Good day CCB readers hopefully you’re all still reading this despite my awful prognostication skills at UFC 145. I’ll admit that many of those bouts didn’t go nearly as expected and some serious hype trains were derailed, but hey that’s the breaks in the sport where “anything can happen.” The UFC continues its onward march into the busy summer schedule with a free offering on network television this weekend. The UFC presents UFC on FOX 3 live from the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey this Saturday night.
The UFC on FOX shows have been a bit of a mixed bag so far for fight fans. The first offering, which the UFC openly admitted was a bit of a trial run, was widely criticized by fans. Despite offering a Heavyweight Title fight for free, the bout lasted less than one round and many felt it was a bit anti-climactic. In their second attempt at network television they decided to load up on big names and bouts with serious title implications. The result was three relatively slow-paced fights that all went to decision. Whether or not you agree with the excitement on their past offerings, one thing we should all agree on is that they likely have the formula right for this show.
The main event features a potential Number One Contender’s bout for the UFC’s Lightweight Championship as Nate Diaz battles Jim Miller. Other bouts on the Fox-televised main card include a sure-fire Heavyweight slugfest between Pat Barry and Lavar Johnson that is highly unlikely to make it to the judge’s scorecards. As well as a Welterweight bout with huge title implications as Josh Koscheck looks to avenge Jon Fitch’s loss to the surging contender Johnny Hendricks. Finally a Middleweight bout between two finishers opens the card as Rousimar Palhares takes on Alan Belcher.
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Roland Delorme vs. Nick Denis
Roland “Stunning” Delorme is a Canadian fighter from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He was a competitor on the Mayhem Miller vs. Bisping season of The Ultimate Fighter. Delorme fights out of the Winnipeg Academy of Mixed Martial Arts. Delorme is a well-rounded fighter with all of his career victories coming by stoppage. At the Ultimate Fighter Finale he scored a third round submission which showed off just how smooth his ground skills are, as he quickly dropped his opponent with a punch, hopped on his back and locked up the hold. Delorme holds a career record of 7-1.
Nick “The Ninja of Love” Denis is a Canadian fighter from North Bay, Ontario. Denis has since transplanted himself to Montreal, Quebec, Canada where he is a member of the Tristar Gym. Denis is a purple belt in BJJ and a black belt in Kyokushin karate. Denis has looked impressive since making the drop to 135 pounds and is 2-0. He looked very impressive in his UFC debut where he flattened Joseph Sandoval with standing elbow strikes that knocked him out cold. Denis remains an elite striker, but his grappling skills have looked somewhat lackluster in his previous bouts. Still he owns a career record of 11-2, with all of his wins coming via stoppage.
Analysis and Prediction: Denis has shown a glaring weakness against capable wresters and grapplers in the past. He’s not awful on the ground, but he is significantly stronger in a striking battle. Delorme looked decent on the ground in his UFC debut, but he doesn’t have the striking to set it up against someone as capable as Denis. Expect another highlight reel of violence from the Ninja of Love as he earns a TKO in the second. Nick Denis via TKO in Round Two.
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Middleweight Bout: Mike Massenzio vs. Karlos Vemola
Mike “The Master of Disaster” Massenzio is an American fighter from Teaneck, New Jersey. Massenzio was a standout wrestler in high school, where he was a two-time high school state champion. In 2004 Massenzio was a National Wrestling Champion at the Junior College Level. He is a member of the Team Ironhorse MMA Gym in Patterson, New Jersey. Massenzio is a stellar grappler who has won numerous tournaments and awards in grappling tournaments and although he has struggled to make his high school wrestling pedigree translate well to MMA, he does have decent takedowns and is quite capable on the mat. His striking is fairly basic and is probably the weakest aspect of his overall game. Massenzio has a career record of 13-6.
