The Fight Report: UFC on FOX 7

| April 15, 2013 | 12:17 pm | Reply

UFC on FOX 7We’re in the middle of a long schedule of UFC action, and the king of FOX fights, Benson Henderson, is once again on deck in Saturday’s UFC on Fox 7 main event.  Having handily defeated Nate Diaz in his last outing, he’ll look to keep his belt away from the next contender from the Scrap Pack, as Gilbert Melendez makes his UFC debut.  We also have another Lightweight fight for the ages, as Josh Thomson returns to the UFC to take on Nate Diaz.

It’s a solid night of fights all around, so let’s dig into the action and see what’s coming to us on Fox.

Benson Henderson vs. Gilbert Melendez: A champion quickly working his way into those p4p lists of the world, Benson Henderson will look to continue his Lightweight reign, facing Strikeforce Lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez.  Henderson is equal parts natural talent and hard work, having amazing physical gifts in terms of balance, flexibility and a seeming immunity to chokes, combined with an ever-growing arsenal.  MMA-styled wrestling, laser-accurate kick attacks and a speedy boxing game are Henderson’s calling cards, and something Melendez will need to puzzle out for a successful debut.

A tremendous talent who’s never found his way into the UFC, Gilbert Melendez will finally tangle with the elite of the world and attempt to definitively earn his place among them.  A wrestler who has added dimension upon dimension to his skill sets over the years, Melendez has fought and defeated nearly every non-UFC Lightweight in the world in his lengthy career.  Melendez has a heavy right hand, seamless takedowns inside the pocket, and submission defense skills are what have seen him this far in his career, and this test will make or break his legacy in the short-term.

I like Melendez a lot, but have to admit this is a really difficult fight for him.  Having fought Josh Thomson three times and arguably losing two of those bouts, it occurs to me that Henderson is basically a better version of Melendez’s thrice-damned foe.  Having never made those adjustments to put Thomson away definitively in his career, I don’t see the work in the gym changing for Henderson.  While Melendez may have his moments on the feet, this is one I think he finds himself being hustled in from the outside and during clinch and takedown phases, leading to another Henderson decision win.

Nate Diaz vs. Josh Thomson: A fight that has gotten me more excited than I thought, Nate Diaz will look to rebound from his title tilt loss, facing former Strikeforce champion Josh Thomson.  Diaz hasn’t changed much in the last several years and while the pattern is predictable, the means to break it are generally lost on his opponents.  Diaz has two major flaws:  An inability to stop leg kicks, and a perfectly predictable BJJ grappling pattern.  However, finding fighters that can survive his ripping boxing patterns and submission savvy are few and far between.

Enter Josh Thomson, a long-time fringe contender who’s spent more time on the bench due to injury than he’s spent in the cage.  A phenomenal talent, Thomson’s ring rust has tarnished what could have been a truly epic career, yet he isn’t done yet and makes a case for top-level status on the big stage.  We’ve seen little of an “on” Thomson in the last few years, yet when he’s on, he remains one of the fastest Lightweights on the planet.  Crippling leg kicks, constant forward pressure and rapid takedowns make him difficult to engage in another other than a pure defensive manner, and no one on the defensive is winning a fight.

Picking fights with Thomson is scary just because of the amount of trauma he’s suffered in his career.  His legs come and go, and with movement being such a huge part of his game, we could see a stellar performance or someone just doing what they can to try to pull out a win.  A prime Thomson brings the leg kicks, forward movement to avoid getting stuck at the end of Diaz jab, and more than enough submission defense to avoid Diaz game off his back.  A worn Thomson however will find himself stuck in a boxing match with Diaz that I can’t see him winning, as he lacks the dynamite punching needed to fall such a sturdy opponent. Only time will tell which we get, but the ensuing bout should be excellent just the same.

Daniel Cormier takes on Frank Mir at UFC on FOX 7

Daniel Cormier

UFC on FOX 7 Quick Reports:

Frank Mir vs. Daniel Cormier: A heavyweight fight that should have happened ages ago, Mir will finally face off with Cormier, but this time in the UFC.  Mir remains a cerebral fighter with some outstanding skills, yet his body doesn’t appear to be conditioned for this level of competition anymore.  Having a shaky chin and lackluster movement against Cormier is a recipe for disaster, as the AKA trainer brings one of the most complete kickboxing games in the business, along with Olympic-caliber wrestling.  It’s a rough night for Mir as Cormier lights him up standing for three rounds, taking a late TKO or decision win.

