Hello fight fans, an epic evening will be dawning on us soon, as this Saturday night the UFC makes it’s long awaited debut on network television. For the first time the UFC will be showing a live fight card on FOX TV. While this card technically isn’t a part of the 7-year deal that the UFC and FOX Sports negotiated, it is more of a preview of the new look of the UFC, a look that Dana White has promised will be more professional and more modern. Say goodbye to the Roman Gladiator folks, the UFC is in the big time now.
All kidding aside, I think the UFC has somewhat dropped the ball on this one a little bit. Dana White recently announced that no matter what, the UFC will show only one fight on the live Fox broadcast, even if the Heavyweight Title contest between challenger Junior Dos Santos and Champion Cain Velasquez goes only thirty seconds. While it’s hard to complain about a Heavyweight title fight being shown for free, in primetime, on a network TV station, it’s easy to question the UFC’s thought process.
This is going to generate a lot of casual fan interest. What better time than to show off some of your younger, fresh fighters. A probably Lightweight Title eliminator fight between Clay Guida and Benson Henderson on live TV would not only guarantee potential fireworks, but it would also introduce casual fans to two fighters, one of whom will likely be headlining an upcoming PPV against Lightweight kingpin Frankie Edgar.
But folks, that is neither here nor there. And those gripes are best suited for another place and another time, where keyboard warriors can argue about how much they think they know about MMA and about business in general. We here at the CamelClutchBlog have more important things to talk about, like who is going to come out on top this weekend. In a slight change of pace, we’re going to ignore the gambling side of MMA for this one and instead focus on the fights themselves for entertainment value, not for making crazy bets and parlays. So without further adieu, let’s get right into the fights.
Preliminary Card Bout (Facebook and FoxSports.com): Light Heavyweight Bout: Aaron Rosa vs. Matt Lucas
Matt “Luke Duke” Lucas is a fairly unknown fighter who is making his big stage debut after a long career in the Rage in the Cage promotion. Lucas is a strong fighter, who is a former college wrestler. He is a member of the Arizona Combat Sports gym which has allowed him to transition his wrestling skills into a solid base for mixed martial arts. He has added a decent Thai boxing to his regimen of top control and ground and pound to compliment his skill set. At 6’1″ he may be fairly undersized for this weight class and is in fact a former 185-Pound fighter, despite that he does hold a decided advantage in dictating where the fight takes place.
Analysis and Prediction: I’ve never been overly impressed with Aaron Rosa to be perfectly honest. He looked sloppy and unprepared for his UFC debut against Joey Beltran and will be likely fighting for his contract in this one. I don’t know how well the cut is going to go for Rosa but dropping 55 pounds is surely not going to be fun. I think the weight cut will hinder his performance greatly and Lucas will be able to control the pace of the fight, and use constant takedowns to wear out Rosa and ground and pound his way to a late second round stoppage. Matt Lucas via TKO Round 2
Preliminary Card Bout (Facebook and FoxSports.com): Welterweight Bout: Mike Pierce vs. Paul Bradley
Mike “Megatron” Pierce is an American from Oregon who is a member of the Team Quest and Sports Lab gyms in Portland and Beaverton, Oregon respectively. Pierce is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Portland State University. Pierce has fared well in his Octagon career losing only to the elite wrestlers of the division including Jon Fitch and Johny Hendricks both via decision (and the latter via close Split Decision.) Pierce uses wrestling and top control to earn points on the judge’s scorecards. It’s not the prettiest way to fight, but it has been effective for him so far. Pierce has a career MMA record of 12-4.
Paul “The Gentleman” Bradley is a fighter from Minnesota. I haven’t been able to find out much about him except that he is a member of the Academy MMA Gym/Team Deathclutch Gym in Minnesota. After dropping his octagon debut to Rafael Natal at UFC 133 he is making the drop to the 170-pound class and isn’t getting a very warm welcome. At 5’9″ he was undersized for Middleweight, but that meant he was fairly muscular. It might be interesting to see how his body handles the weight cut. Overall, Bradley has a career record of 18-3.
