It has been a busy week as the UFC looks to continue their trend of filling out the calender a season ahead. At the end of winter we saw the summer cards announced, and now as spring comes to a close, the fall schedule is settling into place. Another five fights have been announced in the past 48hrs (or so) with Ovince St. Preux facing Cody Donovan and Diego Brandao fighting Daniel Pineda, Brandon Thatch fighting Justin Edwards and Robert Whittaker taking on Court McGee, and Chico Camus facing off against Kyung Ho Kang.
First off UFC on Fox Sports 1: Shogun vs. Sonnen, gets two new fights.
Ovince St. Preux will be making his second octagon appearance after a reasonable, but eye-poke maligned win over Gian Villante at UFC 159. For St. Preux this feels like his umpteenth chance to show off the skills that have often been touted by comentators, but rarely seem to make an appearance in the ring. He's big and strong and athletic, but he rarely seems to look good in victory.
For Cody Donovan this is probably the best matchup the division has to offer right now. He and St. Preux are both coming off a win, which for Donovan came via 1st round TKO in an exciting slobber-knocker against Nick Penner. He's a pace pushing action fighter, and pays for it with lackluster defense. It's hard to say that St. Preux will necessarily have the tools to take advantage of Donovan's defensive holes though, so I'm looking forward to a good fight that sees both men tested.
In the second addition to UFC on Fox Sports 1:
1 Boston Shogun vs. Sonnen , Diego Brandao looks to continue his rise through Featherweight against Daniel Pineda. Brandao started strong coming off of TUF 14, but after a loss to divisional grinder Darren Elkins has looked nearly unstoppable. A lot of people thought he might have some trouble with Pablo Garza, but he dominated pillar to post for the one round the fight lasted.
For Daniel Pineda this is a tough fight, and not one I'm sure he's earned. He's coming off a win over recent release Justin Lawrence but had two straight losses before that, to Mike Brown and Antonio Carvalho. Pineda isn't a bad fighter, but Brandao has an advantage over him in every area of this matchup.
Following shortly on the heals of Fox Sports 1 1, UFC on Fox Sports 1: Condit vs. Kampman has recieved another two fights as well.
Ultimate fighter winners Robert Whittaker and Court McGee will face off in a Welterweight battle. For McGee this will be his first entry onto the TUF winners circuit, but most likely not his last. He was building a nice head of steam at Middleweight before losses to Costa Philippou and Nick Ring drove him down to welterweight. A dominant performance over gritty vet Josh Neer has re-energized his career, but he still has a lot to prove as a potential long term prospect.
Robert Whittaker's future is bright. Few gave him any chance over smother-fighter Colton Smith when the two matched up at UFC 160. As a foreign born striker, it was expected that his lack of wrestling would soon find him out of his depth against the grapplers of the division. But Whittaker is showing a fireplug like strength and tenacity to go along with his Karate/Boxing hybrid style. If he can work out some kinks in his defense he has some serious potential in the division. Unfortunately McGee may be too much too soon, as a physically imposing grinder, but it's an interesting matchup and a big notch in Whittaker's belt if he can find a way to win.
The second matchup in the second August Fox Sports card sees UFC newcomer Brandon Thatch face off against former TUF contestand Justin Edwards. Edwards has slowly been building himself into a nice mid-level welterweight over his short UFC career. He's 2-2 with wins over Jorge Lopez and Josh Neer, and losses to Clay Harvison and John Maguire. He should provide a good first test for Thatch on his way in to the promotion.
Brandon Thatch definitely has an air of excitement around him. He's a high volume Muay Thai striker, with an exciting kicking arsenal, and a ton of size and range at welterweight. I don't know how long he'll be able to stay in the division. At 6' 2" he may be a long term middleweight. This is the perfect entry fight to the UFC for him. If he can get past the durable Edwards then he's a prospect to watch, if he can't then it will be a quick reality check as to his place in the division.
Finally, a new fight has been added to UFC 164, with two highly touted (but losing) prospects facing off in the Bantamweight division. Chico Camus looked great in his octagon debut, taking a unanimous decision over Dustin Pague. He's fallen back to Earth a bit with a recent 3rd round submission loss to UFC newcomer Dustin Kimura, but still looks to be a long term divisional mainstay.
Kyung Ho Kang, on the other hand, is one of Bantamweights brightest prospects. The "Typhoon" made his UFC debut against Alex Caceres, losing a hotly contested split decision that many thought he'd won. The fight would eventually be overturned to a no-contest following a failed drug test on the part of Caceres. No matter the loss, or it's circumstances, Kang looked brilliant in his UFC debut. Caceres is a tough fight for anyone at Bantamweight, and Kang gave him everything he could handle. Whatever the outcome of this fight, I expect it be a thriller.
Watch out for more fight announcements as not every spot on the fall cards has been filled. I expect more to come in the next week or two.