UFC on Fuel TV 4 preview
Just four days removed from one of the most anticipated fights in UFC history, the promotion returns to Fuel TV with an exciting six-fight main card that has flown under the radar in the midst of all the buzz surrounding Anderson Silva's trouncing of Chael Sonnen this past Saturday at UFC 148.
In the main event, a pair of top 10 middleweights will collide inside San Jose's HP Pavilion with a potential shot at Silva hanging in the balance.
Here's a closer look:
Mark Munoz (12-2) vs. Chris Weidman (8-0)
Two of the top middleweight prospects in the UFC vie for a potential crack at Anderson Silva as his teammate Munoz and undefeated sensation Weidman meet in a compelling five-round headliner.
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The 34-year-old Munoz, a heavily accomplished NCAA Division I champion out of Oklahoma State University, bounced back from a split-decision loss to Yushin Okami with four consecutive victories.
The Filipino-American wrestler earned decisions over Demian Maia and Aaron Simpson and also stopped Chris Leben and C.B. Dollaway.
Anchored at Kings MMA and Reign Training Center in California, Munoz is a renowned wrestling coach with a constantly evolving all-around game. Munoz has aided a multitude of UFC stars with their wrestling, most notably the UFC middleweight champion Silva.
Munoz has a solid chin, having been knocked out just once in his career -- a 2009 light heavyweight bout with Matt Hamill. But his wrestling remains his main ammunition, though he could do very little against Okami and Hamill, both fellow wrestlers.
Munoz's opponent is not much of a striker himself, however, so this really does translate into a very close fight on paper.
"The Filipino Wrecking Machine" was preparing to take on Chael Sonnen this past January, but he was forced to withdraw after suffering an injury in training. He's clearly one or two wins away from a title shot, but he'll need a decisive win to justify a fight with Silva.
The 28-year-old Weidman entered the UFC with just four wins under his belt, all under the New Jersey-based Ring of Combat banner. A triumphant decision over Alessio Sakara in his debut followed by submissions of Jesse Bongfeldt and Tom Lawlor clearly raised some eyebrows about the New Yorker.
Most recently, Weidman earned a decision over Demian Maia in a largely uneventful affair this past January, though he did notch the biggest win of his career to date.
A two-time junior college All-American and NCAA Division I All-American, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt has developed his mixed martial arts arsenal under the tutelage of Matt Serra and Ray Longo.
Still undefeated in his short career, the athletically gifted Weidman is a highly touted prospect with endless potential. He's already being matched up with some of the top fighters in his division, a testament to his ripening skills.
Both men are gifted wrestlers, which could mean they'll keep it standing. Munoz appears to be the heavier puncher on paper, but that still remains to be seen. In terms of striking and wrestling prowess, there is no clear favorite heading into Wednesday's showdown.
We've seen Munoz falter under pressure and narrowly edge out a few decisions, while Weidman has remained a more poised fighter. After five closely contested rounds of unexceptional striking and competitive scrambles, Weidman should do enough to earn the win, but neither man is quite ready for the potential task that might lie ahead in the form of a destructive Brazilian champion.
Verdict: Weidman via decision
James Te Huna (14-5) vs. Joey Beltran (14-7)
Underrated light heavyweight sensation Te Huna will be looking to spoil the 205-pound debut of "The Mexicutioner."
The 30-year-old New Zealander Te Huna is coming off back-to-back stoppages of Aaron Rosa and Ricardo Romero. The only man to beat him in the UFC is top Swedish star Alexander Gustafsson. With other career finishes against Igor Pokrajac, Anthony Perosh and Antony Rea, Te Huna could be an emerging contender.
Te Huna has gone the distance just once in his career. The Elite Fight Gym pupil is a strong striker with deceiving submission and wrestling skills.
The 30-year-old Beltran could very well be the biggest man Te Huna has ever fought. Beltran is coming off a lackluster 3-4 run in the UFC's heavyweight division, including wins over Tim Hague and Aaron Rosa, and losses to Lavar Johnson, Stipe Miocic, Pat Barry and Matt Mitrione. Beltran has opted to make the difficult cut down to 205 pounds, which could pay off immensely in the long run.
A product of Alliance MMA, Beltran is a true slugger. His conditioning has come into question in the past, but his toughness, durability and power punching has been consistent.
Plain and simple, Beltran will be looking to brawl, while Te Huna will rely on his technique and finesse to punish the heavy-hitting Mexican-American.
Te Huna can't underestimate Beltran's power, but an intelligent game plan will likely pay off as he finds the perfect opportunity to pounce, collapsing Beltran with a brutal blast of blows.
Verdict: Te Huna via TKO, Round 2
Aaron Simpson (11-3) vs. Kenny Robertson (11-1)
Looking to reinvent himself, Simpson competes at 170 pounds for the first time against Robertson, who returns to the promotion after redeeming himself overseas.
Simpson, 37, was last seen dropping a competitive split decision to Ronny Markes in February. The former NCAA Division I All-American at Arizona State University has earned quality wins over Ed Herman, Tom Lawlor, Mario Miranda, Brad Tavares and Eric Schafer.
