I believe the correct term is, "Grudge Match."
This Saturday (Aug. 17, 2013), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will make its first appearance on the new Fox Sports 1 network, leading with some serious bad blood at the mixed martial arts (MMA) helm. Former UFC Light Heavyweight champion Mauricio Rua will look to defend the honor of friends and country when he takes on Chael Sonnen in the main event of the Boston, Mass.,-based card from TD Bank Arena.
There are seven UFC Fight Night 26 "Prelims" bouts in store, three on Facebook and four on Fox Sports 1 prior to the main card telecast at 8 p.m. ET.
Let's take a look at the first three below:
145 lbs.: Manny Gamburyan vs. Cole Miller
It’s been more than one year since Manny Gamburyan (12-7) last stepped into the Octagon, defeating Japanese judoka Michihiro Omigawa by decision to end a three-fight losing streak. In that time, he has been forced out of fights against Chad Mendes and Hacran Dias. At 5'5," "The Anvil" is a whopping eight inches shorter than Cole Miller (19-7), a teammate from The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 5.
In the midst of a 1-3 stretch and winless (0-2) at 145 pounds, Miller’s back was against the wall when he stepped up to face Bart Palaszewski at TUF 17 Finale. Luckily for "Magrinho," his wrestling proved up to snuff, scoring a takedown, taking his back and doing what he does best to register his fourteenth submission win.
Miller has not won by decision since 2007, when he defeated but failed to finish Leonard Garcia.
I’m not that high on Gamburyan -- his power is overstated and he hasn’t exactly been a submission machine lately. Stylistically, though, this fight favors him fairly significantly. While Miller is a fantastic submission artist, his wrestling game is quite weak, certainly not enough to overcome Gamburyan’s own Judo prowess.
As solid as he is off his back, I don’t see Miller tapping Gamburyan from that position.
On the feet, Miller is superior when he’s on his game and his massive length advantage is certainly a point in his favor; however, I don’t see Gamburyan letting him get comfortable before wrapping him up and taking the fight to the mat. Expect Gamburyan to feed a steady diet of ground-and-pound to his lanky foe, not enough to finish, but enough to bust up Miller and get the judges on his side.
Prediction: Gamburyan by unanimous decision
205 lbs.: Cody Donovan vs. Ovince St. Preux
He had to overcome some major adversity to do it, but Cody Donovan (8-2) was successful in his Octagon debut, bouncing back from two knockdowns to put Nick Penner to sleep in the latter stages of the first round at UFC on FX 6 in Dec. 2012. The knockout win, Donovan's fourth, was impressive enough to earn him "Knockout of the Night" honors despite being the opening bout of the evening.
Just one of Donovan’s 10 bouts has gone the distance, the rest ending inside two rounds.
Ovince St. Preux (13-5) scored one of the most cringeworthy knockouts in the history of the promotion in his last Strikeforce appearance against T.J. Cook, but couldn’t quite carry his momentum through to his UFC debut, winning a lackluster technical decision over fellow import Gian Villante. St. Preux, a former linebacker out of the University of Tennessee, is now 10-1 in his last 11, the sole defeat coming at the hands of Gegard Mousasi.
Six of his 13 wins have come by knockout, three inside two minutes.
As impressive a physical specimen as he is, I really don’t see "OSP" making much of an impact in the UFC -- he can do some damage when he lands, but some of his punches are comically wild. His wrestling is alright, but his ground game is not.
Luckily, he’s not facing that stern a test here. Donovan’s game as hell, but both of his losses are by technical knockout and Penner had him hurt twice. He’s not strong enough to control St. Preux in the clinch or take him down, either, making an exchange with the former linebacker an eventuality ... an incredibly unpleasant one.
OSP make big boom.
Prediction: St. Preux by first-round knockout
155 lbs.: Ramsey Nijem vs. James Vick
A runner-up on TUF 13, Ramsey Nijem (7-3) quietly carved a place for himself in the division after falling in the Finale to Anthony Ferguson, winning three straight bouts. TUF 15’s Miles Jury would not be the fourth, though, knocking Nijem into next week after an entertaining grappling affair.
Vick earned his way into TUF 15 house by upsetting highly-touted Dakota Cochrane, then crushed Daron Cruickshank’s face with a vicious knee in the Round of 16. A win over Joe Proctor followed, but Michael Chiesa’s tenacity proved too much as the bearded bruiser scored a technical knockout via ground-and-pound. Vick has not competed since, a fight with Vinc Pichel on the Finale being scrapped because of the proximity between his knockout loss.
For the sake of full disclosure, I admit I cannot be objective about this. Vick is a proud member of Team Lloyd Irvin, who is currently at the top of the "Worst Human Being in Martial Arts" leader board (with War Machine making a big push from second). Anyone who remains with Irvin and gives him money is, in my book, a rape supporter and a truly appalling human being.
Back outside of Soap Box Land, Vick is the better striker and significantly bigger. He also has less than half the experience and hasn’t been in a real three-round fight since Sept. 2011. Ramsey is crude and not that resilient, but he carries on The Pit tradition of insane cardio and is a very solid wrestler. While Vick may have success early, I see Ramsey’s relentless approach eventually wearing him down, at which point Nijem follows Chiesa’s lead to pound him out late.
Prediction: Nijem by third-round technical knockout
Be sure to stop by tomorrow for our look at the remaining UFC Fight Night 26 "Prelims" that will air on FOX Sports 1, which feature some "Fight of the Night" candidates galore.
See you then!
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 26 card this weekend, starting with the Facebook "Prelims," which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1-televised under card bouts at 6 p.m. ET and then the main card action, which is slated to begin at 8 p.m. ET.