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411's MMA Roundtable Preview - UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Moraga
Posted by Dan Plunkett on 07.26.2013





WELCOME:
UFC returns to Fox with a title fight in the main event! Demetrious Johnson defends his flyweight championship against John Moraga in the final match of the night. In the co-main event, Rory MacDonald squares off with Jake Ellenberger. Also, Robbie Lawler battles Bobby Voelker, Liz Carmouche vs. Jessica Andrade, and more!

THE STAFF:

  • You know him from MMA on Tap!, Jon Butterfield!

  • From MMA's 3R's, Jeffrey Harris!

  • From Five Quick Rounds, Evan Zivin!

  • From The Greatest MMA News Column, Dan Plunkett!



    THE PRELIMINARY CARD:

    First two prelims on Facebook/YouTube, rest air on FX.

    Bantamweight Bout: John Albert vs. Yaotzin Meza


    Jon Butterfield: John Albert, TKO, Round One
    Jeffrey Harris: John Albert, Decision
    Evan Zivin: Yaotzin Meza, Submission, Round 3
    Dan Plunkett: Albert, Decision.
    The staff picks John Albert, 3-1.

    Lightweight Bout: Aaron Riley vs. Justin Salas


    Jon Butterfield: Justin Salas, Decision
    Jeffrey Harris: Justin Salas, Decision
    Evan Zivin: Aaron Riley, Decision
    Dan Plunkett: Riley, Decision.
    The staff calls it a draw, 2-2.

    Women's Bantamweight Bout: Julie Kedzie vs. Germaine de Randamie


    Jon Butterfield: Julie Kedzie, Decision
    Jeffrey Harris: Julie Kedzie, Submission, Round Two
    Evan Zivin: Julie Kedzie, Decision
    Dan Plunkett: Kedzie, Submission, Round 2
    The staff picks Julie Kedzie, 4-0.

    Middleweight Bout: Ed Herman vs. Trevor Smith


    Jon Butterfield: Ed Herman, Submission, Round Three
    Jeffrey Harris: Ed Herman, Submission, Round Two
    Evan Zivin: Ed Herman, Submission, Round 1
    Dan Plunkett: Herman, TKO, Round 2
    The staff picks Ed Herman, 4-0.

    Lightweight Bout: Yves Edwards vs. Daron Cruickshank


    Jon Butterfield: Yves Edwards, Decision
    Jeffrey Harris: Yves Edwards, Decision
    Evan Zivin: Yves Edwards, Decision
    Dan Plunkett: Edwards, Decision.
    The staff picks Yves Edwards, 4-0.

    Lightweight Bout: Mac Danzig vs. Melvin Guillard


    Jon Butterfield: Melvin Guillard, Decision
    Jeffrey Harris: Melvin Guillard, Decision
    Evan Zivin: Melvin Guillard, Decision
    Dan Plunkett: Danzig, Decision
    The staff picks Melvin Guillard, 3-1.

    Lightweight Bout: Danny Castillo vs. Tim Means


    Jon Butterfield: Danny Castillo, Decision
    Jeffrey Harris: Danny Castillo, Decision
    Evan Zivin: Danny Castillo, Decision
    Dan Plunkett: Castillo, Decision
    The staff picks Danny Castillo, 4-0.

    Lightweight Bout: Michael Chiesa vs. Jorge Masvidal


    Jon Butterfield: Jorge Masvidal, TKO, Round Two
    Jeffrey Harris: Michael Chiesa, Decision
    Evan Zivin: Jorge Masvidal, Decision
    Dan Plunkett: Masvidal, Decision.
    The staff picks Jorge Masvidal, 3-1.



    MAIN CARD:

    Women's Bantamweight Bout: Liz Carmouche vs. Jessica Andrade


    Jon Butterfield: It certainly appears that this is a fight designed to get Carmouche back in the win column.

    Winner: Liz Carmouche, Decision

    Jeffrey Harris: Andrade is a Brazilian fighter who has finished all of her fights coming into this bout. She faces the tough and resilient Carmouche who was unable to beat Ronda Rousey in order to win the UFC women's title. I've not watched much footage on Andrade, so I'm taking a bit of a leap of faith by picking Carmouche. Granted, Andrade looks to have a good submission game with five of her nine career wins coming by way of submission. Two of Carmouche's losses come by submission as well. I'm picking Carmouche by decision here.

    Winner: Liz Carmouche, Decision

    Evan Zivin: This fight was originally supposed to be Liz vs. Miesha Tate before Miesha left to do The Ultimate fighter and get naked. Liz is a tough fighter. She's beaten Jan Finney and Kaitlyn Young, she had a war with Sarah Kaufman, she almost beat Marloes Coenen, and she gave Ronda Rousey the toughest fight Ronda's had in her career. It's not the most mind-blowing resume but she has faced better competition than Jessica Andrade, who has a stoppage of Duda Yankovich and a decision loss to Jennifer Maia, both of whom just lost at the last Invicta event. Liz has fair striking and great wrestling and, one way or another, she's leaving this fight with her first UFC win.

