Four bad ass women, two titles on the line ... there will be blood!
This Saturday evening (Nov. 14, 2015), the women take center stage when Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) hits Melbourne, Australia, with UFC 193. In the pay-per-view (PPV) main event, the ultra-dominant Ronda Rousey faces former boxing legend Holly Holm, while Joanna Jedrzejczyk looks for her second title defense against the heavy-handed Valerie Letourneau.
In addition, Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva will attempt to recreate their legendary 2013 slugfest, while Uriah Hall tries to continue his unexpected rise at the expense of Robert Whittaker.
The eight "Prelims" undercard matches will be split evenly between Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1. Let's preview and predict the former:
185 lbs.: Steve Montgomery vs. Daniel Kelly
Steve Montgomery (8-3) joined his American Top Team teammates to defend their honor against the Blackzilians on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 21, only for a botched weight cut to remove him from the competition before he had a chance to fight. He nonetheless got the chance to join UFC proper, where he suffered a knockout loss to Tony Sims in his Octagon debut.
Despite moving up in weight, he will enjoy a four-inch height advantage over Daniel Kelly (9-1) on fight night.
Australia’s Kelly fell in the opening round of TUF: "Nations" to Sheldon Westcott, but rattled off consecutive wins over Luke Zachrich and Patrick Walsh in his first two UFC appearances. He faced his stiffest test to date last May in Sam Alvey, who knocked out the four-time Olympian with punches in 49 seconds.
He’s stopped seven foes, five via submission.
Kelly’s not very good. He’s just plain not very good. His striking’s awful and -- despite an Olympic pedigree -- his grappling really isn’t that impressive, either. While Montgomery’s questionable chin and striking defense will likely keep him out of the division’s upper tier for the foreseeable future, it’s hard to picture him losing here.
In short, he’s just flat-out better on the feet and Kelly doesn’t have the chin to stand up to his power. There’s a very mild chance that Kelly could get something going if he managed to tie up, but it’s far more likely that Montogmery keeps him at range and puts him down with a heavy right hand early on.
Prediction: Montgomery by first-round technical knockout
170 lbs.: Richard Walsh vs. Steve Kennedy
Richard Walsh (8-3) -- who represents Australia -- reached the semifinals of TUF: "Nations," where he fell by submission to Canada’s Olivier Aubin-Mercier. He is 1-2 in UFC, suffering a controversial decision loss to Kiichi Kunimoto and knockout defeat to Alan Jouban in his most recent efforts.
"Filthy Rich" has knocked out four men as a professional.
Steve Kennedy (22-7) entered UFC on a seven-fight win streak, replacing an injured Sergio Moraes against Peter Sobotta in Germany. He ultimately had little to offer the German, who handed Kennedy his fifth career submission loss midway through the first round.
Nine of his 17 stoppage wins are via submission.
Kennedy’s last fight with Sobotta and his history of substandard competition don’t give me high hopes for his future in the organization. Walsh, though technically limited, is a physical bulldozer with solid skills in every facet of the game. Kennedy’s unlikely to get on top and, as a result, is probably going to get whooped something awful.
There’s every possibility that Kennedy’s better than he looked in a short-notice fight with a capable veteran, but not much evidence for that theory. Walsh breaks him down and eventually puts him away with strikes in the second.
Prediction: Walsh via second-round technical knockout
155 lbs.: Anton Zafir vs. James Moontasri
Australia’s Anton Zafir (7-1) has been picking up experience on the local circuit, winning five straight fights with four finishes. He’s finished six overall, split evenly between knockouts and submissions.
He enters the fight as a late replacement for Brendan O’Reilly on little more than one week's notice.
James Moontasri (8-3) fell short in his UFC debut against Joe Ellenberger, dropping "Excalibur" in the opening round but basically giving the fight away because of inactivity. "Moonwalker" has since split bouts with Cody Pfister and Kevin Lee, the latter of whom handed Moontasri his first career submission loss via first-round rear-naked choke.
He’s stopped six opponents, three each by knockout and submission.
This may just be me trying to justify myself, but I’m still fairly high on Moontasri and believe that my picking him over Lee was a product of underestimating Lee (not overestimating Moontasri). "Moonwalker" is still a massive, powerful Lightweight with great timing and a wide arsenal of strikes.
In short, not the kind of guy you want to fight in your UFC debut on short notice.
Zafir will likely come out looking to wrestle, and unlike Lee, he doesn’t have the speed or striking ability to make that work. Moontasri catches him coming in with something nasty sometime in the first.
Final result: Moontasri via first-round technical knockout
125 lbs.: Ryan Benoit vs. Ben Nguyen
Though he earned "Fight of the Night" in the process, Ryan Benoit (8-3) came up short in his UFC debut against Josh Sampo, tapping to a rear-naked choke late in the second. His second appearance proved more successful, defying massive odds to knockout Sergio Pettis in March.
All eight of his wins are by stoppage inside two rounds, seven of them knockouts.
Ben Nguyen (14-6) gained viral fame when video emerged of him destroying the disrespectful Julian Rabaud in less than 30 seconds. He proved he was more than just .GIF material when he knocked out Alptekin Ozkilic in his Octagon debut this past May.
Eight of his 11 finishes have come by knockout.
I will be quite surprised if this isn’t a frontrunner for "Fight of the Night." Both of these men have nasty power and the confident, brick-slinging style that such power tends to engender. These two are going to slug it out until one of them drops.
More specifically, until Nguyen drops.
It’s not clear which of these two objectively hits harder, but Nguyen’s been stopped by strikes four time. I am far more confident in Benoit’s ability to take what Nguyen can dish out than vice-versa. Expect some wild exchanges before Benoit lands one flush and puts an end to "Ben 10’s" seven-fight win streak.
Prediction: Benoit via first-round technical knockout
Four more UFC 193 "Prelims" undercard matches remain to preview and predict, all of which feature talent from the "Land Down Under."
See you tomorrow, Maniacs!
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 193 fight card, starting with the "Prelims" matches online at 6:15 p.m. ET and then the FOX Sports 1-televised undercard bouts, which are scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET, right on through the PPV main card at 10 p.m. ET.