Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) comes to "Windy City" for UFC on FOX 16 tonight (Sat. July 25, 2015), bringing with it a buzz-worthy four-fight main card inside United Center.
A title rematch featuring Bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw and Renan Barao headlines the card in Chicago, Illinois.
Dillashaw's first title defense came against Joe Soto in Aug. 2014, only after the Brazilian was sidelined after a weight cut gone awry, where he knocked out the former Tachi Palace Fights 135-pound champion with a stunning head kick. Barao has since defeated Mitch Gagnon with an arm-triangle choke in Dec. 2014.
The co-main event is a potential women's Bantamweight title eliminator that pits past top contender Miesha Tate against the dangerous striker Jessica Eye. "Cupcake" has won her last three fights in a row, while "Evil" stopped Leslie Smith in their bout at UFC 180.
Rounding out the main card are explosive match ups that featuring Lightweight contenders Edson Barboza, Paul Felder, Joe Lauzon and Takanori Gomi.
Each of the eight main card fighters are adept at finishes, whether it be via striking or grappling. If you do not have to be anywhere important this evening, I suggest you sit down and enjoy this great line up.
Here are the four lucky men or women that have a shot at pocketing a $50,000 performance bonus before the night is all wrapped up.
Joe Lauzon vs. Takanori Gomi
Tale of the tape -- 19 T(KO), 23 submission -- total career finishes between both fighters
You know a card is stacked when the first fight on the main card portion is one that has a potential "Fight of the Night" award written all over it.
Two of the most accredited grapplers and strikers the 155-pound division has to offer collide when "J-Lo" meets "The Fireball Kid."
Lauzon's nine-year run in UFC has given most fight fans what they want: Violence. Unfortunately for him, it has not lead to as many wins as he may like.
The 31-year-old is as tough as they come, and can sure take a licking, as evidenced by his fight with Jim Miller in Dec. 2012. Lauzon repeatedly took unanswered elbows, uppercuts and straight lefts on the button. He also took a beating on the ground, too.
Though he has faced adversity in a series of his fights, all is not bad for the pride of Massachusetts. The 31-year-old is a proficient Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner and is as good on the ground as any Lightweight in history.
Maybe not on the level of B.J. Penn or Kenny Florian, but you catch my drift.
In two signature wins, over foes like Melvin Guillard and Jeremy Stephens, Lauzon was clearly looking at a rough time on the feet and utilized what he does best -- jiu-jitsu -- to dominate his opponent. It is worth noting, though, that Guillard was dropped via a counter right hand before being dispatched.
Gomi, meanwhile, is better suited for swinging the leather. The former Pride Lightweight champion has either won or went out on his own shield.
After accruing much of his wins in Japan, Gomi made his Octagon debut at UFC Fight Night 21. Over the last five years, his record does not standout, which may have something to do with bigger, and better, competition.
The 36-year-old Gomi was stifled by the movement and superior striking of men like Florian and Clay Guida, before being submitted on the mat.
When he is at his best, it is because he is swinging for the fences. Gomi made his name extending himself in the Pride ring throwing looping shots. He did just that in a second-round, knockout victory over Eiji Mitsuoka in Feb. 2012.
In his last Octagon victory, over Isaac Vallie-Flagg, we saw more movement out of Gomi as he landed solid jabs and counters. Nonetheless, defense has never been his strong suit.
One more further thing to note: Gomi likes to switch stances and that is something that could come into play against Lauzon.
Lauzon does not want a slugfest, as much as we want to see it happen. I would expect the former to drag Gomi to the mat in a swift, but methodical approach.
What to watch for: Gomi's volume of strikes
Prediction: Lauzon via first-round submission (performance bonus)
Edson Barboza vs. Paul Felder
Tale of the tape -- 16 T(KO), 5 submission
"The Irish Dragon" can rocket into the Top 10 of the Lightweight division with a win over the lethal Barboza.
Felder was expected to face Miller in April, but the former pulled out of the bout citing a knee injury. Now, his fortunes changed for the better -- a blessing in disguise of sort -- provided he puts forth his best effort.
The 31-year-old is a walking highlight reel and proved so with a spinning back fist knockout of Danny Castillo in the second round of their UFC 182 tilt. Prior to his debut, the undefeated Felder made his living in the Cage Fury Fighting Championship promotion, where he eventually amassed enough wins to fight for, and capture, their Lightweight title.
In UFC action, we have seen the all-around mixed martial arts (MMA) skills of Felder. He debuted against Canadian ground specialist Jason Saggo in Oct. 2014 and we saw a true test of the kickboxer's will.
Without much space, and a lot of time spent pedaling backward or against the cage, Felder expended a great deal of energy. Throughout the 15-minute fight, the Renzo Gracie student continued to strike, even while in the clinch, and make some nice sweeps off of his back.
The result: A split-decision victory for Felder.
