The UFC puts its foot down in New Jersey today with it’s fifteenth card to be shown on network TV. UFC on FOX 15 features a pivotal middleweight showdown between two of the division’s best middleweights – only one will leave with access to a title shot in his next bout. While the main card will only be showing four fights, this event has had people talking about it for sometime as it looks to be one of the best cards in recent memory. Before we take a look at what will be shown on FOX, let’s take a quick peak at some of the prelim fighters who will be featured on this evening’s undercard.
Eddie Gordon vs. Chris Dempsey
Middleweight action starts the card off as TUF 19 winner Eddie Gordon gets paired with Chris Demepsey, who is still in search for his first UFC victory. Gordon is an extremely athletic fighter who relies on his takedowns and top control to win the majority of his bouts. His nickname is “truck”, and he fights just like how you might think. He is aggressive, hits incredibly hard, but does lack a lot of the technical aspects of MMA. Dempsey on the other hand is quite well-rounded – he doesn’t do anything particularly well, but is solid in all aspects of MMA. Dempsey is extremely durable as well, but durability doesn’t win fights. Expect Gordon to look to put his big power punches on Dempsey early; if this doesn’t pan for him then expect takedowns and suffocating top control from the more physical fighter en-route to a decisive decision win.
Diego Brandao vs. Jimy Hettes
This featherweight affair is sure to be an explosive confrontation between two guys who aren’t afraid of getting hit in order to impliment their own gameplan. TUF 14 winner Diego Brandao is a pocket of aggression. He throws winging, powerful punches on the feet, much like a featherweight Wanderlei Silva, but couples that with a very advanced ground game. He likes to go for powerful takedowns, and explodes into submission attempts with everything he has. Brandao very much lives and dies on his aggression. Hettes on the other hand is a stubborn, durable fighter who is very hard to put away. His striking leaves much room for improvement, but he uses his reach to create openings for his clinch game. Hettes excels with his trips and sweeps to put his opponent on the mat. From the top position, Hettes has a suffocating top game and a great eye for submissions as he has finished the majority of his opponents with a tapout.
Like I said, this should be a fun fight to watch. Look for Brandao to come out cocked and looking for early swarms of punches, but he needs to be careful not to empty his limited gas tank too early on a guy who is known for having an iron chin. Brandao should hold a massive physical edge on the ground, so look for that to stifle Hettes in the early goings. I’m Brandao to dominate the first two rounds, but the American to stage a comeback on a tired and depleted Brandao in the third. Ultimately, Brandao should have done enough to warrant the decision win.
George Sullivan vs. Tim Means
The “Dirty Bird” returns to the Octagon after the starching of Dhiego Lima just a little under two months ago to meet the rising prospect George Sullivan who is 2-0 in the UFC. Both Sullivan and Means seek to finish their opponents no matter where they might end up. For Means, this usually takes place in the clinch where he puts all 8 points of contact to work to try and overwhelm his opponent. He throws crisp, clean strikes for range, but constantly pressures and attempts to outwork his opponent with volume. Sullivan on the other hand is a bit well-rounded as he’ll take the fight to the ground if he wants to whereas Means prefers to stand and trade. Sullivan is a strong fighter with knockout power, but lacks the technical cleanliness of Means’s striking game. Ultimately this should be a violent affair between two goes who like to hurt each other. I’m picking Means by TKO in another outstanding performance as his straight, razor sharp striking should prove to be more efficient that Sullivan’s brute force power game.
