No, there isn’t a major Pay-Per-View card this weekend. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t important and exciting fights that are must-see for MMA fans. The theme of this weekend is introductions- the nascent UFC flyweight division will be on display as well as a hidden gem in Women’s MMA- Ronda Rousey.
To kick it off Friday night, the UFC ventures back to FX for their second card on the cable network. Headlining is a welterweight bout between two UFC veterans, Thiago Alves and Martin Kampmann, with each fighter looking to get back into title contention after disappointing runs. Kampmann has lost two of his last three fights and Alves three of his last five. Also on the card is a flyweight tournament- a weight class that is new to the UFC and most fight fans. The promotion has dug up four proven guys in the division who will square off in a tournament with the winner becoming the first ever UFC Flyweight Champion. The main card is rounded out by Ultimate Fighter winner Court McGee squaring off against Constantinos Phillipou.
As for Saturday, Strikeforce returns to Showtime with a card headlined by their bantamweight champion in the women’s division, Meisha Tate, who will square off against the aforementioned Rousey. A victory for Rousey could make her a star, filling the void left by the dormant Gina Carano and the suspended Cyborg Santos. An interesting fight could create a rivalry that sparks interest in the division and the sport of Women’s MMA itself. Also appearing on the card are Stirkeforce veterans Jacare Souza, KJ Noons, and Paul Daley.
Click through for analysis of a selection of fights and predictions for all of them.
Thiago Alves (19-8, 11-5 UFC) vs. Martin Kampmann (18-5, 9-4 UFC)
Alves is looking to recapture some of the magic that earned him a title shot in 2009, and looks to do so against a very well-rounded fighter in Martin Kampmann. Alves has become a decision fighter after finishing 7 of his first 10 bouts in the UFC via TKO or doctor stoppage. And unfortunately for him, Kampmann is talented enough to grind out decisions if not finish them with a mixed attack. Kampmann’s timing on the feet and deftness on the ground provide him with more ways to win the fight. After having lost razor-thin decisions against Jake Shields and Diego Sanchez, Kampmann will be happier with the judging of this one.
Prediction: Kampmann by Decision
I’m not going to pretend to know enough about these guys to break down the match-ups. This weight class is as new to me as it is to the UFC. Johnson and Benavidez are both dropping down after fighting bantamweight. Urushitana has been fighting Shooto for more than a decade at 123 pounds and is a 6-1 underdog to the very talented Benavidez. Ian McCall is the consensus No. 1 in the division, but Might Mouse Johnson is a tough out and a great challenge for a guy like McCall looking to arrive in the UFC.
Joseph Benavidez (15-2) vs. Yashuhiro Urushitani (19-4-6)
Ian McCall (11-2) vs. Demetrious Johnson (14-2, 2-1 UFC)
Predictions: Benavidiez by Decision, McCall by Decision with McCall the favorite to beat Benavidez in the tournament final
Court McGee (14-1, 3-0 UFC) vs. Constantinos Phillipou (9-2, 2-1 UFC)
Ultimate Fighter winner Court McGee looks to solidify his transition from prospect to contender against the dangerous Constantinos Phillipou. The wrestler McGee’s only career loss was in 2007 to Jeremy Horn, a fight McGee probably wasn’t ready for. Phillipou is more talented on the feet but is no match for McGee on the ground.
Prediction: McGee by decision
Other predictions (winners in bold):
James Te Huna vs. Aaron Rosa
Anthony Perosh vs. Nick Penner
Cole Miller vs. Steven Siler
Kyle Noke vs. Andrew Craig
TJ Waldberger vs. Jake Hecht
Daniel Pineda vs. Mackens Semerzier
Women’s Bantamweight Championship
Ronda Rousey (4-0) vs. Champ Miesha Tate (12-2)
No one has ever fought Ronda Rousey for more than a minute. All four of the former Olympian’s previous opponents have been submitted via armbar within 49 seconds of the fight’s start. This has created buzz in the MMA community, and if Rousey can flash-submit Tate she will become the face of women’s MMA. But not so fast. Miescha Tate is a legitimate fighter at bantamweight. She hasn’t lost since 2009, and submitted Marloes Coenen in the 4th round of their clash last July. That said, I’m still taking Rousey.
Prediction: Rousey by Armbar Submission in Round 1
The rest of the card:
KJ Noons vs. Josh Thompson
Kazuo Misaki vs. Paul Daley
Jacare Souza vs. Bristol Marunde
Scott Smith vs. Lumumba Sayers
Sarah Kaufman vs. Alexis Davis
Caros Fodor vs. Pat Healy
Ryan Couture vs. Conor Heun
Roger Bowling vs. Brandon Salling
For a recap of the weekend in fights, check back here on Tuesday.