Saturday, 12 November 2011

UFC on Fox

And here we go.

Just a recap last time out I was only wrong on one fight. Taking BJ Penn in a pick'em fight with Nick Diaz. As I said at the time they were very evenly skilled so it was difficult to pick a winner. It ended up being a great fight so even with the wrong result for me on the betting side of things it was a hell of a fight for any MMA fan to enjoy.

I'm a little later doing this up than usual so i'm planning to do a quick batch for the UFC on Fox card and do a UFC 139 blog later in the week.

I'm going to only breakdown two fights in this one. The main event of JDS vs Cain that airs on Fox in the States and Setanta over here as well the co-main event of Ben "The Smooth one" Henderson vs Clay "The Carpenter" Guida which will be live on Facebook. 8 other prelim fights air on Facebook so make sure not to miss them.

Alright let's kick this off properly with the main event for the Heavyweight championship of the world. 
Heavyweight Championship bout: United States Cain Velasquez vs. Brazil Junior dos Santos

Not only is this a landmark night for the UFC with their network TV debut it also sees possibly the biggest Heavyweight fight of the year. There's a bit of symmetry with the Heavyweight title taking centre stage as the event will mark 18 years since the UFC it's self debuted on PPV with an open weight tournament. A lots changed in those 18 years but mixed martial arts has remained the focus of the organisation. Anyway enough of this babbling lets get to the fight.

2 of the best Heavyweights on the planet finally collide after what seems like an eternity waiting for it. Velasquez has been out of the game injured since his crushing of Brock Lesnar back in October of last year at UFC121. Junior has attempted to keep himself busy in the midst of a guaranteed title shot being offered if he wished to wait whilst Cain recovered from his shoulder surgery. Cigano decided to keep fighting to keep himself fresh and faced an extremely dangerous opponent in Shane Carwin. Their UFC records are identical in that they're both 7-0 in the organisation. Both have numerous TKO's to their name and are extremely dangerous on the feet.

If we're talking purely boxing terms then you would give the advantage to Cigano. He has the best hands in the division from a boxing perspective and is as quick as he is technical with them. His beautiful knock out of Werdum in his debut and his streak of four stoppages (3 TKO/KO's and 1 verbal submission) there after against Struve, Cro Cop, Yvel and Gonzaga put him on the map and in contention for a title shot. He earned that title shot after a decision win against the robust Roy Nelson. In that fight JDS' cardio was brought into question as he was visibly tired going into the 3rd round. He looked much better cardio wise in his most recent fight with Carwin but there is still question marks in this area for a 5 round fight.

One negative impact for JDS is that he is rather one dimensional in his approach that he primarily boxes. Rarely throws kicks but is vicious with knees in the clinch. His trademark left upper cut is the punch to watch out for. If he hits anyone clean with that it's lights out and fight over. His take down defence and balance has been impressive but this will be put to the test with Velasquez who comes with an excellent all round and wrestling game.

Since his last fight he has split with Ed Soares as his manager and returned to his roots camp wise. He still receives BJJ training under the Nogueira brothers but is primarily training back in Brazil. Whether this will have a positive or negative impact on JDS is yet to be seen.

Moving on to Velasquez. What can be said that you've probably not already heard. Cain Velasquez is a true mixed martial artist in every sense of the name. His technique is excellent and his cardio is amazing for a Heavyweight. The guy is known to out train Welterweights and Lightweights in cardio drills which is for the most part unheard of.

He has a perfect 9-0 record and came into the UFC off the back of not being able to get fights on the regional circuit such was the buzz that was surrounding him after his debut. When he appeared in the UFC he immediatedly justified the hype by dispatching his first 2 opponents within the first round. He continued this tear with a third TKO victory in the UFC in his next fight. As has been visited on this blog previously he did take a decision victory over Cheick Kongo in his 4th UFC fight. This was visibly a bigger challenge for Cain compared to his first 3 opponents and it was the first time we'd seen him in any kind of difficulty when he was rocked twice. The cardio shined through and he recovered quickly enough to maintain his composure and grind out the fight.

He then disposed of Rothwell and Big Nog in ruthless fashion to earn a title shot against Brock Lesnar. In that title fight he survived an early Lesnar onslaught and being taken down twice to then press the champion and force a stoppage when Lesnar could no longer defend himself. It was the performance of a lifetime and I myself was personally there to witness it so I can say first hand that it was electric in the arena that night.

In the Lesnar fight Cain suffered a torn rotator cuff that required surgery. Hence forcing him to rehabilitate it prior to fighting again. Now two questions remain regarding this fight.
1. Can JDS avoid the takedown and land his strikes?
2. Does Cain still have the same conditioning as before his injury as it's over a year since he fought?

These two questions are key in determining the winner of this fight. Velasquez is the definitely more well rounded of the two fighters and would take the edge in that respect however JDS is the more technical boxer and has the quicker hands but not as great cardio.

Recommendation: It's a pick'em fight again. I believe if this fight is over inside the first 2 rounds it will be via a JDS KO/TKO. If it goes any longer than that I think Velasquez will win the fight by a 4th round TKO or a decision. I'm probably going to be hedging my bets with this one for those reasons. 

Lightweight bout: United States Ben Henderson vs. United States Clay Guida

If you're a Fight of the Night bet fan. I'd suggest this or Poirier vs Garza. Guida and Henderson is a pretty even match up in many areas. They've both excellent top games and wrestling. Their cardio is off the charts. Guida's entrance is generally more movement than some Heavyweights have in their fights. Henderson is much the same in the respect that he's a lightning bolt speed wise and can keep up a relentless pace.

Guida has made a name for himself through his relentless style. Previously a Strikeforce champion prior to being dethroned by Gilbert Melendez. Guida has come on in leaps and bounds since moving to Greg Jackson's camp. He comes into this fight on a four fight win streak including a victory over Anthony Pettis who defeated Henderson back at WEC53 to claim their Lightweight title. We're not doing MMA math here so it would be silly to discount Henderson on this basis. He is an exciting fighter and is willing to participate in a brawl should it be needed. Guida does have some wild stand up but it can be effective in that it's unorthodox so Guida is difficult to predict on his feet. This helps him with his wrestling game as it allows opportunities for the takedown.

Henderson is coming off the back of two wins since entering the UFC. His most recent victory over Jim Miller was extremely impressive as no-one had put Miller into those sort of precarious positions up to that point in his career. It was also noticeable how much compusure Henderson had as he himself was put in some difficult positions early on in the fight. Henderson is extremely well rounded and in my personal opinion I give him a massive advantage on the feet as well as on the ground should he be on top.

It's a close fight and is probably going to go by decision.
Recommendation: The Smooth One Ben Henderson. It'll either be by submission early on or a decision victory.

Other Facebook Prelims:

Welterweight bout: United States Mike Pierce vs. United States Paul Bradley 
Recommendation: Pierce
Bantamweight bout: Japan Norifumi Yamamoto vs. United States Darren Uyenoyama
Recommendation: Kid Yamamoto
Featherweight bout: United States Cub Swanson vs. United States Ricardo Lamas
Recommendation: Lamas
Featherweight bout: United States Dustin Poirier vs. United States Pablo Garza
Recommendation: This is a pick'em fight. Poirier is the better fighter in my opinion and should take it but Garza could pull off a shock victory. Price wise a small punt on Garza may be worthwhile if you want to hedge.

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