This Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) event goes out to those good ole' boys fighting for liberty.
The mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion's "Fight for Troops" series continues this Wednesday night (Nov. 2, 2013) as UFC hits Fort Campbell, Kentucky, airing live on Spike TV. Duking it out in the main event are active Army Ranger Tim Kennedy, fresh off a win over Roger Gracie, and Rafael Natal, who has won five of his last six bouts inside the Octagon.
That's just the top of an extensive mid-week fight card.
We examined the four UFC Fight Night 31 "Prelims" under card bouts that will stream online (Facebook / YouTube) yesterday right here. Today, we dig into the remaining four "Prelims" that air on FOX Sports 1 television network prior to main card.
Here we go:
155 lbs.: Bobby Green vs. James Krause
Bobby Green (20-5) entered UFC on a four-fight win streak and definitely looked the part against Jacob Volkmann, outlasting the powerful wrestler to earn "Submission of the Night" with just 35 seconds left in the fight. He was set to face another of the division’s grinders, Danny Castillo, at UFC on Fox 8 before injury delayed his sophomore appearance.
Green, who has 16 stoppages to his name, will give up four inches of height to James Krause (2-4).
Unnecessarily egotistical nickname notwithstanding, Krause bounced back from a knockout loss in the elimination rounds of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) quite impressively, reeling off four consecutive wins to earn a spot in UFC. He took full advantage of his short-notice debut, submitting Sam Stout in the waning seconds of their bout after largely outclassing the UFC vet.
He has now won eight consecutive fights, six of them by stoppage.
Honestly, I’m kind of stumped here because this is a very evenly-matched contest between two very solid fighters. After careful deliberation that may or may not have involved pitting Level 9 CPU Wario and Luigi against one another in Super Smash Bros.
Brawl, I’m leaning toward Krause.
The name of the game here is range -- Krause’s striking is offbeat, but very effective at maximizing his considerable length. Green will have to consistently press forward and take advantage of every opportunity Krause gives him to lay hands on him.
The area that does have me worried is the ground game. Krause was grounded by Stout a little too easily for my taste. Still, Krause should be able to use his reach to rack up the strikes, offsetting the time he spends on his back enough to earn the nod on the judges' cards.
Prediction: Krause via unanimous decision
135 lbs.: George Roop vs. Francisco Rivera
After dropping three of four contests at Featherweight, the 6’1" George Roop (14-9-1) elected to give 135 pounds another try, and so far, it seems to be the right choice. After defeating Reuben Duran via decision in a humdrum affair, Roop survived a hard knockdown late in the first to finish former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) champion Brian Bowles a little less than two minutes into round two.
He is currently on his first multi-fight win streak since 2008, going even (6-6-1) in that span.
Edwin Figueroa gave him a rough go early on, but it was Francisco Rivera (9-2) who ultimately came out on top in their UFC 156 match up of power-punchers, beating him down late in the second stanza. The victory marked Rivera’s sixth knockout win, seventh if you count his overturned finish of Roland Delorme in 2012.
As is tradition for opponents of Roop, Rivera will enter the cage at a sizeable height disadvantage, standing five inches shorter.
I’m always annoyed when Roop shows up in my inbox because I seem physically incapable of picking his fights correctly. Please keep that in mind as I describe the reason Rivera is going to blow his doors off.
Part of the reason he’s so hard to predict is that Roop is inconsistent with how well he uses his height. Cub Swanson and Brian Bowles were both able to buckle him with big right hands, but Roop used range well against Chan Sung Jung and Hatsu Hioki. The one thing that is consistent about him, though, is that his jaw is iffy, which is an incredibly poor attribute to have against Rivera.
Simply put, "Cisco" is a terrifically powerful puncher, one of the strongest at that weight. Should he connect with Roop’s jaw, I have zero doubt that the fight will end then and there. If Roop fights to the utmost of his abilities, I could conceivably see him taking advantage of his superior length, but that’s not something to put money on.
