UFC 132 Fight Card: Dissection of Spike TV Preliminary Matches


Off the Facebook and to the tube, to watch more free fights, we go!

This jovial nursery rhyme alludes to us delighted MMA fans as we join hands and skip jubilantly from social networking to Spike TV for two more UFC 132 preliminary fights. At 8 p.m ET, a double-decker of lightweight contests will unfold: Melvin Guillard vs. Shane Roller, and George Sotiropoulos vs. Rafael Dos Anjos.

Melvin Guillard (45-9-3) vs. Shane Roller (10-3)

Before we dive in, I couldn't help but notice a significant disparity in the numbers on Melvin Guillard's record. In the title picture from UFC.com, Guillard has a whopping forty-five wins, which seemed pretty shocking. I compared that to Sherdog.com and MixedMartialArts.com (the official MMA recordkeeper as denoted by the ABC), and here are the three contrasting records for Melvin Guillard:

The purpose of this citation is simply because I'd like to be accurate, but due to the variation, I can only source what's available. Whether Guillard has just short of three times as many fights as Roller or slightly more than four times, I think we all can agree he'll have the edge in experience.

We'll actually broach relevant information and analyze the clash of styles in each Spike TV preliminary bout in the full entry.

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You probably agree that the statement describing Melvin Guillard as explosive and athletic is tiresome and trite. To be fair, I hope you also acknowledge its accuracy, because his inarguable strength, agility and quickness is the catalyst that fuels his high-horsepower engine.

This attribute is what Guillard was first criticized for, as many conjectured it was the only weapon to be found in his incomplete repertoire. However, the adage "you can't teach athleticism" comes to mind now that he's barricaded himself inside Greg Jackson's garage to supercharge the raw powerplant with a catalog of technical skills that complement his style perfectly.

2_medium"The Young Assassin" was a deadly striker with slippery scrambling skills when he first appeared on TUF. His unrefined potential is now better maximized by blending his natural abilities with the sound fundamentals of: on-balance combinations to avoid over-committing on the feet, technical takedown defense through pummeling and wrist-control, and butt scooting to the fence from his guard to use the cage wall to stand back up.

Guillard won six of ten after the reality show, but every loss came by way of submission, culminating with a high visibility guillotine from Nate Diaz.Waylon1_medium_medium

It was at that point Guillard succumbed to past opponent Joe Stevenson's nagging to join Jackson's MMA, and the results were immediate in his next performance against Nova Uniao black belt Ronys Torres. In fact, Guillard hasn't lost since.

To the right is Division II national champion wrestler Waylon Lowe working a single on Guillard. Just ... try to tell me that isn't an amazing display of athleticism, of course, further enthused with great technique and the base from Guillard's Judo brown belt. These two sequences together are a prime example of how imprisoning his weaknesses behind a steel fortress of defensive tactics opens the door for his voracious offense.

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After repelling a litany of takedowns from Lowe, or scratching and clawing his way back to his feet in the few instances  Lowe was successful, Guillard plunges his knee deep into the decorated wrestler's soul for yet another in a long line of stoppages by TKO.

Now, please don't let my fawning over Guillard's exemplary evolution undersell the daunting threat that Shane Roller represents.

UFC matchmaker Joe Silva is a mastermind of fitting opponents together, as every fighter must wade farther into the deep end of the pool, where the skeletons in their closet await them, to prove themselves worthy of progressing up the ladder.

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Splashing around in the precarious waters for Melvin Guillard is a three-time Division 1 All-American wrestler in Shane Roller.

He is equally tenacious in attaching himself to whittle oxygen-hampering holds and blood-halting chokes as Guillard is to avoiding them. In a resplendent trek through the WEC's lively lightweight division, Roller only lost to the pair that brawled for supremacy in the promotion's final show.

Benson Henderson squashed Roller's introductory two-fight streak in the WEC with a comeback TKO; Anthony Pettis closed down his four-fight roll with a third round triangle. Roller reigned in the other six outings, snaring five wins by submission, the last being the rear-naked choke over former champ Jamie Varner shown above.

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Roller is the type of grappler who gets away with charging in recklessly with strikes, intending to close distance and work his wrestling, but opting for a route other than shooting from outside. One of the best approaches toward an adversary who has takedown defense as their top priority is to unload a maelstrom of dense punches.

A fervent commitment to bombarding aggressively on the feet often produces the prime opportunities for a takedown better than anything else. Roller is clever in pressing forward until his foe suffers a shift in 3_mediummentality, and as their emphasis settles more on the striking exchanges, he'll change levels and plant them on their ass. 

In the case of Thiago Tavares, Roller calculated the distance of the straight-line Tavares continued to retreat in, and intercepted his chin with a warhammer right hand to chalk up a TKO in his Octagon debut.

