With the Dennis Hallman vs. Brian Ebersole bout being shifted to the main, the allotted matches for the Facebook stream consist of Mike Brown vs. Nam Phan, Johny Hendricks vs. Mike Pierce, Ivan Menjivar vs. Nick Pace, and Rafael Natal vs. Paul Bradley. Spike TV will then take the hand off and broadcast the Matt Hamill vs. Alexander Gustaffson and Chad Mendes vs. Rani Yahya fights.
This featherweight duel between well rounded veterans has enormous potential for Fight of the Night honors.
Mike Brown and Nam Phan are both powerful and adept boxers with BJJ black belts. They began their professional MMA careers in 2001, bestowing each with a full decade of experience against quite respectable opposition at 145 and 155.
Grappling-wise, Brown is a power player who prefers to apply his ATT-honed submission and striking game from a dominant top-side perch. I would liken his mat prowess to that of a catch wrestler who grinds through the guard and snatches power-subs while rarely sacrificing position.
Phan's approach is much more fluid. He's the type of technician that will use his opponent's force and momentum against them, patiently coaxing them into traps and then springing sweeps and submission attempts that typically come from within his guard. Both are technical, high-level and weak nowhere on the ground, but I'd give Brown the same slight edge from the top with ground-and-pound that I'd give Phan for his clever arsenal from the guard.
Read on for the remaining analysis of the Facebook undercard.
Standing, Nam Phan throws boulders and has a well earned reputation for punishing the body. He boasts four-fight boxing record of three wins (two knockouts) and one loss.
The sequence to the right shows how dynamic and deadly his striking is. He throws a double jab -- going downstairs on the second while ducking Leonard Garcia's left hook -- then swats his liver with a heavy right hand and lunges forward to complete the six-piece combination with a left to the body, a straight jab and a clobbering overhand. If that onslaught wasn't tenacious enough, he steps back like he's going to reset but instead plants a left high-kick that connects perfectly with the shin.
He'll toss a kick into mix effortlessly and has a brutal left hook and a clean one-two. Phan excels at frenetically paced stalking while stringing a wide range of punches together on the fly.
It's rare that you see the beautiful fusion of techniques shown to the right. After a blistering series of punches, check out Phan's balance and composure as he swings the right roundhouse kick and seamlessly tails it with a side-kick that knocks Garcia completely off his feet.
Nam Phan will definitely not find Mike Brown recklessly winging his hands though.
Though he throws in the occasional low or front kick, Brown sticks to pretty basic boxing combinations and has stout power. Most of his sets consist of one-twos and tight hooks to steer his opponent against the cage, then a brutal uppercut when foes anticipate the takedown.
He'll probe with the uppercut, and if he doesn't blast it through the guard then he'll use it to set up his double leg.
His standing defense and chin were virtually untouchable for most of his career, but Jose Aldo (WEC 44 in 2009) and Manny Gamburyan (WEC 48 in 2010) changed that in a hurry by crumpling him with strikes. Brown's loss to Aldo and forfeiture of the WEC featherweight crown snapped his ten-fight winning streak and marked the beginning of his uncharacteristic slide, winning only two of his last six. Brown will enter UFC 133 on a two-fight skid.
Phan had also pegged an unusually mediocre clip leading into his stint on The Ultimate Fighter, losing five of his nine previous fights, though three came at the hands of Strikeforce lightweights Gesias Cavalcante, Josh Thomson, and Billy Evangelista. On the verge of making it to the finals of the reality show, Phan was edged out by Michael Johnson by split-decision in the semifinals, then dropped down to his natural weight class and lost to Leonard Garcia in a "Robbery of the Year" candidate.
Mike Brown hasn't been himself lately. I would normally lean toward his grinding style in a close decision, but I have a feeling that Nam Phan's technical violence on the feet will wear him down, and even if Brown nullifies his striking with takedowns, Phan's ground skills aren't that easy to deal with either.
My Prediction: Nam Phan by submission
Hendricks and Pierce will feature two heavy handed wrestlers trying to break out of the basement level of the ridiculously stacked welterweight division.
Johny Hendricks has the prettier wrestling credentials; a two-time D1 national champion and four-time All American at Oklahoma State University.
After transferring over from the WEC in 2009, Hendricks' UFC debut was also his biggest career win. On the main card of UFC 101, he proved his hands deserved just as much respect as his grappling with a vicious first round throttling of Amir Sadollah.
