In the lone middleweight bout being featured on the UFC 123 main card on Saturday night, The Ultimate Fighter season seven contestant Gerald Harris (17-2, 3-0 UFC) will aim to lengthen his unbeaten streak to four wins inside the Octagon as he battles UFC newcomer and Chute Box product Maiquel Falcao (25-3, 0-0 UFC). As mentioned in the Davis vs. Boetsch preview, Harris is also one of the fighters that Zuffa is pushing as one of the future stars of the promotion. This main card bout seems designed to give Harris the opportunity to once again win in spectacular fashion.
He's already produced a couple of jaw-dropping moments in the Octagon, knocking out John Salter in a late fight finish at UFC Fight Night 20 in January and power slamming Dave Branch onto ESPN's top ten plays of the day at UFC 116. The latter stoppage even garnered interest from other sports athletes in the world due to its severity, propelling Harris into the spotlight in the aftermath.
Falcao has his own unbeaten streak he'll be looking to extend as he's knocked out six of his last seven opponents during his current seven-fight winning streak, mostly regional opponents in Brazil. As we've come to expect from Chute Box, Falcao likes to impose his aggressiveness and power on his opponents. It's possible he'll match Harris' power in this fight.
Much of Harris' power is implemented in his ground game, however, and Falcao can produce knockouts on the feet and on the ground. The enormous disadvantage for Falcao is his take down defense. Most of the footage I've seen involves opponents making lazy and non-committal take down attempts. Wading into Falcao's power with almost no sense of urgency is a guarantee that you'll end up on a stretcher, and to say that Falcao is an animal in the cage is an understatement. Many of his finishes were followed by the referee having to tackle Falcao to the floor to stop the brutality.
Harris should have the advantage due to his wrestling skills and powerful ground and pound, but there is some concern as to whether he will ever reach that stage in this fight. Falcao brutalizes his opponents as they move in for the kill, completely turning the tide of the fight with one cruel blow from his hands or knees. This is no easy task for Harris, nor is it a fight he should take lightly whatsoever. Falcao will bring the pain in a devastating fashion, and the outcome of this fight will likely be a win-win for the UFC.
Either Harris leaves the Octagon the victor by dominating Falcao positionally or by way of knockout, or Falcao produces an upset victory in brutal fashion. I'll go with the former here, but if you're a betting man -- it's hard not to like Falcao as an upset bid.