This week may have been the biggest newsmaker in mixed martial arts history. Names like Ronda Rousey, Anderson Silva and Jon Jones all made headlines, only to lead up to another network television appearance for the UFC. Before we get to the fights, let’s rundown what happened this week in MMA:
Dana White fully admitted that he is attempting to book current UFC Bantamweight Champion Rousey vs former Strikeforce champion and movie star Gina Carano for a fight in December.
Speaking of December, Vitor Belfort has received a temporary license from the Nevada State Athletic Commision to fight Chris Weidman for the UFC Middleweight title at UFC 181 on December 6th.
Alexander Gustafsson tore his MCL and will be replaced by Daniel Cormier in a title fight vs Jones at UFC 178 this September.
Chael Sonnen was handed a two-year ban from competition from the Nevada State Athletic Commission for multiple positive tests of PED use.
Lastly, Nick Diaz has signed a new 3-year deal with the UFC and is being targeted for a Super Bowl weekend fight with the returning Anderson Silva.
Now to the fights:
No. 1 Robbie Lawler (23-10) vs No. 5 Matt Brown (21-11)
Two of the most entertaining welterweights on the planet meet in the main event of UFC on Fox 12 with the winner being determined the No. 1 contender to current UFC Welterweight Champion Johny Hendricks.
Both Lawler and Brown are unique stories. Both are guys that appeared in the early days of the UFC and both hit hard. Before this run that vaulted them both to the doorstep of a title shot, Lawler and Brown were a combined 9-8 in the Octagon.
Lawler was a Strikeforce import when the Zuffa purchased the California based promotion. Since that time, the "Ruthless" one has gone 4-1 with three knockout victories. He hits hard, extremely hard and has gradually improved his wrestling and submission defense almost every time in the Octagon.
Three years ago, Lawler was likely to knock his opponent out or be submitted; now he is a full-fledged MMA Fighter and surprisingly, just entering his prime at 32-years old. His fight against Rory MacDonald spoke to his improved conditioning, but also strategy. Instead of looking for the kncokout against "Ares", be plodded his attack against the top welterweight and earned a decision victory. He was also a razor thin loser versus Hendricks which is why many believe a rematch is the next logial step.
Matt Brown should change his name from “The Immortal” to “Mr. Fox.” Although "The Immortal" might be an appropriate name not only for his life (he overdosed on Heroin and was pronounced dead) but also for his career. Brown was a castoff of one of the earlier seasons of the Ultimate Fighter and was a below .500 fighter until rattling off seven wins in a row, six via TKO. Now headlining his first official network Fox TV card, Brown may have finally arrived. He's has five straight finishes on the Fox Television family of networks.
He is a relentless pursuer of the standup and has a wide variety of striking skills at his arsenal. He’s also shown the ability to survive; his last fight with Erik Silva was a war in which a body shot should have put him away, twice. Now he finally gets that Top 5 welterweight opponent with a chance to fight for the title.
It's a great story for both guys, but in the end I side with the better overall fighter.
My prediction, Lawler via TKO (Rd 2)
No. 5 Anthony Johnson (17-4) vs Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (21-5)
The Co-Main event has turned into a showcase fight for South Florida’s Anthony Johnson. The powerhouse, who trains with the “Blackzillians” in Boca Raton, was once a welterweight, that’s right; a welterweight.
Weight cutting issues forced him out of the UFC and into regional promotions where he settled in on his natural weight class of 205 pounds and subsequently won six fights in a row to earn a spot back in the UFC.
Upon his return, Johnson shocked most (including myself) with a dominant decision victory over perennial contender Phil Davis. Now a victory over Noguiera could put him right in line to challenge Jones or Daniel Cormier for the UFC Light Heavyweight Title. (Who knows how long Gustafsson will be sidelined for)?
Johnson has a variety of strikes to use, inluding a wide range of head kicks and has a tremendous amateur wrestling that has transitioned his explosiveness to MMA. He's nearly impossible to take down.
He’ll face the always game Noguiera, a former Pan American bronze medalist in boxing that has won two fights in a row (Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans), but the last victory came in February of 2013. A back injury has kept him out of action for quite sometime.
Noguiera does have great standup (from his boxing) and is a black belt on the ground. He’ll look to slow this fight down and survive the early attacks of Johnson. That might be too tall a task to ask.
My prediction, Johnson via TKO (Rd 1)
No. 7 Clay Guida (31-11) vs No. 11 Dennis Bermudez (14-3)
In what could be a fight that determines the future of both fighters, Guida and Bermudez meet in a “crossroads” fight. Guida has always been a top contender, but appears to be on the backend of his career while Bermudez is a an up and comer, currently boasting a six-fight winning streak, one of the longest in the division.
Both buys are outstanding wrestlers and fight with a tremendous pace. Both guys are fan favorites and neither is a true finisher. This fight has split decision written all over it. I think Bermudez will get a few more takedowns and take it.
My prediction, Bermudez via decision.
No. 3 Josh Thomson (20-6) vs No. 13 Bobby Green (22-5)
The fight card opens with a man looking to put a stamp on being a future title contender against another looking to crack the top ten. Thomson has a variety of skills, an athleticism that keeps him in most fights and a certain cache about him that makes him important in any lightweight title dicussion.
His last fight, a TKO of former title challenger Nate Diaz, might have been his most impressive.
Green is an athletic lightweight that has won every fight he’s fought in the UFC and is on a seven fight win streak. He takes this fight instead of Michael Johnson, who was forced out with an injury.
I don’t think Green is ready for this one.
My prediction, Thomson via decision.
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