Well, technically it will be time on Saturday (Jan. 3, 2015), but it's close enough.
The two will fight in the main event of UFC 182 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, which will also play host to a Lightweight clash between elite finishers Donald Cerrone and Myles Jury. Plus, Brad Tavares and Nate Marquardt will try to scrape out a place for themselves in the crowded Middleweight division at each others' expense, while top Japanese prospect Kyoji Horiguchi takes on Louis Gaudinot at Flyweight.
And that's just the pay-per-view (PPV) main card.
We looked at the first three of six "Prelims" under card matches last night right here. Tonight, we preview and predict the balance below:
155 lbs.: Danny Castillo vs. Paul Felder
Danny Castillo (17-7) rebounded from a tough loss to Edson Barboza by absolutely leveling Charlie Brenneman with a perfect right hand, scoring his first stoppage win since knocking out Shamar Bailey in 2011. Much to his frustration, however, he came up short against Tony Ferguson in the following bout, losing a questionable split decision to the former The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 13 winner.
At age 35, "Last Call" is six years older than Paul Felder (9-0).
"The Irish Dragon" made his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut in October, edging Canadian grappler Jason Saggo via split decision in hostile territory. When Rustam Khabilov was forced out of this event because of visa issues, Felder stepped up to the plate, taking this bout on less than one month’s notice.
Felder, originally scheduled to face Johnny Case at UFC Fight Night 59 in two weeks, has knocked out six of his nine opponents.
Felder impressed me quite a bit against Saggo and I have a deep-seated dislike for Castillo, so it pains me to say this will likely be another boring win for "Last Call." Felder showed good takedown defense and scrambling ability in his first UFC fight, but couldn’t keep Saggo off of him consistently.
Against Castillo, who is perfectly willing to keep shooting all night, that’s a recipe for a loss ... especially on short notice.
Castillo’s getting up there in age and his prospects against anyone in the Top 10 rankings are slim. While Felder has the higher ceiling, Castillo’s relentlessness should sway the judges despite the heavy shots he’ll endure on the feet.
Prediction: Castillo via split decision
135 lbs.: Marcus Brimage vs. Cody Garbrandt
Following his knockout loss to Conor McGregor, Marcus Brimage (7-3) elected to drop from Featherweight to Bantamweight, losing a controversial decision to Russell Doane in his first fight at 135 pounds. Things went a bit better for him in November, where he scored his first win in two years by crushing Jumabieke Tuerxun with a gorgeous head kick counter.
As usual, the 5’4" Brimage will be at a height disadvantage, this time of three inches.
Fighting out of Team Alpha Male, Cody Garbrandt (5-0) has torn through the competition in his professional career, scoring five knockouts over the course of two years. He has already competed thrice in 2014, the longest of those fights lasting 5:32.
Garbrandt competed in amateur boxing as a teenager, racking up a 32-1 record.
Garbrandt has some real power, a solid wrestling pedigree, fights out of an excellent camp, and is only 23 years old. All signs point to him being a top-tier prospect.
Brimage is one hell of a spoiler, though.
Despite the knockout of Tuerxun, Brimage is not a powerful striker, but has solid hands and surprisingly-good takedown defense. Garbrandt’s penchant for close-range exchanges and clinchwork should also work to mitigate Brimage’s height and length disadvantage. This fight will basically come down to Garbrandt’s superior firepower against Brimage’s cleaner technique and experience.
I’m thinking the former. Garbrandt wears down Brimage for a stoppage late in the second round.
Prediction: Garbrandt via second-round technical knockout
After winning in three of his first four Octagon appearances -- all by knockout -- Shawn Jordan (16-6) found himself with his back against the wall after consecutive brutal stoppage losses to Gabriel Gonzaga and Matt Mitrione. Though he had to survive some rough moments to do so, Jordan got back into the win column by pounding out Josh Barnett protege Jack May in August.
He has only ever gone the distance once in victory, knocking out 12 opponents.
Jared Cannonier (7-0), fighting out of Gracie Barra Alaska, earned his biggest victory to date in January, defeating journeyman Tony Lopez via five-round split decision. Said fight was his first trip to the judges, as he had ended all but one prior fight inside of three minutes.
His finishes are split evenly between knockout and submission.
Ah, heavyweight fights, those great gambles of instant gratification versus prolonged pathetic spectacle. Luckily, we seem to have two kindred spirits whose reckless pursuit of violence should end things before it devolves into a slopfest.
Both men are squat, powerful Heavyweight fighters with a penchant for swinging heavy leather. Jordan’s chinny enough to make any fight involving him a toss up, but he has significantly more experience at the highest level of MMA and fights out of a much better camp.
I say he puts down Cannonier sometime in the second round after a fun battle.
Prediction: Jordan via second-round technical knockout
This had better not suck.
See you Saturday, Maniacs!
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 182 fight card below, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, and then the remaining under card balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET before the PPV start time at 10 p.m. ET.