It’s been an interesting couple of weeks since Chris Weidman shocked the world at UFC 162. The UFC is finally breaking from a couple of weeks of downtime and returning to action this weekend, this time on free network television. This Saturday night the UFC presents UFC on FOX: Johnson vs. Moraga from the Key Arena in Seattle, Washington. Once again in the main event, the Flyweight title will take center stage in a free television show as UFC Champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson takes on fast-rising contender John Moraga.
The co-main event of the evening features a Welterweight grudge match between GSP-lite Rory “The Waterboy” MacDonald and hard-hitting knockout artist Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger. Other main card bouts include a Women’s Bantamweight bout between Liz Carmouche and the debuting Jessica Andrade, as well as a potential slugfest between a pair of Strikeforce Welterweight imports; “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler and Bobby Voelker.
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: John Albert vs. Yaotzin Meza
Quick Pick: John Albert via TKO in Round Two
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Lightweight Bout: Aaron Riley vs. Justin Salas
Aaron Riley is a 32-year-old fighter from Tell City, Indiana. He now resides and trains in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he is a member of the Greg Jackson’s Submission Fighting Gym. Riley has fought for a number of major MMA promotions across his career including Bodog Fight, PRIDE, IFL and Shooto. He holds a professional MMA record of 30-13. Justin “J-Bomb” Salas is a 31-year-old fighter from Green River, Wyoming. He is a member of the Grudge Training Center, training in Denver, Colorado. Salas is a former NCAA Division 1 wrestler from the University of Wyoming. He holds a professional MMA record of 10-4.
Quick Pick: Justin Salas via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (FX): Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Julie Kedzie vs. Germaine de Randamie
Julie “Fireball” Kedzie is a 32-year-old fighter from Chicago, Illinois. She is a black belt in Tae Kwan Do and also excels in submission grappling. She is a member of Greg Jackson’s camp in New Mexico, where she also helps Coach Jackson to run the day-to-day operations of the gym. Her professional MMA record is 16-11. Germaine “The Iron Lady” de Randamie is a 29-year-old fighter from Utrecht, Netherlands. She is a former professional kick boxer who now trains in the United States with the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California. She holds a professional MMA record of 3-2.
Quick Pick: Julie Kedzie via Submission in Round Two
Preliminary Card (FX): Middleweight Bout: Ed Herman vs. Trevor Smith
Ed “Short Fuse” Herman is a 32-year-old fighter from Vancouver, Washington. Herman is a former cast member from the early seasons of The Ultimate Fighter. He now trains with Team Quest in Fort Collins, Colorado where he holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He holds a professional MMA record of 20-9 with 1 No Contest. Trevor “Hot Sauce” Smith is a 32-year-old fighter also from Vancouver, Washington. He is a member of the Ring Demon Jiu Jitsu Gym in Tukwila, Washington. He is a former Strikeforce fighter who will be making his UFC debut. He holds a professional MMA record of 10-3.
Quick Pick: Ed Herman via Submission in Round Two
Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Yves Edwards vs. Daron Cruickshank
Yves “The Thugjitsu Master” is a 36-year-old fighter from Nassau, Bahamas. He is an MMA veteran who has fought for the UFC, PRIDE, WEC, Strikeforce, Bellator and Elite XC and has been fighting professionally since 1997. He is a member of the American Top Team in Woodlands, Texas. He holds an MMA record of 42-19-1. Daron “The Detroit Superstar” Cruickshank is a 28-year-old fighter from Detroit, Michigan. He was a cast member on the The Ultimate Fighter: Live. He is a black belt in Tae Kwan Do, but is also a former NCAA wrestler. He trains with the DC Prodigies Gym in Wayne, Michigan. His professional MMA record stands at 12-3.
Quick Pick: Daron Cruickshank via TKO in Round One
Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Mac Danzig vs. Melvin Guillard
Mac Danzig is a 33-year-old fighter from Cleveland, Ohio. He is best known as the vegan winner of the sixth season of The Ultimate Fighter. He trains with the PKG Gym in Los Angeles, California. Danzig holds a pro record of 21-10. Melvin “The Young Assassin” Guillard is a 30-year-old fighter who debuted for the UFC on the second season of The Ultimate Fighter. He is one of the Lightweight division’s hardest punchers and most dangerous strikers, however, he is also well known for his propensity to make mistakes in the cage. He is a member of the Grudge Training Center, but has been bouncing from camp to camp during his recent struggles. He holds a professional record of 30-12-2 with 1 No Contest.
