In the UFC’s return to Louisiana, they’re bringing an undercard that, honestly, doesn’t look so hot on paper in terms of name value. But what the card lacks in star power, it has the potential to make up for in action. A returning middleweight, who once said he’s the guy who can stand with Anderson Silva, takes on a Canadian grappler known for his exciting fights. Plus two Ultimate Fighter winners try to prove that they’re more than just reality show winners. Expect more offense than Drew Brees and company this Saturday night in the octagon.
*Justin Edwards to defeat Jorge Lopez by Submission in Round One
*Robert Peralta to defeat Mike Lullo by TKO in Round Two
*TJ Waldburger to defeat Mike Stumpf by Submission in Round Two
*Clay Harvison to defeat Seth Baczynski by Decision
*Ken Stone to defeat Donny Walker by TKO in Round One
*Matt Riddle to defeat Lance Benoist by TKO in Round One
*Evan Dunham to defeat Shamar Bailey by Submission in Round Three
*Cody McKenzie to defeat Vagner Rocha by Submission in Round Two
Middleweight Fight: Jason MacDonald vs. Alan Belcher
Under The Radar: This fight is flying under the radar since it’s on a pretty mediocre card and it’s the opener, so it’s not really getting the attention that other fights would. However, Alan Belcher vs. Jason MacDonald is a great fight. Before his unfortunate eye injury, Belcher was going to be in the main event of a fight night, and MacDonald is a guy who always comes to fight. This is a big fight for the division as I feel that the winner could really take a step up in competition and get a big fight on PPV or headline a Fight Night show.
Belcher’s Return: It’s been 16 months since Belcher last competed as he suffered a pretty bad eye injury in August 2010. The Belcher that we know though, is one of the better strikers in the division and one of the strongest as well. He throws great combinations, mixes things up, and has power in his strikes. He’s also deceptively strong, especially in the clinch. I’m sure most people won’t forget the way he picked up Patrick Cote and drove him down with a pedigree.
MacDonald’s Grappling: MacDonald is known for his ability to take a lot of punishment and his grappling. He traded submissions with Demian Maia for nearly 13 minutes before finally getting trapped. He’s good everyone on the ground, whether it be on top or off his back. He’s also not afraid to pull guard if he has to. He has to get this fight to the ground, because he’s never handled pressure well stranding and Belcher’s weakness is his ground game.
Fight Prediction: Even though Belcher is coming off a layoff, which always worries me with any fighter, this match-up really favors him. His takedown defense should be good enough to keep the fight standing and MacDonald is going to have a lot of trouble with the pressure and power of Belcher.
Official Prediction: Alan Belcher to defeat Jason MacDonald by TKO in Round Two
Featherweight Fight: Erik Koch vs. Jonathan Brookins
TUF, Not Easy: Usually when you win The Ultimate Fighter, your given a favorable first fight following the show. That’s not the case for Jonathan Brookins. The TUF 12 winner faces Erik Koch, a promising young featherweight whose only career loss came against top contender Chad Mendes. While most TUF winners get to face veterans or mid-level fighters, Brookins gets a guy who is on the rise with unlimited potential.
Brookins’ Striking Defense: Brookins hsn’t fought since winning TUF in December, and I hope he’s been working a lot on his striking defense during that time. His “walk forward with my hands down and chin up” defense won’t work against a guy like Koch, who is smooth and powerful with his striking. He has a very good chin but a man can only take so many clean punches before he goes down.
Koch’s Wrestling Defense: There’s no doubt that Koch is one of the most explosive strikers in the division, but it’s his wrestling defense that will be tested in this bout. Brookins is a guy who never stops moving forward, he constantly looks for the takedown, and he pushes the pace. Koch has to be ready to deal with that, and it might mean throwing less kicks in order to stay upright.
Fight Prediction: I like Brookins, but until he proves that he’s improved his striking defense, I can’t pick him against Koch given Koch’s technical striking and power.
Official Prediction: Erik Koch to defeat Jonathan Brookins by TKO in Round One
Middleweight Fight: Dongi Yang vs. Court McGee
Court’s Heart: There are certain things you can’t teach in MMA, and heart is one of them. Court McGee has one of the biggest hearts and is one of the mentally toughest people in the sport. He’s not the most technical fighter in the world and he gets hit a lot, but he’s not out of a fight until he’s finished, which has never happened. Even though he’s coming off a knee injury, I don’t worry about him being tentative at all in this fight.
Yang Will Hit Him: Dongi Yang is a solid striker with a lot of power in his punches. As mentioned, McGee gets hit a lot and Yang has finished nine of his ten opponents with strikes. He also has a good top game, and if he can get McGee on his back, he can be very controlling and really rough up the TUF 11 winner.
The Cardio Game: I worry about the cardio of Yang. He faded in his loss to Chris Camozzi, and when he starts to fade, he goes away from his straight punching and begins to throw wild punches that anyone could see coming from a mile away. McGee on the other hand seems to get stronger as the fight goes on. He constantly presses forward and breaks people mentally with his toughness.
Fight Prediction: As long as McGee can avoid being finished in the first round, this is his fight to lose. Yang is a good fighter but his cardio really worries me, especially against a guy who pushes the pace and keeps moving forward like McGee does. I think McGee keeps moving forward, wears out Yang, and finishes him late.
Official Prediction: Court McGee to defeat Dongi Yang by Submission in Round Three
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC