Say whatever you want about the UFC, but no one can accuse them of being slow. With the octagon barely packed up from a landmark Pay Per View event at UFC 148, they are heading back to the land of free TV for UFC on Fuel TV 4 this Wednesday night. The UFC heads westward to the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California. Although lacking in the big name value or the hype of an intense grudge match like it’s PPV cousin, it does have a Middleweight main event, which could provide Anderson Silva’s next challenger, as well as a number of intriguing bouts that could provide significant excitement and entertainment value.
As mentioned, the main event is a five-round Middleweight bout between consensus Top 10 Middleweight Mark Munoz and fast-rising undefeated prospect Chris Weidman. Also featured on the Main card is the Light Heavyweight debut of Joey Beltran against hard-hitting New Zealander James Te-Huna. Aaron Simpson sheds fifteen pounds and makes his Welterweight debut against late replacement Kenny Robertson in the other featured bout. Three more bouts round out the main card including hard-hitting Lightweights Rafael dos Anjos and Anthony Njokuani, a scrappy Bantamweight bout between TJ Dillashaw and Britain’s Vaughan Lee and a bout between two European Middleweights; Karlos Vemola and Francis Carmont.
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Raphael Assuncao vs. Issei Tamura
[adinserter block=”2″]Rafael Assuncao is a 29-year-old fighter from Recife, Brazil. Assuncao is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who relies heavily on his grappling game during his bouts. Assuncao is a member of the Ascension MMA Gym in Atlanta, Georgia. After going 3-3 at 145-pounds in the UFC and WEC he dropped to Bantamweight and has gone 1-0 since. He holds a career record of 17-4. Issei Tamura is a 28-year-old fighter from Tokyo, Japan. Tamura is a member of the Krazy Bee Gym in Tokyo and is a wrestling based fighter. Tamura has fought the majority of his bouts for major Asian MMA promotion; Shooto. This will be Tamura’s first fight at Bantamweight and his first fight outside of his home country. Tamura holds a career record of 7-2 and is 1-0 inside the UFC.
Analysis and Prediction: Tamura seems like a fighter who is custom built to defeat Assuncao. Tamura is the definition of a grinder, he uses takedowns and top position to pound away at his opponents and earn points on the judge’s scorecards. Assuncao uses control and submission offense, but it’s unlikely he’ll be able to wrestle his way to top position against Tamura. I’m slightly worried since it’s Tamura’s first fight at 135-pounds, but he’s always been small for Featherweight, the bigger concern is it being his first bout in the USA. Still, if he’s well adjusted he can control Assuncao for three rounds. Issei Tamura via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Marcelo Guimaraes vs. Dan Stittgen
Marcelo “Magrao” Guimaraes is a Brazilian fighter from the Caveira Fight Team. Guimaraes has fought most of his career at Middleweight and was the inaugural Jungle Fight Middleweight Champion before being signed by the UFC. Guimaraes uses takedowns and vicious ground and pound to outwork his opponents on the mat. He holds an undefeated professional record of 7-0-1. Dan “The Anvil” Stittgen is an American fighter from Woodstock, Illinois. He is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who is a member of the Midwest Training Center in Schaumburg, Illinois. Stittgen was the sacrificial lamb to Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson in both of their UFC debuts earlier this year. Stittgen is mostly a wrestler whose stand up looked pretty awful in his UFC debut. Still he owns a career record of 7-2 with both of his losses coming against fighters currently in the UFC.
Analysis and Prediction: This is another fight where one should be able to control the other, as Guimaraes should be able to outwork and control Stittgen on the ground. Standing, neither fighter is a real knockout threat and neither of them is really all that talented, so it will likely be a ground battle, which is unlikely to make this bout overly exciting. This will be Guimaraes’ first bout at Welterweight and his first bout in the USA, so those factors are always a concern, but he’s better than Stittgen in almost every way. Don’t expect fireworks, but the Brazilian should take it. Marcelo Guimaraes via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Middleweight Bout: Rafael Natal vs. Andrew Craig
Rafael “Sapo” Natal is a 29-year-old Brazilian fighter who now lives and trains in New York City. Natal is a member of the Gracie Fusion Gym in NYC and is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Natal’s striking skills aren’t amazing, but his takedowns are actually pretty good for someone who doesn’t have a wrestling background. Natal holds a professional record of 14-3-1. Andrew Craig is an American fighter from Houston, Texas. Craig is a strong grappler who is a member of the Team Tooke Gym in Houston, Texas. Craig holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and surprised Kyle Noke in his UFC debut, after taking the bout on short notice. Craig has a perfect professional record of 7-0.