Karlos “The Terminator” Vemola is a fighter from Olomous, Czech Republic. He is an extremely strong and compact fighter who is a former 6-time Czech Republic National Wrestling Champion. Vemola is now a member of the London Shootfighters Gym in London, England. This will be Vemola’s first bout at Middleweight and because of his muscular build it might be tough for him to make the weight. Provided he makes the weight without issue he definitely has the skills to defeat Massenzio in this bout. He owns some of the nastiest ground and pound out there and has the strength and ability to drag the fight to the ground and being underneath the hulking Czech is not where anyone wants to be. Vemola has a career record of 8-2.
Analysis and Prediction: Massenzio is a capable grappler and he can definitely win this bout by controlling Vemola on the ground. Unfortunately for him that means that he’s going to need to get close to Vemola, which doesn’t end well for very many people. Vemola is making the cut to Middleweight for the first time, so I have a hard time trusting a guy who has shown cardio issues in the past making a cut down another weight class. If Massenzio is able to survive the opening salvo, this is an upset waiting to happen. Mike Massenzio via Submission in Round Three.
Preliminary Card (FUEL TV): Featherweight Bout: Dennis Bermudez vs. Pablo Garza
Dennis “The Menace” Bermudez is an American fighter from Saugerties, New York. He was a contestant on the Bisping vs. Mayhem Miller season of The Ultimate Fighter where he lost at the finale to the winner Diego Brandao. Bermudez is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler who is now a part of the Long Island MMA Gym. Bermudez uses his wrestling well in his bouts, often searching out takedowns and using ground and pound to grind out his opponents. After opening his career with a 7-0 mark, he has lost his last three bouts, but they have all been against big name opponents, bringing his current pro record to 7-3.
Pablo “The Scarecrow” Garza is a fighter from North Dakota who like a number of fighters already mentioned is a former cast member of The Ultimate Fighter reality television series. Garza is a strong grappler with a number of his career wins coming by way of submission. He owns a purple belt in BJJ and at 6’1” is one of the lengthier fighters competing in the UFC’s Featherweight division. His stand up isn’t excellent, but he is becoming better at fighting to his height and has been improving his ability to dictate the range and pace of his bouts. Still grappling is his strong point, but he may find it difficult to get this bout to the ground against a wrestler as strong as Bermudez. Garza’s professional MMA record is 11-2.
Analysis and Prediction: Garza has a couple of extremely impressive highlight reel finishes that I think causes people to believe that he is better than he really is. At 6’1” he’s lanky and lengthy for a Featherweight but his striking is nothing to write home about and short of his flying triangle, his grappling hasn’t looked great either. Bermudez was faring well against Diego Brandao before his aggression got the better of him. His wrestling skills allow him to dictate the placement of this fight and that allows him the ability to control Garza for a unanimous decision. Dennis Bermudez via Unanimous Decision.
Preliminary Card (FUEL TV): Lightweight Bout: Danny Castillo vs. John Cholish
Danny “Last Call” Castillo is an American fighter who is a member of Urijah Faber’s Team Alpha Male Gym in California. However, due to the live filming of the The Ultimate Fighter and Castillo’s role as an assistant coach to Team Faber he has spent most of his time training for this bout in Las Vegas at the UFC Training Center. Castillo is a former NAIA All American Wrestler. Castillo is a grinding wrestler who uses takedowns to constantly pressure his opponents. His striking is fairly mediocre, but he uses it well to close the distance against his opponents. Castillo has a career record of 13-4.
John Cholish is an American fighter from Hackettstown, New Jersey. The 28-year-old is a grappler who is currently training in New York City, New York at Renzo Gracie Jiu Jitsu. Cholish is well known for his work outside of the cage as well as inside it. He is a Cornell University Graduate who holds a full time job on Wall Street. Cholish is an excellent submissions grappler with a knack for finishing fights, with 3 TKOs and 4 Submissions on his resume. Cholish lost his pro debut, but hasn’t tasted defeat since and has a career record of 8-1.