Analysis and Prediction: Overall this one is likely going to come down to wrestling. Pierce has better offensive wrestling and a better overall MMA game. He’s likely going to take this one to the mat and ground and pound away for the better part of three rounds all on his way to a Unanimous Decision. Mike Pierce via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card Bout (Facebook and FoxSports.com): Bantamweight Bout: Alex Caceres vs. Cole Escovedo
Alex “Bruce Leroy” Caceres is a former Lightweight and Featherweight fighter. Best known for his stint on The Ultimate Fighter: GSP vs. Koscheck season where he was a member of Team GSP. The young fighter from Miami, Florida where he is a member of the Young Tigers Foundation. Caceres is a Jeet Kune Do and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter with strong grappling skills. He is making the drop to the Bantamweight division for the first time in his career. Despite finding some measure of fame on the show, he has struggled since and has yet to taste victory inside the UFC. Overall, Bruce Leroy has a career MMA record of 5-4.
Cole “The Apache Kid” Escovedo is a fighter from Fresno, California where he is a member of the Pacific Martial Arts team. Escovedo is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter, with decent boxing skills to compliment his ground skills. Escovedo has also not tasted victory inside the Octagon, but has faced significantly tougher competition in his MMA career. Escovedo has fought against some of the top names in the Bantamweight division including Michael McDonald, Michihiro Omigawa, Renan Barao and Takeya Mizugaki. Despite his somewhat mediocre 17-8 record, Escovedo remains a decent talent who is a solid measuring stick to separate the contenders from pretenders in the UFC’s lower divisions.
Analysis and Prediction: Caceres is basically still employed because of his antics inside the TUF house where he gained some minor fan-dom. However, the UFC is not easily impressed by antics and three straight losses will surely mean the end for one of these fighters. This fight is meant to bounce Caceres from the UFC and give Escovedo a reason to stick around in my opinion. Escovedo has faced tougher competition, has more experience and has better MMA skills, I expect him to earn a Submission victory in the very first round. Cole Escovedo via Submission Round One
Preliminary Card Bout (Facebook and FoxSports.com): Featherweight Bout: Mackens Semerzier vs. Robert Peralta
Mackens “Da Menace” Semerzier is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu brown belt under Jeff Curran and is a member of the Team Curran gym in Miami, Florida. Semerzier also has decent technical boxing skills and under-rated wrestling skills to back up his grappling. In high school he was a State Wrestling runner up and is a former member of the U.S. Marines, which is where he learned his boxing skills. He entered the WEC back in 2009 and scored a huge upset by submitting Wagney Fabiano in his first bout. He struggled after that, going 0-3 against tough competition, but was handed a bit of a tune-up fight in his Octagon debut against the previously mentioned Alex Caceres. He is looking to make it two in a row inside the Octagon on Saturday night. Semerzier holds a professional record of 6-3.
Robert Peralta is a Mexican-Honduran fighter. Despite his Mexican heritage he now resides and fights out of San Diego, California. He is a wrestle-boxer, with decent take downs and an ability to throw hands with most fighters. A member of the Team Kadillac Gym, Peralta proved me wrong in his last fight by out-striking, out-hustling and overall out-working Mike Lullo en-route to a Unanimous Decision victory in his UFC debut. Peralta holds a career MMA record of 15-3.
