by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
NATE DIAZ VS. JOSH NEER
In the main event, Ultimate Fighter 5 winner Nathan Diaz faces off with Miletich Fighting Systems lightweight Josh Neer. Diaz comes off a submission victory over Kurt Pellegrino at UFC Fight Night 13, while Neer dominated Din Thomas earlier in the night to win a unanimous decision.
Both of these fighters had impressive performances at UFC Fight Night 13 and whoever gets the win will get a step up in the lightweight division. The brass at Zuffa has done a wonderful job in building up Diaz as the next big star in the lightweight division, giving him a steady dose of competition since coming off the reality show.
If the fight goes to the ground, expect Diaz to have an advantage both on his back and on top as he’s shown that he can submit anyone from any position. Neer has the edge when it comes to wrestling and it will come in handy, as he needs to keep the fight on the feet if he wants any chance of winning.
If Neer can keep the fight on the feet then he can punish Diaz, as it seems that’s still the weakest part of his game. These two are going to fight at a frantic pace and Neer is going to have his shining moments, but the fight will eventually hit the ground, when it does, Diaz will pounce and finish Neer with a submission midway through the fight.
MAC DANZIG VS. CLAY GUIDA
Ultimate Fighter 6 winner Mac Danzig makes his return to take on Midwest wrestling stud Clay Guida. Danzig comes off a hard fought submission victory over Mark Bocek at UFC 83, while Guida finished French lightweight Sammy Schiavo at UFC Fight Night 13.
Once again this is an excellent job of matchmaking as both fighters always put on an exciting show and nothing else should be expected when these two clash in the cage. It’s going to be a long process before either one of these fighters gets a shot at the title in the crowded lightweight division. Champion B.J. Penn is planning a foray up to welterweight to face 170-pound champ Georges St. Pierre, and Kenny Florian is already knocking on the door to the lightweight belt.
The one advantage that Danzig has over Guida in the fight is his submission ability and tenacity to get out of dangerous positions. Guida always comes to the fight in excellent shape and goes hard for all three rounds, using both his aggressiveness and wrestling to pressure his opponents into making mistakes. The key in the fight will be whether or not Danzig can slow the pace of the fight into his advantage and not be pressured.
It’s guaranteed that there will be action throughout the fight, as these two will bring out the best in one another. This will be Danzig’s first big test in the UFC, while Guida will be looking to build himself back up with a couple of solid wins. Danzig has never faced someone who will pressure him like Guida and its going to get to him. Guida will repeatedly put Danzig on his back and pound out an entertaining victory.
ALAN BELCHER VS. ED HERMAN
Midwest Muay Thai stylist Alan Belcher faces off with Ultimate Fighter 3 participant Ed Herman in a middleweight showdown. Belcher comes off a disappointing stoppage loss to UFC newcomer Jason Day at UFC 83, while Herman was submitted by Demian Maia at the same show.
This is an important fight for both men as neither can afford a second straight loss in the UFC due to the competitive nature of the company.
Belcher will want to keep the fight on the feet because that’s where he has the absolute best chance to win. Herman isn’t a polished striker like he is. On the other hand, Herman will want the fight on the ground where he can either pound on Belcher or possibly lock on a submission.
If Belcher can’t defend a takedown then it’s going to be a very long night for him, as Herman will be all over him until he’s able to secure the victory. Look for Herman to fight a smart fight, taking the fight down to the ground and pounding out a stoppage victory to stay afloat in the UFC middleweight division.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT:
HOUSTON ALEXANDER VS. ERIC SCHAFER
Free-swinging local slugger Houston Alexander looks to get back on the winning track against the returning submission stylist Eric Schafer. Alexander comes off a shocking knockout loss to James Irvin at UFC Fight Night 13, while Schafer stopped William Hill at the Gladiator Fighting Series: Thunderdome.
This is a do or die situation for Alexander as he’s lost two straight fights and another loss will surely mean the end of his UFC tenure, while Schafer has nothing to lose since he’s been out of the UFC for the last year.
Alexander has the clear advantage on the feet with his powerful shots. Schafer has the distinct advantage on the ground being a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. If the fight goes to the ground then it won’t be a very welcome homecoming for Alexander.
Many fans were impressed with Alexander after his two stoppage victories in the UFC, but since then he has been exposed for just being a slugger. Schafer should be able to get the fight to the ground then shortly thereafter finish him with a submission.
WILSON GOUVEIA VS. RYAN JENSEN
American Top Team fighter Wilson Gouveia takes on Midwest wrestler Ryan Jensen. Gouveia found success in the light heavyweight division, but a loss stopped his momentum and now he moves down to middleweight. Jensen has racked up a couple of wins and now gets another crack at the big-time due to Jeremy Horn dropping out due to injury. Gouveia should be able to dictate the fight on the feet, landing a big power shot that will put an end to Jensen’s night.
JOE LAUZON VS. KYLE BRADLEY
Northeastern lightweight Joe Lauzon faces off with Southern lightweight prospect Kyle Bradley. Lauzon had an impressive showing in a losing effort in his last fight and will look to build off of that with a win. Bradley had a short UFC debut and has been given a chance to redeem himself to continue on in the UFC. Look for Lauzon to pressure Bradley into making a mistake and catch him in a submission late in the opening round.
DAN MILLER VS. ROB KIMMONS
IFL middleweight champion Dan Miller makes his UFC debut against submission specialist Rob Kimmons. Miller is one of the better middleweight prospects in MMA today. Kimmons has always been underrated. These two are both well versed on the ground so expect a back and forth ground battle with Miller doing just enough to win a close decision victory.
DREW MCFEDRIES VS. MIKE MASSENZIO
Miletich-trained slugger Drew McFedries faces off with Eastern middleweight Mike Massenzio. McFedries is one of the better middleweight sluggers in the UFC, but outside of that hasn’t shown much else in his arsenal. Massenzio is a good ground fighter, but was caught in his last fight and now looks to redeem himself. McFedries should be able to land a big shot before the fight goes to the ground, dazing Massenzio and finishing him off with strikes.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT:
JASON BRILZ VS. BRAD MORRIS
University of Nebraska-Omaha assistant wrestling coach Jason Brilz makes his UFC debut against a newly slimmed down Brad Morris. Brilz has steadily been building his career over the years to its current 15-1-1 standing, including a win over UFC veteran Jason MacDonald. Morris didn’t have a good UFC debut as he got mauled by Cain Velasquez and now moves down from heavyweight to find success. Brilz is a strong wrestler with solid ground and pound and should be able to take Morris down and finish him off with strikes.
ALESSIO SAKARA VS. JOE VEDEPO
Italian slugger Alessio Sakara takes on debuting Iowan wrestler Joe Vedepo. Win or lose, Sakara is always involved in an exciting slugfest and can be counted on to bring action to the fans. Vedepo is a strong wrestler that has some power in his hands, but isn’t as technical as Sakara, who is a former professional boxer. The issue with Sakara is that he has no power and that has affected him in the past like it will in this fight. Look for Vedepo to land a huge power shot that will put Sakara out of the UFC.