Four furious fracases on Fox for free? Frickin' fine!
For the first time since April 2010, a lightweight title fight will go down that doesn't involve Frankie Edgar when Ben Henderson defends his 155-pound strap against Nate Diaz in the main event of UFC on Fox 5, which takes place at the KeyArena in Seattle, Wash., this weekend (Sat., Dec. 8, 2012).
The rest of the televised Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) card promises fireworks, too, with Alexander Gustafsson taking on Mauricio Rua, Rory MacDonald throwing down with B.J. Penn and Matt Brown looking to shut down the Mike Swick comeback.
But before all that, we've got a bevy of "Prelims" under card bouts that are scheduled to air on Facebook and FX to tide over us mixed martial arts (MMA) fans.
Join us below as we dig into the first four (of seven) "Prelims" bouts that will take place on fight night:
155 lbs.: Yves Edwards vs. Jeremy Stephens
With Jeremy Stephens left trying (and failing) to fight the law before their bout on FX and Yves Edwards (41-18-1) himself pulling out of a fight with Donald Cerrone in February, the venerable "Thugjitsu Master" has yet to fight in 2012. Last time out, he was narrowly defeated by The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 13 winner, Tony Ferguson, in Dec 2011.
Impressively, the 36-year-old Edwards has been competing in mixed martial arts (MMA) for 15 years.
Meanwhile, 2012 has not been kind to Jeremy Stephens (20-8) who -- after getting utterly spanked by Donald Cerrone on FUEL TV -- found his UFC on FX 5 bout with Edwards short-circuited when police arrived the morning of to make good on a warrant stemming from an assault charge. Despite Dana White's best efforts, the fight was called off, but when John Cholish was forced out of his own fight with Edwards on account of injury, White knew just who to call.
I called a mid-round Stephens knockout the first time out and my thoughts haven't changed. Edwards is by far the craftier and more varied of the two on the feet, but the superior wrestling of "Lil' Heathen" and his bone-crushing power are just too much for him at this stage in this career. I expect a pretty entertaining scrap while it lasts, with Stephens mixing in enough takedown attempts for Edwards' hands to stray just a tad too low.
Prediction: Stephens via second-round knockout
155 lbs.: Henry Martinez vs. Daron Cruickshank
A former featherweight out of Jackson’s MMA, Henry Martinez (9-2) took one hell of a step up in his UFC debut, facing gargantuan welterweight Matt Riddle on short notice at UFC 143 and arguably beating him. Unfortunately, Martinez wound up on the wrong end of a split decision and followed the bout up with an uninspiring win over Bernardo Magalhaes.
The 29-year-old has competed three times in 2012 alone and has never been stopped.
While Daron Cruickshank (11-2) impressed in his TUF elimination bout opposite Drew Dober and taking it to Team Cruz’s James Vick in the early going of their bout, his run at the "six-figure contract" came to an abrupt end when an ill-timed takedown led to a vicious Vick knee.
"The International Superstar" righted the ship with a wrestling-heavy decision over Chris Tickle on the Finale, the former’s fifth-straight official win.
As solid as Martinez’s performance was against Riddle, I think that has more to do with the latter’s thick-headed refusal to accept the fact that he’s hilariously incompetent on the feet. There is no excuse for how mediocre Martinez was against Magalhaes, who has arguably the worst striking the UFC lightweight division has seen in some time.
Cruickshank is the bigger of the two, the better striker by far, and probably the better wrestler as well. He’s not the vicious striking machine he likes to present himself as, but he is a superior MMA fighter in pretty much every regard to Martinez.
Sprawl-and-brawl decision win for the TUF veteran.
Prediction: Cruickshank by unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Scott Jorgensen vs. John Albert
After an impressive 7-1 run came to an end at the hands of Renan Barao, Scott Jorgensen (13-6) was out to reaffirm his place at the top of the bantamweight hierarchy against Eddie Wineland on FX. Despite busting the former champion open with punches, the latter shut down the wrestling of "Young Guns’" and flattened him with a beautiful 1-3-2 in the second round.
The defeat marked Jorgensen’s first knockout loss and his first stoppage defeat since 2006.
The only opponent on TUF 14 to survive two rounds with John Dodson, John Albert (7-3) impressed in his debut with a 69-second blitzing of Dustin Pague. Unfortunately, that same tenacity has come back to bite him in recent bouts -- an ill-advised takedown against a rocked Ivan Menjivar led to a rear-naked choke loss and Erik Perez capitalized on the "Prince’s" frantic grappling to secure an armbar of his own. Albert is now 1-3 in his last four official bouts, all losses by submission.
He has never seen the judges.
As refreshing as it is to see someone gunning for the finish every second of the fight, I have to favor Jorgensen in this one. Albert doesn’t have the power to keep Jorgensen far enough away to make sprawling feasible nor the submission savvy to take him out off his back. I have no doubt that "Prince" will throw everything and the kitchen sink at Jorgensen on the mat, but "Young Guns" has dealt with the likes of Jeff Curran on the ground with no ill effect.
Albert will make it a scrap and it won’t surprise me in the least if this winds up being in the running for "Fight of the Night," but Jorgensen can hold his own on the feet and his ability to take the to the ground if things go south have me convinced he’ll take this one in a war.
Prediction: Jorgensen by unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Tim Means vs. Abel Trujillo
The towering Tim Means (18-3-1), a former King of the Cage champion, has come out of nowhere to establish himself as one of the more fearsome members of the UFC’s lightweight division, dominating Bernardo Magalhaes in his debut and obliterating the highly-touted Justin Salas in just over a minute the next time out.
Means, 6’2," has finished 16 opponents, the majority in the first round, and owns 13 (technical) knockouts.
Abel Trujillo (9-4), originally meant to face Means at UFC 151, enters the UFC on a four-fight win streak. Fighting out of the Blackzillians camp, "Killa" has five finishes among his nine victories, three by submission. He has won thrice in 2012, including a win over James Edson Berto, brother of boxing star Andre Berto.
Seriously, why is this fight happening?
"The Dirty Bird"is one of the most promising guys in the division, while Trujillo has never beaten anyone worth a darn. The latter is six inches shorter, has about half the number of fights, and is hopelessly outgunned on the feet.
I’d like to go into more detail, but I can’t really think of any way to elaborate on "this will be about as competitive as a caterpillar playing chicken with a locomotive." Means by slaughter.
Prediction: Means by first-round knockout
Stop by tomorrow for a look at the remaining "Prelims" bouts, which include a pair of fine Featherweight fights and a lightweight showdown.
See you then, Maniacs.
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of UFC on FOX 5: "Henderson vs. Diaz," beginning with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook scheduled for around 3:45 p.m. ET. In addition, we will also provide LIVE, real-time results of the main card action as it happens throughout the evening this upcoming Saturday, starting promptly at 8 p.m. ET.