As the broadcast partnership between the UFC and the Fox networks progress, you can see how thoughtful the matchmakers at the UFC have been about picking the fights that would air on major broadcast TV. This is another loaded fight card, featuring the type of aggressive and exciting fighters that can do the best job of representing the sport to the casual fan who may only tune in to watch a few times a year. It may be the best card that they have aired on Fox to date. Here are my predictions:
Matt Brown vs. Jordan Mein – Even though there is a nine year age difference between these two fighters, they have a similar amount of professional experience. Brown has spent the majority of his fights in the UFC while Mein is in his second UFC fight after an impressive run in Strikeforce. With his varied striking skills and tremendous conditioning, Brown will look to pressure Mein early in the fight and do the majority of his damage at kickboxing distance. Mein will be looking to get in tight and work from the clinch, trying to capitalize on his strength advantage with dirty boxing and knees. Brown is as mentally tough as he is physically tough and I think his aggressiveness will be the difference in the fight. Brown wins via unanimous decision.
Nate Diaz vs. Josh Thompson – This is my early prediction for Fight of the Night. Both fighters are flashy, exciting guys who thrive on moving forward and throwing strikes in combinations. Diaz is taller, has a longer reach and has a much more dangerous submission game. Thompson is more athletic, has more power and is a better wrestler. With the pace these two plan to fight at, conditioning will be the deciding factor, and while Diaz is one of the fittest fighters in the sport, Thompson has a reputation for getting tired. Diaz wins via 2nd round submission.
Daniel Cormier vs. Frank Mir – This is one of those fights that will seem to go against all logic. Cormier is a two-time Olympic wrestler and Mir has the most submission victories in UFC Heavyweight history. It is a fight between two of the most accomplished grapplers in the entire UFC, and it will be contested mostly on the feet. Cormier will want to stand and punch with Mir because he feels that he is quicker and holds every advantage in the striking game, and since he is a better wrestler he will be able to dictate where the fight takes place. If Mir doesn’t land a power shot early or use his kicks to damage Cormier’s legs and slow his movement he will be dissected on his feet. If the fight does go to the ground, Mir is capable of getting a submission from any position so Cormier must avoid that at all costs. Cormier wins via 2nd round KO/TKO.
UFC Light Heavyweight Championship Fight
Ben Henderson vs. Gilbert Melendez – In possibly the most competitive and exciting division in the UFC Ben Henderson has emerged as champion, defeating a who’s who of lightweight contenders in the process. Melendezdominated the same division as the Strikeforce champion during an even longer span claiming that he was, in fact, the best lightweight fighter on the planet. Now that the two promotions have merged, Melendez finally gets an opportunity to prove his claims. These two fighters are separated by very little. Both are aggressive, athletic fighters who can transition from striking to grappling smoothly and efficiently. Both have tremendous cardio, rarely tiring no matter how grueling the fight is. Both have fought elite competition and won time after time. Henderson may be a little more athletic and have a slight edge with his kicks, but Melendez has more power in his strikes and has better boxing technique. This is the most difficult fight to predict because there are so many ways that either man can win the fight, but I am going to side with Henderson this time, because his quickness will keep him half a heartbeat ahead of Melendez. Henderson wins via unanimous decision.