History will be made in the main event of UFC 157, as Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche battle for the first Women’s title in the first UFC women’s bout. That’s hardly all that we have in store though, as Machida and Henderson battle for a title shot at 205lbs, and many interesting Strikeforce fighters invade the UFC.
We’ve got a busy night ahead of us, so let’s buckle down and take a look at the action.
Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche:
The most popular female fighter of all time, Rousey is set to defend her new UFC Bantamweight belt, taking on gritty fighter Liz Carmouche. Despite many showing in the cage, we don’t really know much about Rousey at this point. With the majority of wins coming by armbar in the first minute we’re aware of her takedowns and, obviously, her armbars, yet her depth of skill is thus far hidden from us. As the UFC scrambles to find women to face her, they’ve picked an interesting foe in Carmouche.
Carmouche is a strong fighter using a grinding style in her bouts, with her offense being based off of the cage and from top position. While still somewhat green as a fighter, she’s faced some of the best in the business thus far due to her willingness to take all comers, and has performed admirably, even in defeat. While the odds are certainly against her here, you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that Carmouche will show up to fight her heart out.
The MMA universe has Rousey running away with this fight, and with good reason, though it shouldn’t be without reservation. Rousey has thus far had her way with everyone she’s faced, yet we’ve seen her get into spots of trouble as well, namely against Miesha Tate. Carmouche knows exactly what Rousey plans to do, which is a powerful thing, given an athlete with a full training camp and a massive opportunity at her feet. I think Carmouche can at least make this difficult for her opponent and perhaps find herself in superior positions in the early goings if she’s smart and uses her strength. The issue is that I don’t think Carmouche has the skills to do much from said positions, leading to her eventually demise as Rousey continues to attack. It’s a stalling tactic at most, as Rousey hits another submission in the first round.
Lyoto Machida vs. Dan Henderson:
Two aging fighters who are aiming for what could be their last title shot, Lyoto Machida and Dan Henderson are set for an epic battle. Machida has had an intriguing career arc, going from an unsolvable riddle to being unraveled and defeated repeatedly. Having been forced to reinvent how he approaches the sport of MMA, he comes into this fight with new tools, but will have no margin for error when selecting the right one for the job.
There isn’t much I can say about Dan Henderson that hasn’t been said before. The greatest fighter of all time, Henderson has fought nearly every top competitor of the last fifteen years across several weight classes, and seldom seen defeat. His game is incredibly simple but devastating just the same, and while age has dulled his edge slightly, even a dull axe can kill.
This is a tight fight due to several factors. One is that Henderson is incredibly durable and has rarely been wounded in a stand-up fight, making Machida’s love of high-impact kill shots more of a detriment than anything. We also have the factor of Henderson getting a takedown or two here and there, which could seal the deal in close rounds and lead to a decision for the Team Quest fighter. It’ll be up to Machida to work his vintage game plan and pick his spot for a takedown or two of his own, which should give him the edge on the score cards in a tense match.
UFC 157 Quick Reports:
Urijah Faber vs. Ivan Menjivar: Faber has shown he isn’t fit for the top of the heap anymore, yet remains a legitimate terror for the majority of the roster. Menjivar does bring some troublesome aspects for Faber with his crisp striking and fast hips off his back, yet Faber is one of the most complete fighters in the game and should be well prepared for anything Menjivar has in store. An exciting fight, but one that leaves little doubt as to who the better man is, as Faber beats Menjivar to the punch and works generous takedowns for a decision win.
Court McGee vs. Josh Neer: Both fighters have struggled mightily as of late in the division and it’s not inconceivable that one leaves the cage unemployed here. McGee is making a cut down to 170 lbs. for this bout and his size should help him here against a veteran like Neer, whom himself should be a lightweight. McGee has a clear wrestling advantage and a chin of granite, both of which should help him deal with Neer in every stage of the fight. Neer’s bottom game and vicious infighting could be problematic, but McGee’s takedowns and clinch control should shut Neer down every step of the way, leading to a late submission win for McGee.
Josh Koscheck vs. Robbie Lawler: One of the most anticipated UFC 157 fights for me, long time brawler Robbie Lawler makes his return to the Octagon, taking on Josh Koscheck. If I knew Koscheck was going to stick to his wrestling I’d have him winning this with zero difficulty, yet Koscheck has chosen to fight as a boxer/wrestler in the last couple of years, primarily to his detriment. In a battle of strikers, Koscheck will find himself on the wrong end of the stick here if he’s not fleet of foot, and his chin isn’t built to absorb Lawler’s punishment. Koscheck can win this fight if he wants, but we won’t know what he’s thinking until he steps into the cage.
Brendan Schaub vs. Lavar Johnson: Another fight hinging upon a game plan, Schaub will look to rebound from two straight KO losses, taking on monstrous puncher Lavar Johnson. Schaub has a measure of skill everywhere, but simply doesn’t have the jaw to take on other power strikers. The smart thing for Schaub to do would be to work his takedowns and mix his attack against Johnson, whom hits harder than either of his previous two opponents. I feel the long training camp for his one due to Johnson’s injury will help Schaub greatly here, allowing him time to work his conditioning up and iron out a smart game plan. Look for Schaub to put Johnson down against the fence a time or two and work from top position, locking on an arm triangle late in the first round to finish it.
Michael Chiesa vs. Anton Kuivanen: Winner of TUF 16 and our very own MMA Valor Award, Chiesa will return to the cage after a long layoff, facing Finnish grappler Kuivanen. It took me an entire season to figure out Chiesa as a fighter, as his style isn’t overly impressive, but he seems to make everything work just the same. I attribute this to freakish tendon strength that allows him to have his way with smaller opponents, and the smaller Kuivanen will be no exception. Almost a wash everywhere the fight goes, Chiesa should be able to take top position during this bout and get a hold of something to force a tap midway through the fight.
Dennis Bermudez vs. Matt Grice: A coin-flip of a fight, the impressive Dennis Bermudez meets his mirror image in the older Matt Grice. Bermudez has looked great since his time on TUF, having put together dominant wins over the submission stylists of the division that would look to make him pay for his hard-nosed wrestling game. Grice is a different competitor all together with a lifetime of wrestling skill, but a list of broken body parts to go with it. This is a tough match-up that will all come down to who wins the first round. If Bermudez can come out hard and put Grice on the mat first, I expect the older fighter’s cardio to give out in later rounds as he’s on the defensive. If not, Grice can use superior skills to shut down Bermudez and take a decision win of his own. My money is on the younger man to be a hair too powerful for Grice to deal with and control this fight for its duration, likely heading into a decision win.
Sam Stout vs. Caros Fodor: The Strikeforce invasion continues, as well-rounded technician Caros Fodor faces long-time UFC agent Sam Stout. Fodor brings a wealth of skills, yet his game is primarily one of clinch work and harsh pacing, breaking down weaker opponents and taking away their weapons. Stout is no stranger to long bouts, yet years of action in the cage have seem to have caught up with him in his last match, where his legs clearly weren’t there for the later half of the fight. Considering Fodor’s own power and three rounds of cardio, this is a match ill-suited for Stout to win, as Fodor shuts him down and grinds him out for a decision win.
Look for more UFC 157 coverage throughout fight week.
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