The Ultimate Fighting Championship is on Versus for the first time on Sunday night, with a very good card by basic cable standards headlined by a light heavyweight clash between Jon Jones and Brandon Vera. We've got the full preview and predictions below.
What: UFC Live: Vera vs. Jones
When: The non-televised undercard starts at 6PM ET Sunday and the Versus card starts at 9PM ET.
Where: 1stBank Center, Broomfield, Colorado
Predictions on the four televised fights:
Brandon Vera vs. Jon Jones
The 22-year-old Jones is on the cusp of stardom in MMA, but Vera is probably going to be his toughest test to date, and Vera knows that if he wins this fight he'll be relevant in the light heavyweight division again. I could definitely see the more experienced Vera winning, but ultimately I like Jones to continue his rise toward UFC stardom.
Junior dos Santos vs. Gabriel Gonzaga
Much like Jones-Vear, this is a battle of a young up-and-comer against a veteran whose stock isn't quite as high as it used to be. Gonzaga has a good all-around game and won't be dumb enough to stand right in front of dos Santos's big punches the way some of dos Santos's opponents have, but I like dos Santos to win.
Pick: dos Santos
Cheick Kongo vs. Paul Buentello
Both of these guys are coming off losses (in Kongo's case, back-to-back losses), and the loser of this one will be rendered pretty much irrelevant in the heavyweight division. I think Kongo is the superior striker and will beat Buentello by TKO.
Alessio Sakara vs. James Irvin
Irvin is finally returning to the Octagon for the first time since losing to Anderson Silva more than a year and a half ago. He'll have some ring rust, although Sakara, who beat Thales Leites in his only fight of 2009, hasn't exactly been the most active fighter, either. This fight is on the televised card not because it's particularly relevant to the middleweight division but because both guys are strikers who are likely to put on a crowd-pleasing fight. I think Sakara gets a TKO win.