Plenty of bouts with name and name-ish fighters to break out the campfire this April 25, 2015 at the Venue Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
The Line Up
Fox Sports 1
UFC Fight Pass
Joe Riggs +168 Patrick Cote -195
Alexis Davis +165 Sarah Kaufman -190
Bryan Barberena +265 Chad Laprise -325
David Michaud +290 Olivier Aubin-Mercier -350
Chris Clements +220 Nordine Taleb -260
Jessica Rakoczy +155 Valerie Letourneau -175
Aisling Daly +220 Randa Markos -260
3 Things You Should Know
1. The UFC Fight Pass card is pretty solid inasmuch as it more than 50% of the fighters pass the wikipedia test. That's more than can be said for most Fight Pass sub undercards.
The last bout on Fight Pass will end with Taleb vs. Clements. Taleb has an interesting history; he's been featured on TUF twice, losing both times before ever getting started, and yet here he is. Taleb isn't a bad fighter though. Sometimes MMA operates this way. Joe Duarte is a solid fighter who lost his bout to get in the TUF house because he ran into the then next Anderson Silva in Phillipe Nover. Taleb is kind like Duarte - a solid fighter with unfortunate timing, whose bad timing makes his resume look worse than it is. It should be a decent fight for Taleb, as Clements has power in his overhand right, and a good mini combo he works with his left leg kick from his traditional stance. However, Clements is predictable. Even his two best strikes carry little weight; an inside leg kick won't terrorize anyone's gameplan unless it's the part of a greater striking sum, and his overhand right is thrown with the stiffness of a Keanu Reeves monologue. Taleb should comfortably deal with Chris wherever the fight takes place, though it's by no means a certainty.
The 2nd bout to start the evening is a strange one for the women's strawweight division. The matchup itself is exciting on paper, but it's hard to justify anyone's existence when they're sporting a pro record of 1-4. Rakoczy has a spot all the same because she's got an actual pedigree in pro boxing, as a former WBC Lightweight Champion (in addition to winning three TUF fights). His power was never a component of her boxing, and it's certainly not in MMA. She has some nice, subtle head movement, and her punches sing in straight chords in intervals. But she seems to do solid work on the ground. She's climbing an uphill battle against Letourneau. Letourneau is an equally capable striker for the division. She doesn't throw a whole lot, but has a pretty good sense of timing, and keeps her left leg pretty active, which makes the whole package pretty effective. Rakoczy's a pretty good value bet here given the matchup of styles. I would say don't let the 1-4 record fool you but that really is pretty dreadful. To put it mildly. Still, 3-0 on TUF is nothing to scoff at either.
Finally, the return of two fighters on one of the better TUF seasons in recent memory. Daly has a strange style that seems to be effective, even if just by accident. Despite her propensity for striking, she's adept on the ground, and it was illustrated in her last two wins, both by armbar. However, she's up against the very durable, very tough, Randa Markos. Markos impressed me on the show for being this cool anti mean girl mean girl with a fascinating past. She lost her last fight to Jessica Penne but it was close, and a bout she was capable of winning. Against Daly, she should be pretty comfortable in getting the bout to the ground, and grinding out a tough battle. It's a closer fight than the odds indicate, but also a stylistic lob for Markos who is sturdy enough on the feet to avoid Daly's awkward efficiency, and imposing enough with her wrestling and in top control to take over the bout gradually should her striking fail.
2. The last two fights on Fox Sports 1 are modest bouts involving veterans with exciting skillsets.
Patrick Cote has experienced a really good second wind for a fighter considered scraps after the TUF boom. He's 7-2 in his last nine over the course of several years going all the way back to 2011. And now here he is, off a loss to Stephen Thompson, against another fighter who has had a rocky career in Joe Riggs. At this point, Riggs is probably remembered more for his hospital encounter with Nick Diaz than anything else he's actually accomplished. In his last bout, he had another characteristically strange thing happen when he suffered a neck injury 57 seconds into the the Ben Saunders scrap. Stylistically, it's a good bout between tough strikers with power, and toughness. However, I don't know what Riggs has to offer at this point. He's still got power in his hands, but his game has evolved in only subtle ways; nothing dramatic necessary to keep himself competitive against the UFC elite. Constantly going back up and down in weight doesn't foster a rhythm either. On top of that, he just flat out always seems to end up on the wrong side of three stooges chaos. Like a bigger, blonder Jamie Varner. Even legitimate losses seem steeped in absurdity; like his knockout loss to then hidden pillow fist, crouching cartwheel TUF icon Diego Sanchez. Meanwhile, Cote has continued to trend up recently. While I think their striking is equal, Riggs' fortune is not.
When we last left our female heroes, both were getting drummed up pretty good by Ronda Rousey. I mean, is there a more soul stealing, body wasting, metaphysical massacre than the one Rousey served up to the public against Alexis Davis? In the feast of failure, consider Kaufman the jalapeno poppers to Davis' Wagyu Tenderloin. As for Kaufman, it's been awhile since she stepped into the octagon. But I still like her to catch Davis with her crisp, technical boxing. She's beaten her twice, after all, despite the rematch being competitive.
3. Oh yea; the best of the rest? Feel free to grab a beer or two. No offense, pugilists.
Chad is actually a solid fighter. He earned the TUF title, and has looked very good thus far. He does an excellent job of moving in and out, side to side. All the while he keeps a heavy base, and doesn't overcommit. He's a more polished Ross Pearson, in some ways. And he's facing Barberena who just isn't the same level of fighter as Laprise. Not sure what this bout is doing here exactly...oh right...Canadians need a showcase fight for their heroes. Stupid me.
Mercier vs. Michaud is about as vanilla as an undercard bout gets. Mercier has won all of his fights by submission but 6 pro fights for a 26 year old isn't exactly a positive omen. However, his ability to capitalize on his groundwork should be enough on the journeyman, Michaud, who doesn't do any one thing special. He's also kind of susceptible to the takedown so it's difficult to think this bout could go any other way while you finish your chili verde fries.
Cote by Decision.
Kaufman by Decision.
Laprise by TKO, round 3.
Mercier by RNC, round 2.
Taleb by Decision.
Letourneau by Decision.
Markos by Decision.