Wait there's a title fight this weekend? You wouldn't think so with all talk leading up to UFC on FOX 8 surrounding the potential welterweight title eliminator between Canadian Rory MacDonald and Jake Ellenberger.
Either way, the UFC once again is showcasing a flyweight title fight as it main event on FOX, in an attempt to boost the popularity of the 125-pound division.
Jordan is playing the role of T.J. Grant and staying on the sidelines this week, so I'll be riding solo in this preview. As always you can hit me up on twitter @LynchOnSports if you “Agree” or “Disagree” or leave your opinions in the comments section below.
Demetrious Johnson vs. John Moraga
James Lynch, TSN.ca (@LynchOnSports): The UFC flyweight champion makes the second defense of his title Saturday night as he squares off with the 13-1 powerhouse Moraga. The odds suggest the current 125-pound torchbearer is a considerable favorite, but I'd argue this is a much more competitive matchup.
The 29-year old Moraga has been stellar in his first two octagon appearances, finishing both Ulysses Gomez and Chris Cariaso. In fact in his 13-fight career, the former NCAA Division I Wrestler has eight finishes, while Johnson has yet to finish a fight at flyweight. He also holds a three inch reach advantage over Johnson and is arguably the better wrestler.
If the Phoenix native is able to control “Mighty Mouse” with his wrestling and neutralize his stand-up, he has a good chance of finishing this fight early. However, if this contest goes into the championship rounds I'd favor the current flyweight kingpin.
While no doubt Moraga is talented, at the end of the day the AMC fighter is faster and has more tools in his arsenal to win this fight. I see Johnson riding this contest out into the later rounds, out striking his opponent and having his hand raised in grueling contest.
Johnson via unanimous decision
Rory MacDonald vs. Jake Ellenberger
The most competitive matchup on the card serves as the night's co-feature, as these welterweight contenders hope an impressive win leads to an eventual 170-pound title shot. Over the last three years MacDonald has been hailed the future of the welterweight division but has been constantly critiqued for his lack of quality opposition and injury history. If the 24-year old wants to silence his critics, an impressive victory over the IFL veteran would certainly do that.
The Nebraska native meanwhile shoulders a similar burden heading into this fight, as past losses to Carlos Condit and Martin Kampmann have halted his billing as a title contender. While “The Juggernaut” lives up to his nickname having the superior knockout power in this fight, MacDonald does possess a three and a half inch reach advantage which could be effective in keeping the 28-year old at a distance.
Despite a lackluster victory over an undersized B.J. Penn in his last fight, I believe we will see a more evolved “Ares” as he should neutralize Ellenberger's speed and stand-up on route to a unanimous decision victory.
MacDonald via unanimous decision
Robbie Lawler vs. Bobby Voelker
A pair of Strikeforce veterans square off in a pivotal welterweight matchup. Lawler had a successful UFC homecoming in his upset victory over former title challenger Josh Koscheck. The Kansas City native Voelker meanwhile was on the wrong side of a decision against Canadian Patrick Cote in his last fight in which many pundits (including this writer) thought he was robbed.
Despite this, “Vicious” has a number of factors working against him heading into this fight. He accepted this bout on just two weeks' notice (replacing the injured Siyar Bahardurzada) and has a rather weak resume compared to the former Elite XC middleweight champion.
On top of all this, Voelker works full time as a construction worker and attends school, meaning his time for training is far less than that of his opponent.
“Ruthless” should be able to use his superior wrestling to control his 34-year old foe and knock him out sometime in the second round.
Lawler via second round knockout
Liz Carmouche vs. Jessica Andrade
Former title challenger Carmouche returns to the UFC as she squares off with the 21-year old Brazilian Andrade, who makes her octagon debut. Despite losing in the first round to Women's champion Ronda Rousey, the former marine did have the champ in danger in the fight early on and that experience will certainly serve her well in this contest.
The Brazilian meanwhile replaces Miesha Tate (who replaced Cat Zingano in her title fight versus Rousey) and is considerably smaller than the Strikeforce veteran. Honestly we don't know much about Andrade, other than her fight record is rather lackluster compared to the 29-year old.
“Girl-Rilla” should use her size, speed and wrestling to outmuscle the 21-year old, on route to a third round TKO victory.
Carmouche via third round TKO
Undercard picks: Chiesa, Castillo, Guillard, Cruickshank, Kedzie, Herman, Salas, Albert
Also be sure to tune into the “Weigh-In” on TSN Radio 1290 Winnipeg every Saturday as myself (@LynchOnSports) and Jordan Cieciwa (@FitCityJordan) go toe to toe in discussing the hottest topics in Mixed Martial Arts.