UFC Fight Night 31: Facebook preliminary card preview and prognostications

Photo by Esther Lin of MMA Fighting

A slew of TUF competitors comprise the Facebook portion of Fight for the Troops 3 card this Wednesday; an analysis of each bout, and predictions for who the victors will be.

Chris Camozzi (19-6) vs. Lorenz Larkin (13-1-NC ) Middleweight

When we last left our heroes...Camozzi's night didn't end well against Ronaldo Souza but that's okay because the great script in the sky deemed it as such. It wasn't a fight he'd ever win, but it's nothing to be embarrassed about given his four fight winning streak prior.

Opposite Camozzi is Lorenz Larkin who is exactly the kind of fighter fans sometimes feel is lacking in the day and age of "well roundedness". He does one thing really well, and will force you to play that game at his best.

He's fresh off a win over Francis Carmont at UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Melendez. The question for this fight will be how he bounces back from having his last fight be judged by a triplet of John Dillingers.

What both men can do: Camozzi is your typical talented ham and egger. He does plenty of things well enough to beat the can crushers and actual cans, but he's a master of none. His best trait is his tenacity. The question is whether or not tenacity will be enough against a specialist like Larkin?

Larkin isn't your average awesome striker. In addition to displaying good fundamentals, and lunatic speed he's also got moxie when it comes to the flashy stuff. Brutal leg kicks, kicks in general, and expert boxing ensure that he's a danger to anyone who opposes him.

What both men can't do: Because we already know that Camozzi's problem is being in the cage with specialists, we can concentrate on Larkin's flaws. Larkin is actually pretty well rounded. He should be undefeated, but in his loss to Muhammed Lawal it was clear that he'll have trouble adjusting to big strong wrestlers who can slow the fight down in the clinch. Though truth be told, I'd pick Larkin over Lawal right now in a heartbeat. Lawal looked terrible the other night even though I felt the fight was very competitive.

X-Factor: Nothing much. Larkin has solid takedown defense which means Carmozzi has to find a way to win on the fight. We can all agree that ain't happening.

Prediction: Lorenz Larkin by TKO, round 3.

Yves Edwards (42-20-1) vs. Yancy Medeiros (9-1) Lightweight

When we last left our heroes...Edwards is the journeyman gift that keeps on giving. He's such a joy to watch that it's kind of confusing he never developed into a Vitor Belfort type; a veteran that could still pick up big wins, occasionally sniffing the title here and there. At 2-4 in his last six, the only thing he's sniffing is a pink slip.

His loss to Daron Cruickshank was nothing to be ashamed of though. He put up an excellent fight against a crafty, eccentric striker. Opposite Yves is Yancy, who did most of his work in Strikeforce, racking up wins against guys who don't pass the ‘Wikipedia test'.

His last fight was a TKO loss to Rustam Khabilov. The fight illustrated just what a great job the guys do in the Zuffa truck. Especially when it comes to brutal injuries that we're forced to watch in super-mo. Anyhoo...

What both men can do: This fight should be a lot of fun. Six of Yancy's wins are by TKO/KO. He has a very swift right hand that he uses to great effect. It's not his only punch, but it's his best one, which he either sneaks in with a superman punch, or just using it to cut angles.

Yves will want to watch out for his right leg kick as well. Edwards' profile is well known; he fights like a specialist on the feet, but he can grapple well, despite not having the greatest takedown defense.

What both men can't do: For the longest time I couldn't pinpoint why Yves would constantly lose the standup battles. He seems to have it all. But this is precisely the kind of fight I think will be more competitive than it seems on paper. Yves' problem is that he chases a lot. He feels like he needs to press the action and so sometimes he's comboing when he should be countering, and countering when he should be comboing. In addition, his defense could use some work.

At the same time I could see Yves looking for takedowns in this one. Yancy will threaten him on the feet enough to land shots. I just don't know if Yves will stay aggressive despite not always winning the exchanges like he did against Cruickshank, or if he'll be a little more reserved so that he's not at the mercy of Yancy's reach.

