Tonight, Joe Stevenson and Melvin Guillard will lock horns in the the UFC Fight Night 9 main event.
For the winner, it means he is one step closer to a future title shot. For the loser, it's back to the drawing board and time to get behind in the line.
I've read here and elsewhere that this is a "crap" card and so forth. Well, part of the reason is that its been decimated by injuries -- that's just the nature of the sport.
However, I don't think that really matters. It's a free night of fights and there are at least two very good match ups (although I think there are more). It's time to get over it and just enjoy the show -- it could turn out to be quite a night ... you just never know.
At any rate, we're back to provide readers with two unique perspectives on the main card fights.
In the blue corner, your loyal and dedicated host, UFCmania. And in the red corner, your insightful and witty contributor, Jesse Holland.
Below, you'll see that we both took one fighter in each bout to support. It's important to note that while we may be lauding a certain fighter, he isn't necessarily the guy who we think is going to win.
Basically, we didn't want this to come out sounding repetitive. That's because, believe it or not, Jesse and I occasionally agree on a few things ... occasionally.
At the end of each analysis, therefore, you will see our picks.
As you'll see, these are just for the main card bouts ... because who cares about the rest?
Here we go:
Joe Stevenson (26-7) vs. Melvin Guillard (20-5-2)
UFCmania: With consecutive knockout victories in his last two fights — both at 155 pounds — Melvin Guillard has established himself as perhaps the most powerful striker in the lightweight division. He's coming off of a broken hand, but that shouldn't stop him from ensuring Joe Stevenson leaves the Octagon punch drunk Thursday night. Guillard has a penchant for sloppiness, which has led to a few close calls and a handful of losses via submission. The longer this fight goes, the worse the odds get for the "Young Assassin" against a very technical grappler. Look for Guillard to rock Stevenson early and end this fight before "Daddy" has the chance to work his ground attack.
Jesse Holland: It's battle of the TUF 2 alumni as Joe Daddy takes on the Young Assassin. What's interesting is that both fighters are on a two-fight winning streak after losing to Josh Neer. What's even more interesting is how easily Stevenson is going to submit the motor-mouthed Guillard. That's what happens when you put a fighter who wins nearly 50 percent of his fights by submission against a fighter who loses 80 percent of his by tapping. I'll concede that Melvin has incredible speed and power, but he's also got a huge hole in his jiu-jitsu game and I would expect a veteran like Stevenson to capitalize on it. Joe Daddy has only lost twice since 2002, both decisions, and he's never looked better at 155. I see him in the title hunt sooner rather than later.
UFCmania -- Guillard via technical knockout
Holland -- Stevenson via submission
Kenny Florian (4-3) vs. Dokonjonosuke Mishima (17-5-2)
UFCmania: Dokonjonosuke Mishima is no slouch, competing against some of the toughest talent in the sport overseas. He's not powerful, winning almost 90 percent of his fights via decision or submission, but he does have impressive skills. In his UFC debut at UFC 65, Mishima was submitted by Joe Stevenson in the first round via guillotine choke. Now, he gets another tough test out of the gate, battling crafty and gritty jiu-jitsu specialist Kenny Florian. Unfortunately for Mishima, he's once again outmatched. Florian is too good on the ground and will more than likely be able to take away Mishima's only true strength, Judo. He should do better in his second shot in the cage, but look for Florian to dominate this bout.
Jesse Holland: Kenny may take a lot of heat for his look and his sometimes his style, but make no mistake about it he's got skills. He was tough enough to go five rounds with Sean Sherk and has consecutive RNC wins over Kit Cope and Sam Stout. Like Stevenson, he looks much more comfortable at 155 and with new coaches he will be a force in the lightweight division. Doko Mishima has trouble with UFC fighters. While his first and only battle in the Octagon was a loss to Joe Stevenson, he was also submitted by Yves Edwards and stopped by Din Thomas over in PRIDE. I see a similar ending to his match against Florian. Despite his years of experience, Doko has trouble finishing opponents as five of his last seven wins have come by decision. I see Florian ending this via choke in the first round.
UFCmania -- Florian via unanimous decision
Holland -- Florian via submission
Antoni Hardonk (5-2) vs. Justin McCully (7-3-2)
UFCmania: With just 12 professional mixed martial arts bouts — spread over 10-year span — Justin McCully is an odd selection to appear on a UFC main card. He's a last-minute replacement for Frank Mir, making the decision somewhat understandable. At 31, this is his big chance to make a splash in front of a major television audience. He's looking for validation. And as a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Allen Goes, anything is possible. However, McCully is in for a rough night against a younger and more promising fighter in the division, Antoni Hardonk. Look for the former K-1 kickboxer to turn McCully's pasty Irish legs a nice shade of red en route to an early stoppage.
Jesse Holland: Antoni Hardonk is back after his knockout win over Sherman Pendergarst to battle substitute fighter Justin McCully. I call him substitute because he's only fought four times in the last six years. Hardonk may not have a tremendous amount of experience but at least he's fought consistently since 2003. Despite his power, Hardonk has formidable skills on the ground as well. He finished Wes Sims by keylock at Rumble on the Rock and Will Elworthy by RNC at La Resa Dei Conti 7. McCully doesn't have any KO's to his name and fighting so sporadically practically guarantees his conditioning will fail. Hardonk is too strong on the ground to be smothered into a decision and I would expect him to try and end this early. The last thing we want to see is the typical UFC heavyweight bout that has plagued them for the past few years: Slow and sloppy.
UFCmania -- Hardonk via technical knockout
Holland -- Hardonk via knockout
Drew Fickett (27-5) vs. Keita Nakamura (13-1-2)
UFCmania.com: Keita Nakamura is an accomplished Shooto fighter from Japan who was undefeated prior to his UFC debut against Brock Larson at UFC Miramar in December 2006. "K-Taro" lost that fight via unanimous decision, however, I'm going to chalk it up to a tough opponent and Octagon inexperience. At 27, Drew Fickett has a wealth of experience with more than 30 professional fights under his belt. He's tough and has heart, which he proved during his loss to Karo Parisyan also at UFC Miramar. However, he is somewhat inconsistent of late against top level talent. I think that trend continues tonight, and Nakamura picks up his first UFC win via submission.
Jesse Holland: Drew Fickett is an exciting and skilled fighter but is often inconsistent. He defeats Koscheck, Neer and Florian but loses to Parisyan, Burkman and Dewees. Here he faces a young and very talented fighter in K-Taro who was undefeated until his decision loss to Brock Larson at Fight Night 7 (who at 20-1 is no slouch himself). Keita has incredible submission skills winning six of his last seven fights by rear naked choke. He is criticized for not having any KO wins but when you can choke out your opponent in the first round why bother? Fickett is no pushover but he's going to sleep in this one. Nakamura is the real deal.
UFCmania -- Nakamura via submission
Holland -- Nakamura via submission
Stick around for Desert Dog's UFN 9 betting analysis and smart bets, which should be up soon.
Enjoy the fights this evening. In the meantime, here's the trailer: