On Saturday night Fox present another UFC card that is packed with relevant, intriguing, potentally exciting fights. It also has Chris Camozzi against Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.
All joking aside, this is another really strong card on Fox. That should come as no surprise, even after Yoel Romero was forced to pull out of his fight with Jacare due to injury. The UFC’s showcase events on Fox have become a major highlight of the company’s packed television and pay per view schedule.
The four fight main card has world title implications. Lyoto Machida and Luke Rockhold will battle in the main event. The winner will take a big step towards a shot at whoever comes out of the Chris Weidman, Vitor Belfort fight at UFC 187 with the belt. Jacare will hope to keep his chance of a title shot alive with a win over Chris Camozzi in the co-main event.
Cub Swanson and Max Holloway remind us that there is life in the featherweight division below the Conor McGregors and Chad Mendes’ of the world, while Paige VanZant and Felice Herrig will try to emerge from a crowded chasing pack at strawweight.
Middleweight – Luke Rockhold (13-2) Vs Lyoto “the Dragon” Machida (22-5)
The UFC has middleweights Luke Rockhold and Lyoto Machida ranked at number 4, and number 2 respectively. Both are genuine contenders at 185lbs and it’s easy to see why.
Aside from a contentious decision loss against Phil Davis, Machida’s only defeats have come against the very best in the world. Losses to “Shogun” Rua, “Rampage” Jackson, Jon Jones and Chris Weidman carry no shame whatsoever.
Finding a way to cope with Machida’s style may not be considered the same unsolvable problem it was before Shogun dethroned him as light heavyweight champion in 2010, but it remains a difficult proposition for anyone in the division.
Still, when you look back over Machida’s storied career, Luke Rockhold is better than almost all of the fighters the Dragon has beaten. At this point in time you could make a case for him being better than all of them. He just needs to beat a truly elite fighter to prove it.
For all his obvious ability, what Rockhold lacks is a real marquee name in his win column. His most notable victory, against Jacare in 2011, was under the Strikeforce banner at a time when we were still wondering how Jacare would fare against the best in the UFC.
For Rockhold, a win over Lyoto Machida would fill that gap on his record, and set him up to challenge for the middleweight title.
On the surface Rockhold is younger and seems hungrier than his 36 year old opponent, yet there has been no real evidence to suggest that Machida is slowing down. He took little more than a minute to dispatch C.B. Dollaway back in December.
Two of the best middleweights in the world fighting over twenty five minutes is a mouthwatering prospect, and the fact that the fight is so tough to call only adds to the appeal.
Michelle Luce – Luke Rockhold
Michael Dicken – Lyoto Machida
Dave Madden – Luke Rockhold
Joey Blood – Lyoto Machida
Ryan Thomas – Luke Rockhold
Coty Kennedy – Luke Rockhold
R Eric Ellison – Lyoto Machida
Stephen Rivers – Luke Rockhold
Luke Rockhold 5 picks – Lyoto Machida 3 picks
Middleweight – Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (21-3-1) Vs Chris Camozzi (21-9)
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza was originally scheduled to fight sixth ranked middleweight Yoel Romero. That fight fell through less than a week ago when it was announced that Romero had injured his knee and would not be able to compete.
Insert Chris Camozzi, really for no other reason than he was the only one available and willing to take the fight on such short notice.
Trying to build a case for the competitive nature of this fight is a tough ask. The two fought in 2013 and Jacare won in under four minutes. That defeat started a four fight losing streak for Camozzi that saw him cut from the UFC.
Camozzi has rebounded since his departure from the UFC with wins over Jeremy Kimball and Wes Swofford.
Compare that to Jacare’s level of competition since he beat Camozzi in their first fight. Yushin Okami, Francis Carmont and Gegard Mousasi have been lined up as opposition, Jacare has gone through all of them.
It would be a brave man that could find a reasonable path to victory for Camozzi in this fight. If he can last longer than the 3 minutes and 37 seconds he did first time round then he wil have done well.
Michelle Luce – Jacare
Michael Dicken – Jacare
Dave Madden – Jacare
Joey Blood – Jacare
Ryan Thomas – Jacare
Coty Kennedy – Jacare
R Eric Ellison – Jacare
Stephen Rivers – Ca…. Jacare
Ronaldo Souza 8 picks – Chris Camozzi 0 picks
Featherweight – Cub Swanson (21-6) Vs Max Holloway (12-3)
With all the promotion for Jose Aldo – Conor McGregor, and the recent fight between Chad Mendes and Ricardo Lamas, you could be forgiven for forgetting that there is a whole division beneath the very best in the world.
That is where Cub Swanson and Max Holloway, both top ten fighters in their own right, sit. Not quite as good as Lamas upwards, but better than most of the rest at 145lbs.
Holloway comes in on a five fight win streak that has solidified his spot as a top ten featherweight. A fight against Cub Swanson represents a big step up in competition, and provides a chance to prove he belongs at the top end of the division. The last time he found himself in this position, back to back defeats against Dennis Bermudez and Conor McGregor halted his run.
Swanson finds himself in a similar, albeit elevated, position. After racking up six consecutive wins from January 2012 to June 2014, he was beaten by Frankie Edgar in November of last year.
That defeat plays back in to the notion that Swanson is not quite as good as those above him in the rankings, but better than the rest of the division. Swanson’s last four defeats have been to Edgar, Lamas, Mendes and Aldo. Four of the top five in featherweights in the world.
It’s a compelling fight that neither man can afford to lose if they have short term aspirations of working their way towards a title shot.
Michelle Luce – Swanson
Michael Dicken – Swanson
Dave Madden – Holloway
Joey Blood – Swanson
Ryan Thomas – Swanson
Coty Kennedy – Swanson
R Eric Ellison – Holloway
Stephen Rivers – Holloway
Cub Swanson 5 picks – Max Holloway 3 picks
Felice Herrig (10-5) Vs Paige VanZant (4-1)
Reebok deals, dancing videos and selfies. Lots and lots of selfies. To suggest that fan interest in this fight was based on nothing more than the in-cage prowess of the two fighters would be disengenuous.
Yet a series of recent events have made this fight all the more relevant to the future of the strawweight division. A new champion, an injury to top contender Claudia Gadelha, and a surprising defeat for Joanne Calderwood this past weekend have combined to open up the possibilities for the next title shot. It’s a race to see who impresses first.
Both women have a 1-0 UFC record going in to the fight. As of right now, with the division still in its developmental stages and so many fighters coming off losses, 2-0 just might be good enough to earn a title shot if the performance is suitably spectacular.
Michelle Luce – Herrig
Michael Dicken – VanZant
Dave Madden – VanZant
Joey Blood – Herrig
Ryan Thomas – VanZant
Coty Kennedy – Herrig
R Eric Ellison – VanZant
Stephen Rivers – Herrig
Felice Herrig 4 picks – Paige VanZant 4 picks
And don’t forget the prelims
LW – Jim Miller (24-5-1) Vs Beneil Dariush (10-1)
Miller 4 picks – Dariush – 4 picks
LHW – Ovince Saint Preux (17-6) Vs Patrick Cummins (7-1)
Saint Preux 4 picks – Cummins 4 picks
LHW – Corey Anderson (5-0) Vs Gian Villante (12-5)
Anderson 8 picks – Villante 0 picks
BW – Takeya Mizugaki (20-8-2) Vs Aljamain Sterling (10-0)
Mizugaki 2 picks – Sterling 5 picks
WW – George Sullivan (16-3-1) Vs Tim Means (23-6-1)
Sullivan 1 pick – Means 7 picks
FW – Diego Brandao (18-10) Vs Jimmy Hettes (11-2)
Brandao 5 picks – Hettes 3 picks
MW – Eddie Gordon (7-2) Vs Chris Dempsey (10-2)
Gordon 8 picks – Dempsey 0 picks