Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is all set for the second installment of "UFC on Versus" this Sunday night (Aug. 1) from the San Diego Sports Arena in San Diego, California.
Remember: MMAmania.com will provide LIVE updates with blow-by-blow, round-by-round commentary of the main card action on fight night, which is slated to air at 9 p.m. ET on the Versus network.
"Jones vs. Matyushenko" will feature a main event between light heavyweight superstar in the making Jon "Bones" Jones and Belarusian brawler Vladimir "The Janitor" Matyushenko.
Also on tap for Aug. 1 is a middleweight mash-up between Mark Munoz and Yushin Okami while Takanori Gomi looks for his first win as a Zuffa lightweight against Tyson Griffin.
To help get you better prepared for the festivities, I've given some analysis and predictions on all the main card fights set to hit the Versus airwaves this Sunday night.
Check it out below.205 lbs.: Jon "Bones" Jones (10-1) vs. Vladimir "The Janitor" Matyushenko (24-4)
There are quite a few things that concern me when I look at this match-up from Vlad's perspective, but one of the main issues I have is that he's only fought a handful of strikers throughout his near thirty-fight career. And the results haven't been all that great in those type of match-ups for "The Janitor."
In fact, his last two losses have come against fighters who boast quality stand-up attacks - Andrei Arlovski and Rogerio Nogueira. Obviously the "Pitbull" fight was a long time ago and Jones is a much different type of striker than Nogueira, but the point is, Vlad isn't going to like it if he's forced into trading strikes with "Bones."
So, look for him to do everything possible to try and close the distance in this fight. I expect him to initiate a lot of clinching and to try and put the youngster on his back early and often. The farther away he stays, the easier it'll be for Jones to pick him apart. He needs to get right in his face and do everything he can to take him out of his comfort zone.
That's not to say he'll be safe in the clinch, because he won't be. Jones is just as effective from there with his knees and elbows, but at least from the clinch Vlad is one step closer to taking the fight to the ground, which is where he wants to be, even though what little we've seen from Jones' ground game suggests there's not much relief down there, either.
Matt Hamill, Jake O'Brien and Stephen Bonnar all came into their fights with Jones thinking they had the skills and the gameplan necessary to beat him, but all three were dominated by the youngster. Just being a good wrestler or grappler isn't enough against this guy. It's going to take a different type of gameplan to unlock the Jon Jones mystery, one that Matyushenko just doesn't have in his arsenal.
It's not out of the realm of possibility to think that Matyushenko could potentially succeed where those guys failed, but it's no secret that he's getting a little long in the tooth. At some point he's going to have to come to the realization that he isn't the same fighter that he was ten years ago.
I mean, does anyone really think Elliot Marshall would have taken Matyushenko to a split decision in his heyday? I have my doubts (no disrespect to Marshall.) Not like he hasn't already had a few of them, but this is going to be a statement fight for the Greg Jackson pupil.
I think "Bones" cruises in this one.
Final prediction: Jon Jones via knockout
185 lbs.: Mark "The Philippine Wrecking Machine" Munoz (8-1) vs. Yushin "Thunder" Okami (24-5)
Munoz is a fantastic wrestler, but that's about it. His chin is suspect, his stand-up isn't anything special, and he hasn't really faced all that great of competition. He was smart to move down to 185 pounds, where his strength and wrestling could be more of an advantage for him, but that advantage goes out the window against a guy like Okami, who is a monster middleweight, not to mention a very strong wrestler himself. I can't see Munoz just overpowering him with his wrestling.
I think Okami is clearly the better overall mixed martial artist, and I think he wins this fight with his striking and takedown defense.
Chael Sonnen proved that Okami can be taken down, but Chael put the pressure on big time in that fight and used a lot of striking to set up those takedowns. I just can't see Munoz being as effective. And even if he is, he's going to have a hard time keeping the Japanese fighter pinned down. Sonnen will vouch for that.
I think Okami will have a similar gameplan in this fight to what he used against Sonnen, which is to stand back and try to pick his opponent apart with jabs and combinations. The difference will be that Munoz is nowhere near as good as Sonnen in the stand-up or at pushing the pace.
I wouldn't be surprised at all if Okami scored a knockout in this fight, but the smart money says it'll go the full three rounds. Either way, Okami is going to win.
Final prediction: Yushin Okami via unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Jake Ellenberger (22-5) vs. John "Doomsday" Howard (14-4)
I like Ellenberger in this fight.
I haven't been all that impressed with Howard since he joined the UFC. Sure, he's an explosive, strong, athletic guy, but he hasn't blown me away yet. Winning the "knockout of the night" award against a Cesar Gracie trainee in his last fight put him on the right track towards winning me over, but his three previous fights inside the Octagon left a lot to be desired, in my opinion.
If he didn't score a last second knockout over Dennis Hallman at the TUF 10 Finale, he was probably going to lose that decision, and I could make an argument that his other two split decision victories over Tamdan McCrory and Chris Wilson could have easily gone the other way as well.
Ellenberger, on the other hand, has always impressed me, even before coming to the UFC. Since joining the top promotion, though, he dominated a very tough Mike Pyle at UFC 108 and came up just short against one of the division's top contenders, Carlos Condit, in his Octagon debut at Fight Night 19.
He has a strong wrestling and boxing background, and he matches up well in the strength department with Howard, too. It's also worth noting that he's never been knocked out, and he's only been submitted once in his twenty seven-fight career, which was a fight he took on super short notice against a Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt (Delson Heleno.)
I think whoever can be more successful with takedowns and avoid more damage in the stand-up is going to win this one. My money is on Ellenberger.
Final prediction: Jake Ellenberger via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Takanori "The Fireball Kid" Gomi (31-6) vs. Tyson Griffin (14-3)
Is it just me or does Gomi always seem to get tired really quickly in his fights?
For his sake, he better hope that's not that case, because Tyson Griffin is not a guy you want to gas out against. The Xtreme Couture trainee can go forever, and he is a handful for anybody, especially in the later rounds.
If Gomi has one thing going for him, it's that he's about as heavy handed as a 155 pound fighter can be, but he hasn't really evolved as a fighter since his days as the Pride FC poster boy when he was knocking a bunch of dudes out. He's basically a one-trick pony these days, and that is another very bad characteristic to have coming into a fight against a guy who is as well rounded as Tyson Griffin.
Griffin is coming off a very frustrating loss against training partner Evan Dunham. It was a competitive fight, but Griffin clearly came up short, despite the split decision. The good news for him is that he has never lost back to back fights in his career. He's followed each of his other two losses with big victories over tough opponents.
Gomi, on the other hand, who is also coming off a loss, has dropped back to back fights twice in his career. That may not seem like a big deal, but for a guy who has fought thirty seven times professionally with only six losses, it looks like a trend. For whatever reason, he has traditionally followed up a letdown with another letdown.
Regardless of that last part, I'm picking Tyson. He has more ways that he can impress the judges, and his gas tank is much deeper than Gomi's. To me, Gomi has a puncher's chance and that's about it. Griffin isn't a -325 favorite for nothing.
Final prediction: Tyson Griffin via unanimous decision
That's a wrap, folks.
Remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Jones vs. Matyushenko."
What do you think? Now it's your turn ... let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for Sunday's event.