After a week-long layoff from major mixed martial arts action, we move into a stacked month of May that will feature four Bellator shows, MFC 25, Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery, Shine Fight III, Moosin, DREAM 14, and UFC 114. While Bellator XVII, MFC 25, and KSW 13 all take place late this week, the more significant card to get the month started will be UFC 113: Machida vs. Shogun II taking place on Saturday, May 8th from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
The event will be headlined by a UFC light heavyweight title rematch between Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Lyoto Machida with a solid welterweight battle between Josh Koscheck and Paul Daley taking the second spot on the main card. Kimbo Slice will also make an appearance as he battles former NFL lineman Matt Mitrione, and Patrick Cote will make his return against Alan Belcher in hope he can make his way back into the title mix at middleweight.
Before we delve deep into the main card, here's a brief look at the action taking place on the UFC 113 undercard:
Middleweight: Tom Lawlor (6-2, 2-1 UFC) vs. Joe Doerksen (44-12, 1-5 UFC): "El Dirte" vs. "Filthy". That says it all. Alright, it really doesn't. This is a fairly interesting match-up due to Doerksen's propensity to box a bit more in more recent fights. He's still a dangerous threat on the ground, but his boxing has become much more crisp and effective. He was able to put away Takenori Sato with a knockout blow at Sengoku IX, and he's been setting up his submissions as of late with a healthy dose of leather to the chin against most of his opponents.
Lawlor has been a surprise for the UFC. He defeated Kyle Kingsbury in his debut at The Ultimate Fighter Season 8 Finale, choked out C.B. Dolloway at UFC 100 in 0:55 seconds, and lost a 'Fight of the Night' narrow split decision to Aaron Simpson at UFN 20. Not only has he shown vast improvement in his striking, but he's also filled the void that Akihiro Gono left by entertaining fans with his entrances.
While both fighters aren't highly recognized by fans, this should prove to be a solid match-up. Doerksen's boxing has improved as of late, and his grappling can be very threatening to a guy like Lawlor who eyes single and double leg takedowns. Lawlor's power and improving striking should give Doerksen some problems, and I wonder if Doerksen has the strength to stop Lawlor from maintaining a top control position and pounding on him for three rounds.
It's definitely one of the more even match-ups on the card, but I'll take Tom Lawlor. He'll need to show some better cardio in this fight if it goes the distance, but I'm confident in his takedown ability and strength to punish Doerksen for the entire fight.
Welterweight: Marcus Davis (16-6, 8-4 UFC) vs. Jonathan Goulet (22-10, 4-4 UFC): Goulet makes his return to the Octagon after nearly a year and five months off after losing to Mike Swick at UFC: Fight for the Troops back in December. He'll look to rebound from the brutal knockout blow that downed him in a battle with another heavy-handed puncher in Marcus Davis. Davis returns after two consecutive losses, a split decision loss to eventual contender Dan Hardy and a surprising knockout defeat against Ben Saunders.
Davis' age is becoming a factor in any match-up he's involved in, and while he's a bulked up boxer with some okay wrestling ability -- he does seem rather soft when it comes to aggressive opposition. A great looking physique doesn't always translate to a solid fighter.
Goulet's chin is always the topic of conversations in bouts he's involved in. While we could argue that better competition simply finds a home for their fist in much easier fashion due to their superior abilities in the striking department, Goulet still can't take a stiff punch to the kisser. Davis' boxing background and power should come in rather handy in aggressively bombing Goulet with strikes. This could potentially give Davis a massive bonus for knockout of the night.
Welterweight: Yoshiyuki Yoshida (11-4, 2-2 UFC) vs. Michael Guymon (11-3-1, 0-1 UFC): Yoshida enters this contest nearly seven months after being brutally knocked out by Anthony Johnson at UFC 104. The bout was marred by the fact that Johnson came in six pounds overweight, but Yoshida agreed to battle it out at catchweight. Unfortunately, Yoshida succumbed to Johnson's heavy hands and his own inability to stand and bang with any effectiveness.
