The UFC makes its debut in the Nation's Capitol this Saturday, Oct. 1, at 9pm ET, live and free on Versus.
Headlined by the second UFC championship fight ever to air on free TV, Dominick Cruz vs. Demetrious Johnson for the bantamweight title, UFC on Versus 6 features four fights on the main card and six fights on the preliminary card, which should make for an entertaining evening of fights:
- Walel "The Gazelle" Watson vs. Joseph Sandoval
- Josh "The Dentist" Neer vs. Keith Wisniewski
- Shane Roller vs. TJ Grant
- Mike "The Hulk" Easton vs. Byron Bloodworth
- Michael "The Menace" Johnson vs. Paul Sass
- Yves Edwards vs. Rafaello "Tractor" Oliveira
- "Handsome" Matt Wiman vs. Mac Danzig
- Anthony "Rumble" Johnson vs. Charlie "The Spaniard" Brenneman
- Pat "HD" Barry vs. Stefan "Skyscraper" Struve
- Dominick Cruz vs. Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson
Without further ado, let's get on to the fights...
All betting odds are provided by BestFightOdds.com.
Walel "The Gazelle" Watson (8-2, +107) vs. Joseph Sandoval (6-0, -118)
This fight features two newcomers to the UFC bantamweight division.
Sandoval has only been fighting professionally since April 2010 but is undefeated with six wins, five of which came in the Shark Fights promotion. The Bighead MMA fighter, who's just 25 years old, has three career wins via decision, two via knockout and an additional victory via submission.
Watson makes his UFC debut on after winning eight of his last nine fights. "The Gazelle" dropped his professional debut but came back with seven consecutive wins in various regional promotions. A May 2011 loss to Cody Gibson at Tachi Palace Fights 9 ended his win streak, but he recovered soon after with a submission victory over Ismael Leon.
Both fighters are tough, but I have to give this one to Watson based on experience. With a career only slightly over a year old, I think the UFC stage will be tough for Sandoval to handle.
Oddsmakers have Watson as a slight underdog, and I'll take that all day.
Pick: Walel Watson
Bet: Walel Watson
Josh "The Dentist" Neer (31-10-1, -235) vs. Keith Wisniewski (28-12-1, +210)
With more than 80 fights between them, Neer and Wisniewski are true veterans of MMA.
Neer returns to the UFC Octagon for the first time since 2009, after going 2-3 in his last UFC stint, collecting victories over Din Thomas and Mac Danzig. The former Miletich Fighting Systems Elite fighter is well-rounded, with 16 victories by KO, and 11 victories by submission, of a total of 31 wins.
Wisniewski has fought for the UFC once before, losing to Nick Thompson at UFC 56 in 2005. He had four more losses in a row after that, and now returns to the Octagon on the strength of a six-fight winning streak in various regional promotions. Wisniewski is a submission specialist, with 15 of his 28 wins coming by way of submission.
I give Neer the edge in this fight. He's the more well-rounded fighter and can threaten Wisniewski on the feet and on the ground. He's also been fighting more recently at a higher level of competition. I expect Neer will work to keep this fight on the feet, where he likely feels he has a distinct advantage over Wisniewski.
From a betting perspective, I would avoid putting any bets on this one. Neer's line isn't attractive at -235 and I don't see Wisniewski being able to pull this one out.
Pick: Josh Neer
Shane Roller (10-4, -180) vs. TJ Grant (16-5, +174)
Both Roller and Grant are looking to rebound from recent losses, and this will be an important contest for them both as they face the possible cutting board with another loss or two in a row.
Roller has gone only 1-1 in the UFC, but was a perennial lightweight contender in the WEC, winning six of his eight fights in that promotion. He is now coming off of a first-round knockout loss to Melvin Guillard at UFC 132 in July 2011.
Grant, after alternating wins and losses in the UFC, is dropping down a weight class to lightweight for this fight. His most recent loss was to Ricardo Almeida at UFC 124 in December 2010. He was scheduled to fight Charlie Brenneman at UFC on Versus 4, but was forced to pull out of the fight due to an illness.
This should be a tough fight for both men. Roller is the stronger and more powerful striker, and probably the better pure wrestler, but Grant has a dangerous blend of wrestling, jiu-jitsu, and technical acumen.
Roller's best chance of winning this fight is to turn it into a boxing match, but it seems unlikely that this fight won't go to the ground at some point. Grant is too dynamic on the ground to overlook him, and I think he will be able to grind this one out.
From a betting perspective, I clearly like Grant to win this fight, so his line is a very attractive bet. Though if you favor Roller, -180 isn't a terrible line for a parlay or small straight up bet.
