I know there are a bunch of you “morning people” out there that have been clamoring for a live UFC card that you could watch as you sip your coffee and practice your Tai Chi… Now your prayers have been answered! This Saturday’s UFC on Fuel card starts at 9 AM EST from the lovely gambling paradise of Macau, China.
My knowledge on Macau came mostly from an episode of No Reservations, so what from I gather, Macau was once a Portugese colony that reverted to Chinese rule in the late 20thcentury. It’s considered the gambling capital of the Eastern Hemisphere and certainly rivals Las Vegas for gambling capital of the world.
Saturday’s card features a gang of fighters that should appeal to the Asian market from top to bottom. Even though Tiequan Zhang is the only actual Chinese-born fighter on the card, the UFC hopes that other names such as Dong Hyun Kim, Takanori Gomi, and Takeya Mizugaki can help foster the growth of the sport in the growing Asian Market.
The Main Event of the evening falls into that “fun fight” category we saw with the Jedi-beating Anderson Silva gave a ‘roided out Stephan Bonnar a few weeks ago. Rich Franklin and Cung Le will be squaring off in a booking that has little to do with either’s ranking in the Middleweight universe. It’s well known that Franklin is a true company guy and will show up and scrap anywhere and anytime Dana White asks him to. We know what to expect whenever “Ace” Franklin steps in the cage, but I am not so sure what we will get out of Mr. Le in the Main Event. Last time we saw Cung Le, he was in a wheelchair at the post-fight press conference after his win over Patrick Cote in July. Le had badly broken his foot in the fight, and to Cung’s surprise, Dana basically contracted him to fight on the UFC’s first card in China a mere 4 months away. Le has talked about his extensive and eccentric attempts at preparing his injured foot for this fight and recently stated that he the foot will be at about 80% healed coming into the fight. How much will that injured 20% factor into his bout with Franklin? A whole crap-ton if you ask me, but I will elaborate on that later… On to the Preview!
Main Card on Fuel TV (9 Freakin’ AM EST!)
Takeya Mizugaki (15-7-2) v. Jeff Hougland (10-5)
This engagement was shifted to this card after UFC 151 was scrapped. Mizugaki is well known for his WEC wars with the likes of Brian Bowles, Scotty Jorgensen, and Miguel Torres. He has traded wins and losses for the better part of the last three years. Hougland has solid submission skills, but hasn’t competed with anyone that has anywhere close to the amount of experience against elite competition as Mizugaki does. Mizugaki by unanimous decision.
Tiequan Zhang (15-3) v. Jon Tuck (6-0)
Zhang has lost three of his last four under the Zuffa banner, but likely still has a job just so the company could showcase him on this card. Tuck was a TUF 15 contestant that never made it into the house. He has a legitimate grappling pedigree bout I believe the home crowd will push Zhang back into the win column. Zhang by Decision.
Takanori Gomi (33-8, 1 NC) v. Mac Danzig (21-9-1)
If this fight was booked circia 2008 on a PRIDE Bushido card, I am sure the MMA blogosphere would be buzzing about the matchup, but at the tail-end of 2012, the only thing this tilt will tell us is if either has anything left in the tank to propel themselves to the upper echelon of the division. Neither guy is overwhelmingly old, but both have been in the fight game for over 11 years and have endured some serious battles. Gomi’s best days are certainly behind him and Danzig has seemingly accepted a gatekeeper role in the division. Gomi will have the fans behind him, but I do not think ‘The Fireball Kid’ will be able to defeat the brawling vegan Danzig. Danzig has performed well as of late, earning end of the night bonuses in two of his last three with a 2-1 record. Mac is going to come into the competition in superior shape and pick apart Gomi for three rounds. Danzig by decision.
Dong Hyun-Kim (15-2-1, 1 NC) v. Paulo Thiago (14-4)
Both fighters here are coming off devasting losses and will be looking to right the ship in Macau. We all know Thiago is a bad-ass dude with his special forces training, but he just hasn’t been able to get over on top flight competition as of late. Kim is coming into the scrap as the favorite, and rightfully so. No doubt that Dong will have a fire lit underneath him in this one as he tries to make up for his odd loss to Demian Maia in July. Throwing these two in the cage seems like Joe Silva is just begging for a decision, and I think that is what he is going to get. Kim by split decision.
Thiago Silva (14-3, 1 NC) v. Stanislov Nedkov (12-0)
Hey look! A fight without an Asian athlete in the mix. Though Nedkov does have a connection to the market, as he has had some big time fights with the likes of Travis Wiuff and Kevin Randleman under the World Victory Road brand in Japan. To my untrained eye, it looks like Silva’s job could be on the line in Macau on Saturday. He has not won in his last 3 fights with one of those fights was ruled a no contest because Thiago submitted a urine sample that was defined as “inconsistent with human urine”, whatever that means. Nedkov is no pushover and has serious power in both hands. I think he hands Thiago a Knockout of the Night loss and his UFC pink slip. Nedkov by KO.
Rich Franklin (29-6, 1 NC) v. Cung Le (8-2)
Let us start with what we know about these guys. First, Rich Franklin. The dude always comes ready to fight, he is a true old school brawler. We can guarantee that he will be in shape and ready to take a punch and throw a few bombs back. Cung Le? We know he has Van-Damme-esque striking techniques that are a blast to watch, but that is about it. Sure, Cung has beaten some notable guys, but he recently got iced by an aging Wanderlei Silva and struggled to put away a less than stellar Patrick Cote. Le is not 100% coming into this fight and for a guy that relies so much on his ridiculous kick arsenal, I can see that broken foot causing real problems against a vet like Franklin. Franklin by KO.
Remember 9 AM start for this one folks! Enjoy the fights!