Allen: I’ve been trying to preview more “Fight Night” cards, as long as they don’t happen on the same week as a pay-per-view. This fits into the mold, so I’m going to preview this Saturday’s event. This card has gotten some criticism for the lack of big names. That’s what will happen when there are so many events. I’m still in favor of there being fewer events, so there will be less complaints and more stacked cards.
Five questions for UFC Fight Night 30
The main event is still intriguing featuring Mark Munoz against Lyoto Machida, who will be making his debut in the middleweight division. Obviously some of the buzz of the main event was taken off when hometown hero Michael Bisping injured during training. Both fighters are friends and have trained with each other before. I’m sure this will be a chess match through each round. I’m joined by JP Lasaleta, who is Filipino and has major interest in the main event. He is ecstatic for this fight, so I wanted to get him back on for the preview.
JP: UFC fight night coming up this Saturday has the potential to have major changes in the middleweight standings with newcomer Lyoto Machida set to make his debut. Today’s five questions will explore the effect of Machida versus Munoz and the other major fights on the card.
1. How will the card be affected without Michael Bisping being on it? He’s a polarizing figure in England for MMA.
Allen: It has definitely taken some buzz from the event as a whole. Bisping is one of the top middleweights in the world and one of the best talkers in the UFC. He’s always been popular and it has been quite some time, since he’s fought in England. It looked to be a fascinating matchup featuring Munoz, who he’s criticized before and there had been trash talk going into the fight.
Even though Machida fighting at a new weight class is appealing, I had a lot of interest in seeing Bisping and Munoz s fight each other. Both fighters are coming off bounce back performances, after suffering terrible knockout defeats. Now you have to wonder how the crowd will react, when Machida comes out to fight. Hopefully the residents of England have gotten over it and have a positive mindset going into the event. This card has taken a big hit without Bisping, not only because of the event being in England. It’s also because of the animosity between both Munoz and himself. The interest in a fight is always picked up, when there is a legitimate beef between both fighters.
JP: The effects of Bisping absence will be negligible. Sure he’s supposed to be the home town hero, but his media persona still leaves even Brits less than fans. The replacement in Machida raises the profile of the card, as it brings in a former champion and a much more fan favorite fighter.
2. Is John Lineker a legitimate threat in the flyweight division?
Allen: Obviously the big question, before breaking down the fight has to be about his weight. Lineker has missed weight in two of his four fights in the UFC. While he continues to improve his arsenal, he needs to get his weight in order if he wants a future title shot. As for his actual talent, he has made a believer. The way he bounced back against Jose Maria Tome, when Tome landed a clean spinning back fist was remarkable. He looked staggered and wobbly, yet still managed to bounce back and finish the fight in the second round.
This is a good matchup for him against Phil Harris, who doesn’t have great stand up. Harris is known for bullying his opponents to the ground and submitting them. Harris will need to mix in his strikes with takedowns, if he wants to avoid getting into a slugfest with Lineker. There are still questions about Lineker’s cardio and will find out here, if Harris manages to survive past the second round. I don’t think that will happen and Lineker will continue his hot streak. Other than John Dodson, there isn’t any flyweight that can hit harder than Lineker
JP: Since the division is still developing and relatively thin, anyone who can put together four wins in a row can have a valid title shot. Lineker is at three wins and on top of that, his last two fights were knockouts. Knockouts are a rarity in the lightest divisions. If he can finish Phil Harris in the same fashion, he should at least be considered to fight against a number one contender eliminator.
3. Do you see potential in Jimi Manuwa or is he already being too overhyped?
Allen: Whenever there are clips of devastating knockouts from one certain fighter, there will always be an Internet fan base for any fight. Manuwa has shown how powerful and fluid his striking is. He knows how to use his reach to his advantage, which gives his opponents fits. His left hook is his most dangerous weapon, but he’s so well rounded that you don’t know what’s next. Overall, Manuwa is one of the most explosive light heavyweights in the UFC.
Now is he overhyped? I wouldn’t say so necessarily because he hasn’t fought enough in the UFC yet. What I’m most concerned about is his conditioning. As good as his striking may be, he hasn’t gone to the third round in any fight of his career. Some people may think I’m overreacting, but it can be an issue. If you remember his fight with Kyle Kingsbury from last year, he was starting to fatigue a bit in the late second round. He always looks to be in phenomenal shape, but a fighter’s physical appearance shouldn’t be used to label whether a fighter’s in shape or not. Ryan Jimmio showed in his last fight against Igor Pokrajac that he knows how to keep fighters against the cage and tire them out. If Manuwa starts to fatigue, we may see him get taken down at will by Jimmio. We’ll have to wait for Saturday, but Manuwa deserves all the praise for his success. It would be unfair to call him overhyped.
