The FX card for UFC on FOX 8 is solid from top to bottom, but it's the top of the preliminary card that carries the most intrigue with some very exciting matchups between established players in the game.
I'll be honest at the outset; I'm not a big fan of this fight. Not because it's not an intriguing matchup, but because I feel like Chiesa needs a softer touch. Chiesa vs. Guillard and Masvidal vs. Danzig makes more sense in my opinion because if you're gonna send Guillard out who is 1-4 in his last 5, you might as well send him out making a prospect and TUF'er looking good.I realize Masvidal is a late replacement, but still.
Anyway, that having been said, this is a solid little scrap. Chiesa is fresh off his win over Anton Kuivanen while Masvidal is coming off a win over the underrated Tim Means. Both guys possess a swagger you don't feel they deserve, but that you enjoy nonetheless.
What both men can do: Chiesa's arsenal lies on the ground, where he's able to utilize his tall frame to great effect. Perhaps the best part of his game stems from his ability to be persistent when it comes to getting the fight where he's comfortable, and doing it in a way that doesn't scream desperation. He's comfortable on the feet, and in the clinch, which allows him a threat in more ways than one.
Masvidal's game was blueprinted the day he won MMA fans' hearts in a backyard against a guy twice his size while disappointing Kimbo's crew on youtube. He's a study boxer; tough, technical, and measured (in addition to being solid on the ground), he's the kind of guy you hope you face when you're the underdog because he's less likely to care. Which leads me to...
What both men can't do: Masvidal has the same problem that's plagued what many felt should be a promising career - the guy just doesn't show up on some nights. Here's a LW with the ability to stand in front of Paul Daley and not flinch, but get him a room with a Toby Imada and he folds like a lawn chair. Even against Melendez, he rarely fought with the urgency he needed. And that was in a title fight. Granted, Melendez is world class, but still.
It's hard to say how he'll expose Chiesa other than to capitalize on the clear striking advantage he has over Chiesa. If he works the jab like he's next to a BBQ bit in the Florida suburbs, he can win this one. Masvidal has sturdy takedown defense, which will be huge in this fight. Even a lazy Masvidal can win this bout if he sticks to some remnant of a gameplan.
X-Factor: You mean besides Masvidal's apathy? None that I'm aware of.
Prediction: Jorge Masvidal by Decision.
Danny Castillo (15-5) vs. Tim Means (18-4-1) Lightweight
The fact that Danny Castillo is the weak link of Team Alpha Male is a testament to how good that camp is. Castillo's not a bad fighter, and has quality to wins to prove it: Paul Sass (whose hype train is still in the process of derailing), Lorenz, I mean Ricardo Lamas, Joe Stevenson (when it sort of still meant something), and Anthony Njokuani to name a few.
Unfortunately he's had some bad losses as well. Tim Means could easily be another if he doesn't take this fight seriously. While Means is coming off a loss to Masvidal, he shouldn't be underestimated despite an obvious lack of quality competition in King of of the Cage.
What both men can do: Castillo is the least versatile of the high octane wrestleboxers over at Alpha Male, but that still means he's versatile. With solid power in his right hand, and effective wrestling, he's exactly the type of fighter that excels in the UFC. Means is not that drastically different; his wins rely on his ability to land punches and elbows. He's got decent kicks, as well, but he looks to land in close, and at distance with his fists.
What both men can't do: Problem with Means is that while he's durable, he's still mostly one dimensional. He also has a plodding style that is perfect for the Alpha Male brand of transition wrestle-boxing. The only question mark on Danny's end is if his gas tank holds up. He's notorious for gassing, and while I don't expect it to be factor, the combination of Means' power and Castillo's cardio should still be pause for concern for any betting man. Nonetheless,
X-Factor: King of the Cage has massively underrated fighters, and Means has been getting in quality experience all along (for the sake of humor, quality notwithstanding, let's not count Bobby Green since "TKO: Retirement" is as implicating as the old Southworth/Irvin "Both fighters fell from cage" or "Abandonment").
Prediction: Danny Castillo by Decision.
Mac Danzig ( 21-10-1) vs. Melvin Guillard (30-12-NC) Lightweight
Renowned hummingbird watcher, and owner of a fantastic set of names, Mac Danzig's career has been plagued by one thing: lack of power. It's a stupid hypothetical, and no one cares to imagine what could be when you think of fighter qualities, but it's just a shame that Danzig doesn't have just a little more power, because he's a quality fighter who can't intimidate his opposition. He doesn't have to be the Guns of Navarone; just a smidge more power and he owns Gomi and Wiman. But alas...
Guillard, meanwhile, is the tale of "failed potential", which is the same as saying 'that potential didn't exist in the first place'. This isn't an indictment of Melvin; just that for all of his power, he's never shown an aptitude for the ground game. That's not "talent unrealized"; that's just plain technical weakness, no different from a decided lack of talent.
Both men are coming off losses, which makes this a classic 'Trim the Fat' fight despite Guillard and Danzig being quality gatekeepers.
What both men can do: Danzig's key to victory is the same ol' same ol'. Keep jabbing, kicking, land slicing elbows in close, and when it goes to the ground, look for the submission. Mac has some quality boxing, but he'd be more wise to simply turn this bout into a Fitchstival.
Guillard will do what he's always been good at; swing for the fences, and hope the flight response part of his brain kicks in when it hits the ground. Which leads me to...
What both men can't do: I know I keep harping on Melvin's ground game like it's the worst in the world when it isn't, but it sucks to see him make the same mistake over and over. When the fight hits the ground, he panics. Plain and simple. He never settles, establishes guard, or works for wrist control. Instead he prepares fro the bridge and roll before the bridge and roll is supposed to kick in, or he just hopes he can explode back to his feet. It's just a terrible way to counter top control, and it's why he's been the victim of a submission over and over.
Having said that, it's a tough fight for Danzig who isn't a great wrestler. Guillard is at his best against precisely these types; opponents who aren't fast enough to catch him in panic mode. I like Guillard to land a hot one in this one as he stuffs takedowns en route to a TKO victory, giving his fans more false hope that he's 'turned a corner'.
Prediction: Mac Danzig by Decision.