Analysis and Prediction: This is an extremely tight match up to call. Both fighters are decent but not great boxers, so consider that a wash. Wrestling edge is a slight lean to Peralta, but Semerzier has top notch BJJ skills to employ if he is planted on his back. The deciding factor for me is momentum. Semerzier’s last win was over fairly unimpressive competition, while Peralta is entering this bout on an 8-fight winning streak. Speed and takedowns will be what earns Peralta a close decision victory in this one. Robert Peralta via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card Bout (Facebook and FoxSports.com): Bantamweight Bout: Norifumi Yamamoto vs. Darren Uyenoyama
Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto was formerly one of Japan’s hottest MMA prospects. However, the hype train seems to have derailed a bit slightly in previous years and his UFC debut against Demetrious Johnson went right ahead and completely shot the train off of the tracks. Despite his recent struggles, ‘Kid’ remains a tough match up for just about anyone. The former pro kick boxer from Tokyo, Japan has strong Muay Thai skills with an impressive Freestyle wrestling base. He was previously considered one of the world’s top Bantamweight and Featherweight fighters, but has struggled recently and is just 1-3 in his previous fights. Overall, the Southpaw Yamamoto still holds an impressive 18-4-1 record with 13 wins via Knockout or Technical Knockout.
Darren “BC” Uyenoyama is a 32-year-old fighter from San Francisco, California. The American is a member of the Faito Tamashii Combat Club in Southern California. He made his MMA debut in 2002 but has been fighting sporadically since, including a five year layoff between his debut and his second MMA fight. Uyenoyama is a fairly well-rounded fighter with decent if not overly impressive boxing skills and a solid grappling base. He has fought both overseas and in the USA but has never been able to accumulate any momentum in his career, most likely due to his inconsistent fight schedule. Overall, his professional record is 6-3.
Analysis and Prediction: It’s pretty safe to say that ‘Kid’ Yamamoto wasn’t the highly touted prospect that everyone thought he was, however, he still has all of the tools to win this fight. Losing a relatively close decision to Demetrious Johnson is nothing to be overly ashamed of. Yamamoto will be able to dictate where this fight takes place and the pacing of the fight. I expect the Japanese fighter to pressure Uyenoyama with punches early on, before shooting for a takedown and unleashing some nasty ground and pound, all en-route to a late stoppage victory. Norifumi Yamamoto via TKO in Round Three
Preliminary Card Bout (Facebook and FoxSports.com): Welterweight Bout: DaMarques Johnson vs. Clay Harvison
DaMarques “The Darkness” Johnson is yet another fighter from The Ultimate Fighter reality show who seem to populate the undercards of these free shows. He was the runner-up from the USA vs. UK season of the show and was notable for his nearly physical confrontation with rival coach Michael Bisping. The 29-year-old fights out of the Elite Performance Gym in Sandy, Utah, where he trains under MMA veteran Jeremy Horn. Johnson is a boxer first, with decent ground skills coming from his blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Horn. Before joining The Ultimate Fighter he mostly competed on regional shows in Utah, including the UCE shows. He has had a bit of an up and down career within the octagon and could possibly be fighting for his contract in this one, as he enters the fight have lost two of his last three bouts. Johnson has a professional MMA record of 12-9.
Clay “Heavy Metal” Harvison is another veteran of The Ultimate Fighter reality show. Harvison was a cast member for the thirteenth season of the show. He was born in Marietta, Georgia and fought most of his early professional fights in the Georgia region, before joining TUF. Harvison is a kick boxer who prefers to fight on his feet using an array of kicks and knees from his Muay Thai background. He is a member of the Riven Academy Fight Team from Orem, Utah. Harvison made it to the quarterfinals of his season before losing to eventual runner-up Ramsey Nijem, however, he has since begun training with Nijem to improve his overall MMA skills. He and Johnson were supposed to fight at Ultimate Fight Night 25, but an injury forced Johnson to withdrawal and Harvison was soundly pounded and submitted by late replacement Seth Baczynski.
