I don't think we're going to be seeing any submissions here.
With Daniel Cormier off winning the UFC Light Heavyweight championship, it's up to Middleweight knockout artists Dan Henderson and Tim Boetsch to carry the the world's leading mixed martial arts (MMA) league back down to New Orleans, La., for UFC Fight Night 68 this Saturday night (June 6, 2015) inside Smoothie King Centeron Fox Sports 1.
Speaking of knockouts, the Heavyweight co-main event will feature a pair of big men with a penchant for them as Ben Rothwell faces Matt Mitrione. Elsewhere on the televised main card, Dustin Poirier continues his excursion into the Lightweight division against Yancy Medeiros, while former RFA champ Brian Ortega returns from suspension to face Thiago Tavares at 145 pounds.
Six total "Prelims" undercard matches will set the grand stage, three of which we previewed and predicted yesterday right here. You all know the drill by this point, so let's get down to business:
265 lbs.: Shawn Jordan vs. Derrick Lewis
After an execrable Octagon debut that saw him lose to Cheick Kongo in a borefest, Shawn Jordan (17-6) proved he was still worth watching with brutal stoppages of Mike Russow and Pat Barry. He was knocked out himself in consecutive bouts against Gabriel Gonzaga and Matt Mitrione, but re-entered the win column by stopping Jack May and Jared Cannonier.
Standing 6’0," he will give up three inches of height to Derrick Lewis (12-3, 1 NC).
"Black Beast" (no relation to the legendary Black Beast of Aaaaarrrrrgghh) announced his arrival to UFC's Heavyweight division, smashing Jack May and "Guto Inocente" with brutal ground-and-pound in his first two Octagon appearances. Though his momentum was halted by the heavy hands of Mitrione, he opened his 2015 campaign by pounding out Ruan Potts.
All 12 of his wins are by stoppage, 11 via knockout.
Two big dudes with a predilection for savage knockouts. Paradoxically, an early finish seems so obvious that I’d be genuinely surprised if we got that and not a 15-minute gasfest.
Luckily, for the viewers, I don’t think Jordan has the durability to go the distance with Lewis.
Jordan’s been knocked out four times as a professional and once as an amateur. Lewis did get finished himself, but it was a massive blow that he ran right into. He doesn’t have the same history of vulnerability. Plus, he carries his power late, giving him plenty of time to find Jordan’s jaw.
I’m not sure he can take down Jordan, but I don’t think he’ll need to. He lands the big one sometime in the second round.
Prediction: Lewis via second-round knockout
170 lbs.: Brian Ebersole vs. Omari Akhmedov
Brian Ebersole (51-16-1) made his way onto UFC fans’ radars by dominating Chris Lytle and knocking out Dennis Hallman to kick off a four-fight win streak in the promotion. Losses to James Head and Rick Story followed, though he narrowly edged John Howard in his most recent bout.
He has never been stopped by strikes in almost 70 fights.
Omari Akhmedov's (14-2) UFC debut was a wild one -- a back-and-forth slugfest that ended with the Dagestani bruiser knocking out Thiago Perpetuo cold. After a submission loss to Icelandic grappling sensation Gunnar Nelson, Akhmedov took out another Slavic grappler in Mats Nilsson at UFC 182.
Eleven of his wins are by stoppage, six by way of knockout.
If I had to pick a word to describe Ebersole, it would be "spoiler." He’s just flat-out difficult to get anything going against, but at the same time, he struggles to generate significant offense of his own unless he can get top position. Considering his poor takedown attack, that’s not nearly as often as he’d like.
I don’t believe he’ll be able to keep Akhmedov from bullying him around in the early going.
Ebersole’s chin is too sturdy for even the Dagestani’s sledgehanmers and the latter’s cardio is a liability. Still, I believe his physical advantages and superior strength should allow him to bank at least the first two rounds. Akhmedov edges the decision.
Prediction: Akhmedov via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Chris Wade vs. Christos Giagos
It took Chris Wade (9-1) just 72 seconds to claim victory in his Octagon debut, choking out Cain Carrizosa at UFC 177. His second win took all 15 minutes, but he nonetheless came out on top, defeating The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "China" winner Lipeng Zhang in Boston.
His sole professional defeat came against World Series of Fighting (WSOF) standout Ozzy Dugulubgov.
Christos Giagos (11-3) punched his ticket to the UFC with a terrific flying knee knockout of TUF 15 hopeful Dakota Cochrane, earning the RFA Lightweight title in the process. "Spartan" came up short against top prospect Gilbert Burns, but successfully choked out Jorge "Blade" in March for his first UFC victory.
He has not gone the distance since his fourth pro fight.
Wade’s got some solid wrestling and that guillotine he hit on Carrizosa was terrific. That said, Giagos has a knack for hurting opponents in scrambles and transitions -- any failed shot on him will result in pain. While Wade may be able to down him early, as Cochrane did, Giagos is going to hurt him more and more as the fight progresses.
Giagos is the more dangerous of the two on the feet, where I expect he’ll be able to keep it with increasing success. Giagos connects with something dramatic midway through the fight once the damage starts piling up.
Prediction: Giagos via second-round technical knockout
No Cormier stinks, but the card is chock-full of quality matchmaking along every part of the UFC spectrum. No bollocks, just competitive fights, which is good enough for me.
See you there, Maniacs!
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 68 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to start at 7 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1 "Prelims" bouts at 8 p.m. ET, before moving on to the main card, which is slated to start at 10 p.m. ET.