James Te-Huna Joey Beltran
Fans should expect an all-out light heavyweight slugfest tomorrow night (July 11, 2012) as brawlers James Te-Huna and Joey Beltran will duke it out in the co-main event of UFC on FUEL TV 4 in San Jose, California.
James Te-Huna has burst onto the scene with some seriously impressive knockouts, finishing all three of his UFC wins including Igor Pokrajac. He's finished his last two opponents in less than three minutes combined and he's ready to be showcased on a bigger stage.
Joey Beltran's granite chin finally got chipped in his last UFC bout, getting knocked out badly by Lavar Johnson this pat January. The loss found him on the outs with the UFC but a drop down to 205 pounds and a unanimous decision victory later, he's back in business against another knockout artist.
Will Te-Huna be able to repeat Lavar Johnson's tremendous feat? Will the drop to light heavyweight rejuvenate Beltran's career? What's the key to victory for both men tomorrow night?
Let's find out:
Record: 14-5 overall, 3-1 in the UFC
How he got here: James Te-Huna is a New Zealand native so obviously, he got his start on the Australian circuit. The powerful striker had mixed results early on in his career but one thing was almost always guaranteed, a ferocious finish.
In 19 career fights, he's only ever gone to decision once. Te-Huna eventually worked his way up the local circuit to a CFC light heavyweight Grand Prix where he knocked out everyone he faced including current UFC light heavyweight Anthony Perosh.
The victory earned the New Zealander a UFC invite and he would make the most of his opportunity, knockout out Igor Pokrajac in the third round of his debut. After a setback against Alexander Gustafsson in which he was submitted via rear naked choke, Te-Huna has laid waste to his opposition since.
He thrashed Ricardo Romero in just 47 seconds and followed that up by blasting Aaron Rosa via TKO in his backyard of Sydney, Australia earlier this year. Now, he's being given a potential showcase fight on the big stage as the promotion is finally getting behind him.
How he gets it done: This is obvious. Te-Huna is not the most skilled on the ground, or even in the clinch but what he does possess is absolute dynamite in his fists.
Expect to see him come forward and try to blast Beltran in the temple or the jaw with heavy hooks and straight punches. If Beltran doesn't defend himself, he's going to be in for a world of hurt and even the iron-chinned "Mexicutioner" could find himself unconscious.
Footwork will be important as Beltran, while not much of a ground fighter, does possess an above average clinch game which he's used to neutralize opponents in the past. Te-Huna will have to circle aggressively looking for an opening to land his big bombs and put Beltran out without getting shoved into the cage.
Record: 14-7 overall, 3-4 in the UFC
Key Wins: Rolles Gracie (UFC 109), Tim Hague (UFC 113), Aaron Rosa (UFC 131)
How he got here: Joey Beltran actually made his debut in Strikeforce, losing a decision before working the local circuit to get some wins on his record. He made a name for himself as an exciting brawler in King of the Cage but would lose twice to mainstay Tony Lopez when attempting to reach the promotion's peak.
After scoring an impressive second round knockout of UFC veteran Houston Alexander, Beltran was invited to the UFC to welcome Rolles Gracie to the promotion. In his debut, Gracie started strong but Beltran endured on the ground and then knocked him out when the grappler gassed badly and failed to get back to his feet.
Beltran could always be counted on to put on great fights as he was thrown in against the likes of Matt Mitrione, Aaron Rosa and Pat Barry in show-stealing performances despite coming up short.
At UFC on Fox 2, he was paired against Strikeforce veteran Lavar Johnson and was brutally knocked out by the powerful slugger for the first time in his career. He was released from the promotion, but he endured. After dropping down to 205 pounds, he scored a decision victory outside the promotion and was brought in to face Te-Huna tomorrow night.
How he gets it done: Joey Beltran is all about brawling. He's at his best when both him and his opponents are winging haymakers with reckless abandon. He's not a technical fighter by any means and in fact, when he tries to be technical, that's when he runs into problems like in the first round against Stipe Miocic.
Beltran should be fighting someone his own size here which will be a nice benefit of the weight cut but he's also going to face someone just as powerful as the last man to knock him out. James Te-Huna hits like a mack truck and if Beltran absorbs enough punishment, he could definitely go down.
I think if the Alliance MMA fighter gets in any trouble here, the clinch will be his friend. Beltran has successfully used the clinch to neutralize the attack of several opponents in the past and he can wear Te-Huna down and frustrate him a bit with short knees before backing off and going back to brawling.
Fight X-Factor: The biggest X-Factor for this fight has to be Te Huna's power. Beltran can slug with the best of them but he simply doesn't have Te Huna's one-punch knockout ability. If he gets in a stand-up war with the New Zealander and is trading blow for blow, even though he has a tremendous chin, he's very likely going to get hurt or even knocked out cold.
Te-Huna's biggest weakness has been submissions but Beltran doesn't have much in that department if at all so if Beltran can't find a way to neutralize Te-Huna's power, he could be in some serious trouble.
Bottom Line: If there was ever a fight with guaranteed excitement, it's probably this one. Both of these guys love to brawl and love to throw big bombs. There are going to be straight punches, uppercuts, haymakers, hooks and just about everything under the sun thrown as long as both men are conscious. This fight is a huge contender for "Fight of the Night." This has all the makings of an absolute barnburner. The only pause for me is if Beltran clinches for extended periods of time to try to throw Te Huna off his game. That could definitely happen but I don't think he would want to ruin a great fight by doing it for all 15 minutes.
Who will come out on top at UFC on Fuel TV 4? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!