Is there a better way to kick off the weekend than watching a potential flyweight title eliminator, a clash of hard-hitting heavyweights, and some very well-rounded welterweights throw down for our entertainment?
Ok, there probably is.
Your boss could give you the Friday off, right before he gives you a big raise. Then the president calls and tells you to just forget about that whole “paying taxes” thing from now on. Then you go home to discover Megan Fox is at your house. She brought a pound of wings and a six pack of beer, and has nothing to do all night but feed them to you. Oh, and you also have a robot butler who does your bidding – he’s washing the mint condition ’57 Chevy you got parked out front.
That sounds nice.
Sadly, most folks will have to make do with watching a night of fights to cap off their work week.
This Friday will feature the UFC’s 5th event on FX, an experiment that has proven both very good (some excellent fights) and disappointing (inconsistent ratings). The former is the result of some excellent fight booking on the part of UFC matchmaker Joe Silva, which has resulted in some barnburner fights. The latter is the result of some mediocre booking from the same Mr. Silva, who has left the FX cards for the most part devoid of the “big name” UFC fighters casual fans recognize and respond to.
As long as the fights deliver the ratings situation will turn around – and this Friday’s card looks like a fun card from top to bottom. If you’re going out Friday night I recommend setting your TiVo in advance. If you’re staying in Friday night, then you got to watch SOMETHING while you eat your instant dinner and bemoan your sad, sad existence.
Here’s a quick look at what fans can expect from the main card of this Friday night’s card:
Justin Edwards vs. Josh Neer
Opening the show is the first of two scheduled welterweight tilts on the main card. This fight is a definite “rebuilding” fight that pits one of the sport’s true veterans against a former TUF competitor.
Josh Neer has been in the MMA game for a decade, including multiple stints in the UFC. Throughout his career he has struggled to remain consistent, though it seemed those problems were over after Neer rattled off six straight victories in the last two years, including 3 in the UFC. Then came a first round KO loss to Mike Pyle, and Neer found himself having to pick up the pieces once again.
He’s had his share of troubles outside the cage as well, including a much publicised arrest for DUI on New Year ’s Day a few years ago. If you scan Neer’s record that inconsistency becomes clear: he can defeat smaller or mid-tier talent, but struggles against the “names” of the division.
Therefore, you have to assume the matchup with Justin Edwards favours Neer. Edwards has only nine total professional fights to Neer’s whopping 45, putting him at a clear disadvantage to “The Dentist”. The former competitor on “The Ultimate Fighter” is also coming off a loss to John Maguire, and is 1-2 in the UFC overall.
This is a big fight for both men. But I see Neer’s greater experience and better-rounded overall skillset guiding him to victory
WINNER: Josh Neer.
John Dodson vs. Jussier da Silva
This fight is actually a number one contender fight to determine who gets the next shot at flyweight champion Demetrious.
You just wouldn’t know it from watching a commercial for the event, or looking at a poster, talking to your friends, or any of the things casual fans do before deciding to watch a fight card.
The UFC has made this fight something of an afterthought in their promotion – it’s the third fight on the card behind Ellenberger/Heiron and Silva/Browne, and shows up nowhere on the official event poster. The UFC flyweight title was just rolled out as the co-main event behind a borderline freakshow Jon Jones fight, and now the #1 contender’s match is buried in the undercard on FX. Tough going for the fly’s coming out of the gate.
This fight should be a barnburner, if only because every flyweight fight in UFC history has been awesome. Yes, even the Johnson/Benavidez flyweight title fight at UFC 151, which some folks saw fit to crap on. If you’re one of those folks, than me and Dana White agree that you should probably give up on this whole MMA thing altogether. Brock Lesnar’s not coming back, and Kimbo Slice has taken up boxing. There’s clearly nothing left for you here.
Jussier da Silva is actually making his UFC debut in this fight, but he comes into the bout as the consensus #3 flyweight in the world on the back of impressive stints in Shooto and Tachi Palace fights. He’s 14-1, with his only loss coming to fellow flyweight contender Ian McCall. He’s also a member of the famed Nova Uniao camp, which has produced lighter-weight phenoms like featherweight champ Jose Aldo and interim-bantamweight champ Renan Barao. He has 7 wins via submission, and has never been stopped in his MMA career.
