Five rounds of mixed martial arts (MMA) mayhem.
Two long-time Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight contenders will look to make that next step toward a 155-pound title shot this Wednesday (July 16, 2014) when Donald Cerrone takes on Jim Miller in a clash of elite finishers.
The two will battle in the main event of UFC Fight Night 45, which will take place at Revel Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
We looked at the first three of five scheduled "Prelims" under card bouts yesterday right here. Today, let's see what's left:
155 lbs.: Gleison Tibau vs. Pat Healy
Gleison Tibau (28-10) -- always just short of greatness -- seemed to have finally turned the corner, winning six of his last eight fights with close losses to Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dunham the only blemishes. In Dec. 2013, however, he suffered perhaps the most devastating loss of his pro career, a crushing knockout at the hands of Michael Johnson.
This will be his TWENTY-SECOND fight in UFC, even though he just turned 31.
Pat Healy (29-19) entered UFC on a six-fight win streak and seemed on the verge of contendership after submitting Miller in his thrilling Octagon debut. It’s all been downhill since, however, as he was stripped of the win because of marijuana and has lost his last three bouts, most recently dropping a decision to Jorge Masvidal.
Interestingly, he is just 10 days older than Tibau, turning 31 on July 20, 2014.
Honestly, I feel really bad for Healy. He’s got the goods to give most of the division a headache, but Tibau is the latest in a series of tough match ups. The Brazilian is every bit as strong as Healy, has ironclad takedown defense, and has developed some power on the feet. Healy has to bank on his constant pressure to wear down, but he’s going to have to eat a lot of shots to do it and he’s very unlikely to score the takedown.
Though Tibau’s massive weight cut raises question marks about his cardio, it generally holds up for at least two rounds. His superior striking and takedown defense should be enough for him to batter Healy to a unanimous decision win.
Prediction: Tibau by unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Jessamyn Duke vs. Leslie Smith
Following a loss in the quarterfinals of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 18 and victory on the Finale, Jessamyn Duke (3-1) joined forces with coach Ronda Rousey, becoming one of the champion’s "Four Horsewomen." Her sophomore UFC appearance did not go smoothly, however, losing a decision to Brazil’s Bethe Correia at UFC 172.
She is two inches taller than Leslie Smith (6-5-1), standing 5’11."
Though Smith lost her Invicta title bid against Barb Honchak, she earned a shot in UFC as a late-replacement opponent for Sarah Kaufman. While their first match came down to the wire, Smith was not as successful the second time out, losing on 30-27s across the board and eating quite a few power shots in the process.
She has ended three fights via technical knockout and owns a win over TUF 18 fighter Raquel Pennington.
I’m honestly having more trouble picking this fight than I expected; however, that’s not a point in their favors. I’m trying to puzzle out whether Smith’s massive decline in the Kaufman rematch is significant enough for me to pick the incredibly underwhelming Duke, who seems to have no idea how to use her size.
Eh, let’s go with Smith.
Maybe it’s my ever-building dislike for Duke teammate Shayna Baszler after she whined about Correia’s "one down, three to go" signal following Duke’s loss to Correia coloring my opinion, but Smith seems the more experienced at slugging it out. Duke’s inability to maintain range means she should be forced into that kind of fight quickly.
So long as Smith steers clear of Duke’s hip toss, she should edge an entertaining brawl.
Prediction: Smith by unanimous decision
Two fun Lightweight fights and a guaranteed slugfest at 170 pounds -- what better way to celebrate getting over the hump?
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.
Current UFC "Prelims" Prediction Record 2014: 101-47 (1 NC)