Roop lands some solid long-range kicks early before Rivera slips inside and turns his lights out.
Prediction: Rivera via first-round knockout
145 lbs.: Dennis Bermudez vs. Steven Siler
It’s been quite an eventful year for Dennis Bermudez (11-3). He kicked off the race for "Fight of the Year" way back in February alongside Matt Grice, surviving a rough pair of opening rounds to batter the very game "Wolverine" in the third for a split decision win. Against Max Holloway in May, "The Menace" took a flush spinning back kick to the face, but managed to pull out a controversial decision victory.
Now riding a four-fight win streak since his submission loss to Diego Brandao at TUF 14 Finale, Bermudez gives up five inches of height to his former TUF teammate.
Ten losses may seem like a lot, but Steven Siler (23-10) has a deceiving record. He started his career 5-7 before winning 18 of his last 21 appearances. His last time out was perhaps his most impressive yet, an impressive 50-second knockout of one-time 145-pound kingpin Mike Brown.
Siler has quietly gone 5-1 in UFC, putting him on the brink of contendership.
I’m not going to lie and say Bermudez looked great in his last two bouts -- he was very impressive in the third round, but there’s a very good argument that he lost the previous two in both cases. Further, he gets dropped once per fight with clockwork regularity, a surefire way to get out of the judges’ graces.
He is, however, a very solid wrestler, an area which has thus far been Siler’s premiere weakness. Darren Elkins controlled him fairly easily for all three rounds, while Kurt Holobaugh managed to take a round off him via top control. Siler is solid defensively on his back, but not the kind of offensive threat that can make Bermudez think twice about shooting.
Despite not being a big puncher, Siler’s going to wind up dropping Bermudez in the first round. That’s going to be all the success he gets; however, as Bermudez asserts his wrestling dominance for 29-28s across the board.
Prediction: Bermudez via unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Amanda Nunes vs. Germaine de Randamie
Sometimes, a nickname sticks that’s just perfect. And you can’t describe Amanda Nunes (8-3) much better than "Lioness of the Ring." The Strikeforce and Invicta veteran has ended all of her wins inside two rounds, seven by knockout, including the only women to defeat Germaine de Randamie in Vanessa Porto and Julia Budd.
Nunes, at 5’7," stands four inches shorter than "The Iron Lady."
Germaine de Randamie (4-2) entered her UFC debut with less than one-fifth her opponent’s experience, but left with the win, outstriking and shutting down the takedowns of Julie Kedzie for a unanimous decision. She had previously picked up her second Strikeforce victory at the expense of former JEWELS champion Hiroko Yamanaka, improving her record on the promotion to 2-1.
She is one of the most decorated strikers in women's MMA history, owning a kickboxing record of 37-0 and multiple Muay Thai world championships.
Though it has gotten very little attention, this fight has massive potential. It’s an excellent clash between tremendous power and crisp technique. Nunes is one of the biggest punchers in women’s MMA, while de Randamie’s striking pedigree is unmatched in the division.
In my opinion, power is going to come out on top.
In addition to lethal punches, Nunes is physically strong enough to impose her wrestling game, an area in which de Randamie is vulnerable. In addition, Amanda is much more experienced, having faced and beaten some excellent competition.
With her length and Muay Thai experience, de Randamie has the advantage at long range and in the clinch, but I believe Nunes’ aggression and strength will let her do damage from mid-range and close in on a takedown when necessary, eventually finishing de Randamie either by ground-and-pound or a big shot standing.
Prediction: Nunes via first-round technical knockout
It may lack a big name, but pretty much every fight on this card's got something going for it. There are worse ways to spend your Wednesday evenings.
See you then, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 31: "Fight for Troops 3" fight card this Wednesday (Nov. 6, 2013) right here, starting with the Facebook "Prelims" at 3:30 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1-televised under card bouts at 5 p.m. ET and then main card action also on FOX Sports 1, which is slated to begin at 7 p.m. ET.