Analysis and Prediction: Harvison is a fan friendly fighter, as most of the time he prefers to stand and trade. However, Johnson is simply the better more well-rounded fighter and is a significantly better grappler. Johnson’s striking and length should be enough to keep Harvison guessing before he shoots for a takedown, from there it’s likely only a matter of time before some ground and pound opens up a submission opportunity and Johnson will snatch it up. DaMarques Johnson via Submission in Round Two
Preliminary Card Bout (Facebook and FoxSports.com): Featherweight Bout: Cub Swanson vs. Ricardo Lamas
Cub Swanson is a veteran of the WEC and was one of the Featherweight divisions early standout fighters. Throughout his WEC career he earned Fight of the Night awards three times in eight fights. After losing his MMA debut, Swanson rallied off 11 straight victories with a number coming by way of Submission. He has since lost to some of the elite fighters of the Featherweight division including Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes. Swanson is a member of Jackson’s Submission Fighting team, although he also has a home gym in his hometown of Palm Springs, California. Swanson is a true MMA fighter, with decent skills in kickboxing, wrestling and BJJ. The sometimes oft-injured Swanson holds a professional record of 15-4 with 11 wins via stoppage, he will be making his UFC debut in the fight.
Ricardo “The Bully” Lamas is a 29-year-old fighter from Chicago, Illinois. Lamas is a BJJ fighter who holds a brown belt under World No-Gi Jiu Jitsu champion Daniel Valverde. Lamas trains with Team Top Notch in Elmhurst, Illinois. Lamas was also a collegiate wrestler, although not as decorated as some members of the UFC roster, Lamas was an All-American in wrestling in NCAA Division III at Elmhurst, College. During his fights he uses his strong wrestling skills to plant his opponents on the mat before uncorking some ground and pound to try and soften his opponents up, all the while searching for submissions. Lamas holds a career record of 10-2 and is coming off of an impressive UFC debut where he TKO’ed Matt Grice after a highlight head kick.
Analysis and Prediction: This bout is very close as both fighters are fairly well rounded. What may be the determining factor is big show experience and ring rust. Swanson’s year away from MMA due to injuries may require a feeling out process, but against someone like Lamas he won’t get time to adapt. Lamas will pressure constantly, always searching for takedowns and working his ground and pound. It won’t be pretty and it will probably be close with some rough spots along the way, but I think Lamas can take a Unanimous Decision in this one. Ricardo Lamas via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card Bout (Facebook and FoxSports.com): Featherweight Bout: Dustin Poirier vs. Pablo Garza
Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier continues his rise up the Featherweight ladder in this fight. Poirier is a 22-year-old fighter from LaFayette, Louisiana where he trains out of the Gladiator Gym under UFC veteran Tim Credeur. Poirier is a BJJ purple belt under Credeur, but also has solid boxing fundamentals to back up his grappling. He is a smart fighter for his age and knows how to use his advantages inside the Octagon. His footwork is solid as he moves well inside the cage and has great hand speed when throwing his punches. He has tasted defeat only once in his MMA career and currently holds a record of 10-1.
Analysis and Prediction: Both fighters are young up-and-coming prospects. Both are fairly well-rounded in all aspects of the game, with Poirier likely being the better striker and Garza being the better grappler. Despite the size difference, both fighters have an identical reach so Poirier should be able to use leg kicks and a strong jab to dictate the pacing of the bout. Garza’s best chance for victory is to get the fight to the mat, if he can do that, I believe he can pull off a victory, but Poirier is very well-coached and is an intelligent fighter. He’ll be able to avoid the grappling game and will use Garza’s size against him, as he tees off with leg kicks and a strong jab to earn points on the judge’s cards all on the way to a Unanimous Decision. Dustin Poirier via Unanimous Decision
**Slight Sports Betting Note: I told Eric that I’d stop focusing on the gambling side of things, but I can’t help myself here. This fight is extremely close and Garza is definitely a live underdog, however the books don’t seem to agree as he is nearly a 3-to-1 underdog. If you’re feeling tempted go get some of that.
That wraps up the Preliminary Card of this show. I’ll be back to highlight the Main Event Heavyweight showdown between Junior Dos Santos and Cain Velasquez tomorrow. Also, I’ll include some in-depth analysis about the Lightweight Title eliminator bout between Clay Guida and Benson Henderson.
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