Analysis and Prediction: Craig’s UFC debut was impressive as Kyle Noke is a very talented fighter. However, he was pretty easily handled in the first round and made the comeback after Noke blew out his knee. Natal is proven at the UFC level and although his striking still leaves something to be desired Craig doesn’t strike me as someone able to exploit that. Natal earns more takedowns and controls the action on the ground in what could possibly be another lackluster affair. Rafael Natal via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Flyweight Bout: Chris Cariaso vs. Josh Ferguson
Chris “Kamikaze” Cariaso is an American fighter from San Jose, California. Cariaso will be making his Flyweight debut in this fight, after spending the majority of his career at Bantamweight. Cariaso has decent striking skills and has good takedowns, although he isn’t a significantly talented grappler who does a lot with his takedowns. Cariaso fights out of the Fight and Fitness Gym in San Francisco, California. He holds a professional record of 13-3, with his only two losses since 2008 coming to top Bantamweight contenders Renan Barao and Michael McDonald. Josh “Taz” Ferguson is an American fighter from Louisville, Kentucky. Ferguson is a member of the All American MMA Gym in Louisville, Kentucky. He is a former cast-member of The Ultimate Fighter who is also making his Flyweight debut. He holds a career record of 8-4.
Analysis and Prediction: Although this will be the UFC debut of both fighters, their resumes are completely different heading into this fight. Ferguson enters the bout on a two-fight losing skid and is probably fighting for his job. Cariaso is coming off of a big win over a Top-10 opponent and is making the drop on his own decision. Cariaso is the more talented fighter basically anywhere the fight goes unless he ends up on the bottom of a takedown, which given his wrestling ability is unlikely. Cariaso should be able to earn a late stoppage. Chris Cariaso via TKO in Round Two
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Damacio Page vs. Alex Caceres
Damacio “The Angel of Death” Page is an American fighter from Greg Jackson’s camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Page is a tough and gritty fighter who is known for his strong chin and his ability to absorb punishment. He has never been knocked out in his MMA career despite getting in a number of wild brawls and taking a number of big punches. He enters this bout on a three fight-losing skid, although all losses have come against elite Bantamweight fighters. He has a career record of 15-7. Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres is a 24-year-old fighter who is best known for his stint on The Ultimate Fighter. Caceres is a member of the Young Tigers Foundation Gym in Miami, Florida. Caceres initially fought as a bareknuckle fighter in a backyard fighting promotion in his hometown. He is coming off of a decision loss to Edwin Figueroa.
Main Card (Fuel TV): Lightweight Bout: Rafael dos Anjos vs. Anthony Njokuani
Rafael dos Anjos is a 27-year-old Brazilian fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is a member of the Evolve MMA Gym and is known primarily for his black belt level Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills. Despite being known mostly for his submission savvy he is a capable striker who can strike with significant power for the Lightweight division. Dos Anjos has tight defense and relatively decent footwork, which he uses to dart in and out of the pocket while throwing power punches but avoiding significant return fire from his opponents. Dos Anjos holds a career record of 16-6. Anthony “The Assassin” Njokuani is a Nigerian fighter who now resides and trains out of Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a member of the Janjira Muay Thai Gym in Las Vegas. He is mostly a stand up fighter who has struggled against competent wrestlers who are able to drag him to the ground. At 6’1” and with a 75.5-inch reach, he is extremely tall and lengthy for the division. Njokuani does his best work when he is able to stand outside and use his vast array of kicks to punish his opponents’ legs and bodies. Njokuani is also very strong in the Thai Clinch and can throw dangerous elbows and knees from that position, that may be extremely important for this bout as scoring trips from the clinch is one of dos Anjos’ favorite techniques. Njokuani holds a professional record of 15-6 with 1 No Contest.
Analysis and Prediction: Njokuani has struggled against fighters who can control him on the mat and dos Anjos is certainly a grappler capable of controlling the bout on the mat. The question will remain whether or not he can work the fight there. Njokuani is excellent at fighting at range and is fully capable of outworking dos Anjos from range if he can use proper footwork and leg kicks to keep dos Anjos at bay. As I mentioned Njokuani is very strong in the clinch so it’s unlikely that will be an avenue for dos Anjos to pursue. If Njokuani can use his distance and keep the fight upright he has the chance for the upset. Anthony Njokuani via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (Fuel TV): Bantamweight Bout: T.J. Dillashaw vs. Vaughan Lee
T.J. “The Viper” DIllashaw is an American fighter from Sonora, California. He is a member of the Team Alpha Male Gym in Sacramento, California. He is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Cal State Fullerton. Dillashaw is best known for his time as a cast-member on The Ultimate Fighter 14, where he finished runner up to John Dodson. Dillashaw has fairly basic striking but is an absolute nightmare on the ground. He is dominant with takedowns and has a strong power double leg takedown. Dillashaw holds a career record of 5-1. Vaughan “Love” Lee is an English fighter from Birmingham, England. Lee is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who trains out of the Ultimate Training Center in Birmingham. Lee is a talented grappler who has excellent sweeps and submissions, but is somewhat lacking in striking skills. Lee is coming off of the biggest win of his career; a Submission upset over Norifumi Yamamoto at UFC 144. Lee holds a career record of 12-7-1.