Pick: TJ Grant
Bet: TJ Grant
Mike "The Hulk" Easton (10-1, -341) vs. Byron Bloodworth (6-1, +298)
Easton, a Team Lloyd Irvin prospect and DC native, was scheduled to face Jeff Hougland, but Hougland suffered an undisclosed injury, and has been replaced by UFC newcomer Byron Bloodworth.
Easton is the reigning three-time Ultimate Warrior Challenge bantamweight champion, most recently defending his belt against Chase Beebe.
However, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt hasn't fought since 2009, nursing a broken elbow and injury to his meniscus. Easton may best be known as Dominick Cruz's training partner and "hype man," but he is now looking to put a stamp of his own on the UFC's 135-pound division.
Bloodworth enters the UFC following a three-fight win streak, including a recent flying-knee KO of Scott Farhat at Wild Bill's Fight Night 38. The Georgia-based fighter trains under UFC vet Roan Carneiro.
Though Easton is returning to the cage for the first time in two years, he is the more experienced of the two fighters, and regularly trains with the best bantamweight fighter in the world.
He has fought the tougher competition, including former WEC champion Chase Beebe, and should be coming into this fight physically fresh. Add to that the hometown crowd support he is sure to receive, and I think this will be Easton's fight to lose.
From a betting perspective, Easton's line is too extreme to make a safe bet worth it, and I truly don't think Bloodworth is cut out for this fight. I'll pass on this one.
Pick: Mike Easton
Michael "The Menace" Johnson (10-5, -190) vs. Paul "Sassangle" Sass (11-0, +171)
Coming off of his TKO victory over Edward Faaloloto, Johnson looks to continue his success in the Octagon since losing to Jonathan Brookins in The Ultimate Fighter Season 12 finals. He has since begun training with the "Blackzilians" at Imperial Athletics in Florida.
Sass is looking to improve his undefeated record using his submission skills. Ten of his 11 victories have come by way of submission, eight of those being triangle chokes.
Johnson is the better striker, and will need to keep this fight standing to avoid Sass' biggest, and possibly only, strength. He has shown solid takedown defense in his two UFC outings, stuffing 70% of his opponents takedown attempts, so he should be able to avoid getting put on his back.
What remains to be seen is how Johnson does preventing Sass from shooting with the express intent of pulling guard.
Sass' striking is a bit of an unknown entity, and I expect that Johnson will have the significant advantage on the feet. The big question is if he can stick to the game plan and stay out of Sass' guard. If he does that, he should pull this one out, but it certainly won't be easy.
From a betting perspective, Sass is a pretty attractive underdog. He could certainly take this fight with his grappling acumen, and the +171 line makes for a nice little return. If you make a bet on this one, Sass is the fighter to take.
Pick: Michael Johnson
Bet: If anything, Paul Sass
Yves Edwards (40-17-1, -172) vs. Rafaello "Tractor" Oliveira (14-4, +155)
Both Edwards and Oliveira are looking to bounce back from losses in their last fights. Edwards was caught by a brutal Sam Stout hook at UFC 131, while Oliveira was submitted for the first time in his career byGleison Tibau at UFC 130.
Edwards, a self-proclaimed "thug-jitsu master", has been competing in MMA professionally for 14 years, and is nothing if not a seasoned veteran. He is a well-rounded fighter who can stop a fight anywhere—he has 15 victories by KO and 16 by submission, of a total of 40—and has won three of his last four fights.
Oliveira is a jiu-jitsu specialist who has been improving his wrestling and striking over his last several fights. After dropping two of his three UFC fights in 2009 and 2010, Oliveira faced Tibau and was finished by submission after getting rocked by an uppercut. Given his 1-3 UFC record, he may be facing the cutting block again should he drop this one.
Edwards is easily the more well-rounded fighter here, but will need to keep this fight standing and avoid letting Oliveira work for takedowns or clinching against the cage. Edwards should avoid trying to knock Oliveira, out as power shots tend to leave a fighter more susceptible to level-changing takedowns.
If Edwards is able to fight a smart fight and scramble out of Oliveira's takedown attempts, I think he takes this one fairly easily.
From a betting perspective, Edwards' line isn't too shabby to put into a parlay or make a small straight up bet on, but Oliveira's line is a bit understated in my opinion. Not enough reward to be had there.
Pick: Yves Edwards
Bet: Yves Edwards
"Handsome" Matt Wiman (13-6, -210) vs. Mac Danzig (21-8-1, +198)
Wiman and Danzig meet again for a rematch following the questionable UFC 115 stoppage that saw Wiman win by submission, even though Danzig wasn't out and didn't tap.
Wiman comes into this fight off of a tough loss to Dennis Siver at UFC 132, having previously put together a three-fight win streak that saw him moving up the lightweight ladder. Wiman is a strong wrestler who likes to put his opponents on their backs and beat them up or submit them.
Danzig has had mixed luck in the UFC, and is an even 4-4 in the promotion. He is coming off of a big win overJoe Stevenson, and getting revenge against Wiman would go a long way in growing Danzig's stock.
