Locked in the Guillotine MMA News Report 9.20.13: A Tale of Two Champions
Posted by Robert Winfree on 09.20.2013
News and thoughts on Carlos Condit and Anthony Pettis getting matches at UFC on FOX 9! Plus a look at the main card for this weekend's UFC 165 including Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson and more!
Hello again everyone, and it's another glorious Friday. Well at least I hope it's glorious for you, Friday's sucking is just a little extra depressing as opposed to a day like Tuesday sucking. So what's coming your way this week as you're Locked in the Guillotine? Well there's a big, almost super, show coming up this Saturday. Anytime there's two title fights on a card it's a big deal, and that's exactly what we've got at UFC 165 because the light heavyweight and bantamweight titles will be defended on that card. There's also been some matchmaking going on this week, and all of it has been good so you know I'm going to talk about that. Big fights and good news make for a good time Locked in the Guillotine, so let's get to it.
But before we go too far, have you checked out the Radulich in Broadcasting Network yet? It's home to the weekly 411 Ground and Pound radio show, which is always a good listen, The Casual Heroes if you're interested in that pro wrestling thing, The Long Road to Ruin for all your movie franchise discussion, The Metal Hammer of Doom if you're into metal music, and of course Everyone Loves a Bad Guy hosted by yours truly which is currently counting down to the conclusion of Breaking Bad. It's all good stuff, so if you're interested and have the time give any of those great shows a listen.
Alright, my obligated plugs are out of the way so let's get to the news.
UFC on FOX 9 will be awesome: The UFC's ninth event on FOX is set for December 14 this year, and this week two big fights were announced for that particular event. First, in a fight that plenty of people have been thinking about for a while now, welterweight contenders will meet when Carlos Condit takes on Matt Brown. I don't especially like Brown's chances, but both men are known for exciting fights, both men move forward and throw leather, this is one of those rare fights that I will go ahead and say can't possibly suck. I'm very happy this fight is happening, just because with the styles of those two it not happening would have been a shame, especially since Brown is now on an incredible six fight winning streak in the welterweight division.
To be perfectly honest that fight alone would be enough to get people to tune in, but the main event is now a can't miss either. New UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis is scheduled to make his first title defense in the main event. Originally it was supposed to be against TJ Grant, who was forced to pull out of UFC 164 which led to Pettis winning the title from Benson Henderson, but Grant's head injury still hasn't fully healed so he had to decline. The replacement for Grant? Josh Thomson. Thomson had an incredibly impressive UFC debut this year, he knocked out Nate Diaz in the second round and has certainly earned his crack at the belt if Grant is unable to fight by that date. Pettis and Thomson both throw kicks with bad intentions, neither has been in a really bad fight in a while, though Thomson's outing against Gesias Cavalcante left a lot to be desired. Those are two can't miss fights ladies and gentlemen, and on free TV no less. Let us all just hope that no one gets injured between now and fight night.
Another title fight on free TV: Confirmed this week, what should be a big deal. This season of The Ultimate Fighter will conclude with a title fight. The main event of the finale will feature UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson taking on the man he beat to become the first ever flyweight champion, Joseph Benavidez. Their first fight was over a year ago, and since that encounter Johnson has defeated challengers Jon Dodson and John Moraga while Benavidez has beaten Ian McCall, Darren Uyenoyama, and Jussier Formiga. Their first fight was a fun back and forth encounter that saw Johnson win by split decision, and I'm actually quite looking forward to their rematch as they are easily the two best flyweights in the world right now.
Miscellaneous matchmaking: To round out the matchmaking frenzy from this week, three other fights were announced. In heavyweight action Josh Barnett will take on Travis Browne with the winner likely the next title contender depending on whether or not Daniel Cormier sticks around at heavyweight. Barnett made his re-debut in the UFC in impressive fashion, stopping Frank Mir in the first round with strikes. Browne overcame a vicious beating in the first couple of minutes in his fight with Alistair Overeem and came back to knock him out with a front kick to the face. Chad Mendes can't seem to catch a break, the man is easily the number one contender for my money, yet he can't seem to get his title shot against UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo nailed down. Mendes will meet Nik Lentz on the UFC's FOX event this December, and if he wins again denying him a title shot is nothing short of lunacy and personal bias. Also at featherweight, Steven Siler will take on Dennis Bermudez at the next Fight for the Troops event. Rounding out the new fights announced, former bantamweight title contender Scott Jorgensen will be making the cut to flyweight for his next fight, and will meet "Uncle Creepy" Ian McCall at UFC on FOX 9 on December 14th this year. I said it above and I stick by it, UFC on FOX 9 has a solid shot at being the fight event of the year if everything holds up.
Anytime there's two title fights on a card it's special, in fact the promotional effort for UFC 165 has been woefully lackluster compared to the incredible fights that are on it. Both commercials so far have been among the least impressive from the UFC in quite some time, one focuses on the measurements of the two fighters in the main event, the other has Bruce Buffer's head exploding in almost comical fashion. The reality is that the two fights at the top of the card are potentially great fights and the UFC hasn't promoted the interim bantamweight title fight at all, I'm rarely as down on the UFC's promotional efforts as others are, but they have completely dropped the ball here. That said, there's some great fights. A brief reminder that I will have the coverage for this event, so if you can't watch it live hit up the 411mma section for live coverage provided by me. With that out of the way let's look at the fights.
