Zuffa and the UFC continue their summer tour with two big events this week. On the weekend Strikeforce will finally wrap up their Heavyweight Grand Prix after a number of delays and injuries. But before that can happen, the UFC brings another midweek offering to Fuel TV for fight fans.
On Tuesday May 15 the UFC rolls into the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Virginia for UFC on Fuel TV 3. Though somewhat lacking in big names, this card offers a number of intriguing bouts and if there’s anything that we learned from the UFC’s latest FOX offering, it’s that the cards without the big names that deliver the most excitement.
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Alex Soto vs. Francisco Rivera
Alex Soto is a Mexican-American fighter from Tijuana, Mexico. He now trains out of the Team Hurricane Awesome Gym in San Diego California. Soto is a former member of the US Army who owns a pro record of 6-1-1. Francisco “Cisco” Rivera is a powerful striker who has stopped five opponents with strikes in the first round. He owns a 7-2 professional record with both of his losses coming under the Zuffa banner against top competition. Francisco Rivera via TKO in Round One
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Jeff Curran vs. Johnny Eduardo
Jeff “Big Frog” Curran is the cousin of Bellator Featherweight Champion Pat Curran. He is a veteran of the sport of MMA with nearly 50 career bouts. Curran owns and operates his own gym and Fight Team (Team Curran) in Crystal Lake, Illinois. Curran is an extremely talented grappler with a 2nd degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who owns a career record of 33-14-1. Johnny Eduardo is a Brazilian fighter who is a member of the famed Nova Uniao camp. Like his opponent Eduardo is a well-travelled veteran of the sport of MMA who owns a career record of 25-9. Jeff Curran via Submission in Round Two
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Lightweight Bout: Rafael dos Anjos vs. Kamal Shalorus
Rafael dos Anjos is a Brazilian fighter fighting out of the Evolve MMA Gym in Rio de Janeiro. He is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with improving striking skills and big time power in his hands. Dos Anjos has a professional record of 15-6. Kamal “Price of Persia” Shalorus is an Iranian-born fighter. Shalorus is a stand out wrestler who often prefers to stand and trade with his opponents. The problem often being that although he throws big power shots, he rarely connects consistently and often wears himself out. Shalorus has a career record of 7-2-2, but is winless in the UFC and may be fighting for his job in this one. Rafael dos Anjos via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Lightweight Bout: TJ Grant vs. Carlo Prater
TJ Grant is a Canadian born fighter from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. Grant is a strong grappler with excellent wrestling and a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Grant was mediocre during his time at Welterweight in the UFC but looked very impressive in his Lightweight debut where he submitted Shane Roller. Grant holds a pro record of 17-5. Carlo “Neo” Prater is a Brazilian fighter from the Thugjitsu camp in Brasilia, Brazil. He is a talented grappler with a number of impressive martial arts accolades including a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a black belt in Luta Livre and a brown belt in Judo. Prater is a very experienced fighter with a career record of 30-10-1. TJ Grant via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Middleweight Bout: Brad Tavares vs. Dongi Yang
Brad Tavares is a 24-year-old fighter from Kailua, Hawaii. A former cast-member of the eleventh season of The Ultimate Fighter he now trains out of Las Vegas, Nevada. Tavares is a fairly well rounded fighter, who looked impressive despite dropping his last bout, as he was able to fend off most of the takedowns from smothering wrestler Aaron Simpson. It was the first professional loss of Tavares’ career, he now owns a record of 7-1. Dongi “The Ox” Yang is a South Korean fighter who is a member of the Korean Top Team. A well rounded fighter with black belts in Judo, Tae Kwan Do and Yong Moo Do, Yang prefers to keep his bouts standing. This has made him a lot of fans, as his bouts are rarely boring as he is often swinging for the fences against his opponents, constantly searching for the knockout. Yang owns a career record of 10-2. Brad Tavares via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Lightweight Bout: Cody McKenzie vs. Marcus LeVesseur
Cody “AK Kid” McKenzie is an American fighter from Cordova, Alaska. He is a former cast-member of the twelfth season of The Ultimate Fighter. He is best known for his mastery of the Guillotine choke and his aptly named “McKenzie-tine” a slightly modified guillotine choke. McKenzie owns a career record of 12-2 with 11 wins coming via Guillotine Choke submission. Marcus “The Prospect” LeVesseur is a former NCAA Wrestler. In his collegiate career he went undefeated across both Division 1 and 3 schools, compiling a record of 155-0. Those wrestling credentials form the basis of his MMA game, where he holds a pro record of 21-5. Marcus LeVesseur via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (FUEL TV): Middleweight Bout: Jason MacDonald vs. Tom Lawlor
Jason “The Athlete” MacDonald is a Canadian born fighter from New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. MacDonald now lives and trains out of the Pure Fitness Gracie Barra Gym in Edmonton, Alberta. MacDonald is primarily a grappler with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He has a vast array of submission abilities and is able to snatch submissions from both top and bottom position, although at times he struggles when fighting from the bottom position against opponents he is unable to control physically. MacDonald is a veteran of MMA with a 25-15 record.
