Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is back on television this weekend with the UFC Fight Night 112 mixed martial arts (MMA) event on FOX Sports 1, which features a lightweight main event between Michael Chiesa and Kevin Lee.
Not coincidentally, “Maverick” and “Motown Phenom” just so happened to get into a physical altercation during the promotion’s “Summer Kickoff” press conference, so we now have a reason to care about their 155-pound throwdown.
Remember when Ozone and Strobe got into a scuffle at the club ... something about bringing his momma along to wipe his nose ... yeah, it was kind of like that (see it), but with much better choreography.
In the UFC Fight Night 112 co-main event, Johny Hendricks looks to capture his second straight at middleweight at the expense of 185-pound “Barbarian” Tim Boetsch. Elsewhere on the card, BJ Penn tries for his first featherweight win by tangling with Dennis Siver.
Before we break down Sunday night’s six-fight main card, taking place inside Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, head over to Patty Stumberg’s “Prelims” breakdown — telecast on UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 2 — here and here.
UFC Fight Night 112 odds and betting lines can be tracked down here.
Let’s get to it.
155 lbs.: Michael “Maverick” Chiesa (14-2) vs. Kevin “Motown Phenom” Lee (15-2)
Nostradumbass predicts: It’s taken Michael Chiesa four long years to get to his first main event, earned by way of 7-2 record under the UFC banner, which includes the glass trophy on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 15.
Not too shabby.
Along the way, “Maverick” managed to rack up some pretty impressive wins — and finishes — over the likes of Jim Miller and Beneil Dariush, two outstanding grapplers. There is no getting around a loss to Jorge Masvidal, but you can make a case for the stoppage in his Joe Lauzon defeat.
Either way, Chiesa is a legitimate top-10 fighter with serviceable striking and top-shelf grappling.
That’s going to be the biggest challenge for Lee, who brings a dangerous blend of speed and power into their FS1 headliner. “Motown Phenom” will talk like he’s undefeated, but his technical knockout loss to Leonardo Santos is not exactly ancient history.
My biggest knock against Lee is his level of competition. He’s looked great in his past three outings and put away all three opponents; however, none of the names on his list of victims were sniffing the top 10.
Case in point: “Massaranduba” turns 39 in August.
This is not a difficult fight to dissect. The power-punching Lee will be trying to end the bout via decapitation while the submission-savvy Chiesa wants to take down “Motown Phenom” and choke him into oblivion.
Both fighters have been winning impressively, but “Maverick” — layoff be damned — has been doing it against better competition.
Final prediction: Chiesa def. Lee via submission
185 lbs.: Johny “Bigg Rigg” Hendricks (18-6) vs. Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch (20-11)
Nostradumbass predicts: I think it became apparent in his middleweight debut against Hector Lombard — particularly as the fight wore on — how much the cut to 170 pounds was affecting Johny Hendricks in his final days in the welterweight division.
“Bigg Rigg” is a middleweight and could be a legitimate contender.
But he’ll first need to prove that he was good, as opposed to Lombard being bad, with a follow-up performance that equals or surpasses his first appearance at 185 pounds, a tall order against venerable slugger Tim Boetsch, who came down from light heavyweight when the going got rough.
Boetsch had a nice run from 2009-12, going 8-1 with four finishes and positioning himself as a legitimate threat to the middleweight throne. Then he fell into a 4-7 slump, highlighted by multiple losses in which he was finished a staggering six times.
If the 36-year-old “Barbarian” was going to do something worth mentioning, he would have done it by now.
He can wrestle and throw heavy leather, but so can Hendricks, and “Bigg Rigg” has only been finished once in his career. That loss came to Stephen Thompson and I think we can all agree that the increasingly-brittle Boetsch does not possess that kind of offense.
Hendricks may be the smaller, lighter fighter after Boetsch is done rehydrating, but he’ll also be quicker and looser on his feet. I don't see any area of this contest where the former is outclassed, which means the latter will need a one-hitter quitter to get out of Dodge with a win.
Final prediction: Hendricks def. Boetsch by technical knockout
115 lbs.: Felice “Lil’ Bulldog” Herrig (12-6) vs. Justine Kish (6-0)
Nostradumbass predicts: Felice Herrig has been struggling with a well-documented case of mental preparedness, which is not uncommon among fighters, striking down everyone from Georges St-Pierre to Donald Cerrone.
When she’s on, the “Lil’ Bulldog” is effective at range, thanks to an underrated kickboxing game that’s complemented by sneaky submissions. On top of that, she's probably one of the more physical fighters at 115 pounds and can bully her way in and out of the pocket.
That said, her paint-by-numbers offense isn’t terribly difficult to decipher — though her confidence is likely at an all-time high after back-to-back wins over some very tough prospects.
Will it be enough?
Justine Kish has been firing on all cylinders since she made her professional debut back in 2010, which includes a win over No. 9-ranked Randa Markos. She has yet to score a knockout in six trips to the cage, but strawweight knockouts are hard to come by and her opponent only has one.