The Power MMA Team member was actually doing pretty well for himself at 185 pounds and he's only bound to get better in the welterweight division, where his size and wrestling will be major assets.
Robertson, 28, was 10-0 when he first debuted in the UFC. A second-round TKO loss to Mike Pierce sent him packing, but a first-round spinning back fist knockout of fellow UFC veteran Lucio Linhares in Finland earned him another shot in the major league.
The Illinois native attended the same college as UFC veterans Matt Hughes and Mike Russow, inevitably landing himself in a wrestling program, where he was a three-time NCAA Division I tournament qualifier.
Robertson's great wrestling should be outmatched by the more seasoned Simpson, whose size and technique will allow him to dictate the action. Robertson's submissions are also dangerous, but Simpson should escape any dangerous positions and grind on his opponent to earn the hard-fought decision.
Verdict: Simpson via decision
Karlos Vemola (9-2) vs. Francis Carmont (18-7)
Competing at middleweight for the second time, the Czech "Terminator" Vemola meets the exciting Frenchman Carmont.
Vemola, 27, submitted Mike Massenzio in his 185-pound debut this past May. Vemola has gradually shed pounds since his July 2010 UFC debut as a heavyweight.
The London Shootfighters product will need to rely on his strength to power through Carmont, nullifying his dynamic strikes. A six-time Czech Republic national wrestling champion, Vemola has finished five foes with his trademark rear-naked choke.
Carmont, 30, has finally started realizing his potential since moving to Montreal, where he now trains at Tristar Gym. In fact, Carmont is one of welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre's closest friends and training partners.
Riding a seven-fight winning streak, Carmont has exhibited scintillating strikes, though he's also a capable submission practitioner with improving wrestling. Training with St. Pierre every day is undoubtedly aiding in the development of those skills. But Carmont gives up valuable positions on the mat, which could be a calamitous mistake against Vemola.
Carmont is 2-0 in the UFC with wins over Magnus Cedenblad and Chris Camozzi. The Frenchman struggled early in his fight with Cedenblad, but he adjusted and scored his own takedown to assume control of the fight before putting him away in the second round.
It's a tough fight to call, but Vemola's tendency to waste his energy and gas out could be his downfall as Carmont stays light on his feet for 15 full minutes, capitalizing with an array of kicks and an occasional takedown, en route to a competitive decision.
Verdict: Carmont via decision
T.J. Dillashaw (5-1) vs. Vaughan Lee (12-7)
In bantamweight action, "The Ultimate Fighter 14" finalist Dillashaw seeks his second straight UFC win against the British submission specialist Lee, who is coming off his biggest career win.
Dillashaw, 26, was finished by explosive southpaw John Dodson in the final of the 14th installment of "The Ultimate Fighter" before rebounding with a unanimous decision over Walel Watson.
A former NCAA Division I wrestler, Dillashaw bases his camp at Team Alpha Male in California, working alongside Urijah Faber, Joseph Benavidez, Chad Mendes and Danny Castillo.
Lee, 29, rebounded from a split decision loss to Chris Cariaso in his UFC debut with a thrilling first-round submission of Japanese legend Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto at UFC 144 this past February.
A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt based out of Birmingham's Ultimate Training Centre, Lee will possess a clear edge in experience and his submissions should be a consistent threat against Dillashaw.
With that being said, Dillashaw's has the type of build that makes him a difficult fighter to submit. Dillashaw should simply suffocate the Brit with his wrestling from top control, cruising to a one-sided unanimous verdict.
Verdict: Dillashaw via decision
Rafael dos Anjos (18-6) vs. Anthony Njokuani (15-6)
A pair of talented international lightweights will kick off the main card as Brazil's dos Anjos clashes with Nigeria's Njokuani.
Dos Anjos, 27, submitted Kamal Shalorus in May. Dos Anjos' 5-4 UFC record doesn't exactly do him justice as he's been competitive at all times, while finishing some quality contenders like Terry Etim and George Sotiropoulos.
A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt fighting out of Singapore's Evolve MMA, dos Anjos is always developing his muay thai to amplify his already dangerous submission abilities.
Njokuani, 32, is a muay thai machine. In victories over John Makdessi, Andre Winner and Ed Faaloloto, the Nigerian "Assassin" has simply dissected his opponents with a cyclone of punishing kicks.
The three-time WEC "Knockout of the Night" winner has struggled primarily due to a limited submission skillset, which ultimately did him in against Shane Roller, Ben Henderson and Donald Cerrone.
Njokuani should find success early, landing some crisp combinations. However, he'll need to be weary of the Brazilian's takedown attempts and subsequent transitions to submissions. If Njokuani can replicate the performance of Gleison Tibau in his victory over dos Anjos, keeping him on the tail-end of his punches, mixing up his offense and anticipating his desperate attempts to close the distance, his hand will be raised after 15 minutes.
Verdict: Njokuani via decision