As depicted to the left, Story only offered a torrent of leather and ceaseless takedown pressure, which is not entirely unlike the way Pierce handles business.
There are a lot of similarities between Hendricks and Pierce, such as their formidable combination of boxing and wrestling, their comparable UFC records (Hendricks has one more win at 5-1), their identical number and methods of stoppages (five by TKO and one by submission), or that neither has ever been finished.
Where they differ is that no one seems to mention Mike Pierce unless they're criticizing Jon Fitch's stand up.
Pierce accrued two pre-UFC losses to middleweight Mark Munoz in his second fight and Nathan Coy in his fifth. Since then, consensus number-two welterweight Jon Fitch was his only defeat in ten outings. Pierce was heartily impressive in the loss, stealing the third round with a wicked salvo of punches that wobbled the AKA standout and put him in survival mode.
Pierce does a great job of keeping his guard up and his chin tucked while unfurling tight and simple combinations, as Hendricks does from the southpaw stance. Both have complemented their formidable wrestling background with solid BJJ knowledge, each being quite comfortable off their back or in high paced transitions.
Their strategies are usually to unload a barrage of heavy punches and bully their opponent to the cage for dirty boxing or a takedown, so the battle of who can impose their will be critical. Often in pairings like this we see a kickboxing match unfold, and I don't see any reason to give either a significant advantage standing.
By all accounts this should be an evenly contested match where every inch counts, so it's a coin-flip for me. Hendricks might be a nudge quicker with his hands, but I'll give the nod to Pierce simply because the guy deserves a little more attention.
My Prediction: Mike Pierce by split-decision
While seasoned veteran Ivan Menjivar is enjoying a resurgence late in his career, Nick Pace is a young gun to watch out for.
Pace is a twenty-four year old Tiger Schulmann product with a volatile striking and submission game. In only his second professional fight, Pace rattled off a highlight-reel worthy flying knee KO against Collin Tebo at Bellator 11.
The remainder of Pace's fights took place in New Jersey's Ring of Combat promotion. He eventually attained the bantamweight title, but immediately vacated the title when the WEC came knocking.
From his guard, Pace slung his right leg over Campuzano's shoulder to threaten with the triangle, but when he couldn't free up his other leg to lock the choke, he switched to a Gable grip on his own shin and snuck his right forearm under Campuzano's chin to elicit the unorthodox tap.
Pace later broke down the sequence in a Youtube video and the newly dubbed "Pace Choke" got some Judo Chop love as well. A striking-based fighter demonstrating that kind of creativity off his back solidifies Nick Pace as a compelling prospect.
If you broke down the individual categories of MMA in any magnitude of detail, Ivan Menjivar would get an eight or nine out of ten rating across the board.
He's rock-solid in striking, wrestling, submissions, defense, and applies his vast experience with steely composure.
After a four-year absence, Menjivar is back on the prowl: he scored a first-round submission in a smaller promotion, dropped a decision to Brad Pickett at WEC 53, then flattened Charlie Valencia's nose at UFC 129 with the short elbow shown to the right.
Menjivar is a strong favorite in the betting lines, which is hard to disagree with. I wouldn't hang out in Pace's striking range though, so I imagine Menjivar will pressure with strikes to set up takedowns and wreak havoc from the top while shutting down sub attempts.
My Prediction: Ivan Menjivar by decision
Rafael "Sapo" Natal (12-3-1) vs. Paul Bradley (18-2)
You may recall Paul Bradley as the fighter from the The Ultimate Fighter 7 in April of 2008 who was removed from the house early for a skin rash. Bradley trains at the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy and has compiled eleven wins, two losses (Mike Pierce and Luke Rockhold) and one No Contest since the show.
Interestingly enough, the betting odds are dead-even, likely on account of Bradley's two-time D1 All American wrestling credentials.
I haven't seen enough of Bradley to make an educated prediction here, but his record lacks the type of high level submissions that "Sapo" will bring. Bradley's wrestling and cardio could carry him to a decision, as Natal seems to fade in later rounds, and it seems wrestling over BJJ has been a safe guess lately.
My Prediction: Paul Bradley by decision
Gifs via Zombie Prophet of IronForgesIron.com
Winners of Brown vs. Phan and Hendricks vs. Pierce?
Brown and Hendricks (312 votes)
Brown and Pierce (136 votes)
Phan and Hendricks (235 votes)
Phan and Pierce (94 votes)
777 total votes