The UFC invades the Key Arena in Seattle this weekend for the UFC on Fox 5: Henderson vs. Diaz . Ben Henderson defending his title against Nate Diaz
FX Preliminary Card (5:00 p.m. ET)
Facebook Preliminary Card (4:30 p.m. ET)
Pac-10 wrestling champion Scott Jorgensen has slid from his perennial top-5ish seat in the Bantamweight World Meta-rankings all the way down to the #13 slot after back-to-back defeats. Similarly, though by much more modest standards, John "Prince" Albert raised eyebrows with a Big Brother beat-down of Dustin Pague at the TUF 14 finale but has dropped consecutive bouts since.
The key difference, of course, is that Jorgensen fell to elite 135ers in top-ranked contender Renan Barao and longtime top-10er Eddie Wineland while Albert succumbed to 1st-round submissions at the hands of Ivan Menjivar (though Albert performed admirably against the respected vet up until the rear-naked choke) and UFC newcomer Erik Perez by armbar.
However, there was a little controversy associated with Albert's submission loss to Perez: the bout was called under the timelessly contentious circumstances of a forced submission -- ala Sonnen vs. Filho 1 -- as Albert was locked deep in the armbar and never physically tapped but cried out (purportedly in pain), which convinced referee Kim Winslow to deem it a verbal submission. While some might take issue with the stoppage, the unified rules clearly state that "audible sounds such as screams indicating pain or discomfort" warrant the referee stepping in as Winslow did.
Most bantamweights will struggle to contend with Jorgensen's hardboiled wrestling game, and Albert will be hard-pressed to serve as the exception. Albert reminds me of Steven Siler in that he blended in with the crowd on TUF but proved that he had some lurking and untapped potential in his post-TUF performances. Additionally, like Siler, Albert's a big boy for the weight class (5'9" tall with a 71" reach) and his tough-as-nails mentality does well to compensate for his lack of pristine technique.
A common thread in both of Jorgensen's recent losses was his trouble in dealing with the range striking and height/reach advantage of his adversaries. Though he's not incapable in other aspects of combat, there's no question that Jorgensen's core competency is his wrestling, which means he's always tasked with closing the distance (against larger fighters with cleaner striking) in order to implement that strength, or relegated to relying on his unremarkable stand-up when he can't shrink the gap.
On the feet, Albert has the clear advantage though it's not necessarily with fundamentals: he's a vicious, street-fighting type of brawler with ill-intended boxing combinations and legitimate punching power. Albert's strength and gameness make him an overlooked threat in the clinch and wrestling departments, both offensively and defensively. There's no way he can match Jorgensen's technique and experience in a straight wrestling match, but Albert is just a mean S.O.B. and his size and head-hunting handiwork could be wholly sufficient to rattle Jorgensen's jaw or prevent him from closing distance unscathed.
Additionally, we've seen Jorgensen get a little flustered when he can't fall back on power doubles, which leads to telegraphed takedown attempts and sketchy striking defense amidst cornerman Joe Warren's concerned shrieks of "C'mon Scotty!"
Based strictly on status and past experience, Jorgensen deserves to be a hearty favorite here, but Albert represents a very dangerous opponent. Jorgensen is not out of the clear once he advances into contact range, as Albert is a thorny in-fighter and Jorgensen will still have to constrain his hips and take him for a ride before he's in the clear. Albert isn't a notable submission threat off his back but has the willpower and tenacity to escape through scrambles or force stand-ups by controlling Jorgensen's posture.
Jorgensen is the more consistent and safe prediction, but Albert is the sort of unpronounced spark-plug that could give him a good run or even pull off the upset.
My Prediction: Scott Jorgensen by submission (guillotine/rear-naked choke).