Quick Pick: Melvin Guillard via TKO in Round Two
Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Danny Castillo vs. Tim Means
Danny “Last Call” Castillo is a 33-year-old fighter from Sacramento, California. He is a member of Team Alpha Male training with Urijah Faber and company at the Ultimate Fitness Gym. Castillo was a stand out high school wrestler who also holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Castillo holds an MMA record of 15-5. Tim “The Dirty Bird” Means is a 29-year-old fighter from Wilburton, Oklahoma. He is a member of the Power MMA Gym in New Mexico. Means is a former King of the Cage Lightweight and Junior Welterweight Champion. He holds a professional record of 18-4-1.
Quick Pick: Tim Means via Split Decision
Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Michael Chiesa vs. Jorge Masvidal
Michael “Maverick” Chiesa is a 25-year-old fighter from Aurora, Colorado. He was a cast member on The Ultimate Fighter: Live and was the eventual winner of the show’s tournament. Chiesa is a member of Team Alpha Male, but resides and trains in Spokane, Washington. He holds a perfect pro record of 9-0. Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal is a 28-year-old fighter from Miami, Florida. Masvidal is a member of the American Top Team. Masvidal has fought for a number of major North American promotions including Bodog Fight, Strikeforce and Bellator. He holds a professional MMA record of 24-7.
Quick Pick: Jorge Masvidal via TKO in Round Three
Main Card (FOX): Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Liz Carmouche vs. Jessica Andrade
Liz “Girl-rilla” Carmouche is a 29-year-old fighter from Lafayette, Louisiana. Carmouche is most notable for being the second half of the first ever Women’s MMA bout in the UFC opposite champion Ronda Rousey. Carmouche is also notable as being the first openly gay fighter in the UFC and also for her time spent in the Marine Corps serving the United States. Despite her outside the cage accolades, she’s also a talented fighter inside the cage with solid grappling skills and serviceable boxing. She is a member of the Team Hurricane Awesome Gym in San Diego, California. She holds an MMA record of 8-3.
Jessica “Bate Estaca” Andrade is a 21-year-old fighter from Parana, Brazil. She will be making her UFC debut in this contest and will be taking a pretty big step up in competition. Andrade is a talented grappler who has finished all of her opponents either via TKO or Submission, but has choked out five of her last six opponents. Andrade is a member of the Parana Vale Tudo Gym in her hometown where she constantly works on her wrestling and grappling. This may be tough to accomplish against Carmouche who is very physically strong and often dominated the clinch game against her opponents. She holds a professional record of 9-2.
Analysis and Prediction: Andrade is a talented grappler, but it’s going to be very tough to get Carmouche to the ground. Carmouche is a tough and physically strong fighter with excellent takedown defense and is smothering in the clinch game. Many of Andrade’s takedowns come from trips or throws from the clinch, but that’s unlikely to work against Carmouche. The more likely result is that Carmouche earns the takedowns and forces Andrade to work from the bottom. I haven’t seen enough from the young Brazilian to think she can survive the ground and pound from there for long. Liz Carmouche via TKO in Round One
Main Card (FOX): Welterweight Bout: Robbie Lawler vs. Bobby Voelker
“Ruthless” Robbie Lawler is a 31-year-old MMA veteran from San Diego, California. Lawler has been competing in professional MMA since 2001. He is a former Middleweight fighter who has held titles in a number of promotions most notably ICON Sport. He is a member of the American Top Team but also trains at Matt Hughes’ H.I.T. Squad Gym where he is a part owner. Lawler is known for his brawling style and his iron chin, having been stopped only once in his entire career. He recently made a triumphant return to the UFC with a first round TKO over Josh Koscheck. He holds a professional record of 20-9 with 1 No Contest.
