As the everlasting week of MMA continues, the main card for tonight’s fight night card should be loads of fun. Here are my picks for the six-fight slate, which should yield a solid amount of entertainment.
Main card (10/9c, FS1)
Alan Jouban (11-3) vs. Matt Dwyer (8-2)
Knock out or be knocked out. That’s the mantra Matt Dwyer’s career has been defined by, as every single one of his fights has ended in that manner. HIs two losses have come in vicious fashion against Marcus Aurelio and most recently Albert Tumenov, while he owns wins by former UFC fighters Shonie Carter and Demarques Johnson. Go figure, those two fights were his only contests to go past the first round.
As for Jouban, eight of his wins have come in that fashion. I believe he’s the better fighter, so I guess I have to pick him via knockout. Prediction: Jouban via tko, round 2.
Kevin Lee (10-1) vs. James Moontasri (8-2)
Moontasri is a fourth dan black belt in Taekwondo, and is pretty fun to watch. He went 3-0 with RFA, and has split his two UFC fights. That said, he missed weight again, meaning he might be forced to move up with another weigh-in mishap.
Meanwhile, Kevin Lee is a grinding wrestler. He does have four submissions, and is 3-1 inside the octagon, but he tends to take opponents down and lay on top of them. It’s not the most aesthetically pleasing style, but it is effective.
In the end, this fight could wind up being a solid chess match. Unfortunately, Moontasri often tends to throw caution into the wind, and that will likely result in a long, mundane night fir him. Prediction: Lee via grinding decision.
Manny Gamburyan (14-8, 1NC) vs. Scott Jorgensen (15-10)
Ah, yes. It’s time for the “meh” fight of the main card! Granted, Lee/Moontasri could be that, but this one was acutally a prelim fight to start off. However, after the Gilbert Melendez drug test fiasco, this fight got moved up to the main card. Anyawys, neither fighter has much going for himself, as can be seen by their records.
Gamburyan, the TUF 5 runner up who could have won had he not suffered a shoulder injury during the finale, began his UFC career with a 1-3 stint, resulting in a release back in 2009. He then went on to win three straight fights with the WEC, earning him a title shot against then WEC champion Jose Aldo. He got whipped in the second round, before all the contracts were absorbed by the UFC a few months later. Since returning to the big show, “The Anvil” has gone 3-3, with a no contest. His last fight was a win over Cody Gibson, but he was getting dominated before pulling off a comeback choke victory.
Meanwhile, Jorgensen is done. He’s lost four of his last five, and six of his last eight inside the octagon. The fact that he hasn’t been cut yet is amazing. His wins have come against Danny Martinez and John Albert. The latter got released a while back, and Martinez has lost three straight. Simply put, Jorgensen needs to retire, win or lose. If he loses this fight, he’ll get cut for sure. Unfortunately, I see that exact thing happening tonight. Prediction: Gamburyan via unanimous decision or late submission.
Holly Holm (8-0) vs. Marion Reneau (6-1)
I’m sorry about the last two fights blowing some air out of hte card. This one will get things right back on track, as former 18-time boxing champion Holly Holm returns to the octagon for her second UFC fight, taking on the inspirational Marion Reneau.
Holm is a championship level boxer, as listed above. She went 33-2-3 in the sport, before transitioning to MMA. Whereas only nine of her boxing bouts were won via knockout, six of her MMA bouts have ended in that manner, including a vicious headkcik against Allanna Jones in July 2013. She did not look very good in her UFC debut against Raquel Pennington in February, but a win tonight could land her in a title eliminator bout.
Meanwhile, Reneau’s story is one to behold. A PE teacher, she decided to go after MMA, in order to save money for her son. She tried out for TUF 18, but was tld she was too old. However, the UFC told her that she could get called up soon, if she were to keep winning, and was called up a year ago. She won her UFC debut against Alexis Dufrene back in January, and stunned everyone with a submission win over Jessica Andrade a month later. Now, she finds herself facing one of the most notable women in the sport, and a win could thrust her into the limelight.
Allow me to say that I am a huge fan of Reneau’s story, which I heard of right befoer her RFA fight last July. I love to watch her fight, and wish her the best of luck. However, Holm is more technical, skilled, and has more potential. I’ll be rooting for Reneau, but the head won’t agree with the heart tonight. Head pick: Holm via unanimous decision. Heart pick: Reneau via split decision.
(9) Josh Thomson (20-7, 1NC) vs. (11) Tony Ferguson (18-3)
If Reneau/Holm or Jouban/Dwyer don’t wind up winning fight of the night, this one likely will. Heck, this one might win regardless of how the other bouts go!
Tony Fergouson is one of the best TUF winners ever, having gone 8-1 inside the octagon, with six of the wins coming via finish. The lone loss came against the surging Michael Johnson over three years ago, and Ferguson is finally being viewed as a contender. Fifteen of his wins have come via finish, and a win tonight will allow him to continue his launch through the rankings.
As for Thomson, “The Punk” has definitely seen better days. A black belt in “guerrilla” Jiu Jitsu, the former Strikeforce Lightweight champion is best remembered for his classic fights against Gilbert Melendez. However, since his stunning knockout victory over Nate Diaz in his UFC return back in April 2013, Thomson has gone 0-2. He has lost three of his last four, all via split decision. A loss won’t necessarily end his UFC tenure, but I do see him losing to the budding star that is Tony Ferguson. It should be a terrific fight though. Prediction: Ferguson via unanimous decision.
(10) Frank Mir (17-7) vs. Todd Duffee (9-2)
Frank Mir is a legend. Like him or not, he is one, having submitted Big Nog and Lesnar, amongst others. He surprised many by finishing the shot Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva back in February, but he’s virtually done. His chin is shot (seven knockout losses,) and his last win before the Silva fight came back in late 2011. In between, he had suffered four straight losses, none of which were even mildly close. A loss tonight could spell the end of the former UFC Heavyweight champion’s career, at least inside the octagon.
Meanwhile, Duffee is the Matt Dwyer of the UFC’s Heavyweight division, having had every fight end via knockout. His last four fights have ended in the first round, and he’s only seen the second round twice. He did get cut from the UFC in 2010, likely due to a dispute with the promotion, who had refused to pay for his knee injury. However, he returned in late 2012, and has gone 2-0 since.
Duffee has had several long absences from competition, the largest being the one between his UFC return in December 2012, until his most recent fight last December. The absence was due to a diagnosis of Parsonage Turner Syndrome, which results in severe pain in the upper arm, occasionally leading to paralysis in that portion of the body. However, Duffy returned to the octagon, and won in round one of his December fight against Anthony Hamilton.
Both men have dealt with adversity, highlighted by Duffee’s syndrome and Mir’s motorcycle accident back in 2002, which caused him to have to vacate his Heavyweight title. Both men have been a joy to watch over the years, and Mir will likely find himself in the UFC Hall of Fame someday. However, I don’t see him, or his chin, holding up tonight. It would be very nostalgic to pull off a submission win tonight, but I don’t see it happening. Head pick: Duffee via early knockout. Heart: Mir via submission.