MMA fans should be in heaven this weekend as both DREAM and the UFC will air shows for U.S. fans to devour, and for those fans who are interested in a multitude of fight sports -- It's Showtime will hold a kickboxing event in Amsterdam that will feature many of K-1's elite stars including Melvin Manhoef, Badr Hari, Daniel Ghita, Yoshihiro Sato, and Artur Kyshenko. It should be a great weekend for combative sports, but the UFC will take the cake as UFC 114 will air live on pay-per-view at 10:00 PM EST on Saturday, May 29th from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Spike TV will air two preliminary card bouts one hour before the pay-per-view begins.
The main event will feature the showdown between The Ultimate Fighter season ten coaches Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Rashad Evans, bringing a climax to their highly publicized hate for one another. Michael Bisping, Dan Miller, Todd Duffee, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, and Diego Sanchez are a few of the other fighters being featured on the main card. Before we delve into the UFC 114 main card battles, let's take a look at some of the other action you'll see on Saturday night:
Welterweight: Amir Sadollah (3-1, 3-1 UFC) vs. Dong Hyun Kim (12-0-1-1, 3-0-0-1 UFC): One of the better style match-ups on the UFC 114 card will headline the preliminary action as former surgical technologist turned MMA fighter and The Ultimate Fighter season seven winner Amir Sadollah will battle South Korean-born Judo black belt Dong Hyun Kim on Spike TV's live telecast of the UFC 114 preliminary card.
Sadollah holds wins over Brad Blackburn, Phil Baroni, and C.B. Dolloway in his short four-fight professional mixed martial arts career with his lone loss coming against Johny Hendricks at UFC 101 in a quick 0:29 second affair that saw Sadollah eat some heavy uppercuts from the NCAA wrestling champion. He has improved in nearly every performance we've seen him in since the loss as he's made an effort to train extensively in Holland to improve his kickboxing and stand-up skills.
Kim has had a solid run in the UFC as well, defeating Jason Tan, Matt Brown, and T.J. Grant. His battle with Karo Parisyan was overturned due to Karo's failed drug test for painkillers, but some would speculate that he won or at least drew with Parisyan in that fight. While Kim has yet to show off his knockout abilities that earned him accolades during his days in DEEP, he has become one of the formidable rising stars out of Korea.
Stylistically, I think this is definitely a competitive match-up as Sadollah seems to be improving on the feet with a solid base in Sambo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu to be a threat on the ground. Kim's Judo background comes into play quite often in the Octagon as he is one of the very few fighters who implements a variety of trips to gain the ground against the fence. He's also one of the more relentless fighters when it comes to those techniques, and Sadollah will need to avoid those maneuvers often.
I actually think Sadollah will be a bit better than people give him credit for in the stand-up game, but I like Kim's dynamic abilities on the feet. He's very good at taking advantage of scrambles as he works for the back, even in the stand-up position. Kim also has shown some solid Muay Thai skills when the opportunity presents itself, and his elbows from top control can be absolutely devastating. Just ask T.J. Grant.
In the end, I have to go with my Korean ancestry. Kim is far too dynamic of a fighter, but I do think Sadollah has the opportunity to be a real menace on the feet if he can use teep kicks and maintain range. Kim's knockout power is still there however, even if he hasn't proved it in the UFC, and his elbows from top control and submission defense are outstanding attributes in his skill-set. I'll take Dong Hyun Kim via TKO at UFC 114.
Lightweight: Dan Lauzon (12-3, 0-2 UFC) vs. Efrain Escudero (12-1, 2-1 UFC): In the second fight on Spike TV's live preliminary feed, The Ultimate Fighter season eight winner Efrain Escudero will battle UFC lightweight Joe Lauzon's brother, Dan Lauzon, in lightweight action. As you've probably read, his brother Joe and his team have stated they will not corner Dan during this match-up at UFC 114 due to Dan's training obligations not meeting the team's expectations.
Lauzon comes into the contest following a fairly quick submission loss to Cole Miller at UFC 108 after winning eight straight bouts against sub-par competition mostly in the New England area. His most recent win came against Bobby Green at Affliction: Day of Reckoning in a very lackluster performance that first tipped off fans to Dan's potential to falter against better competition. He was also stopped much earlier in his career against Spencer Fisher at UFC 64 and Deividas Taurosevicius at a CFFC event in '07.
Escudero's only loss came in his most recent fight at UFN 20 against Evan Dunham in which he was submitted via armbar in the third round. He defeated Cole Miller and upset Phillipe Nover in his two previous fights with the UFC, and he'll aim to rebound from his loss to Dunham with a win over Lauzon on Saturday night.
Lauzon's recent incident involving his brother and his training camp surely can't go unnoticed, and it's more than likely the reason why Dan has never surpassed the expectations that he could become a truly solid UFC fighter. He's always been overwhelmed by better competition, and even his battle with Bobby "Style: Hood" Green at Affliction: Day of Reckoning was a rude awakening to fans believing he could get it done at a higher level.
Escudero's wrestling and striking will be too much for Dan in this fight. He doesn't have the most explosive takedowns, and his susceptibility to strikes, which was evident in the Green fight, could get him into some major trouble here. I think Escudero simply has more tools in his arsenal whereas Lauzon really needs to tire Escudero and gain the submission late. I don't see it happening though. Efrain should take this rather easily in my mind.
Lightweight: Melvin Guillard (23-8-2, 6-4 UFC) vs. Waylon Lowe (8-2, 0-0 UFC): There isn't really a whole lot I want to convey to the fans about this fight. Guillard has always been a favorite of the UFC brass due to his substantial power and lightning fast knockout ability on the feet. For all the losses he's sustained over the years and the bust for drugs, he still remains a fighter who can please your typical casual fan. Although he's had a lot of problems against grapplers in the past, he definitely improved as he's gone 3-1 in his last 4 fights with the promotion, only losing to Nate Diaz. He did manage to defeat Ronnys Torres and Gleison Tibau, both dangerous threats on the ground.
