While the world wonders how the former street fight champion of
Slice, will fit into the already bizarre realm of reality TV,
those of us with two brain cells to scrape together can look
forward to UFC Fight Night on Wednesday. Oklahoma City, a home to
both good in mega-baller Kevin Durant and pure evil in Garth
Brooks, will play host to its first UFC card since Yeltsin’s
booze-fueled heyday. With the titular main card matching Stockton
trash-talker supreme Nate Diaz
against his New Orleans equivalent in Melvin
Guillard, the pre-fight interview highlights will be better
than anything in television history.
The rest of the main card lives up to the same fistic standard.
Huerta will make his UFC return against the new blue-chipper of
the lightweight class, Gray
Maynard, while the king of the mean-face, Carlos
Condit, locks up with UFC debutante Jake
Ellenberger. Rounding out an evening of top-shelf violence is
Credeur putting his undefeated UFC run up against middleweight
gatekeeper du jour, Nate
Be honest with yourselves about your Wednesday night plans: You can
either watch super-athletes fight for money or you can spend your
night gambling on major network midseason replacements. I think
anyone who watched “More to Love” will tell you that for the sake
of your faith in the decency of humanity, just watch the
The Breakdown: One of the more unlikely UFC main events in recent
memory finds Diaz desperately trying to put a two-fight losing
streak behind him while Guillard is coming off a controversial but
career-saving win over Gleison
Tibau that some consider the biggest Christmas gift since
Ralphie got his BB gun at the end of “A Christmas Story.” What
really bailed out Guillard in his bout with Tibau was his ability
to stuff the initial takedown attempt and cage walk his way out of
trouble whenever Tibau finished. Diving forward for takedowns is
not Diaz’s game, though, as he prefers to trade on the feet and
transition to the mat during scrambles.
The first part of that approach will be critical as Guillard’s
speed and power make him a constant knockout threat, albeit one
with holes in his defense that Diaz’s southpaw stance is ready-made
to exploit. Namely, Guillard keeps his left hand dangerously low
and drops it down to the Mariana Trench whenever he leads with the
jab. Much like his chronically chronic older brother, Diaz throws a
lot of right hooks and it may be a matter of time before one finds
Guillard’s suspect chin. As we’ve seen in his bouts with both Tibau
Stevenson, once Guillard gets rocked, his all-universe takedown
defense disappears faster than Alec at a Baldwin brothers reunion.
Not good news for a fighter who gives up position far too easily
and relies more on athleticism than skill on the mat.
The X Factor: Bravado runs deep for
Diaz. He’ll have no qualms about trading with Guillard despite
giving up speed, power and versatility on the feet to him. By the
same token, Guillard was shooting double legs on Tibau, which was
like watching a zebra fillet itself for a lion. Diaz will happily
pull guard if Guillard makes the same mistake, but he may not get
the chance to if he starts playing Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots first.
Neither fighter is Bobby Fischer when it comes to strategy, but
they’ll both need some to keep their flaws from becoming fatal.
The Bottom Line: For all the
improvement Guillard showed in his match with Tibau, he still
didn’t land much in the first two rounds and got soundly outclassed
in the third. Against an opponent who is far more aggressive on the
mat and better equipped to hold his own standing, Guillard will
have even less margin for error and it’s always a matter of time
before he starts leaving himself open. Expect Diaz to frustrate
Guillard with the right hook-straight left combo early before
putting the lights out by chin-checking Guillard and catching him
mid-scramble with a textbook brabo choke.