In addition, I’m not breaking out the party hats for a win over Ashey Yoder.
Kish is a talented grappler with an attack not unlike Herrig, which means this contest will boil down to who wants it more. Despite her inconsistency in the early going, “Lil’ Bulldog” appears to be hitting her stride and based on what we’ve seen in her past two fights, turning away up-and-coming strawweights appears to be her speciality.
Final prediction: Herrig def. Kish by unanimous decision
205 lbs.: Joachim Christensen (14-5) vs. Dominick “The Devastator” Reyes (6-0)
Nostradumbass predicts: Dominick Reyes will make his UFC debut on this weekend’s televised main card, partly because of the hype surrounding his run on the regional circuit, but mostly because this is a FOX Sports 1 event headlined by Michael Chiesa vs. Kevin Lee.
Reyes not only racked up six straight wins — with five finishes — in smaller promotions, he also went 5-0 as an amateur. The light heavyweight division could use some new blood and Reyes has great kickboxing and the oft-desired killer instinct.
He’s also the recipient of favorable matchmaking.
Joachim Christensen limps into this light heavyweight affair on short notice, roughly one month removed from his submission loss to Gadzhimurad Antigulov at UFC 211 in Dallas. That marks the second time he’s been finished in three trips to the Octagon.
Against ho-hum competition.
Christensen is durable and has yet to be knocked out in 19 professional fights. The X factor in this bout is how well Reyes handles his UFC debut. The Dane is well rounded and dangerous everywhere, but will likely spend 15 minutes in reverse as his opponent uncorks some of those patented head kicks.
Final prediction: Reyes def. Christensen by unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Alex “The Dominican Nightmare” Garcia (14-3) vs. Tim “The Dirty Bird” Means (26-8-1, 1 NC)
Nostradumbass predicts: Alex Garcia immediately put the UFC welterweight division on notice with his blistering, first-round knockout win in his Octagon debut over Ben Wall back in late 2013.
Not that Ben Wall is a household name, or even a broom closet name, but this is MMA and we’re always looking for the next big thing, and it felt special at the time. It’s been up and down since then at 3-2 and we’re less than a year removed from Garcia’s technical knockout loss to Sean Strickland.
Victories over Mike Swick and Mike Pyle, sandwiched between those losses, is not exactly the stuff of legend.
I’m sure Tim Means is thrilled to be facing another Brazilian after his fights with Alex Oliveira, which ended with a no contest and a submission loss. “The Dirty Bird” had a nice run from 2014-15, to the tune of four consecutive wins, but consistency has since eluded him and he’s sitting at just 2-2 since that span.
Like Garcia, Means boasts some impressive wins inside the cage. Also like Garcia, they don’t come over anyone in the top 10. “The Dirty Bird” is now 33 and has been competing for over 13 years, which means we’ve probably seen the best Means we’re ever going to see.
Will it be enough?
Means enjoys a height and reach advantage and with 18 knockout in 22 wins, he’s clearly able to punch his way into the win column. Garcia is a physically imposing welterweight with speed and power, but he’ll need to keep out of range and make this ugly.
Don’t get your hopes up.
Final prediction: Means def. Garcia by technical knockout
145 lbs.: B.J. “The Prodigy” Penn (16-11-2) vs. Dennis Siver (22-11, 1 NC)
Nostradumbass predicts: BJ Penn could have retired as an all-time great. Instead, he’ll be remembered as one of those fighters who fought long past their expiration date, which is probably around the 2010 mark.
“The Prodigy” has seen the win column just once in seven years.
The Hawaiian did not drop to featherweight because he wants to look lean on the beaches of Hilo. That grueling change in lifestyle was precipitated by blowout losses at both 170 and 155 pounds.
Not much changed when he arrived in his new weight class, because the promotion punished him with unfavorable matchmaking in the form of Yair Rodriguez. Now, mercifully, Penn gets someone more his speed, literally, in 38-year-old Dennis Siver, a middling featherweight with solid kicks and ... not much else.
Speaking of seven-year streaks, Silver hasn't finished a fight since 2010.
He’s got above-average kickboxing, but no question his quickness and timing have diminished as he limps into the twilight of his career. Despite his talents on the ground, Penn prefers to box his way through every round and Siver will prove to be game. He’s durable enough to stand-and-bang with “The Prodigy,” so I would expect this to go all three frames.
I would be surprised if either combatant shot for a takedown.
There is something to be said for Siver’s longevity at 145 pounds, a place he’s both comfortable and established, but he’s failed to beat anyone in the top 15 and seemingly forgot how to finish fights. For all the guff Penn receives for his record, he’s at least been losing to the top of the food chain.
Unless he’s deteriorated to the point of no return, this should be Penn’s fight to lose.
Final prediction: Penn def. Silver by unanimous decision
There you have it.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 112 fight card on fight night (click here), starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 2 at 7 p.m. ET, before the FOX Sports 1 main card start time at 9 p.m. ET.
For much more on this weekend’s UFC Fight Night 112 event click here.