Analysis and Prediction: These two are extremely evenly matched, which is very accurately reflected in the current betting line for this bout. Castillo holds an edge in power punches, while Cholish is the more accurate striker. Castillo is a smothering wrestler, but Cholish has an impressive submission game. Flip a coin for this one, I’ll take Cholish by the slimmest of margins. John Cholish via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (FUEL TV): Flyweight Bout: Louis Gaudinot vs. John Lineker
Louis “Goodnight” Gaudinot is a 27-year-old fighter from Yonkers, New York. He is a veteran of the New Jersey based Ring of Combat promotion and is the promotion’s former Flyweight Champion. He made his UFC debut by entering the Ultimate Fighter as a Bantamweight. A member of the Team Tiger Schulmann Gym in Hoboken, New Jersey Gaudinot is a competent grappler who began his martial arts training at the age of six. After struggling with the size of the larger Bantamweights in the UFC he is making the drop to his more natural weight of 125 pounds. His grappling and submission game is his bread and butter, as Gaudinot will look for takedowns to work his dominant top game on his opponent. Gaudinot owns a career record of 5-2.
John “Mao-de-Pedra” Lineker is a 22-year-old Brazilian fighter who is one of the top young prospects in the world at the Flyweight division. He is a former Jungle Fights Bantamweight Champion. Lineker is a member of the EMPORIUM Gym in Brazil. Lineker is a brawling fighter who isn’t afraid to charge head first into a fight. He is currently riding a 13-fight winning streak and hasn’t lost since December of 2009. This will be Lineker’s first fight at Flyweight as well as his first fight outside of Brazil and his UFC debut, a whole lot of factors that may affect him come fight time. Still he remains a thoroughly entertaining fighter who loves to swing for the fences and has the power to knock out fighters significantly larger than himself. Lineker has a professional MMA record of 19-5.
Analysis and Prediction: Gaudinot looked pretty awful against Johnny Bedford and took one of the worst beatings in TUF Finale history. A drop to Flyweight is what Gaudinot hopes will bring brighter fortunes, unfortunately he’s drawn a tough test for this one. Lineker has made a career fighting larger fighters and has been more successful than Guadinot. Lineker is extremely aggressive and poses a well-rounded skill set which makes him a handful for anyone to deal with. It’s his UFC debut and his first bout outside Brazil, so there’s always the chance he duds out for this one, but if he’s on his came, he should be able to pound out a second round stoppage. John Lineker via TKO in Round Two.
Preliminary Card (FUEL TV): Welterweight Bout: John Hathaway vs. Pascal Krauss
John “The Hitman” Hathaway is a 24-year-old fighter from Brighton, England. He was dubbed as one of the next big things after smothering victories over Rick Story and Diego Sanchez, however Mike Pyle and Kris McCray have done work to derail that hype train. Hathaway is a former Rugby player who transitioned to MMA in 2006. Hathaway has strong wrestling, especially since he is from England, a nation who is often criticized for it’s lack of credible wrestlers. Hathaway is a member of the London Shootfighters Gym in London, England but also spends time in the US with American Top Team and Eddie Bravo’s 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu Gym. Hathaway has a career record of 15-1.
Pascal “Panzer” Krauss is a German fighter from Breisach, West Germany. Krauss began boxing in Germany at the age of 14 and was a top ranked amateur boxer in the country. He was a German Jr. Boxing Champion and ranked second at the German Boxing Championships. In addition to his strong striking abilities Krauss is a talented grappler, who currently holds a blue belt in BJJ. Krauss has traveled the world to hone his skills travelling to Brazil, California, New York and Japan to train. He is now a member of the Roufusport Gym in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he trains under kickboxing legend Duke Roufus. Krauss is undefeated as a professional with a 10-0 record including 9 victories via stoppage.
