September 29, 2011 – We’re two days away from the UFC’s sixth event on the Versus network with UFC Live: Cruz vs. Johnson getting ready to place at Washington DC’s Verizon Center. UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz will be defending the belt for the first time since he won it against Urijah Faber against Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson in the main event of the evening.
Also up on the main card is a battle of two heavyweight strikers in nearly seven foot tall Stevan “Skyscraper” Struve taking on Mr. Hype or Die himself in kickboxer Pat Barry along with Anthony “Rumble” Johnson taking on highly-touted welterweight prospect Charles “Charlie” Brenneman. A lightweight bout between “Handsome” Matt Wiman and Mac Danzig completes the main card.
Let’s not forget the three Texas fighters on the undercard either with Yves Edwards, Shane Roller, and Joseph Sandoval all looking to pick up another (or their first) UFC win.
Without further adieu, let’s talk predictions for all the action set to take place this Saturday night.
UFC Live: Cruz vs. Johnson – Main Card (Versus)
As mentioned in our featured article on Mighty Mouse a few days ago, Demetrious quit his full-time job to focus on this fight and he hopes it shows in his strength and speed. It’s quite possible he may have the nod on the champ in at least one of those departments but it’s range, distance, and timing that will make the difference in this bout. Cruz is one of the most unorthodox strikers around. He’s able to score without getting hit himself and he can do it unabashedly because of the fact that he has the wrestling acumen which allows him not have to consider being taken down as a constant worry. He’s a heavy favorite for a reason. Look for Cruz to use his superior reach and effective style to cruise in this one
► Prediction: Dominick Cruz by unanimous decision.
Heavyweight bout: Pat Barry (6-3) vs. Stefan Struve (21-5)
This bout is going to look really funny in the cage with Struve being almost seven feet tall and Barry barely scratching 5’11” as a heavyweight fighter. “HD” Barry is a compact strong fighter with tree-trunks for legs while Struve is more of a rangy kickboxer due to obvious reasons. Look for Barry to try and nullify that reach disadvantage by kicking those giraffe legs of Struve while Stefan will look to stay away and outpoint him from a distance. I’m not counting out Barry by any means but I believe Stefan has more ways to win this fight, on the feet or by using his BJJ. It might take a round or three but I think he will eventually catch him.
► Prediction: Stefan Struve by submission.
Charlie Brenneman has been a hot MMA prospect for awhile but he really put himself on the map after decisioning Rick Story in his last bout after taking the fight on one day’s notice. In this one, he’ll face his biggest challenge yet (literally) in Anthony “Rumble” Johnson – who is huge for a welterweight, walking around north of 200Ibs. That huge weight cut could work to Johnson’s disadvantage especially against a mean wrestler like Brenneman. As long as Charlie makes this into a dog fight and takes Johnson into deep waters, I see him taking home the victory by decision.
► Prediction: Charlie Brenneman by decision.
Lightweight bout: Matt Wiman (13-6) vs. Mac Danzig (20-8-1)
This fight is a rematch of their fight at UFC 115, which was cut short due to referee Yves Lavigne stopping the bout prematurely after thinking that Danzig was finished after getting caught in a guillotine – despite the fact that he didn’t tap or pass out. Look for a much more definitive finish this time around with Wiman outpacing Mac Danzig again with a combination of more active striking and takedowns.
► Prediction: Matt Wiman by unanimous decision.
UFC Live: Cruz vs. Johnson – Preliminary Card (Facebook)
This will be Yves’ first time back in the octagon since that vicious left hook at the hands of Sam Stout (one of 2011’s KO of the Year candidates). He’ll need a win in this one to keep things going after 3 wins in a row prior to that bout. I don’t think Oliveira can match “Thug-Jitsu” on the feet with the Texas master and Yves is good enough on the ground and scrambling out of takedowns to avoid turning this one into a grappling match. Yves may be getting up there in years but he should still have enough to beat this guy.
► Prediction: Yves Edwards by unanimous decision.
Lightweight bout: Michael Johnson (9-5) vs. Paul Sass (11-0)
Michael Johnson looked impressive on TUF 12 before he ran into caveman Jonathan Brookins in the season finale. Coming off a TKO of Edward Faaloloto a few months back, he’ll look to continue his forward momentum against the UK’s Paul Sass, an undefeated submission specialist. All things considered, I believe this might be a bad matchup for Johnson as the takedowns that have proved to be his strength will lead him right into the world of his opponent – who’s beaten some decent quality fighters in the past to attest to his skills. Johnson has lost via submission four times before. This one will make it five.
► Prediction: Paul Sass by submission.
Bantamweight bout: Mike Easton (10-1) vs. Byron Bloodworth (6-1)
Mike “Hulk” Easton is someone many people have been waiting to see in the UFC for awhile. He’s beaten 2 of the guys currently on the TUF 14 series on Spike (John Dodson, Josh Ferguson) and takes on a late replacement in this bout after his original opponent (Jeff Hougland) had to pull out due to injury. Easton hasn’t fought in awhile but this is a good fight to shake the ring rust off for him. I see him getting the takedown rather quickly and submitting Byron within the first round.
► Prediction: Mike Easton by submission.
Another Texas representative takes in the cage in this one with WEC veteran Shane Roller taking on fellow wrestler TJ Grant. This will be Shane’s first fight back since getting laid out by Melvin Guillard at UFC 132 and it should be a good one for him. He should be able to outwrestle and ultimately control Grant in this one to pick up a much needed win.
► Prediction: Shane Roller by unanimous decision.
Welterweight bout: Josh Neer (31-10-1) vs. Keith Wisniewski (28-12-1)
Josh Neer will be making his return trip to the UFC after spending some time fighting for thw West Texas-based Shark Fights promotion. In this one, he’ll be taking on another 40+ fight veteran and returning UFC fighter in Kieth Wisniewski. Both guys are seasoned and well-rounded but I see Neer as being just a shade better than Wisniewski in every facet of the game and he should win out on this one without too much incident.
► Prediction: Josh Neer by unanimous decision.
Bantamweight bout: Walel Watson vs. Joseph Sandoval
Speaking of West Texas… another Shark Fights veteran will be making his UFC debut in Lubbock resident Joseph Sandoval. Going 6-0 to start off his career, the Eric “Bighead” Davila-trained army vet will be taking on fellow UFC debut fighter Walel “The Gazelle” Watson – who stands at 5’11” tall in the 135Ibs. class. Sandoval may be the shorter fighter but he’s much more explosive, specifically with his striking, so look for him to turn this one into an exciting brawl and catch Watson at some point to put him out and pick up his first UFC victory.
► Prediction: Joseph Sandoval by KO/TKO.
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