If you ask me, this card is flying wayyy under the radar. Amidst the Winter Olympics and the high points of both college and professional basketball, the UFC is putting one of their supposed top draws on display. No doubt Ronda Rousey is a certifiable star in the eyes of Hollywood execs, but I don’t know if she has the perceived Pay Per View drawing power that Zuffa believes in. Throw in the fact that she is fighting the Tim Duncan of female fighters in Sara McMann and there is little to no buzz about this weekends title tilt. Most of the blogosphere has been consumed with the fact that due to Rashad Evans’ weak knee ligament, Daniel Cormier is fighting a barista with a few weeks of sprawl training. Either way, there are still a ton of meaningful fights on this card, I’m just not sure it is the typical pay per view showcase that comes with one of the company’s top draws. There is no way around it: Ronda Rousey’s true potential as a bona fide MMA star will be tested this weekend. Will you be tuning in? I’ll try to make the choice for you in the coming preview!
Prelims on Fight Pass (Picks in Bold)
- Erik Koch vs. Rafaello Oliveira
- Ernest Chavez vs. Yosdenis Cedeno
Prelims on FOX Sports 1 (Picks in Bold)
- Alexis Davis vs. Jessica Eye
- Raphael Assuncao vs. Pedro Munhoz
- Cody Gibson vs. Aljamain Sterling
- Zach Makovsky vs. Josh Sampo
I don’t understand how Koch and Makovsky are this low on the card, but again, my name isn’t Joe Silva…
Main Card on Pay Per View (Vegas favorite in Italics)
Robert Whittaker v. Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson
If you have followed us for any length of time, you know we are big time ‘Wonderboy’ fans here at Moai Martial Arts. The executive half of the M.M.A. brain trust digs him because of his decorated karate background, while my half roots for the kid because he is one of the most entertaining strikers in the sport. While the UFC has been riddled with decisions as of late, Wonderboy’s style leads one to believe this PPV curtain jerker won’t go the distance. I mean, when you are the guy that Middleweight Champ calls to emulate Anderson Silva, you have to be doing something right. I really appreciated Whittaker’s TKO of Colton ‘The Backpack’ Smith last May, but my direct deposit wouldn’t go through if I picked against ‘Wonderboy’. Thompson by submission. (Yes, I said submisson!) We have two strikers going against each other here and I think Thompson has the better skills on the mat.
Mike Pyle v. TJ Waldburger
Both of these fighters were streaking towards title contention before their gold aspirations were derailed by vicious KO’s from Matt Brown and Adlan Amagov respectfully. I am hoping this is going to be a riveting scrap. It should be an early contender for the brand spankin’ new ‘Performance of the Night’ bonus that the Zuffa purse is handing out. Pyle is widely regarded as the best fighter in the world outside of the Octagon. Basically meaning that he kicks everyone’s butt when sparring, but falters a bit when he hits the cage. I have never made my way over to one of his training sessions to watch his practice prowess so I can’t vouch for his world-beating skills… Pyle isn’t one to wall’n’stall and neither is Mr. Waldburger. I like Pyle in a back and forth battle. Let’s hope his chin holds up, Pyle by KO.
Rory MacDonald v. Demian Maia
I don’t know if I have ever been happier watching a fighter getting his butt whipped than I was to see Rory catch a beatdown from Robbie Lawler at UFC 167. Rory hasn’t made many fans in the world of MMA and I am certainly one of his outspoken detractors. He has all the talent in the world but lacks that killer instinct of fighters past. Sure, I am just an armchair MMA analyst but I just don’t think Rory loves to cagefight. He loves to WIN, but not scrap.
Now throwing the one-time heir apparent to the Welterweight crown against one of the most revered grappler’s in MMA is clearly an interesting tactic by Joe Silva. Maia ‘technically’ lost his last fight against Jake Shields… Let’s be real, I sat through that fight. No one won a damn thing. It was as exciting as my morning breakfast of oatmeal and black coffee.
Vegas loves Rory here and I hate to agree with them. Rory is incredibly well-rounded, though he doesn’t necessarily excel in any one field while Maia mostly depends on his grappling prowess. This hurts to say, but Maia won’t be able to contend with Rory’s movement and outside striking. MacDonald by decision.
Daniel Cormier v. Patrick Cummins
Cormier wins by TKO before the 3rd round starts. Book it. Lock it up.
I have never been more confident than anything in my illustrious blogging career. Cummins is rolling in off the street with a lovely story about making Cormier cry during Olympic training. I guess the story got the guy the fight, but DC is not someone who I would want to tick off. Throughout his life, DC has experienced way more tragedy than any human should have to. Even so, he has risen to the absolute top of the sport. Cummins talks like he has been training his butt off for this one, but whatever he has been doing doesn’t compare to Cormier being in the same gym as the reigning, defending and undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World Cain Velasquez on a daily basis. I said it once, I’ll say it again. DC by TKO.
Women’s Bantamweight Championship
Champion Ronda Rousey v. Sara McMann
The MMA fan in me really wishes this fight had a little more hype behind it. I believe Rousey has million PPV buy potential behind her but the marketers at Zuffa have slacked off with this one. Whether it be Ronda’s quick turn around from her last fight limiting her media availability or McMann’s Elmer’s Glue-esque personality, there is little to no buzz here. Don’t you think with two former Olympic medalists facing off against each other for UFC gold you could easily capitalize of promos that alluded to that fact? I mean the whole freakin’ country has Olympic fever right now and don’t you think a few ‘casual’ fans out there would tune in to watch two former female Olympians fight in a cage after their wive’s made them watch ice dancing all week? You bet your butt their would! You don’t even have to mention the fact that Rousey is probably going to steamroll McMann! The word ‘Olympian’ is worth it’s weight in gold.
It should be noted that McMann is the preeminent women’s wrestler over the last decade. She has crazy mat skills, easily the best Ronda has ever faced. Still, to me, they don’t mean jack. Ronda is on another level than any other female that can make 135 lbs. in the world. McMann may be able to get her to the ground, though I doubt Sara wants this to go the mat. Ronda is LETHAL when searching for an armbar, therefore there is little reason for me to believe this ends any other way. Tate lasted 58 seconds into the Third Round, I am taking the under on that for McMann. Rousey by Armbar.