The UFC’s pay-per-view model is dying a slow and painful death, as evidenced by the reportedly ghastly numbers that last months UFC 174 did. Since the UFC partnered up with FOX, two things have been proven. One is that, because of the ubiquitous number of cards, coupled with the idea that the UFC is the only legitimate game in town, people really will tune into just about anything with the letters “UFC” on it. The other, though, is that this is true as long as it isn’t a pay per view. Shelling out 55 bucks and planning a night around Demetrious Johnson and Ali Bagautinov is a little bit different than catching them while you’re dully surfing through channels.
The UFC is going to put forth their best effort to alleviate that PPV stink with their annual 4th of July weekend show. The 2014 edition features two title fights … and not a whole lot else (Sure, this is due to the fact that this lineup featured approximately 246 failed drug tests over the past few months … but still). At least, not on the main card. You could make an argument that the prelims are actually more compelling than the main card as a whole. And since I’m the snob making that argument, I’m going to mow through the prelims as well. You only live once.
Rob Font vs. George Roop
Rob “Times New Roman” Font has to close the distance and throw overhand bombs. If he does this, he has a 84% chance of knocking the scarecrow-esque Roop senseless. This is going to happen, most likely, because George Roop has proven that he’s awesome at consistently doing the one thing a guy with his frame should never do, which is throw strikes and find himself in the pocket with his chin straight up in the air. Roop can wrestle a bit and land decent offense from distance, but the knockout always looms, and he isn’t getting any younger. Font by first round knockout.
Chris Camozzi vs. Bruno Santos
If the name Bruno Santos sounds familiar, it shouldn’t. He is not a compelling or gripping fighter in any way. Chris Camozzi is the workmanlike everyman who is decent at most aspects of MMA, stellar at none, and sometimes yells in hilarious fashion when he gets hit. Santos is a grinder, but Camozzi should have enough juice and experience from the southpaw stance to tag Santos on the feet with punches and kicks. Camozzi by decision.
Ildemar Alcantara vs. Kenny Robertson
Ildemar Alcantara is a decent fighter, but Kenny Robertson has really been coming on strong as of late. He laid a succinct, sobering beating on Thiago Perpetuo in his last outing, the kind that had the Brazilian crowd even more silent than usual. Robertson is a tenacious wrestler, good scrambler, and solid submission finisher, with power in his hands to boot. He can get a little bit wild and leave himself open, but Alcantara isn’t the kind of fighter to come in and flatten a guy with strikes. Robertson takes a decision in this one.
Urijah Faber vs. Alex Caceres
I understand that Bruce Leeroy looked great against Sergio Pettis, and has made widespread improvements in his MMA game … but come on. This is a ridiculously mismatched fight. It’d be like the UFC saying “Phil Davis looked great against another ridiculously green prospect in Alexander Gustafsson … I think he’s ready to fight for a title!”. Not that Caceres is a hot prospect or anything, but he’s a sacrificial lamb here. He’s going to get pressured, taken down, and choked. Possibly even unconscious, courtesy of that nasty Faber squeeze. Faber by submission in the second round.
Marcus Brimage vs. Russell Doane
Here’s the “Wait … this is on the MAIN card?” head scratcher, which is becoming more and more of a UFC pay-per-view staple. I understand that Faber is supposed to bring people in on free TV and convince them via his sheer awesomeness to buy the pay-per-view, but almost everyone who is going to buy this card is going to be sitting there, beer in hand, ready to watch some fights featuring guys they’ve heard of … and then Russell Doane is going to grace their television screens. I’m sorry, but profanity is going to follow that moment.
That being said, Russell Doane is a pretty good fighter, somebody to keep an eye on at 135 pounds. His athleticism, relaxed disposition, and knack for finishing fights should propel him to victory against Brimage, who is best known for being the first UFC punching bag for featherweight standout and all around unfortunate human being, Conor McGregor.
Doane by early knockout. I’m even giving you the technique: Overhand right.
Uriah Hall vs. Thiago “Marreta” Santos
“Marreta” has truly been trick or treat since he’s been a UFC employee, losing his first bout in 47 seconds and winning his next in 53. It was quite an impressive 53 seconds, though, as he destroyed a normally sturdy fighter in Ronny Markes with a lethal kick to the body and follow up punches on the ground.
Uriah Hall has been a disappointment so far in his UFC career, as he seems to want to smile and engage in bro time high fives more than he wants to hurt his opponents. He made a washed up Chris Leben quit on his stool between rounds in his last fight, but he has a long way to go to live up to the silly “Everyone in the Ultimate Fighter house is scared of this guy! He’s booking guys trips to the hospital left and right!” rhetoric that sloppily flew out of Dana White’s mouth when Hall was taping the Ultimate Fighter.
