UFC Fight Night 22 in Austin, TX – Main Card Preview & Predictions
by Jacob Harvison
Alan Belcher and Damien Maia were slated as the original main event but an unfortunate and potentially career ending injury to Belcher’s retina prompted Marquardt v. Palhares, a bout scheduled for later this month, as the revamped main event for this Wednesdays Fight Night 22.
A resolute Chael Sonnen derailed Marquardt’s road to a rematch with middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Coming off a loss, Marquardt could be additionally motivated to reestablish his place in the elite of the middleweight division. Marquardt enjoys the luxury that comes with facing a one-dimensional opponent, the luxury of predictability. Marquardt is aware of Palhares’ intentions so it would be wise to avoid the ground with The American Top Team submission assassin.
While Marquardt renders a broader gamut of skills and fighting acumen, Palhares’ one dimension is destructively potent. Palhares has finished eight of his eleven wins via submission but not without controversy. Much has been said about his recurring tendency to lock onto a submission with excessive duration. In the wake of his prolonged heel hook against Thomas Drwal at UFC 111 Palhares spoke in his defense, “Murilo always told me to wait until the referee stops the fight. He had problems with [fake taps] in the past and Anderson almost had the same problem in his last fight. It’s not that I want to hurt anyone but I am trying to be fast with my submissions so the referee needs to be fast as well, to stop the fight. My opinion is that the referee in my last fight was too far away and took too long to stop the fight. If he had been closer then he could have stopped it right away and then we would not even be having this conversation at all!” Palhares said.
While Palhares has avoided chastisement from the UFC I would be remised not to mention the customary hypocrisy within UFC management. Renato “Babalu” Sobral sent a message with his anaconda choke against David Heath at UFC 74 and was promptly released from the UFC with no signs of return. I believe the disciplinarian distinction lies in Babulu’s candor during his post fight interview. Whatever the case, the designated referee might want to be equipped with the Jaws of Life if Palhares secures one of his vice grip submissions.
Miller, fighting out of American Top Team, will come in equipped with his advantageous reach and jiu jitsu talent. Eleven of Miller’s sixteen wins are by way of submission. Pearson has shown solid evolution as a fighter since his time on The Ultimate Fighter reality show. Pearson prefers to engage where his fighting forte lies, striking. This is predictable in part considering a fundamental void within most British fighters, wrestling; the component Miller’s recent diatribe dwelled on.
Miller joined the peanut gallery of fighters and fans alike in their criticism of the seeming apprehension of certain athletes to “fight.” In doing so he specifically implicated lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, whom I regard to be one of the most entertaining fighters in the sport. As a fan of MMA and all its constituents, I take great joy in seeing how different styles unfold and which ultimately surfaces as most effective and victorious, whether that’s a seven second knockout or a 25 minute grind on the mat. I fear this desire for “entertaining” fights will unnecessarily lead many fighters down the short plank of UFC unemployment.
As the inimitable Joe Rogan eloquently expressed during the UFC 68 broadcast, “I hate all standups. I think it’s a five minute round, it’s short amount of time. If a guy can hold you down and punch you in the face for five minutes, tough balls! That’s it. That’s how it goes. You’re on your back, tough. Get up, figure out a way to get up. That’s a part of the game. Part of the game is grappling….I think grapplers should have the chance to keep a guy on the ground as long as they can.” Personally, I couldn’t agree more.
It will be interesting to see if Miller holds true to his soapbox rant, presumably entertaining alleged fans of MMA.
Jim Miller and another American Top Team talent Gleison Tibau will collide in a very competitive lightweight bout. Both have a similar foundation in grappling yet vary in styles. Miller a will bring his American Wrestling base versus a very competent Brazilian Jiu Jitsu player. Such a matchup often results in a stalemate of the shared expertise. Look for Miller to use his wrestling to keep the fight on the feet while avoiding Tibeau’s submission proficiency.
Miller possesses uncanny strength for a man of any size let alone a 55er. For proof just refer to his 425lb deadlift nearly tripling his bodyweight. The Jersey pride is flowing strong in the UFC and Miller will do his best to propagate that honor.