It all hits the fan this Saturday night at UFC on FOX 9 as the two top flyweights in the world are pitted against eachother in what should be an extremely competitive, yet memorable affair. Also on the card is an intriguing bantamweight bout as two of the division’s best square off to determine the next top contender – It’s a jam-packed night of throwdowns. We’ve already gone through the prelims, so it’s on to the main card on Fox.
Joe Lauzon vs. Mac Danzig
Out of all the lightweights in the UFC, Joe Lauzon has shown time and time again why we remains as one of the most exciting fighters. Whether he’s getting his face smashed open, or if he’s doing the face smashing, it’s non-stop action all the way through. He’s taking on Mac Danzig, a very formidable opponent who has been in the UFC only one year less than the ultra-experienced Joe Lauzon. Stylistically, this has the makings to be Fight of the Night as both guys are out-standing grapplers, and really like to bang on the feet.
Lauzon falls into trouble against guys who can physically out-muscle him, which in essence limits his chances of getting takedowns and establish any sort of control on the ground. I don’t believe he’ll run into that situation here against Danzig as Mac has never really been known for any sort of “extraordinary” athleticism or explosive power. With that said, Danzig has shown that his punches bring some power. Call it a fluke punch or not, Danzig’s counter-striking game earned him a lights-out KO over Joe Stevenson back in 2010, so the striking of Danzig is there, however, it really seems to be hit-or-miss.
In the grappling department, there aren’t too many guys who can rival Lauzon on the mat; he’s just on another level when it comes to pulling out submissions and catching guys mid-transition. I expect Lauzon and Danzig to be fairly even on the feet, but Lauzon’s non-stop pressure and aggression to eventually going to get Danzig on the mat. Once he’s there, expect some solid defense from Danzig… in the first round! Second round is where it’ll go down. I’m picking Lauzon by submission.
Joe Lauzon via 2nd Rd Submission
Chad Mendes vs. Nik Lentz
In the featherweight division, we’re treated with a top-contender bout that should set Chad Mendes one step closer to that desired title rematch against Jose Aldo. Whether he’ll get it or not after a potential win here is a big question, but you would think a title shot for “Money” Mendes isn’t too far out of the picture considering his incredible streak that he’s on. With some newly found knockout power in his arsenal, Mendes has now racked up four consecutive finishes due to strikes, putting him among a very small list of fighters who have done so. However, he’s facing a stiff test in front of him in Nik Lentz, who finds himself on a 3 fight win streak.
Honestly, there isn’t much Nik Lentz brings to the table that Mendes hasn’t seen before. Yes, he’s a solid grappler and is very aggressive, but Mendes is the type of guy that you just don’t overwhelm. Mendes should be able to keep Lentz defensive with his powerful striking, and really shut down any attempts Lentz makes to try taking this fight to the ground. I’m not sure if Mendes will score another vicious stoppage or not; it’s likely, but just to be safe I’ll with a decision victory as Mendes out-boxes and out-wrestles Lentz for a dominant decision.
Chad Mendes via Unanimous Decision
Urijah Faber vs. Michael McDonald
Set as the co-main event of the evening, two top bantamweights square off against eachother to produce the “co-top-contender” of the bantamweight division as long-time title contender Urijah Faber meets the sensational young talent in Michael McDonald. These two guys have proven that they are the most elite fighters at 135 lbs, making this bout an extremely intriguing contest between two supposed unstoppable forces. Expect some serious fireworks in this bout.
While Faber and McDonald lay equally talented, in my opinion, they have very contrasting styles. Surprisingly enough, I can’t say Faber has faced anybody quite like McDonald; even through out his length and experienced career. That being said, McDonald has yet to face anyone like Faber, which makes this such a great match-up.
First of all, McDonald is one of the hardest hitters in the bantamweight division. His best punches come from his right hand, but he’s not afraid to throw his whole arsenal out at his opponent. Coincidentally enough, neither is Faber. Expect some fast-paced striking exchanges between the two as neither fighter is known to put on boring fights. While Faber likes to be the aggressor and initiator on the feet, he’s not going to want to do that against McDonald for fear of running into his right hand, or his knees. This makes me believe Faber is going really try to catch McDonald coming forward on his own punches, and use his explosiveness to tie up and take this fight to the mat. Faber has shown increasingly better skills than usual on the ground as of late, and could really put McDonald, who’s not quite at Faber’s level, in some troubles on the mat.
The big x-factor in this bout is simply going to be accuracy. The way I see it, McDonald’s power on the feet is enough to not only shut Faber down, but completely knock him out. Now, Faber has some good defense on the feet and knows how to move his head, but because of McDonald’s hand speed and confidence, Faber himself won’t be able to land much if he isn’t willing to step into the firing zone. McDonald won’t have much of a reach advantage, so this further supports my prediction of this fight having some crazy exchanges. All in all, I’m favoring McDonald in this one. Faber has the advantage on the mat, but I just don’t see him being able to enter McDonald’s range and absorb the needed punishment to get the takedowns. I see a decision in the wake for the young man.
Michael McDonald via Unanimous Decision
Demetrious Johnson vs. Joseph Benavidez
And now, the main-event of the evening, the flyweight title bout between defending champ, “Might Mouse Johnson, and the challenging former, and now present, title contender, Joseph Benavidez. This is a rematch from their 2012 bout which saw Johnson slip away with a close split decision victory, although to me atleast it appeared to be a clear-cut victory. Either way, Benavidez has smashed his way back into title contention with a 3-fight win streak and some improved striking skills, and will now face get another shot at the title.
Being that this rematch was only 1 year ago, this fight is really going to come down to who has improved the most. Right away, I’d say Benavidez has improve more-so on the feet, but Johnson has really taken his wrestling and grappling game to another level. These two guys remain as the two fastest flyweights in the division, in my opinion, which means they’re most likely going to get the chance to showcase everything they’ve learned. Looking at how evenly matched they are, also expect this fight to take place everything: on the feet, clinch, and ground.
Looking at this fight from a striking stand-point, I’m putting my finger on Benavidez to have a slight edge here. He may not move with the same amount of speed as Johnson does, but he has the power in his hands and has also seemed to be working on widening his arsenal with his defeat against Jussier Formiga which came by way of a knee to the body. Johnson may have the edge in speed, but Benavidez’ power can make things really interesting, especially considering the speed at which these two move at.
However, when it comes down to five-round fights (which all flyweight title fights have been) it appears the judges really seem to favor volume over damage/power. Johnson is a great volume striker who makes sure he’s winning in total strikes landed, and means he’ll most likely get the nod unless Benavidez can score some knockdowns. Given Johnson’s recent performances against dangerous strikers, I don’t see this happening. Johnson was too quick and too fast for Benavidez to get his hands on in the first outing, and seeing as how Demetrious’s wrestling has only gotten better, I see this being another victory for Johnson.
Demetrious Johnson via Unanimous Decision