It's no secret that Wiman wants to bring this fight to the ground and put Danzig on his back. Danzig should have the advantage on the feet, but if Wiman is able to pressure and move forward for takedowns he can likely control the ground game.
Wiman has previously put Danzig in a precarious situation, and I like his odds to do it again.
From a betting standpoint, this is probably the closest fight with the best underdog line. I like a small bet on Danzig here.
Pick: Matt Wiman
Bet: If anything, Mac Danzig
Anthony "Rumble" Johnson (9-3, -185) vs. Charlie "The Spaniard" Brenneman (14-2, +189)
Both fighters are coming into this fight looking to continue their momentum and get a winning streak going.
Johnson most recently defeated Dan Hardy by utilizing his strong wrestling and holding the British slugger down for three rounds. Though it was a quality win, the pace and lack of excitement made it not particularly important for Johnson.
The biggest question surrounding Johnson coming into this fight, or any other fight for that matter, is whether he'll be able to make weight easily. Though he fights at 170, Johnson regularly weighs upwards of 220 pounds between fights.
Brenneman is a hot commodity right now for the UFC and a win over Johnson would rocket him up the welterweight ranks. His most recent fight, a decision victory over Rick Story, was literally a last-minute arrangement, and Brenneman was able to show off his wrestling chops despite the short notice.
As we often see when two wrestlers face off, this fight may very well be decided on the feet. I don't really see how Brenneman can overcome Johnson's sheer size—he has four inches of height and eight inches of reach over Brenneman—or power.
Brenneman's best hope is to somehow turn this into a wrestling match and try to grind on Johnson for three rounds. I think it's more likely, though, that Johnson will force Brenneman to stand with him and look for a KO.
From a betting standpoint, I think Brenneman's line is a bit understated. He's a quality fighter, but I think his surprise victory over Rick Story is helping him out here. Johnson is a monstrous fighter at 170, and I just don't see Brenneman pulling out the upset here.
Pick: Anthony Johnson
Pat "HD" Barry (6-3, -185) vs. Stefan "Skyscraper" Struve (25-5, +171)
This should be one of the more entertaining heavyweight fights that we've seen in a while, as 5'11" Barry takes on 6'11" Struve.
Barry is definitely one of the better pure strikers in the heavyweight division, though he has notably struggled when it comes to grappling. Coming off of a shocking KO loss to Cheick Kongo, Barry is looking to get his mojo back and start climbing the UFC ranks.
Struve is coming off of a tough loss to Travis Browne, who caught him with a brutal superman punch to finish the fight. Struve is a pretty well-rounded fighter, and is looking to showcase improved use of his reach in this fight.
I hope that this fight will stay standing, and something tells me that neither fighter is anxious to bring it elsewhere. Barry is definitely at his best when he can use his kickboxing, but it remains to be seen if he is able to overcome such a huge size difference.
Struve, on the other hand, would probably be best off taking Barry to the ground where he is the weakest, but he has also been focusing on the improved use of his reach and may look to prove that here.
I like the aggressiveness Barry showed against Kongo in his last fight, even though he got clipped with a lucky shot. I think if he is able to come forward and work into the pocket, he should be able to chop Struve down with his brutal leg kicks and hard straight punches.
From a betting standpoint, I want to like Barry's line, but it's a bit steep. Struve isn't a terrible bet here, but only if you think he is capable of keeping Barry on the outside or taking him down.
Pick: Pat Barry
Bet: If anything, Stefan Struve
Dominick Cruz (18-1, -400) vs. Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson (14-1, +370)
Dominick Cruz will look to defend his UFC bantamweight belt against Johnson in the second-ever UFC championship fight on free TV.
After defending his title against Urijah Faber in his UFC debut, Cruz is looking to keep his streak alive and prove himself as one of the best fighters in the sport. He is a very fast, dynamic striker, and utilizes unique footwork in all of his fights.
Johnson is coming off of a controversial win over Miguel Torres, and hopes to use his speed and wrestling to outwork the champ. Unfortunately for Johnson, that's much easier said than done.
Given both fighters' speed, this fight should be an absolute blur, but I don't see any possible way that Cruz loses. Cruz is the larger fighter, as Johnson really belongs at flyweight, and should be able to keep Johnson from getting inside for takedowns.
Cruz is also one of the most unique strikers in the sport, utilizing sharp angles, constant level changes and an in-and-out attack to keep his opponents guessing.
Johnson doesn't present any threats to Cruz that we haven't already seen. Though he may be able to hang with Cruz at first, eventually the champ's incredible conditioning and talents will catch up to the challenger.
From a betting standpoint, I'd steer clear of this fight. The lines are too extreme to make it worth it.
Pick: Dominick Cruz