The FX network was thoughtless and selfish enough to make us wait an entire TWO WEEKS for another UFC card. Unbelievable. A few more gaps in logic like this, and I’m calling my cable provider.
I am, of course, kidding. As over-saturated as we are with Zuffa cards these days, two weeks actually seems like awhile.
This card is markedly better on paper than the UFC’s last go-round with FX. It’s not the card of the year or anything, but every single fight interests me in some way, and so, without further ado, I’m going to babble about every single one of them. However, I was generous enough to break this up into two parts. I’ll tackle the prelims first.
Francisco Rivera vs. Ken Stone
Every once in awhile, a fight will get announced, and your immediate reaction is “Oh no … so-and-so is going to get KILLED.” This was one of those fight announcements to me. And it’s weird: I’m not saying that this is bad matchmaking. This was far from the nonsensical farce that was the Rua-Vera fight announcement (I could write a 3,000 word column about this that would end with me blacking out and killing hookers). The fight makes complete sense. It’s a visceral reaction we have as fight fans sometimes. There might not be a bantamweight alive that hits harder than Cisco Rivera. There might not be a bantamweight alive that gets knocked out more brutally than Ken Stone.
Update: Francisco Rivera has been replaced by Dustin Pague. Get ready for an exciting submission battle that will probably end with someone tapping and will definitely have someone saying (by the way, that someone will be me) “Dustin Pague has a tattoo on his head … I’ll go with Stone.” By submission.
Dan Miller vs. Ricardo Funch
You know what I want? I want Dan Stittgen to fight Ricardo Funch in the Thunderdome. That would be a fight of epic putridity.
Seriously, what the hell is Funch doing here? The answer is that Dan Miller could use a payday and a win, and this fight all but secures both of those things. And when you look at it that way, it makes sense for all parties involved: Ricardo gets to get beaten up and make $8,000 in a promotion he has no business fighting in, and Dan gets to beat up and possibly finish a subpar fighter, earn a payday plus a win bonus, and guarantee himself multiple UFC bouts in the future. Everybody wins.
Dan Miller will never be a world beater, but he’s far superior in every department to Ricardo Funch. He could land his solid right straight and finish him. He could latch onto that nasty guillotine and finish him. Or, he could just be the consummate pro he is and outclass Funch in all areas to earn a three round decision. That’s what I’m banking on.
Matt Brown vs. Luis Ramos
There are two kinds of gatekeepers. The first kind is known as “Matt Brown”. You beat Matt Brown, and you’re definitely sticking around. In fact, the UFC should just start “The Matt Brown Traveling Tour of Violence”, where Matt just travels around the country and fights every small show’s best guy. I would be riveted by the Matt Brown Tour.
The second kind is the “gatekeeper to the stars.” Think Martin Kampmann and Michael Bisping types. You beat them, and you’re probably pretty close to fighting for the title.
This fight is a journeyman’s delight. The only difference is that Brown has fought far better guys than Ramos, who slummed around in Brazil for awhile. Both are solid, relentless strikers, and this fight will probably be exciting. Brown can take a better lick, though, and I like him to persevere and beat Ramos up to earn a TKO victory. I realize that it’s almost never a good idea to pick someone based on their toughness, but after the damage Brown took in his last fight, I trust him to top another unspectacular journeyman with strikes.
Joey Gambino vs. Steven Siler
This is a nice little card for oddball names. I can’t believe there’s really a guy named Joey Gambino. That name would have been shot down by the Sopranos writing staff for being too over the top.
I’m also surprised that Steven Siler beat Cole Miller. He seemed like such a Ultimate Fighter guy, someone who would get one legit UFC fight and quickly flame out. A Troy Mandaloniz type. But he’s improved his overall game alot.
Not enough to keep Gambino’s wrestling at bay, though. Gambino takes this one with top control in a not-so-exciting fight. Gambino by decision.
Rick Story vs. Brock Jardine
“Brock Jardine” sounds like one of those Create-A-Player names from Madden. You know, when you go into franchise mode, play out your first year, and it’s draft time … your choices are usually just the names of two famous players combined. Then again, I haven’t played video games in like 6 years. Maybe it isn’t like that anymore.
