Tonight (Sat. Dec. 6, 2014), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will deliver its 300th event when UFC 181 goes down live from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. It's been quite a ride, and UFC is staging a fight card stacked with amazing fights to commemorate the mixed martial arts (MMA) milestone, including two title matches and a very exciting "Prelims" under card.
In the main event of the evening, Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler will face off in a rematch of their incredible fight from earlier this year. Hendricks hasn't had a fight since, while Lawler has reeled off impressive wins against Jake Ellenberger and Matt Brown to earn his way back to another title shot.
In tonight's co-main event, Anthony Pettis will make his first title defense after taking the Lightweight title from Benson Henderson in 2013, colliding with Gilbert Melendez in what should be a very interesting clash of styles between two very skilled fighters. The PPV under- and main-cards will also showcase name fighters such as Travis Browne and Urijah Faber, among several other very skilled fighters.
Let's take a look at the entire card and the select few fighters who may earn bonuses for their performances at this event:
Robbie Lawler (Fighting Johny Hendricks): I know that Hendricks was hurt in the last outing between these two, but to me, it seemed that Lawler was off, too. Though they both put on a great fight, but Lawler wasn't moving like he usually does, instead opting to fight almost entirely in the pocket and keeping the fight much closer than necessary. It was a very odd gameplan. This time around, expect Lawler to implement better footwork and more movement. I think he will do that, and even though Hendricks has a very sturdy chin, Lawler may very well put it to the test tonight.
Anthony Pettis (Fighting Gilbert Melendez): Even though Pettis has been on the shelf for quite a while, I really liked what I saw from him in the Henderson fight. So much so that I don't think that his time out of action will affect him too much. Melendez is a top fighter, but Pettis is just a level above at this point in their careers. And I think he's going to be able to enforce his own style, keeping this fight standing and at range. I think this will be a very fun and competitive fight, but one where Pettis shows that he's just a level above other lightweights today.
Travis Browne (Fighting Brendan Schaub): I guess we can count UFC matchmaker Joe Silva as one of the many people who don't seem to like Schaub very much. Schaub isn't particularly good and has a chin that probably wouldn't even be good for a Lightweight. Browne has his odd moments, but he is usually a very skilled striker, and I think he's more than capable of flooring Schaub in short order and winning this fight impressively. And with a quickness.
Tony Ferguson (Fighting Abel Trujillo): Trujillo is a vicious fighter; however, I believe Ferguson has the tools to neutralize his offense and implement his own. Ferguson has a very lanky build for 155 pounds, and so long as he can keep Trujillo from getting inside, he can win this fight at distance. To add, if this fight goes to the ground, Ferguson has a clear edge in the grappling department, so I think this will be a very impressive performance for The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) veteran.
Urijah Faber (Fighting Francisco Rivera): I think we all know that Faber is a high-to elite-level fighter, while Rivera is not. Faber thrives in transition, and I see him winning this fight wherever it takes place en route to a probable submission win for "California Kid."
Clay Collard (Fighting Alex White): Both of these guys are decent prospects and both have notable talents. However, neither man is without their faults, and White's -- his tendency to keep his head upright when retreating -- is one on which I expect Collard to capitalize. It cost him when Lucas Martins lit him up in the third round of their fight, and I think that with Collard's aggression and power, it will cost him again tonight.
And there you have it.
Tonight's card is one UFC has placed interesting fights on throughout and it should provide some great displays of skill ... even on the "Prelims" under card. In other words, UFC 181 is definitely a night of fights you don't want to miss.