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Analysis and Prediction: If this bout was happening a year ago I would be calling for an upset special, as I’ve been very impressed by Krauss’ skills. However, he hasn’t fought in over a year due to injuries and that long of a layoff is sure to hurt anyone. Still, if he’s managed to overcome the layoff, he has the tools to upset Hathaway here. Krauss has strong kickboxing skills and an impressive ground game, Hathaway is a smothering wrestler without much else to offer. Don’t expect fireworks for this one. John Hathaway via Unanimous Decision.
Preliminary Card (FUEL TV): Flyweight Bout: John Dodson vs. Tim Elliott
John “The Magician” Dodson is a 27-year-old fighter from Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was the winner of the Bisping vs. Miller season of The Ultimate Fighter, a season where he competed 10 pounds above his natural weight class. Dodson is a member of Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque and has a strong camp around him. Dodson showed incredible skills during his time on The Ultimate Fighter scoring a couple of Knockouts on his way to the live finale where he fought tournament favorite TJ Dillashaw. Dodson absolutely dominated Dillashaw and scored a TKO victory in the first round. Dodson claims that he has never been taken down in a fight, and given his amazing strength and athletic ability, it may be close to true. Dodson owns a career record of 12-5.
Tim Elliott is a 25-year-old fighter from Kansas City, Missouri. He is one of the USA’s top prospects at 125 pounds who is currently on an 8-fight winning streak. Elliott was a state wrestling champion in high school, before moving on to wrestle at the University of Central Oklahoma. Elliott is a member of the Grindhouse MMA Gym in Kansas City where he has been working on developing his stand up to complement his strong wrestling. From the videos I have seen however, his striking still looks fairly rudimentary and sloppy, and he often relies solely on his ground skills. Elliott is taking this bout on short notice, after Dodson’s original opponent was injured. Elliott has a career record of 8-2-1.
Analysis and Prediction: You have to give Elliott props for stepping up on late notice and he’s been on a hell of a run lately, but he’s running into a brick wall here, almost literally. Elliott relies mostly on his wrestling skills to earn takedowns and work his top control. Dodson is an amazing athlete, he packs a lot of power in his punches and he has impressive footwork to keep his opponents outside of range. Elliott’s striking skills don’t stack up and he’ll struggle to close the distance against Dodson. From there, he’s going to get desperate and if he gets desperate, he’s going to get hurt. John Dodson via KO in Round Two.
Preliminary Card (FUEL TV): Lightweight Bout: Tony Ferguson vs. Michael Johnson
Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson is a 28-year-old fighter from Muskegon, Michigan. Ferguson a career Lightweight moved up to Welterweight to compete on the Lesnar vs. Dos Santos season of The Ultimate Fighter. Ferguson mowed through the Ultimate Fighter house stopping all of his opponents en-route to the live finale where he earned a KO victory in the first round. Since his time on the show, he has dropped to the Lightweight division and has put on two impressive performances thus far. Ferguson has slick boxing with excellent hand speed and footwork, Ferguson also has big power in both of his hands as evidenced in his bout with Aaron Riley where he broke his opponent’s jaw, forcing a stoppage in between rounds. Ferguson is also a former NCAA Division II wrestler, and uses that background mostly to keep his bouts standing, but can also use it to earn takedowns and keep his opponents off-balance. Ferguson owns a career record of 13-2.
Michael “The Menace” Johnson is a 25-year-old fighter from St. Louis, Missouri. Johnson was a competitor on the GSP vs. Koscheck season of The Ultimate Fighter. Johnson was the runner up that season, losing at the finale to Jonathan Brookins, in a bout where he dominated the first round, but subsequently gassed out and faded before losing rounds two and three. Johnson is now a member of the “Blackzillians” training out of Imperial Athletics in Boca Raton, Florida. Johnson has decent if somewhat basic boxing skills with decent hand and foot speed, along with a solid wrestling top game, but he’ll need to put it all together well to take out Ferguson. Johnson owns a career record of 7-5.
