Disclaimer: One of the staff here at Bloody Elbow (I think it was Josh Nason but I searched and couldn't find it.) posted this type of thing a while ago that I really enjoyed but haven't seen done for the last couple of events so I thought I would throw my own version out there. If I am stepping on anyone's toes just let me know.
Hey guys. UFC On Fox 5 is just around the corner and I'm here again to bring you the fights you need to watch to get mentally, physically and emotionally ready for the event this Saturday. For those of us in the BECW you will probably know by now that the main event looks like it's going to be the hot bout (I love when this happens). Luckily the UFC has made an interactive 'Road to the Lightweight Title' video available on Youtube which showcases some of Diaz and Henderson's best fights in the UFC and even some WEC fights. Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUicRCQNBXA
Anyway here are the five most important fights IMO to watch to get ready for this weekend. Normally I try to get a mix of main card and prelim fights but I couldn't really find any that were appropriate for the prelims so these are all main card fighters. Enjoy
1) Ben Henderson vs Donald Cerrone. WEC 43. October 10, 2009
This fight was typical of the awesomeness that was the WEC. Both guys had their moments and the fight was an incredible back and forth war. I think this was the fight that the whole 'Bendo is unsubmittable' thing originated from because Cerrone put him in some crazy submissions. He had at least two modified guillotines, an armbar/triangle combination, a rear naked choke and a straight armbar that most people would have tapped to. I would actually be really interested to see how you guys scored this fight. The first round was probably the one that decides the winner as the last 4 were split 2-2 IMO. In that first round Cerrone has Bendo in at least two really tight submissions but Bendo fights out and ends the round dropping some gnp on Cerrone. I guess it just depends on which you think counts more.
This fight is incredibly relevant for this weekend for a number of reasons. First Cerrone is one of three common opponents of Diaz and Henderson (the other two being Jim Miller and Clay Guida). It's also important because Cerrone and Diaz actually have a somewhat similar style. Both guys like to stand and strike (although Cerrone is much more varied in his attacks) but actually their submissions are arguably their strongest asset. Both guys also have problems with TDD. This fight showed that Henderson will probably lose a striking battle to Nate but has the wrestling and the submission defence to possibly avoid getting subbed from the bottom. We shall see though.
2) Nate Diaz vs Jim Miller. UFC On Fox 3. May 5, 2012
As mentioned above Miller is also a common opponent of both guys. This was IMO Nate's most impressive performance ever. Coming in to it I though Jim would be too strong for Nate and would bully him around in the clinch and on the ground. What was truly surprising is that it was actually the other way around. Nate was able to control Jim in the clinch and landed some of his most significant strikes there. He was also able to box him up on the feet and even dropped Jim with a straight left at the end of the first round. People often claim neither Diaz brother has any real power but Nate certainly showed here that is not the case.
This fight is relevant because Miller has a similar fighting style to Ben. Again, I'm not saying they are exactly the same but they are both primarily wrestlers who will look to soften you up with gnp and finish with a choke. Diaz showed that he can handle a really strong wrestler and also showed that he can finish someone who had never previously been finished. While Ben has been finished once in his career before, it was way back in 2007 and in Ben's third ever fight and so it will be interesting to see if Diaz can win the title with a sub here.
3) Mauricio Shogun Rua vs Brandon Vera. UFC On Fox 4. August 4, 2012
I considered choosing older Shogun fights where he fights someone with the length and reach of Gus like his fight vs Cyrille Debate or even the Jones fight but I decided against it because I think it's clear that Shogun is no longer the fighter that we seen back then. Instead he is slow and plodding and this fight is a great example of it. While Shogun was able to land some really solid strikes, he was also getting caught constantly on the counter. When Shogun was able to close the distance he was able to do some serious damage but Vera managed to land from range and Shogun showed basically no head movement and relied on his chin to get him through.
This fight is important because it shows that Vera, a lesser striker than Gustafsson, was able to catch Shogun and Gus is a finisher whereas Vera seems to have gone gun-shy for the past few years. Gus also has more power in his strikes IMO. One thing that was interesting from this fight was Shogun looking for the takedown early. This isn't necessarily to say that Shogun was scared of Vera's striking but at the very least he thought his best chance of winning this fight was to take it to the ground. It will be interesting to see if he tries to same again and how Gus deals with that now that he trains with Phil Davis.
Before I just rewatched this fight I was always one of those guys that was like 'Rory was getting lit up by Che Mills. If BJ can keep it standing he will knock him out'. Yeah... That didn't happen at all. Che landed three strong leg kicks then one nice uppercut. During the fight Joe Rogan claimed Che hurt him so thats why Rory went for the takedown. I really dont think so. His got the take down so easy and there was no desperation in his attempt. Once the fight was on the ground it was embarrassingly one sided. I'm not sure if Che is just that bad off his back or if Rory is just that strong but he passed his guard and hopped into mount almost at will. What I really liked about Rory here though is that he didn't just sit in mount and try to control Che. He moved up to the high mount straight away and looked to drop some serious bombs. Once he noticed Che was hurt he went mad for the finish too.
This fight seems less relevant now after watching it again but does still have some important things to note. Rory's striking defence may not be as bad as I had originally thought. It's still very much in his best interest to get this to the ground quickly though. That is no easy task against BJ normally but the size difference could be too much to overcome. Either way it should be a great fight, we either get old BJ back or we get the new generation finally coming to the fore.
5) Mike Swick vs DeMarques Johnson.UFC On Fox 4. August 4, 2012
Another fight from that amazing Fox card. I'm not even gonna lie and say I think this fight was particularly relevant to Swick vs Matt Brown. I just loved this fight and really wanted to watch it again. If it wasn't for Lauzon/Varner this fight would probably have got FOTN and I personally think Dana gave Swick KOTN over Machida because he felt he deserved something. Anyway this fight was amazing right from the beginning. Both men came out swinging and Swick hurt and rocked Johnson. Johnson fought back and landed a couple of take downs and some heavy ground and pound to open up some cuts and probably take the first round. The second round was going the same way before Johnson threw a lazy kick. Swick caught it, pushed him to the ground and landed a sweet diving punch KO. The two shots after were unnecessary but awesome none-the-less. It's good to see Swick is back.
Well there you have it. The 5 fights I (kinda, but not really) think are the most important to watch to get you ready for this weekend. Let me know if you think I missed out anything and lets bring some live back into the fan posts and get some comments up in this bitch.