It's girls night out this upcoming Saturday night (Feb. 23, 2013)!
For the first time in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) history, it's the ladies' turn to take center stage as former Strikeforce and inaugural UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey takes on the organization's first openly-gay fighter, Liz Carmouche, in the UFC 157 main event, which takes place at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
Joining the ladies on the pay-per-view (PPV) main card are Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida, squaring off in a bout between two of the Top 5-ranked 205-pound mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters on the planet. In addition, Urijah Faber will settle the score with Ivan Menjivar, while Josh Koscheck welcomes Robbie Lawler back to the Octagon.
But, before all that, we've got seven "Prelims" under card fights to tide us over on Facebook/FX, the first four of which we breakdown below.
145 lbs.: Dennis Bermudez vs. Matt Grice
Since losing to Diego Brandao in a hectic affair on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 14 Finale, Dennis Bermudez (9-3) has proven himself one to watch at 145 pounds, tossing Pablo Garza around his second time out and surviving an early knee to the chops to damn near tear Tom Hayden’s head off via guillotine.
Since washing out of the UFC after a 1-3 run, Matt Grice (15-4) has won five of his last six, the sole defeat to current top division contender Ricardo Lamas in 2011. Displaying his wrestling prowess, Grice easily defeated Leonard Garcia, earning a rare unanimous decision over the free-swinging World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) veteran.
"The Real One" is two inches taller and five years older than Bermudez.
Grice certainly looked solid against Leonard Garcia, but then again, it was against Leonard Garcia. He has struggled mightily when matched with higher-level competition such as Bermudez. And while Bermudez’s chin may be questionable, Grice isn’t a striker of sufficient caliber to exploit that. Furthermore, I don’t expect his wrestling to match up favorably against Bermudez, either.
Three straight submission losses may raise eyebrows, but whether or not Bermudez has patched that liability, the game he has demonstrated recently should be more than sufficient to plant Grice on his back and deal a steady stream of damage with impunity.
Chalk up another "W" in the books for "The Menace."
Prediction: Bermudez by unanimous decision.
170 lbs.: Kenny Robertson vs. Brock Jardine
After being released by the promotion following a second-round technical knockout loss to Mike Pierce, Kenny Robertson (11-2) was invited back to the UFC as a late replacement for Jon Fitch against Aaron Simpson. Unable to overcome the Arizona State University (ASU) wrestling coach’s strength in the clinch, Robertson dropped a unanimous decision in only his second trip to the judges in his career.
Seven of his victories have come via tapout, three of those to punches.
Like Robertson, Brock Jardine (9-2) stepped up on short notice against a powerful grappler, debuting in the UFC against Rick Story on less than one month’s notice. Also like Robertson, Jardine had no answer for his opponent’s strength and wrestling, losing with 30-27's across the board.
Once named a top-ranked Welterweight division prospect, Jardine had previously won three straight since a technical knockout loss to Anthony Ferguson. He fights out of "The Pit" alongside Glover Teixeira and Court McGee.
This is one of those annoying fights where two guys have pretty much the same skillset and it’s really hard to tell which one is actually better at it. Using the same scientific approach I use to predict all fights and which most certainly is not a modified "See ‘n Say," I declare Robertson the victor.
You’ve got two wrestlers with some decent submission ability who were completely shut down by other wrestlers; therefore, based on those fights, expect a whole lot of clinching against the fence with Robertson getting enough dominant positions to eke out an aesthetically-displeasing decision.
Prediction: Robertson by unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Jon Manley vs. Neil Magny
Defeating Strikeforce veteran Ricky Legere to earn his place on TUF 16, Jon Manley (7-1) earned the unfortunate honor of being the first man to be bitten by an opponent in the history of the show when James Chaney decided on the unique strategy in a failed attempt to escape a guillotine. Karma was not with him, however, as he succumbed to the wrestling prowess of eventual winner Colton Smith in the semifinals.
Manley, a teammate of Gabriel Gonzaga, is one of only four cast members to be offered a UFC contract after the season concluded.
Neil Magny (7-1) likewise made his way to the semifinals of TUF 16 as a member of Team Carwin, beating another Strikeforce veteran in Bristol Marunde along the way. Also like Manley, Magny came up short, winding up on the wrong end of the "Knockout of the Season" courtesy of Mike Ricci’s left elbow.
Magny stands two inches taller than Manley, but has three years’ less experience.
I’m going to be honest here: I didn’t watch a single episode of TUF 16 and have no intention to anytime soon. My research into this fight comprises reading episode recaps and laughing at the poor sods who had to watch them (suck it, Geno Mrosko!).
From what I can tell, Manley likes to take down people and Magny gets taken down a lot. Thus, Manley is going to take Magny down a lot and not get submitted.
My brilliance knows no bounds!
Prediction: Manley by unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Nah-Shon Burrell vs. Yuri Villefort
Nah-Shon Burrell (8-2), 23, put his powerful striking attack to good use under the Strikeforce banner, picking up three consecutive victories before suffering a brutal defeat at the hands of fellow UFC signee Chris Spang. The loss snapped a six-fight win streak for "The Rock-n-Rolla," who has finished six opponents by knockout.
He was originally set to face Yuri Villefort (6-1) on the ill-fated Strikeforce: "Melendez vs. Healy" card. The fight was then rescheduled on short notice following the injury to Manny Gamburyan that scrapped the latter’s bout with Chad Mendes.
Turning 22 next month, Villefort started his career off in a hurry, picking up six wins in little more than 13 months. Unfortunately, injury kept the promising youngster out of action for nearly two years before debuting in Strikeforce. Quinn Mulhern had no intention of making his debut a triumphant one, however, outgrappling the Brazilian for a decision win.
Villefort will look to become the first Blackzillian in three events to earn a UFC victory.
I keep flip-flopping on this one. On one hand, Burrell has faced significantly stiffer competition and been much more active recently. On the other, he hasn’t shown much of a ground game, while Villefort has demonstrated proficiency both standing and on the mat. On the hypothetical third hand, Villefort fights out of the apparently-cursed Blackzillians gym and his wrestling deficiencies were his downfall against Mulhern.
In the end, I’m going to have to go with Villefort for his well-rounded game. Burrell can certainly make a mess of things standing, but that’s his only area of expertise. The entire match will come down to whether Villefort can consistently take him down, which I believe he will do for a tapout late in the first.
Prediction: Villefort by first-round submission
Come back same time tomorrow for looks at the remaining UFC 157 "Prelims" fights, which include a war between two Heavyweight knockout artists and the Octagon debut of one of Strikeforce's top Lightweight standouts.
See you then, Maniacs.
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the UFC 157 PPV main card action, which is slated to start promptly at 10 p.m. ET. Up-to-the-minute updates and fight-by-fight coverage will begin to flow earlier than that, however, around 6:30 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook and FX.