Analysis and Prediction: I’ve never really been high on Johnson, I thought he was handed favorable matches during his time on The Ultimate Fighter. However, he proved me wrong in his bout against Shane Roller. Unfortunately for him, I don’t think he can do it again. Ferguson is tailor built to exploit fighters like Johnson. Ferguson has big power and the wrestling ability to keep this bout standing. Johnson’s stand up is improving and he may even have a slight speed advantage, but it’s not enough to penetrate the long range of Ferguson who’ll take a decision. Tony Ferguson via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (FOX): Heavyweight Bout: Pat Barry vs. Lavar Johnson
Pat “HD” Barry is a 32-year-old fighter from New Orleans, Louisiana. Barry is a former professional kick boxer who has since transitioned to MMA full time. Although he most recently trained at the DeathClutch MMA Gym, he is still trained in striking under Duke Roufus and does spend time occasionally at the Roufusport Gym in Wisconsin. Barry is mainly a striker and isn’t afraid to admit it, although he has claimed in interviews that his grappling is improving, we have yet to see any evidence of that actually take place in a fight. Still his kickboxing skills are very impressive as his compact frame allows him to throw kicks and punches with speed and power. One of his biggest disadvantages is his size, as at 5’11” he is often at a significant reach disadvantage against other strikers. Still Barry is a highly entertaining fighter who holds a 7-4 professional MMA record.
Lavar “Big” Johnson is just that, a big, bruising Heavyweight fighter from Madera, California. He is a member of the American Kickboxing Academy and like his opponent for this bout, would much rather stand and trade with his opponents than wage a ground war. His propensity to brawl as well as his impressive personal story have made him a crowd favorite. In 2009, Johnson was shot at his family home during a fourth of July BBQ, he battled through that to make his return to fighting full time. Johnson recently made his UFC debut stopping the granite-chinned Joey Beltran with strikes in the first round. Johnson holds a career record of 16-5 and holds an impressive distinction of never fighting to a decision in his career, win or lose, this guy comes to fight.
Analysis and Prediction: These two have an open gentleman’s agreement to keep this bout standing and I would say that is the exact reason that they are being tapped to kick off the broadcast. Johnson’s never been to a decision and I doubt that this is going to be the first time. Barry is the better technical striker, but no one can deny the power that Johnson has in his hands. Barry will need to utilize leg kicks against Johnson if he wants to be successful. Powerful kicks to the big man’s legs will certainly slow him down and throw off his footwork. At the end of the day, Barry is at a significant reach disadvantage, but it’s not something he’s not used to, as he’s the smaller fighter in every bout. If he fights wisely he can win via second round stoppage, if he gets cute or stupid, he’s going out. I’ll take the former, but wouldn’t be surprised to see the latter. Pat Barry via TKO in Round Two
Main Card (FOX): Middleweight Bout: Rousimar Palhares vs. Alan Belcher
Rousimar “Toquinho” Palhares is a 32-year-old fighter from Brazil. Palhares is known for his impressive Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and leg lock skills, as well as his somewhat oddball behavior during fights. Palhares is a short and extremely muscular fighter who can use that build to unleash powerful punches from inside the clinch. Palhares is a member of the Brazilian Top Team who holds a black belt in BJJ. Palhares is a strong grappler, with a smothering top game and vicious ground and pound who is able to set up his submissions simply by pounding away on his opponents and forcing them into mistakes. Palhares has been prone to mental mistakes in the past including complaining that Nate Marquardt was greased before getting knocked out cold, as well as a premature celebration in a bout against Dan Miller. Still Palhares is a very dangerous opponent who holds a career record of 14-3.
