Even though the UFC retired the “Knockout of The Night” and “Submission of The Night” bonuses, there are still the unanimous agreements that occur after an event as to what spectacular jaw-shattering knock out or bone-wrenching submission was superior in that event. I’m going to go through the card and highlight some fights that I believe could be front-runners for Knockout and Submission of the Night, as well as some other peculiar fights that could potentially stand out.
Knockout of The Night
Let’s start with the knockout. This is probably going to be the most highly contested bonus as there are SO many heavy-hitters that will be taking the cage this Saturday. Our main event features two of them as both Robbie Lawler and Johny Hendricks are known for their brutal power. It’s interesting though when you compare who would be more likely to get the knockout against eachother. Lawler has the speed and the versatility on the feet, but I’d say Hendricks has the better chin as he has never been finished (or even rattled) in his MMA career. With that being said, Hendricks is primarily dependent on his left hand for getting stoppages while Lawler’s power is more universal. With that, I make the conclusion that if we’re going to see a KOTN in the main event, it’s going to be from Lawler. Even though Hendricks has a solid chin and a helping of power himself, Lawler is just a little bit quicker, a little more technical, and little more versatile; this allows him to get the knockout anywhere as opposed to just on the feet.
Other fights could potentially end in a fantastic knockout are also on the main card as we have Carlos Condit battling Tyron Woodley. Woodley’s explosive punches were on display against Josh Koscheck in his last bout, while Condit’s Muay-Thai and vast arsenal of damage was on display against Martin Kampmann in his latest. If Woodley scores the KO, it’ll be a sudden explosion of ferocious punches while Condit’s would be something that drags on and on as he keeps pouring it on. Condit is known for throwing fancy, unorthodox kicks and also attacking with series of knees. Condit is the more proven striker so with that, Condit is more likely to get the knockout for me.
Also on the card is Hector Lombard, which means a knockout just short of a murder scene could be on the horizon. He’s facing Jake Shields who, besides for one fight, is known for his resilience and ability to NOT get KO’d by heavy-handed strikers. However, Lombard’s hands are the heaviest of them all, so even though Shields is a proven vet who knows how to survive a barrage, I don’t think he’s mean in the cage with any animal as fierce as Lombard.
Submission of The Night
While UFC 171 seems to be featuring loads and loads of heavy-handed strikers, there are a few submission experts on the card. I want to start in the prelims and take a look at “Bubba” McDaniel. He’s known for having a pretty crafty ground game for being a larger opponent. He’s facing a guy without a lot of ground skills in Sean Strickland, but is also in danger of getting knocked out. If McDaniel were to get this fight to the ground and avoid taking a big shot, he could very well have his way with Strickland.
Another ground specialist that shouldn’t really need any introduction is Jim Hettes. Known for his insane ability to finish all but one of his fights by submission, Hettes is in for quite a war as he takes on Dennis Bermudez. Bermudez is aggressive and not the kind of the guy that is going to let Hettes take control of the bout, but Hettes did show that he is quite resilient in his 3-round loss to Marcus Brimage. Hettes has a solid chin and isn’t afraid to get hit in order to get the fight to the mat. Bermudez is a step above anybody Hettes has faced, but that just makes a potential submission that much more impressive. If Hettes gets ANY sort of momentum in this fight, expect a tap from Dennis Bermudez.
Snoozer of The Night
Unfortunately, every event seems to have one bout that really stinks up the card and nearly puts the fans to sleep. While this card has many fights are destined to NOT be snoozers, it does unfortunately have a few that could go either way (in terms of being boring and not being boring). First up is the fight between Renee Forte and Frank Trevino. Forte is known for his stellar grappling skills and dominant clinch/takedown game, but isn’t the most crowd-pleasing fighter. Being that he’s taking on a fellow grappler in Frank Trevino, who is also a UFC newcomer, this could be a giant grapple fest. These guys are only 155lbs, but they’re big 155’ers at that which could mean their gas tanks aren’t the best. I’m hoping these guys toss their grappling egos to the side and bang it out, but this fight does have a strong chance of not being crowd-pleasing.