X-Factor: Yancy's superman punch. He chambers them well, and is rarely out of position. If Yves gets caught with one, it could be over quick. I feel like this will be a very close and contested fight with both guys staying on their feet. I think Yves will land more, but I feel like Yancy will land the "loudest". I'm just not confident picking Yves in this standup battles anymore.

Prediction: Yancy Medieros by Decision.

Neil Magny (8-2) vs. Seth Baczynski (16-10) Welterweight

When we last left our heroes...Magny is looking to improve his 1-1 UFC record. He started out on TUF by being famous for going for a double leg on Steve Mazzagatti 20 seconds after getting brutally knocked out with an elbow by Mike Ricci.

His last bout was against Sergio Moraes, who only needed a couple of minutes to score a mounted triangle choke at UFC 163.

In the other corner is ‘The Polish Pistola'; a fighter much better than his current 0-2 streak in the UFC would indicate. While the loss to Mike Pierce is nothing to be ashamed of, getting knocked out by newcomer (and functional lightweight) Brian Melancon was a little shocking. Needless to say, he'll be looking to get back to his previously winning ways.

What both men can do: Seth's size continues to be the narrative of his career. The guy is just a monster of a WW, and it's always jarring to see him in the cage with other WW's. He uses it well too. With elbows, right hands, and strong ground and pound, he's a tall task for anyone, literally and figuratively.

Magny is very similar in some ways. At 6'3 he's not a small WW. He does a lot of things well. Good trip takedowns, and moderate stand up...oh forget it...

What both men can't do: Magny does a lot of things well, but he's not imposing. His strikes can be fired in somewhat timid fashion, and he doesn't counter well when he's being controlled on the feet or on the ground. He's the kind of fighter who has trouble digging his way out of foxhole.

As we saw against Melancon, and Pierce, Seth has trouble against guys who are aggressive, and can box well. He's a heavy striker, but not a technical one. Despite this, I feel like Seth has the certifiable edge. He's the bigger, more aggressive, and ultimately more technical fighter. Magny gets outmuscled in this one.

X-Factor: N/A

Prediction: Seth Baczynski by TKO, round 2.

Derek Brunson (10-2) vs. Brian Houston (4-0) Middleweight

When we last left our heroes...Derek Brunson didn't win over many fans at UFC 155 against Chris Leben. The fight was fairly perfunctory, as Brunson won the same way Josh Koscheck beat Leben on the show in the first TUF season (with Leben experiencing déjà vu in the post fight complaint commentary).

Brunson is probably remembered most for getting obliterated by Ronald Souza in Strikeforce, however. Houston is an unknown. Though undefeated, his four opponents are a combined total of 4-8, with all wins coming from one opponent (Todd Meredith). That's the bad news though. The good news is that three of those wins took a total of less than four minutes.

What both men can do: Brunson uses his 3-time All American status to the best of his abilities. He's a bit of a throwback to the Mark Coleman types. He knows exactly how he needs to win fights, and plans accordingly. Fans hate this style of fighting, but I can't blame him anymore than I can blame the guy who can't stop it.

Houston is a tank of a man. He's a striker by trade, even though he has very good takedowns in the clinch. Aside from that, Brunson won't want to strike here. Houston has a very steady, and persistant jab and a brutal, lightning quick left hook.

What both men can't do: It's always hard to tell with this matchups. Brunson is the veteran who has experience against tough competition. Houston is the raw talent we know nothing about except his ability to smash cans.

X-Factor: Dat left hook (!). I feel like Brunson is totally open for that punch. Brunson doesn't have particularly good defense on the feet. I'm going with the unknown here. I think his strength in the clinch will allow this fight to look a bit like Lawal vs. Newton with Houston as Newton, Lawal as Brunson. At range, Houston picks Brunson apart.

Prediction: Brian Houston by Decision.


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