First up an apology: I didn’t get round to writing a predictions post for UFC on Fox last weekend. I did post my picks up on Twitter and to be honest, you didn’t miss much in my picks as they were WAY off. I still haven’t had a chance to catch up on the event, but I am particularly looking forward to watching the Diaz fight.
So anyway, another week, another UFC event. On paper this looks like an event that all but the hardcore fans will swerve, but as usual with cards like this, you can guarantee there will be a fight EVERYONE is talking about after the event and you’ll wish you watched it!
Obviously the marquee fight on this card is Jung vs Poirier. Scheduled for five rounds, I’d be surprised if it went the full 25. Both men have looked impressive recently with up-and-comer Poirier undefeated in his UFC career to date. Jung definitely has the experience edge, but does he have the finesse to put away “the diamond”?
I am surprised that the Cerrone vs. Stephens fight is not the second billed match and comes third to Sadollah vs. Lopez. Cerrone vs. Stephens has all the look of a fight that is bound to bring a fight bonus of some kind for one or both men and is a MUCH better fight in my opinion.
Hougland vs. Jabouin and Lawlor vs. MacDonald look like nice fights on paper. Hougland has been on a tear since he emerged from his four year hiatus in 2010 and posted 5 straight wins 4 of which were first round submissions. Jabouin is an explosive highflyer and this bantamweight match, like so many at the lighter weights should be all action from start to finish. MacDonald is a fighter I really like, his jiujitsu is top drawer and although he isn’t likely to be a title contender any time soon, he is a tough match for any of the lower to middle ranked UFC 185′ers. Likewise Lawlor, who in spite of a rough 1-3 UFC run since 2010 is a crowd favourite and an entertaining fighter to watch.
Chang Sung Jung 12 – 3 – 0 vs. Dustin Poirier 12 – 1 – 0 – Featherweight
Flying high after his astonishing upset KO of Hominick and his twister of revenge against Garcia, Jung had a great 2011. If his epic Fight of the Year contest in his first match against Garcia put him in the minds of the hardcore fans as a legit badass, those last two wins have cemented this status. The winner of this fight is likely to get the next shot at Jose Aldo and so there is a lot at stake here. Poirier is a future great, of that there is no doubt in my mind. He is ever improving, and his willingness to step into his UFC debut against the then #1 contender and go on to beat him, is testament to his belief
that he WILL be champ one day.
I give the technical edge on the mat to Poirier here. Jung has most of wins by submission and of course the submission of the year last year with the first ever twister in the UFC, but Poirier is on a different technical level. On the feet there’s very little between them: A bang em out scrap favours Jung, but with his ever-so-slight reach advantage and good footwork, Poirier should be able to avoid getting drawn into that kind of fight. Against Jason Young, Poirier was on the wrong end of a skilled striker and used takedowns to get himself out of trouble. Jung is not the level of striker that Young is, but he is dangerous on the feet and he will take shots and keep on coming.
As this is a 5 rounder, things will get really interesting if we get past the 15 minute mark as neither man has ever gone into a 4th or 5th round. Jung has stated that he is not threatened by the jiujitsu of Poirier but no-one can deny that the diamond has looked slick on the floor of late. If he can mix up his striking and takedowns, keeping Jung guessing and always trying to catch up, the Diamond will eventually latch onto something off a takedown and find a submission win.
Jung is more than capable of another upset, but I’m leaning towards Poirier. The only way I see Dustin losing is if he lets Jung get into his stride and finds himself on the back foot at the mercy of the relentless march of the Korean Zombie. I’m not 100% convinced he is ready for Aldo yet, but if Poirier wins this one and Aldo beats Koch we’ll definitely find out! Poirier submission round 4
Amir Sadollah 5 – 3 – 0 vs. Jorge Lopez 11 – 2 – 0 – Welterweight
I can’t pretend that this isn’t a little bit of a “meh” fight. Sadollah came off TUF with a huge hype train, promptly derailed by the juggernaut fists of Johnny Hendricks. Barring his stoppage of DaMarques Johnson every other fight he has had in the UFC has gone the distance and I can honestly say I remember exactly none of them vividly.
Lopez is coming off a loss to Justin Edwards in his UFC debut where he was dominated for two rounds before finding his groove 10 minutes too late in the third. Edwards had trouble keeping him down when he got him down and it looks like Lopez is prefers to be at striking range or on top throwing GnP rather than working any sort of ground game off his back.
