"Smooth" move, "Punk."
While they could bond over their shared experience of destroying Nate Diaz, former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) Lightweight champion, Ben Henderson, and former Strikeforce 155-pound fat cat, Josh Thomson, will instead duke it out for top division contender honors this Saturday (Jan. 25, 2014) in the UFC on FOX 10 main event from United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
The mixed martial arts (MMA) special will also feature a Heavyweight clash between one-time title challenger Gabriel Gonzaga and blue-chip up-and-comer Stipe Miocic, as well as a Lightweight bout between Donald Cerrone and Brazilian giant Adriano Martins.
We examined the first four of seven scheduled "Prelims" bouts the other day right here. Let's now take a deep dive into the remaining trio that will air on FOX Sports 1 below:
135 lbs.: Alex Caceres vs. Sergio Pettis
Alex Caceres (9-5) did not seem long for UFC after The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 12, losing his first two UFC fights by submission. Surprisingly, he bounced back to go 4-1 (1 NC) since, the sole loss a controversial one to Edwin Figueroa and the "No Contest" a result of a failed test for marijuana.
Caceres will enjoy three inches of height over his Sergio Pettis.
After a successful run at 125 pounds, the 20-year-old Pettis elected to try his hand 10 pounds north at Bantamweight, coincidentally facing fellow former Flyweight Will Campuzano in his Octagon debut. After a highly entertaining three-round scrap that featured quality grappling and striking from both sides, Pettis overcame a significant height disadvantage to earn a unanimous decision win.
His record is quite well-rounded, featuring three knockouts and three submissions.
This fight has all the makings of "Fight of the Night" -- both Pettis and Caceres are quite entertaining, especially on the mat. Though Caceres is the bigger man and has more experience against the division’s higher tiers, I expect Pettis to leave with his hand raised.
Though Pettis isn’t the madcap engine of destruction like his brother, Anthony Pettis, what he lacks in flair he makes up for in crispness. He has an excellent one-two combination, very good kicks and just does a lot of little things right that many of his fellow competitors neglect. Caceres is fun to watch on the feet and highly skilled, but he has just a little less pop and is just a little less smooth.
While those might just be buzzwords, it’s the best way I can think to describe it. I feel Pettis’ tight technique will overcome Caceres’ creativeness and length for a close decision win.
Prediction: Pettis via unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Eddie Wineland vs. Yves Jabouin
Following consecutive losses to Urijah Faber and Joseph Benavidez, the inaugural WEC bantamweight champion, Eddie Wineland (20-9-1), experienced an unexpected resurgence, knocking out Scott Jorgensen and dominating Brad Pickett to earn a crack at the UFC strap. Despite a solid opening round against the unbeaten champion, Wineland got too intimate with Renan Barao’s foot, eating a spinning back kick to the face and subsequent punches for the first true knockout loss of his career.
Fifteen of his wins are via stoppage, 10 by form of knockout.
Yves Jabouin (19-8) -- though he started his Zuffa career 1-3 -- managed to carve out a niche for himself at Bantamweight, winning three straight fights after his failed debut. A tremendous uppercut knockout courtesy of Pickett and a highly debatable split decision over Dustin Pague, though, leave him possibly fighting for his UFC life.
Jabouin has not scored a stoppage since 2008 despite ending all but two of his pre-Zuffa fights inside the distance.
Jabouin is flashy, he’s fun to watch and he’s got good kicks. He just isn’t a great fighter. He seems to struggle mightily when dealing with rangier opponents -- even the awkward (in the bad way) Walel Watson found success on the feet against him just by being tall.
Though Wineland is just one inch taller than Jabouin, he’s a tremendously skilled outfighter, moving in-and-out with great fluidity. His right hand is laser accurate and his takedown defense, some of the best in the division, ought to be more than enough to deal with Jabouin’s newfound willingness to wrestle.
This is simply a case of good striking versus great striking. Wineland bludgeons Jabouin with straight punches before one lands with authority in the second.
Prediction: Wineland via second-round technical knockout
135 lbs.: Chico Camus vs. Yaotzin Meza
After a dull victory over Dustin Pague to start his UFC career, Chico Camus (13-4) opened 2013 with a tough loss to Dustin Kimura, who spent two rounds beneath Camus before locking up a rear-naked choke in the third round. He managed to bounce back in August, upsetting Korean grappler Kyung Ho Kang on the strength of a powerful up-kick late in the third frame.
Camus stands three inches shorter than his opponent.
After stepping in on extremely late notice to face Chad Mendes in his debut and being predictably annihilated, Yaotzin Meza (20-8) found himself an underdog against John Albert his second time out. Showing the skills he was too busy being unconscious to utilize against Mendes, Meza survived an aggressive grappling attack to submit a gassed Albert in the second round. Prior to joining the UFC, Meza won seven of eight fights, including three stoppages.
When dealing with a grappling match up, I've long stood by one particular idiom: Pick the wrestler (which admittedly bit me in the rear last week). Apart from that late rally by Kimura, Camus has proven himself very defensively-sound and possesses a solid takedown arsenal. Though Kang did manage to get him down, the massive "Mr. Perfect" has a significantly better wrestling game than Meza.
If Meza can keep Camus on the defensive from his back, this will be an entertaining fight. In any case, Camus enjoys top position long enough to earn the judges' nods.
Prediction: Camus via unanimous decision
Plenty of elite fighters, plus quality match ups up and down the UFC on FOX 10 card. You could do a lot worse for free, Maniacs.
See you Saturday!
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on FOX 10 card on fight night, starting with the Fight Pass under card bout at 4:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1 "Prelims" matches at 5 p.m. ET and running right on through the FOX main card broadcast that starts at 8 p.m. ET.
CURRENT 2014 PREDICTIONS RECORD: 7-5