“Filthy” Tom Lawlor is an American fighter from Fall River, Massachusetts. He is a former cast-member of the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Lawlor recently moved his training center to Providence, Rhode Island where he trains with Team Burill BJJ and the Lauzon MMA Team Aggression. Despite strong wrestling and striking skills, Lawlor is perhaps best known for his entertaining exploits outside of the octagon. He is well known for his impersonations of former UFC fighters Dan Severn, Art Jimmerson and Harold Howard during weigh-ins, as well as Hulk Hogan and Apollo Creed during pre-fight walkouts. Lawlor holds a pro record of 7-4, with 1 No Contest.
Analysis and Predictions: This bout is really Lawlor’s to lose. He will likely hold the striking edge, as MacDonald’s basic boxing lends itself solely to closing the distance so he can work for takedowns. Lawlor is also the better wrestler, so he should be the one on top if the bout does hit the ground. As crafty as MacDonald is, he has shown that smothering wrestlers are tough for him to control, so if Lawlor can stay active he won’t need to worry about submissions, since MacDonald will be too busy trying to defend. Lawlor has shown cardio issues in the past, but so long as he doesn’t fade down the stretch, he can take a late round TKO. Tom Lawlor via TKO in Round Three
Main Card (FUEL TV): Light Heavyweight Bout: Igor Pokrajac vs. Fabio Maldonado
Igor “The Duke” Pokrajac is a Croatian fighter from Zangreb, Croatia. Pokrajac is a longtime training partner of famed Heavyweight striker Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic. He is a member of the Croatian Top Team Gym who is a solid and compact striker with big power in his hands. Pokrajac also has a well-rounded skillset with decent wrestling and developing clinch skills. Pokrajac has the power to do damage in close, but needs to be careful of being taken down as his defense from the bottom is rather poor. Pokrajac has struggled with cardio issues in the past, so it’s worth noting that he may fade, still he remains a dangerous opponent who can end the fight at nearly any time. The Croatian holds a career record of 24-8.
Fabio Maldonado is a Brazilian fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He is a former professional boxer in his native Brazil, where he compiled a 22-0 record, with 21 knockouts to his credit. Maldonado is now a member of the Team Nogueira Gym in Florianopolis, Brazil where he is beginning to add a grappling game to complement his very strong striking skills. Maldonado moves quickly on his feet and is rather small for a Light Heavyweight, but uses that speed and his boxing skills extremely well. He attacks with body punches more than anyone in the UFC without the last name Diaz and is able to float in and out of range with ease. Maldonado has recently been plagued by some injuries, being forced to withdraw from several bouts, this is his first bout in over eleven months. Maldonado has a professional MMA record of 18-4.
Analysis and Prediction: The game plan for the Croatian is surely going to be to close the distance and try to fight from in close and work the bout to the mat. If he allows Maldonado to get comfortable and get into a rhythm the Brazilian will be able to start firing off tight boxing combinations in short order and begin to pull ahead. Pokrajac often turns his fights into slugfests when things don’t go his way, but it’ll be dangerous to do that against a striker as good as Maldonado. Both guys have struggled with cardio, so this one might get sloppy near the end, but if they decide to meet in the middle of the cage and throw leather, it could be a surprise contender for Fight of the Night. Fabio Maldonado via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (FUEL TV): Bantamweight Bout: Yves Jabouin vs. Jeff Hougland
Yves “Tiger” Jabouin is a Canadian fighter, who was actually born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Now a member of the Tristar Gym in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Jabouin has become known as a feared striker with multiple TKO and KO victories. Jabouin is a well-trained Muay Thai fighter with a solid array of kicks, knees and punching combinations. He is able to use leg kicks well to keep his opponents off-balance and is constantly pressuring his opponents, often forcing mistakes where he can capitalize on the feet. Jabouin is improving his grappling skills, as evidenced by his ability to escape from several poor positions in his last bout against Walel Watson, but he’d still prefer to keep this bout standing. Jabouin has a career record of 17-7.
Jeff “Hellbound” Hougland is a fighter from Chicago, Illinois. Now training out of Combat Sport and Fitness in Enumclaw, Washington Hougland is currently riding a nine-fight winning streak and hasn’t been defeated since 2005. Hougland is a strong and capable grappler who showed a lot of impressive skills in his UFC debut against Donny Walker. Hougland has also earned seven of his ten career wins by submission, so he will constantly be a threat if he is able to close the distance against Jabouin. He owns a career record of 10-4.
