As the UFC makes its third excursion to FX, I have something obvious to say: some of these fights suck. Too many cards, too many fights to book, and too many Magalhaes’s. You’ll have this when you make a long term commitment to three networks.
With that in mind, I’m not going to write about every single fight on this card, because some of them aren’t even remotely interesting. I’m going to write off the following fights as casualties of the “We needed to fill up card space, and we owe these guys fights, so … here’s two guys fighting!” dilemma: Caio Magalhaes vs. Buddy Roberts, Bernardo Magalhaes vs. Henry Martinez, Tim Means vs. Justin Salas, and Dustin Pague vs. Jared Papazian. No thanks.
That leaves, by my math, eight interesting fights to dissect. And away we go.
Leonard Garcia (15-8, 2-4 UFC) vs. Matt Grice (14-4, 1-4 UFC)
This fight is interesting only because I don’t understand how Leonard Garcia is still employed by the UFC. Garcia interviews are amusing; he always vows to “be more technical.” It’s kind of like that period of Jake Shields’ career where he kept saying “I’m telling you guys, my striking is getting better.” The weird thing is, Garcia is capable of fighting with some measure of technique. This usually lasts for anywhere from 30 to 60 seconds, or until he gets tagged with something. Then he just starts swinging like a drunk guy trying to hit a pinata. He just can’t help himself.
Matt Grice is a wrestler, though. I sincerely doubt he’ll want to mess with Garcia on the feet. He’s going to try to go all Midwestern on Garcia, trying to score takedowns and do damage.
Even though Garcia hasn’t won a fight, truly, in years, I like him to finish Grice in this one. Normally, when he comes out and throws helicopters, which is pretty much every fight, he leaves himself wide open for counters. This time, I don’t think Grice has the firepower or moxie standing. Garcia by KO. Which means we get to see him again. Which means we get to see him lose again (except possibly win).
Jake Hecht (11-3, 1-1 UFC) vs. Sean Pierson (11-6, 1-2 UFC)
After successful, memorable UFC debuts, Sean Pierson and Jake Hecht look to get back on track after coming off of one sided losses. Pierson is decent with his hands, and he’s a good wrestler, but Hecht seems like one of those guys that makes you think you’re destroying him, and then he suddenly goes off and leaves you bloodied on the mat wondering what the hell just happened.
Case in point: his UFC debut against Rich Attonito. Attonito got the better of Hecht in the first round, but Hecht’s size and gameness won him the fight in the second, as he floored Attonito with a shocking barrage of elbows.
On the flip side, Pierson is someone who tends to go down in flames if he doesn’t have early success. His UFC debut was a fun battle with the incomparable Matthew Riddle, in which he used his boxing to beat him up rather badly before Riddle launched one of his patented “I’m probably going to lose anyway, but dammit, I’m going to go down swinging” flurries. He was then summarily shellacked and destroyed by Jake Ellenberger and Dong Hyun Kim.
Jake Hecht’s toughness and overall progression should send Pierson packing. Hecht by decision in a competitive stand up fight.
Mike Pierce (13-5, 5-3 UFC) vs. Carlos Eduardo Rocha (9-1, 1-1 UFC)
Poor Mike Pierce just can’t catch a break. I might be exaggerating here, but I thought he beat Josh Koscheck pretty soundly. I thought he won every round. He outboxed Kos, outwrestled him … and naturally, they awarded the fight to Koscheck. I’m not sure where other MMA fans stand on this fight, but to me, it’s a borderline robbery.
However, it also illustrated the great weakness of Mike Pierce, which is that, unless he finishes you with a power sub or those big punches, he doesn’t quite throw enough strikes to truly pull away on a judges tally.
This is a good rebound fight for Mike. Rocha hasn’t fought for well over a year. He’s okay on his feet, but Pierce is undoubtedly better. The only chance Rocha has is a submission, and Pierce’s wrestling base isn’t one that leaves him susceptible to subs. Rocha is crafty, but Pierce will stifle his attacks and land big punches to earn a decision win.
Seth Baczynski (15-7, 2-1 UFC) vs. Lance Benoist (6-0, 1-0 UFC)
Something is going on with Seth Baczynski. At the conclusion of the Ultimate Fighter season he participated in (I don’t know, and I don’t care to look it up … let’s go with “Season 136″), he looked to be just another forgettable guy that local podunk MMA promotions would refer to as a “UFC veteran”. Then, he dropped to welterweight and started getting nasty. After 4 consecutive victories, including an impressive one over Matt Brown, he looks to take the next step toward top ten status as he takes on another tough, young guy named Lance Benoist.
On paper, this is a tough fight to call. But Seth has been really impressive lately. He’s a bonafide darkhorse at 170. He’s got a good submission game, including an excellent guillotine (Which is becoming more and more valuable, by the way. Nobody worries about getting caught in one until … well, until they get caught in one. Alves-Kampmann, yes?). Whatever he throws, he throws with bad intentions. He’s a giant welterweight, and I think he can muscle Benoist around and earn a victory any number of ways. Sub, TKO, decision. Take your pick.
Scott Jorgensen (13-5, 2-1 UFC) vs. Eddie Wineland (18-8, 0-2 UFC)
Eddie Wineland must be hell to root for. He’s shown a propensity for intensely violent moments, but overall, he’s evolved to become nothing more than a tough, technical striker who simply doesn’t pull the trigger enough.
