Much has been made of the upcoming UFC on FOX 8 fight card, which is emanating from Seattle's KeyArena this weekend (July 27, 2013). While the name value of the fighters involved may be lacking to some mixed martial arts (MMA) fans, others -- who truly love the sport -- may view it as a regular season game in preparation for a more significant, high-stakes event somewhere down the line.
For that, there is much to be excited for.
Arguments will be made about this event's inability to draw significant ratings, while others will make smart remarks based on the size of the two headliners: Champion Demetrious Johnson (17-2-1) vs. virtual unknown John Moraga (13-1).
Fact of the matter is, the two will likely put on a passionate display, not only to earn much-needed respect for the flyweight division, but to put food in both their families mouths, as well.
In this week's "Road to the Octagon" special (watch it here), both Moraga and Johnson were showcased in impeccable, tug at the heartstrings style detail. Johnson just welcomed his first son into the world. At the same time from Arizona, Moraga doubles as a babysitter when training.
His newborn son lays and has tummy time on the mats when his girlfriend is working a 9-5 job.
Both sacrificed a ton to get to this point. Who has more to lose? The answer to this question is simple; "Mighty Mouse." Quite frankly, most casual fans don't who Moraga even is, the dude has fought just twice in the UFC and both times he was literally the opening fight on the card.
You know, the fight no one sees because they deactivated their Facebook page a long time ago.
In the second title change this year, John Moraga wins. I am aware this pick will not be popular, but it is a gut pick and I have learned about picking against my gut (See: Chris Weidman).
In the co-main event, Rory "Christian Bale from American Psycho" MacDonald (14-1) takes on Jake Ellenberger (29-6) in what is the biggest toss up of the evening. Both come in riding momentum from impressive wins and stand right outside the number one contender position.
Question is, would MacDonald ever fight Georges St. Pierre if given the opportunity?
Only he and GSP know their supposed "arrangements." In the end, I am of the belief Saturday that Ellenberger's heavy hands will be a tad too much for Rory. Jake Ellenberger wins.
I was in person for UFC 157 and witnessed the return of Robbie Lawler (20-9) with my own eyes. He dispelled of Josh Koscheck impressively and ruined my parlay in the process. Going into his bout against Bobby Voelker (24-9) he will be playing the favorite. I do not think this will negatively effect his re-ascension.
At the age of 31, he is poised for another solid run and I look for him to finish Voelker in the same fashion he did Josh. Robbie Lawler wins.
Rounding out the main card and playing right into UFC 157 is Liz Carmouche (7-3). She too, was an extreme underdog. She lost nothing in her loss to Rhonda Rousey. If anything, she made herself more of a force than before in the UFC's women's bantamweight division.
Standing opposite Carmouche will be 21-year-old Jessica Andrade (9-2), who will be making her UFC debut. After quickly researching her, I learned she is no slouch and will look to latch onto Carmouche just as the "Girl-Rilla" did against Rousey.
The fact Carmouche has already felt the bright lights of the Octagon and tasted defeat will be the difference. Carmouche will ground and pound Andrade and continue to furnish her new home. Liz Carmouche wins.
The prelims contain eight fights. Three stand out to me as watchable and meaningful.
The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 15 winner Chiesa is taking a huge step up in competition against Masvidal. His unorthodox style will correlate well in this bout and while Jorge is tough as nails and most recently defeated Tim Means (who also is on the card), I see hometown boy Chiesa squeaking out a victory, hopefully setting up a match I'm personally pining for against Khabib Nurmagomedov. Mike Chiesa wins.
Everytime Melvin Guillard (30-12) fights, something crazy happens. This just doesn't always seem to work out in his favor, especially as of late. The "Not So Young Anymore Assassin" is looking to rebound off losing four of his last five against the venerable Mac Danzig (21-10).
Guillard is aware his leash in the UFC is getting short and he needs a result now. While Danzig is a tough test, look for Guillard to get a finish and attempt to salvage a disappointing 2012. If he doesn't, look for him in Bellator soon. Melvin Guillard wins.
Sleeper on the card for the much-maligned "Fight of the Night" bonus goes to veteran Yves Edwards (42-19) and Daron Cruickshank (12-3). The "Thugjitsu Master" has been fighting since 1997 and is on his way out. He is by no means done and this match-up against the younger Cruickshank will be a barn burner. This one will come down to a lucky shot and Edwards will be on the wrong end. Daron Cruickshank wins.
UFC on FOX 8 being on free TV is great and adds to my anticipation. The UFC chose wisely in getting the smaller guys on a free card where so many casual fans will be watching (results here).
Sunday morning, look for the buzz coming out of the event to be strong and anticipation great heading into UFC 163 the very next weekend.