The credentials that I see deciding this encounter are wrestling and striking defense, each supported by the intricacies of footwork. It's obvious Guillard is the superior striker and Roller is the superior wrestler, so the pace will be dictated by footwork and movement.

In order for each to implement their strengths, location is key: Roller's ideal destination is deep inside the pocket to jam the lengthy kickboxing flurries and obtain the clinch or shoot; Guillard's ideal destination is anywhere other than that.

In the clinch and on the mat, it will be Roller's offensive wrestling, and the amount of focus he dedicates to position vs. preying, or control vs. risk. Conversely, Guillard's defensive clinch and wrestling will be vital to stay afloat and break free if his footwork isn't precise enough to evade entanglement. Guillard is unflinchingly patient in waiting for the slightest signs of advancing position to time an explosive outburst, which creates just enough space for him to shrimp out, take a knee, and get back to his feet.

Considering the massive emphasis on wrestlers being exciting and taking chances, combined with the shrinking window of time that referees are allowing for a grappler to "work", Roller will have his hands full. Guillard is difficult to contain with all the time in the world, but with fans booing at the slightest hesitation and refs barking for action after a few seconds on the mat, the challenge looms even larger.

While myriad outcomes are possible -- Roller by submission or decision, Guillard by TKO or decision -- I imagine Guillard's salvo on the feet and squirmy scrambling skills will carry him through.

My Prediction: Guillard by TKO

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After a flawless sprint through the lightweight division, Aussie George Sotiropoulos is coming off his first Octagon defeat.

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A product of the "Team Serra vs. Team Hughes" iteration, the 10th Planet black belt was trapped in the "TUF-bubble" after finishing all four of his UFC opponents because each was a former cast member.

Sotiropoulos then shattered those constraints with phenomenal showings against the division's upper echelon; beating Joe Stevenson and Kurt Pellegrino by decision, and Joe Lauzon with a wicked kimura.

The reborn Dennis Siver chopped him up with strikes and denied his efforts to force a grappling match, drowning his hopes of a title shot and ending a stellar seven-fight sequence.

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Sotiropoulos has made a marked improvement with his kickboxing, tightening up his stance and stacking some gun powder on the tip of his gangly appendages.

Seventy-two inches of reach can be a galaxy to travel for a 155-pounder, and now that Sotiropoulos is putting that length to use, it makes the complex Jiu-Jitsu machine behind it even more formidable.

The sequence to the right also depicts excellent head movement and use of angles while mixing his combinations up well.

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Brazilian Rafael Dos Anjos has a similar style. He's also a black belt in BJJ with better-than-average striking skills.

Personally, Dos Anjos first earned my respect against Rob Emerson, an underrated lightweight with sound boxing, when he nearly punted his lower leg into the upper balcony with merciless low kicks.

For a fighter whose best weapons are unleashed on the canvas, beating a game striker like Emerson on the feet was an eye-opener.

Entering the UFC with a nice collection of submission wins, Dos Anjos came out of the gate with consecutive losses against Jeremy Stephens and Tyson Griffin, but didn't look too shabby in the process. He responded with a trifecta of commanding victories over Emerson, Kyle Bradley, and the catch of rising lightweight Terry Etim depicted above.

In his last appearance, Clay Guida and his voluminous locks inflicted a broken jaw, forcing Dos Anjos to yield in the third. He's persevered against the middle of the pack, and despite competitive and entertaining performances, has fallen short against the upper-end of the weight class.

With no apparent advantage in wrestling between the two, this bout should play out as a kickboxing match interspersed with high-level grappling wizardry. Both are adept standing and on the mat, but the size of Sotiropoulos should cause problems for Dos Anjos. The Australian has never been finished and maintains a steadily frenetic pace throughout.

How he deals with the crashing arc of Dos Anjos's best distance weapon -- the lead-leg low kick -- will be a crucial element for his long, closed stance. Sotiropoulos would be wise to stand back and counter-strike with his wingspan, and even lead with a low kick of his own, but he struggled to mount effective punches against the compact Dennis Siver. Dos Anjos could present those same problems standing.

Barring a wayward strike that catches his chin or a clumsy mistake on the ground, I have Sotiropoulos being just a tiny bit more effective in most areas, likely out-hustling Dos Anjos by decision. This is definitely the caliber of grappling where the slightest error can make a world of difference.

My Prediction: Sotiropoulos by decision

 

 

 

All gifs via Zombie Prophet of IronForgesIron.com

Except:

Dos Anjos vs. Etim via mmagif.blogspot.com

Guillard Finishes Waylon Lowe from MMA-Core.com

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