He shouldn't have that problem against Mike Guymon. Guymon's primary offense will rely heavily on his grappling ability, although we may see some variance in his style as Yoshida is known for his poor defense standing. Yoshida was very successful in Cage Force by bombing opponents in the crease of the fence once he gained top control, and he has the grappling acumen from years of Judo to evade most jiu-jitsu counters. I think he'll gain control from the top and reign down punches on his way to a decision victory.
Heavyweight: Joey Beltran (11-3, 1-0 UFC) vs. Tim Hague (10-3, 1-2 UFC): Heavyweights collide as Tim Hague hopes to keep his UFC status alive as he battles Joey "The Mexicutioner" Beltran. Hague is coming off two straight losses with a 0:07 second KO loss to Todd Duffee and a decision loss to Brock Lesnar training partner Chris Tuchscherer while Beltran is coming off a victory over Rolles Gracie at UFC 109.
I'm not exactly sure how to gauge this fight. At a glance, this fight looks like a couple of punchers just trying to out duke one another until someone falls to the mat from a heavy shot. Intangibles don't seem to apply, but Beltran does have a Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling background while Hague is primarily a puncher. Hague will have a sizable advantage in weight and height, but I think he also has a disadvantage against Beltran's takedowns. A very even match-up in my book, but I'll go with size and strength over Beltran.
Welterweight: Johny Hendricks (7-0, 2-0 UFC) vs. T.J. Grant (15-3, 2-1 UFC): Four-time All-American and two-time NCAA Division I national wrestling champion Johny Hendricks will try to remain undefeated as he takes on Nova Scotia-native T.J. Grant. Hendricks holds wins over Ricardo Funch and Amir Sadollah in his current stint with the UFC while Grant defeated both Ryo Chonan and Kevin Burns. Grant's lone loss came against Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 100.
Personally, Hendricks has been surprising in his two fights in the UFC. He's been an absolute animal in the clinch, destroying both Sadollah and Funch with heavy uppercuts against the cage. Sadollah succumbed to his power, but Funch was able to survive only to be slammed to the ground repeatedly.
Grant is a very dynamic grappler with a multitude of submission techniques that could catch Hendricks, but Hendricks is a seasoned, powerful wrestler who's striking can be menacing against the cage. I think Grant will have some massive problems trying to stop the relentless Hendricks from the start of the fight, and I imagine we'll see a similar style from previous fights. Look for Hendricks to come out strong, back up Grant to the fence, and unleash a load of uppercuts from the depths of Hades. If Grant can survive and gain an advantageous position on the ground, he could win, but I'll put my faith in the wrestling and striking of Hendricks.
Middleweight: Jason MacDonald (24-13, 5-5 UFC) vs. John Salter (4-1, 0-1 UFC): Jason "The Athlete" MacDonald makes his return to the UFC after winning three straight battles outside of the promotion. He narrowly defeated TUF alum Solomon Hutcherson, choked out Vernon White, and decision'd the always tough Matt Horwich to gain a spot on the UFC 113 undercard. He certainly won't have an easy task as he battles 2007 NAIA wrestling champion John Salter.
Salter showed up on six days notice and gave Gerald Harris all he could handle at UFN 20, but eventually lost in the third round via TKO. Although he isn't the most proficient striker, Salter does have the wrestling background and Brazilian jiu-jitsu chops to be dangerous on the ground. His only roadblock is the massive experience that MacDonald has amassed over his lengthy career.
I'm actually going to pick the upset here. MacDonald has not looked great in his recent wins, and the competition he faced wasn't exactly top notch. Hutcherson basically gassed out, and MacDonald was still unable to finish. White is well, well past his prime, and Horwich really offers no significant threat on the feet. Salter, on the other hand, has some limited knockout ability in his hands, and he has the wrestling and jiu-jitsu background to be in control on the feet. MacDonald should be the favorite, but he's been underwhelming in his comeback trail to the UFC. I'll go with the upset in Salter.