Here we are now, entertain us.
In its eighth show on FOX this weekend (Sat., July 27, 2013), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will head back to Key Arena in Seattle, Wash., with a Flyweight title fight, two Welterweight slugfests and a clash of elite female mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters.
UFC on Fox 8 main event features the first-ever UFC Flyweight Champion, Demetrious Johnson, in his second 125-pound title defense, taking on once-beaten wrestling specialist John Moraga in a five-round clash. In addition, Rory MacDonald will look to make the final leap from prospect to contender when he takes on Jake Ellenberger, while Robbie Lawler and Bobby Voelker will look to take each others' heads off in a potential firecracker.
That's not all.
Indeed, we have eight "Prelims" under card bouts to tide us over, the first two of which will stream live on Facebook.com/YouTube.com, while the remainder will air on FX.
Check out previews and predictions for the first half of the UFC on Fox 8 "Prelims" below:
185 lbs.: Ed Herman vs. Trevor Smith
When Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend Ronaldo Souza was left without a dance partner on Strikeforce’s final show, "Short Fuse" Ed Herman (20-09) stepped up to show "Jacare" just what UFC-level competition brings to the table. Unimpressed, Souza dominated Herman on the feet and ground before locking on a brutal kimura for the win.
In his seven-year UFC tenure, Herman has just one win over a current member of the division.
Not one to dawdle, Trevor Smith (10-3) has never seen the judges in his 13-fight professional MMA career, all but two fights ending inside the first. The eagerness to finish worked against him, however, when he took on Tim Kennedy, succumbing to the Ranger’s grappling in the form of a third-round guillotine. Nine of Smith’s wins have come by submission, seven by form of choke, including submissions of Keith Berry and T.J. Cook in Strikeforce.
Herman is slick as hell on the mat, but he’s really looked mediocre his last three times out. He had zero answers for Jake Shields and "Jacare" and even in his last win, a rear-naked choke over Clifford Starks, he was having all kinds of trouble dragging Starks down and spend the majority of the first round eating right hand after right hand.
Whether it’s because of his knee surgeries or just general wear-and-tear, Herman has looked extremely slow, hittable and weak in the wrestling department. Smith isn’t a world-beater, but he can hold his own on the ground and is incredibly aggressive with his takedowns.
Herman’s body has, as far as I can tell, failed him to the point where he is no longer an fringe top Middleweight. Smith isn’t a Jacare or Demian Maia-type who can submit Herman, but he’ll stay on top and steer clear of submissions for a decision win.
Prediction: Smith by unanimous decision
If you’re going to enter the UFC on a loss, this is the kind of loss you want.
Her last time out, Julie Kedzie (16-11) went to war with Miesha Tate, duking it out for two close rounds before landing a crushing head kick that dropped "Cupcake." While Kedzie would wind up being submitted in the ensuing scramble, she had cemented her place as a must-watch fighter in the 135-pound division.
Standing an impressive 5’11" and packing an impressive Muay Thai resume, Germaine de Randamie (3-2) quickly established herself as one of the top strikers in WMMA. Her unpolished ground game cost her against Julia Budd, however, when she was unceremoniously ground down for a decision loss. She rebounded with a solid win over Jewels veteran Hiroko Yamanaka, displaying improved takedown defense in the August 2012 victory.
De Randamie has a fantastic striking pedigree and a height advantage over pretty much the entire division, but the fact remains that she has all of five fights to her name. Beating Yamanaka is fairly impressive, but it’s hard to forget that Budd had little trouble controlling her on the mat. Kedzie isn’t a great wrestler by any stretch of the imagination, but she is much more experienced and has never been finished by strikes.
Germaine is dangerous, but not in the same way as fellow Muay Thai import Miriam Nakamoto -- she doesn’t have that same explosiveness and one-hit knockout capability. Kedzie should be able to mix up her striking and takedowns without too much fear of getting caught.
This has the potential to be a fantastic striking match, one that Kedzie’s experience will win for her as she complements her powerful kicking game with enough takedowns to muzzle de Randamie’s own Muay Thai arsenal.
Prediction: Kedzie by unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Aaron Riley vs. Justin Salas
Competing just twice since 2010, Aaron Riley (30-13-1) has not been seen since Anthony Ferguson broke his jaw in the first round of their Sept. 2011 showdown. He had previously picked up UFC victories over the likes of Jorge Gurgel and Shane Nelson, while suffering a second-round technical knockout at the hands of Ross Peason.
Riley’s last five wins have come via decision, with his last finish coming in 2006.
A win over the highly-touted Joe Ellenberger put Justin Salas (10-4) on the UFC’s radar and a debut victory over Anton Kuivanen seemed to justify its decision to sign him. Tim Means was having none of it, though, battering and stopping Salas in just 66 seconds.
Salas was slated to attempt to rebound against Edson Barboza, but injury delayed his Octagon return until this Saturday.
Despite the Means beatdown, I still believe that Salas is a solid prospect. And even if he isn’t, it’s not like Riley’s a dramatic threat. He’s been out of the game for almost two years and was never really upper echelon-esque to begin with, just a quality fighter to stress-test The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) winners.
Maybe I’m being too harsh, but I really haven’t seen any significant UFC-level ability out of Riley. I don’t see him having an answer for Salas’ wrestling and I don’t see him stopping him standing. Therefore, expect Salas to get on top early and often and pound away for 15 unpleasant minutes.
Prediction: Salas by unanimous decision
135 lbs.: John Albert vs. Yaotzin Meza
Despite what some Chute Boxe fans may think, there is such a thing as too aggressive. And there is no better posterboy than John Albert (7-4), who has lost his last three fights the exact same way:
Diving in for a submission, losing the submission and getting submitted in turn.
While this frantic style has brought him seven finishes and the respect of the fans, he will almost certainly need a win to stay employed. Albert has never gone past the second round, his last five fights all ending inside the first.
I can respect the cojones of Yaotzin Meza (19-8), but his late-notice debut against Chad Mendes may have been the most predictable fight in history when he got wiped out with a massive overhand right less than two minutes into the Bantamweight bout.
Albert’s recklessness will always get him in trouble against the division’s elite, but elite Meza does not fit that description. He’s not terrible, but he’s in the UFC because of his willingness to step up and his "Smooth" connection. Albert, by contrast, is good enough to almost beat most of the division.
Whether by sub or by drub, expect Albert to overwhelm Meza in a hurry, pick up the eighth finish of his career and earn a crack at yet another person to nearly submit.
Prediction: Albert by first-round technical knockout
Four more UFC on Fox 8 "Prelims" bouts to preview and predict. Stop by tomorrow for a closer look at them ... same time, same channel.
See you then!
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the main card action on fight night (Sat., July 27, 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" under card bouts on Facebook and FX Channel.