Spring is nearing, and the regional mixed martial arts scene is heating up. This weekend should provide fans with more than enough mixed martial arts action to feed your hunger. UFC 127 highlights the weekend's action, but both England and Canada are providing fans with appetizers to hold them over before B.J. Penn battles Jon Fitch. Starting off the weekend with a bang, Maximum Fighting Championships 28 will air LIVE on HDNet this Friday night at 10:00 PM EST/7:00 PM PST.
MFC Light Heavyweight Championship: Ryan Jimmo (13-1) vs. Dwayne Lewis (13-6): The #7-ranked light heavyweight prospect on our 2011 World MMA Scouting Report, Ryan Jimmo, aims to continue his impressive thirteen-fight winning streak on Friday night as he battles Dwayne Lewis in a rematch of a bout that took place almost four years ago. Jimmo's victories over Wilson Gouveia, Emanuel Newton, and Marvin Eastman assure that Joe Silva is keeping a close eye on his progression. Unfortunately, Jimmo hasn't finished a fight in over three years, putting doubt into whether he'll ever make his debut inside the Octagon.
Jimmo's Karate background has become much more relevant in more recent fights, and I think that will be a major focal point in this fight. Lewis' knockout power is his means to victory against Jimmo. Al-Hassan proved that a ranged attack can slow down Lewis and be very effective in creating an obstacle to his success however. Look for Jimmo to pepper Lewis with strikes from range, avoid takedowns, and eventually finish inside the twenty-five minute time frame. It's a lofty prediction considering Jimmo's laundry list of decisions, but I'll be bold.
Catchweight (160 lbs): Drew Fickett (40-13) vs. Matt Veach (15-2): Normally, I wouldn't be interested in watching Drew Fickett once again confirm that he isn't too serious about being a fighter in this sport. His past failures have been linked to late-night partying and alcoholism, so it's difficult to determine when Fickett is actually prepared to fight.
Veach's NCAA Division I wrestling background will give Fickett some major problems in this fight. If Fickett can't overwhelm Veach early, as he does with most opponents, Veach will likely settle in and bounce punches off the top of Fickett's head from top control. While I'm a fan of Fickett's "Night Rider" schtick, I think Veach can avoid the early submission and punch his way to a TKO victory.
Lightweight: Richie Whitson (10-1) vs.
Kajan Johnson (18-11-1) Curtis Demarce (10-7):
UPDATE: Kajan Johnson has apparently been out since February 9th. In any case, Whitson will battle Curtis Demarce (10-7). I'll take Whitson.
Whitson was a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter season 9, exiting the show due to a loss to eventual winner Ross Pearson. His recent victory over Joakim Engberg was the most prominent of his career, lending evidence to the argument that Whitson is improving considerably under the tutelage of the Temecula, California branch of Team Quest.
Light Heavyweight: Rodney Wallace (10-3) vs. Emanuel Newton (13-6-1): Wallace is a guilty pleasure for many fans. In a sport with an emphasis on the technical side of striking, Wallace tends to find himself overly frustrated and going for broke. For the most part, it has helped him transition to the floor effectively, but the increased level of competition he's faced hasn't fell so easily.
Newton comes out of the school of Antonio McKee. Solid cardio and good wrestling, he's been compared to McKee often. While he does carry many of the characteristics of McKee, he doesn't have the endless gas tank or pressing wrestling ability to go for twenty-five minutes. He won't need to in this contest however. I'll go with Newton's length and more well-rounded skill-set by decision.
Welterweight: Thomas Denny (27-18) vs. Sheldon Westcott (4-1): We hear a lot about NFL players transitioning to the sport of mixed martial arts. Guys like Matt Mitrione, Brendan Schaub, and Gian Villante to name a few, but what about track and field? Sheldon Westcott may not be an enormous former lineman or linebacker, but his past in track and field has translated to superior athleticism in the cage.
Denny, a long-time MMA veteran, is one of the most respected fighters in the sport despite his failures at an elite level. From all accounts, he's a solid trainer and positive influence in the gym, but his career has never taken off. Denny's experience should give him an edge, but he's just way too susceptible to being tagged and out worked by more athletic opponents. It's likely what Pavelich was thinking when he created this match-up. I'll go with Westcott via submission.
Lightweight: Robert Washington (7-1) vs. Tyrone Glover (5-0): By far the most intriguing battle on the MFC 28 main card on Friday night is the lightweight showdown between Robert Washington and Tyrone Glover. Washington, who was on our shortlist of prospects for consideration on the 2011 World MMA Lightweight Scouting Report, is a physically superior athlete when compared to most lightweights. He has solid wrestling capabilities, but his home base in Guam doesn't give him the top notch training he needs to progress to the next level. That could change if he can find some success stateside.
Glover has returned to the sport after becoming a practicing attorney after a successful stint back in 2005. His most relevant win was a majority decision victory over Din Thomas in DEEP, but he left the sport following that victory. Now he's back, and he could play spoiler to any thoughts that Washington has about making a name for himself. While I believe Washington will be a stiff test for a returning Glover, his strength of record is difficult to look past. Glover may be a bit rusty, but he has had a return fight and a consistent training camp. I'll go with Glover, but this should be a fight for hardcore fans to keep an eye on.