Pat Healy vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov: You know, it says something about the strength of this card that I'm not comfortable immediately declaring this fight a forerunner for Fight of the Night bonuses. Pat Healy made a stupid decision to smoke marijuana prior to his fight with Jim Miller, it cost him the win, $130,000 of bonus money, and a fairly lengthy suspension. If that doesn't put a chip on a guys shoulder coming into a fight I don't know what will. Healy is a grinder, but a grinder who will absolutely take you out if you give him half a chance. The man just has crushing power in his grappling and in his chokes, and he knows how to get and maintain dominant positions, break you down physically and mentally, and capitalize when you get desperate and make a mistake. Khabib Nurmagomedov has yet to taste defeat as a professional fighter, though for my money he lost his fight with Gleison Tibau, and has produced impressive performances that have got some people talking about him as a future champion. Talking about anyone as a future champion in the talent stacked lightweight division shouldn't come lightly, and it clearly hasn't with Khabib as he just tore through Thiago Tavares in the first round and set a new UFC record for takedowns in his last fight with Able Trujillo. Khabib Nurmagomedov is a beast, and Pat Healy will have to be ready for that. Khabib should be wary of the clinch, Healy tends to get his takedowns from that position especially up against the fence, but the Sambo background that Khabib has should serve him well in that position. Healy's striking is relatively rudimentary as he uses it to get to the clinch or to get takedowns, Khabib would be well served to remain standing as he has better power and technique on the feet. On the ground this is a toss up, Healy has smothering top control but Khabib has better scrambles and if Khabib is on top of you you're in trouble. This should be a good fight, but I'm leaning towards Nurmagomedov here.
Costa Philippou vs. Francis Carmont: I don't like Francis Carmont, though I'm hard pressed to come up with an actually legitimate reason beyond I don't like his fights. He's gotten a gift, borderline Clucky, decision in his last two fights and that tends to rub me the wrong way. I know it's not his fault if the judges get the decision wrong, but it's still an impulse reaction. Costa Philippou has been doing good work in the UFC at middleweight, technically he's undefeated at 185 in the UFC as his long UFC loss was a catchweight fight at 195 against Nick Catone. Philippou has a grinding style of striking, he'll hit anything he can and will continue to do so until you can't fight back anymore. If you're arms are up he'll hit them and your shoulders until you can't defend yourself, if you're head is exposed he'll hit that as much as he can. If Philippou doesn't get a finish he could lose a decision, just because Carmont is a Canadian fighting in Canada and Clucky loves those. That said I don't think Carmont can stand up to the pressure and volume that Philippou will bring, look for Costa to finish late in the fight after Carmont has absorbed a barrage of strikes.
Brendan Schaub vs. Matt Mitrione: I don't especially care about this fight, as these two still being employed by the UFC is proof that they still wish The Ultimate Fighter was a big deal with legitimate top shelf talent coming out of it. Brendan Schaub's last fight was laughable, his poor attempts to finish Lavar Johnson with an anaconda choke provided me with many a laugh and more than a couple of face palms. Matt Mitrione has more upside at this point because he's actually got a chin and is surprisingly light on his feet for a heavyweight. I think Mitrione lands a couple of good shots and Schaub goes down.
UFC interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao vs. Eddie Wineland: For my money this is the closest title fight on the card, but more on that in a moment. Renan Barao hasn't been beaten since his second professional fight, it's a staggering statistic and incredibly impressive when you look at some of the guys he's been fighting. This will mark the second defense of the interim bantamweight title by Barao, though at this point I'm calling Barao the real champion. Renan Barao has a great skill set for MMA, and trains with a great camp. Barao has power in his strikes, knows how to use kicks, knees, and punches in their proper proportions to keep his opponent backing up and guessing about what's coming next. Barao excels on the ground though, his transitions, his submission attacks, his scrambling ability, it's incredible to watch. Eddie Wineland is no joke, he's won two in a row and is a former bantamweight champion from the early days of the WEC. Wineland has vastly improved his takedown defense and he packs incredible power for a bantamweight, if he's able to land a flush blow to Barao the champ could be in trouble. That said, Barao is great at moving forward and forcing his opponents to fight while moving backwards, most MMA fighters aren't comfortable fighting off the back foot and Barao is great at making guys move backwards. I think the first round and a half or so will be fought on the feet before Barao finds an opening and gets Wineland down, from there it's a short distance to a submission and another victory for champion Renan Barao.
UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson: Jon Jones is one of my favorite fighters right now, so any time I get to see him fight I view it as a big event, and the UFC has promoted the fight entirely on the basis of these two guys being big, so there's that I suppose. While the UFC would have you believe that Alexander Gustafsson being a whole incredible inch taller than Jon Jones matters, it really doesn't. Jones will still have a substantial reach advantage, and he excels at using his kicks to keep the distance he wants. Alexander Gustafsson fights very well in close quarters, his hooks and uppercuts are sharp and he does a decent job of using his reach to get in close where he can do damage. Unfortunately for Gustafsson, in close means Jon Jones could grab a clinch and send him for a ride. Jones' clinch game is dominant, I'm actually surprised he doesn't use it more because he lands good shots from the clinch and can take his opponent down seemingly at will from that position. On the ground Jones is a monster, he needs very little time to land damaging strikes from top position, and he passes guard very easily if he feels the need to. On the feet Jones is one of the few fighters in MMA who actually knows how to use his reach, both with his hands and his legs, and picks his opponents apart from distance before going in for a killing blow when the opportunity presents itself. I don't think Gustafsson has the tools to beat Jon Jones, he's got good but not great power and his best strikes come from a medium distance, I think Jones stops Gustafsson in the third or fourth round with strikes on the ground.
And on that note, you've survived the Guillotine yet again. I'll have the live coverage for 411mania this week, and I'll be on the 411 Ground and Pound radio show on Sunday to discuss the fallout from UFC 165. Plus on this weeks Everyone Loves a Bad Guy I'll be talking about The Shield, no not the wrestling group but the great TV show. So until next week, keep your head up and your neck guarded.