Alan “The Talent” Belcher is a 28-year-old fighter from Jonesboro, Arkansas. Belcher currently trains at his own gym in Biloxi Mississippi as well as the Roufusport Gym in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Belcher is a talented kick boxer who can fight well from a range, when he is able to dictate the pacing and spacing of the bout. Belcher is also a significantly underrated grappler who owns a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. However, due to the dangerous ground game of Palhares, it’s unlikely that a ground battle is what Belcher wants to engage in. Belcher will need to use solid footwork and leg kicks to keep the bout away from clinches where Palhares will be able to excel. Belcher recently made his successful return to the UFC after over a year away with a career threatening eye injury. Belcher owns a career record of 17-6.
Analysis and Prediction: This bout is going to tell us a lot about both fighters and their potential against the upper echelon of the Middleweight division. Belcher has all the tools at his disposal to win this bout, he needs to stay on the outside and use his superior speed and kick boxing abilities to keep Palhares away from him. He will need to be cautious about throwing too many kicks, because all it will take is for Palhares to catch one and then Belcher might be in a whole world of trouble on the ground against the leg lock specialist. What it comes down to for me is that while Belcher does have all of the tools to keep Palhares at bay, the smallest of slip-ups will open the door for Palhares. I expect the Brazilian to struggle through the first round, before finding his range in the second. He slips inside nails a few big punches to stun the Roufusport fighter and then drags him to the ground for the big submission finish. Rousimar Palhares via Submission in Round Two.
Main Card (FOX): Welterweight Bout: Josh Koscheck vs. Johnny Hendricks
Josh “Kos” Koscheck is an American fighter from Waynesburg, Pennsylvania who is one of the most hated fighters in the UFC. Koscheck was first introduced to fans on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter where he was known for his wrestling skills and trash talk. He has perfected his role as the Welterweight divisions resident heel, which has gained him prominence as well as a legion of haters. Koscheck is a former NCAA Division I Wrestler who uses his wrestling skills extensively in bouts. He has solid takedowns and a smothering top control game. Despite the fact that he was widely criticized as a lay-and-pray fighter at the beginning of his career, he has since added solid striking skills to his repertoire matched by big knockout power in both hands. Koscheck is a former member of the American Kickboxing Academy but has since left and joined the Dethrone Base Camp. Koscheck owns a career record of 17-5.
Johnny Hendricks is a 28-year-old fighter from Ada, Oklahoma. Like his opponent for this bout Hendricks is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler while he was competing for Oklahoma State University. Hendricks is a member of the Team Takedown Gym fighting out of Dallas, Texas. Hendricks has also improved his striking skills, using tight boxing combinations and big power punches to throttle his opponents. Hendricks is coming off of a career-defining win, starching Jon Fitch in only 12 seconds to become the first man to ever stop Fitch in the UFC. Hendricks also has excellent dirty boxing skills and has been able to dominate several opponents in the clinch, utilizing nasty uppercuts from up close. Hendricks has tasted defeat only once in his professional career, he has a record of 12-1.
Analysis and Prediction: This is another ridiculously close bout, this time between two men with very similar styles. Both have excellent collegiate wrestling credentials, with Hendricks having a bit more success at the NCAA level, while Koscheck is probably better at using his wrestling in MMA. Hendricks is the quicker and more technical striking, but his defense has looked porous and Koscheck’s overhand right can put anyone in the division to sleep if he lands it cleanly. Both men have one recent common opponent, Mike Pierce who both defeated via Split Decisions, while that is a testament to how tough Pierce is for any fighter at Welterweight I thought Hendricks had more success against him striking and grinding. This one is going to come down to a few takedowns and a few late flurries to steal the rounds, I don’t think anyone is getting stopped, once again I’ll go back to my handy, dandy coin and take Koscheck. Josh Koscheck via Split Decision.
