Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is back on network television tomorrow night (July 27, 2013) with UFC on FOX 8: "Johnson vs. Moraga," headlined by a flyweight title fight pitting 125-pound champion Demetrious Johnson against division number one contender John Moraga.
Also getting busy at the KeyArena in Seattle, Washington, are top welterweight contenders Jake Ellenberger and Rory MacDonald. "The Juggernaut" believes that "Ares" is a product of media hype and looks to steal his spot in the limelight with a big finish in "Emerald City."
Rounding out the main card telecast is a female bantamweight brawl featuring two-time 135-pound number one contender Liz Carmouche, as she makes her second appearance inside the Octagon against UFC newcomer Jessica Andrade.
Best of all ... it won't cost you a dime.
Nostradumbass predicts: So uh, I wish I had something awesome to say about this 125-pound title fight, but I don't. I think it's pretty clear at this point what the formula is for Demetrious Johnson. And why change it? I called it a formula, but it's winning formula.
And you can't knock Johnson for going to the scorecards in his last seven fights, because it's still one less than UFC Lightweight Champion Ben Henderson and just one more than 170-pound kingpin Georges St. Pierre. Don't talk to me about this being a flyweight problem.
It's a goddamn sport-wide epidemic.
Anyway, the one person I thought had the best chance of out-Johnsoning Johnson was Joseph Benavidez, but he couldn't get the job done. "Mighty Mouse' is just too damn fast and as John Dodson found out, never gets tired. 25 minutes is a long-ass time to keep up that kind of frenetic pace, but for the champ, it ain't no thang.
Can John Moraga keep pace?
That depends. His best weapon is his wrestling, having racked up an impressive collegiate record. But Johnson is no slouch on the ground either and getting him there is half the battle. I don't care how well-conditioned you are, wrestling for 25 minutes is taxing on anyone.
Moraga will probably come out strong and make it exciting early, but this isn't a sprint, it's a marathon. All that matters is being the first one to cross the finish line.
Final prediction: Johnson def. Moraga via unanimous decision
Nostradumbass predicts: Rory MacDonald is inexplicably ranked number three in the world at 170 pounds. Based on what? His biggest win to date is over Mike Pyle. Am I supposed to break out the party hats because he beat up a pair of bloated lightweights in Nate Diaz and B.J. Penn?
The hype is strong with this one.
Let's also keep in mind that he was rocked and dropped to one knee in his fight against Mike Guymon before getting pounded out by Carlos Condit. Now, before you start feverishly punching out a reply, let's put things in perspective, because I'm not calling him a can. "Ares" is a terrific prospect who has shown flashes of brilliance inside the cage.
But he hasn't proven squat.
At least not as much as Jake Ellenberger, who saw his stock plummet by an overconfident performance against Martin Kampmann, snapping a six-fight winning streak back in June 2012. He rebounded nicely with back-to-back wins, including a lights-out performance against Nate Marquardt in Montreal.
He wins early, MacDonald wins late.
"Ares" isn't going to be able to control "The Juggernaut" -- an accomplished wrestler -- in the clinch or on the ground. That means this fight will likely play out on the feet, with MacDonald mixing things up using an unorthodox (but effective) attack.
Ellenberger is fighting angry and will look for the home run early, but likely tire himself out in the second half of the fight if he doesn't get it.
I believe he does, if for no other reason than MacDonald briefly forgets that anyone -- no matter how talented -- can lose if they get hit hard enough.
Final prediction: Ellenberger def. MacDonald vis technical knockout
Nostradumbass predicts: Picking a Robbie Lawler fight can be a tricky proposition. On one hand, you see moments of greatness, as his "Ruthless" striking attack leaves guys like Adlan Amagov and Josh Koscheck looking at the lights.
The question now is, did the drop to 170 pounds put him on the path to the title, or serve as just another highlight-reel victory in a career stalled by consistent inconsistency?
Hey, I'm an optimist.
Since five of his nine losses have come by way of submission, it's hard to envision a scenario where he goes all the way to the top, but that's a debate for another column. Bobby Voelker -- three years his elder -- is nowhere near the summit and has just four of 24 wins by way of the tap.
This is a bangfest, pure and simple.
Whether or not Voelker -- an accomplished striker in his own right -- can avoid a "Vicious" knockout may depend on how disciplined he can stay in his attack. Lawler is a terrific counter-puncher and going for the kill can often get you killed (see Manhoef, Melvin). It's hard to say this without sounding overly-critical, but I'm not expecting much of a fight I.Q. from either combatant in Seattle.
Fists will fly, adrenaline will pump and lids will shut.
Final prediction: Lawler def. Voelker via knockout
Nostradumbass predicts: Looking at this match-up, it's easy to think Liz Carmouche is going to steamroll Jessica Andrade, especially after her strong showing against Ronda Rousey back at UFC 157. But I'm not interested in how good a fighter looks in defeat.
I only care about what they do when they win.
Now here's the bad news. "Girl-Rilla" has eight professional wins, but not a single one of them comes over a fighter with a winning record. What does that tell us? She wins fights because she's big and strong, but falls short when paired against a fighter with superior skill.
Is "Bate Estaca" that fighter?
It's hard to say. She's compiled a pretty impressive record beating up competition you've never heard of and don't care about. Historically, there hasn't been one location where all the best female fighters congregate (yet), but until the UFC beefs up its roster, we have to take each fighter and their record at face value.
And what I see doesn't impress me.
Also problematic is the fact that Andrade is just 21 years-old and getting a sizable test her first time out. Not only does she have to make her Octagon debut on national television, she has to do it against a fighter looking to erase the painful memory of high-profile loss.
I don't like her chances.
Final prediction: Carmouche def. Andrade via technical knockout
That's a wrap, folks.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire card on fight night (Sat., July 27, 2013), starting with the Facebook "Prelims," which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, right on through the FX-televised under card bouts and then main card action, which is slated to air at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.
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 8 click here and remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Johnson vs. Moraga."
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.