With three events planned for the month of December, the UFC finds itself in a position where it is testing the limits of the depth of its talent roster. The decision to promote three events this month also comes at a time when the promotion is trying to reduce its roster from 180-plus fighters to the neighborhood of 140.
But while Wednesday’s lineup for “UFC Fight Night 16: UFC Fight for the Troops” (Spike TV, 9 p.m. ET) might not be one of the strongest in recent memory, this is one of the few events you’ll ever see promoted by the UFC in which the primary focus of the show are not the fights.
Wednesday’s event was scheduled to help raise funds to to build a hospital for traumatic brain injuries for the brave men and women in the United States Armed Forces. The event will be held at the Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville, North Carolina with the crowd populated largely by soldiers from nearby Fort Bragg.
While many of us will be home for the holidays at the end of December, it is important to remember that the U.S. is still involved in two major military exercises in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
In Iraq, total casualties of members from the U.S. Armed Forces has reached 4,209 with the total in Afghanistan now at 1,022. Tens of thousands more have been injured while representing our country and the funds raised on Wednesday will help many of them recover from their injuries.
Economic times are tough in the U.S., but if you are in a position to donate and feel compelled to do so, you can contribute online at www.FallenHeroesFund.org or by calling 1-800-340-HERO.
Scheduled to compete at UFN 16 are five veterans of both the Marines and Navy, which includes Tim Credeur, Dale Hartt, Brandon Wolff, Steve Bruno, and Luigi Fioravanti. All but Fioravanti, a retired Marine, served in the Navy.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com has a preview of the five bouts scheduled to be televised during Spike TV’s special three-hour telecast.
— Josh Koscheck vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida: Yoshida destroyed Jon Koppenhaver during his Octago debut at UFC 84 in May when he submitted “War Machine” just 56 seconds into the fight. The impressive performance has prompted some pundits to predict an upset win for Yoshida, who has become a trendy fighter to support amongst hardcore fans.
And while Yoshida is a strong acquisition to the UFC’s welterweight division, I don’t see him having enough to defeat Koscheck. Yoshida’s Judo skills normally will be a huge factor in most fights, but Koscheck’s leg attacks will prove to be too strong and too fast.
Koscheck, 11-3 overall and 9-3 in the UFC, will look to rebound from a losing effort in his most recent fight at UFC 90 this past October. Alves’ superior athleticism neutralized Koscheck’s shot, forcing the fight to primarily be contest on the feet. While Koscheck’s standup has improved a great deal over the years, he was no match for Alves’ Muay Thai skills.
Against Yoshida (10-2/1-0), Koscheck should have the advantage when it comes to striking. And on the ground, the former NCAA wrestling standout should have an advantage as well.
Prediction: If Koscheck has the advantage standing and on the ground, where does Yoshida win this fight? Koscheck via unanimous decision.
— Mike Swick vs. Jonathan Goulet: Swick appeared to be on the fast track to success after beginning his UFC career 5-0 as a middleweight with notable wins over Joe Riggs and David Loiseau. However, a disappointing performance at UFC 69 against Yushin Okami prompted Swick to drop to welterweight.
While Swick is 2-0 while competing at 170, he’s yet to show the same dynamic finishing ability he displayed at the start of his UFC career. In victories over Josh Burkman and Marcus Davis, Swick fought tentative at times. The most likely reason could have to do with the fact that the American Kickboxing Academy-trained fighter has been dealing with an assortment of injuries over the course of the last year.
Swick most recently underwent elbow surgery and is claiming to be the healthiest he’s been in quite some time. Against Jonathan Goulet, he will have a chance to improve to 3-0 as a welterweight and regain some of the mometum he has lost over the course of the last year.
Goulet, 22-9 overal and 4-3 in the UFC, hasn’t exactly had the best luck when it comes to competing at UFC Fight Night events. Facing Duane Ludwig at UFN 3, Goulet was TKO’d just 11 seconds into their fight. Since that time, the 29-year old Canadian has won his fair share of fights against inferior competition. But when matched up against higher-caliber fighters such as Koscheck, Dustin Hazelett, and Jason Day, Goulet has been unable to step up.
Facing a healthy Swick, Goulet could find himself over-matched yet again.
Prediction: Goulet is rugged, tested, and experienced, but not skilled enough to pull off the upset. Swick via second round TKO.
— Jim Miller vs. Matt Wiman: Miller, 12-1, accepted this fight on literally a week’s notice. To top it off, learned of the potential fight almost as soon as he returned from his honeymoon. Based on the circumstances, many pundits are predicting Wiman to win. However, Miller should not be counted out.
One of the top lightweight prospects on the East Coast for several years, the only reason why it took this long for Miller to arrive in the UFC was because he wasn’t getting enough exposure. He’s actually been UFC-ready for at least a year now.
A good all-around fighter, Miller’s strength is on the ground. However, his standup is solid and Miller has enough potential that he could emerge as a top ten lightweight within the next 12-16 months. Yes, Miller is that good and he’s being understimated because he’s not just taking this fight on short notice, but a lot of people simply haven’t been exposed to him.
Miller made his UFC debut at UFC 89 in October, where he scored a third round submission of David Baron. Unfortunately, the impressive victory didn’t make the live broadcast. But even though he’s competing on short notice, I expect Miller to make an impression that puts him on the radar of both hardcore and casual fans alike.
Wiman has been on a roll as of late, going 4-0 in his last four UFC bouts. A veteran from the fifth season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Wiman will have a significant reach advantage. If Wiman keeps the fight standing, he should be in good shape as his striking skills have improved greatly and the reach will be a factor.
This fight will contend for “Fight of the Night” with the winner moving on to bigger and better things.
Prediction: If this fight goes into the third round, Miller could start feeling it. But while cardio could be an issue, I still feel compelled to pick Miller via unanimous decision as he takes the first two rounds.
— Steve Cantwell vs. Razak Al-Hussan: Cantwell, 6-1, is the former WEC light heavyweight champion, a title that he won following a second round TKO victory over Brian Stann this past August at WEC 35.
The win not only earned Cantwell his first major singles title, but allowed him to avenge the only loss of his career. Cantwell vs. Stann III was supposed to happen on this show but an injury forced Stann off the card and opened up this slot for Al-Hussan.
Al-Hussan, a solid prospect who made a name for himself in the Midwest, had been slated to make his UFC debut during the summer but an injury prevented that from happening.
Hussan, 6-0, needs to get the figth to the floor as soon as possible. It’s unlikely he’ll be able to stand with Cantwell and if he gets to the fight to the mat, there’s a good chance that he’ll be able to use his solid submission skills to end the fight.
Prediction: Cantwell isn’t anything special on the ground, but he showed in his title win over Brian Stann that his Muay Thai has come a long way. I believe Cantwell uses his aforementioned Muay Thai skills en route to a second round TKO.
— Tim Credeur vs. Nate Loughran: Both Loughran and Credeur are 1-0 in the UFC and are strong submission-based fighters. Loughran is 9-0 but has yet to defeat a top-level fighter. At 10-2, Credeur’s record isn’t too shabby. Most of his wins have come against regional-level competitors, however, the Louisiana native has tested himself in the past against Joey Villasenor and Chael Sonnen. But Credeur lost both fights and like Loughran, he’s yet to defeat a major national-level competitor.
Since both fighters are so strong on the ground, look for them to try and engage in the standup in hopes of exposing a weakness. However, look for the fight to end up on the floor at some point, where we could see some very exciting exchanges between the two.
Prediction: The ground will be a stalemate and these two will look to slug it out with Loughran pulling off the upset unanimous decision victory.