UFC on Fox 9 has taken some licks, but it's still got some steam.
Once a potential all-time great card, the ninth appearance for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) on FOX crosses the finish line this weekend (Sat., Dec. 14, 2013) at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, Calif., with a little less luster thanks to the injury bug.
Nonetheless, Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez will aim to please, duking it out in a main event rematch for the former's Flyweight title. In addition, recent Renan Barao victims Urijah Faber and Michael McDonald will lock horns for a place among the Bantamweight ruling class, while Chad Mendes will look to extend his knockout streak to five at the expense of Nik Lentz.
That's not all.
We've got seven UFC on Fox 9 "Prelims" under card mixed martial arts (MMA) matches to get things started, the first of which will stream online via Facebook and the remainder will air on FOX Sports 1.
Let's dive right in:
125 lbs.: Scott Jorgensen vs. Zach Makovsky
The final challenger for Dominick Cruz ’s World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) title in 2010, Scott Jorgensen (14-7) has hit a rough patch recently, losing three of his last four appearances. Though there’s no shame in losing to the sorts of fighters he did, including Barao and Urijah Faber, he has elected to try his hand at Flyweight after a long run at 135 pounds.
Zach Makovsky (16-4) won his first six Bellator bouts, picking up the Bantamweight title in the process; however, he was unceremoniously released from the organization following consecutive losses to Eduardo Dantas and Anthony Leone. Undeterred, Makovsky dropped to his proper weight class of 125 pounds, winning two straight this year and picking up the RFA 125-pound title.
Six of the 16 wins for "Fun Size" have come via tapout.
Makovsky’s a very entertaining sort of wrestler -- extremely fast, very active on top and an excellent scrambler. I simply question his ability to handle someone of Jorgensen’s size. "Young Guns" has been in there with some terrific scramblers and historically held his own, meaning that Makovsky’s will likely wind up on his back.
And I’m not sure he can get back up.
While Makovsky’s short notice may be offset by Jorgensen cycling through opponents, both of the guys he was set to face (Ian McCall and John Dodson) are highly-active wrestlers, which means that he should be pretty well prepared. So long as the weight cut isn’t too draining, I expect Jorgensen to impose his size on Makovsky, maintaining top position throughout most of what should be a solid ground battle.
Prediction: Jorgensen by unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Sam Stout vs. Cody McKenzie
After 16 bouts in a UFC career that dates back to 2006, Sam Stout (19-9-1) might be fighting for his Octagon life this Saturday night, having lost three of his last five bouts. After edging Strikeforce veteran Caros Fodor in January, Stout struggled against late replacement James Krause in June, eventually falling right into a guillotine with just 13 seconds left for his first stoppage loss since his Octagon debut.
While it hasn’t been the smoothest road, Cody McKenzie (14-3) raised his UFC record to 50 percent last April, out-striking and out-grappling Leonard Garcia for his first career decision win. He had previously lost three of four, all stoppages, since choking out Aaron Wilkinson in his UFC debut.
After plying his trade at 145 pounds for his last two bouts, McKenzie will return to Lightweight for the first time since May 2012.
McKenzie’s a fun guy to watch and Stout’s striking is massively overrated, but I feel like we’re looking at a recipe for the second UFC finish for "Hands of Stone." For all the shoulder roll nonsense McKenzie pulled on Garcia, "Bad Boy" could make a lungfish look like Floyd Mayweather Jr. In other words, McKenzie is a non-factor on the feet. Further, he ostensibly lacks the necessary wrestling to implement his superior grappling and Stout shouldn’t be stupid enough to follow the bad example set by Marcus LeVesseur and run headlong into a guillotine.
Though Stout’s nickname might be the biggest misnomer in the entire sport, he packs some decent heat in his left hook to the body and his complete lack of an effective way to close the distance shouldn’t matter here. McKenzie doesn’t have the skill to keep Stout at range and should fold from a body shot sometime in the first round.
Prediction: Stout by first-round technical knockout
155 lbs.: Abel Trujillo vs. Roger Bowling
Abel Trujillo (10-5) had one of the most devastating UFC debuts in recent memory, annihilating LeVesseur with vicious knees to the body. Unfortunately, he’s struggled to follow up that performance, getting ragdolled by Khabib Nurmagomedov his second time out and landing what looked like an illegal knee on Roger Bowling (11-4) in their first meeting.
Trujillo had won five straight before the Nurmagomedov fight.
Once a top-tier prospect in Strikeforce, Bowling has yet to get over the hump, going 3-4 (1) since 2010. Currently winless in UFC, he lost to Tarec Saffiedine in his last Strikeforce appearance before suffering a vicious one-punch knockout loss to Anthony Njokuani in his Lightweight (and UFC) debut.
Eight of his wins have come via punches.
Their first fight was damn close before the knees (of which I believe the second was illegal and was certainly intended for the head), and I don’t think I’m going to change my pick: Bowling. He seems to have slightly better wrestling, a slightly better gas tank and slightly crisper striking (though not by a huge margin).
This is a fight with a lot of potential for entertaining violence and it wouldn’t surprise me to see either of them lay the other one out early. Though I’m nowhere near as confident in this pick as I am with others on the card, I say Bowling finishes a flagging Trujillo late in the second.
Prediction: Bowling via second-round technical knockout
125 lbs.: Darren Uyenoyama vs. Alp Ozkilic
After a stunning upset of "Kid" Norifumi Yamamoto in his Octagon debut and a submission of Phil Harris, Darren Uyenoyama (8-4) got the unenviable task of facing Joseph Benavidez in April. Impressively, he survived most of two rounds against the Alpha Male-trained elite, succumbing to a body shot with 10 seconds to go in the second.
Half of his wins have come via form of choke.
Alp Ozkilic (8-1) made his first ZUFFA appearance as Team Cruz’s wrestling coach on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 15. The Turkish Greco-Roman champion has been doing good work in the cage himself, however, riding a three-fight win streak that saw him finish WEC veteran Antonio Banuelos in 30 seconds his last time out.
He replaces John Moraga on approximately three weeks notice.
Loathe as I am to pick a debuting fighter, especially one on short notice, I like the cut of Ozkilic’s jib. In addition to an excellent wrestling pedigree, he’s a fairly decent striker, packing some quick hands and solid leg kicks. Uyenoyama is undoubtedly the superior grappler, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot when you can’t force grappling exchanges on his terms.
Even if Ozkilic doesn’t decide to see how his top game matches up against Uyenoyama’s guard, I feel he’s the superior striker. We either get an entertaining takedown-and-scramble fest or Alp piecing him Darren up at range.
Either way, Ozkilic takes the decision.
Prediction: Ozkilic via unanimous decision
Three more UFC on Fox 9 fights to go, including two intriguing Lightweight scraps.
See you tomorrow, Maniacs, same time ... same place.
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on FOX 9 card on fight night, starting with the Facebook under card bout at 4:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1 "Prelims" matches at 5 p.m. ET and running right on through the FOX main card broadcast that starts at 8 p.m. ET.