Facebook, FX, Pay-Per-View, who cares? Following a solid performance at last week’s UFC on FUEL 2, the UFC is back again with their first big PPV event in quite awhile. UFC 145 goes down tomorrow from Atlanta, Georgia, following a move from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. In the main event, Jon Jones takes on Rashad Evans in the long-awaited light heavyweight title fight. Before any of that craziness goes down though, we have the six fight preliminary card to look forward to. Split between Facebook (at 7pm ET) and FX (8pm ET), we’ll be treated to what appears to be, on paper, one of the best preliminary cards in awhile. Here’s a quick preview of the six preliminary bouts. The preview of the main card will be up for your reading pleasure in the morning.
-Maximo Blanco vs. Marcus Brimage
It’s about time Maximo Blanco moved to featherweight. The ridiculously vicious striker may not have fared well against Pat Healy in Strikeforce, but to be fair, Healy is the ultimate hype train derailer. In Brimage, Blanco faces a solid test. The TUF alum is a solid striker in his own right and has no problem making decisions go his way if needed. Having said all of that, you have to feel bad for poor Marcus Brimage. Blanco has solid wrestling, and almost downright scary striking. I think Blanco takes Brimage’s head off in under five minutes.
-Chris Clements vs. Keith Wisniewski
The first of many Canadians on the card, Chris Clement, is a well-established knockout artist. While it seems there is some sort of “Team Tompkins Curse” since the untimely passing of its namesake, Clements has done well for himself, and will look for his fifth straight win here. Wisniewski was on such a roll until he ran into Josh Neer’s elbows. A solid striker, who is even better in the grappling department, enters this, his third UFC fight, still winless in the organization. This fight could very well be the fight of the night, or perhaps knockout of the night, because Wisniewski is getting stopped.
-Mac Danzig vs. Efrain Escudero
Mac Danzig is on the edge. The TUF 6 winner is 2-5 in his last 7 bouts, including going 0-2 against Matt Wiman. With three quarters of his wins coming within the distance, the Fight Science lightweight still proves a tough fight for just about anyone. Just look at what he did to Joe Stevenson. Escudero had a tough Christmas, or at least a very tough time against “Christmas” in his last outing. Despite that, Efrain has put together some very solid wins over the last two years. This fight likely determines whose Zuffa career is coming to an end. I just don’t see things going well for Danzig here, he’ll likely drop a decision, and be yet another TUF winner on his way out of the promotion.
-John Makdessi vs. Anthony Njokuani
I still can’t get Makdessi’s spinning back fist knockout over Kyle Watson out of my mind. While he ran into a brick wall named Dennis Hallman, “The Bull” is a solid Tristar product, who has a great training camp and an ever-growing skill-set to his credit. Njokuani always has a place in my heart (WEC NEVER DIE!), and his scrappy, yet technically proficient style is fun to watch. Neither man has much of a chance against solid wrestlers or grapplers, but thankfully, this will be a slugfest. While Makdessi can absolutely knock Njokuani out cold with a solid shot, if the latter gets reckless. I think the WEC veteran keeps Makdessi guessing with some takedowns and rangy strikes. Njokuani is taking home the decision win.
-Matt Brown vs. Stephen Thompson
Matt Brown is amazing. He may not be the best fighter, but he has managed to remain employed inside the octagon for a long time, and he made incredibly short work of Chris Cope, so I’m a fan. The ‘Karate Kid’ over here, Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson, takes a big step up in competition here, and hopes to remain undefeated in the UFC, following his highlight reel head kick knockout of Dan Stittgen not too long ago. I imagine this fight actually goes the distance, which should be a good test for Thompson. His keys to victory are body kicks, keeping the veteran at bay, and scoring points, as opposed to looking for that big knockout. Should he be able to avoid the ground, and I think he will, he should win this.
-Travis Browne vs. Chad Griggs
Undefeated Travis Browne is awesome. When he superman punched Stefan Struve’s head off, I needed someone to towel me off. While in his most recent appearance, he was less than stellar to watch, Travis Browne is still better than most of the mid-tier heavyweights in MMA. I mean, he’s not Eric Prindle. Chad Griggs is hoping to play spoiler again with those damn mutton chops. A fan favourite, who is tough, has heavy hands, and beat Bobby Lashley, Griggs considered dropping to 205, but opted to participate in more ‘HEAVYWEIGHT MMA!!!!!’ Griggs is a good dude, but not really a great fighter. Browne is a considerably better fighter, and I think Griggs is being overvalued in this fight. I suspect Browne has his way with him, but not in some spectacularly violent fashion, I think he wins a decision.