    Winner: Liz Carmouche, TKO, Round 2

    Dan Plunkett: I've seen very little of Andrade, but what I have seen hasn't been impressive. Carmouche, while not a world beater, should be good enough to beat her.

    Winner: Carmouche, TKO, Round 2

    The staff picks Liz Carmouche, 4-0.



    Welterweight Bout: Robbie Lawler vs. Bobby Voelker


    Jon Butterfield: After Robbie Lawler stunned Josh Koscheck in his return to the UFC, he was due a fight with kickboxer-on-a-roll and former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion, Tarec Saffiedine. That didn't happen, unfortunately, so Lawler was slated to fight another stand up wizard in Siyar Bahadurzada but ANOTHER injury put paid to that, and finally Bobby Voelker stepped in. Voelker is more likely to focus on his wrestling than either Saffiedine or Siyar, but then so was Koscheck, and that didn't get him very far Lawler is a veteran who has fought at a high level for a long time, and he's as good as anyone in a straight-up firefight. He'll beat Voelker on the feet, but Voelker is best suited coming in with a well-rounded gameplan and mixing things up to throw off Lawler's timing still, Robbie is always liable to land hard when the majority of a fight is competed on the feet, which is where I think MOST of this fight takes place. It should be fairly close, and more competitive than many expect, but Lawler has the tools to win this.

    Winner: Robbie Lawler, TKO, Round Two

    Jeffrey Harris: Voelker is a fighter who went 4-1 under Strikeforce and lost his UFC debut in a dull decision to Patrick Cote. Lawler was originally supposed to face Tarec Saffiedine who dropped out due to injury. And then his replacement opponent, Siyar Bahadurzada also dropped out (seems to be an ongoing theme for Siyar). And so Lawler draws Voelker here. Props to Voelker for stepping up on short notice. He has a lot of fight experience, but most of his more notable opponents or guys who had fights in the UFC ended up as losses on his record. Lawler is coming off a strong win in his welterweight debut against former title contender, Josh Koscheck. While this isn't as big of a name opponent, it's important for him to continue looking strong to cement that he's reinvented himself at 170. I think Lawler finishes this one early.

    Winner: Robbie Lawler, TKO, Round One

    Evan Zivin: This fight had a couple changes, as Robbie was originally supposed to fight Tarec Saffiedine before he got injured and replaced by Siyar Bahadurzada before HE got injured and replaced by Voelker. It's an interesting match-up because I'm not sure how Robbie will perform. He looked great in his UFC return in February, TKO'ing Josh Koscheck, but it was a quick stoppage and Robbie may have just gotten a couple lucky punches in. He had a pretty middle-of-the-road record in Strikeforce but that was at middleweight so it remains to be seen how he'll do as a welterweight once again in the UFC. I do think he can get past Voelker, though, who lost his UFC debut against Patrick Cote and went 4-1 in Strikeforce even though 3 of those fights were against the same guy. Voelker might be tough to finish but if Robbie can back Voelker up against the cage and throw combinations, he should be able to put him away.

    Winner: Robbie Lawler, TKO, Round 2

    Dan Plunkett: Voelker probably should have beaten Patrick Cote in March, but he faces a tougher opponent in Lawler. Though clearly flawed, Lawler is a tough fighter with big power and I think that gets him the win here.

    Winner: Lawler, TKO, Round 2

    The staff picks Robbie Lawler, 4-0.




    Welterweight Bout: Rory MacDonald vs. Jake Ellenberger


    Jon Butterfield: I'm a big Jake Ellenberger fan, and his fights are always fun to watch but Rory MacDonald is a well-rounded, clinical machine. Ellenberger has fought similarly well-rounded and dangerous opponents (like Carlos Condit) before and always kept fights close thanks to his outstanding takedown defence (due in part to his incredibly powerful frame), and the ever-present threat of that vicious knock out power. Still, Rory is a kid that seems to improve every time we see him, and has shown no glaring weaknesses to this point and what's more he comes in game-planned up. Hurting Ellenberger or getting him to the ground is going to be a tall order, but I think Rory has the better all-round striking style, and he'll wear Ellenberger down with accumulative damage. Ellenberger probably SHOULD be the favourite here, he's the more proven fighter, but talk of a KO is wide of the mark in my eyes. Ellenberger can, in theory, KO anyone at 170 lbs but out of the biggest names he's fought (Kampmann, Condit, Sanchez, Marquardt and Shields), he has a sub-0.500 success rate and even then, Jake Shields is a poor striker at this level. You'd think the way some people talk, he'd KO'd everyone he'd come into contact with regardless of ability, but really, he hasn't and he won't here either.

    Winner: Rory MacDonald, Decision

    Jeffrey Harris: I like this fight a lot, and I could see this being a tougher fight than Rory MacDonald might be expecting. Ellenberger is 8-2 in the UFC and at one point went on a 6-0 run including wins over Mike Pyle, Jake Shields, and Diego Sanchez (two of which were UFC title contenders). That being said, we've seen him come up short and get knocked out before against Martin Kampmann. I think ultimately Ellenberger won't be able to bully and dictate the pace against MacDonald who will use his wrestling and takedowns to score the win.

