The UFC will be returning to the old home of Strikeforce, the HP Pavilion in San Jose, when they present the UFC on Fox 7 on April 20th. And unsurprisingly, a few Strikeforce guys have already been booked for the event. The main event will be a champion vs. champion bout with UFC lightweight title holder Ben Henderson putting his belt on the line against Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez.
The final three fights feature former Featherweight title challenger Chad Mendes, Strikeforce stand out Lorenz Larkin, and TUF Finalist Ramsey Nijem.
Chad Mendes is currently ranked as the #1 contender in the Featherweight division and is riding a two fight winning streak since losing to UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo in early 2012. Darren Elkins is a Midwestern fighter that has surprised many by going on a five fight winning streak after a rather unimpressive loss in his second UFC fight.
Mendes is a wrestler with strong takedowns and top game. He has a history of smothering opponents, but he also has been developing his striking. Mendes has shown a powerful right hand, both to the head and body, and he is still evolving as a fighter. Elkins has a similar fighting style; he drags opponents to the mat and then beats them up.
This seems like a classic two wrestlers getting stuck on the feet kind of match, and Mendes is likely the better fighter on the feet, as well as on the ground.
Chad Mendes by Decision.
Lorenz Larkin comes from a striking background of Kung Fu and boxing, and used it to pile up knock out wins early in his career. Larkin was signed by Strikeforce in 2011 and went undefeated, save an overturned knockout loss to King Mo Lawal. Francis Carmont is a four-fight UFC veteran coming off a very controversial win over Tom Lawlor at UFC 154, and is a Tristar Fighter.
Larkin is a striker who is learning to grapple and is still learning to really use his striking against grapplers. Larkin, while skilled on the feet, tends to freeze when faced with a fighter who wants to take him down. Carmont will likely be looking to take Larkin down, but Carmont was so inactive in his last fight it is hard to say what this fight will look like. It could be an impressive Larkin knockout, a Carmont submission, or a fight where neither fighter does much of anything.
Larkin has shown the ability to survive on the ground, and still win a decision. That combined with Carmont's last fight means I'll lean Larkin.
Lorenz Larkin by Decision.
A clash of former TUF fighters, both Myles Jury and Ramsey Nijem are pretty solid Lightweight prospects. Nijem was off the 14th season of TUF and made it to the finals before losing, and since then Nijem is 3-0 in the UFC. Myles hails from the 15th season and was eliminated by split decision. Jury is fresh off a surprising, dominating win over Michael Johnson.
Both fighters have solid striking, Jury throws a bit more variety, and Nijem is a bit better of a puncher. On the ground both are ground-and-pound focused, but Jury will attack with some submission offense as well. Jury is likely the better takedown artist and the grappling edge in this match will go to whomever ends up on top. That could be the edge needed in a fight that will likely be a wash on the feet.
Myles Jury by Decision.