Saturday night the UFC returns to the Pepsi Centre in Colorado for what promises to be an interesting card to say the least.
The main card features many fighters who are looking to prove their relevance. Jake Shields and Yushin Okami both failed at world title bids in the last year and a half and will be looking to prove they are still contenders. Donald Cerrone came within one fight of a world title shot and was blown away by a vastly superior Nate Diaz.
When fighters are desperate, they are often at their best. With that in mind, the main card this weekend should be fantastic.
Max Holloway versus Justin Lawrence
With a combined age of 42 and 10 fights between them, I’m slightly perplexed as to why these two men are on the main card of a pay per view. Never the less, the two young prospects are both finishers and should put on a fun fight.
Max Holloway to date is most known for succumbing to a Dustin Poirier mounted triangle earlier this year that many are calling a submission of the year candidate. The Hawaii native bounced back with a mediocre decision. Although he has a wide variety of strikes, the stand-up expert is unproven on the mat.
Justin Lawrence as well is a decorated striker. The TUF veteran looked very good on the show before losing an exhibition quarter-final bout to Michael Chiesa. A nifty head-kick knockout finished his first UFC opponent in June and now Lawrence is looking to keep his (official) perfect record together.
Lawrence is the more well rounded fighter here and should be able to take Holloway down and perhaps submit him. If not, expect Lawrence to dominate top control.
Yushin Okami versus Buddy Roberts
A year ago at this time, Yushin Okami was one of the hottest fighters in the middleweight division. Three straight victories earned Okami a world title shot which many thought he would be able to capitalize on. Back to back losses to Anderson Silva and Tim Boetsch have Okami in a much different spot now.
The Japanese veteran will need to prove he is still relevant as a legitimate contender in the middleweight division. A win against someone like Buddy Roberts will not be good enough. Okami needs to dominate and more than anything, he needs to finish.
Roberts is the proverbial lamb for the slaughter in this one. Although an impressive record, Roberts has faced no one near the level of Okami and it would be a definite upset of the year contender if he were to pull off the unthinkable.
Jake Shields versus Ed Herman
Ed Herman has been a staple of the middleweight division since his joining the UFC in 2006. Not quite a gatekeeper, Herman has finally seemed to find his stride in the division. Three straight wins have him on the cusp of breaking through and earning himself a top 10 ranking.
Jake Shields however also has something to prove. After a brutal knockout at the hands of Jake Ellenberger, Shields bounced back with a narrow decision of Yoshihiro Akiyama. To earn himself another world title opportunity, Shields will have to look impressive.
I expect him to get the bout to the mat and dominate Herman from there. He may not finish, but expect Shields to look impressive in a dominating performance.
Melvin Guillard versus Donald Cerrone
What a fight this is going to be. Greg Jackson disciples Guillard and Cerrone will put on what is almost assuredly the fight of the night.
Guillard brings a straight forward boxing approach to the cage. He has power and athleticism no one can match in the lightweight division and showed a cautious wrinkle in his most recent bout against Fabricio Camoes.
Unfortunately, I see Guillard being overmatched in every position. Cerrone is a much more technical striker who can use the clinch as well as kicks to keep Guillard at bay. On top of this, Cerrone would likely have little probably submitting Guillard if the bout goes to the mat.
It’s an unfortunate style matchup for Guillard as he is on the cusp of being something special. Cerrone will look to make it two in a row and earn himself a chance at a top contender with a win.
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