One good mixed martial arts (MMA) war always deserves at least another.
After sending off World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) in fantastic fashion back in 2010, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight Champion Ben Henderson will look to even the score in his rivalry with Anthony Pettis, defending his title in the main event of UFC 164 this Saturday night (Aug. 31, 2013).
Joining them inside BMO Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisc., on the pay-per-view (PPV) main card are Josh Barnett and Frank Mir, two of the Heavyweight division's finest grapplers, as well as Featherweight standouts Chad Mendes, Clay Guida, Erik Koch and Dustin Poirier.
That's not all.
We looked at the three UFC 164 "Prelims" set to be broadcast on the UFC's Facebook page yesterday evening right here. Tonight, we've got the top four "Prelims" on FOX Sports 1 previewed and predicted below.
Let's get cracking:
155 lbs.: Jamie Varner vs. Gleison Tibau
After a winless (0-3-1) run to end his WEC career, former 155-pound champion Jamie Varner (21-7-1) did not join his rivals in the Octagon after the organizations' merger. And a loss soon after to unheralded retired gay porn star Dakota Cochrane on the regional circuit seemingly justifying the decision.
When he did get the call, however, he took full advantage, shocking Edson Barboza in one round after taking the bout on short notice. He was last seen edging Melvin Guillard in an entertaining scrap at UFC 155 after losing to Joe Lauzon in one of the best fights of 2012.
After putting together three straight UFC wins for the first time in four years, Gleison Tibau (27-9) looked to be finally over the hump heading into his bout with Russian prospect Khabib Nurmagomedov. A questionable loss to "The Eagle," though, left the American Top Team (ATT)-trained veteran right back in the mix in the always-intense Lightweight division.
I’m fond of Tibau, as I am of most hulking bruisers, but he has historically struggled with those he can’t take down such as Jim Miller and Dunham. Though his left hand has some decent pop in it, he’s generally not much of a threat on the feet. By contrast, Varner is more than capable of handling himself against those he can’t take down, particularly via his heavy right hand.
He is also the superior technician on the feet in addition to packing more stopping power.
Tibau is an interesting fighter to follow, considering his solid cardio despite being roughly the size of North Dakota, but not one I see consistently beating the best of the division. I can’t imagine him having too much luck against Varner, whose wrestling prowess is likely a match for Gleison’s own.
Expect a mostly stand up affair, Varner’s heavy right hand peppering an aggressive Tibau as he shuts down the giant’s takedown attack.
Prediction: Varner by unanimous decision
125 lbs.: Louis Gaudinot vs. Tim Elliott
Though his loss to the far-larger Johnny Bedford was tough to watch, Louis Gaudinot (6-2) proved his mettle in his UFC Flyweight debut, surviving a dizzying number of punches from brick-handed John Lineker to submit the Brazilian prospect in round two. He was originally set to fight fellow submission specialist Darren Uyenoyama at UFC on FX 5, but had to pull out because of injury, making this his first appearance in the cage since May 2012.
The 5’3" Gaudinot will give up four inches to Tim Elliott (9-3-1).
Previously best-known for knocking out Jens Pulver with a vicious knee, Elliott was immediately thrown to the wolves in the Octagon, taking on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 14 winner John Dodson in his debut. Impressively, Elliott not only survived Dodson’s brutal power, but took a round from him and went tit-for-tat with the hyper-athletic "Magician."
Last time out, he dominated Jared Papazian for a wide decision win, just the second victory of his not to come inside the distance.
Frankly, I have no idea what to make of Elliott. His striking is wonky and he’s not very fast, but everything just works somehow. As understandable as it would make the fact that Lineker -- my personal favorite fighter below 170 pounds -- lost to Gaudinot, I’m leaning toward Elliott here.
Considering that Bedford is practically two weight classes bigger than Gaudinot, I can understand the trouble Louis had with him, but I imagine the very large Elliott will give him problems, too. Gaudinot is a solid striker and a submission threat, though I suspect Elliott’s toughness to preclude a finish.
