MFC 29 will air live tonight on HDNet at 10:00 PM ET from the Colosseum at Caesars Windsor in Windsor, Ontario. The card will feature a main event light heavyweight title showdown between Ryan Jimmo, the #7-ranked prospect on the 2011 World MMA Light Heavyweight Scouting Report, and late replacement Zak Cummings. The MFC Welterweight title will also be on the line as #4-ranked welterweight prospect Douglas Lima eyes his first title defense as he battles UFC veteran Terry Martin.
Light Heavyweight Championship: Ryan Jimmo (14-1) vs. Zak Cummings (12-2): Former MFC champion Emanuel Newton was originally scheduled to take on Jimmo before withdrawing from the bout on March 29th due to injury. Stepping in on late notice, Texas-born wrestler Zak Cummings aims to take advantage of the opportunity to fight a touted prospect. The 26-year-old previously garnered interest from hardcore fans after recording his tenth consecutive win back in May of 2009. Strikeforce took notice, pitting him against Tim Kennedy under the Challengers' banner in September of the same year. Unfortunately, Cummings was overwhelmed, succumbing to a North-South choke in the second round of action. A loss to Elvis Mutapcic nine months later caused the hype to die down.
The latter half of 2010 put Cummings back on track against lesser competition, earning submissions wins over Rudy Bears and Dennis Reed. In roughly the same time period, Ryan Jimmo defeated former UFC fighter Wilson Gouveia and stopped Dwayne Lewis in the third round of action to secure the MFC light heavyweight title. The obvious difference is that Jimmo was fighting much higher level competition, and that's going to be apparent in the cage on Friday.
Jimmo's stand-up game continues to evolve, showing improvements in every fight and becoming much more of a threat to finishing a fight than it ever has in the past. Combined with an above average takedown defense, solid clinch skills, and respectable grappling acumen, Cummings has his work cut out for him. The gameplan should be simply for Cummings. Take down Jimmo repeatedly and control him. Unfortunately, I don't think Cummings will have the gas to last five rounds as he will have to work relentlessly against Jimmo's tough as nails defenses. Jimmo should consistently damage Cummings in the first two to three rounds, eventually finishing Cummings as he wears on him. Jimmo via TKO.
Welterweight Championship: Douglas Lima (17-4) vs. Terry Martin (20-8): Lima enters Friday's contest as the current MFC Welterweight champion, defeating Jesse Juarez in November with a skillful triangle armbar submission in the third round. It was a win that was dramatic considering the beating he was enduring from Juarez's relentless takedown abilities and strikes from the top for most of the fight. But Lima's Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu prowess overcame the adversity in brilliant fashion. UFC veteran Terry Martin may not have the pedigree that Juarez possesses, but he should provide a challenge in the stand-up department.
Since Martin's exit from the UFC in February of 2008 following a decision loss to Marvin Eastman, he's put together a mediocre 4-4 record. After losing to Zak Cummings in February of last year, Martin dropped to 170 lbs., amassing a 2-1 record with recent wins over Ted Worthington and Jorge Ortiz. The weight cut has given him mild success, but it doesn't erase doubts regarding his chin or the weaknesses in his skill-set.
Martin's knockout power has been absent over the last two-and-a-half years. That isn't to say that Martin isn't a constant threat on the feet. Lima's stand-up game is still progressing, mostly resorting to a lengthy lead jab and speedy footwork to evade his opponent's rushes. He'll need to be sharp with his footwork against Martin, who will likely try to get inside Lima's range quickly to deliver a knockout blow. Lima's best chance is to work for takedowns in the clinch, using his 6'1" frame to overwhelm Martin and bring him to the floor. Once there, Lima should have no problems threatening with his far superior grappling chops. Lima via submission.
Lightweight: Robert Washington (9-2) vs. Hermes Franca (20-11): Nope. Hermes Franca didn't retire, but there are plenty of fans who still think he should have walked into the sunset following his 2:03 loss to Eric Wisely in January of last year. He returned in September of the same year in an attempt to redeem himself, losing once again to Wisely, this time via decision. He crossed the Atlantic two months later to fight Moshe Kaitz, losing via decision. A month later, Franca surprised fans by defeating Ferrid Kheder, or should I say... was robbed of a victory. The bout has since been deemed a no contest, but it was nonetheless a victory for a fighter that many had written off.
Franca hopes he can keep the momentum going on Friday night as he battles highly-regarded prospect Robert Washington. Washington dropped a split decision to Tyrone Glover in his debut with the promotion back in February. The loss did, however, allow fans to get a taste of what Washington brings to the table. A military brat hailing from the mean streets of East St. Louis, Illinois, Washington has proven wrestling skills and immense strength. While his strength of record is low due to much of his career taking place overseas, Washington has a skill-set that has been historically successful stateside.
Franca may be turning a page in his career, but there isn't overwhelming evidence that suggests he's going to make a run through the MFC ranks and back into the UFC. His brawling style of striking has hurt him in the more technical battles on the feet, and he'll likely have problems taking a strong wrestler like Washington to the floor. Off his back, he is a danger, but he's been less of a danger as his career has reached its latter years. Washington throws Franca to the floor with consistency in this match-up, smothering him in ground and pound and wrestling for three rounds. Robert Washington via decision.
Lightweight: Marcus Davis (17-8) vs. Curtis Demarce (10-8): Davis may be slowing down with age, but he still has the skill-set to frustrate lesser strikers to no end. Demarce has proven to be a tough competitor to finish, and he has an adequate submission game to give Davis something to think about if he happens to deplete his gas tank late in this fight. But Davis should be able to use his speedy footwork and boxing to edge out Demarce on the scorecards. Marcus Davis via decision.
Welterweight: Demi Deeds (15-8) vs. Pete Spratt (21-19): Deeds has failed in every opportunity to separate himself from the pack when he's been faced with better opponents. Of course, he's faced a bevy of stiffer competitors over the last few years, far more than most prospects in the weight class. Friday's match-up with Spratt is another step up, although it is against an older veteran. Spratt, despite having an ugly looking record, won't be an easy task to overcome. He still possesses brutal knockout power and a solid wrestling game, and his more recent performances have shown his ability to compete with some of the best in the regional scene. He's susceptible to being overwhelmed by better grapplers, but I don't anticipate Deeds being able to topple Spratt to the floor consistently. Pete Spratt via TKO.
Middleweight: Andreas Spang (5-0) vs. Ali Mokdad (3-0): A solid prospect match-up between two undefeated middleweight talents should provide a spark in opening the event's main card on Friday night. Spang is the more experienced fighter with two more professional bouts than his opponent, and he's faced slightly stiffer competition in that time frame. He's also been more convincing in victory, finishing off three of his five opponents inside the first frame. I'll go with Spang here. Andreas Spang via TKO.