Saturday night's UFC 140: Jones vs. Machida event is segmented into three factions: the event will begin with three bouts streaming on the UFC's Facebook page, four matches to be broadcasted on the ION television network, and the main card consisting of the five premiere fights on live pay-per-view.
"The Carny" is coming off his first quasi-loss in the UFC after Charles Oliveira tagged him with a knee when he was grounded. Initially deemed a loss, the result was overturned to a No Contest after it was reviewed. Other than Oliveira and a draw with Thiago Tavares in his second Octagon outing at UFC Fight Night 20, Lentz has emerged victorious in his remaining five outings.
He defeated Rafaello Oliveira in his debut and chalked up four straight in between the Tavares draw and No Contest: Robert Emerson, Andre Winner (both decisions), Tyson Griffin (split decision) and Waylon Lowe (guillotine choke). Lentz has relied on his D1 wrestling experience at the University of Minnesota and decent boxing and submissions to draw from a variety of offense.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt and TriStar Gym product Mark Bocek welcomed Ben Henderson to the UFC in his last outing. The decision loss was Bocek's second in his last three fights, the other delivered by the venerable Jim Miller with an impressive submission win over Dustin Hazelett in between. Overall, Bocek has won five of his nine UFC forays.
Each of Bocek's defeats were against top-tier lightweights -- the third was Frankie Edgar at UFC 73 -- except Mac Danzig, his fourth, who is indeed an experienced force but has never cracked into the apex-elite at 155. Bocek has contested well at the top level and taken home two "Submission of the Night" bonus checks but is yet to distinguish himself with a marquee win. In addition to Hazelett, his victories include Joe Brammer, David Bielkheden, Alvin Robinson (consecutive wins) and Douglas Evans.
Gifs and analysis in the full entry.
Bocek is a smooth scrambler and BJJ player, as evinced in his ground battle with Miller and the slick transition on Hazelett to the right.
The thing that stands out to me about Bocek is that he's rather stiff and robotic -- but still quite strong and effective -- in the other aspects of his game. This applies to his striking, where he packs power but is somewhat slow and lumbering, as well as his deceivingly overbearing takedowns.
For a guy who is so fluid and graceful on the mat, his characteristics elsewhere stand in stark contrast.
To the left we see Bocek's intelligence and ability to create good opportunities from bad spots.
First, from the unsavory butt scoot position, Bocek ensnares Bendo's left leg and starts to transition to a heel hook. He's a little loose on the leg so, when Bendo is knocked off-balance and starts to spin clockwise out of the hold, Bocek relents on the submission and controls Bendo's waist in an attempt to take his back.
The subtle aspect here is how Bocek keeps his hook on Bendo's left leg and traps it (@ 2:53) at an awkward angle to diminish his base and limit his movement.
Takedown-wise, Bocek is a killer from the front headlock position. Because of his lack of speed and agility compared to most lightweights, most of his takedowns come from the clinch or after initially failing on a shot but doggedly driving through and finishing when tied up.
His commanding control of the head and upper body is also a location conducive to a litany of neck chokes. The sequence to the right is classic Bocek: he snaps the head down with force from the front headlock and then drops back for a guillotine when Bendo turtles to defend.
Nik Lentz isn't really a heralded striker either, but his quickness and aggression standing could cause some problems. He typically sticks to decent and basic boxing with some low and mid level kicks mixed in.
Conversely, Lentz has also been tagged frequently by counters when closing the distance purposefully. His defense is a little porous, especially when he's throwing punches and moving forward, as he leaves his hands down and his chin exposed with minimal head movement or use of angles. His only TKO loss is to the very hard hitting Mark Moreno and Lentz has a good chin with good recovery.
The sequence to the right shows some of Lentz's defensive shortcomings when attacking with strikes at phone-booth range, the most obvious being that both hands are down at his waist when he starts trading in the pocket.
Like Bocek, Lentz has used his wrestling experience as a conduit for gimme-subs when his opponent defends his takedowns and in scrambles. His only stoppage win in the UFC was the guillotine choke on Waylon Lowe (below), which is his most proven method of finishing (9 of his 21 wins are submissions, 6 by TKO), and the rest were decisions fostered by the control of his wrestling.
