What: UFC Live on Versus 5: Hardy vs. Lytle
When: Sunday, the Facebook fights begin at 5:45 PM ET and the Versus fights start at 9.
Predictions on the four televised fights and the top two Facebook fights below.
Dan Hardy vs. Chris Lytle
Hardly anything has gone right for Hardy in the nearly two years since he beat Mike Swick to earn a shot at the welterweight title. He was completely outclassed by Georges St. Pierre, knocked out by Carlos Condit and then controlled for 15 minutes by Anthony Johnson. Now Hardy says he's shaking up his training and getting back into form, and he better be, if he wants to keep his spot on the UFC roster: Fighters rarely keep their jobs if they lose four in a row.
The good news for Hardy is that Lytle is liable to play right into his strengths and turn it into a slugfest. The 36-year-old Lytle is always exciting, but he has looked like he's slowing down in his last couple fights, and Hardy should be able to out-slug him and win what should be an entertaining fight.
Jim Miller vs. Ben Henderson
Although Hardy vs. Lytle is officially the main event, Miller vs. Henderson is the best fight on the card. Miller has a great resume: He's 20-2, and the losses are to the two best lightweights in the world, Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard. If he wins this one, you have to think he's next in line for a shot at the winner of the upcoming Edgar-Maynard fight.
But Henderson, the former WEC lightweight champion, is an opponent who could give Miller some problems. Henderson isn't as good on the ground as Miller, but he's savvy enough to avoid getting tapped and maybe even put Miller in some trouble on the ground. And Henderson is a good enough striker that if he's willing to take some chances and let his hands go, he could put Miller in some trouble on his feet.
However, that's looking at the best-case scenario for Henderson if things go right. More likely, Miller takes Henderson down repeatedly, controls him on the ground, and grinds out a decision for his eighth consecutive win -- the third-longest active winning streak in the UFC, behind only Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre.
Charles Oliveira vs. Donald Cerrone
A year ago, Oliveira burst onto the scene in his UFC debut, forcing Darren Elkins to tap to an armbar and winning the Submission of the Night award. At the time, he was 20 years old and 13-0 in his MMA career, and things were looking great. But 2011 hasn't been as kind to Oliveira: He suffered the first loss of his career, against Jim Miller, and then had his victory over Nik Lentz turned into a no-contest because he used an illegal knee strike.
Now Oliveira gets another tough draw in Donald Cerrone, who's riding high on a four-fight winning streak. These are two of the best jiu jitsu practitioners in the lightweight division, and I expect 15 minutes of fast-paced action on the ground. Cerrone winning wouldn't surprise me, but I think Oliveira's relentless style will be impressive enough to the judges for him to earn the decision.
Amir Sadollah vs. Duane Ludwig
Sadollah was extremely inexperienced when he won Season 7 of The Ultimate Fighter, and as a result the UFC has brought him on carefully, picking just the right opponents. Ludwig is another example of that: A name fans know because he's been around for years, but not a fighter who at this stage in his career is just barely fighting at a UFC level. Sadollah should be able to beat Ludwig comfortably.
C.B. Dollaway vs. Jared Hamman
Dollaway is the guy Sadollah beat to win The Ultimate Fighter, and he, like Sadollah, has progressed in fits and starts. Mark Munoz made short work of Dollaway in his last fight, knocking him out in less than a minute, and that could mean trouble for Dollaway, as Hamman has knockout power, too. But I think Dollaway's superior wrestling will rule the day, and he'll win a decision.
Joseph Benavidez vs. Eddie Wineland
This fight really ought to be on the Versus card instead of Sadollah vs. Ludwig, but you can think of it as a nice reward for the hard-core fans who seek out the Facebook preliminaries. Wineland was the WEC's first bantamweight champion, and he put up a good fight against Urijah Faber in his UFC debut in March. Benavidez, however, should be able to frustrate Wineland by coming at him at unusual angles and win a decision.