His "coming out party" would come at the expense of Team Alpha Male representative Castillo. The tussle was contested on the feet entirely, with Felder throwing a variety of strikes.
When he decided to go unorthodox, is when he struck gold. Felder landed a flush spinning back fist to the jaw of "Last Call" in frame two and that was a wrap.
Felder will be taking on a much more capable striker than the wrestler Castillo in Barboza.
"Junior" has dispatched four Octagon foes with kicks and they do not have to be of the high variety to make an impact.
Twice, Barboza has beaten opponents because of a multitude of heavy leg kicks. Mike Lulio and Rafaello Oliveira each fell to the crippling kicks.
Barboza's most destructive win to date came against Terry Etim when he flattened the latter with a wheel kick.
He lost a couple of times during his UFC tenure, including a first-round submission loss to Donald Cerrone in a fight he was winning for a short period. Then, when it looked like Barboza was putting together a title-worthy resume, he was stunned by a more focused Michael Johnson in February.
With both Barboza and Felder being such good strikers, their fight has the potential to end any second. Though that is true, it is Barboza's to win. He is the quicker of the two and has the experience in big fights.
Barboza will be more aggressive and he will look to make a statement against Felder.
What to watch for: Barboza's leg kicks
Prediction: Barboza via third-round technical knockout (performance bonus)
Miesha Tate vs. Jessica Eye
Tale of the tape -- 6 T(KO), 7 submission
It is a pivotal pow-wow between two opposite women's 135-pound fighters when Tate meets Eye.
Tate is absolutely desperate for her second, and perhaps final, shot at nemesis and 135-pound titleholder Ronda Rousey. The wrestler has proved to be quite the threat and is a winner of three-straight fights.
Though she is known as a grinder who likes to wrestle, Tate showed off her stand-up game in a victory over previously undefeated Japanese fighter Rin Nakai in Sept. In her last win, against former title challenger Sara McMann, Tate battled back from a disastrous first round to outpoint the Olympic wrestler and win a majority decision.
When she has lost, it has been because she was overwhelmed. Tate likes to be in control, but if you are facing Cat Zingano, you do not want to take that many knees. Rousey also toyed with her on the ground, but then again, she does that to every woman.
Eye might be the most well-rounded competitor Tate has faced in the Octagon. She has experience wherever the fight goes.
She can bully you in the clinch, fight from a distance or make submission attempts on the mat. Eye even has a good guard too, though, most of her UFC fights have stayed on the feet.
The Ohio native possesses a solid kicking game and has a good right hand. Eye is never in a bad position and can complete reversals from the bottom.
Rarely ever out of her element, she is usually standing and if she is absorbing blows, than you can be damn sure she will try and return the favor, which has resulted in two close UFC decisions.
Tate will be a significant step up from any other woman Eye has faced, but she can definitely win this fight. It should be interesting to see how much of the bout is contested on the feet.
It will be fun, but I do not see a finish happening in this one.
What to watch for: Eye's takedown defense
Prediction: Eye via split-decision
T.J. Dillashaw vs. Renan Barao
Tale of the tape -- 13 T(KO), 18 submission
In a sequel to one of the most thrilling title fights in UFC history, Dillashaw aims to defend his Bantamweight strap against the mighty Brazilian, Barao.
The pair have each fought one time since their initial encounter; albeit one man was more impressive and the other looked like he needed to work out some kinks. We will start with Dillashaw first.
The lone champion of Team Alpha Male took down Barao and his 21-fight unbeaten streak with impressive striking. Dillashaw paralleled that into his first title defense against Octagon newcomer Soto.
Light on his feet, and confident, he kept Soto guessing with everything but the kitchen sink. The 29-year-old Dillashaw dazzled Soto with uppercuts, overhand rights and all kinds of kicks. He also can strike effectively from either stance.
If the Barao of old shows up, we might see another one-sided beatdown. The 28-year-old returned following the events of his failed weight cut to submit Canadian grappler Gagnon.
It was not the kind of fight many expected to see from Barao, who seemed to lack the killer instinct he showed in the past.
I would beg to differ. I think that fans need to have realistic expectations.
Maybe he could have opened up more, but you know what? He found the finish his own way. Fans also seem to forget he almost dusted off Gagnon in the first round with a left hook.
What I do agree with is that Barao needs to drastically improve his footwork and timing if he wants to get his belt back. This should be an excellent war, but I feel that Dillashaw might have Barao's number.
What to watch for: Barao's footwork/speed
Prediction: Dillashaw via third-round technical knockout "Fight of the Night"
That wraps up my bonus predictions. Enjoy this colossal free card, ladies and gents!
Remember to stick with MMAmania.com for all of your UFC on FOX 16: "Dillashaw vs. Barao 2" coverage, including live results and play-by-play (right here), post-fight recaps and analysis; plus much more!