The Fight Report for the very Stacked UFC 167

| November 12, 2013 | 8:02 pm | Reply

UFC 167 LongThe 20th Anniversary of the UFC brings about one of the biggest cards in their history, with top-tier talent across the board at UFC 167. Our main event is the anticipated title tilt between GSP and welterweight juggernaut Johny Hendricks, in a true test of the champion’s mettle and Hendricks drive to win. We also have a special attraction between two of the biggest names in the company at 205lbs, as Chael Sonnen faces off against his broadcast partner and former title holder in Rashad Evans.

There’s a lot of ground to cover here, so let’s take a look at this historic card.

Georges St. Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks: UFC Welterweight champion and a French-Canadian icon, GSP will look to keep his strap firmly affixed to his waist, facing one of the greatest threats to his title in Johny Hendricks. GSP has been in there with some of the best and brightest in his long and storied career, having ushered in his own era on the back of Matt Hughes, sent BJ Penn packing and having crushed rising threats like Jake Shields and Carlos Condit.

Every one of those men brought something to the table that no one else has, and Johny Hendricks in no exception. Having had a marginally successful run as a boxer/wrestler in the WEC and UFC, Hendricks switched gears in training to truly harness his natural ability to move like a locomotive, and started turning heads with his one-and-down KOs of Martin Kampmann and Jon Fitch. Having pulled out the win over Carlos Condit last time out, Hendricks has placed himself in position to score the most definitive win of his career, and potentially retire a living legend with one sweeping left hand.

Typically the UFC hype material can be somewhat ridiculous to the trained eye and in-the-know fans, but this one is spot on with its focus on Hendrick’s hellacious left hand. Having channeled the momentum of his NCAA-championship caliber shot into a battering ram of a punch, Hendricks comes off as a one-trick pony with a truly fight-changing trick. This punch failed him against Condit, yet it was his sturdy wrestling base and forward pressure that kept the decision in his favor, and the same wrestling base could well allow him to outwork GSP if his strikes should fall short of the mark.

One thing that’s always stuck out at me has been Hendricks lack of MMA wrestling, having stuck to what works on the college mats, but not having learned even basic tricks to master the cage. This is a symptom of someone how is the best wrestler in any given gym he walks into, but this missing knowledge has shown time and again against lesser wrestlers like Rick Story, Mike Pierce and Charlie Brenneman. GSP’s entire wrestling game is built on this venue, and with Hendricks not having the bottom game to pop up after a takedown, he could see his chances at victory slip away with his back affixed to the octagon canvas. Hendrick’s window to victory is open for only a short time, as a well-timed punch will crush GSP’s faulty chin; The champion’s only real weakness. Failing that, Hendricks simply can’t compete with GSP in any facet of the fight game, and will find himself on the wrong end of a decision, championship hopes dashed.

Rashad Evans vs. Chael Sonnen: An interesting bout between men whom have topped their respective divisions for years, Rashad Evans will look to shut the motor mouth of the polarizing Chael Sonnen.  This is a pivotal fight in both men’s careers, as a loss here will set two aging fighters back a considerable distance from title gold, and both have tools in the toolbox to oust the other from contender status.

For Evans, he needs to concentrate on being the faster fighter and getting everything off before Sonnen can react, as Sonnen is one of the best pressure-fighters of his generation. By working his fleet footwork and zippy counter punches, Evans can make Sonnen pay for coming forward and put the people’s champ on his heels, which historically negates almost all of Sonnen’s offense. For Sonnen, he needs to make his strikes count early by forcing Evans to move straight back, cut off the cage, and make his wrestling work for him. Evans has never functioned well off his back and has been taken down before, giving Sonnen the out to use his ultra-heavy top game and crush Evan’s resolve in the opening round.

Overall, while Sonnen is a dangerous fighter, Evan’s track record against wrestlers is nearly perfect and when he’s able to use his speed, few fighters can keep up. Sonnen has never been a solid defensive fighter and I can see Evan’s ripping punches around his static defense while wheeling away from his lateral attack, leaving Sonnen with little to change his fortunes. A close first round turns to a clear Evans victory across three rounds, with Evans finding the mark over and over, hitting his own takedowns and adding another notable decision win to his record.

Rory MacDonald vs. Robbie Lawler: With the title being contested at the top of the card, MacDonald and Lawler will be making their case for a title shot based on their merit here. MacDonald has been chipping away at top contenders for a while now, while his demeanor and fight conduct have been chipping away at his fan base. Having sleep walked through his bout with Jake Ellenberger to grab a decision, MacDonald is set to face a fighter whom is completely unshakable and stands as his greatest test to date.

Lawler has faced some of the best across multiple weight classes in his long career, having returned to the UFC and wasted no time putting his name at the top of the Welterweight division. With a lifetime of striking experience, a build perfectly suited to the rigors of MMA, and a chin and will of steel, Lawler has every tool needed to send MacDonald packing if the young fighter isn’t 100% spot on.

