UFC on FOX undercard previews
Clay Guida (29-11) vs. Benson Henderson (14-2)
In the co-main event, two of the lightweight division’s top stars will meet in a possible title eliminator.
Guida, 29, is on a four-fight winning streak, which has included submissions over Rafael dos Anjos and Takanori Gomi. Most recently, Guida defeated hot prospect Anthony Pettis by decision in June.
A staple on UFC cards for half a decade, Guida has already fought some of the best 155-pound fighters in the world, including Kenny Florian, Nate Diaz and Gilbert Melendez. A recent string of victories has added fuel to Guida’s fire as he’s now closer than ever to a UFC title shot.
Based in New Mexico at Greg Jackson’s camp, the once careless brawler continues to reinvent himself. Constantly rounding out his game, Guida now effectively combines takedowns with his unpredictable striking and vastly underrated submission game. His style appears sloppy at first glance, but it works wonders in the octagon.
Henderson, 27, is 2-0 in the UFC following hard-fought decisions over Mark Bocek and Jim Miller. The former NAIA All-American has put his loss to Pettis behind him, which was the last WEC fight ever held and also happened to be one of the most exciting in the organization’s history.
With two wins over Donald Cerrone and stoppages over Shane Roller, Anthony Njokuani, Ricardo Tirloni and Jamie Varner on his record, Henderson will surely position himself as a top contender in the division for years to come, win or lose.
The MMA Lab product possesses a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which, coupled with his taekwondo black belt and wrestling fundamentals, makes him a well-rounded machine.
These lightweight contenders are evenly matched, but Henderson is the more athletic specimen. However, Guida’s craftiness and durability could come into play. A closely contested three-round fight would be unsurprising and Guida could have his hand raised if he throws Henderson off his game by maintaining constant pressure, controlling key positions and threatening with submissions.
Verdict: Guida via decision
Dustin Poirier (10-1) vs. Pablo Garza (11-1)
In a meeting of young featherweight hopefuls, Poirier looks to make it four in a row against Garza, who is 2-0 since joining the UFC.
Poirier, 22, is coming off decision wins over Jason Young and Josh Grispi. A protégé of UFC middleweight Tim Credeur, Poirier’s found his niche at 145 pounds, where the Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt has yet to taste defeat.
Garza, 27, has recorded successive highlight reel finishes since his UFC debut last December, knocking out Fredson Paixao and going on to submit Yves Jabouin with a flying triangle choke at UFC 129 this past April. The Academy of Combat Arts member is a flashy submission stylist with a long reach for the featherweight class.
This is an intriguing matchup of up-and-coming fighters, but Poirier has likely benefited from facing a higher level of competition. He’ll close the distance on Garza, pressuring him from start to finish en route to a closely contested decision.
Verdict: Poirier via decision
Cub Swanson (15-4) vs. Ricardo Lamas (10-2)
The fan-friendly Greg Jackson pupil Swanson is looking to impress in his promotional debut as he battles the former lightweight competitor Lamas in featherweight action.
Swanson, 28, is finally making his UFC debut after earning a split decision over Mackens Semerzier in his last appearance under the WEC banner in November 2010. Swanson has earned notable career wins over Hiroyuki Takaya, Donny Walker, Micah Miller and Charlie Valencia.
Lamas, 29, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, stopped Matt Grice in his UFC debut this past June. The Top Notch product has mostly competed at 155 pounds, winning decisions over the likes of Bart Palaszewski, James Krause and Dave Jansen.
Swanson always puts on a show for the fans, but his style also leaves him open to counter-attacks. Lamas, who possesses proven knockout power, should capitalize by finding openings and outpointing his foe over three rounds.
Verdict: Lamas via decision
DaMarques Johnson (12-9) vs. Clay Harvison (9-3)
In a welterweight pairing featuring veterans of "The Ultimate Fighter" reality show, the season nine finalist Johnson takes on the season 13 veteran Harvison.
Johnson, 29, an Elite Performance product who recently spent time training with B.J. Penn ahead of the Hawai’ian’s showdown with Nick Diaz last month, is coming off a loss to Amir Sadollah in March. With wins over Mike Guymon, Brad Blackburn and Edgar Garcia to go along with his 21 professional fights, Johnson has the edge in experience and superior credentials leading into Saturday’s encounter.
Harvison, 31, was submitted by Seth Baczynski in the second round of their tilt this past September. Based at Riven Academy, Harvison is likely facing a pink slip unless he turns in a solid outing against Johnson.
But Johnson, who has trained with better fighters and competed at a higher level throughout his career, has other plans. He should overwhelm Harvison with more powerful strikes before taking him down and sinking in a fight-ending submission.
