FanPost

Staph Infection: UFC on Fox Ten Predictions, Prognostications and Prophecies

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"It's Showtime!"

Benson Henderson vs. Josh Thomson
Benson Henderson is a decisioning machine, and a not luckless one at that. A quick review of his UFC stint finds him currently with an impressive seven and one record inside the Octagon, with all wins by decision (split or unanimous). However, objectively, Edgar should have received the victory in their rematch (and there’s an argument to be made that he won their initial meeting for the belt as well), while Melendez deserved the nod in their battle. Bendo’s luck dissipated when seeking vengeance against old nemesis Anthony Pettis — he of "the Showtime kick" and the final WEC lightweight champion, who incidentally, bested Bendo by decision for said title. Much like their first contest, kicks played a major role, with Pettis blasting Bendo to the body before shockingly, as Henderson once survived nine sub attempts from Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone, who’s no slouch on the ground, breaking the BJJ black belt’s arm. Kicking is also a major weapon in Josh Thomson’s arsenal; however, despite (T)KOing Stockton’s Nate Diaz with a head kick and follow-up shots, he remains most famous for being on the other end of the highlight reel — Yves Edwards flying head kick KO’d the Punk during an attempted spinning back fist from the Frank Shamrock fave way back at UFC 49. Still, stopping one of the relentless Diaz brothers is a huge feather in anyone’s cap, and that accomplishment earned the Punk a title shot at Showtime, which quickly became a consolation fight with Bendo after Pettis was sidelined by injury — a disturbing trend for the LW kingpin. While Thomson isn’t as explosive, creative or dynamic as Pettis, he will be best served making this a stand-up contest, as prolonged clinching or grappling with the hulking Smooth will sap Josh’s cardio and find him on the bottom, despite his solid wrestling and takedown defence (see Thomson’s UD loss to Tatsuya Kawajiri at K1 Dynamite). Even so, Bendo is no slouch on the feet, employing movement and a kicking game that keeps opponents at bay, before clinching and grinding. While the former Strikeforce LW champ has employed some gamesmanship recently, claiming to have had the worst training camp of his life — a tactic he’s utilized previously — look for Smooth to rebound with a close, hard-fought, razor-thin decision victory.—CJG

I don’t want this fight to end the way it’s going to end. I want Thomson’s considerable takedown defense to be in top form, avoiding the clinch and refusing to grapple. I want him to keep this fight on the feet, where Bendo is most vulnerable. I want his claims about having a terrible camp to be pure theatrics, and for his cardio to surprise me. But, no. What’s going to happen is Bendo is going to set the pace —intense — and will drag Thomson into a match of close-quarters combat. It’s going to be a fight of position and wrestling, eliminating distance and closing space. After a wearing, smothering, frustrating three rounds, Bendo will squeak out a decision, leaving us all with main event blue balls.—NZW

Stipe Miocic vs. Gabriel Gonzaga
Say what you will about the considerable grappling acumen of Napao — he’s claimed gold at the Mundials and holds a BJJ black belt — but he’s always possessed staggering power. True, Gonzaga isn’t the most technical striker, and has been KO’d or (T)KO’d on more than one occasion when he’s elected to stand and trade, but he has heavy, heavy mitts. Recently, he’s flattened Shawn Jordan and Dave Herman with counter rights, then there’s his legendary head-kick KO of Mirko Filipović, not to mention breaking Randy Couture’s arm (again, via kick) and dropping Shane Carwin in losing efforts. In many ways (save physique), he resembles Stipe Miocic’s latest victim: Roy Nelson. Gonzaga and Nelson are both lauded grapplers who’ve developed staggering KO power. However, while Gonzaga has returned to his submission roots in previous bouts prior to scoring his last two wins via KO, Nelson has been content to live or die via his overhand right for some time now. This brings us back to Stipe’s latest opponent: Gonzaga. While power is the great equalizer, it doesn’t mean a thing if you can’t connect, and against a solid MMA boxer/wrestler with good cardio and movement such as Stipe, Nelson faded quickly en route to a decision loss. Will Gonzaga have greater success? He’s giving up four inches in reach, two in height and has never had the greatest gas tank; he also isn’t as straight or technical with his punches as Stipe, and like most non-wrestlers, will struggle to secure the takedown against Miocic. However, he has power — conscious-destroying, bone-breaking, lights out power. While Stipe faltered against the reach advantage of the significantly taller Stefan Struve, Gonzaga’s power won’t be enough if he can’t find a way to force it to the ground and work his BJJ game. Stipe by decision.—CJG

With Gonzaga, what you see is precisely what you get — the barrel-chested striker is built like a beer keg and has hands like sledgehammers. He’s not the most precise striker, but holy hell when something connects his opponents come to with a flashlight in their eyes, having lost both the fight and most of their memories of third grade. That said, I give this fight firmly to Stipe. The Croatian is quick and wily, has a height and reach advantage, and has generally been difficult to catch on the feet, save for the giant Struve. If Miocic can effectively avoid those depth charge hands and get Gonzaga down, he’ll be able to out-strike and smother his way to victory.—NZW

