Wha? There’s an event happening at Roger Arena this weekend? Who’s playing who? …Oh! There’s a UFC event in town this weekend! Why didn’t anyone tell us?
Okay, so this might not be the highest profile UFC pay-per-view in history. In fact, it may well rank among the most yawnworthy in some time, at least for the casual fan. But there are some hidden gems in this fight card that will make snapping up a last minute ticket well worth the effort.
Let’s go through the card:
Michihiro Omigawa (12-9) vs Darren “The Damage” Elkins (11-2): MMA fans aren’t yet attuned to the reality of a featherweight division in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, so expect there to be a lot of empty seats when these guys come out to the YouTube and Facebook live-stream cameras. But it should be a mighty stoush, as judo player and #5 ranked featherweight in the world Omigawa battles Elkins, a grappler out of Indiana. Both fighters are coming off losses and both are fighting for their UFC lives. If Omigawa can keep it standing, he’s got every chance of flipping Elkins on his head… I’m just doubting he’ll keep it standing against the taller American. My pick: Elkins by decision
Joey “The Mexicutioner” Beltran (12-5) vs Aaron “Big Red” Rosa (16-3): Expect these two big galoots to throw plenty of shoulder-swinging bombs in a less than technical heavyweight prelim. Beltran has gas, having gone to the judges in his last three fights, but though he can take a punch (or 70), he struggles to keep up with faster fighters and make mid-fight strategy changes. In Rosa, he faces a must-win situation; a loss means he’s out of the organization and back to fighting in bars. For Rosa, the stakes are just as high as this is his UFC debut. He’s capable of taking thing to the ground and working a submission, which he’ll probably try to do as knocking Beltran out is something neither Matt Mitrione or Pat Barry have managed of late. My pick: Rosa by rear naked choke in the 2nd
Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier (9-1) vs Jason Young (8-3): This may be a very one-sided affair, as Poirier is fully legit and Young is so unknown he doesn’t have a page on Wikipedia yet. We know Young is a Brit who fought for the title in Olympian MMA Championships, losing to a guy who was immediately snapped up by the UFC, but he’s coming off a pair of wins since and is clearly no slouch. But The Diamond is a #6 ranked featherweight coming off a solid win over Josh Grispi and a first round TKO win in the WEC before that. He’s a 22-year-old purple belt jiu-jitsu fighter with a solid set of fists, and trained by Crazy Tim Credeur out in bayou country. My pick: Young’s nobody’s tomato can, but an 8-3 record in the UK is a 6-5 record in the US, so the smart money is on a TKO win for Poirier in the 2nd
Nick “The Promise” Ring (11-0) vs James Head (7-1): The Promise REALLY needs to get a new nickname. Not only is calling yourself The Promise Ring kind of high-school girlish, but he’s shown exactly no promise in his time associated with the UFC. Ring came into the Ultimate Fighter show with a big rep and a solid boxing/kickboxing record behind him, but failed to deliver much interesting in the cage before blowing his ACL. In his UFC debut, he earned a decision win over Riki Fukuda, but no man could reasonably agree with the result. Fukuda was robbed. James Head is a solid up’n'comer, but has only fought four times in the last four years and has yet to face anyone with a real pedigree. My pick: This is when you go get your beer, even if Ring is a Canadian. Ring by decision.
Krzysztof “The Polish Experiment” Soszynski (25-11) vs Mike “The Master of Disaster” Massenzio (11-4): Soszynski is considered Canadian content, but will show up at ringside with a Polish flag and US cornermen. Regardless, he’ll ragdoll Massenzio who was chased out of the UFC after a Brian Stann triangle and a CB Dolloway TKO and is only back because of the need for a last minute fill-in. Soszynski is the king of the kimura, but of late has begun to believe that he’s a heavy-hitting slugger instead. If he’s smart, he’ll take Massenzio down and bend him the wrong way. If he stands up and throws his strong-but-slow haymakers instead, it might be a long night. My pick: Soszynski by kimura in the 2nd
Spike TV broadcast:
Jesse “Water” Bongfeldt (15-4) vs Chris “The All-American” Weidman (5-0): This could be a sparkler; Weidman is a two-time NCAA Div a All-American wrestler who has been learning jiujitsu from former welterweight champion Matt Serra. He’s yet to rack up a loss through his opening five fights, and isn’t averse to a TKO win. He took his last fight, his UFC debut, on two weeks notice and beat Alessio Sakara by decision. He’ll be primed for this one. But he’ll need to be – Jesse Bongfeldt hans’t lost since 2007, and he’s run through just about everyone on the Canadian MMA scene since his 2003 debut. He’s a Judo/Karate guy who can submit you or knock you out. Not a bad mix. My pick: Weidman by decision in a back and forth affair that ultimately ends with him grinding it out in the third.
