After some downtime last weekend, the UFC returns to our screens this weekend for UFC on Fox 10 and with them they bring a surprisingly below par Fox show. Other than the main event, no fight has any real significance for their divisions and they serve mainly as fights to keep the weight class ticking over. It’s not that they are bad fights, they actually have potential for real excitement, it’s just that other than PPV, this is the big show for the UFC and not since the Fox network deal began have we seen such limited interest in a network card. Could still be fun though…
Benson Henderson vs. Josh Thomson – 155lbs.
This is a big fight for Benson Henderson. Having lost his title last time out to his old foe and nemesis Anthony Pettis, Henderson will be looking to make a statement when he steps in to the Octagon to face Thomson. Henderson was hardly universally loved during his reign as champ, respected but not cherished. This was mainly a result of too many closely fought five round decisions that really could have gone either way leaving the end result feeling somewhat inconclusive and the fans disputing who won the fight. There is no doubt about it that Henderson is firmly amongst the elite of the lightweight division and with a decisive victory over Thomson under his belt, it won’t be long until he’s fighting for the gold again.
Josh Thomson will be taking a big risk this Saturday when he takes on Benson Henderson. Having dispatched of Nate Diaz in blistering fashion in his last fight, which would serve as his second debut with the promotion, Thomson secured himself a title shot against 155lbs kingpin Pettis, only for an injury to the newly crowned king to derail those plans. Not content to wait for the champ to heal, Thomson made the bold choice of placing himself firmly back in the mix and placing his golden opportunity in jeopardy by accepting a fight with the #1 ranked fighter in the division, Benson Henderson, and will be hoping that his gamble pays off big.
Henderson has made a career out of stifling an opponent’s game through his superior athleticism, grappling chops and his uncanny ability to break free of whatever submission hold he finds himself in. Thomson himself is no slouch and is capable in all facets of MMA with a limitless gas tank to match, proving himself to be nigh on impossible to finish. While Thomson will be tough to see off before the end of the allotted 25 minutes are up, that does not mean that he will be any better for it. For me, this one will likely go the way of the majority of Henderson fights in that Henderson will dominate enough to take home the decision, but will provide his opponent with plenty of opportunity on which to make a strong case for victory.
Prediction – Henderson via unanimous decision.
Stipe Miocic vs. Gabriel Gonzaga – 265lbs.
Having started out his UFC career with three straight victories over Phil De Fries, Joey Beltran and the late Shane Del Rosario, Stipe Miocic had begun making waves in the very shallow pool of fighters that is the heavyweight division. After being matched up with Stefan Struve in his next bout and subsequently TKO’d, it appeared as though Miocic had discovered his ceiling. However, in his next, and most recent bout, Miocic was paired up with Roy Nelson in a contest that very few gave him too much of a chance in. Miocic was to confound the critics and go on to soundly best Nelson over the three round period, claiming his first real statement victory of his UFC career. In a division so bereft of challengers, another win here and Miocic can start to dream big.
Whisper it quietly, but Gabriel Gonazaga may well be back. Other than a solitary loss to Travis Browne via hellbows, the big Brazillian has managed to triumph in 4 of the 5 bouts he has been in since his return to the UFC in devastating fashion. Gonzaga has always appeared to have the right combination of tools to be a successful heavyweight in as much that he can throw leather with the best of them, but if it does make it to the ground he has an enviable BJJ game that many big fellas simply can’t compete with. Last time out Gonzaga was seen KO’ing Shawn Jordan in to next week back at UFC 166 in October, and ‘Napão’ will be looking to add another name to his list and quietly go about staking a claim for an unexpected run at the belt.
Miocic has solid boxing and movement, likely proving far too savvy on the feet for Gonzaga to be able to land one of his big shots and as demonstrated in his fight with Nelson, too well drilled for Gonzaga to drag him to the mat. This should be Miocic’s fight to lose, with Gonzaga having an honest puncher’s chance.
Prediction – Miocic via unanimous decision.
Donald Cerrone vs. Adriano Martins – 155lbs.
Donald Cerrone looked downright nasty in his last outing against Evan Dunham. After a poor start to 2013 for someone of Cerrone’s ability and standards, going 1-2 over his three contests, ‘Cowboy’ went a long way to reintroduce himself to the lightweight division as a force to be reckoned with in his two round dissection of Dunham’s everything. Whether it was on the feet or on the ground, where the fight was finished, Cerrone was in imperious form beating Dunham from pillar to post with vastly superior striking technique before pulling off a slick triangle sub to put Dunham out of his misery. If that Cerrone turns up again, Martins stands little chance and neither does most of the division.
Adriano Martins is being thrown to the wolves here a little bit. Having just the one fight in the UFC prior to this, an armbar victory over Daron Cruickshank, Martins will be making quite the leap in competition when he takes on Cerrone this Saturday night. I had to check a few times to see that this was not a hastily prepared fight as a result of a fighter pulling out through injury, but apparently not. This was the matchup that the UFC wanted. I don’t mean to do Martins a disservice, as the guy has legitimate skills, of course he does. Martins has a black belt in jiu-jitsu and serviceable striking, but he is stepping up in a big way here that’s all. Cerrone is the betting favourite and if Martins does end up on the receiving end of a loss, then no harm no foul, however if he is able to spring the upset, Martins could find himself fast tracked to the higher reaches of the division.
I think you can tell who I’m going to go with on this one.
Prediction – Cerrone via KO/TKO in the 2nd round.
Darren Elkins vs. Jeremy Stephens – 145lbs.
If not for what must be considered a reckless decision in taking on Chad Mendes at late notice, Darren Elkins would be sitting pretty on six-fight win streak that would allow him to claim a place in line in what must be one of the most challenger-worthy divisions in the UFC. Unfortunately for Darren, he did take on Mendes, losing in pretty brutal fashion forcing him to start all over again having had his five-fight streak ended and to be fair he did bounce back. Elkins was last seen back in August claiming the unanimous decision victory over Hatsu Hioki.
Having been on the receiving end of a quick shellacking at the hands of Yves Edwards and the Minnesota police department, Jeremy Stephens rebounded from a turbulent 2012 in noteworthy fashion. The loss to Edwards prompted Stephens to make the drop from lightweight to featherweight, and since that decision was made Stephens has been rejuvenated as a 145lb’er with back to back victories over Estevan Payan and Rony Jason leading Stephens to this bout.
Stephens carries serious power in his hands and feet at featherweight and can end any opponent’s night in a flash, however I just can’t see him getting it done here. Elkins will have far superior wrestling to that of Stephens and will likely control Stephens from start to tedious finish.
Prediction – Elkins via unanimous decision.