Analysis and Prediction: Lee looked impressive in his win over Yamamoto, but Dillashaw is on a completely different level. DIllashaw absolutely dominated Walel Watson in his last bout, winning with scores of 30-25 twice. Dillashaw is going to go right after Lee and take him down. Dillashaw’s submission defense is good enough to not get caught off of his back and I think he probably pounds out a victory in the first round. T.J. Dillashaw via TKO in Round One
Main Card (Fuel TV): Middleweight Bout: Karlos Vemola vs. Francis Carmont
Karlos “The Terminator” Vemola is a 27-year-old fighter from Olomouc, Czech Republic. He is a former body builder who made his MMA debut in 2008. He actually made his debut as a Heavyweight and has since dropped two weight-classes. Vemola is a former Czech Republic National Freestyle Wrestling champion who trains with the London Shootfighters Gym in London, England. He uses his short but compact frame to wrestle his opponents to the ground where he can unleash his vicious ground and pound. He holds a professional record of 9-2. Francis “Limitless” Carmont is a 30-year-old striker from France. Since making his MMA debut he has moved to Montreal, Quebec, Canada where he is a member of the famed Tristar Gym. Carmont is a former Light Heavyweight fighter who has looked impressive since dropping to Middleweight and joining the UFC. Carmont is a talented striker who has a well-balanced attack with accurate hands and solid leg kicks. Carmont holds a career record of 18-7, but is 2-0 in the UFC.
Analysis and Prediction: Vemola is certainly going to need to strike first if he is to have a chance in this bout. Vemola has wild striking that will certainly be countered by a precise striker like Carmont. Vemola also may not have the strength to simply overpower Carmont who is a large Middleweight himself. Vemola however does have the power to hurt Carmont standing. The likely scenario at play here is that if Carmont survives the first, he can come back to win later in the bout. If Vemola can land the big shot, or drag this fight to the ground, he certainly has the ability to pound his way to a Rear Naked Choke victory. It’s a coin-flip for me, but I like Vemola, even if he’s not the most talented, I still like him. Karlos Vemola via Submission in Round One
Main Card (Fuel TV): Welterweight Bout: Aaron Simpson vs. Kenny Robertson
Aaron “A-Train” Simpson makes his return to the octagon for this bout at a new weight class, as he sheds 15 pounds to drop to the Welterweight limit. Simpson is a 37-year-old fighter from Gunnison, Colorado who now resides and trains in Phoenix, Arizona. He is a member of the Power MMA Team in Phoenix. Simpson is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Arizona State University. He holds a professional MMA record of 11-3, with all three losses coming in the UFC. Kenny Robertson is an American fighter from East Peoria, Illinois. He is a member of the Central Illinois Combat Club and is a talented grappler. His striking skills are fairly mediocre, but he does have enough power to rock a fighter. He has struggled against fighters who do not allow him to control them on the mat, and considering Simpson’s wrestling background, that may prove to be a problem. Robertson holds a career record of 11-1.
