Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is ready to blow the roof off Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, tonight (Sat. Oct. 3, 2015) with a jam-packed UFC 192 pay-per-view (PPV) event that features a Light Heavyweight title fight in the main event.
Current 205-pound titleholder Daniel Cormier, who won the strap after defeating Anthony Johnson at UFC 187 last May, will make his first defense against Swedish wrecking ball Alexander Gustafsson, who is coming off of a loss to "Rumble" in January.
A Welterweight match up with title implications takes co-main event honors as Johny Hendricks looks to solidify his standing as the No. 2-ranked fighter in the division when he tangles with former Strikeforce 170-pound title challenger Tyron Woodley.
Elsewhere on the evening's card are tilts featuring top-tier Light Heavyweight standouts, as well as rising women's Bantamweight contenders.
All 26 fighters on the card can swing for the fences and score a few submissions, so you Maniacs know this is going to be a treat. However, they're only four performance bonuses given out at the end of the night.
Below are my thoughts on which bouts are likely to produce contenders for the $50,000 performance bonus checks.
Alan Jouban vs. Albert Tumenov
Tale of the tape: 18 technical (knockout), six submission -- career victories between both fighters
Jouban might put himself in danger sometimes, but he sure can throw a punch, just like his opponent Tumenov.
These two men are immensely talented prospects in the 170-pound division and have shown it through their wicked power.
Jouban, in particular, is an above average counter striker. The 32-year-old is very patient and doesn't throw combinations until he has seen what the opposition has to offer him.
Although "Brahma" possesses a background in Muay Thai, he doesn't throw all that many kicks. His striking defense is also suspect and he has been tagged by the likes of Warlley Alves and Seth Baczynski in the past.
What he is, though, is accurate.
He can land a picture-perfect hook or uppercut right on the chin. That's something Tumenov will have to be wary of.
The Russian also boasts a background in striking, having achieved the Master of Sports level in boxing in his home country. He also studied Karate as a child.
Tumenov debuted in UFC after knocking out five straight men in the first round. The 23-year-old lost a split decision to Illdemar Alcantara in Feb. 2014, but has since won three consecutive. One of his highlight-reel finishes came at the expense of Matt Dwyer, who was on the receiving end of two left high kicks in an Oct. 2014 meeting.
Tumenov is also skilled on the mat and can explode out of a bad predicament or work his ground and pound in side control.
This fight should remain standing as both men are notorious for being a little reckless every now and again. I would give a slight edge to Tumenov because I believe he's more well-rounded, but it could go either way.
Prediction: Tumenov via first-round TKO (Knockout of the Night)
Yair Rodriguez vs. Dan Hooker
Tale of the tape: Seven technical (knockout), six submission
Two electric Featherweight prospects will go head-to-head when striking standouts Rodriguez and Hooker collide.
Let it be known: There will be a lot of kicks thrown in this fight. Rodriguez, a former winner of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Latin America" and Taekwondo black belt, is well-versed in all areas of mixed martial arts (MMA).
Over the course of his first two UFC fights, "Pantera" has been quite impressive. Despite winning by decision, Rodriguez was able to pour on strikes and overwhelm his opponents, while also showing flashes of his unique wrestling and jiu-jitsu game.
The 22-year-old never wastes any time whether it's pursuing a submission from the bottom or top or launching a plethora of kicks. Rodriguez has a very unpredictable style because of that.
Although his base is his striking, Rodriguez possesses a very good shot and was able to take down Leonardo Morales multiple times at TUF Finale.
Hooker is also fluent in striking and boasts a very good head kick. "Hangman" throws a bevvy of straight punches and is much more controlled than the loose cannon Rodriguez.
The thing that worries me about Hooker is his inability to defend the takedown and his striking defense. Hatsu Hioki was able to land some solid body shots on the New Zealander and he took him down rather easily last May.
With that being said, he still was able to defend enough to where he got back to his feet, without taking much damage. He also battled through a heel hook attempt in his first UFC bout against Ian Entwistle in June 2014 to elbow the the latter's face in for the technical knockout stoppage in round one.
Hooker is crafty in his defense, but Rodriguez has far too many tools to beat him. I'm going with the Mexican.
