The time is almost here fight fans. The UFC is down in Houston for their big Heavyweight title rubber match between Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos. The two will meet in the main event of the evening tomorrow night, but there’s much more intrigue than just the main event. Today, I look at 5 things for everyone to watch for at UFC 166.
1. The debuts: Multiple fighters are making their debut tomorrow night, and one of them is on the main card! Darrell Montague is fighting John Dodson to open up the main card. Anytime a new Flyweight is introduced into the mix, everyone needs to be watching. These guys are electric and exciting fighters that are all just a few wins away from a title shot. We will see how Montague fairs against former title challenger in Dodson. Montague has won four in a row to get his shot in the UFC.
Andre Fili and Kyoji Horiguchi are both making their UFC debuts tomorrow night as well. Fili is a Team Alpha male talent who has a penchant for finishing fights and is 12-1. He also took his fight against Jeremy Larsen in under two weeks notice, so hopefully he will be in top form. Horiguchi is the former Shooto bantamweight champion. He is 11-1 in his career and on a 5 fight winning streak. The UFC could really use an influx of Japanese talent, so he is definitely worth watching.
The biggest UFC debuts tomorrow night come via the bantamweight women, Sarah Kaufman and Jessica eye. Kaufman, the former Strikeforce bantamweight champion, is a veteran of the sport making her long-awaited UFC debut. Kaufman has fought the who’s who of women’s MMA including Ronda Rousey, Liz Carmouche, and Shayna Baszler just to name a few. Jessica Eye is a former Bellator combatant who is 10-1 in her career and has a lot of hype behind her. Kaufman will be a stiff test for Eye. If Eye can defeat Kaufman easily, look out for her as a potential challenger for the belt in the near future.
2. The Heavyweights: Who doesn’t like the big guys throwing down? Well, this card is chock full of Heavyweight action. The card includes the Champion, the #1, #2, and the #9 ranked Heavyweights in the UFC. Cain and JDS meet in the main event and the co-main is Cormier vs Nelson. But wait, there’s more! The card also includes long time UFC veteran, Gabriel Gonzaga, and rising contender, Shawn Jordan. This card is stacked with Heavyweight talent.
3. Hector Lombard: Lombard makes his welterweight debut tomorrow night against Nate Marquardt. Lombard really needs to win this fight in order to avoid being labeled a bust. The UFC spent a lot of money getting Lombard into the UFC, and he has not really delivered. His first fight with Tim Boetsch was awful, and he was man-handled by Yushin Okami in his last fight. He did have a nice TKO victory over former UFC welterweight, Rousimar Palhares sandwiched between the two losses. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how the weight cut affected Lombard, and if he will come out with a fire lit under him tomorrow.
4. Former title challengers: Tomorrow night John Dodson and Gilbert Melendez will both fight for the first time since losing to the champions of their respective divisions. Gilbert Melendez took on Benson Henderson in a razor close fight that the judges scored for Henderson. Watch for Gil to try to take out Diego Sanchez tomorrow to make a claim to fight now champion, Anthony Pettis. Dodson will look to rebound after his loss to Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. Dodson is facing UFC newcomer, Darrell Montague. The division is quite thin, so a couple of wins and Dodson could very well be fighting for the title again.
5. Fighters on the brink of being released: Every UFC event there are fighters that are most likely fighting for their jobs. Tomorrow night those fighters are likely KJ Noons, George Sotiropoulos, Jeremy Larsen, and Dustin Pague. Noons has lost three in a row (1 in the UFC) and is fighting G-Sot, who himself has lost three in a row. The loser in that fight is out of a UFC job. Larsen has yet to win a UFC fight in two tries. A loss here will send him packing. Pague has lost three in a row in the UFC and is still with the promotion. If you lose 4 in a row, you get the axe.