UFC on FOX: Johnson vs. Benavidez is going down this Saturday live on Fox TV. You’re NOT going to want to miss this card because it has some of the most promising free-to-view match-ups of the entire year! We’ve had some fantastic events to close out the year, and I expect this card to do nothing else but contribute to that. But first, I’m going to go over what we, as fans, can expect to see this Saturday night in terms of awards.

Fight of the Night

For the most entertaining, hard-fought bout of the card I really only have two fights in mind and they’re both on the main card. Yes, there some under-card bouts that are promising to deliver; like Bobby Green vs. Pat Healy, but it’s a general rule of thumb now in MMA that if you ever have Joe Lauzon on the card, he’s going to win atleast something whether it be Fight of the Night or Submission of the Night. I have Lauzon vs. Danzig as a very possible contender for FotN; both guys are coming off of losses and are very eager to prove that they are still relevant in the broad scheme of things at 155 lbs.

If Lauzon/Danzig doesn’t get it, I can only assume that the main event will. Johnson and Benavidez have the potential to go 5 rounds that will consist of nothing but lightning fast flurries, torpedo-speed grappling exchanges, and most importantly competitiveness.

Knock out of the Night

For the jaw-shattering blow of the night I have it limited down to three. Knockouts are a little harder to predict because of how random they occur, but I’m fairly confident that atleast one of the three bouts will end in a knockout. First up I have Edson Barboza vs. Danny Castillo. Barboza, being the flashy but technical striker that he is, can really turn Castillo into a hitting-bag if he manages to stuff the wrestling game. Barboza will have a good reach advantage on him, so expect a lot of kicks; and we all know the potential that lies on Barboza’s kicking game.

Next up I have Chad Mendes vs. Nik Lentz. Incase you’ve been living under a rock, Chad Mendes has discovered that he can knock fools out cold. Mendes’ tight boxing game and power combined makes him one deadly beast on the feet, and seeing as how he’s facing an equally talented grappler in Nik Lentz, it’s possible Mendes will be headhunting out of the gate. Finally, my last candidate is going to be Michael McDonald vs. Urijah Faber. I would also like to say this is my “honorable mention” pick for Fight of the Night, but I have more confidence that this would get knockout or submission over said award. McDonald has a blistering right hand and seeing as how Faber has only looked “meh” on the feet as of late, we could see the power and speed of McDonald’s striking game give Faber a wake-up call.

Submission of the Night

Without question, Joe Lauzon instantly makes this last for me. Mac Danzig is a solid veteran, but I just don’t think he has the mat speed to keep Lauzon off of him and out of submissions. Besides Lauzon, I actually have quite a good list of candidates. On the prelims, another name instantly makes a good target for the submission bonus and that is Cody McKenzie. His infamous guillotine is a popular choice of finish, especially considering Stout’s last fight was a loss via guillotine.

Another grappler is featured on the prelims as well, and that’s Pat “Bam Bam” Healy. Given, he’s a very well-rounded fighter who keeps a ferocious pace and isn’t always known for his grappling, but he his facing a talented grappler in Bobby Green. I think this bout has the potential to feature some really good grappling work, and whoever gets the submission, in my opinion, should get extra “brownie points” when deciding the Submission of the Night bonus given the level of competition.

And last but not least, Urijah Faber and Michael McDonald surfaces again. This fight has big implications and is definitely a unique clash of styles. Considering the style and emphasis on grappling that Faber has been fighting with, I don’t think it’s too far out of the question to expect some crazy choke attempts from him; that is, if he can get passed McDonald’s piston-like right hand.

Snoozer of the Night

Unfortunately, all these awards aren’t always positive. This award goes to the bout that stinks up the action and really gives the card a lull. In memory, there have been a few cards I can think of that start out great, and end great, but that middle portion has the potential to be very restless, especially when you have wrestlers on the card. Luckily, 170lbs is the heaviest this card will feature, and even with that, there aren’t many choices for the “snoozer” of the night.

If I had to pick a pair of fights, I’d go with Abel Trujillo vs. Roger Bowling, and Court McGee vs. Ryan LaFlare. Individually, these fighters are not quite known for being snoozers, but it’s the match-ups that they are in. Trujillo is facing a heavy-handed slugger, so we may see the complete opposite in this bout. Trujillo packs around a lot of muscle-mass, so if his goal is to clinch up with Bowling, take him down, and tire him out, this fight could turn into a gas-fest.

The other bout, McGee vs. LaFlare, is probably the most realistic. McGee is a volume puncher who is always driving forward and takes a punch to land one, which is exciting, but he’s facing a guy who is the complete opposite. LaFlare is a wrestling star who loves to take his opponents down and absolutely control the hell out of them. McGee should have the BJJ to defend against him, but LaFlare’s superior athleticism could really make this fight one-sided, as all of LaFlare’s bouts have been.

Stand-out of the Night

This award belongs to the fighter deserving of the most credit. Usually this couples with an “upset of the night”, but really is meant to highlight a fighter who performed above par, won, and had to go through great odds in order to do so. I only have two guys in mind for this, and the first of them is Zach Makovsky. Flying under the radar, the former Bellator competitor is making his UFC debut against a proven UFC veteran in Scott Jorgensen (who just fought Urijah Faber in a competitive bout). Makovsky will have his hands full, and really doesn’t have much hype surrounding him, but a dominate display against Jorgensen would send shockwaves through-out the division, and really earn himself the title of being a stand-out.

If Makovsky fails to perform up to par, I have some heavy confidence that Michael McDonald has just as good of odds. Yes, McDonald beating Faber really isn’t that big if you look at the rankings, but it’s going to be how he does (if he does). Only the best-of-the-best have beaten Faber, and mostly it’s because they’re just too fast, and they out-point him on the feet. With Faber’s recent emphasis on grappling entering back into his style, it’s going to be extremely hard to do that. Most guys can’t land hard enough shots on Faber to get him rocked (Mike Brown as an exception), but if McDonald can do that, it really solidifies his claim to the bantamweight division.