Well, it's not exactly reveille, but UFC Fight Night 66 should be enough to get you out of bed on a Saturday morning.
The Frankie Edgar vs. Urijah Faber-led mixed martial arts (MMA) fight card -- admittedly top heavy -- takes place tomorrow (May 16, 2015) in the earlier part of the day from inside the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay, Philippines, a long-sought destination for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
The event airs live on UFC Fight Pass (7 a.m. ET) and FOX Sports 1 (8 a.m. ET).
Leading the charge is the aforementioned "super fight" between Edgar and Faber, two former champions on two-very different career trajectories. A win for "The Answer" gives him a crack at the winner of Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor, while victory for "The California Kid" sends him back down to bantamweight with renewed vigor.
Should be a fun five rounds -- if it lasts that long.
In the middleweight co-main event, Gegard Mousasi will try to avoid his addition to the not-so-illustrious list of talented fighters who failed to evolve and as a result, never made it to the promised land. That's going to have to come at the expense of the hot-and-cold Costas Philippou.
All that, and so much
If you missed our preview and predictions for the UFC Fight Night 66 preliminary bouts -- to which there are aplenty -- see what the incomparable Patty Stumberg had to say about the UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 offerings here and here. He also did a fine job of crunching the numbers in his breakdown of the "Edgar vs. Faber" odds and betting lines here.
Now, on with the show.
145 lbs.: Frankie "The Answer" Edgar (18-4-1) vs. Urijah "The California Kid" Faber (32-7)
Nostradumbass predicts: Frankie Edgar is one of the best featherweight fighters in the world, winning three straight fights after taking Jose Aldo to the scorecards in "The Answer's" 145-pound debut. Can we say the same thing about Urijah Faber?
If "The California Kid" was a top-five featherweight, then what's with the drop to bantamweight?
The easy answer, of course, is to pursue championship opportunities that eluded him at the higher weight class, but he stumbled south, as well. That does not take away from the fact that he did for the lighter weight classes what Ronda Rousey did for the women's division.
He made them matter long before UFC even bothered to have anything below 155 pounds.
Both Edgar and Faber have seen gold and experienced their share of ups and downs, but "The Answer" has never looked better than when he completely dismantled Cub Swanson last November. Conversely, I thought the shadow of Father Time was looming over "The California Kid," now 36, his last time out.
Prior to the inadvertent eye gouge, Faber did not look particularly impressive against Francisco Rivera.
I don't want to draw too many conclusions based on just one fight, but the former WEC kingpin excels in most contests simply because he's faster than his opponent and usually the better wrestler. That's not the case here, as Edgar is equal -- or superior -- to the Alpha Male in both departments.
And judging by the numbers, much busier.
That's going to be the narrative of this fight -- just as soon as both fighters are done bouncing up and down for the first two rounds trying to stick-and-move their way into the driver's seat. Faber will match the skills of Edgar, but not the frequency, and will eventually be reminded of why he abandoned this weight class in the first place.
Final prediction: Edgar def. Faber via unanimous decision
185 lbs.: Gegard "The Dreamcatcher" Mousasi (36-5-2) vs. Constantinos "Costas" Philippou (13-4, 1 NC)
Nostradumbass predicts: Gegard Mousasi is a better MMA striker than Constantinos Philippou, has a more diverse and effective submission game, has fought tougher opponents, and is more than five years younger than his middleweight foe.
I'm tempted to just rubber stamp this prediction and leave it at that.
You can argue how "The Dreamcatcher" and his epic jab of doom struggle against some of the division's better wrestlers and despite his ground game, can be controlled or even tapped out. But Philippou is not "Jacare" Souza when it comes to submissions and as far as wrestling, well, he's no "King Mo," either.
If it sounds like I'm writing "Costas" off, it's because I am.
Not much has changed since his Octagon debut back in 2011. Philippou has always been a great boxer with a hard head, but his inability to transition his offense to a full-fledged MMA attack has left him one-dimensional, and by his own admission, he's only fighting for "a little bit of money before moving on."
That's called "punching the clock" where I'm from, and it's never gotten anyone a promotion in any job, so I don't expect tomorrow's fight against Mousasi to be any different.
Final prediction: Mousasi def. Philippou via unanimous decision
185 lbs.: Mark "The Filipino Wrecking Machine" Munoz (13-6) vs. Luke "Bigslow" Barnatt (8-2)
Nostradumbass predicts: I've been doing this shtick for nearly a decade and I can tell you without exaggeration that I've never met a fighter as kind or affable as Mark Munoz. I would really love to see him retire on a win in front of his beloved Filipinos.
Probably not going to happen.
Aside from his physical deterioration, Munoz has already announced his retirement, sold his gym, and put the wheels in motion for a future beyond fighting. I'm not sure that's where a fighter wants to be, mentally, stepping into the cage. There's something to be said for the motivation a combatant can generate from the fear and desperation of job security.
Munoz knows he's done, and that will become apparent against Luke Barnatt.
One look at their stardown pic (see it here) will tell you the kind of task "The Filipino Wrecking Machine" is facing in Manila. Barnatt is huge at 6'6" and while he's not exactly the next middleweight champion, he's impossible to take down and has clinch that loves to feed on wrestlers like Munoz.
