A lot of people are calling tonight’s event a ‘watered down pay-per-view’, but I disagree — it’s a damn good card. If you want to see a watered down pay-per-view, just look at what UFC 174 is shaping up to be.
Jamie Varner vs. James Krause
I wish I could be more sure of either side in this fight. I do think Krause got a bit overvalued for his fight with Sam Stout, who tends to fight to the level of his opposition (or below it). And Varner has a well known tendency to let himself get drawn into a slug it out fire fight when he doesn’t need to be or would be ill served to do so. But, Up until he did that against Trujillo, he was winning handily. And while he got trucked for a couple rounds against Tibau, Krause doesn’t have the bulk or offensive wrestling to repeat that. So, I gotta go with Jamie Varner, probably by TKO.
Takeya Mizugaki vs. Francisco Rivera
Very tempting to pick Rivera, because outside of Michael McDonald he’s arguably the heaviest puncher at 135 lbs. Rivera by KO is a good possibility considering Mizugaki was getting tagged a bit by Nam Phan in the later parts of their fight, but when comparing their overall skill sets, I favor Mizugaki. Rivera is just a tad too one-dimensional for me and Mizugaki would be wise to put Rivera on his back and work from there. Takeya Mizugaki by unanimous decision.
Robbie Lawler vs. Jake Ellenberger
One of the big things I remember from the Ellenberger vs. MacDonald fight is how quickly MacDonald was able to get back to his feet off takedowns. It’s also one of the things I remember from Lawler’s fight with Hendricks. In general, when he was down, he wasn’t down for long. Couple that with the fact that Lawler really doesn’t seem to mind getting hit and probably won’t adjust his offense around the fear of the takedown. Given that, and the fact that Ellenberger really needs to show that he’s not just going to freeze up again, I’ve gotta pick Lawler. Robbie Lawler by KO, round 2
Daniel Cormier vs. Dan Henderson
This would be a bad matchup for Henderson even if he weren’t showing his age and engaging in his fifth fight in the last fifteen months. That would be a brutal, grinding stretch even for a much younger fighter, but for a 43-year-old who’s been around the game as long as Henderson, this is going to drastically speed up the process of decline. I don’t buy the idea of Cormier as a budding power puncher and never will, so I doubt he’ll be able to finish Henderson, but I think he can win on volume at range by circling away from Hendo’s power hand and using his size to grind the smaller man in the clinch. Cormier, unanimous decision.
Renan Barao vs. T.J. Dillashaw
This has massacre written all over it. If Faber couldn’t get it done, what makes anyone think Dillashaw can? The only interesting title fight at 135 lbs. right now is Barao vs. Cruz, and anything else isn’t really that interesting to me. Renan Barao, TKO, round 3.