Sadollah is tough and will be more than able to hang with Lopez wherever this goes. Look for Lopez to press forward looking for the takedown or big shot and Sadollah to use his more refined striking game to create angles and score points. With both men so hard to put away and neither being hugely renowned for impressive stoppages at the highest levels, this has decision written all over it. Sadollah gets the nod from me. Sadollah decision
Jeremy Stephens 20 – 7 – 0 vs. Donald Cerrone 17 – 4 – 0 – Lightweight
This one should be an absolute belter. Both men come to scrap and a barnstormer on the feet is the likely outcome here. Stephens throws his all into every punch, but this kind of style has its drawbacks, namely when you miss and your opponent is quick on the counter. Cerrone is exactly that kind of fighter and his striking skills are much more technical than Stephens. His mix of “punches in bunches” interspersed with accurate kicks saw him almost run the whole of last year undefeated. His only loss coming to Nate Diaz in an absolute war. The interesting thing about Cerrones style is that he rarely finishes with strikes. His array of weapons on the feet is always used to create openings and force mistakes so that he can capitalise with a sneaky submission
Stephens will look to pour the pressure on Cowboy from the opening bell overpowering him in the clinch and grinding out the rounds. There is always the remote possibility chance of a hellacious punch connecting, but Cerrone has never been stopped by strikes and this outcome seems unlikely. More likely is we see Cerrone dictate the pace and range on the feet and then capitalise on Stephens over-committing in an attempt to launch his head into Row Z and catching a choke. Cerrone submission round 2
Jeff Hougland 10 – 4 – 0 vs. Yves Jabouin 17 – 7 – 0 – Bantamweight
This one shapes up to be a classic striker vs. grappler match. Jabouin has a high-octane striking style that has overwhelmed many a prior opponent. Hougland has been on an impressive run but has not fought at the level his next opponent has. Hougland matches up horribly with Jabouin on the feet and his mission here has to be get it to the mat at all costs. Easier said than done though, as Jabouins athleticism makes him extremely hard to get down and hold down.
Jabouin looks like a heavy favourite but I like Hougland as an underdog pick. Jabouin hasn’t stopped anyone with strikes since 2008 and his last two UFC wins were not clear cut. If Hougland is able to get him down then his ability to chain submission attempts together incessantly could trouble the Canadian. It is no easy task and is a risky pick if you are putting some money down, but those who like an outside bet could do worse than to look to this fight to provide a return. Hougland submission round 3
Fabio Maldonado 18 – 4 – 0 vs. Igor Pokrajac 24 – 8 – 0 – Light Heavyweight
Plagued with injuries since his TUF 13 defeat to Kyle Kingsbury, Maldonado will be looking for a statement win here against Pokrajac. The Croatian is coming in off an impressive 35 second KO win over Krzysztof Soszynski. Both these men like to strike and fans of high-level ground battles can go make a cuppa during this one.
Maldonado has an undefeated boxing record of 22-0 and will fancy his pugilistic skills coming up trumps over Pokrajac. Pokrajac will not want to stay at range during this fight, and will look to tie the Brazilian up and use knees and dirty boxing to soften him up. Pokrajac likely has the ability to outwrestle Maldonado, but I think he is in danger of getting drawn into a brawl. If this does happen, he is eventually going to eat a fight ending punch Maldonado KO round 3
Tom Lawlor 7 – 4 – 0 vs. Jason MacDonald 25 – 15 – 0 – Middleweight
This one looks like a loser-gets-cut match with both men currently struggling in the division. This is a close match up, with either man capable of taking the win. McDonald is probably the better submission artist but he often struggles with more powerful opponents.
Lawlor is the kind of fighter that could give “the Athlete” real problems: He has the better striking game and better wrestling control. If he keeps good posture when engaged in any battles on the mat, he can definitely take this. The problem for him will be McDonalds skill on the ground, if Lawlor is caught in bad posture, or McDonald is able to break him down, he will quickly find himself in deep water. Macdonald is already in his second go round with the promotion and at 36 is coming towards the end of his career.
I think Lawlor does enough good work through the rounds to get the judges nod, provided he doesn’t get sloppy on the ground. Lawlor decision
Cody McKenzie 12 – 2 – 0 vs. Marcus LeVesseur 21 – 5 – 0