A week after arguably the worst looking pay-per-view event in UFC history, the world’s premiere MMA promotion puts forth one of the most intriguing Fight Night cards in recent memory.
The card will air entirely on FS1, and it’s sure to entertain. Sure, there are some fights, like Natal vs. Camozzi and Beal vs. Matsuda that may bore anyone to tears, but there are some truly compelling matchups as well.
In the evening’s first bout, a pair of Flyweights, Chas Skelly and Sean Soriano, will battle in what will be Skelly’s second fight in two weeks! Also on the prelims, Al Iaquinta will get a chance to bounce back from a tough submission loss to Mitch Clarke when he faces Rodrigo Damm, while Flyweights John Moraga and Justin Scoggins will partake in a fight where Moraga may be fighting for his UFC life. Due to Charles Oliveira falling sick after missing weight by four pounds yesterday, the headlining prelim rematch between he and Nik Lentz has been scrapped.
The four fight main card, which begins at 10/9 p.m. central, begins with an enticing Lightweight scrap between Joe Lauzon (23-9) and Michael Chiesa (11-1). Then, a pair of Heavyweight matchups take the stage. First, Matt Mitrione (7-3) faces former Legacy FC Heavyweight Champion Derrick Lewis (11-2, 1NC). Then, former DREAM and Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem (37-13,1NC) battles knockout artist Ben Rothwell (33-9).
In the main event of the evening, a pivotal Middleweight matchup captures the octagon, as Gegard Mousasi (35-4-2) and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (20-3, 1NC) battle in what might be a Middleweight title eliminator. The fight is a rematch from a September 2008 bout, in which Mousasi knocked Souza out via upkick to win the DREAM Middleweight Grand Prix, and therefore become the DREAM Middleweight Champion at DREAM 6.
The two have since become friends, but something tells me things won’t be so pleasant inside the octagon.
As far as my record goes, I went 7-1 with my picks for UFC 177, thanks to Ramsey Nijem being, well, nowhere near as good as anyone hopes he would be. That’s better than my 7-4 record for Fight Night 49, as my record moves up to 207-90-1, with a no contest. Hopefully, the positive trends continue.
Preliminary Card (7/6c, FS1)
Chas Skelly (12-1) vs. Sean Soriano (8-1)
Opening up the card is a Bantamweight fight between two interesting prospects. Soriano was unbeaten until he made his UFC debut against Tatsuya Kawajiri on January 4, while Skelly is looking to become the first fighter in UFC history to win two fights in two weeks, after the tournament era.
Ultimately, I’m not big on Soriano. Everyone else seems to be rolling with him, but I’m not buying. I think he’s good enough to be in the UFC, but I have to pick Skelly here. Prediction: Skelly via unanimous decision.
Chris Beal (9-0) vs. Tateki Matsuda (10-5)
Up next is a fight that could very well be everyone’s bathroom break. Matsuda is a decent fighter, but he almost always goes to decision. Meanwhile, Beal is a boxer who can’t finish via strikes, has no defense, and is, well, nothing special. His last fight, his UFC debut against Patrick Williams at UFC 172, was nothing special until Beal’s flying knee. I don’t see that happening, and hopefully, nobody falls asleep during this fight, although nobody can be blamed for doing so. Prediction: Beal via unanimous decision.
Chris Camozzi (19-8) vs. Rafael Natal (17-6-1)
If the last fight doesn’t put you to sleep, this Middleweight matchup might. Camozzi has lost three straight, and should’ve been released already. Natal is okay, but usually fails to impress. I have no expectations for this fight, but since Camozzi has been as lackluster as any UFC fighter can be of late, I can’t even consider picking him. Prediction: Natal via unanimous decision.
Al Iaquinta (8-3-1) vs. Rodrigo Damm (12-7)
Oh, how I dislike Damm. He gets gifted decisions and constantly fails to impress. He is 3-2 in the UFC, but two of the TUF: Brazil contestant’s wins were controversial decisions. Meanwhile, TUF 15 runner up Al Iaquinta is also 3-2 in the UFC. He was on his way to a fourth straight decision win at UFC 173, when Mitch Clarke stunningly submitted him. I don’t see the same thing happening, and I think Al dominates. Prediction: Iaquinta via dominant decision.
Justin Scoggins (9-1) vs. John Moraga (14-3)
In what is now the headlining prelim fight, a pair of Flyweights take the stage. Both fighters are looking to bounce back from losses, but Moraga should be on a three fight losing streak. After getting thoroughly outclassed by UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrius Johnson in July 2013, Moraga was gifted a decision over Dustin Ortiz, before getting dominated by John Dodson this past June. Meanwhile, Scoggins is looking to bounce back from his first career loss, a split decision to Dustin Ortiz less than two months ago. He is the better fighter, and I think he’ll send Moraga back to regional competition. Prediction: Scoggins via tko, round 2.
Main card (10/9c, FS1)
Joe Lauzon (23-9) vs. Michael Chiesa (11-1)
A pair of TUF alums and submission specialist kick off the four-fight main card, as TUF 5 contestant Joe Lauzon looks for his 19th submission win over TUF 15 champion Michael Chiesa, who owns eight of his own. His patented rear-naked choke is quite something, but I think Joe Lauzon is not washed up, yet. He’s 2-3 in his last five, and hasn’t looked like himself since the Varner fight over two years ago, but somehow, some way, I think he’ll pull it off. Prediction: Lauzon via split decision.
Matt Mitrione (7-3) vs. Derrick Lewis (11-2, 1NC)
In the first of two Heavyweight matchups on the card, former Legacy FC Heavyweight Champion Derrick Lewis battles Matt Mitrione. I like Mitrione, but I’ve been watching Lewis fight for almost as long. I remember seeing how he dispatched of current UFC Heavyweight Jared Rosholt, and how dominant he’s been since losing to Tony Johnson at Bellator 46 over three years ago. Mitrione is 2-3 in his last five, and while a loss may not cause him to lose his job, I think he’ll get clocked tonight. Prediction: Lewis via tko, round 1.
Ben Rothwell (33-9) vs. Alistair Overeem (37-13, 1NC)
Two Heavyweights, known for juicing, gassing, and finishing fights. That’s what you have here. Unfortunately, I don’t see this fight being entertaining. Why? Because Overeem will try to avoid getting finished by Rothwell, who has 19 knockouts. He also has 11 submissions, but I don’t see him outgrappling a guy who owns 19 submissions of his own. Prediction: Overeem via grinding unanimous decision.
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (20-3, 1NC) vs. Gegard Mousasi (35-4-2)
In the main event of the evening, a pivotal Middleweight matchup captures the octagon, as Gegard Mousasi and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza battle in what might be a Middleweight title eliminator. The fight is a rematch from a September 2008 bout, in which Mousasi knocked Souza out via upkick to win the DREAM Middleweight Grand Prix, and therefore become the DREAM Middleweight Champion at DREAM 6. I think Souza has improved since, but do I think he’ll defeat a man who boasts 18 knockouts, 12 submissions, fights a bunch of times (20 combined fights in 2005, 2006 and 2008, third fight in 2013), and defeated Souza via an upkick? No way. Prediction: Mousasi via unanimous decision.