Here’s a conundrum for you: This Wednesday night is UFC on Fuel TV: “Sanchez vs. Ellenberger”, which, of course will air on Fuel TV – a channel about eleven people in the world have access to. And, unlike the past bouts that have been broadcast on Fuel TV and on FOX Deportes concurrently, that doesn’t seem to be the case this time around. The main card is only being shown on Fuel TV. However, the prelims for this event will be shown on Facebook. So it seems as if, in some perverse twist of reality, there’s going to be a UFC event were the preliminary bouts attract more eyeballs than the main card itself. (Remember: I don’t have Fuel TV; therefore, my eyeballs will be on my computer monitor, then on the punching bag at the gym later that night.) What then to do about a preview? Dare I prognosticate on a roster where I’ll only be able to post a live play-by-play on the bottom half of a card? Ah, what the heck, why not. Some of you out there will be checking out the prelims on Facebook, and maybe even a few of you out there in the Land of Oz, Middle Earth and Neverland have access to Fuel TV and can watch the main card. If that’s the case, consider this a very special gift just for you.
-Ivan Menjivar vs. John Albert – Albert crapped out of TUF 14 when he went up against eventual winner John Dodson, but that doesn’t mean he sucks at fighting. It just means that he sucks when it comes to fighting on reality television. (Actually, Albert TKO’d Dustin Pague at the TUF 14 Finale, so he really does have some skill and ability.) Menjivar, meanwhile, has been fighting so long, he’s one of the few fighters out there eligible to compete and collect Social Security checks (which is weird because he lives in Canada) at the same time. Therefore, the crux of this matchup can be summed up in one sentence: Young buck ex-TUFer takes on veteran old schooler for no marbles whatsoever. By virtue of being younger and hungrier, I give the edge to Albert and could see him pulling off the decision. Or I could see Menjivar squeaking by like he did against Nick Pace.
-Vagner Rocha vs. Jonathan Brookins – Brookins won TUF 12 handily with the help of his tight, albeit somewhat shallow, jiu-jitsu game, then dropped one to Erik Koch. Jiu-jitsu black belt Rocha caught a beatdown from Don Cerrone in his UFC debut, but rebounded with a no-nonsense submission over one-dimensional TUF never-was Cody McKenzie. What we have here, then, is a pairing between two strong grapplers who aren’t too comfortable slugging it out – which probably means we’ll be subjected to three rounds of uncomfortable slugging it out that inspires no one to take up jiu-jitsu for its “completeness as a style”. I don’t envision Brookins taking Rocha’s back and choking him out, even though that’s his modus operandi, and I don’t envision Rocha winning any positional games. No, this is going to play out on the feet, one tentative jab at the air at a time.
-Buddy Roberts vs. Sean Loeffler – A King of the Cage champ and product of the West Coast scene, the middleweight Loeffler is making his debut sporting the ability to nail submissions and score knockouts. Roberts is making his first venture into the Octagon as well, and as a product of Team Greg Jackson, he should be well-prepared. As Roberts leans more towards the striking end of the spectrum, this one has the potential to be a good standup conflict… or it could be a lesson in nervous man-huggery against the cage. Either way, it could be entertaining for what it is, and I see Loeffler having the advantage based on experience alone. Watch for him to take the decision.
-Anton Kuivanen vs. Justin Salas – Hey, another pair of newcomers, only these two are lightweights. Kuivanen is supposedly some hot potato grappling specialist from Finland (as if that means something – Finland isn’t exactly tearing up the MMA world). Salas, on the flipside, is a former Division 1 wrestler who’s grinded out wins against UFC vet Rob Emerson and a bunch of guys you’ve never heard of. Do the Finnish even know what wrestling is? I have no clue, but regardless, Kuivanen better be prepared to work from his back, ‘cause that’s where Salas is putting him.
-Tim Means vs. Bernardo Magalhaes – Magalhaes is a Brazilian who’s spent his career fighting in Australia, which is kind of weird when you think of it, and akin to, say, an American spending his entire career fighting in the Finland scene. Anyhoo, Means is a King of the Cage champ, too, and favors busting dudes in the face. I can’t really say how this one will turn out, as being a top fighter in Australia means diddly-squat when it comes to fighting here in the States, but if I had to pick a winner, I’d say Means takes the decision. Being a KOTC champ does have quantitative value.