Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is mere hours away from its third FUEL TV mini mixed martial arts (MMA) event, which will emanate LIVE from the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va., tomorrow night (Tues., May 15, 2012) at 7 p.m. ET on -- you guessed it -- FUEL TV.
What's on tap for the "Town of Providence?"
Fresh off his Fightville fame is featherweight fightmonger Dustin Poirier, who wants to bury "The Korean Zombie" in the night's main event and resurrect his 145-pound title quest, which began with an upset win over Josh Grispi at UFC 125 back in Jan. 2011.
Chan Sung Jung is not impressed.
The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 7 champion Amir Sadollah looks to get back into the win column after getting schooled by Duane Ludwig last August. That means he can't be afraid of monsters, even "lil" ones, when he exchanges with Wand Fight Team's Jorge Lopez in the night's co-main event.
Fans of the ground game can get up and take a whizz when Donald Cerrone slugs it out with Jeremy Stephens, who are early favorites for taking home "Fight of the Night" honors in their 155-pound scrap.
Other main card match-ups include a light heavyweight hoedown featuring Fabio Maldonado vs. Igor Pokrajac, a bantamweight brouhaha that pits Jeff Hougland vs. Yves Jabouin and a middleweight mash-up of Tom Lawlor vs. Jason MacDonald.
Six main card fighters come up big on Tuesday night and another six go home empty handed. Follow me after the jump for my best guess as to how the action unfolds.
145 lbs.: Dustin Poirier vs. Chan Sung Jung
Nostradumbass predicts: The mixed martial arts (MMA) community has become quite enamored with Chan Sung Jung as of late, perhaps prematurely, thanks to his sensational back-to-back wins over Leonard Garcia and Mark Hominick. But let's not forget this was also a fighter that prior to that, went 1-3 and got Cro Copped by George Roop.
Does it make him a bum? Not at all, but it doesn't make him championship material, either.
Poirier, by contrast, also had a pair of exciting finishes in his last two bouts, but those extended his winning streak to five and leaves him undefeated as a featherweight. The names of those he's conquered is far from a "who's-who" list, but in a division in dire need of contenders, a consistent record and handful of finishes can justify an expedited crack at the crown (see Koch, Erik).
And putting a hurtin' on the popular "Korean Zombie" would do a lot to assuage the ho-hum mentality that's accompanied this 145-pound headliner. It's a shame, too, because both fighters are talented and strong performers.
But while Jung is good, Poirier is just a little bit better.
The Hominick knockout had more to do with "The Machine" malfunctioning than it did with Zombie's striking prowess and submitting Garcia, while done in style, was still submitting Garcia, who fights like you just hit on his girlfriend at Club Guido.
"Diamond" has cut through the competition because like his record, his offense is consistent, well-rounded and he fights his fights, never letting the opposition get into a zone. Tuesday night should be no different and while a fairly competitive first round would not surprise me, Poirier will eventually take control and dominate his way to a sweep on the official scorecards.
Prediction: Poirier def. Jung via unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Jorge Lopez vs. Amir Sadollah
Nostradumbass predicts: It's been nearly four years since his professional debut and Amir Sadollah has just eight fights. That might not mean a whole lot if he was in his early twenties, but he'll be 32 in August and the Octological clock is ticking.
I give him credit for not just hanging in there, but also being competitive in one of the most dangerous weight classes in the UFC. He's vastly improved both his striking and his wrestling, but was also exposed in both areas by Dong Hyun Kim (UFC 144) and Duane Ludwig (UFC on Versus 5).
Now, I now "exposed" carries a negative connotation, but I'm not suggesting he was lucky or the benefactor of favorable matchmaking. I think we simply learned that for all his improvements, he's still got a long way to go before making any kind of noise at 170 pounds.
But even if we concede he's just good, and not great, I still think he's got the chops to overcome Jorge Lopez.
The "Lil' Monster" gets a second look because he's got Wanderlei Silva's name attached to his bio, but I didn't see anything in his UFC debut last September that had me doing the Wandy-finger-lock-wrist-wavy-thing. He's got a bunch of wins on the regional scene over an assortment of people you don't care about, and most of them were by decision, so until I see something inside the cage to give me pause, I'm not going to pick him in tomorrow night's match-up.
Look for Sadollah to keep the distance, remain fluid and strike his way to the judges' favor.
Prediction: Sadollah def. Lopez via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Donald Cerrone vs. Jeremy Stephens
Nostradumbass predicts: It's hard to believe that Jeremy Stephens has been fighting in the UFC for nearly five years and has 13 fights inside the Octagon. The reason it may come as a surprise to some is because he really hasn't been able to get himself "in the mix," putting together a mediocre 7-6 record under the ZUFFA umbrella.
He beats the lower-tier fighters (Buchholz, Downes) but falters in the big spot (Guillard, Lauzon).
I expect that trend to continue tomorrow night. Cerrone was certainly making a case for getting into the title hunt, until he tried to play Nate Diaz's game last December -- and lost -- but I still believe it's a fight he could have won if he continued to use those leg kicks and stayed away from the jab.
