Mixed martial arts (MMA) fights in the fast lane.
Despite winning the title just four months ago, inaugural Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Flyweight kingpin Demetrious Johnson is back in action this Saturday (Jan. 26, 2013), facing The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 14 winner John Dodson in the UFC on Fox 6 main event.
The Chicago, Ill.,-based card, which will take place at the United Center, also features a Light Heavyweight showdown between Quinton Jackson and Glover Teixeira, not to mention a clash between two of the finest World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) veterans when Anthony Pettis collides Donald Cerrone.
Yesterday, we previewed the first three bouts that comprise the initial UFC on FOX 6 Facebook/FX portion of the "Prelims" under card right here. Today, we share breakdowns of the remaining four that will air live -- and for free -- on FX before the FOX-televised event starts at 8 p.m. ET.
Let's get cracking:
After going 3-3 at welterweight, getting overpowered by the likes of Dong Hyun Kim and Johny Hendricks, T.J. Grant (19-5) made the drop to 155 pounds and is in hot pursuit of contendership. After outgrappling Shane Roller and Carlo Prater in his first two outings, Grant narrowly edged Evan Dunham in UFC 152’s Fight of the Night, a crazy slugfest that saw both grapplers largely abandon their area of expertise in favor of beating the snot out of each other.
Grant has submitted 13 opponents.
Despite impressive performances over Cole Miller and Mac Danzig, Matt Wiman (15-6) came into his UFC on FUEL TV 5 bout with Paul Sass an underdog and certainly looked the part early on, fighting off numerous submission attempts after finding himself on his back. Turning the tables, Wiman took advantage of his opponent’s aggressiveness to lock on an armbar of his own, eliciting a tap and "Submission of the Night" honors.
This Saturday will mark Wiman’s fourteenth appearance in the Octagon.
When you’ve got two guys with roughly equal submission games, the winner is the one who can dictate position. In this case, that’s Grant, who gave Hendricks all he could handle in the wrestling department. Wiman’s wrestling is by no means poor, but getting put on his back in seconds by Sass doesn’t exactly inspire a lot of confidence in that area.
"Handsome" most likely has the advantage standing, judging by Grant's less-than-technical performance against Dunham, but I don’t see him spending enough time there for that to come into play. Expect many takedowns, much scrambling and the occasional wild flurries, with Grant coming out on top in the first two departments and picking up a clear, but entertaining, decision.
Prediction: Grant by unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Hatsu Hioki vs. Clay Guida
His trouncing of the highly-touted Marlon Sandro in 2010 made Hatsu Hioki (26-5-2) a hot commodity, prompting the UFC to pick him up the following year and stick him on the main card of UFC 137 opposite George Roop. While Hioki was lucky to escape the bout with a split-decision victory, he showcased the reason(s) he was signed when he destroyed Bart Palaszewski in Japan.
Unfortunately for the Shooto product, a turned-down title shot and loss to Ricardo Lamas followed, leaving him to once more climb up the ladder.
It’s not often you get to see public opinion of a fighter go 180-degrees in less than a half-hour, but that’s just what happened to Clay Guida (29-13) in his atrocious bout with Gray Maynard this past June. His attitude after the fight didn’t help things, either, and "The Carpenter" -- who was originally one of the Baldfather’s favorite fighters -- will likely have to do something special in his featherweight debut if he wants another crack at the big time.
Guida is on a two-fight losing streak, but has never lost three straight.
If Hioki fights a perfect fight, he can beat Guida. Getting a takedown isn’t all that likely, but he’s got four inches on Guida and a solid long-range striking game that could conceivably earn him a decision if he keeps the Energizer Bunny at range enough to stop his takedowns.
Unfortunately, he’s also not that fast, has a history of poor gameplanning and hasn’t showcased a killer guard so far in the UFC. Guida will do what Guida does, bouncing back-and-forth while throwing weak punches and getting takedowns that he does absolutely nothing with. I desperately want to be wrong, but I just don’t see Hioki outwrestling Guida or tapping him off his back unless the weight cut goes horribly wrong, meaning we’re going to get another agonizing 15 minutes of Guida pretending to be active.
Prediction: Guida by unanimous decision
205 lbs.: Ryan Bader vs. Vladimir Matyushenko
The UFC career of Ryan Bader (14-3) since winning The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) has been turbulent to say the least. After starting his UFC career undefeated (5-0_ and beating Pride FC standout Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, "Darth" suffered consecutive submission losses to Jon Jones (understandable) and Tito Ortiz (not so much).
Most recently, a two-fight win streak was abruptly ended as Bader careened headlong into a Lyoto Machida counter right two trips to FOX ago.
The Light Heavyweight division’s elder statesman, Vladimir Matyushenko (25-6) -- who turned 42 just three weeks ago -- made his MMA debut in Sept. 1997 and first fought in the UFC in 2001. "Janitor" is 4-2 since returning to the Octagon, a torn ACL scrapped a UFC 152 bout with Matt Hamill last year and may mean that his storied career may be coming to a close, but he’d surely love nothing more than to take out one more young gun before bidding the sport adieu.
I just don’t know what to expect from Bader. This is basically the exact same situation he found himself in against Jason Brilz and Ortiz, facing a noticeably slower and less powerful wrestler. I’m still picking him to win by knockout, but if anyone can pull out a loss despite being better than his opponent in effectively every department, it’s Bader.
Matyushenko is coming off a serious injury and more than one year of downtime. He is still one of the better fighters in the 205-pound the division and I wouldn’t be too terribly surprised if he does manage to clean Bader’s clock, but this is simply not a good match up for him even at his best.
Expect his decreasing mobility to be his undoing as Bader uncorks a monster right hand in the early going for the stoppage win.
Prediction: Bader by first-round technical knockout
265 lbs.: Mike Russow vs. Shawn Jordan
It’s always interesting to see how someone renowned for his durability comes back from a stoppage loss, so keep your eyes on Mike Russow (15-2) as he looks to get back in the win column after getting pounded out by Fabricio Werdum. The loss snapped an 11-fight win streak dating back to 2007 and included four victories in the UFC, most notably his legendary knockout of Todd Duffee.
The Chicago police officer has gone the distance only three times in 18 professional MMA bouts.
The less said about Shawn Jordan (13-4) and his UFC 149 debut bout with Cheick Kongo, the better. Instead, I will simply say that he is even (1-1) in the UFC, scoring a knockout win over Oli Thompson in his debut for his ninth such victory. Jordan has competed in Bellator and Strikeforce as well, going 3-1 in the former and 1-1 in the latter.
"The Savage" is six years younger and one inch shorter than his opponent.
Unless Russow’s jaw has somehow been completely annihilated by Werdum, I can’t imagine him losing this fight. He’s bigger than Jordan, has a much better wrestling game, is incredibly unlikely to be knocked out, and has much better cardio despite his fluffy appearance.
Jordan isn’t a bad fighter by any means, but he simply doesn’t have the ability to keep it standing nor the one-shot stopping power to end it during the brief time they are on the feet. As is customary in a Russow fight, Jordan may land a handful of huge shots, but to no avail as Russow consistently drags him down before choking out the fading "Savage" in the third.
Prediction: Russow by third-round submission
A title fight, fights between Top 10 lightweights and featherweights, as well as a 205-pound showdown between "Rampage" and Glover ... I like what I'm seeing.
See you then, Maniacs.
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the UFC on FOX 6 main card action, which is slated to start promptly at 8 p.m. ET. Up-to-the-minute updates and fight-by-fight coverage will begin to flow earlier than that, however, around 4:30 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook and FX.