Zuffa is graciously providing a mid-week MMA fix with this Wednesday's (July 11) UFC on Fuel TV 4 event. The show is captained by prominent middleweight contenders Mark Munoz and Chris Weidman and will feature 6 free fights in all. Before the main card starts on Fuel TV at 8:00 p.m. ET, 5 preliminary bouts will stream on the UFC's Facebook page.
This analysis will pertain to the Fuel TV card minus the main event, leaving the following match ups to be covered herein:
Joey "The Mexicutioner" Beltran will make his light-heavyweight premiere after winning once in his last 5 UFC matches as a heavyweight. He was expected to be a sacrificial lamb for Rolles Gracie in their mutual Octagon debuts but played spoiler by hammering out a 2nd-round TKO at UFC 109. Beltran, who normally tips the scales at 245-pounds, made a test run at 205 and notched a decision over Anton Talamantes (4-2) in a smaller promotion.
In his last 11 outings, James Te Huna's only losses are top light-heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson (1st-round submission) and former Bellator champion and new UFC acquisition Hector Lombard, and that TKO defeat was on account of an injured shoulder. The remaining matches in that streak were finished by Te Huna with unfathomable violence; all by TKO, which accounts for 10 of his 14 wins overall. 5 of Te Huna's last 7 TKO wins were handled in the opening frame and he flat-out embodies the term "knockout artist."
Continued in the full entry.
Unfortunately, I think James Te Huna represents the worst of both worlds for Beltran. He's a big -- both in height and strength -- 205er but still agile and athletic. Here's my final assessment from the Bloody Elbow UFC on Fuel TV 4 Staff Picks:
I can't think of a more unfavorable opponent for Beltran's 205-pound debut. At heavyweight, Beltran relied on his quick hands and decent agility to swarm the larger, slower fighters and size/strength played almost no role in his game. Now, by dropping down to light-heavyweight, he'll lose his quickness advantage and capitalizing on a size/strength advantage would require a significant change in style. Te Huna should present the same problems that Lavar Johnson did: he has unruly punching power, his hands are lightning fast and he'll be the more explosive and agile fighter.
My Prediction: James Te Huna by TKO.
Longtime middleweight Aaron Simpson will take the plunge to welterweight against one-time UFCer Kenny Robertson. Robertson debuted against Mike Pierce at UFC 126 and suffered his only career defeat by 2nd-round TKO. He received no lenience and was released by the UFC, then had a lot of trouble finding worthwhile opponents in order to climb his way back into the Octagon.
He eventually agreed to face former UFC fighter Lucio Linhares at a 176-pound catchweight in Finland's Fight Festival promotion and closed him out early with a 1st-round KO via spinning back-fist. When Jon Fitch, Simpson's original opponent, withdrew from this card with an injury, Robertson gladly stepped in to replace him. Though he hasn't faced many big names, Robertson is rife with potential and could pose some style problems for Simpson: as a Division 1 wrestler, he qualified for the NCAA tournament 3 times, has a capable submission arsenal and game instincts.
Simpson's last outing was a competitive split-decision loss to the hulking and well-rounded Ronny Markes, a former 205er who trains at the Kimura branch of Nova Uniao. His other flaws are a decision against headlining middleweight Mark Munoz and a TKO at the hands of Chris Leben after Simpson's gas tank went dry. Here, again, is my summation from the staff picks article:
... I'm skeptical about Simpson's drop and feel it's unnecessary. He was just starting to get comfortable with his boxing and blend it nicely with his takedowns, and getting edged out by a former light-heavyweight monster like Ronny Markes shouldn't discourage Simpson. He seemed pretty jacked at 185 and it's hard to imagine him 15-pounds lighter -- plus he already gassed out once at middleweight against Leben, so cardio is a concern. Robertson's only career loss is to the rugged Mike Pierce and he's a solid wrestler (3x D1 NCAA qualifier). So ... I have no idea. I'll play it safe with Simpson but Robertson upsets him if he gasses, probably by submission.
My Prediction: Aaron Simpson by decision.
T.J. Dillashaw, a Team Alpha Male rep and D1 wrestler, was a finalist on TUF 14. He got a tough break on a controversial stoppage against John Dodson, who floored him with punches and pounced to elicit the referee intervention, though Dillashaw seemed to have recovered. That loss is the only blemish on his embryonic career and Dillashaw, who rebounded with a decision win over Walel Watson, typifies the Team Alpha Male M.O. with tenacious wrestling and top control.
