UFC 101's undercard previews continue with a Welterweight tilt between MMA prodigy Tamdan "The Barncat" McCrory, who is still only 22 years old and 3 years into his carrer, and newer UFC fighter John "Doomsday" Howard. This should be a solid match-up that pits McCrory's lengthy frame combined with decent striking and ground tactics versus Howard's knockout power and submission abilities. This fight may produce a bonus for the winner.
Tamdan McCrory(11-2) made his UFC debut back in June of 2007 against TUF Season 4 alum Pete Spratt. From that point forward, McCrory has gone 3-2 with wins over Luke Cummo at UFC 87, and in his most recent performance against Ryan Madigan at UFC 96. Due to McCrory's huge 6'4" frame, there has been some talk about "The Barncat" moving to the UFC's Middleweight division after some rumors surfaced that McCrory may actually be in the middle of another spurt in growth. For now, he'll be sticking to the UFC's Welterweight division, but I could definitely see some advantages to gain a little more muscle to his lengthy height.
McCrory's rise to the UFC is fairly impressive, and it's much like the story of Jon Jones. He only began training heavily in MMA in 2006, although he was a New York National Team Cadet in Greco-Roman wrestling back in '02. With a background in wrestling, McCrory made the transition to MMA via a discussion with CNY MMA gym's Erik Charles over MySpace.com. From that point forward, McCrory went on an absolute tear.
Winning 6 fights from June 2006 to the end of 2006, McCrory crushed the competition in the regional promotions of the New Jersey and Massachusetts' areas. He ran his record up to a perfect 9-0 by June 2007, only one year after fighting his first professional MMA bout. He also had his first UFC fight against Pete Spratt at the same time. In his tenth appearance, he lost a battle via a slick armbar transition to Japanese entertainer/MMA fighter Akihiro Gono at UFC 78, but rebounded with a win over fellow New Yorker Luke Cummo at UFC 87. His UFC 97 match-up with Dustin Hazelett didn't bode well as Hazelett's jiu-jitsu mesmerized the crowd and McCrory. A win over former WCL kickboxer Ryan Madigan at UFC 97 brings us to UFC 101.
John Howard(11-4) will make his second appearance in the UFC against McCrory on Saturday night. He upset Chris Wilson via split decision at UFC 94, which was impressive due to Wilson's solid striking. Some of the notable losses on his record have come from some UFC talent in Dan Miller and Nick Catone, but I'd definitely recommend fans watch the Miller-Howard fight before passing judgment.
Howard's background consists of wrestling, Muay Thai, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Early in his career, his jiu-jitsu was an active part of his game as he won 6 of his 9 fights via submission. After back-to-back losses, he managed to knockout Jose Rodriguezat ROC 18 and TKO Nick Calandrino at an IFL event in May of 2008. Ring of Combat booked him his toughest match-up against up-and-comer Charlie Brenneman, winner of season 1 of Pros vs. Joes and very promising wrestler turned MMA fighter. Howard passed the test with flying colors taking an unanimous decision victory and gaining the eyes of the UFC to fight at the beginning of 2009.
On paper, this fight has the making of potentially bringing fight of the night honors. McCrory's immense reach is a huge factor, but he also has decent striking coupled with a solid ground game. His lengthy limbs are a major factor on the floor, and controlling Howard's ground tactics could prove to be the key to winning.
The big problem is that Howard's power in the stand-up game has continued to improve. His Muay Thai and boxing skills have turned him into a fighter that was primarily known as a ground fighter to a guy who can do it all. He's also a guy who walks around fairly heavy, so he may come into the fight at around 185 to 190 pounds. There is certainly a lot of hype surrounding the Boston-native. It should be very interesting to see how he intends to handle McCrory's huge length.
According to the oddsmakers, McCrory is the favorite here. It's definitely a tough prospect to imagine Howard moving through McCrory's reach, but if he happens to get inside -- It could be lights out for McCrory. With a Howard win, I'm hoping a Dan Miller rematch happens. If you haven't seen the fight, Miller edged Howard, but had to leave on a stretcher. With a McCrory win, I'm hoping he can take on some better competition once again and breakthrough. His length is certainly a problem for everyone in the division, and he seems to be improving at a substantial rate.