Not too long ago this blog posted news about Brett Rogers being involved in a domestic abuse case. According to the charges, he had assaulted his wife in front of his children and the cops were called by his neighbors. The case against him fell apart when his wife opted not to testify against her husband and the prosecution was unable to prove without a doubt that he was guilty. Tonight marks the return of Brett Rogers to MMA. Some of us are excited to see his fight against Eddie Sanchez. Others are extremely mad that he's being given a second chance.
This fight is between a Strikeforce veteran and a UFC veteran. Since being cut from Strikeforce and released from jail, Brett Rogers has stated publicly that he is annoyed that no one at Zuffa will take his calls. He views his losing streak as a result of only facing top competition since blitzing Andrei Arlovski. In his last fight, he was the victim of a Catch-as-Catch-Can clinic by Josh Barnett who broke Rogers' will with incredibly heavy hips and overall better grappling.
Eddie Sanchez has had his own roller coaster of a career. Since going 3-3 in the UFC including wins over Sao Palelei and Wolfs Lair grappling coach Mario Neto and losses to Mirko Filipovic and Antoni Hardonk, Sanchez has split his time on the regional circuit and Bellator as a participant in the Season 3 Heavyweight tournament. He was bounced early in a loss to Neil Grove and dropped his next fight to Mike Whitehead in December of 2010.
As far as a match up goes, this is pretty even. Neither fighter really excels in any one aspect of the game and both could and should be considered bruisers. The power advantage goes to Rogers but the better boxing belongs to Eddie Sanchez. Neither fighter is really competent in wrestling or BJJ so expect this fight to take place on the feet. As the more mobile fighter, I expect Eddie Sanchez to use his striking to stop Rogers in the third round.
Since losing to Shane Roller at WEC 53, Jamie Varner finds himself at a point in his career where he is unsure of his fighting future. He was a rumored opponent for Shinya Aoki but negotiations with DREAM fell through. Instead, he signed a contract with XFO and defeated Tyler Combs with a north-south choke in the first round. Tonight he will attempt to put together his first winning streak since 2009 when he faces Dakota Cochrane.
Dakota Cochrane is 9-1 on the regional level with four wins coming by way of submission. His only recognizable opposition is T.J. O'Brien who defeated him with a rear naked choke. Cochrane has stayed extremely active fighting 9 times since 2010 and has been working on his finishing abilities.
This fight is another in a long line for Varner who is working himself back to the big show. Though towards the end of his WEC career he was unable to defeat any of the better lightweights under contract and finished 0-3-1 in his last four fights in the organization, he's still extremely talented. He has solid wrestling and boxing and shouldn't get shook by a young fighter like Cochrane. He should pick up the win with a stoppage in the first round.
The remainder of the card is comprised of solid regional level talent looking to progress in their careers. Among the fighters to watch are Zak Cummings and Bobby Cooper. Cooper takes on A.J. Matthews who recently lost by knockout at Strikeforce: Diaz vs Daley. Cummings' opponent is Brendan Seguin who is the very embodiment of a midwestern fighter. Seguin fights multiple times a year on the regional level against extremely low level competition and has padded his record against what many would consider to be fodder. Cummings may not be the most talented fighter but he has real experience against the better competition. I'd expect him to roll through Seguin.