Up next is Ovince St. Preux and Nikita Krylov. Of course, I’m bringing this fight up because both of these guys have fights in their careers where they were responsible for not bringing any action. OSP is an athletic dude that does have lots of finishes, but he gets those finishes by grinding his opponents down and pounding them out. If he’s facing anybody who is tough enough to give him a fight, he tends to go into “wrestler mode” where he relies on just out-pointing his opponent. Krylov is a dangerous fighter, on the feet and on the ground, but has had some serious cardio issues in the past. His UFC debut was extremely lack-luster, but his fight after that (in a lower weightclass) only lasted 25 seconds, so I guess we don’t know for sure whether his cardio issues have been solved. These two guys could very well just hug it out for 15 minutes, which would be unfortunately given the amount of explosiveness that lies in both men.
At last, we arrive at Hector Lombard at Jake Shields. This fight a risky one for the UFC to book because obviously it’s going to advertise Lombard’s crazy knockout power and Shields expert-level submission game, but what isn’t being shown is Shields’ extremely cautious wrestling game. In nearly all of Shields fights in the UFC so far, he’s done nothing but sloppily strike enough to open up a chance to take the fight to the ground, then lay ontop in superior control to grind out a decision. Hopefully Lombard has the energy and power to combat that (which I believe he does), but there’s always that chance that the Lombard of his early UFC career shows. The Lombard that waits too long, is too timid, and is too cautious and lets his opponent grind the pace of the fight to an unbearable halt.
Upset of The Night
This fight card surprisingly doesn’t have all that many cases for upsets. All of these fights are pretty closely matched, or atleast closer than many other cards are. The main card, while there are distinct favorites and underdogs, doesn’t contain any fight where I say “wow, there is no way this guy loses.” Although, I can say that if Robbie Lawler were to take out Johny Hendricks, it would be a pretty big upset considering the fact that Hendricks is the crowned “uncrowned” welterweight champion of the UFC. Besides the main event, I take a look at Tyron Woodley and could definitely see him defeating Carlos Condit as being a pretty big upset, especially if he does it by vicious KO (which has yet to happen to Condit). On paper, Hector Lombard is a fairly large underdog compared to Jake Shields, but we all know who I (and any UFC fan that doesn’t want to watch 15 minutes of dry-humping) am rooting for.
With that, I have to go to the prelims to find a fight that could be the biggest upset of the night – Sean Spencer. His opponent, Alex Garcia, is a huge prospect out of Canada that has been on a roll since joining the UFC and really looks to have a promising future. Spencer on the other hand is a mere 2-1 in the UFC, and hasn’t really had a chance to break out. Taking out a big prospect in Alex Garcia could do that, and would definitely be the largest upset of the night.
Performance of The Night
This award would be given to whoever really has the best performance given the odds against them and the way they win their fight. There are only a handful of fighters that come to mind when thinking of who could potentially have the best performance of the night. Starting at the very bottom of the card, I begin with Robert Whiteford. He’s facing Daniel Pineda, a fighter who seems to be much more evolved than he is and has more experience despite quite a few losses in his recent years. At 0-1 in the UFC, Whiteford was hyped up as being the next Conor McGregor as he headed in to his UFC debut against Jim Hettes, but lost the fight and the small amount of synthetic hype that came with it. Now, he has his back against the wall with something to prove as he takes on The Pit’s own, Daniel Pineda.
Next up I go to the afore-mentioned Jimy Hettes. Hettes is taking on the biggest challenge of his career in Dennis Bermudez who has been on an absolute tear in the featherweight division with a 5-0 recent streak. Hettes has the submission skills to make ANYBODY tap, but Bermudez is explosive, experienced, and very very skilled. If Hettes pulls this fight off, this could easily be the performance of the night.
Finally, I take a look at Myles Jury and Diego Sanchez. Looking at the odds, you might be confused as to why I would pick Sanchez to have the “Performance of The Night” as he is the underdog, but I’m actually looking at Myles Jury. Jury has yet to face anyone with the amount of experience that Sanchez has. On top of that, he hasn’t faced anybody who has really brought the fight to him, not like Sanchez is promised to do. The way I see it, Sanchez is the ultimate test to see whether Jury can withstand the pressure of a well-rounded and aggressive UFC fighter like Sanchez or not.