Time to fight ... for the troops ... again.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will hit Fort Campbell in Kentucky this Wednesday (Nov. 6, 2013) to give the troops a show on FOX Sports 1, headlined by a Middleweight bout between Army Ranger Tim Kennedy and surging Brazilian Rafael Natal.
In addition, two of the top female grapplers in the organization will lock horns when Alexis Davis takes on former Bantamweight title challenger Liz Carmouche. The Lightweight division's next entrant into the elite may also be decided by a clash between Jorge Masvidal and Rustam Khabilov.
That's not all !
We've got eight "Prelims" under card this time around, half of which will stream on Facebook and the rest on FOX Sports 1. Let's take a look at the former below:
185 lbs.: Chris Camozzi vs. Lorenz Larkin
After starting his UFC career even (2-2), Chris Camozzi (19-6) managed to put together four consecutive victories, stopping Dustin Jacoby and Nick Catone and decisioning Luiz Cane and Nick Ring. One can’t fault his bravery (only his results) in agreeing to fight Ronaldo Souza on short notice as he was dominated in all departments before winding up on the wrong end of one of the tightest arm-triangles UFC has ever seen.
Upsetting Robbie Lawler in his last Strikeforce appearance gave Larkin some momentum coming into UFC and it only seemed to grow as he seemingly out-dueled Francis Carmont over three rounds. Unfortunately, despite mostly shutting down the Tristar representative’s takedown attempts, he came out on the wrong end of a unanimous decision.
Larkin, who has eight stoppages to his credit, will compete at 185 pounds for just the third time after a long run at Light Heavyweight.
Camozzi is a decent fighter. In fact, if I had to pick one man in UFC to serve as the encyclopedia entry for "typical UFC fighter," it’d probably be him. The problem is just that: He’'s decent everywhere. Decent striking, decent wrestling, decent Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He doesn’t have the striking to handle Larkin on the feet, doesn’t have the wrestling to take him down, and his jiu-jitsu means squat if he can’t dictate position.
Larkin really seems to have found a place at Middleweight. After struggling with the massive "King Mo" Muhammed Lawal and Nick Rossborough at 205 pounds, he seems much more capable of physically handling his opposition. That’s bad news for Camozzi, who will eat a veritable smorgasbord of strikes for the full 15 minutes while trying and failing to drag down "The Monsoon."
Prediction: Larkin via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Yves Edwards vs. Yancy Medeiros
The UFC return of "Thugjitsu Master" was off to a cracking start, picking up wins over John Gunderson and Cody McKenzie and earning both "Fight of the Night" and "Submission of the Night" in the latter effort. Unfortunately, Yves Edwards (42-20-1) is just 2-4 since, picking up solid knockouts of Rafaello Oliveria and Jeremy Stephens, while losing close decisions to the likes of Anthony Ferguson and Daron Cruickshank.
Edwards has almost 10 years more professional experience than his opponent.
After almost three years away from the sport and making his 155-pounds debut, Yancy Medeiros (9-1) suffered a gruesome injury in his first-ever UFC appearance, badly damaging his thumb defending takedowns from Rustam Khabilov. He had previously won twice in Strikeforce as a Middleweight, picking up his second decision and sixth knockout victory.
Six of his wins have come inside the first five minutes.
It’s hard to justify picking someone who just lost his debut and has fought all of once since 2010, but I favor Medeiros here. From what I have seen, he’s a very powerful puncher capable of putting down Middleweight talent, which bodes ill for the still-dangerous, but fading, Edwards.
Edwards struggled with the size and pressure of Isaac Vallie-Flagg, attributes that Medeiros can bring to the table. And considering the trouble Khabilov had trying to drag down Medeiros, a takedown from Edwards seems unlikely.
I anticipate a striking match between the two. And while Edwards is the more diverse striker, Medeiros’ superior firepower should win the day for him as he clips and pounds out the veteran in the first.
Prediction: Medeiros via first-round technical knockout
170 lbs.: Neil Magny vs. Seth Baczynski
Neil Magny (8-1) shut down the grappling of castmate Jon Manley with relative ease in his UFC debut, but had considerably more trouble with jiu-jitsu world champion Sergio Moraes, who took down, mounted and triangled his foe in little more than three minutes. On The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 16, he picked up three victories via dominant decision, winning all six rounds on all judges’ cards.
Half of Magny's victories have come inside the distance.
A six-fight win streak (four in UFC), had Seth Baczynski (18-10) knocking on the door of contendership, only for the grinding attack of Mike Pierce to send him right back into the Welterweight mix. Things went even more poorly against Brian Melancon, who beat up Baczynski for the majority of the first round before sleeping him with a massive left on the ground.
Baczynski has ended 17 fights before the final bell.
I’ve been high on Baczynski before, but I don’t like what I’ve seen in his last three appearances. He was having a hard time with the length of Simeon Thoresen before landing the knockout shot and was soundly thrashed by Melancon last time out. He’s dangerous from top position and in scrambles, two positions I don’t anticipate him achieving against Magny.
Magny has the size and takedown defense to make this a stand up affair, an area where Baczynski has looked relatively weak. Further, he might have the takedowns to put Baczynski on his back, where "The Polish Pistola" is active, but not terribly dangerous.
If the fight hits the ground with Baczynski on top, he will most likely finish Magny. I just don’t see that happening. On the contrary, Magny touches up Baczynski from the outside and spends just enough time in top position to please the judges without putting him at risk for a unanimous decision win.
Prediction: Magny via unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Derek Brunson vs. Brian Houston
It was about as ugly as a win can be, but Derek Brunson (10-2) came out on top in his UFC debut, outgrappling an incredibly slow Chris Leben over three agonizing rounds. The victory snapped a two-fight losing streak for Brunson that included a split decision against Kendall Grove and a brutal knockout against Ronaldo Souza.
This will be his first fight in almost 11 months because a match up against Ronny Markes was scrapped at the last minute due to the latter’s car accident.
Having won his last three bouts in a combined 3:13, Brian Houston (4-0) enters this fight as a late replacement for injured jiu-jitsu standout Antonio Braga Neto. Interestingly, he is a training partner of Anthony Smith, who fell to Braga Neto in both mens' UFC debuts.
This is just his second fight against an opponent with a win on his record.
I’ve watched some of Houston’s fights and can safely say that he’s looked damn good -- his strikes are powerful and technically-sound. The issue is that he looked powerful and technically-sound against massively inferior competition, where Brunson has at least faced and beaten some warm bodies. If what Houston showed in those squash matches is indicative of his actual skill against elite competition, a knockout win for him wouldn’t surprise me.
I just don’t see that happening.
When in doubt, bet on the wrestler and/or the veteran. Houston’s got the punching power to end the night early, but I don’t see him spending enough time standing to take advantage of that. Brunson grinds out an increasingly-fatigued Houston in a dull affair.
Prediction: Brunson via unanimous decision
We've got four more UFC Fight Night 31 "Prelims" fights to look at still; therefore, stop by tomorrow. Same time, same place.
See you then!
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 31: "Fight for Troops 3" fight card this Wednesday (Nov. 6, 2013) right here, starting with the Facebook "Prelims" at 3:30 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1-televised under card bouts at 5 p.m. ET and then main card action also on FOX Sports 1, which is slated to begin at 7 p.m. ET.