A UFC fight card that doesn't cost me a dime and leaves me with my Saturday night intact?
The world's largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion is back on FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Sat., April 4, 2015) for a special daytime combat sports extravaganza, UFC Fight Night 63, featuring a six-fight main card and a headlining showdown with serious title implications.
"Mendes vs. Lamas" gets underway at 1 p.m. ET (with "Prelims" action at 11 a.m. ET) from inside the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Virginia.
That's where Chad Mendes will try to cement himself as the top contender in the 145-pound division (again) opposite fellow WEC-import Ricardo Lamas, while "Raging" Al Iaquinta looks to prove he's more than just an iron-jawed slugger against the battle-tested Jorge Masvidal.
All that and so much more.
145 lbs.: Chad "Money" Mendes (16-2) vs. Ricardo "The Bully" Lamas (15-3)
Nostradumbass predicts: Outside of Jose Aldo, who is 3-0 against Chad Mendes and Ricardo Lamas, you can argue that we're looking at two of the best featherweights in the game today, something you can't yet say about Conor McGregor, because fortunately for him, he's been able to evade them both.
Now they must fight to see who gets back into the title picture.
For my "Money," it's difficult to pick against Mendes. In addition to his lopsided advantage in offensive wrestling, I think speed is a real factor here, which may negate the considerable skills Lamas has in the stand up. It also hurts "The Bully" on the ground, because Mendes has never been taken down, so it's not like he'll be working from guard.
That means the "Alpha" male can dictate where this fight goes.
He may be content to just bang it out on the feet, something he can do against anyone judging by his performance against "Junior" at UFC 179. If that's the case, expect Lamas to rat-tat-tat those leg kicks, making this a competitive contest from start to finish.
That said, I just can't shake the memory of that knockout loss to Danny Castillo back in 2009.
Final prediction: Mendes def. Lamas via technical knockout
155 lbs.: "Raging" Al Iaquinta (11-3-1) vs. Jorge "Gamebred" Masvidal (28-8)
Nostradumbass predicts: Al Iaquinta started as a wrestle-puncher but is now regarded as a complete striker, which is a credit to Ray Longo and Co., who did likewise with Chris Weidman. "All American" just so happens to be one of the best fighters on the planet.
Can Iaquinta follow suit?
This fight may go a long way in answering that question. While "Raging" Al is now the toast of the 155-pound town, Jorge Masvidal has been doing it longer -- and better -- than the new kid on the block. I believe "Gamebred" is more technically sound and that includes defense, so I don't expect him to just roll over.
That said, he has looked a bit wobbly in recent fights.
Further complicating matters is the fact that Masvidal was hoping to fight Ben Henderson and probably thinks Iaquinta is a huge step down. The fact that he struggled to make weight and seemed so blase about it worries me and let's be honest, he's been in the game for over a decade.
If "Gamebred" was going to do something spectacular, he would have done it by now.
I think Iaquinta is on his way up and getting better with each fight. If he can stay focused when he finds himself in a scramble and not silver-platter any submissions, I believe he hands Masvidal just the second knockout loss of his career.
Final prediction: Iaquinta def. Masvidal via technical knockout
155 lbs.: Michael "Maverick" Chiesa (11-2) vs. Mitch "Danger Zone" Clarke (11-2)
Nostradumbass predicts: This has to be a joke, right? A fighter nicknamed "Maverick" is facing a fighter nicknamed "Danger Zone?" I guess that makes Dana White "Jester." Get your butts above the hard deck and return to the Prelims immediately.
What's interesting about this fight is that Mitch Clarke suddenly appeared on everyone's radar with a brabo choke over rising slugger Al Iaquinta -- which is the exact same submission that Jorge Masvidal used to strangle Mike Chiesa back in 2013.
Chiesa is better than his "Gamebred" loss would suggest and conversely, Clarke is probably not as good as that "Raging" win made him out to be. In fact, these two fighters are similar in that they have mediocre striking, good wrestling, and above-average submissions.
But when you compare their transparencies on the overhead projector, "Maverick" looks to have a more developed skill set in every area, along with a more established pattern of success inside the Octagon. I'm not sure he gets the finish, but he should do enough for a sweep on the judges' scorecards.
