There are a total of four lightweight battles taking place on the UFC 124 fight card on Saturday night, and the clash between Joe Stevenson (31-11, 8-5 UFC) and Mac Danzig (19-8, 3-4 UFC) may be the most important. Both Stevenson and Danzig have fallen on hard times in the latter portions of their current careers. Stevenson is currently 2-3 in his last five bouts, losing to George Sotiropoulos and Diego Sanchez via decision while getting submitted by Kenny Florian in the first round at UFC 91. A move to Greg Jackson's camp following his loss to Sanchez put Stevenson on a short-lived two-fight winning streak with victories over Nate Diaz and Spencer Fisher, but Sotiropoulos spoiled that run at UFC 110.
Danzig has had a troubled run in the UFC since his victory at The Ultimate Fighter 6 Finale over Tommy Speer. He did manage to submit veteran grappler Mark Bocek and defeat Justin Bucholz via decision at UFC 83 and UFC 109 respectively, but a 3-4 career in the UFC is far from successful. Most fans have blamed his difficulties on fighting outside of his natural weight, and it may be time for Danzig to head down to the featherweight division following Saturday's contest, no matter how the fight turns out.
Danzig has had a number of weaknesses exposed in his losses, and it's tough for me to believe he can overcome them when he's already at a disadvantage heading into a fight. Guida outworked Danzig to the point in which he was completely out of breath by the beginning of the third round. Neer's toughness kept him in the fight, and he eventually caught Danzig in a triangle choke. Jim Miller was just flat out better, and Matt Wiman won with a bit of luck from the referee. In fact, that may be the very reason why Danzig is still employed by the UFC.
But this isn't a one-sided match-up in my mind. Both Stevenson and Danzig have advantages in this fight, and it's debatable whether Danzig may have the slight edge as his striking can be quite good in conjunction with his grappling ability. Stevenson has proven to be a competent wrestler, and his submission skill can be surprising. He showed improved technique in the Nate Diaz fight, and I imagine we'll see some more improvements.
Ultimately, my problem with Danzig is in his past performances and willingness to fight in a weight class not suited for him. I'd be much more intrigued at a stint in the featherweight division. With that said, I think Stevenson bests Danzig over three rounds of action via some strong wrestling.