I fired a tweet at Dana White just before sitting down to write this (@fitcityjordan). The response I got from @DanaWhite was “I Love this card!!”.
It seems that Dana White and I are both excited for this card. What the heck are all these awesome match ups doing on a free card? Here are the quick hits.
Demetrious Johnson vs. John Dodson
This fight is at 125-pounds, AKA, really fast fighters. It's a new division, so the fighters are all really pushing the pace and action in their fights. Both fighters stand 5'3 and have a more than 15 fights each. I give the higher level experience to Johnson, but you can't count out Dodson's unorthodox style. The breakdown later in this column is needed to really explain who I am picking.
Rampage Jackson vs. Glover Teixeira
This one is going to stay in the quick hits, with a simple prediction. Teixeira wins or he never fights in the UFC again. Jackson has been more than flat in his last few outings. He lost the passion years ago. Unless someone found a way to light the fire, Teixeira takes this with pure drive to move his career forward.
Anthony Pettis vs. Donal Cerrone
If you know me, you know I always take Cerrone. If you know Pettis, you know I can't count my chickens before they hatch. This is Joe Silva's best matchup in months. I'll tell you more, and why I'm sticking with the Cowboy in the breakdown.
Erik Koch vs. Ricardo Lamas
Not going to spend much time on this one. If Koch wins this, he opens the door to the top five of the featherweight division. He needs to beat a solid challenger after this one, then start talking about the champ, Jose Aldo. A 13-1 record definitely deserves to be in the conversation, and 14-1 means he can ask for someone with clout in the division.
Clay Guida vs Hatsu Hioki
Clay Guida got a tongue lashing from Dana White and his fans after his fight with Gray Maynard. It's not what we expect from Clay. We expect an outright brawl start to finish. Hioki hasn't finished a fight yet in the UFC. So why do I think Hioki may pull this one out? Three fights in the UFC means this one is probably his last if he loses and is boring. This fight has an interesting plot to it and I will walk you through it and explain Hioki, later on.
Ryan Bader vs Vladimir Matyushenko
Ryan Bader has lost to the best in the business. His weakness is the skill and submission of the top guys. They don't push him around, they simply “catch him” with something from their well rounded game. Matyushenko has also lost to some of the best. That's why I love this fight. Two middle of the road fighters, not top ten, but real close. This is the fight to see who holds the key to the top ten. From here on out, new fighters will be facing these two to start their climb to a shot at the title. This one is going to have a big knock out, or some savage ground and pound. My guess is Matyushenko gets the win. Old Russian strength is so unpredictable.
Alright, quick hits are done, now is the time to start the explanation. Here is the whole break down on my top three picks.
I am taking Hioki over Guida due to complacency. Guida sealed himself as a fan favorite years ago, it seems the UFC brass love him, and he wins more often than not. Hioki on the other hand, hasn't won any hearts. Three fights in the UFC and three decisions. At 2-1 he needs to do something big. What would be bigger than submitting Guida? Fun fact about Clay - You either get the hard earned decision or you submit him, you can't beat this guy down.
Of Guida's thirteen loses, six are decision and six are submission. How good is Hioki's ground game, well, to prove me right it better be world class and full of endurance. I am calling a second round submission here. Hioki wants to stay in the UFC, so I really think he will find a way.Cowboy Cerrone is on this card. The guy is crazy out of the cage, and absolutely brilliant in the cage. His kickboxing style is perfect for MMA. He works with the Jackson MMA team so his training partners are top notch. There are very few holes in his game, and when he shows up to fight, great things happen for the fans.
Pettis is also a kickboxing machine. He comes out of Rufussport. Fun fact number two of this article - Duke Rufus taught me how to throw a solid leg kick. After three years of kickboxing and more than a decade of Martial Arts, Rufus taught me how to kick. Pettis is no exception, he knows how to kick. I don't think I need to mention the matrix kick, but I will any way. Not only did he complete a kick by jumping off of the cage, he did it to Benson Henderson. That's precision personified.
So you have two incredibly skilled fighters, how do you pick a winner? If you are me, you go with crazy. Crazy wins a couple more fights than just skilled. I'm calling a submission win, set up by some fierce kickboxing.
I skipped Quinton Jackson's fight and I am just praying he doesn't put us all to sleep with his recent fighting style of “not really into it anymore” wrestling. If we are lulled into a trance like state, it should be broken up by Johnson and Dodson.
Dodson proved he is one of the most unorthodox fighters we have seen in the UFC. The Ultimate Fighter series had him doing all kinds of things to get the win. Two of his last three fights have had him winning with punches and showing some solid power. Obviously, his speed is there but can Dodson outwork Johnson. I am going to say no, not this time around.
Johnson showed a very good array of weapons in a loss to a much bigger Dominick Cruz. He has only been getting better, and I think he will out “skill” Dodson. I will say it again, this time. Dodson needs to fight someone at this level and then head back to the lab to perfect his skill and strength.
Can Dodson win? Yes. Will he? I don't think so.
It will be an exciting fight. There will be lots of punches thrown. The guy having his hand raised with be Johnson and it will start a rivalry that I can't wait to see the rubber match for.
Jordan Cieciwa can be heard on TSN Radio 1290 every Saturday at 11:30am ct with his show The Weigh-In. You can also follow Jordan at www.twitter.com/FitCityJordan and get all your fitness tips at www.onefitcity.com.