It also helps when you can land punches from seven feet out.
Munoz has dropped four of his last five, but what's more alarming is all four losses were by knockout or submission. At 37 years old, there is nothing he can do to reverse the wear-and-tear of his collegiate and MMA wars, and I expect him to be dropped and submitted somewhere in the opening frame.
Final prediction: Barnatt def. Munoz by submission
170 lbs.: Neil Magny (14-3) vs. Hyun Gyu "The Ace" Lim (13-4-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: Outside of the main event, this is probably the fight I'm looking forward to the most. You can't find a welterweight -- or perhaps any fighter -- hotter than Neil Magny. And he's been doing well inside the cage, too, stringing together six straight wins with back-to-back finishes heading into Manila.
The only criticism is that his competition has been ... well, not exactly top of the food chain. That doesn't diminish what he's accomplished, but it does give me reservations when considering his place among the 170-pound elite. Perhaps a similar critique can be made about his opponent.
Hyun Gyu Lim, outside of a barnburner against Tarec Saffiedine, has been collecting dubyas, and all three of his Octagon wins have come by way of violent knockout. He also needs a step up in competition but will have to get through Magny to achieve it.
By my estimation, Lim is the more dangerous striker and is ferocious in his attack. What troubles me is his inability to commit to sound defense, meaning Magny can pump that jab all day and probably win the fight on brains as opposed to brawn.
Does this fight hit the floor?
Doubtful. Magny is a beast in the clinch and is difficult to take down, but even if "The Ace" gets it there, he may find himself in danger of getting submitted. For me, this fight boils down to Lim's ability to land cleanly. If he can't hurt his fleet-footed opponent or control the center of the Octagon, he's going to lose on points.
That said, a Magny submission would not surprise me.
Final prediction: Magny def. Lim via unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Philippe "Super" Nover (10-5-1) vs. Yui Chul "The Korean Bulldozer" Nam (18-4-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: If you're wondering why UFC invited Philippe Nover back to the world's preeminent MMA organization, I will tell you the official explanation is that "Super" has worked his way back to "the show" by winning three straight fights.
Personally, I think it has more to do with eating baby ducks, as I explained a long, long time ago in one of my TUF 8 recaps:
Nover channels his Filipino heritage and introduces Team Red to Balut, also known as "The Egg of Darkness." For those of you on this side of the cultural curve, Balut is basically a duck abortion in your mouth. Think of what Mike Tyson had planned for the children of Lennox Lewis and you'll get the idea.
That was the infamous "Splushi" episode.
Anyway, Nover happens to be a pretty talented fighter. But what stopped him from living up to his considerable hype was his inability to make it to the cage without fainting. After going 0-3 in UFC -- along with a few scares -- the former nurse put together a 5-2 record and is just 31 years old.
There's a pretty good chance we get a "Super" comeback.
That may depend on the output of Yui Chul Nam, who was a potent finisher up until his last four fights, where he's gone to the judges' scorecards and twice squeaked by with a split-decision win. In addition, his competition hasn't been anything to write home about and yes, I'm including his UFC debut over Kazuki Tokudome.
Assuming Nover doesn't dick around on the feet for an extended period of time, I think he has the athleticism to stay out of danger until "The Korean Bulldozer" runs out of gas, a scenario not uncommon in his recent fights. He may win the first round, but he'll give away the second and third as he relies too heavily on the one-hitter quitter.
Final prediction: Nover def. Nam via split decision
145 lbs.: Mark Eddiva (6-1) vs. Levan "The Hornet" Makashvili (6-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: So uh ... this is a fight that already has me aggravated because I had to actually do some research (read: scan fight finder and draw baseless conclusions) and that means less time to watch G.I. Joe reruns. And if you're thinking, "Fuck you, that's your job," you are mistaken.
My job is to spam the front page with Ronda Rousey "articles."
Either way, we're in this together so I will at least hold up my end of the bargain. While the Nostra-memory is a bit fuzzy, I do recall watching Mark Eddiva compete twice under the ZUFFA umbrella. More importantly, I recall not being overly impressed.
Getting KTFO has a way bringing out the pessimist in me.
That, and the fact that someone smarter than me in a more thorough breakdown said that Levan Makashvili is a dangerous striker and his opponent has suspect defense. Since I don't watch Cage Fury Fighting Championships (a man's got to know his limitations) I'll have to take that at face value.
I'm also led to believe Eddiva is a game, but inferior wrestler.
"The Hornet" will be up against a fighter who already has two appearances inside the Octagon, likely ruling out those rookie jitters. In addition, the crowd will be cheering for Eddiva, but I don't think Makashvili is the easily-rattled type and should end this one late in the opening frame.
Final prediction: Makashvili def. Eddiva via technical knockout
That's a wrap.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 66 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to start at 7 a.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1 "Prelims" bouts at 8 a.m. ET, before moving on to the FOX Sports 1 main card, which is slated to start at 10 a.m. ET.
You've heard my picks, now let's hear yours. Who ya' got?