"You might make it, boy, but by the skin of your teeth."
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight champion, Chris Weidman, felled the greatest 185-pound mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter of all time, Anderson Silva, twice. This weekend (Sat., July 5, 2014), "All American" has to prove he can handle the rest of the contenders, taking on former Light Heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida, in UFC 175's main event from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The women's bantamweight strap will also be on the line Saturday evening when Ronda Rousey defends her belt against long-time veteran and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Alexis Davis, in the co-main event. In other pay-per-view (PPV) main card action, Heavyweight Stefan Struve will make his return against the heavy-punching Matt Mitrione in a fight unlikely to go the distance.
All that and much, much more.
We examined the first three of six under card "Prelims" bouts yesterday right here. Today, to finish the job with previews and predictions of the top three bouts that will air on FOX Sports 1 before the PPV.
Here we go:
135 lbs.: Urijah Faber vs. Alex Caceres
As always, Urijah Faber (30-7) bounced back well from his failed title bid against Renan Barao in 2012, rattling off four straight wins over solid competition including three submissions. His second crack at Barao could have gone better, though, as the Brazilian battered him for a first-round stoppage.
Faber has not lost a non-title bout since a 2005 defeat to Tyson Griffin.
Once written off as a novelty, Alex Caceres (10-5) has been on fire since dropping to 135 pounds, going 5-1 (1 NC) with the only blemishes a controversial loss to Edwin Figueroa and a win over Kyung Ho Kang overturned because of marijuana. He picked up the biggest win of his UFC career in Jan. 2014, choking out Sergio Pettis in the waning seconds of their bout.
"Bruce Leroy" has ended seven fights inside the distance, five via submission.
Caceres consistently surprises and impresses me, but I will be absolutely dumbfounded if he wins here. His greatest strength is his phenomenal scrambling ability and he’s shown improving wrestling and occasional flashes of brilliance in his striking.
Unfortunately, pretty much nobody in the division can scramble like Faber nor is anyone as adept at hitting chokes in transition. He’s just too good a grappler for Caceres to handle on the mat and should be more than capable of dictating position.
Faber’s biggest weakness is his one-note offense on the feet, but he has the speed and timing to beat Caceres there, too. Expect Faber to lock up one of his killer chokes after a sequence of entertaining scrambles.
Prediction: Faber via first-round submission
Following a narrow loss to Sean Pierson that saw him nearly finish the Canadian in the third round at UFC 161, Kenny Robertson (13-1) faced The Ultimate Fighter: "Brazil 1" semifinalist Thiago Perpetuo in March. Despite Perpetuo being a former Light Heavyweight, Robertson scored a rear-naked choke inside two minutes, his ninth career submission.
He will give up three inches of height to the towering Ildemar Alcantara (20-6).
After opening his UFC career with two straight wins, Alcantara suffered his first defeat since UFC Fight Night 29 in 2011 at the hands of Igor Araujo, snapping a nine-fight win streak. He managed to rebound impressively in Feb. 2014, surviving an early beating at UFC Fight Night 36 to defeat Russian prospect Albert Tumenov.
Sixteen of his wins have come inside the distance.
Alcantara is a tough guy to predict -- He’s slow, awkward, and in my opinion, better suited for 185 pounds; however, he keeps finding ways to win. He did, however, struggle with Araujo despite his size advantage and Robertson, while inconsistent, is a very legit grappler.
Neither seems comfortable enough on the feet to try to keep it there for all 15 minutes, so this will likely come down to a wrestling battle. Robertson seems to be slightly superior in that department, so I say he just edges a relatively uneventful grappling battle.
Prediction: Robertson via split decision
185 lbs.: Chris Camozzi vs. Bruno Santos
Chris Camozzi (19-7) quietly carved a place for himself in the Middleweight division after his loss to Francis Carmont, winning four straight fights with a defeat of TUF 11 castmate Nick Ring serving as a capstone. Since then, however, he has lost two straight, dropping a late-notice bout to "Jacare" Ronaldo Souza and losing a bloody slugfest with Lorenz Larkin.
He is six inches taller than "Carioca."
Bruno Santos (13-1) scored the highest-profile win of his career in March 2012, defeating Giva "The Arm Collector" Santana in his first Bellator appearance. Injury kept him on the shelf until his UFC debut in Dec. 2013, where he dropped a decision to fellow debutant Krzysztof Jotko.
He has not finished an opponent since his third pro fight.
Santos is boring as hell, but he is very effective at what he does. Though he lost to Jotko, it was both his UFC debut and his first fight in a 1.5 years. He’s got an excellent single-leg and very good top control.
Unfortunately, his offense is so one-note that the fight pretty much exclusively comes down to his single-leg versus Camozzi’s takedown defense. Camozzi is the superior striker by a fair margin, so all he has to do is stay on his feet. That said, I believe Carioca’s aggressive pursuit of the takedown pays enough dividends to earn the nod on the judges’ scorecards.
Prediction: Santos via unanimous decision
Two world title fights and some potential slobberknockers all the way down the card -- what better way to get over your post-Fourth hangover?
See you at the fights, Maniacs.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 175 fight card on fight night (Sat., July 5, 2014), starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1-televised under card bouts at 8 p.m. ET and then main card PPV, which is slated to begin at 10 p.m. ET.
Current UFC "Prelims" Prediction Record 2014: 92-44 (1 NC)