Since then, "The Menace" has gone 2-1, a heel hook loss to Paul Sass sandwiched between solid wins over Edward Faaloloto and Shane Roller. After Rashad Evans loss two weeks ago and Melvin Guillard’s current struggles, it’s up to Johnson to bring home victory for the "Blackzillians."
I’ll readily admit that I underestimated Johnson, having pegged him as doomed against Roller, but as I’ve said before, I have absolutely no sense of pattern recognition. Ferguson is one of the best fighters to come out of the show in years, packing enormous power in his hands and the know-how to keep it standing. Fancy as Johnson’s footwork is, he doesn’t strike me as having all that much pop behind his punches, and considering Ferguson’s takedown defense, he doesn’t have much to keep "El Cucuy" on his toes.
Combine this with a tendency to fade in the later rounds and you have a very, very bad night in store for Johnson. Expect some textbook sprawl-and-brawl from Ferguson before he puts away a tired Johnson in the third.
Prediction: Ferguson via third-round technical knockout
125 lbs.: John Dodson vs. Timothy Elliott
What many may not know is that before his stint on TUF, John Dodson (12-5) was one of the top-ranked Flyweight fighters in the world, one whose record is incredibly deceiving. In only his second fight, "The Magician" took on the renowned Yasuhiro Urushitani and barely lost. During his time as a Bantamweight in the house, he demonstrated the skills that got him to that point, scoring three commanding victories in the house before knocking out Team Alpha Male’s T.J. Dillashaw in the finals. Dodson is poised to earn a spot in the upper echelon of the UFC’s burgeoning flyweight division with a win over late-replacement Elliott.
Replacing the injured Darren Uyenoyama, the well-regarded Timothy Elliott (8-2) has been on an absolute rampage since going winless (0-2-1) in his first three bouts. After knocking out Jens Pulver cold in December, he submitted Josh Rave in all of 28 seconds barely a month ago. Bucking the stereotype of flyweight fighters always going to decisions, Elliott has finished seven of his eight victims, using his solid wrestling pedigree to great effect. With the amount of exposure Dodson got by winning TUF, Elliott has a shot to make one hell of a first impression if he pulls off the upset.
Elliott is highly-ranked at his weight and has a good record, but to be frank, he really isn’t that good. He’s plodding, his punch technique is awful, and his shots, while effective, are pretty badly telegraphed. In addition, he keeps his hands far too low, which is just asking for trouble, especially since even his right hand is too low.
Dodson has bragged that he’s never been taken down in a fight, and while I haven’t seen enough to confirm or deny, it frankly wouldn’t surprise me. He is an absolute freak of an athlete, the kind of guy for whom front-flipping over a double-leg is as viable as a sprawl. Plus, despite his size, he packs huge power in that left hand of his.
Elliott doesn’t have the wrestling to bring down Dodson and he is far too slow to deal with him on the feet. I expect a short night of work for Dodson.
Prediction: Dodson via first-round technical knockout
170 lbs.: John Hathaway vs. Pascal Krauss
Bucking his countrymen’s reputation for less-than-stellar wrestling, John Hathaway (15-1) stunned UFC fans by spoiling Diego Sanchez’s return to the welterweight division, nearly decapitating the sturdy veteran in the first round with an enormous knee en route to a commanding decision win. Since then, however, "The Hitman" has had trouble taking advantage of that momentum, getting dominated by Mike Pyle and squeaking by TUF veteran Kris McCray. If he can unleash his inner Churchill and bring down the Panzer, though, he could once again become one of the division’s hottest prospects.
Following the example set by Dennis Siver, Pascal Krauss (10-0) has made Germany proud in the Octagon, scoring "Fight of the Night" in his debut win over Mark Scanlon back at UFC 122. The fight was the first time Krauss had ever left the second round, having stopped all nine previous foes inside 10 minutes. Unfortunately, a UFC 138 showdown with Hathaway was scuttled by a shoulder injury on "Panzer’s" part, and he will be making his first Octagon appearance in 18 months. If he can overcome ring rust and his opponent’s wrestling prowess, he may find himself a valuable commodity in the stacked welterweight division.
The more I see of Hathaway, the more perplexed I am by the success he had in his first four UFC bouts. As good as Pyle is, there is no excuse for getting humiliated like Hathaway was considering the hype behind him. Also, his fight with McCray was far, far closer than it had any right to be. His striking still seems robotic to me and his wrestling, while nothing to scoff at, isn’t at the level we all thought it was.
If this fight were happening back at UFC 138, I’d pick Krauss in a heartbeat. He’s training out of a very good camp in Roufusport and he’s got good skills wherever the fight goes. The problem is that he’s been out an incredibly long time and will be fighting in America for the first time, two handicaps that really don’t go well together. He might have success early on, but I see his gas tank betraying him as the fight progresses, causing him to lose a grappling-heavy decision to the more experienced Hathaway.
Prediction: Hathaway via unanimous decision
125 lbs.: Louis Gaudinot vs. John Lineker
Another world-ranked flyweight who jumped up in weight to compete on TUF, Louis Gaudinot (5-2) won his elimination bout handily, but was overcome by Dustin Pague. To ease the pain, though, "Goodnight" took home a cool $25,000 for "Fight of the Season." Unfortunately, things quickly went south for the colorful Ring of Combat champion, as he sustained one of the nastiest beatings in recent memory at the hands of Johnny Bedford, who used his size and wrestling to pulverize Gaudinot at the show’s Finale. Dropping back to his natural weight, Gaudinot -- who owns a submission win over the highly-touted Jessie Riggleman -- will look to showcase the talent that made him Team Bisping’s top bantamweight pick.
At the ripe old age of 22, John Lineker’s record (19-5) may not seem too spectacular until you consider that he was 6-5 at the end of 2009. The hard-charging brawler has established himself as one of the best bantamweights in Brazil, recently defeating the well-traveled Ilarde Sabino Belo dos Santos for the Jungle Fight bantamweight title. The 5’5" Lineker will be dropping down to flyweight for his UFC debut, and considering the psychotic aggression that made him a standout in his home country, he may put the division on notice this Saturday.
The red flags are out in droves for Lineker -- he’s only 22, is making his UFC debut and hasn’t cut to flyweight before. The reason I’m choosing to ignore them is because:
- Lineker is tiny
- He’s making this cut in the midst of a 13-fight win streak
- He is a bad man
I’ll admit to soiling the bed when it came to hyping up Maximo Blanco, so just hear me out one more time. Lineker’s fighting strategy is "punch until there is nothing left to destroy." He leads with his face and throws with the kind of reckless abandon that would make Wanderlei Silva proud. His chin is concrete, he’s got a good sprawl and his submission defense is solid.
"Mao de Pedra" has got more than thrice the experience of Gaudinot and has the power to beat down guys far bigger than him. This is going to end in a hurry and in psychotic fashion.
Prediction: Lineker via first-round technical knockout
Summer's just about here, and there's no better way to welcome it than by watching two guys punch each other in the head for free. Life is good, Maniacs.
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of UFC on FOX 3, beginning with the "Prelims" bouts on FUEL TV scheduled for around 5 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.
See you Saturday, Maniacs.