Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to network television this Sat. night (Aug. 27, 2016) because nobody in the ZUFFA front office gives a damn about your weekend plans, especially if they don't involve gawking at two men punching each other for your entertainment.
Top welterweight contenders Demian Maia and Carlos Condit will headline the UFC on FOX 21 mixed martial arts (MMA) event, taking place inside Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, anchored by a featherweight co-main event pitting Anthony Pettis against Charles Oliveira.
Elsewhere on the card, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 20 product Bec Rawlings tries to derail the hype train of "Dancing with the Stars" finalist Paige VanZant, while Joe Lauzon and Jim Miller run it back in what is sure to be a "Fight of the Night" contender.
Who wins and loses? I'm glad you asked.
170 lbs.: Demian Maia (23-6) vs. Carlos "Natural Born Killer" Condit (30-9)
Nostradumbass predicts: This is an interesting fight in that it's fairly easy to predict how things will unfold, but perhaps not so easy to pick an actual winner. We know that Demian Maia is going to try to take Carlos Condit to the floor with the intention of making him quit.
"The Natural Born Killer" will try to defend said takedown and land the knockout blow.
Who will best impose their gameplan? To a degree, I expect both to be successful. Maia will never be Floyd Mayweather, but he's probably a better striker than most fans give him credit for. That's not to suggest he's going to be slugging it out, but he can at least do the bare minimum to get close enough to wrestle.
Condit was taken down 19 times in 23 attempts against Johny Hendricks and Georges St-Pierre, while Jake Ellenberger got it south in three out of four times. I think it's a question of when, not if the former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) champ gets dumped and humped.
Will he get submitted? Condit is too big and strong -- and too experienced -- to get tapped, even against someone as proficient in jiu-jitsu as his Brazilian foe.
But Maia will try his damnedest and all that work on the floor (and against the cage) will tire him out. We've seen the former middleweight run out of gas in several fights, most notably Rory MacDonald, and the fifth round against Ryan LaFlare was less than kind.
Barring a finish, victory will be won by a score of three rounds to two, so how much gas Maia has in round three -- and how effective he is at grappling -- should dictate the outcome. He's riding a five-fight win streak and looks better than he's ever been.
I still have questions about the reliability of Condit, whose only two wins over the past few years have come against the long-since retired Martin Kampmann, and the undersized (and increasingly brittle) Thiago Alves, who is now moving down to the lightweight division.
It won't be pretty, but winning ugly is still winning.
Final prediction: Maia def. Condit via split decision
145 lbs.: Anthony "Showtime" Pettis (18-5) vs. Charles "Do Bronx" Oliveira (21-5, 1 NC)
Nostradumbass predicts: Featherweight seemed like a natural fit for Anthony Pettis, especially on the heels of three consecutive losses. Then I saw this. But it wasn't so much the recent defeats that were troublesome, in regards to his future as a contender, it was how inept he looked during each successive performance.
Where was the lightweight wunderkind who was crushing guys like Donald Cerrone and Ben Henderson, both good enough to hang at welterweight?
The issue may be more mental than physical and I'm worried about how the weight cut will affect his power. "Showtime" is not the most technical striker, but his precision and timing are enough to validate some of those funky offensive moves. Will they carry the same knockout power after a grueling drop to 145 pounds?
That remains to be seen.
His first fight in his new division is by no means a walk in the park. Charles Oliveira is bigger and rangier, and fights with the sort of aggressive style that gave Pettis problems at 155 pounds. "Do Bronx" made a career out of spoiling former lightweights, taking out Jeremy Stephens, Nik Lentz, and Myles Jury.
I like his chances here.
Pettis has very underrated submissions and will not be susceptible to the tap. That said, I don't think he will have the strength or stamina to keep himself off the cage, or perhaps even off the ground. Oliveira only needs to win two out of three rounds, and considering how well adjusted he is to the featherweight class, I think it's in the bag.
Final prediction: Oliveira def. Pettis by unanimous decision
115 lbs.: Paige "12 Gauge" VanZant (6-2) vs. "Rowdy" Bec Rawlings (7-4)
Nostradumbass predicts: I've never been overly impressed with Bec Rawlings, who is known more for her funky looks and foul mouth than she is for her actual skill inside the cage. That's not to suggest she's without talent, but beating up Lisa Ellis -- since cut for being awful -- and pushing around a career atomweight in Seo See Ham is nothing to write home about.
And let's not forget her loss to Heather Jo Clarke.
Paige VanZant is not perfect, but she is growing by leaps and bounds with each fight. She took one of the stronger and more durable fighters in Felice Herrig and wiped the floor with her, part of a four-fight win streak that included three finishes.
She's the real deal.
Her loss to Rose Namajunas was a setback, but when you consider the kind of tear "Thug" is on -- as well as the amount of punishment "12 Gauge" was able to endure -- I believe we'll see a better (not broken) fighter when the cage door closes on Saturday night.
We probably won't witness anything spectacular in the stand up, but Rawlings will likely wilt under the pressure of her opponent, as VanZant -- unquestionably the superior athlete -- pushes "Rowdy" into the cage and beats her up in the clinch.
Final prediction: VanZant def. Rawlings by unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Jim Miller (26-8, 1 NC) vs. Joe "J-Lau" Lauzon (26-11)
Nostradumbass predicts: When breaking down a rematch between two fighters, particularly one that was decisively won the first time out, it's important to try to determine what has changed since they first met as a way to gauge what might be different the second time around.
For Jim Miller and Joe Lauzon, it's been roughly four years.
When Miller captured a thrilling unanimous decision win over Lauzon at UFC 155, he was 10-3 inside the Octagon. Since that time, he's managed to break even at 4-4 and looked positively dreadful in losses to Donald Cerrone, Beneil Dariush, and Michael Chiesa.
Not a good sign for the soon-to-be 33 year old.
Not that it's been all wine and roses for Lauzon, who suffered his own share of setbacks. But the Bostonian's lack of consistency is nothing new, nor is his penchant for alternating wins and losses. Simply put, Lauzon appears to be the same fighter he's always been.
Rugged, powerful, and slick on the mat.
Miller used to be all of those things and more, sort of a Lauzon 2.0, when they first went to war back in late 2012. That said, the years have not been kind. I don't want to call Miller "shot," but he's certainly on a downturn, first-round destruction of Takanori Gomi notwithstanding.
Assuming "J-Lau" doesn't empty his tank in round one, he's likely to capture two out of three rounds.
Final prediction: Lauzon def. Miller via unanimous decision
That's a wrap.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on FOX 21 fight card on fight night (click here), starting with the UFC Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FOX at 6 p.m. ET, before the FOX main card start time at 8 p.m. ET.
If you're looking for analysis of the UFC on FOX 21 "Prelims," we have preview and predictions for all the preliminary card fights deconstructed by Patrick Stumberg here and here. As luck would have it, Stummy also did a comprehensive breakdown of all the UFC on FOX 21 odds and betting lines here.
So .. you've heard from me, now let's hear from you. Who gets it done on fight night?