Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is heading back to primetime this Saturday night (May 5, 2012) with UFC on FOX 3: "Diaz vs. Miller," featuring a lightweight bout that pits Jim Miller vs. Nate Diaz.
With a possible shot at the 155-pound title awaiting the winner, don't be surprised to see this fast-paced fracas take home "Fight of the Night" when all is said and done.
If that's the case, you can also make an argument that Rousimar Palhares vs. Alan Belcher will produce "Submission of the Night," thanks to the frightening jiu-jitsu game of "Toquinho," which still doesn't scare "The Talent."
Then again, most stateside fight fans want to see "Knockout of the Night," evidenced by the relentless boos that reign down whenever a fight hits the floor. The good news is they won't have to look much further than Pat Barry vs. Lavar Johnson, a battle of hard-hitting heavyweights that is damn-near guaranteed to have someone staring at the lights.
That leaves us with Johny Hendricks vs. Josh Koscheck as the last of the four main card fights to make the FOX airwaves. This could be a one-hitter quitter, like "Bigg Rigg" pulled against Jon Fitch last December, or WrestleMania, if Koscheck wants to see who the better mat technician is.
So who cleans up in "Dirty Jersey?"
I've laid out my best guess for the main card fights below. In addition, I've also provided links to our complete undercard preview as well as a closer examination of the UFC on FOX 3 odds and betting lines.
See you on the other side.
155 lbs.: Nate Diaz (21-3) vs. Jim Miller (15-7)
Nostradumbass predicts: Why did UFC President Dana White so willingly offer Nate Diaz a title shot if he wins? Probably because he knows he won't. Don't get me wrong, I like to watch the wily Stockton slugger tool his fellow lightweights in the stand-up, but he's only as good as his opponents allow him to be.
Like Donald Cerrone.
Stand and bang with Diaz and you're losing the fight. Take him down and rough him up, like Jim Miller will, and it's cruise control for three (or five in this case) rounds. If you're slamming your keys down in disgust, firing off a "I hate Nostradumbass" Email, did you sleep through the Clay Guida decision?
How about the Joe Stevenson fight?
I won't be too hard on him for the losses at welterweight, despite getting rag-dolled by Rory MacDonald, but what 155-pounder did Diaz beat that indicates he's going to run through Miller? The same Miller who only has three losses on his record? If you're keeping score at home, that's one to a current champion (Ben Henderson), one to a former champion (Frankie Edgar) and one to a two-time number one contender (Gray Maynard).
Don't bother with the jiu-jitsu argument, because I watched Miller kneebar Rafael Oliveira, who is as good as any lightweight grappler in the division. Like Diaz, he also ends more than half his fights by way of tap, nap or snap.
This one is all about the gameplan.
Diaz will be the busier striker, but without that one-punch knockout power, it's not going to be enough of a deterrent to keep Miller of taking him down (at will) and beating him up. The ground game will be neutralized and the judges will have no choice but to side with the hometown hero.
Prediction: Miller def. Diaz via unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Johny Hendricks (12-1) vs. Josh Koscheck (17-5)
Nostradumbass predicts: This is one of those fights that I go back-and-forth on, because they're pretty evenly matched. I know a lot of the hoopla surrounding Johny Hendricks' welterweight rise to power is the vaunted left hand of doom, but let's not forget that under the ZUFFA banner, he's gone to the judge's scorecards just as often.
Jon Fitch didn't respect the power, but I believe Josh Koscheck will.
I usually pick against guys who have a change in training camp and overhaul a lot of their pre-fight preparations, but in this case I think it had the opposite effect. Koscheck looked tired and flat in his last fight against Mike Pierce, drained from all the shenanigans at American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) prior to leaving.
Now he's aligned himself with coaches he actually likes and is incorporating a new offense into what was arguably a stale and predictable attack. Not that I expect him to unleash some sort of stand-up blitzkrieg, but it will keep him in the fight when the fists start flying.
Which is a strange thing to predict from two outstanding collegiate wrestlers.
It should be dead even on the ground and Hendricks will give him all he can handle on the feet, but in the end, I think "Kos" is just too experienced and too battle-tested to give this one away. I predict a VERY close fight that swings in favor of the private pilot.
Prediction: Koscheck def. Hendricks via split decision
185 lbs.: Alan Belcher (17-6) vs. Rousimar Palhares (14-3)
Nostradumbass predicts: Rousimar Palhares is a very seductive pick here, based on his frightening jiu-jitsu prowess, but let's not put the myth before the man. This is the same guy that was put on queer street by Dan Miller, who hasn't knocked anyone out in 19 professional fights.
He's also been known to go bat-shit crazy during a fight.
If you break it all down, you have a guy who is good at two things: Bench-pressing Volkswagens and tearing people's legs off. But that's not going to cut it against a "talent" like Alan Belcher, who is a well-rounded mixed martial artist with enough sense to keep this thing upright.
Until he drops "Toquinho."
Sound crazy? Belcher has superior striking skills and is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. That might not mean a whole lot on the ground if he wants to tempt fate, but it lets me know it will probably be good enough to get him out of danger if he ends up in a sprawl.
Palhares is a one-trick pony and no different than a stand-up fighter with insane knockout power. It only works when your opponents fight scared. The new and improved Belcher, who smoked Jason MacDonald last September in New Orleans, is fearless, and will send this bone-breaking brute back to Brazil.
Prediction: Belcher def. Palhares via technical knockout
265 lbs.: Pat Barry (7-4) vs. Lavar Johnson (16-5)
Nostradumbass predicts: Speaking of one-dimensional fighters, Lavar Johnson brings his metal mitts to the Octagon against Pat Barry. And I'm not insulting the guy, he said it himself, jiu-jitsu belongs in a grappling tournament, not a "Big" bout on television.
That stands in stark contrast to Barry, who already admitted he's ready to wrestle if he gets hit hard enough.
Not because I don't think "HD" can get it to the floor, but because when he goes to the ground, he'll be snoring. Now, I know you're thinking that Barry is a professional kickboxer and not a heavy-handed bricklayer, but Johnson thought of that too.
That could explain why he spent his entire training camp under K-1 World Grand Prix Champion Carter Williams.
He'll be expecting those devastating leg kicks, which Barry rattles off so effectively he barely needs to set them up. But with such a disparity in both height and reach, even with lousy footwork, it's hard for me to imagine the cocky and stocky kid from 'Nawlins getting the killing blow in without eating one himself.
This is a first rounder folks, don't take a pee break.
Prediction: Johnson def. Barry via knockout
That's a wrap, folks.
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the main card action on fight night (Sat., May 5), which is slated to air at 9 p.m. ET on FOX. The latest quick updates of the live action will begin to flow earlier than that around 6 p.m. ET with the preliminary bouts on Facebook and FUEL TV.
For previews and predictions on the preliminary card fights click here and here. To see all the odds and betting lines for UFC on FOX 3 click here and remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Diaz vs. Miller."
What do you think? Now it's your turn ... let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for tomorrow night's event.