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UFC 166: Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Shawn Jordan preview and prognostication

Once-retired Gabriel Gonzaga takes on Shawn Jordan at UFC 166 in Texas for a chance at a bigger fight in the Heavyweight division.

Photo by Esther Lin of MMA Fighting

Gabriel Gonzaga (15-7) vs. (15-4) Heavyweight

When we last left our heroes...Nobody expected Gonzaga to get as far as he has. He was supposed to be just some HW who looked good against the guys who couldn't grapple. A Marcio Pe De Pano, if you will. Instead he transformed into a legit HW sensation overnight by murdering Mirko Filipovic in the cage in 2007.

But his career really stumbled, and for awhile, he was Pe De Pano. Six years later, and now he's sort of Gabriel Gonzaga again, 4-1 in his last five. While coming off a win over the remarkably apathy drunk Dave Herman isn't a real marker for success, he's strung together several, including one over Ben Rothwell. Gonzaga is in a good place, and frankly, he's a guy I'll actively root for. He fought his UFC debut despite having lost one of the twins his wife was carrying weeks prior. He's a man amongst boys.

Shawn Jordan is not to be confused with Kevin Jordan; the fight that put everyone to sleep, but who people constantly forget to forgive Gonzaga over for being so close to his horrific loss of his daughter.

Shawn is another fighter who sort of just happened to HW. He never really stood out in Bellator or Strikeforce, but he's 3-1 in the UFC right now with two TKO wins over Pat Barry and Mike Russow.

What both men can do: Let's see...Gonzaga's accolades include: 2006 Winner CBJJO Copa Do Mundo Black Belt Pesadissimo Winner CBJJ Mundials Black Belt Pesadissimo, 2005 2nd CBJJO Copa Do Mundo Black Belt Pesadissimo 3rd CBJJO Copa Do Mundo Black Belt Absolute 2nd place ADCC +99 kg, 2003 2nd CBJJO Copa Do Mundo Black Belt Pesadissimo 2nd CBJJO Copa Do Mundo Black Belt Absolute, 2000 3rd Mundials black belt Super-Pesado.

All you need to know is the word 'Mundials' and you're ok. Of course, what always made Gonzaga so dangerous is that he had power in his hands too. And as audience members from the nose bleed seats when they suddenly found CroCop's head in their lap can attest...power in his legs too.

In fact, Gonzaga has some of the more powerful leg kicks in the division. But he also has one of the cleanest straights as well.

Jordan is a big guy wider than he is tall. But he's highly agile for a man that could play Puck in the new Marvel movie franchise. This shows even in his boxing, where he fights from a southpaw stance, able to shower opponents with combinations of a straight lefts, uppercuts, and whatever other motion his arm is capable of.

What both men can't do: Jordan is a capable wrestler as well, but he can be put on his back. Like most heavyweights, even good takedown defense won't prevent two massive human beings from falling over with the grace of an oversized blanding turtle.

Jordan will have a tough time with Gonzaga on paper, since Gabe can effectively wrestle when he needs to (see the brief Carwin takedown), and Jordan's defense on the feet is not always stellar. At the same time, Jordan's gameness is what has traditionally been so difficult for Gonzaga. He has a hard time fighting with his back against the wall, figuratively speaking. He's not a counterstriker by any stretch, and retreats into a shell the moment an opponent snatches the momentum of the fight.

X-Factor: There's rarely an in between with Gonzaga. He either loses early, or wins early. I feel like he wins this one early. I like Gonzaga to take an early shot, which catches Jordan, which leads to Gabe's more than capable submission prowess taking over.

Prediction: Gabriel Gonzaga by rolling kneebar, round 1.

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