World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC), represent.
At UFC 144, reigning Lightweight champion Frankie Edgar and former WEC champion Benson Henderson went at it for five fantastic rounds, with "Smooth" landing heavy kicks and nearly finishing the durable champion on two occasions, while "The Answer" -- eye swollen shut -- constantly attacked with quick hands and takedowns.
In the end, Henderson took the decision, prompting a rematch to be ordered, which will headline UFC 150 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colo., down this Saturday night (Aug. 4, 2012). The co-main event will feature another WEC standout, Donald Cerrone, taking on the heavy-hitting Melvin Guillard.
Yesterday, we previewed the two bouts that comprise the initial Facebook/FX portion of the "Prelims" under card right here. Today, we share breakdowns of the remaining three that will air live -- and for free -- on FX this weekend from the "Mile High City."
Let's get cracking:
145 lbs.: Dennis Bermudez vs. Tom Hayden
After running into veteran Drew Fickett and fast-rising Jordan Rinaldi and suffering his first two career defeats, Dennis Bermudez (8-3) made the drop down to 145 pounds to join the cast of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 14. After upsetting Jimmie Rivera to get into the house, Bermudez went on to take out Stephen Bass and Akira Corassani, bringing home "Submission of the Season" for the latter. While he fell short in a crazy slugfest against Diego Brandao in the finals, he went on to ragdoll Pablo Garza for a unanimous decision in his sophomore UFC effort. He has three knockouts and a submission on his record.
After eight straight finishes, including five in the first round, Tom Hayden (8-1) was tabbed to make his UFC debut back in January against the returning Fabricio Camoes. Unfortunately, despite his grappling resume, which includes five submissions, Hayden was outgrappled and choked out by the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt in little more than four minutes. The Team Jorge Gurgel representative has fought just three times since 2009, when he beat TUF 14 competitor Dustin Neace.
The knee-jerk reaction here is to take the submissions specialist over the guy with three consecutive official first-round submission losses, but you could have made the same argument for Garza, who had zero success off his back against Bermudez. In addition, despite his gaudy submissions record, Hayden got completely dominated the second he tried to engage Camoes on the ground.
Bermudez undoubtedly has some holes in his game, but he’s tough as nails, has the better wrestling, and has been matched up against much better opposition in his time than Hayden. Hayden is going to wind up on his back hard and often and I’m not convinced he has the grappling chops to finish it from there. Expect something a lot like the Garza fight, with Bermudez’s wrestling and positional control overcoming a submission-happy foe.
Prediction: Bermudez via unanimous decision
185 lbs.: Jared Hamman vs. Michael Kuiper
After an entertaining, though mostly-unsuccessful run at 205 pounds, Jared Hamman (13-4) made the long-overdue drop to Middleweight, facing C.B. Dollaway in his debut. After losing the first round badly, "The Messenger" stormed back and finished the exhausted "Doberman" with punches. He was less successful with that strategy against Constantinos Philippou, however, getting blasted into unconsciousness inside the first round. The loss puts Hamman’s Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) record at 2-3.
One of the bigger prospects on the European circuit, Michael Kuiper (11-1) came into the UFC on the back of 10 finishes in 11 fights, six of them courtesy of his nasty hands. In his debut; however, "Judo" was unable to keep his feet under him against the relentless takedowns of Rafel Natal despite hurting the Brazilian more than once. Six of Kuiper’s finishes have come in the first round.
I really think Kuiper is better suited for 170; he’s soft around the midsection and, despite his Judo base, seemed badly outmuscled in his fight with Natal. With Hamman dropping down from 205, this seems like a rough night ahead for Kuiper. Further, Hamman has been in there with much more solid opposition than Kuiper has.
He also, unfortunately, may not be able to handle Kuiper’s punches
Both men are nasty punchers, but Hamman has historically struggled against power punchers, and has also been put on his back with surprising regularity during his time in the UFC. If things start going wrong in the stand up, I fully expect Kuiper’s Judo to let him take advantage of this.
This has the potential to be a fantastic scrap, one where Kuiper’s power and Hamman’s average-at-best chin will be the deciding factors.
Prediction: Kuiper via first-round knockout
135 lbs.: Ken Stone vs. Erik Perez
The start of Ken Stone’s (11-3) Zuffa career could charitably be described as "disastrous." After a solid showing in the opening minutes against Eddie Wineland, Stone jumped into a standing guillotine attempt and got slammed through the ground. This was followed by a one-punch knockout from guard courtesy of Scott Jorgensen. He has since righted the ship, however, submitting Donny Walker and decisioning Dustin Pague. The Pague win was his first to go the distance.
Erik Perez (11-4) didn’t enter the UFC with a lot of fanfare, but his fight with John Albert was a crazily-fast-paced grapplefest, one that ended in controversy when, with Perez having latched onto an armbar, referee Kim Winslow stopped the bout despite Albert not tapping. The win was Perez’s sixth in a row after a two-fight skid, a streak that includes four submissions.
Despite being on the wrong end of two of the nastiest knockouts in recent memory, I consider Stone one of the more impressive talents rising through the ranks of 135. He’s solid everywhere the fight goes, especially with his stand up, which I expect to be the deciding factor here. Perez does have some very good submission skills, but I do not believe he has the wrestling it takes to put Stone on his back.
The American Top Team (ATT) product’s jaw remains a big question mark, but Perez hasn’t demonstrated the striking ability to put it to the test. Sprawl-and-brawl win for Stone, who will use those heavy kicks of his to beat up Perez for 15 unpleasant minutes.
Prediction: Stone via unanimous decision
Frankie Edgar rematches may be getting old, but you can't deny that this fight is going to kick ass.
See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember, MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of UFC 150, beginning with the "Prelims" bout on Facebook scheduled for around 7:30 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 night.