The mixed martial arts (MMA) trash talk stops now!
This Saturday night (Aug. 17, 2013) at TD Bank Garden in Boston, Mass., the most outspoken man in the sport today, Chael Sonnen, will have to put his (or someone else's) money where his mouth is when he takes on one of the most destructive men MMA has ever seen, Mauricio Rua, in the UFC Fight Night 26 main event.
The talented Light Heavyweight pair will headline the first-ever Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) appearance on the FOX Sports 1 network.
Joining "Shogun and Sonnen on the televised main card are Heavyweight bruisers Travis Browne and Alistair Overeem, as well as Bantamweight standouts Urijah Faber and Yuri Alcantara.
We looked at the three UFC Fight Night 26 "Prelims" set to be broadcast on the UFC's Facebook page yesterday evening right here. Tonight, we've got the top four "Prelims" on Fox Sports 1 previews and predicted below.
Let's get cracking:
135 lbs.: Brad Pickett vs. Michael McDonald
Despite one judge’s call and his own ranting after the fight, Brad Pickett (23-7) had zero answer for the length and power of Eddie Wineland, getting dropped four times in the first round and picked apart for the remainder. Against Mike Easton, he had slightly more success, outstriking and outwrestling his American foe for a split decision win of his own.
"One Punch" will give up two inches of height to Michael McDonald (15-2), who is more than one decade younger.
He put up a valiant effort, but interim champion Renan Barao proved too much, too soon for McDonald, locking in a tight arm-triangle late in the fourth round of their UFC on FUEL TV 7 clash in Feb. 2013. McDonald had not lost since a technical knockout defeat to Cole Escovedo in 2009, which he later avenged, scoring consecutive first-round knockouts beforehand.
"Mayday’s" trips to the judges in victories over Edwin Figueroa and Chris Cariaso are the only ones of his career, with nine victories coming by knockout.
I absolutely love watching Pickett operate; he’s incredibly durable, incredibly fearless, and can mix his striking and wrestling brilliantly. Plus, he’s a proven finisher on his feet or on the mat.
But, he has no jab.
Pickett uses a Tyson-esque peekaboo style to close the distance before exploding with hooks, but his head movement is not up to snuff. He regularly gets cracked on the way in; Jabouin was chewing him up with counters and he simply could not get inside on Wineland.
Not good against someone with a truly beastly uppercut.
McDonald should have the takedown and scrambling ability to make this a standup affair, one his length and power should win for him. This is an early candidate for fight of the Night, and while Pickett will be in his face for all fifteen, he’s going to have to wade through too much artillery to take home the win.
Prediction: McDonald by unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Conor McGregor vs. Max Holloway
The man they call "Notorious," Conor McGregor (13-2), entered the world’s largest fight promotion with quite a bit of hype stemming from his eight-fight finish streak that included seven knockouts. He did not disappoint in his debut, dropping Marcus Brimage with a rarely-seen bolo punch and pounding him out just 67 seconds in.
McGregor has never gone past two rounds, finishing 10 inside the first round.
A sizeable underdog against The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 14 runner-up Dennis Bermudez, Max Holloway (7-2) nonetheless outperformed his opponent in the minds of many, landing a dizzying variety of strikes and stuffing the majority of the powerful wrestler’s takedowns. Sadly, he only managed to convince one of three judges, losing a controversial split decision.
As in most of his Featherweight bouts, the 5’11" Holloway will have a height advantage, this time three inches.
I’ve been flip-flopping on this one repeatedly -- McGregor is the crisper boxer and leagues better in the power department, while Holloway is longer and has a more developed kicking game.
What this will come down to is range; if they trade at mid-range or shorter, Conor will knock his block off. His left hand might be the single most devastating strike in the division and his head movement is incredibly slick.
I believe, however, that Holloway can keep this at long range; he is a very difficult man to counter, and while he lacks stopping power in his hands, he can keep people away effectively with his footwork.
This is another fight with great potential, and as long as Holloway is extraordinarily careful not to overcommit, I can see him edging out a barnburner.
Prediction: Holloway by split decision
145 lbs.: Mike Brown vs. Steven Siler
Former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) 145-pound champion, Mike Brown (26-8), originally called it quits in May 2012 after scoring a well-earned decision win over Daniel Pineda. Apparently unsatisfied with his new position as assistant coach at American Top Team, though, the 12-year veteran of the sport has decided to give it another go.
The 37-year-old will give up five inches of height and more than 10 years of youth to Steven Siler (22-10).
Stepping in on around six weeks’ notice for castmate Akira Corassani, TUF 14's Steven Siler bounced back from his first UFC defeat with an impressive showing against Kurt Holobaugh, picking up a unanimous decision win at UFC 159. He had previously achieved victory in three of his four UFC appearances, including a decision over Cole Miller.
Siler originally started his career 5-7, losing just three times since 2007.
Here’s another fight I’ve got zero confidence in. Brown has been out of the game for a year and he’s got a lot wear on him, and I’m not convinced the power is still there.
But dammit, I can’t bring myself to pick against him.
Siler is solid wherever the fight goes, but lost his fight with Darren Elkins badly. if there is a hole in his game, it’s his takedown defense. If Brown is anywhere near the fighter he used to be, he’s perfectly-equipped to exploit that. Brown is certainly competent enough on the mat to steer clear of submissions, making his takedowns a clear path to victory.
As long as Brown’s cardio holds up and he can consistently threaten with takedowns, he should take this cleanly, if not that entertainingly. Gotta respect your elders.
Prediction: Brown by unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Diego Brandao vs. Daniel Pineda
While he won TUF 14 in berserker fashion, Diego Brandao (17-8) has showcased tighter technique and greater patience since gassing out against Darren Elkins at UFC 146, outclassing Joey Gambino in Brazil before choking out Pablo Garza in Sweden.
"Ceara" has now won six of his last seven, not including his three hellacious knockout wins on the show. Fourteen of his wins have come inside the distance, nine of them knockouts, including one over UFC Welterweight veteran Brian Foster.
Getting knocked out can wreak havoc on an aggressive fighter’s mentality, but Daniel Pineda (18-9) is made of sterner stuff than most, immediately taking down and submitting feared striker Justin Lawrence for his twelfth career submission win at TUF 17 Finale. The victory also marked his seventeenth finish inside the second round, his eighteenth overall.
In his 27-fight career, Pineda has competed in Elite XC, Bellator, and Legacy Fighting Championship, among other promotions.
I’ll just come out and say it: I believe Brandao has the talent to be a constant figure in the Top 10. He packs gargantuan power, his wrestling is quite sound and he’s got an A+ submission game to boot. The three things holding him back are cardio, gameplan and durability.
He seems like he’s fixed the first two, but Pineda will test the third.
Pineda unquestionably has the thump to put Brandao down and the killer instinct to instantly pour it on for a finish. If Brandao gets too involved in a brawl, I can definitely see him asking the ring doctor why he can't feel anything.
In the end, though, I feel Brandao hits too hard and wrestles too well for Pineda. We should get some entertaining exchanges, but Brandao’s ability to dictate the fight's location will carry the day en route to a second-round submission win.
Prediction: Brandao by second-round submission
Grudge match, Heavyweight slugfest and lots of chances for someone to go to sleep. For a free card, this is about as good as it gets.
See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 26 card this weekend, starting with the Facebook "Prelims," which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1-televised under card bouts at 6 p.m. ET and then the main card action, which is slated to begin at 8 p.m. ET.