Ajamain Sterling vs. Takeya Mizugaki
Team Serra-Longo prospect Aljamain Sterling looks to make it 3-0 in the UFC’s featherweight division as he takes on long-time division staplemate Takeya Mizugaki. When it comes to Japan’s Mizugaki, we know what we’re going to get before we get it. He has some of the best boxing in the division, and looks to trade in the pocket with each and every chance he gets. Takedown defense used to be an issue for Mizugaki, but unless you can surprise him with a nicely timed level change, he has evolved to the point where his wrestling game is now something to watch out for. While Mizugaki isn’t a proven finisher, Sterling is. Look for Aljamain to be noticeably more aggressive and take much more risks than Mizugaki. Sterlin has an outstanding kicking game while striking at range, and will look to avoid trading in the pocket with Mizugaki and instead go right to a clinch. Sterling is extremely athletic and can put his opponent on their back in a blink. Because both fighters will try to strike at a range uncomfortable for the other, expect a lot of clinch and ground work in this fight. Mizugaki’s volume on the feet might give Sterling some troubles at first, but eventually Sterling’s speed will put him in position to finish the fight. I’m predicting a second round submission win for Sterling who’s speed and killer instinct will give him a massive advantage in the early goings.
Gian Villante vs. Corey Anderson
Another TUF 19 makes an appearance as light-heavyweight Corey Anderson matches up against Gian Villante. “Beastin 25/8″ will look to make it 3-0 in the UFC in this bout, and will most likely look to do so via his impressive wrestling skills. While Corey may have started out as a one-dimensional takedown artist who relied on his physical advantages more so than technique, Corey has been looking better and better with each appearance. I’m expecting an impressive performance here from him against a perfect opponent to do so against in Gian Villante. Gian too is a wrestler, but lacks the physical advantages that Anderson will bring to the Octagon. Villante throws some decent punching combinations and mixes in good takedowns, but against an athletic fighter who may be better at wrestling than him this might turn into a bad night for Villante very quick. Look for Anderson to showcase some much-improved striking skills against Villante, and over-power him in the wrestling department en-route to a late TKO or decisive decision victory.
Ovince St. Preux vs. Patrick Cummins
Another light-heavyweight affair featuring two wrestlers takes form in this bout between OSP and Patrick Cummins. Both of these guys have incredible wrestling skills and are currently in the works to round out the rest of their game. St. Preux is coming off of the biggest win of his career when he starched Shogun Rua on short notice in a massive upset. While the bout only lasted a meager twenty seconds, what we saw was that St. Preux might have just figured out a way to link his athleticism to his striking skills. OSP has looked very awkward on the feet in the past, and he’ll have to bring a finesse approach to deal with Patrick Cummins’ straight-forward wrestle-boxing gaming. Cummins, while he isn’t flashy, is a very efficient and effective fighter. He throws good punching combinations, can close the distance quickly, and has a high-pressure wrestling game that features some very good chain wrestling as well. This is a very interesting match-up because of how equally matched these two are in the wrestling department, however this might be the perfect chance for OSP to showcase his potentially improved striking arsenal. A popular pick is Cummins by decision as his relentless and stubborn takedown hunt might just overwhelm a generally too-relaxed OSP, but I’m going to go with OSP by TKO in an eye-opening performance.
Jim Miller vs. Beneil Dariush
At the top of the undercard lies an extremely interesting bout between perennial lightweight contender Jim Miller and the rising prospect in Beneil Dariush. Dariush is just coming off of one of the best performances of his career when submitted Daron Cruickshank just one month ago. Now, he steps in for the injured Paul Felder and faces New Jersey’s own Jim Miller. Both Miller and Dariush are proven finishers especially when it comes to searching for submissions. They pursue the finish aggressively, but have a lot of the technical aspects of MMA under their belt as well. On the feet, Dariush will look to showcase his much-improved striking skills thanks to the time he has spent at Kings MMA and working with the legendary Rafael Cordeiro. Dariush favors a punishing body kicks and has crisp punching combinations as well. Miller on the other hand has a boxing-oriented approach and favors a lead power hook, but has had problems defensively on the feet – especially when it comes to blocking kicks. Even though Dariush and Miller are equally matched in the grappling department on paper, Miller has a knack for surprising his opponents as is evident with his kneebar win over Charles Oliveira. Dariush will have to watch out for Miller’s patented guillotine and the wrestling of Miller – as long as Dariush stays cautious of those things, he should be able to light Miller’s body up with his power kick and long punching combos en-route to a decision.
Stay tuned for the main card preview!