Matt Brown vs. Jordan Mein: Everyone’s favorite battler will return to the cage, as Matt Brown takes on another Strikeforce invader in Jordan Mein.  Brown has made his career as a tough-as-nails competitor with a surprising amount of refined skills, yet Mein comes into this fight as a major obstacle for his continued success.  Mein brings a snappy striking game and a depth of stand-up skill rarely seen, even at this level of competition.  While Mein’s ground work remains his major flaw, Brown doesn’t have the wrestling needed to take advantage of this, and I see him losing in almost every phase of this fight.  Look for Mein to string together combinations throughout the match, eventually scoring a mid-fight stoppage.

Chad Mendes vs. Darren Elkins: A fighter on a serious tear, Darren Elkins will test his hybrid grappling style against one of the division’s best wrestlers in Chad Mendes.  Mendes has been looking to reinvent himself after his loss to Aldo; adding a heavy dose of aggression and working towards finishing his foes with his fast and heavy hands.  Elkins is a smooth operator on the mat, but I think he’ll have an issue with his entry here, as it’ll take a better wrestler than Elkins to get this on the mat.  Stuck in a striking bout, Elkins is simple and effective, but lacks the power needed to stop Mendes, who can pick his spots and walk with a decision win.

Francis Carmont vs. Lorenz Larkin: A rising star within the division, Francis Carmont meets Strikeforce fighter Lorenz Larkin in a fight that should see both men deep into the division.  Carmont is someone who seems to have the full backing of GSP, and therefore the full backing of fans, yet I don’t see anything spectacular from the Tristar Gym fighter.  Larkin comes into this as a versatile and fast striker with a sprawl and brawl style that will give many men fits, and Carmont is going to be the first on a long list of vanquished opponents.  Larkin should have the tight striking needed to close distance and land on his lanky foe, putting a stop to Carmont within two rounds.

Ramsey Nijem vs. Myles Jury: TUF fighters whom should have been on the same season, yet an injury forced Jury into surgery and a long recovery.  Jury made it back after some time away and while he didn’t win his season either, he’s made himself known as a strong talent within the division. Nijem isn’t unstoppable by any stretch, but his raw power, top-level endurance, supernaturally heavy hands, and solid wrestling skills make him a difficult opponent to deal with.  I think Jury may have the answer with his MMA-geared BJJ game, but the clock is ticking here with Nijem’s ability to hit takedowns and work hard from top position.

Joseph Benavidez vs. Darren Uyenoyama: When you fire everyone in a budding division, you end up with fights like this, as Benavidez takes a step down to fight Darren Uyenoyama.  This is nothing against Uyenoyama of course, as he brings world-class grappling skills into the cage, and has had quite a career for himself over the years.  Unfortunately, Benavidez is simply better in every aspect of the fight game and should handily blast him within a round, moving onto bigger and better things….provided the UFC hires some Flyweights to fight.

Tim Means vs. Jorge Masvidal: Mr. White, just write your FOTN check now.  Hard-hitting Tim Means has made some waves in his short UFC career, and while he lost via TKO to a sauna floor last time out, folks are expecting big things from him.  His opponent is perhaps the most underrated fighter today however, as Jorge Masvidal brings his unique striking style to the cage.  One of the best raw athletes around, Masvidal’s only obstacle in his career has been a willingness to fight absolutely anyone, and his Strikeforce contract that kept him on a shelf for far too long.  Means is a harsh tune-up fight, especially considering his size and use of reach, but Masvidal’s takedowns can turn this fight easily if he’s on point.  A great scrap awaits us, and one I think Masvidal points out, despite some hairy moments throughout the three rounds.

Anthony Njokuani vs. Roger Bowling: A very interesting bout, Anthony Njokuani will look to rebound from his last loss, taking on explosive fighter and newly-minted Lightweight, Roger Bowling.  Bowling is one of the best can crushers in the business, but could be so much more now that he’s fighting at a better weight class for him.  Njokuani poses several problems due to his length, yet his chin has never been able to handle a barrage like Bowling can throw.  It’s a tense fight, but I think Bowling will surprise Njokuani right off the bat, laying into the muay thai specialist and getting an early KO.

UFC on FOX 7 takes place Saturday April 20th from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.

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Category: Featured, MMA, Strikeforce, UFC

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My brain child is MMAValor, something I had wanted to do for a long time and finally it’s here. Been an MMA fan since TUF season one (play catch up all the time) and the obsession started to grow like a weed and as the sport grows so does the love for the sport. I’m a jack of all trades, a very organized person that rides an emotional roller coaster daily.

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