Main Card (FOX): Lightweight Bout: Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller
Nate Diaz is a 27-year-old fighter from Stockton, California. He is the younger brother of former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion and current UFC Welterweight Nick Diaz. Nate is also successful for more than just being the younger brother of Nick, he was a cast member and the eventual winner of the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Diaz is an extremely talented grappler with a dangerous submission game and a black belt in BJJ. Diaz is a member of the Cesar Gracie Jiu Jitsu Gym where he trains regularly with brother Nick, Jake Shields and Gilbert Melendez. In addition to his impressive grappling skills, Nate is an extremely capable boxer. Although he throws very few kicks, he is an expert at controlling the range of a fight by cutting off the cage and walking down his opponents. Diaz doesn’t throw any particular punch with big power, but instead relies simply on a volume punching style. Diaz throws a lot of leather and is extremely accurate and in his last bout against Donald Cerrone he set a number of records by landing 82% of the strikes he threw, as well as landing a record 238 significant strikes in a three round fight. Diaz has struggled against smothering wrestlers in the past, however, his jiu jitsu and judo skills make him a tough fighter to simply hold down, as he is very active from guard, constantly threatening with submission attempts and sweeps. Diaz holds a career record of 15-7.
Jim Miller is an American fighter from Sparta Township, New Jersey. Miller is a member of the AMA Fight Club out of New Jersey and will surely have the hometown advantage come fight night on Saturday. Miller is the epitome of a grinder. Miller constantly moves forward, plugging behind double leg takedowns and a gritty stand up style. One of Miller’s best assets is his strong gas tank and his ability to take a punch. In his last bout, he took a big punch from Guillard but was able to recover and takeover by dragging Guillard to the ground and outworking him en-route to a submission victory. Miller will need to fight intelligently against Diaz, he’ll need to avoid getting caught up in striking exchanges and focus simply on getting the bout to the mat. Miller owns an impressive grappling game of his own, but unlike Diaz who can threaten from the top and the bottom, Miller relies on being on top and smothering his opponents while searching out submission opportunities. Miller owns a career record of 21-3.
Analysis and Prediction: This bout will quite simply come down to who can impose their will on the other fighter. Miller is a grinder, always pushing forward and always looking to pressure his opponents. He has one hell of a chin and has never been stopped in his entire career. He has an impressive and smothering top control game and while his takedowns aren’t always of the textbook variety, they usually get the job done. He’s got a stellar grappling game himself and is able to completely blanket fighters when he gets in top control. His game plan is going to rely a lot on getting Diaz to the ground, getting on top and working from there.
For Diaz, the game plan will be the exact opposite. He’s got excellent boxing and his pitter-patter volume punching style absolutely massacred Donald Cerrone in their last fight. It also appeared to overwhelm him, as instead of changing game plans, Cerrone just kept coming in to take the punches, I would expect Miller to avoid a similar game plan. Diaz is an excellent submission grappler with an extremely active guard, which dissuades a lot of fighters from trying to take him down, I don’t expect Miller will be one of those fighters, so Diaz had better have been working on his sprawl and brawl techniques. Although Miller’s stand up is decent, he’s not on Diaz’s level, and Diaz also has a stellar chin, so even for those times when Diaz takes a punch, you know he can take it and he’s going to be throwing four or five more back.
Miller must make this fight dirty. His best chance is to close the distance early and often. Diaz isn’t a power puncher so there isn’t the fear of a massive haymaker waiting for him for wading in too close, but Miller needs to do it quickly, or he’ll be eating a steady diet of leather from Diaz as he backs away. Miller is the exact type of fighter that Diaz has struggled with in the past, the grinding wrestler who can control him on the ground and not allow him to get into a rhythm on the feet. This fight is also five rounds, but neither man has shown a lot of cardio issues in the past, so I just expect two more rounds of action. I’m going to take Miller in this fight, I really like Diaz, but Miller is custom built to give him problems. Rory MacDonald completely manhandled Nate Diaz at Welterweight and while Miller doesn’t have the size and strength advantages over Diaz that MacDonald did at Welterweight, he should still be able to implement a similar game plan. Enough so that he can take three out of five rounds and take the decision. Jim Miller via Unanimous Decision.
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