The "Power to Shock the World" is packed into the mixed martial arts (MMA) mitts of Johny Hendricks this weekend (Sat., Nov. 16, 2013) in "Sin City."
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre is back in action this Saturday, headlining UFC 167 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Opposing him is a man who has cut a bloody swath through the Welterweight division, Hendricks, owner of some of the most savage knockouts the 170-pound division has ever seen.
In addition, Rashad Evans will try to silence Chael Sonnen in a friendly Light Heavyweight showdown, while St. Pierre protege Rory MacDonald hopes to avoid the terrifying punching power of Robbie Lawler.
But, before all that, we've got seven UFC 167 "Prelims" under card matches to set the 20th Anniversary table. The first three bouts of the pay-per-view (PPV) event, which will air free online (Facebook / YouTube), are broken down below:
170 lbs.: Jason High vs. Anthony Lapsley
Now four years removed from being on the wrong end of one of the greatest head kicks ever courtesy of Marius Zaromskis, Jason High (17-4) has done quite well for himself lately, winning eight of his last nine appearances. After losing his Octagon debut thanks to the grappling prowess of Erick Silva, he scored his first UFC victory in impressive fashion, choking out James Head in less than two minutes.
After earning his way into the Bellator Season 4 Welterweight tournament, Anthony Lapsley (22-5) was on the wrong end of some controversy in the opening round, losing via technical submission to Jay Hieron despite not being unconscious. Unfazed, he’s picked up four wins since, three of them first-round submissions.
In fact, Lapsley has won eight of his last nine tilts, with six submissions to his credit.
From what little I’ve seen of Lapsley (read: pretty much none because recent footage is hard to find), he’s a wrestling-oriented fighter with somewhat questionable submission defense. The Silva fight notwithstanding, High is a tremendous wrestler with a devastating guillotine. This is a bout between two guys with the same areas of expertise, only one is ostensibly far superior in those areas.
My lack of knowledge on him may lead Lapsley to surprise me; however, more likely, High takes him down and locks up a choke in the early going.
Prediction: High via first-round submission
135 lbs.: Sergio Pettis vs. Will Campuzano
Younger brother of UFC champion Anthony Pettis, Sergio Pettis (9-0) has excelled at both Flyweight and Bantamweight, picking up three knockouts and as many submissions during his brief career. He has actually competed three times already this year, most recently submitting James Porter less than two months ago.
Pettis will give up three inches to Will Campuzano (13-4).
Since washing out of UFC with an 0-2 start, Campuzano has reinvented himself as an elite 125-pound prospect, knocking out CFA champion Josh Sampo and edging DREAM veteran Hideo Tokoro as part of a five-fight streak. He also picked up the Legacy Fighting Championship title this past December.
Campuzano takes this fight on less than two weeks’ notice because Vaughan Lee had to withdraw with an injury, competing for the second time in less than two months.
First things first: Sergio is not that similar to his brother. He has very good kicks and submissions, but his fight style is much more grounded. He has got a great one-two combination and good lateral movement. That’s not to say he’s any worse than "Showtime," just different.
Different enough for me to pick Campuzano.
Despite the short notice, Campuzano is almost twice as experienced, bigger than Pettis and a very dangerous striker. His length should complicate Pettis’ usual strategy of working on the outside and he’s also been on the big stage before, making Octagon jitters unlikely.
This is a pick 'em fight with "Fight of the Night" potential. Pettis definitely has the skills to make me look like an idiot. I simply feel Campuzano’s experience and height will carry him to a narrow victory.
Prediction: Campuzano by split decision
205 lbs.: Cody Donovan vs. Gian Villante
Cody Donovan (8-3) was able to bounce back from early trouble against Nick Penner to score a knockout late in the first in his Octagon debut. He had slightly less success against Ovince St. Preux, who put him out with ground-and-pound little more than two minutes into the first round.
Donovan has only ever gone the distance once in his professional career, all other bouts ending inside two rounds.
After consecutive losses to Chad Griggs and Lorenz Larkin, Gian Villante (10-4) righted the ship quickly, winning three straight in Strikeforce before entering UFC. He couldn’t quite keep the momentum going in his Octagon debut, however, taking a thumb in the eye against St. Preux in the third, losing a narrow majority decision.
For someone with his kind of wrestling pedigree, Villante has been a bit of a disappointment, but not to the extent that I’d pick him to lose to Donovan. Donovan has some power, but a very questionable chin and what seems to be a limited overall skillset. Though not the overpowering force he had the theoretical potential to be, Villante is still a decent wrestler with enough power to crack Donovan’s jaw.
Unless something goes disastrously wrong, don’t expect this one to last too long. Villante catches him early on the feet or on the mat and starts the evening off with a technical knockout win.
Prediction: Villante via first-round technical knockout
We have four more UFC 167 "Prelims" previews and predictions queued up for tomorrow, including a clash between Lightweight standouts and a match up of elite Brazilian jiu-jitsu stylists.
See you then, Maniacs.
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 167 card this Saturday night, starting with the Facebook "Prelims," which are scheduled to begin at 6:45 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1-televised under card bouts at 8 p.m. ET and then main card PPV action, which is slated to begin at 10 p.m. ET.