There's nothing quite like an collision between two talented, relatively inexperienced prospects.
That's what we'll get tonight (Sat. Aug. 11, 2012) when the UFC 150: "Henderson vs. Edgar 2" main card kicks off on pay-per-view (PPV) from the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado, with Max Holloway vs. Justin Lawrence, a duo who have a total of a mere 10 fights between them.
And in the featherweight division, there's plenty of room to move up.
Champion Jose Aldo is dispatching challengers with dismissive ease, and the second-best fighter in the weight class, at least at the oddsmakers' windows, is Chad Mendes, who will need a long run to position himself for a title shot, not to mention deal with all his legal troubles.
Young talent can make noise here, and both have done some of that in recent bouts. Lawrence was very impressive on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 15, showing a well-rounded mixed martial arts (MMA) game to compliment his outstanding stand-up credentials. Holloway, a talented striker in his own right, tends to be a bit more flashy and something of a risk-taker when he engages.
Dropping down from 155-pounds, Lawrence should have a considerably bigger frame come fight time, but how he handles the weight cut could work against him as well, particularly in his first bout in the lighter class. He's shown a better sense of grappling and mixing in the ground game with his striking than most standup-based guys can show in MMA, especially this early in his career. Another good thing going for both guys is that they've gone deep into the third round in their UFC debut. There's no substitute like long-fight experience under the bright lights of the big stage, so conditioning shouldn't be a factor as both will be acclimated to it, assuming Lawrence makes the weight cut reasonably well. For Holloway, sometimes the best move on a bigger guy cutting down is to jump right on him and set a fast pace to make him wonder if his gas tank will hold up. The flip side is he's usually strong as hell in the opening minutes and that can translate into some nasty surprises.
It'd be a shocker if this one spent extensive time on the ground as both are standup-based stylists. In a case of fundamentals versus flash, I'll take the fundamentals every time, especially a guy like Lawrence, who showed a really good sense of distance and game planning on his TUF appearances. Expect some good exchanges early as Lawrence asserts his size and punching advantages while Holloway unloads some picturesque techniques that look great but only yield modest results. Meanwhile, Lawrence will keep working on and wearing him down, piling up points en route to a TKO stoppage in the third.
Lawrence via TKO in round three
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the main card action on fight night (Saturday, August 11, 2012), which is slated to air at 10 p.m. ET on PPV. The latest quick updates of the live action will begin to flow earlier than that around 8:00 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook and FX Channel.
See you later!
Jason Probst can be reached at twitter.com/jasonprobst or firstname.lastname@example.org.