“Vicious” Bobby Voelker is a 34-year-old fighter from Kansas City, Kansas. Voelker is a member of the Finney’s MMA Gym. Voelker is a former Strikeforce fighter who came over when the promotion was closed. Voelker is primarily a striker who loves to get involved in brawls. He recently made his UFC debut, dropping a close decision to Patrick Cote. Voelker is a powerful striker who has earned 19 wins via stoppage. Voelker is best known for his trilogy of exciting fights against Roger Bowling in Strikeforce, a trilogy that he eventually went 2-1 in. Overall his professional record stands at 15-9.
Analysis and Prediction: As we saw in Voelker’s UFC debut against Cote, and as we’ve seen in the past, he doesn’t mind getting into brawls. That’s probably a bad strategy against a striker as capable as Lawler. At this point in his career, Lawler isn’t surprising anyone and he isn’t good enough for a run at the title, but his skillset is enough to tag Voelker a few times, and his power is enough that tagging Voelker a few times is all it will take. I think he eventually lands a big counter shot that turns Voelker’s lights out. Robbie Lawler via KO in Round Two
Main Card (FOX): Welterweight Bout: Rory MacDonald vs. Jake Ellenberger
Rory “The Waterboy” MacDonald is a 24-year-old fighter from Quesnel, British Columbia, Canada. MacDonald is a tough and well-rounded young fighter who began training specifically in MMA without focusing on any one discipline. He is a talented grappler however, who holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. MacDonald is a member of the Tristar Gym where he trains regularly alongside UFC Welterweight Champion and close friend, Georges St. Pierre. MacDonald is a top prospect in the Welterweight division and holds a professional MMA record of 14-1, with the lone loss coming against top contender Carlos Condit.
Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger is a 28-year-old fighter from Omaha, Nebraska. He is a member of the Reign Training Center in Orange County, California. Ellenberger is a former NCAA Division 2 wrestler from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Despite his well-documented wrestling skills, Ellenberger is also known for his powerful striking. He is a tight and compact boxer who can generate a lot of power in his strikes. Ellenberger holds a professional MMA record of 29-6, with 18 knockouts.
Analysis and Prediction: MacDonald should have one glaring advantage heading into this contest and that is his cardio. Ellenberger has been prone to fading late in fights and he could be in trouble against MacDonald if he does. Rory is going to need to be careful during the first round, this is when Ellenberger is most dangerous. His shots pack the most power in round one and he’s willing to throw with bad intentions, as evidenced during his Knockout of the Night performance against Nate Marquardt. I like MacDonald, but he seems a bit too hittable to me, his striking defense has some flaws. If he can survive the first half of the fight, he should be able to take over in the late stages. But I think he gets clipped early. Jake Ellenberger via TKO in Round One
Main Card (FOX): UFC Flyweight Championship Bout: Demetrious Johnson vs. John Moraga
Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson is a 26-year-old fighter from Madisonville, Kentucky. He is the reigning and defending UFC Flyweight Champion. Johnson trains with the AMC Pankration Gym in Kirkland, Washington where he trains under famed coach Matt “The Wizard” Hume. Johnson is a cardio machine, who often outworks his opponents over the course of five rounds as they begin to fade from trying to keep up with his pace. Johnson is a talented and technical striking who is very defensively minded and is very difficult to hit with power shots. Johnson holds a professional MMA record of 14-2-1.
Analysis and Prediction: No one has been able to solve the mystery of Mighty Mouse at Flyweight quite yet, but Moraga might have close to the style to do it. He’s taller and has excellent wrestling to control the smaller champion. Unfortunately, he’s also a bit slower and a bit more plodding in his movements, while Johnson on the other hand is extremely fluid and moves around the cage very well. Moraga also hasn’t shown me a striking skillset diversified enough to handle what Johnson brings into the octagon.
I expect a similar performance to those that we’ve seen from Johnson in the past. He’s going to force Moraga to work, he’s going to push the pace constantly. Moraga has never been to the championship rounds of a fight and that’s where Johnson excels, so I expect the champion’s punch output to continue to rise and rise with each passing round. In the end, I don’t think he’ll get a stoppage, but it could be a fairly one-sided decision. Demetrious Johnson via Unanimous Decision
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