I’ll admit I really like writing these. They’re quick, easy, and I have no high standards as an MMA commentator to live up to. It’s a nice way to recharge my batteries from other weeks, because I don’t take fourteen pages of notes for these.
The Main Event: Light Heavyweight Title Bout
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (19-4) vs. Jon “Bones” Jones (12-1)
The Breakdown: In his Book of Basketball, Bill Simmons talked about the idea of the Wine Cellar Team, which was the team you’d put on the court in the event of a basketball-themed alien invasion. Trust me, in the book it makes perfect sense. So if aliens came down and challenged us to a Street Fighter-style tournament with the winner getting the sweet sweet rewards of the other planet (women, dilithium crystals and those little plastic things on the ends of shoelaces for some reason), there’s a good chance I would want Jon Jones in the cage defending my wife and my footwear. He’s the most inventive fighter alive right now, a superlative athlete that would excel at any sport and just happened to choose the brutal art of completely obliterating another human being. Jones has never been out of his comfort zone in a fight, throwing dangerous men around with an ease that makes everyone on Zeta Reticuli IV acutely nervous. Shogun, an excellent striker who solved the previously unsolvable riddle that was Lyoto Machida (twice), needs to go everything in his power to get Jones out of his comfort zone. Rua has to be hyper-aggressive, land some big shots and try to put Jonny Bones on his wallet. It’s not that this guarantees victory, it’s just never been done before, so it’s a possible route toward success.
My Pick: I usually go with the champion. Not here. Jones still hasn’t been proven to be human, and until he is, I go with him by TKO in the second.
Gore Factor: Medium. Jones has those hellacious elbows and Shogun can bloody up anyone.
“The California Kid” Urijah Faber (24-4) vs. Eddie Wineland (18-6-1)
The Breakdown: Urijah Faber looks like he bought his chin from Mr. Incredible’s estate sale. Once the terror of the featherweight division, two losses to Mike Brown and one loss to pound-for-pound stalwart Jose Aldo pushed Faber down to 135. The former posterboy for the WEC is now the biggest baddest bantamweight around. He’s going to have significant size and strength advantages, which is really funny when you realize that this is a division of men who weigh less than a wet fart. Of course, these are also men who would not only kick the asses of any normal guy, just for asking where they hid their pot of gold. The surging Wineland is coming off a four fight win streak and is looking to get a title shot, which polishing off Faber is almost certain to get him. Faber will use his strength and size (you know, comparatively), to put Wineland on his back and work ground-and-pound. Wineland, though game, doesn’t have the skills to stop this from happening.
My Pick: Faber by decision.
Gore Factor: Medium to high. I could see Wineland getting cut badly.
Jim Miller (19-2) vs. “The Prince of Persia” Kamal Shalorus (7-0-2)
The Breakdown: Jim Miller needs a nickname. One of the lightweight division’s best grapplers (and that’s a huge compliment considering the aggressive contortionists in that group), Miller isn’t a top contender because he has a name so nondescript, I forgot it halfway through this sentence. As if to make up for that, he’s fighting a guy whose name is so awesome, it should be used on a liqueur made from fermented gummi berries and unicorn tears. “What are you having tonight?” “Kamal Shalorus.” “Always a good idea.” Anyway, Shalorus has that weird tendency wrestlers sometimes get where they fall in love with striking and forget what made them great in the first place. Miller will only be too happy to stand with the Prince of Persia, and assuming there’s no wall-walking shenanigans, Miller should be able to avoid the worst of it. When it hits the mat, it will be at Miller’s behest, where he can start trying to find the limb Shalorus is least attached to.
My Pick: Miller by decision.
Gore Factor: Light. This looks like a grappling match to me.
Nate “the Great” Marquardt (33-10-2) vs. Dan Miller (13-4, 1 NC)
The Breakdown: I think it’s time we cut the “Great” stuff out. It’s just there because it rhymes. To actually be great, wouldn’t he have to be UFC champion? Or how about actually fighting for the championship one time? That might help. Dan Miller is a late replacement for Yoshihiro Akiyama, who scratched from the card because of the tragedy in Japan. This Miller (brother of the other Miller) isn’t quite the fighter that Jim is. Expect a long three rounds of Marquardt dry humping him.
My Pick: The “Great” wins this one by decision.
Gore Factor: None
Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (27-8-2) vs. Brendan “the Hybrid” Schaub (8-1)
The Breakdown: Brendan Schaub either calls himself “The Hybrid” because he fights equally well on the feet as on the mat, or that he sometimes operates entirely electrically. Either way, he has a big advantage over Filipovic. See, one of the major reason that MMA striking looks so much less polished than boxing is that there are many more options in the Octagon. The other guy can take you down, kick you, or do something that only Jon Jones or Anthony Pettis has thought of. A fighter who never attempts takedowns, like Filipovic, allows his opponent to get comfortable. Schaub is going to be able to strike to his heart’s content, and even if a disinterested Cro Cop puts him in a bad position, he can force a takedown to recover. This gives Schaub much more freedom in forcing exchanges, which he’ll exploit.
My Pick: Schaub by KO in round 1. And someone make my Croatian brother retire, please?
Gore Factor: Light. Maybe some boxing faces.
Undercard Highlight: Lightweight Bout
Kurt “Batman” Pellegrino (21-5) vs. Gleison Tibau (31-7)
The Breakdown: Weight cutting is a fact of life in MMA. The advantages that a higher weight confers to strength and size make up for the toll it can take in endurance. Some guys take it a little far, though. Gleison Tibau is one of these. Aside from having a name that sounds like an oompah-loompah cursing, Tibau takes it a little far. Apparently, he shows up on fight night weighing over 180 and he competes at 155 pounds. A look at Tibau’s record shows the trouble spots: he bullies inferior opponents, but tires out against better guys. Facing off against the whippet-thin Batman, Tibau should be able to take the match to the ground and work submissions from the top. The question is whether Pellegrino can weather the first round and a half and come on strong against an exhausted Tibau.
My Pick: This one is almost a coin flip but I’ll go with Pellegrino because I like him. He’ll take the decision. Also, I will scream “TIBAU!” at least six hundred times during the fight.
Gore Factor: Light. These are two jiu-jitsu specialists going to work.
I don’t miss Jon Jones fights. It’s just that simple. And with him fighting for the belt against a tough opponent, the rest of the card could be televised bar fights and I’d watch it.