    Winner: Rory MacDonald, Decision

    Evan Zivin: This is a tough fight to pick. Well, in my heart anyway. I like Jake a lot. He's a good guy with a good head on his shoulders and has some great wins over Jake Shields, Diego Sanchez, and a brutal knockout of Nate Marquardt in his last fight. I want to say that Jake will let his hands go and pick Rory apart over the course of three rounds but I don't know if he can do that. Rory is extremely well-rounded and improves with every fight. He has UFC wins over Nate Diaz, BJ Penn, and he was seconds away from defeating Carlos Condit in a great battle. Rory is very much like his training partner and mentor, Georges St-Pierre, in that he has the skills to adapt to whatever style his opponent brings and can even beat them at their own game. I want Jake to win because I like Jake as a person and Rory is a couple bodies short of a full basement, but Rory will most likely take Jake down and pound on him and tire him out en route to a dominant decision victory.

    Winner: Rory MacDonald, Decision

    Dan Plunkett: This is a really tough fight to call. Ellenberger has big power and very good wrestling, but his conditioning has hurt him in the past. MacDonald is very good all-around, though he can't match the power of Ellenberger. Rory is excellent on top, but I think he'll have to tire Ellenberger out before he's able to work that game. Ultimately, I'm picking Ellenberger to catch the young Canadian and end his win streak.

    Winner: Ellenberger, TKO, Round 1

    The staff picks Rory MacDonald, 3-1.



    UFC Flyweight Championship Bout: Demetrious Johnson vs. John Moraga


    Jon Butterfield: Demetrious Johnson is a strange one. I don't consider him a great fighter, but he's a very handy flyweight, and his win over Joseph Benavidez (by split decision) was a key part of his stumble towards the title (having already, in my eyes, been out-fought once by McCall). Johnson is, however, an incredibly intelligent, very dextrous fighter with outstanding movement and ridiculous speed. The way Johnson plugged the holes for the second encounter with McCall was masterful, and his first defence against John Dodson was without question well earned but this is a guy who wouldn't even enter the top three at bantamweight, in my opinion, and that's not because of the size differential, but the skill differential. The flyweight division is well ahead of the women's division, but it's still a long way behind the 135 lb and 145 lb divisions. That John Moraga has earned a title shot already tells you all you need to know this is a division on the up, but it isn't there yet and Demetrious isn't the man to take it to the top level.

    Demetrious will do his best to evade the explosive Moraga for as long as he can, and even if he gets tagged, his recoverability is second only perhaps to Frankie Edgar. I've not seen enough of Moraga to really comment on his best chance, but he's a finisher, and that's a tall order here. MMAth also rears its ugly head when you note Moraga's only defeat came to Dodson back in 2010, and with a less-than-stellar résumé of opponents notched up since, I doubt he's improved to the extent that he takes this title from Mighty Mouse.

    Winner: Demetrious Johnson, Decision

    Jeffrey Harris: Moraga is a tough opponent, and he's looked impressive at flyweight so far. At the same time, I don't see any tools in his shed that will be able to stop or wrest the title from Demetrious Johnson. Moraga has not faced or beaten the quality of opposition that Johnson has in his career. And while Moraga has some good knockout power for flyweight, Johnson has been able to deal with such power and come back from it before. His resilience and toughness is incredible in addition to his chin. Johnson is also one of the fastest fighters out there in the lower weight classes. With all that in mind, Johnson will ultimately dominate and outwork Moraga to get the win and keep his title.

    Winner: Demetrious Johnson, Decision

    Evan Zivin: The smallest fighters in the UFC will once again be on display and looking to put on a show (and hopefully cut down on people screaming "MIDGET!" at them). Johnson has always been a great fighter. He was a contender at bamtamweight and has been unbeatable as a flyweight, getting past Ian McCall, outworking Joseph Benavidez, and staying tough and keeping the pressure on John Dodson. Moraga is 13-1 in his MMA career and has impressed in the UFC, knocking out Ulysees Gomez and submitting Chris Cariaso in his first two Octagon appearances. Moraga hasn't been beyond three rounds so the question will be can he keep up with Johnson's speed into the later rounds of the fight. Johnson is well-rounded and has ridiculous cardio. He'll be able to keep up the same intensity in the fifth round as he does in the first and I see Johnson standing with Moraga and getting the better of him. That, along with a few takedowns sprinkled in, will secure another decision win and successful title defense for Mighty Mouse. Man, I really hope there aren't this many decisions on the actual card.

    Winner: Demetrious Johnson, Decision

    Dan Plunkett: I think Johnson is too good here. He's good everywhere, he's quicker than anybody else in the division, and he has cardio for days. Moraga has some power, but nobody has been able to finish Johnson yet.

    Winner: Johnson, Decision.

    The staff picks Demetrious Johnson, 4-0.



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