Top MMA News Breaks Down UFC on Fox: Diaz vs. Miller
The UFC is back in New Jersey on May 5th as they make their way to the IZOD Center in East Rutherford. This marks the third fight card being aired on ‘Big’ Fox as the UFC brass like to call it. The headliners will be Lightweight contenders Nate Diaz and Jim Miller in a fight that may determine the next challenger for the UFC Lightweight Championship. This is arguably the best free card the UFC has put together in terms of excitement level. The four main card bouts will air on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada and on Fox in the U.S. There will be six preliminary fights that will air on Sportsnet One in Canada and Fuel TV in the U.S. The first two bouts of the night, including a battle between Canadian prospects Roland Delorme and Nick Denis, will be aired on facebook.
Now for the breakdown:
Nate Diaz (15-7) +175 vs. Jim Miller (21-3) –250
This battle between two of the more underappreciated 155er’s should serve as a good indication as to where both fighters stand in the UFC’s deepest division. Nate Diaz struggled in his short lived Welterweight stint against much bigger fighters and has returned to Lightweight on a mission. He dominated legend Takanori Gomi and finished him within a round. He then went on to completely derail Donald Cerrone’s hype by picking him apart for three rounds on route to landing an astounding 258 punches at 82% accuracy. Jim Miller, on the other hand, had been dominating the division until he ran into the eventual champion, Ben Henderson. After that loss, he made a fantastic first round comeback against Melvin Guillard and won via rear naked choke. His only three losses are against the division’s best and he always seems to come out with a purpose. Both guys are well rounded mixed martial artists and are proven so there is little doubt that this fight should be nothing less than a war. Miller is the stronger fighter and he has to look to get right into Nate’s face and look to control the fight on the ground. Both guys are black belts in BJJ but considering Diaz has a long frame, he may be the better submission grappler. Miller will need to keep moving and avoid getting one of his arms caught because Nate can end the fight instantly. On the feet, Diaz has the much greater advantage and should be able to dominate Miller with his reach though Miller is no slouch when it comes to striking. Diaz has rarely shown weakness in his striking as he is at his best when he is pressuring and throwing jabs consistently to frustrate his opponents. This fight is almost too close to call considering the abilities of both fighters but if Diaz can effectively use his length he should be able to control the fight standing and even off of his back.
Prediction: Diaz via Unanimous Decision
Josh Koscheck (17-5) –120 vs. Johny Hendricks (12-1) –120
A battle between two successful collegiate wrestlers should be an interesting one to see where they may be positioned in the UFC Welterweight division. Josh Koscheck is looking to work his way back up to the top and he is hoping Georges St. Pierre does not touch the title so he can get another crack at the belt. Both fighters are coming off of recent ugly split decision wins against Mike Pierce, where they both struggled to get going against one of the more underrated fighters in the division. It is hard to determine how much should be taken from their fights against Pierce considering how much they both struggled, but it is evident that both fighters are extremely talented and can knock out their opponent instantly as Koscheck proved against Hughes and Hendricks proved against Fitch, who he knocked out in 12 seconds. Both guys like to throw overhand rights but where they differ in the striking department is the versatility that Hendricks has. Koscheck has far too many openings on the feet and should look to clinch Hendricks to grind out a victory. If Hendricks can keep the fight on the feet and fight at his own pace, he should be able to force Koscheck to make mistakes. There is a good chance somebody is knocked out in this fight; however there is also a good chance both fighters are hesitant to get in close.
Prediction: Hendricks via Split Decision
Rousimar Palhares (14-3) –333 vs. Alan Belcher (17-6) +220
Submission specialist, Rousimar Palhares returns against Thai striker, Alan Belcher. This fight is your typical striker versus grappler matchup but with a twist. Palhares has sharpened his striking skills greatly since losing to former contender, Nate Marquardt. Belcher on the other hand, has always had very impressive grappling considering he is a BJJ black belt. Very few people in the Middleweight division want to enter the Octagon with Palhares as he is one of the most dangerous fighters in MMA. His heel hooks have become his forte with good reason. Belcher will have the clear height advantage as Palhares is one of the smaller Middleweights you will likely come across. Although Belcher is a good grappler, there is no way he will want to take this fight to the ground. He will need to keep his distance and that should give him a great shot to beat Palhares, as he gets frustrated easily and generally has a lapse in judgement as we witnessed against Marquardt and Dan Miller. Palhares will need to be able to formulate ways to tie in his improved striking with takedowns to make the best of his advantage. It should be another close fight but Palhares is too tough and he has reached a level that many have been awaiting. He should be able to find a way to finish this fight against one of the better Middleweights in the division.
Prediction: Palhares via Armbar Round 2
Pat Barry (7-4) –250 vs. Lavar Johnson (16-5) +175
Do you enjoy striking battles between two Heavyweights? Well, here you go. If you enjoy stand up wars, you should consider thanking the UFC for this fight. Lavar Johnson is coming off of an unbelievable knockout victory against the immoveable Joey Beltran. He will be going up against fan favourite Pat Barry, who has the speed and power to dominate almost any fighter on the feet in the Heavyweight division. He proved that against Christian Moorecraft, Antoni Hardonk and even Cheick Kongo before that Hail Mary knockout punch that put Barry to sleep. There is nearly a zero percent chance we witness any grappling between these two strikers. Johnson is a heavy handed puncher and he will look to use his size and reach to his advantage. Barry has devastating kicks and he is one of the few fighters that can finish a fight with leg kicks. He will likely want to utilize that to keep the fight at his pace and to slow down Johnson. There is no arguing that Barry is the more talented striker but Johnson’s size and strength can determine the outcome of this fight. Barry should be able to use his kickboxing experience to control the fight and manage to finish Johnson. He should be able to slow Johnson down with his kicks and get in tight from all angles to win this fight. These are Heavyweights though and anything can happen when two guys hit this hard.
Prediction: Barry via TKO Round 2
Roland Delorme (7-1) vs. Nick Denis (11-2)
This battle between two Canadian Bantamweight prospects should be an interesting one to see how far along they are since their first wins in the organization. Roland Delorme is a long and lean Bantamweight with a very slick submission game. Nick Denis is one of the better prospects in the division as he has a more proven track record and is coming off of two very impressive knockout victories, including a 22 second Knockout of the Night winning debut in the UFC. Delorme looked very impressive on the Ultimate Fighter Finale as he defeated Josh Ferguson via rear naked choke. Delorme has proven that he knows how to take advantage of an opening and he can pounce on his opponent immediately. His long frame makes it easy for him to maneuver into different submissions very quickly. Denis will have to be cautious of the ground game as he likely knows and he will need to keep the fight on the feet where he has proven knockout power. This fight should be very fun to watch but Denis is too experienced to make any faults against Delorme. Look for Denis to keep the fight standing and avoid all of Delorme’s takedowns as he gets the TKO victory.
Prediction: Denis via TKO Round 1