That’s one tough mountain to climb for Dodson. The winner of “The Ultimate Fighter” season 14, Dodson has won two straight in the UFC and, like Silva, has never been finished in his MMA career. Dodson also hails from an acclaimed fight camp in Team Jackson, and actually has more professional fights (18) and more years active (11) than Jussier. Finally, those who watched his season of “The Ultimate Fighter” know the diminutive Dodson has serious knockout power for a 125’er – just ask Johnny Bedford.
I’m tempted to pick Dodson here, because he’s exciting, ever-improving (thanks Goldie!), and seems like a really nice guy. But I’ve learned never to bet against any Nova Unaio fighter who’s lighter than I am.
Winner: Jussier da silva
Jake Ellenberger vs. Jay Hieron
Now we turn it up a notch.
And no, I’m not going to say “BAM!”.
But seriously, this fight has “fireworks” written all over it. Jake Ellenberger is one of the hardest hitting fighters at welterweight, and it’s pretty much a given that if one of his punches find your chin, you’re in huge trouble. Just a short while ago Ellenberger was considered a sure-fire welterweight title contender. He had won 6 straight, and had taken elite veterans like Jake Shields and Mike Pyle and handily seperated them from consciousness.
In his last fight however, the “Juggernaut” hype train was derailed when Martin Kampmann came from behind to TKO Ellenberger with some vicious knees. Now Jake finds himself going back to the drawing board with new questions about his chin and his gas tank hanging over his head.
He’ll face off against another red-hot welterweight looking to build a case for a title shot in Jay Hieron. Hieron is a well-established veteran who has fought in a multitude of promotions including Bellator, Strikeforce, the IFL, and the WEC. He’s won 11 of his last 12, his only loss a highly disputed decision to Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren. One fact that potentially tarnishes Hieron’s case for title contender-ship is his 0-2 record in the UFC. One loss was to Jonathan Goulet. The other was to some fellow named Georges St. Pierre.
I really don’t see this fight going to decision. Ellenberger has the power to shut Jay’s lights off at any time, but I think the questions about his staying power are too great to ignore. I see Jake dominating early before fading down the stretch and letting Hieron steal the fight.
WINNER: Jay Hieron
Antonio Silva vs. Travis Browne
What is it with American fans and heavyweights? Despite the litany of awesome fights on this card (including a title eliminator), it’s a given that the heavyweights would top the bill.
Luckily, this has the potential to be a fun heavyweight fight, instead of a “watch two fat guys gasp for oxygen and lean on each other” heavyweight fight. Antonio Silva is a walking Bond villain, who made his name with North American fans when he defeated another living Bond villain in Fedor Emelianenko. He has a BJJ black belt, good hands, and a head like an Easter Island statue. His physical gifts really can’t be overstated: the dude is gigantic.
But for all his size (and abundance of chin) Antonio isn’t the hardest hitter, nor does he have the most bulletproof set of whiskers. He also gets taken down way too easily for a guy his size. All this adds up to a fighter who, Fedor domination aside, hasn’t really lived up to his potential as an elite-level heavyweight.
On the other side of the bracket, Travis Browne has been quietly amassing a solid record in the UFC. He’s 4-0-1, with an ugly draw against Cheick Kongo his only professional blemish. He doesn’t have Silva’s experience or resume, but he’s shown definite flashes of promise in his career thus far. His KO of Stefan Struve is the stuff of highlight reel legend, and his recent submission victory over Chad Griggs proved he has a well-rounded skillset.
This is a tough one to call. My initial thought was to say Silva’s size and experience would see him through. That being said, I’m going with my gut and picking Browne to win. The UFC loves to feature red-hot (but still mostly unknown) fighters at the top of cards like this right before they break out big (see Jones, Jon, and his multitude of featured fights on Versus way back when).
I see this fight being Browne’s coming out party as a top-flight heavyweight.
Winner: Travis Browne