Analysis and Prediction: I’m not sure Simpson is making the right move for his career. At the weigh-ins he looked incredibly drained, so it will be interesting to see how he deals with the weight cut. He has gassed in some of his bouts before, so that could be an even bigger problem with the added weight cut. If he handles the cut fine he can definitely win this bout basically by neutralizing Robertson’s ability to grapple and by using his improving boxing skills. If he fades late, Robertson may be able to capitalize. As it is, I’ll stick with Simpson because he’s more proven, but I’m not sold on him as a Welterweight yet. Aaron Simpson via TKO in Round Two
Main Card (Fuel TV): Light Heavyweight Bout: James Te-Huna vs. Joey Beltran
James Te-Huna is a New Zealand born fighter from Darfield, New Zealand. He is a member of the Elite Fight Gym out of Sydney Australia. Te-Huna is known for his fan-friendly style, as he is an extremely aggressive striker who brings violence to the cage in any bout that he’s in. Te-Huna’s favorite strategy is to move forward behind big power punches both in the form of looping left hooks and big uppercuts. Te-Huna is a very athletic Light Heavyweight. At 6’2” and with a 75-inch reach he moves well for the weight class and has shown an incredible finishing instinct. He holds a career record of 14-5, with 13 stoppages. Joey “The Mexecutioner” Beltran is an American fighter who is making his return to the UFC as a Light Heavyweight. The 30-year-old striker from San Diego was cut from the UFC after being knocked out cold by Lavar Johnson. A cut to 205-pounds, a regional victory and an injury has opened the door to his return. A member of the Alliance MMA Gym in California, Beltran is known for his brawling style of fighting and his ability to absorb huge amounts of punishment. He holds a professional record of 14-7, being stopped by strikes only once.
Analysis and Prediction: This is a pretty awful match up for Beltran. He throws loopy punches and prefers to brawl rather than fight technically. Te-Huna is a big, strong, agile and athletic Light Heavyweight who throws tight boxing combinations with big power and bad intentions. Despite Beltran’s past as a Heavyweight, at the weigh-ins Te-Huna looked significantly larger than Beltran. I don’t expect Te-Huna can straight knock Beltran out standing, but I think he can stagger him before tripping him into a takedown and pounding out a stoppage from there. James Te-Huna via TKO in Round One
Main Card (Fuel TV): Five Round Middleweight Main Event: Mark Munoz vs. Chris Weidman
Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Munoz is a 34-year-old fighter from the Reign Training Center in Lake Forest, California. Munoz is a former California State Wrestling Champion and an NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Oklahoma State University. Munoz has big power in his hands and can rattle the brains of even the most granite-chinned fighters, as he proved in his bout against Chris Leben. Despite his impressive collegiate wrestling background, Munoz has struggled to translate those skills into his MMA skillset. In his UFC and WEC career, Munoz’s takedown percentage is barely above 20%, which is extremely low for such an accomplished amateur wrestler. As his basic boxing has improved, he has been more successful, as he sets up his takedowns by closing the distance more efficiently. Munoz holds a career record of 12-2.
Chris “The Hangman” Weidman is a 28-year-old fighter from Baldwin, New York. Weidman is a member of the Serra-Longo Fight Team from Garden City, New York. He is also a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler, who plied his trade at Hofstra University. Weidman is a very competent and talented grappler, who actually competed at the ADCC Submission Championships with only one year of formal training. He is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under former UFC fighter Matt Serra. Weidman has decent technical striking for someone as new to the sport as he is and is improving at a very rapid pace. It’s also important for him that he will have a 7-inch reach advantage in this bout. His ability to mix in leg kicks and keep his attack varied while fighting from the outside will be important for him in this bout. Weidman has a perfect professional record of 8-0.
Analysis and Prediction: These two have a very recent common opponent in Demian Maia. Both men were victorious, but both struggled against Maia for differing reasons. Munoz was able to work well on the feet against Maia, but was tagged several times and even rocked by Maia, who is not known for his boxing prowess. Weidman also struggled down the stretch, but he took the bout on ten days notice and had to cut a significant amount of weight (30 plus pounds, according to some reports.)
[adinserter block=”1″]The wrestling game is likely to equal out in this one. Munoz is extremely strong, but Weidman is no push over. On the mat Munoz has strong submission defense, but has very little offense other than his ground and pound skills. Weidman on the other hand is very aggressive with his submission offense and uses his lanky arms to snare limbs and snatch opportunities as they present themselves. From top control both men are very aggressive with their ground and pound. Munoz prefers to hang out in guard and throw big powerful strikes. Weidman on the other hand constantly passes, trying to work all the way to full mount, where his ground and pound may open up an opportunity for a submission.
On the feet Munoz throws big power, but he throws in looping wild punches. Weidman throws tighter punches, with better accuracy and will be very successful countering Munoz, if he doesn’t tighten things up. Also, Munoz’s striking defense is poor and he gets hit entirely too often, as Maia proved. If he isn’t able to tighten up his striking, Weidman is likely going to use that seven-inch reach advantage to punish Munoz. As it is, I think Munoz will struggle to get Weidman down and Weidman holds the edge standing. I expect he finds a late submission after rocking Munoz on the feet. Chris Weidman via Submission in Round Four
[amazon_link id=”1936608545″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Chael Sonnen – The Voice of Reason: A V.I.P. Pass to Enlightenment[/amazon_link]