Final prediction: Chiesa def. Clarke via unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Milana Dudieva (11-3) vs. Julianna "Venezuelan Vixen" Pena (5-2)
Nostradumbass predicts: Juilanna Pena reminds me of a younger Clay Guida. I mean the one who was beating up guys like Rafael dos Anjos and Anthony Pettis, not the fading, chinny shadow who has surfaced in recent fights.
While she won't dazzle you with technique, the "Venezuelan Vixen" is like a bantamweight tornado who can very easily overwhelm an opponent with that Me Grimlock! style of offense. Is it enough to repel the streaking Milana Dudieva, who notched nine finishes in 11 wins?
That all depends on the knee.
Pena was sidelined for well over a year during kneehab and that raises questions about her explosiveness. In addition, that sort of inactivity can be death for a pressure fighter, as the cardio demons could be resurrected by round two if the fight lasts that long.
Dudieva is a better striker and Pena's defense has more holes in it than tap or snap bons' liver. But a couple of knocks on the noggin won't be enough to drop the former TUF winner and once this thing gets to the floor -- and it will -- it's academic.
Final prediction: Pena def. Dudieva via technical knockout
145 lbs.: Clay "The Carpenter" Guida (31-15) vs. Robbie "Problems" Peralta (18-5)
Nostradumbass predicts: People still tease me about Mike Swick, but most of them don't know that Clay Guida was my first UFC man crush, long before erecting a sack-shack on the "Quick" rack. Some of the things that stood out in 2007 are still there, including his ability to overwhelm tough opponents with an exhausting pace and relentless takedowns.
Robbie Peralta will not be the exception.
That's assuming Guida has gone back to his roots after Greg Jackson and Co. nearly ruined his career. "The Carpenter" is a serviceable striker but let's face it, he wins fights with wrestling and submissions, not stand-up and footwork. And what better place to resurrect those skills than Team Alpha Male?
This is still a dangerous fight.
Peralta has good (but not great) takedown defense. There's no question he's going to the floor, but considering how hard he punches, it's not unrealistic to think "Problems" puts Guida on queer street with a well-timed bomb. That's always been an issue for "The Carpenter," who was popped and dropped by Kenny Florian as far back as 2009.
But I can't pick a fight on the off-chance Peralta can find the button.
I expect Guida to ... well, Guida. If and when he does, all his opponent can do is try to survive. That might be feasible in the opening frame, but after carrying that lightweight gorilla on his back for three rounds, he's going to run out of defensive gas.
Final prediction: Guida def. Peralta via submission
155 lbs.: Diego Ferreira (11-1) vs. Dustin "Diamond" Poirier (16-4)
Nostradumbass predicts: Dustin Poirier is back in the lightweight division after getting lanced by Conor McGregor last fall and truthfully, that's probably the only place he could go after a loss like that. While I will always back a fighter who opts to surrender a brutal weight cut, I'm not sure the drop to 145 was his issue, where he was an impressive 8-3.
We're talking about a guy who was on rubber legs against Jonathan Brookins.
What he lacks in durability he makes up for -- and then some -- in excitement. He's also a talented grappler with a fearless approach, something that came back to haunt him against Chan Sung Jung. That's important to note for this fight, because it could determine whether or not he wins or loses.
I don't think Poirier is in any danger of getting KTFO against Diego Ferreira, who scored a surprising finish over Ramsey Nijem at UFC 177. Probably because that's the one and only knockout the Brazilian has in 12 professional fights and the ground game appears to be his bread and butter.
Not that it's a forgone conclusion.
Ferreira also has five decisions to his name, which means "Diamond" should be fighting to win, as opposed to fighting to finish. If he does, and stays out of dangerous scrambles on the ground, I believe he cruises to the cards on the strength of a commanding stand-up attack.
Final prediction: Poirier def. Ferreira via unanimous decision
That's a wrap.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 63 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the FOX Sports 1 "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1-televised main card, slated to begin at 1 p.m. ET.
For previews and predictions of the preliminary card fights click here. To see all the odds and betting lines for UFC Fight Night 63 click here and remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Mendes vs. Lamas."
What do you think? Now it's your turn ... let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for tomorrow's event.