Thiago will likely force Hall’s hand by coming out aggressively, and it’s going to come down to Hall’s reaction to that aggression. So far, complacency has been Hall’s undoing, and I predict Thiago will push the envelope and walk away with a decision win after simply seeming like he wants his win bonus more.
Matt Mitrione vs. Stefan Struve
It’ll be nice to see Struve back in action, because that means he has a clean bill of health. Good stuff. If he looks even 75% as competent as he was before being sidelined, he has a great shot to beat Mitrione.
Struve could always get hit in the face and fold up like an unsuccessful business, and Mitrione’s last KO showed that he can effectively throw killshots when his opponent is hurt, instead of needlessly getting too excited and flailing. I just don’t like this matchup for Mitrione. He could get tapped in a myriad of ways, he could get outstruck with leg kicks and punches from the rangier Struve, he could lose a decision after getting outgrappled … I just think he’s in over his head here. Still, this is a solid heavyweight fight, and one that I’m actually looking forward to seeing. Mitrione will give Struve a couple of scares with punches, but ’ol skyscraper will earn a tapout sometime in the latter part of the fight.
Ronda Rousey vs. Alexis Davis
83.4 percent of me sees this as another juicy arm for Honda to take home with her, but then I start thinking a little more deeply. When I do that, I realize that Alexis Davis is the best grappler Honda has ever fought, and that she’s a cool enough customer to at least not go into a defensive shell as soon as Rousey gets ahold of her.
Since I’m an idiot when it comes to women’s MMA, I’ll just get up on my soapbox and scream this to the masses: War Alexis Davis!!!
“Ronda Rousey: Women’s Icon” … “Is Rousey The Biggest Star In The UFC?” … “Ronda Rousey Is An Empowering Role Model For Young Women Everywhere”. Any time this kind of rhetoric starts flying around, I have to morally root against you. It’s just the way my fudge is packed. Davis can kick Rousey’s legs, initiate scrambles, and find success on top if she can make it there. She’s a stern test for Rousey in every sense of the word.
Rousey by armbar, round four.
Chris Weidman vs. Lyoto Machida
Weidman is an absolute monster. He’s hitting his prime, and his only known weakness is the best possible one to have, which is this: We don’t know. The word “weakness” hasn’t come up when describing Chris Weidman. He looked noticeably subpar in his fight with Demian Maia, but he took that fight on 8 days notice, cut a comical amount of weight, and still easily outpointed a very good fighter. Alessio Sakara gave him a surprisingly tough test in the first round of his UFC debut, but Weidman regrouped and bludgeoned Sakara on the ground.
Other than that? Not much to work with in the weakness department.
Enter Lyoto Machida, everyone’s favorite urine drinking uni-browed middleweight. Other than Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and the Jon Jones second round naptime choke (in a fight he performed well in), nobody has really taken it to Machida. He’s the great equalizer. You say you’re a great fighter? I want to see how you perform against Lyoto Machida. He’ll lull you to sleep with perceived inactivity, then take a round off you with one well-timed flurry. Guys will try to put pressure on him, and he’ll sidestep them and run them right into one of his fists. He’s perfected the step in knee to the body (not an easy technique to land), and his kicking style helps him stay away from guys power shots. Goldberg always talks about Machida being elusive, but that’s not really true; he really just takes what you give him. He doesn’t make stupid mistakes. If you beat him, you either have to flatten him, or make sure Sal D’Amato is judging.
(Quick side note: When I wrote that last sentence, I swung over to mmadecisions.com to see who had judged the Rampage and Phil Davis heists. I instinctively knew D’Amato had to be involved in those sad transgressions. And guess what? He was! How unbelievable is Sal D’Amato?)
I like this to go five rounds, and I foresee a lot of back and forth action, stretches where Weidman is clearly getting the better of Machida, and vice versa. Weidman’s wrestling is too good to not get on top at some point, and Machida is potentially in trouble from there. Weidman has good standup, and is more of a physical presence than anyone else at middleweight other than maybe Jacare. But Lyoto Machida is Lyoto Machida, and nobody else gives you that look. And I just think it’s a great look to fight Chris Weidman with. Call it a weird hunch. Hey, he’s gotta be vulnerable sometime, right?
Against most logic, I like Lyoto Machida to pull off the upset. He can keep Weidman at bay with his movement and quick-twitch kicks, and throw him off balance with his flurries. I just like the way his rhythm matches up with Weidman’s boxing skills. He’s got to be careful not to get counterpunched (but when has that been a problem for Lyoto?), and he can’t get stuck on bottom too much. Give me Machida by a razor close split decision that will cause the internet to spontaneously combust.