Sam “Hands of Stone” Stout (16-6) vs Yves Edwards (40-16): Thug-jitsu proponent Edwards is one of the most experienced MMA fighters in the world today, having started his career in 1997 and debuting in the Ultimate Fighting Championships at UFC 33 in 2001. He’s fought in Pride, BodogFIGHT, EliteXC, Strikeforce, Shine Fights, Bellator, MFC, so Sam Stout won’t want to take the Bahaman lightly. And chances are he won’t, since Stout has been involved in five Fight of the Night awards over the last few years and his last two fights have ended in split decisions. The Canadian is a free-swinging Muay Thai kickboxer who’ll stand and trade with anyone, absorbing punishment three times to deal some out once. My pick: If Edwards is smart, he’ll take Stout down at every opportunity and sit on his head. But he’s just as likely to swing with the Canuck, since Stout hasn’t knocked anyone out since 2007. If he does, he’ll drop a decision, and that’s my pick – Stout via judges.
Donald “The Cowboy” Cerrone (14-3) vs Vagner Rocha (6-1): Cerrone is a stand-and-trade kickboxer out of the Greg Jackson camp and Rocha is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt on the rise. Rocha, debuting in the UFC but not new to TV cameras having won at Bellator 13 and dropped a decision in Strikeforce, will need to get Cerrone on the ground early and keep him there often, but if he can, he’ll tie The Cowboy in knots. I just don’t think he can. Jackson will have Cerrone rolling from the outside, staying away from tie-ups and the fence wherever possible, holding back on any kicks that might open him up to a takedown.My pick: Cerrone by TKO in the 3rd after two rounds of stuffed takedowns and jabs.
Demian Maia (14-2) vs Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Munoz (10-2): Munoz is a fighter who the UFC would love to see make a run at the title, if for no other reason than open up markets in Asia, but he’s a few big name victories away from that being a reality. In Maia, he faces someone who has had his title shot and failed, but remains one of the most dangerous middleweights in the UFC. Maia is a 4th degree jiujitsu black belt, but has for some reason spent a lot of time trying to throw punches the last few years. On his back, he’s lethal, and that’s where he’ll be trying to take Munoz from the opening bell. My pick: The first time Maia gets close enough to tie-up with Munoz, he’s going to hit with a flying triangle choke and take the win. Unfortunately, it might take most of three rounds for that to happen, so well be treated to two and a half rounds of wild swings and back-pedalling before Maia wins it.
Jon Olav Einemo (6-1) vs Dave “Pee-Wee” Herman (20-2): Really, this is “Who?” vs “Who?” for most people, with both these guys having been lined up against other fighters initially but facing each other instead because of injury. Herman’s one of the few fighters around who have finished a fight using an axe kick – he’s a first-round TKO machine making his debut at this class, while Einemo fights, on average, about once every 18 months but knows how to get a submission. My pick: Herman by HULK SMASH! in the first
Kenny “Ken-Flo” Florian (14-5) vs Diego Nunes: If this isn’t a judges decision, I’m Dutch. Nunes hasn’t managed to end a fight early since Studio 54 was the place to have your after-party, and Florian likes to grind for a few rounds before working the rear naked choke late. Florian’s size may be his big advantage – he’s worked at middleweight before but has come down 40 lbs over the years to fit in to the new UFC featherweight division. My pick: Florian, at one time, could finish a fight with his elbows, slashing away at the nose and cheeks of his opponents, and with his finally being the bigger guy in a fight, he might just go back to that clinch-n-cut game plan. If he does, he wins. If he tries to slug it out, it’s fail time. I’m going with the former.
Junior “Cigano” dos Santos (12-1) vs Shane “The Engineer” Carwin (12-1): It’s winner take all in the main event, as dos Santos works towards his first title shot and Carwin looks to pounce on an opportunity for a second. The absence of Brock Lesnar due to injury takes a lot of lustre off this fight – and the event itself – but both of these guys are straight up mash monsters and will come in threshing. This is a rodeo fight in that, if it lasts eight seconds, people will be shocked. I want to root against Carwin for his refusal to answer questions over his being named in evidence in a steroids trial, but he is a genuinely nice guy. So too is dos Santos, despite being able to beat down a donkey with a single blow. My pick: Imagine if you will two giant fists, the size of a VW. One is hurtling towards the other from a mile away with a brick on the gas pedal. The other is hurtling in from the other end with the gas pedal nailed to the floor. Both are loaded with gelignite. And they’re on fire. This will be short, it will be messy, but it will be worth watching. Carwin by WTF?!OMG!?AAARGH!!Tags: Demian Maia, Diego Nunes, featured, Jesse Bongfeldt, Junior Dos Santos, Kenny Florian, Mark Munoz, Nick Ring, sam stout, Shane Carwin