Donald Cerrone vs. Adriano Martins
The Baldfather has often said, "there are no easy fights in the UFC." While this may be true, some contests are more difficult than others, and the company isn’t above granting a popular veteran an easier bout every now and then to bolster their title aspirations or restore their confidence (see: Faber, Uriah). Of course, when you have a habit of making your hard fights easy and your easy fights hard (as well as not rising to the occasion in the big ones), this can be an issue. Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone unquestionably is a talented marital artist — a dangerous Muay Thai kick boxer with a slick sub game and vastly improved TD defence and wrestling — but his biggest hurdle has always been mental. With Cowboy, you never know what you’re going to get in the Octagon: are you going to see the man who so crisply brutalized the shoe-leather tough Evan Dunham with knees and ultra-violence before tapping him with a triangle or are you going to get the fighter who looked like a heavy bag against Nate Diaz, out of step with dos Anjos and out of his league facing Anthony Pettis? Against Brazilian BJJ black belt Martins (who won his UFC debut over the Detroit Superstar, Daron Cruickshank, via sub), Cerrone will have the stand-up advantage and should be able to dictate where the fight takes place and how it’ll play out. While size-wise Martins matches up better than most (giving up only two inches of height and one inch in reach), if Cerrone shows up prepared and ready to go, he’ll KO or (T)KO the BJJ ace in the first or second round.—CJG

The same quality that makes Cerrone absolutely fascinating (and fun) to watch also makes him an intensely frustrating athlete: his contests embody the old adage, "anything can happen in a fight." Matches where he’s supposed to walk through his foe become grinding wars that make him look ill-at-ease and bewildered, while tough fights people expect him to struggle in find him entering the ring perfectly focused and self-possessed, slaying his opponent like a samurai. BJJ expert Martins presents an interesting test, being an extremely talented but somewhat untested (at least in the Octagon) martial artist whose quiet poise is very different from Cowboy’s brash theatrics. If Cerrone can keep it together, he has a distinct striking advantage; however, if he’s off his game, the young BJJ prodigy may just pull the upset. Still, I pick Cerrone.—NZW

Darren Elkins vs. Jeremy Stephens
Since dropping to featherweight, Jeremy "Lil’ Heathen" Stephens has rattled off two straight victories, raising his UFC record back above .500 (he’s currently nine and eight) and impressively KOing TUF: Brazil winner Rony "Jason" Bezerra with a kick to the head in the process. Save for his quick dispatching at the hands of the surging Chad "Money" Mendes at UFC on Fox 7 this past April, Elkins has been on a roll with six wins (although five of those are by decision). However, "the Damage" has had to overcome shaky first rounds on more than one occasion and despite his wrestling pedigree isn’t guaranteed a takedown when he shoots. With his penchant for getting caught in the first in mind, if Stephens and his considerable power touch him in the initial frame, the odds are high he won’t be given an opportunity to recover and come from behind in the next two. Stephens by devastating KO.—CJG

Dropping to featherweight has been a great decision on Stephens’ part. While he’s always been a headhunter (remember his "uppercut from Hell" of Rafael dos Angos?) at the lower weight class his power and explosive striking have made him a genuine predator. He wants things to end quickly and pants-shittingly for his opponents. Elkins has the opposite strategy; he’s a comeback fighter, someone who needs to be hit a few times and feel like he’s in a fight, gaining momentum before finishing strong. Thing is, I don’t see Stephens allowing Elkins the time to execute that game plan; it’s hard to win a grinding, gruelling match in the third when you’ve been KO’d in the first.—NZW


Alex Caceres vs. Sergio Pettis
It’s never easy being the younger brother in combat sports. Whether your last name is Diaz, Emelianenko, Klitschko, Lauzon or Pettis, expectations to equal (or surpass) your sibling have caused many a talented fighter to be prematurely rushed into the spotlight, with the pressure and weight proving too much. Will this be the case for Sergio (brother of UFC lightweight champion Anthony) Pettis or, much like Nate Diaz, will he eventually be able to emerge as his own man? Only time will tell, but Sergio didn’t exactly look like a phenom outpointing last minute replacement Will Campuzano this past November. Sure, he displayed flashes of the striking prowess Showtime is renowned for, but when your brother is landing jumping kicks and knees off cages, breaking arms and dropping champions and contenders with body kicks, well, fair or not, great things are expected. Conversely, little was expected from Alex Caceres after he lost in the quarterfinals of TUF: Team GSP vs. Team Koscheck to Michael Johnson. Dropping his next two UFC fights at featherweight didn’t help his quest to escape his "Bruce Leeroy," style over substance image from the show. However, since dropping to bantamweight, he’s gone four and one, with one no contest — his win against Kyung Ho Kang was overturned due to the sweet leaf. Despite this, most will pick Sergio on the strength of his name. While he does have all the potential in the world, he still needs time to develop. Look for Caceres to pull off the decision upset.—CJG

If Pettis loses this fight, and I think that he will, it won’t be because of his lack of preparation, poor cardio or the hubris that do so many fighters in. What will fail Pettis won’t be his body or skills, but the way he’s being handled by his management, fast-tracked by the UFC and portrayed in the media. Sergio is the younger brother of Anthony Pettis (the current lightweight champ), and the expectations placed on the junior Pettis are astronomical. He’s a flashy, exciting fighter, in spurts, and although he’s intensely raw, he’s expected to perform far above what he’s capable of at this point in career. In contrast, Caceres has had the benefit of relatively few eyes and little pressure — and he’s flourished because of it. Pettis should be given the time and space to develop, not pressed to perform above his pay grade. It’ll be very close, but I expect Caceres to continue to surprise.—NZW


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\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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