Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is ready to take another bite out of the "Shark Tank" tomorrow night (April 20, 2013) with its UFC on FOX 7 fight card extravaganza, emanating from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.
The old stomping grounds of Scott Coker and Strikeforce.
It should come as no surprise, then, to learn that all four main card match-ups feature talent from the ex-rival promotion. The former king of San Jose, Gilbert Melendez, will look to add another lightweight title to his collection when he challenges reigning UFC titleholder Ben Henderson.
Daniel Cormier will try to prove that winning the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Tournament was all about skill and less about being a big fish in a small pond. Standing in his way is division bone-breaker Frank Mir, who knows a thing or two about wearing gold at 265 pounds.
And then there were two.
Rounding out the main card broadcast on FOX is a welterweight war of attrition between "Immortal" Matt Brown and streaking "Young Gun," Jordan Mein. The former has bagged and tagged four in a row while the latter carries a winning streak of three straight.
Two men enter, one man leaves.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the main card action on fight night (Sat., April 20, 2013), which is slated to air at 8 p.m. ET on FOX. The latest play-by-play fight updates of the live action will begin to flow earlier than that, however, around 3:30 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" undercard bouts on Facebook and FX Channel.
Now, enough with the formalities ... let's get cracking.
Nostradumbass predicts: It would be nice to see Gilbert Melendez crossover to UFC and upset Ben Henderson -- not because I dislike "Smooth" -- but rather because it would be nice to shake things up a bit since outside of "El Nino," there isn't much hope for a new champion at 155 pounds.
Blame Anthony Pettis and those ants in his pants.
Melendez doesn't get enough credit for the work he's done, losing just twice across a span of 10 years and 23 fights. He's extremely well-rounded and can make it a fight no matter where the action takes place. So what's the big knock on him thus far in his career?
It's taken place outside the Octagon.
To be fair, you can poke a few holes in Bendo's resume as well. Aside from doing work against a bunch of World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) veterans, three of his last four wins have come against Frankie Edgar and Clay Guida, who have both since dropped to featherweight.
This is gonna be closer than some people think.
Melendez is a fighter, and a pretty good one, whereas Henderson is a mixed martial artist. Somewhere inside the cage those two lines are going to intersect and when push comes to shove, I believe that "Smooth" is just that, a smoother, more refined version of his opponent.
Final prediction: Henderson def. Melendez via split decision
Nostradumbass predicts: When you look at the odds and see Frank Mir at +350 against an opponent who has yet to step foot inside the Octagon, it's easy to scratch your head and wonder what the bookies were thinking. This is a fighter who has two submission wins by way of broken arms, and proved in his fights against Cheick Kongo and Mirko Filipovic that he can put you on the canvas if you let him.
Mir is strong, crafty and experienced.
But in order for me to pick him against Daniel Cormier, I have to find a realistic way for him to apply those attributes on fight night. In 19 professional bouts, he's only ended three by way of strikes. One was against a zombified Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, the other came against a washed up Cro Crap.
I won't even mention the Wes Sims win.
In addition, Mir was chewed up and spit out by Brandon Vera when he tried to learn "The Truth" about his stand-up. It's never really been his bread and butter, but when you can submit people by way of toe hold, it doesn't have to be. All you need to do is get the fight to the ground.
Maybe if he wasn't facing a former Olympian, I'd be a little more optimistic.
Cormier is the best heavyweight wrestler in the game and even if Mir clinches and they tumble to the floor, "DC" is too quick with his hips -- as well as his scrambles -- to stay there long enough to be in any kind of danger. Likewise, the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) product will abandon that aspect of his game, because of the whole risk vs. reward thingy.
Besides, he's faster and more athletic on his feet.
Mir has serviceable hands, but his robotic striking and paint-by-numbers offense isn't going to give Cormier the fits. In fact, I think it does nothing but tire him out, as he spends two of the three rounds whiffing during every exchange. That's when I expect him to go for broke and leave himself vulnerable to a counter.
Final prediction: Cormier def. Mir via technical knockout
Nostradumbass predicts: As far as being a fighter, Nate Diaz is a lot like his older brother Nick. Great striker, fantastic grappler, cardio for days and an iron chin. It's no surprise then, to find him hovering around the top of the lightweight division.
The official UFC rankings (see 'em here) have him at number four.
Unfortunately, also like his older brother Nick, the key to beating him is through a relentless wrestling attack. Whereas as the welterweight division did it with relative ease (Dong Hyun Kim and Rory MacDonald, specifically), it hasn't been so easy for the 155-pound class.
Except, of course, for Ben Henderson.
I think Josh Thomson, having trained extensively at AKA with some of the top wrestlers in mixed martial arts (MMA), has the chops to get it done. I'm sure former opponent Gilbert Melendez has been dropping knowledge in camp, but that's a two-way street.
And I doubt Thomson takes the bait when his opponent starts taunting him.
"The Punk" is a good enough striker to use his hands to set up the takedown instead of barreling in willy-nilly, and across a three-round fight, I believe he uses his experience to score the points when he needs them to convince the judges he's the better man on fight night.
Final prediction: Thomson def. Diaz via unanimous decision
Nostradumbass predicts: Matt Brown has one of those seductive records, where you look back and say, "Wow, Brownie has four in a row over some decent names, he's on a run! Why isn't this guy in the mix?" Then you scroll down a bit and see he was choked out by Seth Baczynski and Brian Foster and say, "Oh, that's why."
Still a tough-as-nails sumbitch.
"Immortal" is kind of the halfway point in this division. Lose to him and you're in the bottom tier of welterweights. Defeat him and well, you're on your way, kid. The former TUF guy is good - but not great -- in most areas and usually gets through adversity via iron hide.
Unfortunately, Jordan Mein isn't looking to test his might.
Instead, he's likely to expose Brown's techincal flaws, which will make themselves apparent if he fails to make this thing a dogfight. Take away the fight where Tyron Woodley humped his leg for three rounds and you have a helluva win streak going for "Young Gun.".
Sure, the names aren't top 10, but they are equal or better to the wins racked up by Brown.
This is a fight that Brown can win through ruthless aggression. While the younger Mein (just 23) could be seduced by a bangfest, I expect him to out-gameplan his opponent on fight night and use a sloppy takedown attempt to seal the deal.
Final prediction: Mein def. Brown via submission
That's a wrap, folks.
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 7 click here and remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Henderson vs. Melendez."
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's event.