He won't have to worry about the Stockton barrage in Fairfax, as "Lil' Heathen" fights like a man enraged, swinging for the fences and trying to hurt somebody. It's an exciting style for the fans, but it will leave him open to Cerrone's technical counter-striking, which will do more damage through volume and connectivity.
Like most tough-talking combatants these days, I'm not sure either man wants to be the first guy to hit the floor, a place where "Cowboy" has lassoed his share of cattle, so expect to see these two punch each other in the face for three rounds until the judges do their thing.
Chins will be tested.
Prediction: Cerrone def. Stephens via unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Jeff Hougland vs. Yves Jabouin
Nostradumbass predicts: Things are about to get interesting in the UFC's bantamweight division. Really interesting. Now that reigning division champion Dominick Cruz is riding the pine with a shredded ACL, we'll be eliminating one of the top two title contenders at UFC 148 this July.
Either Urijah Faber or his opponent-to-be named (rumored to be Renan Pegado).
That means the stakes just got higher in every existing and future bantamweight brawl, thanks to a 135-pound ripple effect that could start generating new contenders by default. Will Yves Jabouin be one of them?
Tough to say.
He's riding back-to-back wins over Walel Watson and Ian Loveland, but they were both split decisions and prior to that, he was victimized by a sensational flying triangle choke by Pablo Garza. Not exactly the stuff of legends. In addition, every time he's gone up against a certifiable "name," he's come up short.
I understand he was at a heavier weight class, but there isn't enough evidence in his current body of work to label him as the clear-cut favorite.
Hougland got off to a putrid start in his professional career, going 1-4, but that was almost nine years ago, which is ancient history in this sport. He's also been able to recover and rattle off nine straight, including a UFC 132 debut win over Donny Walker.
While a victory for "Hellbound" is not an upset in the traditional sense of the term, I think the easy pick is Jabouin. But I never like to take the easy way out and I also believe Hougy is going to rise and shine and give "Tiger" the glory, glory.
Prediction: Hougland def. Jabouin via submission
205 lbs.: Fabio Maldonado vs. Igor Pokrajac
Nostradumbass predicts: I keep waiting for Fabio Maldonado to have his breakout fight, as I'm sure a lot of fans are, because he does some ridiculous things with his hands. Add to that his underrated submission game and you should have an immediate contender.
But we don't.
For all his power and prowess, the former Brazilian boxer is still trying to figure out how to dictate the action inside the cage. He made Kyle Kingsbury look silly in their June 2011 scrap, with rib roasters that would have made Nick Diaz proud, but gave the fight away by letting "Kingsbu" grind his way to a decision.
I also have to worry about the amount of injuries he's sustained in between fights, as it's been nearly a year since Maldy saw action -- even more so against another rugged aggressor like Igor Pokrajac.
The venerable Croat isn't exactly beating down any contendership doors, but he is aggressive enough and durable enough to withstand an initial onslaught from Maldonado and give some back of his own. Make no mistake, this is a very winnable fight. I don't think he's got the chops to finish his foe, but if he can weather the storm, the second and third rounds should be his to claim.
What worries me about "The Duke" is that four of his eight losses have come by way of (T)KO.
True, he did some pasting of his own, putting an end to "The Polish Experiment" last December, but without a big name win to reinforce what his press clippings boast, I have to err on the side of caution and pick the hostile hands of Maldonado -- assuming he doesn't empty his tank before finishing the job.
Prediction: Maldonado def. Pokrajac via technical knockout
185 lbs.: Tom Lawlor vs. Jason MacDonald
Nostradumbass predicts: Luckily for Tom Lawlor, he has a fantastic opening act, which helps erase some of the memories of his abysmal performances inside the cage. He's a "Filthy" 1-3 over his last four fights and that lone win comes over exiled UFC middleweight Patrick Cote.
The good news for him is, Jason MacDonald isn't exactly tearing through the division, either.
"The Athlete" was able to reclaim his spot on the ZUFFA roster after stringing together some wins north of the border, but suffered one of those horrific leg injuries at UFC 113 that makes you hate the sport of MMA. He triangled Ryan Jensen after getting all patched up, but couldn't keep up with the "Talent" of Alan Belcher at UFC Fight Night 25.
So what do we get here?
While he's considerably fragile in the stand-up, the Canadian does have a terrific ground game, finishing 19 of 25 wins by tap, nap or snap. I wish I could say Lawlor was savvy enough to keep himself out of danger, but getting strangled by Chris Weidman and Joe Doerksen is still fresh on my mind, as is his inability to look nasty enough in his offense to believe he'll crumble MacDonald before getting into a precarious position.
Enjoy the comedy skits, fight fans, we may not have many of them left.
Prediction: MacDonald def. Lawlor via submission
That's a wrap, folks.
Remember: MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of UFC on FUEL TV 3, beginning with the online "Prelims" at approximately 5:30 p.m. ET. In addition, we will also provide LIVE, real-time results of the main card action beginning at 7 p.m. ET on FUEL TV.
For previews and predictions on the preliminary card fights click here and here. To see all the odds and betting lines for UFC on FUEL TV 3 click here and remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Korean Zombie vs. Poirier."
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.