Analysis and Prediction: Jabouin will hold a distinct striking advantage and should look to exploit that by keeping this fight standing for as long as possible. He can dictate range well by using leg kicks to slow his opponent, but he’ll have to be careful as Hougland might be able to catch a kick and work a takedown from there. On the ground, Hougland is very dangerous from the top position and could possibly overwhelm Jabouin, who is improving on the ground, but is still slightly behind the grappling skill of Hougland. I think this one might be one of the potential upsets of the night. If Hougland can get close enough to earn a trip or a takedown, or even if he catches a leg kick, he can work the bout to the ground and from there, he’s simply better than Jabouin. Jeff Hougland via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (FUEL TV): Lightweight Bout: Donald Cerrone vs. Jeremy Stephens
Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is an American fighter from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Cerrone is a former professional Muay Thai Kickboxer who compiled a 28-0-1 record as a pro kick boxer. He is a member of Greg Jackson’s Submission Fighting Gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Cerrone is a strong striker with a stout chin who mixes leg and body kicks with strong boxing combinations. He also has a strong ground game, with an impressive array of submissions. Cerrone is always in entertaining bouts and is never one to shy away from a slugfest even though at times it’s not in his best interest.
Jeremy “Lil’ Heathen” Stephens is a 25-year-old fighter from Des Moines, Iowa. He is now a member of the Alliance MMA Gym in San Diego, California where he trains regularly with notable fighters like Dominick Cruz, Phil Davis and Alexander Gustafsson. Stephens throws every punch like he’s trying to plow a hole in his opponent, which makes him constantly dangerous, but at times he leaves himself wide open to counter-shots. Stephens holds a career MMA record of 20-7.
Analysis and Prediction: Stephens is as dangerous a striker as they come in the Lightweight division, but Cerrone has an incredible chin and is unlikely to be knocked out. On the opposite side is Stephens who is also unlikely to be stopped by strikes, so this one may see the judge’s scorecards. Cerrone has a decided advantage on the ground, as Stephens has been somewhat prone to submissions in the past. But it’s unlikely Cerrone shies away from a firefight and he has the more diverse striking arsenal, so he should be able to edge out a close but unanimous decision. Donald Cerrone via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (FUEL TV): Welterweight Bout: Amir Sadollah vs. Jorge Lopez
Amir Sadollah is an American fighter from Brooklyn, New York. Sadollah is best known for winning the seventh season of The Ultimate Fighter. Sadollah entered the house with a 4-0 amateur record, but no professional experience, so he holds a notable distinction of having every single one of his career bouts inside the UFC. Sadollah is a fairly well-rounded fighter with decent technical striking and the ability to blend together punches, knees, kicks and elbows well. Sadollah has an impressive clinch game and is no slouch on the ground either. He owns a professional record of 5-3.
Jorge “Lil’ Monster” Lopez is an American fighter from Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a member of the Wand Fight Team and is one of the prized pupils of Wanderlei Silva. Lopez is a strong counter puncher who is adept at taking advantage of his opponent’s mistakes. That style however failed him in his last bout, as he fell into a two round deficit before finally coming alive in the final frame in a bout where he dropped a unanimous decision. Lopez will need to be more aggressive in this bout if he wants to have success. Lopez holds a career record of 11-2.
Analysis and Prediction: Sadollah is a very well-rounded fighter and while there’s a lot of hype behind Lopez, he didn’t look impressive save for the final round of his UFC debut. Sadollah isn’t a world beater by any means, in fact he’s probably on the lower end of the 170-pound totem pole, but he has only struggled against fighters that can impose their will against him. I don’t believe Lopez has the physical strength to outwrestle Sadollah and I don’t believe he has the striking game to overwhelm him on the feet, so I see Sadollah winning a unanimous decision. Amir Sadollah via Unanimous Decision
Main Event (FUEL TV): Featherweight Bout: Chan Sung Jung vs. Dustin Poirier
Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier is a 23-year-old fighter from Lafayette, Louisiana. Poirier trains out of the Gladiator Training Academy under UFC Middleweight Fighter Tim Credeur. Poirier is a former Lightweight fighter, who is undefeated since making the drop to the Featherweight division. He is a well-rounded fighter with a strong ground game and a number of submission victories. Poirier is also a competent striker who can throw strong combinations with his hands as well as numerous leg kicks. Poirier is a very intelligent fighter who always comes in with a strong game plan and focuses on forcing his opponents to fight where they are uncomfortable. Poirier has a career record of 12-1.
Analysis and Prediction: The Korean Zombie would prefer to stand and bang, that’s no secret, but it’s hard to believe he can keep up his usual pace for five rounds. He hasn’t shown any issues with his cardio in the past, but he also doesn’t have the best defense, instead relying on his stout chin and ability to dish out more than he takes on the chin.
Poirier could likely survive a brawl with Jung, but there is a clearer path to victory. While Jung is a creative ground fighter, he doesn’t excel from the bottom position. Poirier always fights smart and it’s unlikely that he deviates from that in this bout. Expect to see a steady stream of takedowns and ground and pound as he wears out the Korean heading into the later rounds. Dustin Poirier via Submission in Round Four