MacDonald is one of the best natural fighters I’ve ever seen, but has begun to take that turn from ruthless warrior to point-fighting superstar as he’s advanced in the sport. The problem with culling someone’s natural instincts towards being a methodical game planner is that if that plan fails, they may not be able to get their mind back into the fight in time to adjust. We’ve seen MacDonald crumble under pressure before, and Lawler has the kind of non-nonsense offense that could very well break MacDonald’s spirit again here. It’s a close fight, yet I have to give MacDonald the slight nod in terms of his range control and seamless striking-to-grappling transitions, allowing him to out-point Lawler if need be, or hunt for a slick submission in grappling exchanges. A few hairy moments give way to a composed performance by MacDonald, who ultimately hits a guillotine during a scramble in the third round.

Josh Koscheck vs. Tyron Woodley: A battle of two wrestlers, this one will be a major setback to the loser, while reestablishing the winner in that upper-tier at welterweight. Koscheck has been on a decline since his second GSP fight, having never regained his drive or killer instinct after having his eye socket broken. Living the fight life off of your back foot isn’t the best way to face Woodley here, as the younger fighter has been putting his hands together and remains a stellar wrestler at the elite level. This is a dead even fight, as Koscheck can ground Woodley with his power double, while Woodley’s hands could well starch Koscheck in a pitched gun battle.

Tim Elliott vs. Ali Bagautinov: A fight that may hold the next title challenger, Elliott will have his hands full against the tiny battler in Bagautinov. Elliott is one of the best grinders I’ve ever seen and operates on a platform of controlled chaos; creating wild situations that he excels at winning in. Bagautinov however, packs the biggest punch I’ve ever seen at Flyweight, even making Dodson look pillow-fisted. Elliott would cruise here if not for the fact he relies far too much on his chin to have a safe win over someone like Bagautinov. It’s a pitched battle, but one that I think Elliott controls with takedowns and top pressure, though he might hit the ground a couple of times courtesy of Ali’s flying fists.

Donald Cerrone UFC 167

Donald Cerrone

Donald Cerrone vs. Evan Dunham: A lightweight bout that could well steal the show, Cerrone and Dunham will look to work their way back into the division’s upper crust.  This is a highly competitive match with both fighters used to controlling the outside range, which typically leads to a nasty feeling out process in a striking affair. This one may, as such, be determined by the mat work of both men, with Dunham having an edge in takedowns but Cerrone having the bottom game entanglements to threaten Dunham’s long arms in the process. It’s another dead even match, but I feel Cerrone will win rounds based on superior damage and activity as Dunham bleeds and wilts late.

Ed Herman vs. Thales Leites: Two men whom have fought tooth-and-nail in their careers, Herman will look to send newly returned fighter Thales Leites packing. Both men are grappling-centric fighters, with Herman being based around clinch control and pressure, while Leites is a modern era BJJ top gamer with a depth of technique. While Leites got all of his cylinders firing in his return fight, Herman is one of the most unforgiving warriors in terms of letting someone work a game plan, and I feel Leites will be sucked into a striking match that he can’t win. Lacking the sharp wrestling needed to ground Herman consistently, Leites will find himself outgunned standing, losing a bloody decision due to Herman’s forward pressure.

Brian Ebersole vs. Rick Story: Another fun Welterweight battle, eccentric grappler Brian Ebersole will take on bruiser Rick Story. Ebersole brings the kind of style that many find impossible to deal with, having a defensive edge on the mat due to his rubbery limbs and seeming invulnerable to chokes. I don’t see this one ever hitting the mat often however, as Story will look to dish out his ripping punch offense against the taller man and dump Ebersole early. Story has a real knack for tagging taller fighters, and with Ebersole’s ring rust, this could be done in a matter of minutes. Look for Story to come out of the gate at a run and put Ebersole on his heels, shucking off takedowns and knocking Ebersole silly inside the first round.

Erik Perez vs. Edwin Figueroa: Battling it out in the bantamweight division, Erik Perez will look to secure another win at the expense of Edwin Figueroa’s career. Perez is one of the most talented fighters in the division, having razor-sharp boxing and a mat game that’s frighteningly fluid, but his opponent is an iron-willed survivor that could well put Perez cardio to the test. Figueroa is from one of the best muay thai schools in the country and has a dynamite striking game, but Perez seems to be a gear or two faster than him in most positions, which could put Figueroa on the defensive early. This one should be fireworks, but I like Perez to clip Figueroa a time or two standing and force a ref stoppage late in the first round.

Will Campuzano vs. Sergio Pettis: A short notice fight sees Sergio Pettis making his UFC debut at Bantamweight, taking on former Octagon battler Will Campuzano. There is a lot of hype on Pettis due to his lineage and solid showings in the lower levels of the fight world, but this is a fight I can’t see him pulling off with so much upper level inexperience. Campuzano is a murderous striker with the wrestling and submission savvy to put Pettis away anywhere the fight goes, with Campuzano’s cardio being the only weak link that Pettis can capitalize on. A short striking battle turns into clinch and takedowns for Campuzano, who batters Pettis relentlessly for a second round submission.

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Category: Featured, MMA, UFC

About the Author ()

I'm a 20+ year veteran of martial arts and a fan of MMA since UFC 1, when my world was thrown on its head by the budding sport. I'm obsessive in the pursuit of martial abilities and have competed across the country in everything from Vale Tudo to archery to Scottish broadsword. Once my body broke down, I picked up a pen and went in the direction of writing. I specialize in betting advice, predictions, and I'm a walking encyclopedia of MMA trivia. I own a cafe in Exeter, NH called Hammersmith Sandwich Company and write out of my office between customers.

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