Eddie Wineland is once again a player at 135 pounds. | File photo
As one would expect from a year-end event, UFC 155 “Dos Santos vs. Velasquez 2” is stacked from top to bottom with noteworthy matchups and storylines. The event takes place Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, and the preliminary draw kicks off on Facebook before transitioning to the FX network at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. Here are five reasons to watch the UFC 155 undercard:
Sherdog Fantasy MMA: UFC 155 Free Fan Pick’Em
If you are not fired up about Brad Pickett fighting Eddie Wineland on free TV, you may now be excused from the adult table.
This bout carries with it serious contender implications, and for good reason. Both Pickett and Wineland looked superb in their most recent in-cage appearances, relieving Yves Jabouin and Scott Jorgensen of their respective consciousness in two beautiful displays of punching power.
Wineland should be the larger and longer of the men on fight night, and he would be wise to use those traits to his advantage. Conversely, should the Brit navigate his way past Wineland’s snappy straights, Pickett will likely find himself in the driver’s seat with the freedom to launch hooks and uppercuts from close range.
If I had to bet on somebody taking this fight to the floor, it would definitely be the American, but I do not see either man going that route. In my eyes, this fight is meant to be decided standing, and I reckon both men will oblige us.
On a slightly smaller scale, I am also excited to see Erik Perez perform again. This kid has impressed me with his power, technique and resilience, and, at just 23 years old, he could turn into something special sooner rather than later. Standing in his way will be Byron Bloodworth, who saw his return to the cage delayed by injury after he was finished by Mike Easton in his Octagon debut last year. Can Perez get the job done and take another step up the bantamweight ladder?
Lightweight Light Show
I have a feeling Melvin Guillard and Jamie Varner are going to be worth the wait.
Expected to go down Dec. 15 at “The Ultimate Fighter 16” Finale, the matchup was scratched by Nevada Athletic Commission officials at the 11th hour after Varner became ill. Guillard immediately seized the opportunity to hype their rescheduled confrontation, asserting that Varner’s illness was caused by the former World Extreme Cagefighting champion’s fear of facing him.
Add to this Guillard’s assertion that Varner’s camp communicated concern over him greasing up before entering the cage, and the table has been set for an emotional firefight that will, in all likelihood, result in one man leaving the MGM Grand Arena with two straight losses on his ledger and potentially even a pink slip in his hand.
Prior to the Guillard-Varner showdown, Michael Johnson’s bout with the unbeaten Myles Jury will also be worth your time. “The Menace” has won three straight, most recently wrecking Danny Castillo at October’s UFC on FX 5. Johnson has shown immense improvement in his standup during this recent stretch. Will he be able to work his way inside of Jury’s varied attacks and versatile skill set?
Thanks to the work of Demetrious Johnson, Joseph Benavidez, John Dodson, Ian McCall, Jussier da Silva, Mamoru Yamaguchi and many others, most of us couch potato types are now intimately familiar with how wickedly fun it is to watch flyweights do their thing.
Cariaso was doing just fine as a bantamweight but nevertheless decided to trim down to 125 pounds this summer, a decision that could make him a championship contender someday soon. At 31 years old, “Kamikaze” appears to be coming into his own as a fighter and is continually improving, as exhibited in his clear-cut unanimous decision victory over Josh Ferguson at UFC on Fuel TV 4.
If Cariaso has cruised through his Ultimate Fighting Championship trials like a Corvette, Moraga smashed through his like a freaking Panzer. Granted, anything can happen in one fight, but Moraga absolutely decimated former two-division Tachi Palace Fights champion Ulysses Gomez, displaying knockout power rarely seen in a flyweight. A win over the respected Cariaso would be quite a feather in the cap for Moraga. Can he perform the same trick twice and score another head-turning victory?
Godzilla Raids Again
Dear Todd Duffee,
Please know that every comparison I make between you and a character from the Godzilla movie franchise from now until the end of your career will be done in the most complimentary way possible and is in no way meant to be derogatory. For instance, your agility? That’s some straight Mothra stuff right there.
Dedicated fans need not be reminded of Duffee’s superior physical tools, as they have always been plain to see. Unfortunately for the hulking heavyweight, so was his 2010 knockout loss to Mike Russow in his last UFC appearance and his subsequent thrashing courtesy of Alistair Overeem under the Dream banner.
To Duffee’s credit, his return to competition this year showed exactly why so many people were high on him in the first place, as the 27-year-old knocked out an overmatched Neil Grove in just 34 seconds at Super Fight League 2. No one can deny that Duffee owns the raw ability to be great one day. The question is, can he continue to improve his technique while staying healthy?
Duffee’s UFC return could be one of the more interesting stories of 2013, regardless of the outcome. If he starts cracking people and moving up the heavyweight mountain like that Russow loss never happened, it will be a hell of a statement. Likewise, if he washes out and ends up kicking it inside the Ozone again -- well, that will be quite a story, too.
Just Bang, Bros
Max Holloway and Leonard Garcia could not be more different, and that is exactly why I would bet on them producing a beautiful fight.
Holloway is a long, lean young gun fresh off the assembly line. At just 21, the Hawaiian sports a rare sheen of polish that belies his years, at least in the standup department. Look no further than his dominating performances against Pat Schilling and Justin Lawrence to see that this kid is ready for another Dustin Poirier-type challenge.
I do not know if Garcia will give Holloway any trouble, but I do know that he will all but die trying. Should “Bad Boy” still have a roster spot after essentially losing five straight fights? Absolutely not, but as long as the WEC veteran continues to swing hard at his targets, whatever the results, people seem to enjoy it.
In my eyes, this is Holloway’s fight to lose. By all accounts, he should shred the veteran with his superior technique and economy of motion. However, there is always the chance that Old Leonard could drag this promising sapling into a down-and-dirty dogfight, and that possibility intrigues the heck out of me.