Lentz catches Lowe here in the same common scenario we saw Bocek attempt on Bendo above.
He vaults forward into range and Lowe foolishly holds his ground and drops levels for a half-hearted takedown attempt. Lentz immediately snakes an underhook and punishes Lowe for penetrating his head too deep by locking a tight arm-in guillotine and falling back to elicit the tapout.
Lentz has better wrestling credentials but Bocek has proven to be a stout force in the clinch with takedowns and takedown defense, so I'm unsure on that facet.
Bocek is not a fast and technical boxer, but he is a good counter-striker with surprising heft on even his short punches. It's amazingly just a tight and stiff, short-range jab that knocks Edgar on his can to the right.
Also with one TKO loss on his record (Edgar), Bocek has displayed a pretty strong resilience to punches despite being a fairly available target.
This leaves Lentz as a notch quicker with a potential advantage with takedowns, though I'm not thoroughly convinced of the latter. Bocek has a monumental edge with submission grappling and scrambling on the mat and also has more power on the feet, and for that I'm giving him the nod by decision or submission.
My Prediction: Mark Bocek by submission
Rich Attonito was a cast member of TUF's eleventh season. His first opponent on the show was Kyacey Uscola, who was disqualified for tagging Attonito with illegal knees. After the fight, it was determined that Attonito could not compete due to a broken hand, paving the way for eventual winner Court McGee to get back into the brackets.
This prompted a move south to the welterweight division, where "The Bull" capitalized on a gassed out Daniel Roberts to win his 170-pound debut at the UFC Live on Versus 4 card.
A former D1 wrestler at Hofstra University and BJJ purple belt at American Top Team, Attonito presents a stiff challenge with tenacious takedowns, busy ground-and-pound and decent striking. Though he's not necessarily extraordinary in any one category, his diverse skill-set and hard-nosed, grinding approach leaves him with few glaring weaknesses to exploit.
His opponent is UFC newcomer Jake Hecht from Fiore MMA. After losing his MMA debut, Hecht's only loss is to experienced UK welterweight Che Mills who was recently acquired by the UFC. Hecht's background from UFC.com:
When and why did you start training for fighting? I started wrestling when I was 14 in high school. In just 3 years of high school wrestling I became a state qualifier in 2002. I started boxing when I was 16. I won the golden gloves tournament the first year I started. I went on to wrestle in college at Lindenwood University, and continued my boxing career. I transferred colleges in 2003 and discovered an MMA gym in Columbia, MO. I instantly fell in love with the sport and had my first fight after only 5 weeks of training on 6 hours notice. I knocked the guy out in 96 seconds and have never looked back.
What ranks and titles have you held? Missouri state qualifier wrestling 2002, Missouri Golden Gloves Champion 2002, Missouri Golden Gloves runner up 2004, Irish Open BJJ Champion 2011, Purple Belt in BJJ under Kiko France, a Ricardo Liborio black belt.
From what little I've seen of Hecht, he could prove to be a viable prospect and a challenge for Attonito. He's similarly well rounded and might be a little slicker on the mat. However, as with all new entries who are foreign to the elite level of MMA, he has a lot more prove than his opponent.
My Prediction: Rich Attonito by decision
Both Cholish and Clarke are making their Octagon debuts in the lightweight division with rock-solid records. Cholish, a Renzo Gracie purple belt, has scored seven straight since losing his first professional fight with four submissions and two TKOs. Noteworthy wins include former TUFer Marc Stevens in Strikeforce and Jameel Massouh along with an inverted triangle on Rich Moskowitz that earned Cholish the vacant Ring of Combat lightweight belt.
Mitch Clarke is an undefeated Canadian and purple belt under Rodrigo Munduruca, a world no-gi grappling champion in the Masters Ultra-Heavy division. Of his nine wins, Clarke has six subs and one TKO with all but two of those coming in the first round.
Clarke has competed at 170 in the past and might be the more physically imposing fighter though Cholish has tackled a higher level of opposition. This one's a toss up for me but, if forced, I would make an uninformed guess for Cholish.
All gifs via Zombie Prophet of IronForgesIron.com