Little people, big world.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is sending out the lighter weight classes to get the UFC on FOX 9 event up and running this Saturday night (Dec. 14, 2013) with a mixed martial arts (MMA) main card featuring just four fights, with two of them being late replacements.
But that doesn't mean we should turn a blind eye to this weekend's festivities at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacaramento, California. Flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson and division rival Joseph Benavidez always put on a good show, while both Urijah Faber and Michael McDonald are battling for a potential bantamweight title shot.
In short, we still have a reason to give a shit about what's going down in "Sac-Town."
Outside of the main and co-main, former featherweight number one contender Chad Mendes wants to prove he's still "Money" by cashing in another knockout at the expense of Nik Lentz, while Joe Lauzon tries to erase his stinker against Michael Johnson last August in Boston by knocking around Mac Danzig.
Can he do it? Here's my best guess...
Nostradumbass predicts: The main event, for me, is a true "morning after" type of fight. Meaning, if I skipped the event and merely checked the results the morning after, I would not be surprised to learn that Demetrious Johnson had retained his division crown.
Nor would I be shocked if he was upset by Joseph Benavidez.
That's because these two are so evenly matched that it can really go either way. Johnson holds a win over "Joe Jitsu" from their first encounter back at UFC 152, but not by much, and the division is thin enough that the champ already finds himself recycling opponents.
Will history repeat itself?
I believe it does. I think both fighters have looked sharper since they last met. Benavidez, like Chad Mendes, has discovered a newfound finishing ability under coach Duane Ludwig, but if John Dodson couldn't trap the "Mouse," I don't think Benny will, either.
Benavidez may do more damage, but in a five round fight, I think Johnson -- with ever-improving wrestling -- is busy enough to convince the judges that he's (still) the better man.
Final prediction: Johnson def. Benavidez via unanimous decision
Nostradumbass predicts: There are two ways to look at this fight. On one hand, you can look back at Urijah Faber's storied career and find it hard to build a case for a 22 year-old prospect to give him anything he hasn't already seen and successfully handled.
On the other hand...
If you look at Michael McDonald as a younger, faster Mike Brown, then it's not so hard to think "The California Kid" is getting spanked tomorrow night in front of his friends and family. I'm leaning toward the former, simply because "Mayday" has been fighting the bottom of the barrel.
In his five UFC wins, his opponents are a combined 12-14-1 inside the Octagon and three of the five have been released for not being UFC-caliber fighters. His submission over Brad Pickett is his only win over a top 10 opponent and that's just not enough to convince me he's got the chops to handle Faber's experience.
There is a reason he keeps getting title fights, as he hold wins over five of the top 10 fighters in his division.
The threat of the knockout is there, just like it is in any fight McDonald competes in. It would be foolish to discount his power, but Faber isn't going in there looking to stand-and-bang and will instead mug-and-slug his way to victory, though I will admit a late submission would not surprise me.
Final prediction: Faber def. McDonald via unanimous decision
Nostradumbass predicts: At some point you have to wonder if UFC is trolling Chad Mendes, or spoiling him. What's with all these weird match-ups? He's been ranked as the second-best featherweight in the world for a long-ass time, second only to Jose Aldo, but was subsequently paired up against Cody McKenzie (lolz) and Yaotzin Meza, who was making his UFC debut against "Money."
And people are surprised Mendes is knocking fools out?
The latest in this long list of head-scratchers is Nik Lentz, a formidable 145-pounder but a fighter with a suspect track record. Following back-to-back losses at the hands of Mark Bocek and Evan Dunham, "The Carny" strung together three consecutive wins in his new weight class.
But two of those three opponents have since been pink slip'd for stinkin' up the joint and the jury is still out on Hacran Dias.
I'm trying to look at this objectively but it's tough to build a case for Lentz when you know he's not going to out-wrestle Mendes, unless the Team Alpha Male product blows out his ACL while climbing into the cage. I'm not sure he'll outstrike him, either and if he does, "Carny" has just one knockout finish in the last four and a half years.
Mendes has four in the last 17 months.
In the end, Lentz will be a tougher out than many people -- including Mendes -- ever expected. But an out is an out any way you slice it and I'm fairly certain this one plays out similar to the way the Dunham fight did.
Final prediction: Mendes def. Lentz via technical knockout
Nostradumbass predicts: I would call this a "loser leaves town" fight, but there is no way a guy with as many "Fight Night" bonuses as Joe Lauzon is getting cut, even if his career has been in the shitter from a win/loss perspective. I can't say the same for Mac Danzig.
The former TUF champ is putrid 3-7 over his last 10.
That should give you a pretty good indication of what kind of person he is outside the cage. Actually, both he and "J-Lau" are stand-up guys. No, they don't tell airline jokes at the local gin joint, but they are good human beings (they can be hard to find in the business).
Kinda hard to be critical of them because of it, but this is the fight game and she is a cruel mistress.
Lauzon is statistically hot and cold, so a slump for the Bostonian is no cause for alarm. However, he's 1-3 over his previous four fights and in addition to being plastered by Anthony Pettis, he looked like dogshit against Michael Johnson.
Very un-Lauzon like.
This is a fight he should win, because he has the power to give Danzig the fits. Both guys have an above-average ground game, but people tend to forget just how hard Lauzon hits, probably because he -- like Little Mac -- prefers to tap dudes out.
Not this time.
Final prediction: Lauzon def. Danzig via technical knockout
That's a wrap.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on FOX 9 fight card right here on fight night (Dec. 14, 2013), starting with the Facebook "Prelims," which are scheduled to begin 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 FOX action, which is slated to begin at 8 p.m. ET.
For previews and predictions on the preliminary card fights click here and here. To see all the odds and betting lines for UFC on FOX 9 click here and remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Johnson vs. Benavidez."
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.