Verdict: Johnson via submission, Round 1
Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto (18-4) vs. Darren Uyenoyama (6-3)
One of the most accomplished and celebrated Japanese fighters of the last decade is looking to return to the win column when "Kid" Yamamoto battles the UFC first-timer Uyenoyama.
Yamamoto, 34, has made a name for himself competing on the Shooto and K-1 circuits in Japan, earning notable wins over Rani Yahya, Bibiano Fernandes, Kazuyuki Miyata, Genki Sudo, Caol Uno, Royler Gracie and Jeff Curran. Once considered one of the premier pound-for-pound talents in the sport, the Krazy Bee representative Yamamoto could now be fighting for his job against his relatively inexperienced adversary.
Uyenoyama, 32, stopped Shuichiro Katsumura by TKO on a Shooto card in September 2010. Considering this is the biggest fight of his career, and ring rust also being a potential factor, Uyenoyama might be biting off more than he can chew against the well-travelled Japanese knockout artist.
Yamamoto’s seen it all before and he’ll be looking to leave a positive impression with the UFC brass following a disappointing debut against Demetrious Johnson in February. Look for Yamamoto to come out swinging for the fences before connecting with a violent flurry to put Uyenoyama out of his misery.
Verdict: Yamamoto via KO, Round 1
Mackens Semerzier (6-3) vs. Robert Peralta (15-3)
In featherweight action, Semerzier looks to build on his victory over Alex Caceres this past March when he meets Peralta, who carries an eight-fight winning streak into his sophomore UFC appearance.
Semerzier, 31, made his presence felt with an upset submission win over Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Wagnney Fabiano in his October 2009 WEC debut. The Team Curran member dropped his next three fights, but he’s back in the win column and looking to make it a streak.
Peralta, 25, shocked most observers with an upset split decision triumph over current Dream featherweight champion Hiroyuki Takaya on a Strikeforce undercard in April. He maintained his winning ways with a unanimous decision win over Mike Lullo in his UFC debut this past September.
Semerzier is a decent prospect with underrated submission skills, but Peralta is one step ahead. He should effectively outclass Semerzier wherever the fight takes place en route to a decision victory.
Verdict: Peralta via decision
Alex Caceres (5-4) vs. Cole Escovedo (17-8)
"The Ultimate Fighter 12" veteran Caceres must earn a victory to keep his UFC career alive when he faces the more experienced and more versatile Escovedo.
Caceres, 23, better known as "Bruce Leeroy" during his stint on the popular reality series, has lost back-to-back fights by submission against Mackens Semerzier and Jim Hettes. The charismatic southpaw will need to pull out all the stops in order to derail the first-ever WEC featherweight champion.
Escovedo, 30, is also on the rebound trail as he has dropped back-to-back fights against top bantamweight contenders Takeya Mizugaki and Renan Barao. The submission specialist loves to use his patented triangle choke to put away opponents, and Caceres’ deficiency on the ground could also be his downfall.
Escovedo should have little trouble putting Caceres away in the first round as he drags him to the mat and tangles him into his submission web.
Verdict: Escovedo via submission, Round 1
Mike Pierce (12-4) vs. Paul Bradley (18-3)
In welterweight action, rugged wrestlers will collide when Pierce and Bradley enter the octagon.
Pierce, 31, a former NCAA Division I wrestler, currently trains with Matt Lindland at Team Quest in Oregon. The Portland native saw his three-fight winning streak snapped by Johny Hendricks in a split decision loss this past August.
Bradley, 28, a product of The Academy camp, dropped a unanimous decision to Rafael Natal in his promotional debut at UFC 133. Bradley has already lost once to Pierce at a regional event in Pennsylvania in April 2009, which means he’ll be looking for redemption.
In assessing the skill sets of both combatants, Pierce should be slightly favored in all areas. The hard-punching standout wrestler should control the clinch game and land more significant strikes to get the nod on judges’ scorecards.
Verdict: Pierce via decision
Aaron Rosa (16-4) vs. Matt Lucas (14-2)
In a light heavyweight duel, the Rodrigo Pinheiro BJJ pupil Rosa takes on the debuting Lucas, a product of Arizona Combat Sports.
Rosa, 28, dropped his UFC debut in a heavyweight bout against Joey Beltran in June. Prior to the setback, he was riding a four-fight winning streak, including victories over Strikeforce prospect Devin Cole and Tim Sylvia conqueror Abe Wagner.
Lucas, 37, has won his last five contests under the Rage in the Cage banner, though his level of competition has been pretty questionable. Rosa is a big step up, but Lucas can seize the opportunity by establishing himself as a new name in the light heavyweight mix.
However, the rugged Texan Rosa will likely overwhelm Lucas with his brute strength and superior technique before sinking in a choke and forcing Lucas to tap out.
Verdict: Rosa via submission, Round 2