Lowe hails out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with notable wins over Frank Carabello and Steve Berger. Without looking at his record, it's almost a guarantee he's a striker... and sure enough, he is. Look for Guillard's speed and power to connect and produce a potential knockout of the night candidate.
UPDATE: Actually, as someone points out in the comments -- Lowe is a three-time NCAA Division II wrestling champion, so my initial thoughts that he's primarily a striker have gone out the window. With that said, that makes this fight a tad more interesting as Guillard will need to avoid the takedowns and top control of Lowe. I'll still go with Guillard here, but he'll need to continue his streak of looking solid against good grapplers in order to defeat Lowe.
Light Heavyweight: Luis Arthur Cane (10-2, 3-2 UFC) vs. Cyrille Diabate (15-6-1, 0-0 UFC): Former PRIDE fighter and Frenchman Cyrille Diabate will finally get his shot in the UFC at age 36 as he battles a derailed Luis Arthur Cane in the lone light heavyweight battle on the undercard. Diabate is currently riding a six-fight win streak with notable wins over Lodune Sincaid and Jamie Fletcher, and his loss last came against current UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua back in 2006 at PRIDE: Final Conflict Absolute.
Cane was one of the rising light heavyweights in the division until he ran into the boxing of Antonio "Minotoro" Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 106. He looked absolutely outclassed by the brother of legendary MMA fighter Antonio "Minotauro" Rodrigo Nogueira, and it certainly deflated notions that Cane was among the elite in the division. His previous wins over Jason Lambert, Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, and Steve Cantwell are still relevant, however, in assessing where Cane could end up near the top.
This fight will more than likely stay in striking mode as both Cane and Diabate are well-known for their striking abilities. Cane will probably stick to a standard boxing mentality in this fight whereas Diabate will probably want to work his Muay Thai and kickboxing much more. His 6'6" frame easily translates to a better clinch game as his height will give Cane difficulties in avoiding knees. He also happens to have improved his submission game to work with his frame, but Cane, at the very least, seems rather solid at stuffing takedowns. It's an interesting fight, but I think Diabate's lack of fighting remotely great competition in recent times hurts him. Diabate is a solid bet, however, at a ridiculous +350 to +375, so it might be a fun play to make. I'll take Cane via TKO though.
Lightweight: Aaron Riley (28-12-1, 2-4 UFC) vs. Joe Brammer (7-1-1, 0-1 UFC): A fairly irrelevant lightweight battle between Aaron Riley and Joe Brammer will take place at UFC 114, but it definitely has a little spice underneath the hood. Brammer is relatively young in the sport with only 8 professional fights while Riley is a long-time veteran who has amassed over 40 bouts in MMA. Riley is coming off a loss to Ross Pearson at UFC 105 while trading a win and a loss with Shane Nelson at UFC 96 and UFC 101.
Brammer was choked out quickly by Mark Bocek at The Ultimate Fighter season ten finale, but he was in the limelight with the MMA blogosphere as his sponsor, Hoelzer Reich, was linked to Neo-Nazi ideals. Interestingly enough, Brammer is now sponsored and chaplained by the Fight Pastor, an actual pastor who runs the Canyon Creek Church in Washington state. The Fight Pastor offers a range of services such as spiritual guidance, pre and post-fight prayer services, worship sessions, and even rigorous training sessions backed by solid Christian Discipleship.
Riley has all the experience he needs at only 29 years of age, but he hasn't been able to improve his striking, and he isn't much of a finisher on the ground against better competition. The move to Greg Jackson's camp is definitely a step in the right direction, but he really doesn't have a lot of overpowering assets in his arsenal to flat out crush opponents.
Brammer has some good wrestling and submission abilities on the floor, but Riley should be ready for that type of battle. I'm more inclined to believe Brammer will be eying a stand-up war as past opponents have proven Riley's susceptibility to strikes. I'll go with Riley's veteran status, but I'm not ruling out Brammer completely. After all, God is on his side.
Middleweight: Ryan Jensen (14-6, 1-4 UFC) vs. Jesse Forbes (11-4, 0-2 UFC): Rounding out the UFC 114 preliminary card is a middleweight battle between two veterans of the sport aiming to avoid relegation to the regional scene in Ryan Jensen and Jesse Forbes. After Jensen's eleven wins and one loss in his initial run to the top earlier in his career, he met his match in Thales Leites and Demian Maia at UFC 74 and UFC 77 respectively. He suffered a knockout loss to Joey Villasenor following his stint in the UFC, but battled his way back with a couple of regional victories. Despite the bounce back to the big leagues, Jensen has faired poorly in the UFC.
Forbes was a contestant on season three of The Ultimate Fighter, losing to both Noah Inhofer and Josh Haynes on the show. He eventually lost to Matt Hamill during The Ultimate Fighter season three finale, ending his run with the UFC, but won six out of his next seven fights with his lone loss coming to Bryan Baker in Zuffa's sister promotion, the WEC. Forbes returns after a split decision loss to Nick Catone at UFN 20.
Forbes can be quite formidable with his wrestling and striking at times. While he isn't the most technical puncher, he has shown the ability to clip opponents with dazing overhands in the past. Jensen's primary weakness is easily on the ground, and Forbes has the overall strength with the combination of striking to pummel Jensen. Jensen does, however, have some submission ability and power in his own right, but I think it'll be a formidable task to put Forbes on his back repeatedly. I'll take Jesse Forbes via decision here, and Jensen will be sent packing for the regional circuit.