Jorgensen hasn’t exactly looked like a million bucks recently, either. He beat Jeff Curran in a relatively mundane affair, and he dropped a fight to upstart contender Renan Barao. If you harken back to his WEC days, “mundane” was never a word used in the same sentence as Scott Jorgensen’s name. Now it is.
I don’t know what to expect out of this one. It’s a strange thought, but I think both of these guys are more effective when they make a commitment to being less technical and throwing with worse intentions. This could easily be a ho-hum 29-28 for either guy, but it could also be a violent barn burner. I just don’t know. What I do know is that Jorgensen has shown an ability to come out victorious even when he doesn’t exactly look like a world beater. Wineland is an able defender of almost any attack at this point, but I see Scott being slightly more aggressive and coming away with a decision victory.
Josh Neer (33-10, 6-6 UFC) vs. Mike Pyle (22-8-1, 5-3 UFC)
Josh Neer is a walking cautionary tale. Why would anyone tattoo their own name on themselves? On top of that, why would a dude get a tramp stamp of his own name on himself? Tattoos never cease to baffle me. Remember when Neer fought Josh Burkman, who also has a tramp stamp? It was a seminal moment in tramp stamp history.
I wrote that last paragraph before yesterday’s weigh in, in which Mike Pyle had a shameful mohawk adorned on his scalp. Some guys can pull off a mohawk; Mike Pyle isn’t one of them. Lots going on here.
When it comes to ground work, these two are pretty similar. They both have good submission games, and they’ll both take big risks when attempting subs. This is why they have several impressive submission victories on their ledgers, and yet, are still threats to be submitted. Pyle’s submission game is more diverse, but both are more than capable of eliciting a tap.
On the feet, Neer tends to be a bit robotic. He’s very tough, but Pyle’s boxing should carry him whenever the fight is upright. People don’t seem to realize how much Pyle has improved his boxing over the years. He’s got a nice jab and a stinging right straight that could really ding Neer’s face up.
If Pyle can return to the form he was in when he dominated John Hathaway, I like him to pull away in this fight. Neer is always going to bring it, but Pyle is just a little bit better anywhere the fight goes. Pyle by decision.
Charlie Brenneman (15-3, 4-2 UFC) vs. Erick Silva (13-2, 1 NC, 1-1 UFC)
This is the fight where Erick Silva’s bandwagon hits a school bus filled with retarded kids, tumbles down a rocky ravine, and bursts into flames. I’m not a betting man, but don’t be fooled by Silva being the favorite. He’s fast as hell with his strikes, but the wrestling isn’t there for him at all. At least, not yet.
I can sort of understand why people are picking Silva here, though. Brenneman’s striking is average at best, and he’s prone to getting badly stunned, popping up, and then getting stunned even worse. The ref might jump in too soon, and he might not, but the fact is that Charlie could absolutely be destroyed in under a minute here.
I just don’t see it, though. Brenneman is tenacious with his wrestling, and unless he gets Carlo Prater’d super early on, I see this being a frustrating 15 minutes for Silva. Getting pressed against the fence, taken down, beaten up … these are all things I see transpiring. It might not be the most exciting fight in the world, but I’m picking Charlie by decision.
Demetrious Johnson (14-2-1, 2-1-1 UFC) vs. Ian McCall (11-2, 0-0-1 UFC)
At almost the exact same second I heard that Zuffa was adding a “sudden death” round to their flyweight tournament semi-finals, I had this overwhelming feeling that something weird was going to happen. Why? Because MMA tournaments never, ever go as planned. Strikeforce announces a dream team worthy heavyweight tournament, and their golden cow gets smashed, their other golden cow decides to just up and leave, and the guy who eventually ends up winning the tournament injures his hands so many times that I honestly thought he’d been sharing vodka with Fedor Emelianenko. The tournament took over a year to complete.
Same tune here. After an enticing three round war where Johnson fatigued and McCall started slow, a draw and a “sudden death” 4th round seemed to be the right call.
Unfortunately, a complete fluke occurred. I say “fluke” because the folly that led to this completely unnecessary rematch wasn’t even the judges fault! I know, I’m as shocked as you guys.
For the record, I thought Demetrious did juuuuust enough to squeak by Ian the first time around. I know I’m in the minority here, and I fully accept the fact that Johnson was beaten up badly in that third round. But his striking looked far sharper and precise than it had in past bouts, and he showed his usual spunk and absurd speed in every area. This rematch is difficult for me to write about, because I always seem to think Mighty Mouse wins fights that most others think he lost (Miguel Torres excluded. Torres should have won that fight). I like watching Johnson, and I root for him, but I actually hope that his opponents take him down, just so I can marvel at how fast he pops up. It’s insane. It’s uncanny. It’s Mighty Mouse.
The crazy thing about this fight is that, even after the debacle in March, they’re STILL only going three rounds with the potential for a fourth. Huh? Whatever. I think McCall will be scared to go through another fight where there are legitimate question marks about who won the first two rounds. He’s a notoriously slow starter, but I think he’ll show a sense of urgency and outwrestle Mighty Mouse to earn a three round decision in another competitive, blurry fight.
Enjoy the fights.
Previous event record: 4-1
All time record: 4-1