JP: Jimmo is the perfect test for Manuwa, as he is a very different challenge than any other of his past opponents. Jimmo brings elusiveness in his striking style and won’t trade blow for blow like a traditional Muay Thai practioner, as seen in his previous fight. Jimmo also has the ability to control the pace of his fights, when he bullies his opponent against a fence as he showed against Pokrajac. I believe Manuwa cannot be kept from being out pointed standing and against the fence, so I’m expecting Jimmo will take a decision.
4. Who do you see having the striking advantage between Ross Pearson and Melvin Guillard? Everyone knows this fight is going to be a standup war.
Allen: When it comes to precision and speed, you have to give it to Guillard. His hand speed may be faster than anyone in the light division, not to mention his knockout power. I’d still give the edge in power to Pearson though. Both fighters are even when it comes to footwork, which both are excellent at it. You would have to give the edge to Guillard, when it comes to overall striking. His speed is the biggest difference maker, especially with the way Pearson has struggled against fighters who are faster than him.
I’d still pick Pearson to win this fight. Other than Cub Swanson, nobody has managed to knock out Pearson. His chin has always been rock solid and always keeps him in fights. I’ve always had questions about Guillard’s chin, not to mention about his commitment to a camp. He’s now gone from four different camps in the past two years. How is that normal and how can a fighter improve, if he can’t settle in at one camp? While he may have issues with Guillard’s speed, Pearson showed he can do more than just box in his last fight against Ryan Couture. He’s been using more leg kicks to mix up his standup, along with improved grappling. He continues to evolve, while Guillard still seems pretty predictable. I’m expecting another big performance from Pearson to get him in line for a fight against a top ten lightweight.
JP: This is a very close match up. They have identical styles with a chance to finish the fight with one punch. I’ll give the edge to Pearson, as he has a better track record of recovering from adversity than Guillard.
5. Since the fight is five rounds, does it put Mark Munoz at an even bigger disadvantage against Lyoto Machida? Everyone knows how hard it is to defeat Machida.
Allen: Munoz would have been my pick, if the fight were at three rounds. He could have grounded Machida long enough, to go along with his improved striking. The fight is five rounds and Machida is almost impossible to finish compared to Bisping. Everyone knows how elusive Machida is and how hard it is to land a clean shot on him, let alone rocking him. Munoz can get wild and impatient, although he seemed to be in complete control against Tim Boetsch. Boetsch is no slouch, yet he was manhandled for three rounds against Munoz.
Other than his dynamic striking and head movement, Machida’s takedown defense impresses me the most when I watch him fight. He always weighs less than his opponent, yet it’s nearly impossible to take him down. He has excellent technique by keeping his legs spread out and rarely allows his opponents to get complete control of his hips. He always gives wrestlers, who are power puncher’s fits. We’ve seen it against Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson, where he controls the distance and makes them fight at his style. If you can’t take Machida down, it’ll turn into a chess match where Machida normally wins.
Since the fight is five rounds, it’ll give Machida more than enough time to pick apart Munoz. His striking is much faster and superior, along with having the reach advantage. Unless Munoz can have success taking him to the ground and closing the distance, it will be a long night for him. He needs to make this fight as ugly as possible, similar to what Phil Davis did. Otherwise we’ll see him start fighting recklessly, which will play into Machida’s hands of landing strikes at unusual angles. 25 minutes is too much time for Machida, he’s going to have his way with Munoz eventually when the fight stays standing for a long period of time.
JP: Munoz will have to solve the distancing and timing that only Machida has. Munoz sounds pretty confident in the prefight interviews, as he has trained with Machida before. That being said, sparing in the gym is not always the same as the fight in the octagon.
With that said, I think Machida will be at a bigger disadvantage since this is his first time cutting the weight and may not adjust as well as an in shape, motivated Munoz. I don’t think either will finish the fight, so I’ll give Munoz the close decision in the end due to conditioning and familiarity with the weight cut.
Allen: This is far from a great card, but their have been far less appealing free events. There are many people excited to see Machida fighting at middleweight against a rejuvenated Munoz. We may see a repeat of Gilbert Melendez against Diego Sanchez in the co-main event. Gulliard against Pearson won’t shy away from brawling. Other than that, hopefully will see a few breakout stars from the entire card. It’s a shame that the women’s fight between Rossi Sexton and Jessica Andrade isn’t on the main card. That should be the main highlight of the prelims. Hopefully the England crowd enjoys it and it turns out to be a great show, similar to the last two pay-per-views.