This April 4, 2015 the undercard barely sizzles for the Mendes vs. Lamas Fight Night on Fox Sports 1 in the rare 1:00 PM (ET) slot at the Venue Patriot Center in City Fairfax, Virginia
The Line Up
Fox Sports 1
Women's Bantamweight Liz Carmouche 9-5 vs. Lauren Murphy 8-1
Lightweight Gray Maynard 11-4-1 vs. Alexander Yakovlev 21-6-1
Heavyweight Shamil Abdurakhimov 15-2 vs. Timothy Johnson 8-1
Middleweight Ron Stallings 12-7 vs. Justin Jones 3-1
Lauren Murphy -105 Liz Carmouche -115
Alexander Yakovlev -125 Gray Maynard +105
Shamil Abdurahimov -265 Timothy Johnson +225
Justin Jones -130 Ron Stallings +110
3 Things You Should Know
1. Maynard vs. Yakovlev and Jones vs. Stallings are like appetizers at the movie theatre; serviceable if you're looking for a fight, and solid if you're hungry, but it's hard to be bothered with them once the movie starts.
Gray Maynard has a pretty underrated story in my humble opinion; he was considered a stock wrestler, and fought exactly like a stock wrestler earning his keep in the biggest, baddest, MMA organization on the block. He was destined for a limited ceiling, if just by virtue of mechanics. Instead of succumbing to all of the stereotypes, he fought his way to the top, and ultimately, for the UFC belt. Twice. How can you not respect the man?
Sure, his rise was contingent upon Frankie Edgar being the perfect matchup for him at a time when Edgar being UFC lightweight champ actually occurred, but one play butterfly effect revisionism with most fighters, and certainly any flash in the pans. Now Gray is 3 TKO losses in the hole (4 of his last 5), with whispers (shouts in some cases) of retirement. His opponent is the former Russian WW, Yakovlev.
The fight itself isn't all that much to unpack. Gray will be able to get Yak on the ground, despite Yak's size. After all, Gray is a massive LW, and Yak was never an oversized WW. In addition, there's nothing Alexander does that allows him to stand out among the crowd besides rap something awful. The only x-factor is whether or not Gray's chin really has devolved. I always felt like Gray's rise was as auspicious as his fall; his striking began to really improve at around the same time age and wear took its simultaneous toll.
The last time we saw Stallings, he looked like a victim from a Ruggero Deodato film. Thankfully his face has healed, and he's back for more against Justin Jones, who is the only man with 4 pro fights I would ever call 'enigmatic for a journeyman' (contradictions notwithstanding). Jones is the only fighter who will end up with a quick pink slip I'd also call 'solid' in his young career. He showed real poise against Anderson, who rattled Jones in the first round, but then rebounded with his own offense amidst a flurry. Stallings is a fighter with good mechanics sabotaged by an inactive engineer. The guy just doesn't move enough, throw enough, or pressure enough to be effective; that's why he was hamburger against Uriah Hall from the get go. Sure Jones mostly has just one move, the guillotine, but I think his durability and poise will be enough.
2. The women have the spotlight on the this undercard, and even though the matchup itself might not lend itself to something entertaining, it's a good fight for the bantamweight hierarchy.
Liz Carmouche is an interesting fighter. She's a little like the female version of Mike Pyle; a really talented veteran who can surprise you against the elite, yet frustrate you against the pugilism plebes. They sort of fight to the level of their competition, which is what makes Murphy such a tempting pick. Carmouche is obviously talented. Her nickname, 'Girl-Rilla', is at once appropriate and symbolic. Casual fans will always know her as the woman who nearly pez dispensered Ronda's head. However, she's on a two fight losing streak with losses to Alexis Davis and Miesha Tate.
Murphy, meanwhile, is coming off a loss to Sara McMann that a lot of fans took issue with; an argument in favor of Lauren since McMann was the favorite coming off a hyped match with Ronda Rousey. Murphy stayed active while on bottom, earning himself a moral victory in the process. This fight is hard to predict, since neither Murphy nor Liz are real predators on the feet. In addition, both possess a well rounded array of skills on the ground though Murphy is a little more varied on the feet. Despite her gaudy KO record (6 of 8), she doesn't hit particularly hard; pretty much all of her TKO wins came against awful competition with mostly 1-2 type records, and mostly late in the bouts as well. However, she has enough skill to test whether or not Liz will fight down to her competition. I err on the side of veterenship, however, for whatever it's worth.
3. Last but not least, the Heavyweight match promises everything we love and hate about Heavyweight; marginal skill, slick violence against the right opponent where good opponents are rare.
Johnson and Abdurahimov both have similar resumes; solid enough to prove their worth as journeyman (both men have decent wins all things considered; Johnson against an aging Travis Wiuff, Brian Heden, and Kevin Asplund/Abdurahimov against Kenny Garner, Neil Grove, and an aging Sokoudjou), but with little to show for what they're worth in the future.
Johnson is a big lumbering fighter who has a strong left hand from his southpaw stance, but not much else other than a decent understanding of the game and an all around set of skills. Abdurahimov is a little different. Like many Russian fighters in the current landscape he's slick on the feet when it comes to output. He has a sneaky, short, chopping right hand and an equally chopping left leg kick that he likes to chamber in close. While the odds are a little much for two guys who still haven't done much, but have done enough to be granted a spot in the UFC, Abdurahimov is simply the much better athlete. Johnson's size, and movement in the clinch may become a factor, but I can't imagine Johnson doing anything with said advantage; Abudrahimov moves too well to get sucked in to some sort of Matt Brown carnival.
Carmouche by Decision.
Maynard by Decision.
Abudurahimov by TKO, round 2.
Jones by Guillotine, round 2.