Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) brings an explosive UFC on FOX 16 card to United Center in Chicago, Ill., TONIGHT (Sat. July 25, 2015).
In the main event, T.J. Dillashaw puts his Bantamweight championship on the line against former titleholder Renan Barao in a rematch of their epic UFC 173 bout in May 2014. The duo have since racked up one win each following their barnburner and come into tonight's tussle eager to shut down the other.
Prior to that, a title shot is up for grabs between two female Bantamweight stars, Miesha Tate and Jessica Eye. Tate, a former title challenger, is on a three-fight win streak, while Eye is coming off of a dominant showing against Leslie Smith in Nov 2014.
Paul Felder receives the opportunity of a lifetime, as he can go from unranked prospect to Top 10-ranked Lightweight contender with a victory over Brazilian assassin Edson Barboza.
However, the aforementioned trio of fights may not even be the most exciting on the card -- UFC on FOX 16's opener is a tilt between journeymen mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters, Joe Lauzon and Takanori Gomi.
Maniacs, saddle up. Here are your keys to victory for what (at least on paper) could emerge as a "Fight of the Year" candidate.
#1 Bum rush him ...
"J-Lo" is essentially Gomi's kryptonite. The 31-year-old is one of the finest Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners in the 155-pound division.
Lauzon has won 70 percent of his Octagon bouts via submission. All but one of Gomi's four UFC losses have come by way of submission.
If that does not sound the alarms in Gomi's head, I do not know what will.
The pride of Massachusetts may be well-versed on the ground, but you have to know how to get the fight there. Lauzon is equipped with a finesse wrestling game as opposed to the ways of a -- let's see -- Johny Hendricks.
From the clinch, Lauzon prefers to go with a trip or throw. Only in rare situations will you see him pursue a double-leg takedown.
To get to the clinch, Lauzon will put together two-to-three punch combinations that will typically involve hooks and body punches. This can lead to him getting caught with a punch and Gomi has some serious power.
He will also need to be careful when ducking his head and watch out for the uppercut. Luckily for Lauzon, Gomi is not known for his fast starts ... at least in UFC.
I hope Gomi has brushed up on his takedown defense or this fight may end fast.
2. Jab ...
Gomi still has one-punch knockout power, but he needs to do a better job of keeping his hands up. He holds his hands low, leaving himself free to get hit with plenty of straight punches.
If Lauzon can establish the jab early, it will make a dent in the former Pride lightweight champion's gameplan and make it easier for him to enter Gomi's airspace.
3. Utilize movement ...
Whatever Lauzon does, he cannot remain a standing target for Gomi. At 36, he is still a credible striker. Those skills do not just disappear overnight.
Men have paid dearly for standing in front of the Japanese legend, including Tyson Griffin and Eiji Mitsuoka.
What we have seen from Gomi is that movement throws a wrench into his attack. Clay Guida bobbed and weaved so much it made myself, and I am sure many others, dizzy.
Gomi was exposed his last time out against Myles Jury in Sept. 2014 when the pristine footwork and combinations of "Fury" penetrated "The Fireball Kid's" defense, sending him crashing toward the canvas.
Lauzon has proven not to be a master of footwork in the cage, instead taking chances every time he sees fit. For his sake, he better keep his hands high.
1. Switch stances often ...
Much like Lauzon cannot afford to be a standstill target for Gomi, the latter must be just as unpredictable.
Gomi is an efficient striker from either the orthodox or southpaw stances. The more activity he displays, the less likely Lauzon thinks about shooting in for the clinch and subsequent takedown.
But, then again, we are talking about Joe Lauzon here.
If he could keep a wide base, that would also work wonders for his takedown defense, which has eroded in recent years.
2. Can I get a knee ...
Gomi has made a living off of being an exciting, fan-friendly fighter. I get that, but would it hurt to incorporate some resemblance of a kickboxing game?
He has attempted very few kicks, if any, during his UFC run. One well-timed knee or body kick could cripple Lauzon and make him think twice about shooting in for the takedown.
The least he could do is throw out a pushkick every now and then. C'mon, Gomi. What do you say?
3. If all else fails, put it on Lauzon early ...
Seriously, what do I know about coaching a UFC fighter? Do what you do best, Gomi. If you are to win this fight, play by your rules and come out guns blazing.
Lauzon has not made too many mistakes throughout his UFC career in the first frame, but how does that saying go? There is a first time for everything.
He does have a tendency to get cracked in the opening round (i.e., Anthony Pettis, Michael Johnson). Gomi wants to add his name to that list and send Lauzon his second-straight loss.
Remember, stay with MMAmania for all of your UFC on FOX 16: "Dillashaw vs. Barao 2" coverage, including play-by-play and live updates (right here), post-fight recaps and analysis; plus much more!