Before Anthony Pettis and Rafael dos Anjos take center stage, a cauldron of fighters will wage octagon war in Dallas, TX at American Airlines Center this weekend, March 14, 2015.
The Line Up
Lightweight Ross Pearson 16-8 vs. Sam Stout 20-10-1
Middleweight Elias Theodorou 10-0 vs. Roger Narvaez 7-1
Lightweight Daron Cruickshank 16-5 vs. Beneil Dariush 9-1
Heavyweight Jared Rosholt 11-2 vs. Josh Copeland 9-1
UFC Fight Pass
Flyweight Sergio Pettis 12-1 vs. Ryan Benoit 7-3
Lightweight Jake Lindsey 9-2 vs. Joseph Duffy 12-1
Women's Bantamweight Larissa Pacheco 10-1 vs. Germaine de Randamie 4-3
Ross Pearson -350 Sam Stout +290
Elias Theodorou -340 Roger Narvaez +280
Beneil Dariush +120 Daron Cruickshank -140
Jared Rosholt -300 Josh Copeland +250
Ryan Benoit +385 Sergio Pettis -485
Jake Lindsey +425 Joseph Duffey -550
Germaine De Randamie +135 Larissa Pacheco -155
3 Things You Should Know
1. The Fight Pass card is one of the better selections you'll find. If there were such a thing as "these fights are worth a Fight Pass" membership, this would be it.
Sergio Pettis is a rare example of a blue chip prospect faltering without Joe Silva's help. He's had good matchups along the way, but has yet to really seize the opportunity despite being on a two fight win streak. But then that's just me being nitpicky. This bout feels like another moneymaker for betting hounds. Benoit is the rightful underdog, but he's only 25, and already has a very solid skillset; a skillset that reminds me a lot of Alex Caceres, actually, who owns the lone win over Pettis. Benoit is powerful in all facets; possesses a hard right hand, good knees in close quarters, and is a windmill in the scramble. He's not as unorthodox as Caceres, but he has that same spunky well rounded quality. Don't be surprised if Pettis gets a scare or two. My biggest problem with Pettis, as I've talked about before, is his lack of power. It's not something you can really improve upon. The best thing you can do is develop better accuracy, and hope it can be a proxy (I think pre-UFC Anderson Silva is a good example of this, difference being, he always had decent power). Benoit has a tendency to fade in fights (by fade I mean flat out disappear), so this could be a close contest for a round and a half. However, expect Pettis' conservative-ish style to rule the day.
Joseph "The Dudebro who beat Conor McGregor!" Duffy makes his semi-anticipated UFC debut. If you haven't seen his win over Conor, you should. There's nothing fluky about it. Duffy gets him down, swiftly moves to mount, and quickly removes Conor from the world of Dr. Dre and explicit lyrics.
He's beat some solid opponents in similar fashion; Norman Parke, and more recently, Damien Lapilus for example. He'll look to take his submission talents against the 0-2 in the UFC Jake 'The Librarian" Lindsey; a fighter with a nickname that reminds me of an old Weird Al sketch. Not much to unpack here: Lindsey is a decent fighter, who Duffy should be able to stay out of trouble on the feet (where he's surprisingly capable) until he can wrestle Lindsey down for either a submission, or decision.
Germaine de Randamie was like Holly Holm before Holly Holm. With her striking backround, it was always assumed that she could pick up wins off the strength of her pedigree. However, de Randamie has not become what some fans hoped. The Holm comparison is a little unfair to Holly, but at the absolute least, they share some fight tropes; de Randamie isn't powerful, for example. For strikers trying to make names for themselves in MMA, this is critical. She's facing a solid Brazilian opponent in Pacheco, who won't mind exchanging leather in the early going. Pacheco is coming off a loss to Jessica Andrade, but is plenty well rounded. Germaine does a good job keeping her distance with her hands and feet, and she can scramble out of takedowns with sheer athleticism, but Pacheco should be favored with more ways to win.
2. The Pearson and Cruickshank (too bad it's not them fighting) bouts are the fights to key in on once the FX portion begins. They're both in stylistically entertaining matchups, and should be enticing for those that like to bet.
Sam Stout's last victory came against Cody McKenzie via decision, and his last loss was a brutal KO against K.J. Noons in round 1. In two fights, that feels like batting less than .500. So it's no surprise he isn't the favorite against the still respectable Pearson. I think the odds are a bit lopsided though. Yes, Ross is a solid boxer with good fundementals but I think people view Pearson as the more durable, well rounded fighter despite Stout having less losses via finish than Pearson. Ross has a weird, understated, inconsistency to his game. Whereas Stout has never been inconsistent so much as outclassed when the competition increases. Stout feels like a good bet because his boxing is on par with Ross, and he's active, which tends to be where Ross falters via classic case of Tyson Griffin Syndrome, and loses urgency. I do think Ross will win, but I'm comfortable picking him.
Daron Cruickshank is back in action after having his eyeball harpooned by KJ Noons. I'm glad because Daron is one of the more consistently entertaining fighters in the UFC. He'll take his flashy kickboxing game to Dariush, who is fresh off two solid wins, making him 3-1 in the UFC overall. This is a solid little fight, but also a stylistically odd one. Beneil won't look for too much action on the feet, even though he's capable from his southpaw stance; like Fabricio Werdum, who he's trained with, Dariush is deceptively effective, and is plenty educated so this bout won't become a blowout if they battle in the clinch, and from distance despite Dariush's KO loss to Ramsey Nijem. However, I do see Cruickshank defending the takedown long enough to score strikes from afar, and in close.
3. The best of the rest of the FX card features a decent mixture of purple chip talent, and respectable journeymen.
Jared Rosholt had a tough outing the last time he was in the octagon. Like, really tough. However, he was doing good up until Alexey's hail mary left hand. And he's facing off agaisnt Josh Copeland, who stature belies his durability. It's a good fight for both men. Copeland is just quick enough, and well rounded enough to force Rosholt into a battle, but it's the sort of fight Rosholt needs to win if he is to move forward. If he loses, well then maybe we can begin whispers of a 'bust' but I don't think we're there yet, especially in the Heavyweight division where even the veterans are busts. His wrestling should allow him to endure.
Elias Theodorou is like most TUF winners; few have large expectations, so their success is always a modest surprise. Elias looks to be a slight cut above the rest. He's good outside of range, where his clinchwork and wrestling can take over, and his aggression in all aspects accelerates his effectiveness at both. His opponent, Narvaez, isn't half as bad as the odds indicate. Coming off a win over Luke Barnatt, I'm a little surprised by it. He's a large human being with a talent for grappling and kicking; usually a solid combination for grapplers, as it allows them to keep their distance against strong boxers. The downside is that an active kicker who excels on the ground limits his/her opportunities to close the distance with takedowns that become scrambles. Sure enough, Narvaez isn't very good at gap control, and has trouble finding a swift double leg or knee tap. If Elias were better at range, this would be a much easier pick, but he's not, so this is a solid fight to throw money on if you've got toilet paper cash to begin with.
Pettis by Split Decision.
Duffy by RNC, round 2.
Pacheco by RNC, round 2.
Pearson by Split Decision.
Cruikshank by TKO, round 3.
Rosholt by TKO, round 2.
Theodorou by Split Decision.