Prediction: Rodriguez via second-round technical knockout
Shawn Jordan vs. Ruslan Magomedov
Tale of the tape: 18 technical (knockout), five submission
Anytime you pair two brooding Heavyweight hitters together, there's a chance that one of them will collapse. Such is the case with Jordan and Magomedov.
Jordan, a Texas native, has been on a tear of late, following a see-saw start to his UFC career. The American Top Team (ATT)-trained representative has retired three straight men early with startling power.
With two finishes in 2015, "The Savage" will be amped to perform before a hometown crowd. What makes Jordan so special and entertaining is his unpredictability.
Despite his 6'0," 260-pound frame, Jordan is light on his feet and can throw a multitude of strikes, including a hook kick, which took out Derrick Lewis last June at UFC Fight Night 68.
When he's lost, it's been because of carelessness. Against Matt Mitrione, Jordan allowed himself to be cornered against the fence instead of circling out after some clear separation.
Against Gabriel Gonzaga, he simply was overzealous in his pursuit of the knockout.
Magomedov might not sport the exact number of knockouts on his resume as Jordan does, but the Dagestani fighter packs a similar skill-set in terms of striking. The 28-year-old is very precise and methodical on his feet.
He won't pursue a knockout in the same way Jordan might, but if an opponent overextends themselves throwing a punch, Magomedov will quickly answer. Whether it's a leg, side, front or high kick, Magomedov can unleash a combination in a hurry filled with complementary straight rights and lefts.
His striking defense, as well as his 6'3" frame, will only help him further his efforts to dispatch Jordan.
The 30-year-old has had trouble with taller fighters such as Mitrione, Gonzaga and Cheick Kongo in the past. Sure, anything can happen, but this is Magomedov's fight to lose.
I just don't see it ending in a knockout because Jordan will have difficulty finding his way into the pocket and Magomedov is not one to overextend himself.
Prediction: Magomedov via unanimous decision
Daniel Cormier vs. Alexander Gustafsson
Tale of the tape: 16 T(KO), eight submission
I'm just going to come right out and say it: I'm a lot more excited for this fight than I think most people are.
Both men are skilled strikers and grapplers with solid gas tanks, which should make for a thrilling, back-and-forth main event.
Cormier, first off, is superb on the feet or in the grappling department. He's not the fastest, but when he hits you, you will feel it. "DC's" striking is rather basic as he mainly uses it to work his way into the clinch. The American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) star utilizes many hooks and uppercuts, but also holds great power in his hands.
We just don't see it as often as his wrestling.
Cormier's roots are in wrestling as he competed for the United States in freestyle wrestling for five years. If you need any evidence of his supreme prowess on the mat, just watch the below video of him mercifully rag-dolling former Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler Dan Henderson.
Gustafsson, on the other hand, can't lay claim to those same wrestling credentials, but he does hold some underrated grappling. The Swede is not afraid to mix it up and shoot for a takedown.
What helps him in his quest to do that is his technical striking, which more often than not starts off with a leg kick, jab or uppercut. Gustafsson's long limbs not only make him dangerous in the clinch, but they also provide a great base for defending takedowns.
When on the mat, "The Mauler" is savvy in his efforts to obtain a submission or advance position. He is also very good at springing back up to his feet after being taken down.
Cormier only has one loss to his name, which was to embattled UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones at UFC 182 back in January. He's shown that he can overcome reach in that fight and that he can take a punch versus "Rumble," but I suspect he will have plenty of resistance on the part of Gustafsson.
The 28-year-old is going to want to make good on his second shot at the light heavyweight title and is undoubtedly a stronger, more intelligent fighter because of his losses to Jones and Johnson. Will it be enough to halt Cormier's reign?
Honestly, the way I see the fight going is Gustafsson putting Cormier in danger early with some heavy offense, with the latter eventually settling down and taking over via his wrestling.
Prediction: Cormier via unanimous decision (Fight of the Night)
That wraps up the bonus predictions for UFC 192. There are several good fights to call, but these were the four I believe will be worthy of post-fight bonuses.
If you agree or disagree, please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading and enjoy the fights!
For more on the UFC 192: "Cormier vs. Gustafsson" fight card click here.