Vaughan Lee got some love for breaking the record for most submission attempts at the TUF 14 tryouts but, for some reason, didn't make the cut. His record, which mostly transpired on the English fight circuit, isn't as bad as it looks: he dropped his first 3 pro fights and Brad Pickett accounts for another of his pre-UFC defeats. Lee made his Octagon debut against Chris Cariaso and fought admirably to a competitive split-decision loss but upset Japanese legend Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto in his last.
Lee is typically billed as a submission specialist but has shown an impressively well rounded game with solid striking and wrestling. He's a bit short at 5'3", even for a bantamweight, but compensates for it with a big heart. I have nothing personal against Dillashaw and actually like the Team Alpha Male clique; even more so for their unorthodox workout regiment on TUF. I still consider him a tad unproven and I'm waiting for his in-cage performances to balance out his young fight career -- he deserves to be the favorite here but I'm impressed with Vaughan and think his rugged diversity will be a handful for Dillashaw.
Fraser Coffeen: It makes me sad that defeating Kid Yamamoto literally adds nothing to my perception of Lee at this point. Poor Kid. T.J. Dillashaw by TKO, round 1
Dallas Winston: I dunno -- Lee also took Chris Cariaso, who's proving to be for real, to a close split decision and it's tough to assess anything about Kid Yamamoto nowadays. I don't know what my problem with Dillashaw is but I'm just not sold on him yet. I'll pledge to finally give Dillashaw his due if it turns out I'm underestimating him again.
My Prediction: Vaughan Lee by submission.
Evolve MMA's Rafael dos Anjos is a BJJ black belt with a nasty kickboxing repertoire. He debuted in the UFC with back-to-back defeats (Jeremy Stephens, Tyson Griffin) but pieced together 3-straight to authenticate his talent (Robert Emerson, Kyle Bradley, Terry Etim). Since that point, he's split his last 4 against reputable lightweights but remains locked in mid-level status.
Anthony Njokuani is a Muay Thai product under the great Saekson Janjira who really seems to be finding his groove. With parallels eery to dos Anjos, his WEC debut was a losing effort to current UFC champion Benson Henderson but 3-consecutive victories followed (Bart Palaszewski, Muhsin Corbbrey, Chris Horodecki -- all by TKO in devastating fashion). However, he closed out his WEC tour with 2 disappointing losses (Shane Roller, Maciej Jewtuszko) but has laid out strong showings in the UFC, winning 3 of 5 with the only flaws being highly respectable and competitive decisions (Edson Barboza, Danny Castillo).
Njokuani has blistering Muay Thai and has complemented that well with notable improvements in his wrestling, scrambling and submission defense. Dos Anjos, while not an avid wrestler, is an aggressive striker who's still capable of bringing his opponent to the mat. His kickboxing is more wild and overwhelming than fluid and technical, and he'll be tasked with maneuvering through Njokuani's laser-straight shots, excellent footwork and killer timing in order to force the strong and athletic striker into a grappling match.
Njokuani's takedown and submission defense was solid against Castillo, who's a better wrestler than dos Anjos but can't match his top-level submission arsenal. This one could go either way and should be a phenomenal fight.
Dallas Winston: Njokuani's stand up looked sharper than ever against Makdessi, which I thought was entirely one-sided throughout. His performance against Castillo showed a renewed focus on takedown defense but, while he doesn't have Castillo's wrestling, dos Anjos is an intelligent submissionist. Additionally, dos Anjos has big power on the feet, quick hands and uses his striking as a smokescreen for tie-ups and takedowns. This is the hardest one to call on the card but I'll go with Njokuani for his Terminator-like Thai onslaught.
My Prediction: Anthony Njokuani by decision.
Tristar Gym member Francis "Limitless" Carmont dropped to middleweight for his Octagon debut and shut down Chris Camozzi en route to a unanimous decision, then finished Magnus Cedenblad by rear-naked choke in his sophomore effort. Carmont's well rounded offense is reflected in his balancing finishing ratio (9 subs, 6 TKOs, 3 decisions) and he's currently soaring on a 7-fight roll.
Karlos Vemola is a former bodybuilder and 6-time Czech Republic national wrestling champion. Also a former 205er, Vemola dropped to 185 after Ronny Markes out-wrestled (and out-struck) him, but he did register an eye-catching win with a caveman-like trampling of respected veteran Seth Petruzelli. Vemola is fresh off another bullish performance against Mike Massenzio, who he finished in the 2nd by rear-naked choke.
Dallas Winston: Ahhh yes, Karlos "Battering Ram With a Brush-Cut" Vemola. He has the type of power in his hands and with his wrestling to make it an ugly night for anyone, but those tools are predictable and fairly primitive. Carmont is a good-sized middleweight that Vemola shouldn't be able to simply overpower and he's more diverse as well.
My Prediction: Francis Carmont by decision.