The first UFC card of 2015 is a big one. After one of the most entertaining preambles in UFC history, UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones defends his belt against #2 Daniel Cormier.
#4 Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida (21-5-0) returns to the octagon in Barueri, Brazil, facing #10 and TUF 7 finalist “The Doberman” CB Dolloway (16-6-0) at UFC Fight Night 58.
After a fun and thrilling TUF 20 Finale, it’s time for the boys on the UFC on FOX card to step up.
Robbie Lawler was this close to winning the UFC welterweight crown at UFC 171. But Johny Hendricks outperformed him in the fifth and final round.
This time he says, things will be different.
The clock is ticking on Gilbert Melendez. Can he overcome the technical flamboyance of the UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis?
Welcome back to The Crossfire.
UFC FIGHT PASS EARLY PRELIMS 7PM ET/4PM PT
ALEX “THE SPARTAN” WHITE (10-1-0) VS “CASSIUS” CLAY COLLARD (13-5-0, 1 NC)
Andrews: Collard is entertaining and this time he gets a full camp after giving Max Holloway a run for his money. If White can keep stick to the technical game plan on the feet and work Collard off the ground, he should pile up enough points for a unanimous decision. No extended wild exchanges.
Andrews Prediction: Alex White via unanimous decision.
SERGIO “THE PHENOM” PETTIS (11-1-0) VS MATT “THE CROWBAR” HOBAR (9-2-0)
Andrews: Both fighters have a decent ground game, but Pettis needs to utilize his strikes and take advantage of Hobar’s spotty takedown defence. Sergio should be able to outstrike Hobar and the ground long enough for a win.
Andrews Prediction: Sergio Pettis via unanimous decision.
SPORTSNET 360 PRELIMS 8PM ET/5PM PT
RAQUEL “ROCKY” PENNINGTON (4-5-0) VS ASHLEE EVANS-SMITH (3-0-0)
Andrews: Pennington has the experience factor, having lost to some though opponents. Evans-Smith comes in on short notice replacing Holly Holm. Evans-Smith striking skills are good, but Pennington’s are better, so it should be a decision win for Rocky.
Andrews Prediction: Raquel “Rocky” Pennington via unanimous decision.
COREY “BEASTIN 25/8” ANDERSON (5-0-0) VS JUSTIN “LAZYBONES” JONES (3-0-0)
Andrews: Justin Jones makes his UFC debut here. Anderson does business knocking people out, while Jones works his ground game. Anderson will catch Jones before can pile up the points on the ground.
Andrews Prediction: Corey “Beastin 25/8” Anderson via TKO
EDDIE “TRUCK” GORDON (8-1-0) VS JOSH SAMMAN (10-3-0)
Andrews: Samman’s KO ratio is impressive, but can he knock out a truck or will he get flattened by it? It will be interesting, but I see Samman using knees and strikes to soften up Gordon.
Andrews Prediction: JOSH SAMMAN VIA TKO
#3 “THE CALIFORNIA KID” URIJAH FABER (31-7-0) VS #11 FRANCISO “CISCO” RIVERA (10-3-0, 1 NC)
Andrews: Forget the MMA math. Faber is the gatekeeper for the top half of the division and Rivera is coming in on short notice. I can see him surprising Faber in the first round with a KO strike, but Faber is just better everywhere.
Andrews Prediction: “The California Kid” Urijah Faber via submission.
MAIN CARD (10PM ET/7PM PT)
TONY “EL CUCUY” FERGUSON (17-3-0) VS ABEL “KILLA” TRUJILLO (12-5-0, 1 NC)
Andrews: Tough fight to call, but Ferguson is the more dynamic fighter. As long as he stay upright with cardio, he should be able to pile up the points. If Trujillo can work Ferguson on the ground, his chances go up. Ferguson’s ability to adapt will be the key factor.
Andrews Prediction: Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson via unanimous decision
TODD DUFFEE (8-2-0) VS ANTHONY “FREIGHT TRAIN” HAMILTON (13-3-0)
Andrews: Don’t blink for this one. Hamilton is the bigger guy, but Duffee has a 7-second KO. As long as he doesn’t get crazy, I’m going to go with Todd.
Andrews Prediction: Todd Duffee via TKO
#3 TRAVIS “HAPA” BROWNE (16-2-1) VS BRENDAN “BIG BROWN” SCHAUB (11-4-0)
Andrews: Hapa looked great against Josh Barnett and bad against Fabricio Werdum. Schaub likes to handle his business on the feet. Browne will be motivated to atone for his last performance, but Schaub will use his speed and technical striking to uproot him.
Andrews Prediction: Brendan “Big Brown” Schaub via TKO.
ANTHONY “SHOWTIME” PETTIS (17-2-0) VS GILBERT “EL NINO” MELENDEZ (22-3-0)
Andrews: It’s Showtime’s technical striking vs the unsexy ground game and toughness of Melendez. Clay Guida held down Pettis long enough for a win and this is what Melendez needs to do. Pettis will be ready for the shot and keep the fight standing long enough for a split-decision.
Andrews Prediction: Anthony “Showtime” Pettis via split-decision.
JOHNY “BIGG RIGG” HENDRICKS (16-2-0) VS #1 “RUTHLESS” ROBBIE LAWLER (24-10-0, 1 NC)
Andrews: This fight should be more of what we saw in UFC 171. A back-and-forth affair. Hendricks is the favourite with his wrestling tools, but I think Lawler will walk away the champion when the smoke is cleared.
Andrews Prediction: “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler via TKO.
With the fireworks currently in progress in the UFC featherweight division, former lightweight king #3 Frankie Edgar (16-4-1) and #2 contender Cub Swanson (21-5-0) hook ’em up tonight in the UFC Fight Night Austin main event.