It's about time this went down.
Two of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight division's most entertaining fighters, Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller, will duke it out this Wednesday night (July 16, 2014) in the main event of UFC Fight Night 45, which goes down at Revel Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
In the co-main event, two more elite 155-pound standouts, Brazilian striker Edson Barboza and Xtreme Couture product Evan Dunham, will try to bounce back from losses to the aforementioned Cerrone. Rick Story will also be back in action, taking on Brazilian brawler Leonardo "Maccarao."
We've got five "Prelims" under card matches this time round, the first on Fight Pass and the rest joining the main card on FOX Sports 1.
Let's look at a few of 'em below:
After a narrow loss in the semifinals of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil" to eventual winner Rony Jason, Hugo Viana (8-1) defeated the highly-touted John "Macapa" at the Finale. "Wolverine" then dropped to his proper weightclass of 135 pounds, where he has won two of three with the sole loss to reigning division champion T.J. Dillashaw.
He is seven years older than Aljamain Sterling (9-0).
Sterling, regarded as one of the top prospects in the sport, debuted in February against Cody Gibson, who was riding a six-fight win streak. Though Gibson proved a stern test, Sterling earned a unanimous decision win, his first trip to the judges since 2011.
He has ended five fights inside the distance, four by rear-naked choke.
While Sterling has a very high ceiling and fights out of a very good camp, I actually think "Wolverine" might have this. His takedown defense has been impeccable so far in UFC, with even Dillashaw struggling to get him down. In addition, he packs some heat in those massive swings, though he’d certainly benefit from tightening them up.
That said, he does have cardio trouble and Sterling is constantly improving. At the moment, though, there doesn’t seem to be quite enough oomph behind his strikes to wear down Viana. It’ll be close and I do think Sterling will take the third round, but Viana’s aggression and ability to deny the takedown should earn him a close win.
Prediction: Viana via split decision
155 lbs.: Yosdenis Cedeno vs. Jerrod Sanders
Yosdenis Cedeno (9-3) debuted in UFC in February, riding a six-fight win streak, taking on unbeaten debutant Ernest Chavez. After a strong start, Cedeno’s grappling deficiencies cost him late, resulting in a split decision loss.
Six of his wins have come by form of knockout, all but one in the first round.
After a submission loss in his third pro fight under the Bellator banner, Jerrod Sanders (14-1) got another crack at the big show two Junes ago, defeating Jeff Smith at World Series of Fighting (WSOF) 3. After a decision win this January, Sanders agreed to step up to replace the injured Leo Kuntz on little more than two weeks’ notice.
Sanders, who ordinarily fights at 145 pounds, is a former Oklahoma State University (OSU) All-American wrestler and has submitted six opponents.
I have found no recent footage of Sanders -- just putting that on the table. Despite the short notice and the size disadvantage, though, I do think he’ll take this. Cedeno has good kicks and some decent takedowns, but his ground game looked seriously underdeveloped against Chavez. No fighter with more than 10 fights should be that clueless off his back.
Especially when dealing with an All-American wrestler.
Cedeno’s power and size could certainly end things early. So long as Sanders isn’t too stricken with the dreaded Jitters, however, he ought to grind down Cedeno after a rough start.
Prediction: Sanders via unanimous decision
115 lbs.: Claudia Gadelha vs. Tina Lahdemaki
Claudia Gadelha (11-0) scored perhaps the biggest win of her career in July 2013, defeating unbeaten Megumi Fujii understudy Ayaka Hamasaki by third-round stoppage. The win earned her a crack at champion Carla Esparza, but a bacterial infection on Gadelha’s part scuttled the bout the day of the fight.
"Claudinha" has ended six fights by submission and two via technical knockout, all but one finish coming inside the first round.
Tina Lahdemaki (5-0), 26, has competed exclusively in her native Finland throughout her five-fight career, most recently defeating veteran Karla Benitez via arm-triangle. The win marked her third inside the distance and second via submission.
She has never gone past the second round, her two decisions coming in fights scheduled for 10 minutes.
This is one of those fights where both fighters share the same area of expertise, but one is flat-out better. Gadelha is a beast on the mat, has the traditional Nova Uniao impenetrable takedown defense, and has some solid trips to bring the fight down. Lahdemaki, meanwhile, seems to prefer to rush the opponent to the fence and work from there rather than setting up technical takedowns, a strategy that appears doomed to failure here.
In all likelihood, Lahdemaki’s eagerness to move into the clinch against the cage results in a counter trip from "Claudinha," followed by a steady advance to mount and eventual armbar win for the Brazilian.
Prediction: Gadelha via first-round submission
Two more "Prelims" fights to preview and predict tomorrow, including Pat Healy's possibly last chance at the big time.
See you there, Maniacs!
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 45 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" match online, which is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1 under card action at 7 p.m. ET and the the FOX Sports 1 main card at 9 p.m. ET.