This ought to be an entertaining bout, one that Elliott wins on the strength of an aggressive takedown game.
Prediction: Elliott by unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Pascal Krauss vs. Hyun Gyu Lim
Sometimes, it seems like the injury bug just has it out for a certain fighters. And Pascal Krauss (11-1) -- a Roufusport-trained prospect -- has competed just twice in the UFC since his Nov. 2010 debut. After a hard loss to John Hathaway following an extended layoff, Krauss successfully got his Octagon record about even with a win over Jeff Curran protege Mike Stumpf in Jan. 2013.
Prior to joing the world’s largest MMA organization, Krauss had finished every opponent he had faced, seven by submission.
A giant of a Welterweight riding a five-finish streak into UFC, Hyun Gyu Lim (11-3-1) entered the promotion with considerable hype behind him from both his camp and the fans. After his debut was aborted by a failed weight cut that resulted in hospitalization, Lim got the chance to show his stuff in March, knocking out Marcelo Guimaraes in relatively underwhelming fashion.
The 6’2" Lim has now scored eight knockouts in his 11 wins, six in the first round.
I’m really conflicted in this one because, in terms of pure talent, I’d rate Lim comfortably above "Panzer," being the stronger man and packing a bigger punch. It’s hard to ignore his woeful performance against Guimaraes, however, especially since he has demonstrated striking inferior to that of the laughably-incompetent Dan Stittgen.
I’ll probably change my mind a few dozen times before fight night, but after seeing Krauss struggle with the bigger, stronger Hathaway, I’m leaning toward "The Ace" at the moment.
Krauss is solid anywhere the fight goes; unfortunately, against someone with the strength of Lim, it comes down to his striking, which is decent but not outstanding. As poor as Lim looked against Guimaraes, he has showcased very solid punches and knees in the past and I’m willing to chalk that performance up to Octagon jitters.
It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Lim failed to finish him early and gassed out again, but you have to respect a giant. Lim by hurt.
Prediction: Lim by first-round technical knockout
135 lbs.: Chico Camus vs. Kyung Ho Kang
He may not be as acrobatic as his Roufusport-trained gym-mates, but Chico Camus (12-4) knows how to get the job done, earning his way into the organization with three straight wins on the regional circuit before grinding out Dustin Pague in his debut. He managed to do more of the same for two rounds against Dustin Kimura his second time out, only for the Hawaiian submission specialist to lock up a third-round rear-naked choke for Camus’ first submission loss.
Camus will give up three inches to Kyung Ho Kang (11-6) on fight night.
Like Lim, Kang came to UFC highly recommended, submitting three straight to get a crack in the big league. He used his size and strength effectively in the early going against Alex Caceres, but his cardio eventually failed him, resulting in a split-decision loss that was later overturned due to Caceres’ failed drug test.
Ten of Kang’s 11 victories have come inside the distance, eight by submission.
Kang’s scramble-heavy grappling style has the weakness of putting him in bad spots against opportunistic foes, but luckily for him, Camus is nothing of the sort. "King" is a decent wrestler with decent top control and very little ground-and-pound efficiency.
I simply don’t see that skill-set being sufficient to topple the bigger, stronger Kang.
Kang, for all his vulnerabilities, has excellent takedowns and a very dangerous submission game. In UFC, Camus is more or less untested off his back, where I expect he’ll find himself in short order. It may take two or three takedowns to do so, but eventually the Korean bruiser will find his way to Camus’ back and lock up a rear-naked choke for his first win inside the Octagon.
Prediction: Kang by first round submission
It's not often you get a card with four quality Top 10-caliber match ups so let's enjoy every MMA minute.
See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 164 card on fight night (Sat., Aug. 31, 2013), starting with the Facebook "Prelims," which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1-televised under card bouts at 8 p.m. ET and then main card PPV action, which is slated to begin at 10 p.m. ET.