At one time, the UFC only had four weight classes under the Zuffa banner. Tonight’s card on FX ushers in an 8th division as the 125 lb weight class takes center stage. Fans will also be treated to a welterweight slug fest that will set some type of balance to a division in limbo as the next move of Carlos Condit and Georges St. Pierre is unknown.
Court McGee (13-1) vs. Costa Philippou (9-2)
McGee has three straight wins in the UFC. He is a grinder who methodically breaks his opponent down over the course of 15 minutes. His conditioning is a key component to overwhelming a fighter in the cage. I don’t foresee The Ultimate Fighter winner having much difficulty with Philippou, who is coming off a loss. He ties up and grinds out his fights in similar fashion but simply doesn’t do it as well.
The Pick: Court McGee by decision
Heavyweight fights are contested at the speed of Street Fighter II while action in the flyweight division will equate to Street Fighter II Turbo. Considering the UFC are usually anti tournament, they went all out for this one. Two of the best bantamweights on the planet drop down a weight class while the two best flyweights in the world vacated their titles for octagon aspirations. To avoid the lightweight title fiasco of 2003, a sudden death round will solely determine the winner if the first three rounds are ruled a draw.
Joseph Benavidez 15-2 vs. Yasuhiro Urushitani 19-4-6
Joseph Benavidez is tailor made for 125 lbs and is the favorite to win the tournament. Yasuhiro Urushitani is considered the number two flyweight in the world and vacated the Shooto 123 lbs title for this opportunity. Urushitani has the ability to make people look really bad while picking them apart with jabs and hooks. Benavidez will constantly push the pace with his superior wrestling. Urushitani will have difficulty stopping the shot primarily because he doesn’t throw power punches straight down the pipe. I don’t see Urushitani causing significant damage that would prevent the team alpha male fighter from imposing his will.
The Pick: Joseph Benavidez by 3rd round submission
Ian McCall 11-2 vs. Demetrious Johnson 14-2
Picture two Energizer bunnies, on speed, fighting each other and this is what we are in store for. Hardcore fans rejoiced when Ian McCall’s name appeared on the brackets. “Uncle Creepy” is the number one ranked flyweight in the world. He vacated the Tachi Palace Fights title for the chance at UFC gold and man, they did not give him an easy task. Like Benavidez, Demetrious Johnson also made for the 125 lbs division. “Mighty Mouse” gave bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz, some serious difficulty in a losing effort.
McCall is a charismatic individual that people gravitate towards. Johnson is an all business fighter who fights with such heart that you can’t help but cheer for him. McCall will have the reach advantage and will look to work his leg kick game through the fight. On the ground, he often utilizes the knee on belly position pounding on folks in side control. Johnson’s speed at changing levels and takedowns is uncanny and will present complications for McCall who sometimes starts slow during the first couple of minutes of the bout. McCall mixes up his strikes more but Johnson’s strength and submission game will be the deciding factor.
The Pick: Demetrious Johnson by unanimous decision
Thiago Alves vs. Martin Kampmann
MMA fights that promise to be a slug fest often times fail to meet the mark. The fighter who has some semblance of a ground game will use it to their advantage to get the win. That should not happen this time since the skill set of Alves’s BJJ and Kampmann’s wrestling cancel each other out. Kampmann never shoots in for takedowns and would be ill-advised to do so tonight since Josh Koscheck couldn’t take Alves down. The contrasting styles of Kampmann’s dutch kickboxing pedigree and Alves’ high impact Muay Thai offense should make this a fire fight of precision. History shows that Kampmann often moves straight backwards in the heat of the moment and as a results, takes a number of shots to land one or two punches. Look for the American Top Team prodigy to cash in on that gaping hole in Kampmann’s game.
The Pick: Thiago Alves by 3rd round KO
Don’t forget prelims on Fuel TV starting 6:00 PM EST and the FX card at 9:00 PM EST