The point is, this is a potentially fun game. Chael Liddell. Anderson Couture. Junior St-Pierre. Wanderlei Dos Santos. Urijah Condit. Go ahead, come up with your own!
(Me and my buddy Jason used to do this with NBA players. For two bored high school freshmen, this amounted to hours of fun. I think the best one we ever came up with was Mookie Divac. Can anyone out there top Mookie Divac?)
Back to the fight. It seems incredibly recent that people were talking about Rick Story as a contender. Coming off an impressive 6 fight winning streak that included W’s over Thiago Alves, Johny Hendricks and Brian Foster (in a Fight of the Night barn burner), he was then thoroughly outwrestled by late replacement Charlie Brenneman. 15 minutes of Martin Kampmann being better than him later, and here he is fighting a guy making his UFC debut. How the mighty have fallen.
We got two guys that’re gonna be doin’ some wrasslin’ here. Jardine has that overhand right, but Story is far more seasoned and tough on his feet. That could be the difference. The ol’ Rick Story blitz attack. Jardine is a decent prospect, but he’s in over his head here. Story by TKO, round 3.
Chris Camozzi vs. Nick Catone
I can’t believe Nick Catone is still in the UFC. Mind you, this disbelief doesn’t stem from the fact that I don’t think he’s good enough to be there. It stems from the fact that it seems like he’s been in the UFC forever but has barely even fought because of injury woes.
Upon further investigation, I was stunned to discover that Catone has 5 bouts under the Zuffa banner. I couldn’t tell you a single thing about any of them, and I know I watched them.
Camozzi is coming off a much needed win against Dustin Jacoby. He’s okay wherever the fight goes, but he’s unspectacular. He’s been known to fight with a bit too much emotion, especially when he gets tagged. Alot of throwing up his hands and screaming.
Camozzi is more well rounded than Catone, and he’s a southpaw with a bit of striking ability to boot. This will be a close, competitive fight where Chris will probably have to play guard a bit because of Nick’s wrestling base, but we haven’t seen Catone in far too long for my liking. Camozzi on points.
CJ Keith vs. Ramsey Nijem
CJ Keith is a long, rangy guy from California that could absolutely rock Ramsey Nijem’s world if he’s able to stay on his feet. I saw a couple Keith clips on Youtube, and my only problem with watching him was that Cecil Peoples was reffing both fights. I couldn’t take my eyes off of old Cecil. He might have fallen down and asked the media if they were going to run the photo of him falling on their site, while the fight was still going on. He might have scurried across the cage to make a stoppage, only to run headfirst into the wall. Can you blame me?
Nijem should take this one with his ground and pound. Keith is a good athlete, but his grappling needs some major work. Athleticism might trump technique here, but the better bet is to bank on technique, especially coupled with that big show experience. Nijem by submission.
Hatsu Hioki vs. Ricardo Lamas
Jose Aldo’s unfortunate injury could end up being great for Hatsu Hioki, for obvious reasons. If he comes out and looks great here, he’s the next obvious fight for Jose. Part of me is glad that Erik Koch didn’t willingly go in there and get beat up just because they offered him a title shot.
This fight could be problematic for Hioki, too. He picked a tough fight to “get more Octagon experience” in the wildly underrated Ricardo Lamas. Lamas is a tough wrestler and grappler, as well as an ever-improving striker. He completely shut down Cub Swanson’s dynamic striking game in his last fight. Hioki comes with a completely different kind of attack, but I think he’ll be forced to play some guard against Lamas.
Of course, Hioki’s guard game is one of the best in mixed martial arts today. The way he combines length, positional awareness, and top shelf submission chops is truly compelling. I don’t think there’s a featherweight alive that can beat Jose Aldo right now, but if you put a gun to my head and forced me to pick one, I’m going with Hioki.
This fight is a true clash of styles. Lamas is a bruiser, someone who looks to overpower you. Hioki is a tough-as-nails, volume striker that has one of the best ground games in mixed martial arts. It’s all going to come down to Lamas’s ability to deal with Hioki’s guard. If he’s able to posture and throw punches down at Hioki, this could be an upset. Hioki is far too crafty and well rounded for Lamas, though. He’ll wrap him up in his patented triangle and have him submitting less than 10 minutes into the fight.
Stay tuned for my main card breakdown.