We have another week of fights, as the UFC is back to putting on events on a weekly basis. Due to not being able to watch much of TUF Nations, there wasn’t any preview for last night’s event. We now have UFC on FOX 11 in Orlando, which has MMA fans buzzing.
You’ve heard this quote a few times in the past that “this card is the best one that the UFC has put on for FOX”. This event applies to that quote by having a plethora of intriguing fights. We’ll finally see whom Cain Velasquez gets to fight next between Travis Browne and Fabricio Werdum. In the co-main event, Miesha Tate faces Liz Carmouche in the battle of the only women to put on a compelling fight against Ronda Rousey.
There is also a trio of excellent fights from the lightweight division, which continues to have entertaining fights on a consistent basis. Justin Pierrot, who is the mastermind behind “Stats for Suckas” covering every main event exclusively, joins me to preview this outstanding card.
1.Besides Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Rafael Dos Anjos, what other preliminary bout are you looking forward to the most?
Strk: The easy choice here is Pat Healy vs. Jorge Masvidal. If the lightweight division wasn’t as stacked as it currently is, both fighters would be ranked. Both fighters are extremely talented, who are always in competitive fights. They are both coming off tough losses to ranked opponents, which is why this fight is lower on the card. Still this should be an outstanding fight between two fighters, who always look to engage.
I’ve always felt that Masvidal is under appreciated, when people talking about notable fighters in the lightweight division. He’s always been well rounded and unpredictable when it comes to his striking. His grappling tends to get criticized, yet he held his own against Rustan Khabilov, who is a Sambo world champion. Healy’s grappling is among the best in the division and has always been so durable. Both fighters also have excellent cardio, which is why both fighters have fought already over 30 times in their career. This should be a 15-minute battle that could win fight of the night, if Cerrone-Barboza finishes early.
Pierrot: Jordan Mein vs. Hunani Perpetuo is the bout I’m looking forward to on the prelims. While Mein has had a more difficult climb up the welterweight ranks than his Western Canadian counterpart in Rory MacDonald, “Young Guns” is tough as nails, and loves to put on a show. I hope this is a showcase fight for him, and it allows Mein to move further up the card.
2. Yoel Romero continues to garner a lot of buzz, due to his freakish size and Olympic credentials. Are you a believer in the hype or do you feel he’s overrated?
Strk: While Hector Lombard’s background is in judo and Yoel Romero’s background is in wrestling, they both seem to have a comparable aura about them. From a physique standpoint, they look frightening for their division. Even though Romero’s striking isn’t as fluid as Lombard’s, he is just as devastating when he lands.
I’m a believer in Romero to a certain extent. When you look at his pure raw power and how he came back from adversity against Derek Brunson, those are positive attributes to have. He’s still somewhat of a project in MMA, which makes this fight against Brad Tavares intriguing. The UFC is putting him in a major spot against someone, who specializes in breaking down his opponents with leg kicks and constant jabs. That is the perfect counter for someone, who relies on being so explosive and likes to shoot in for a takedown.
Pierrot: I’m a believer in the Yoel Romero hype – to a point. He got in the game a little too late to be a serious title threat, but dang does that guy put on some entertaining fights. His wrestling hasn’t translated over to MMA quite as well as many would have hoped, but he’s made up for it with a dynamic striking attack. Enjoy him, while we have him.
3. Do you expect Donald Cerrone to lean towards his wrestling against Edson Barboza, similar to the last time he faced a top level striker in KJ Noons?
Strk: It always seems like before every fight, you have to question the mental mindset of Cerrone. Ever since his loss to Rafael Dos Anjos, it made me realize that he truly is prone to having off nights even when heavily favored. While he’s won his last two fights in impressive fashion, this will be a sturdy test against Barboza.
Obviously having Greg Jackson in your corner will more than likely lead you to a smart game plan. I’m sure that Cerrone will like to trade leg kicks with Barboza, as a part of the feeling out process. Eventually if the fight goes into the later rounds, will see him try to close the distance and make the fight ugly. We’ve seen how Jamie Varner and Danny Castillo have had success in doing that against Barboza. As much as Cerrone likes his bonuses, he’ll realize that more wins equals bigger fights and more opportunities to make more cash.
Pierrot: It could certainly happen. It all depends on which “Cowboy” shows up. If he figures he needs a new boat or he’s about to lose the ranch, he’ll come out with guns blazing and go for the knockout. If not, I could see him playing it a little safer. Regardless, it will still be an entertaining bout.
4. Miesha Tate was criticized heavily for her game plan against Ronda Rousey. After seeing how Alexis Davis picked apart Liz Carmouche on the feet, does it seem fitting that Tate will to keep the fight standing? We’ve seen glimpses of promise from her striking in recent fights.
Strk: Similar to Cerrone, you just never know what you’ll get from Tate. Her tendency to get into these brawls always baffles me. She’s too talented to keep losing by making poor decisions. She was shooting in in trying to take down Rousey, which was beyond nonsensical. Then she kept trying to charge into Cat Zingano, when she already had won the first two rounds.
Hopefully for her sake, she will realize that she needs to slow down and be more methodical. If you look at Alexis Davis recent winning streak, she was methodical in landing those leg kicks and relied on timing to muster up an attack. It wasn’t constantly charging in and hoping she’ll inflict some damage. We saw her tag Rousey on a few occasions in their tremendous title bout. Carmouche has the tendency to get hit, so it seems only fitting that Tate will keep the fight standing. It all comes down to her game plan though, which nobody has been able to predict in her past few fights.
Pierrot: Meisha Tate’s striking is servicable, at best. She really didn’t do that good of a job back against Ronda Rousey with it. As soon as she got caught with a couple of shots, her composure went out the window and her Fight IQ dropped down to its regular, lower than Chael-Sonnen’s natural-testosterone levels. Carmouche may have trouble with technical strikers, but Meisha Tate is certainly not one of them. She’s not training with ace kick-boxers like Zoila Gurgel or Kevin Ross at Combat Sports Academy, like the aforementioned Davis. In fact, Tate can’t even find a gym to call home. So don’t expect too much from her in this fight.
5. We keep hearing about the battle between Browne’s elusive striking and how dangerous Werdum is on the ground. That being said, have you seen significant improvements in Fabricio Werdum’s striking?
Strk: I wrote an entire piece on how Werdum has evolved and deserves more recognition. There have been some clear improvements to his striking, but it’s hard to rate it as significant. The UFC hasn’t exactly positioned him in bringing the best out of him. We’ve seen how vicious he can be inside the clinch and how well he uses leg kicks. It’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts from fighting the likes of Roy Nelson and Antonio Minotauro Nogueira, who don’t tend to use head movement very often and have become predictable as fighters to Travis Browne.
Everyone knows how Browne is unpredictable and unique as a striker. He’s very explosive and is incredibly rangy for a heavyweight. It was jaw dropping to see him make Josh Barnett look so desperate in trying to close the distance. While Werdum is craftier than Barnett, it will be a challenge in trying to amount a substantial amount of offense on Browne when the fight is standing. Not to mention if you press him against the cage, you are putting yourself at harm in receiving those devastating elbows. Saturday will tell us how significant his improvements have become as a striker facing a true top-level heavyweight.
Pierrot: Fabricio Werdum’s striking is certainly improved, so I don’t expect to see a redux of his bout with Alistair Overeem, with butt-scoots aplenty. However, this may not be an exciting bout if Travis Browne starts to get the better of “Vai Cavalo.” We might see Werdum try to shell up and/or pull guard in an effort not to lose. It’s hard to say, though, so we will just have to wait and see