This really has been a bumper period for the UFC and its fans, as we prepare for the third event in just over a week.
The UFC returns to Fox this Saturday, and brings with it a heavyweight title eliminator fight, as Fabricio Werdum and Travis Browne lock horns. Serving as the co-main event, is a women’s bantamweight bout, as popular ladies Miesha Tate and Liz Carmouche do battle. The card is rounded out by an explosive clash of lightweights, as Donald Cerrone takes on Edson Barboza, and a middleweight matchup that sees Brad Tavares square off against Yoel Romero.
Now, on to what I think you should be looking out for on the prelims.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Rafael dos Anjos – 155lbs.
Why Nurmagomedov is fighting on the undercard, I do not know. This is a man that, by all reports, has many of the division’s top contenders running scared, holds a perfect 21-0 record and has been ragdolling anyone and everyone he has faced in the Octagon. This man is my tip for the title in 2015, but for now he’s stuck on the prelims of a Fox card that could have boosted his name in to the deserved limelight.
Rafael dos Anjos is no scrub either, and is currently riding a five-fight win streak. Those wins have come over top competition, in particular dos Anjos’ last two victories over Evan Dunham, and most recently, Donald Cerrone. Listed as the #7 lightweight in the UFC’s own rankings, dos Anjos will look to move a step closer to wider recognition, and maybe contendership with a victory here.
This one will be tight, but I expect Nurmagomedov to have the capabilities needed to take dos Anjos down when needs be, and keep him there for an extended period of time.
Prediction – Nurmagomedov via decision
Thiago Alves vs. Seth Baczynski – 170lbs.
The Muay Thai crushing machine that is Thiago Alves, is back. Having last competed in March 2012, the former title challenger Alves will be looking to not only shake off some rustiness when he sets foot in the Octagon, but also some less than stellar form. Alves has a 2-4 record over his last six contests, and was most recently defeated by Martin Kampmann.
Baczynski got back on track with a victory in his last bout over Neil Magny, having lost his previous two outings to Mike Pierce and Brian Melancon. Despite these two defeats, Baczynski, a former TUF competitor, has performed admirably in his second stint with the UFC, racking up a 5-2 record.
This is a big step up in competition for Baczynski, irregardless of the time Alves has spent on the shelf. Baczynski could threaten with takedowns and grappling, but I can’t see this one lasting long enough for that to be an issue.
Prediction – Alves via KO/TKO
Jorge Masvidal vs. Pat Healy – 155lbs.
Masvidal had looked as though he found his feet in the UFC’s lightweight division, that was until Rustam Khabilov took them away from under him repeatedly. The decision loss to Khabilov broke Masvidal’s three-fight win streak, and Masvidal will face a tough test in the smothering Healy.
Healy has not recovered from his UFC debut where he beat Jim Miller convincingly, only to see the result turn in to a No Contest after he tested positive for marijuana, which not only cost him the victory, but also around $135,000 in bonus money. Since then, Healy has gone on to lose to Nurmagomedov and Bobby Green.
For me, this one comes down to who can implement their gameplan first, and best. Masvidal will have the beating of Healy on the feet, but Healy should be able to exploit Masvidal’s wrestling ability.
Prediction – Healy via decision
Jordan Mein vs. Hernani Perpétuo – 170lbs.
After a successful UFC debut which saw him TKO Dan Miller, Jordan Mein stumbled last time out and was on the receiving end of the finishing strikes of Matt Brown. The former Strikeforce competitor will be looking to get back on track when he takes on debuting Brazilian, Perpétuo.
While Perpétuo is riding high on a seven-fight win streak, his confidence shouldn’t matter a great deal, as Mein will have far too much for him on the feet.
Prediction – Mein via KO/TKO
Tags: Jordan Mein, Jorge Masvidal, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Mixed Martial Arts, Pat Healy, Rafael dos Anjos, Thiago Alves, UFC, UFC on Fox 11