What: UFC Fight Night 25: Shields vs. Ellenberger
Where: New Orleans Convention Center
When: Saturday, the Facebook prelims start at 5:30 p.m. ET and the Spike TV card starts at 9.
Predictions on the four televised fights below.
Jake Shields vs. Jake Ellenberger
Shields is a trooper for going through with this fight just three weeks after his father and manager, Jack Shields, died. One of the big questions heading into this fight is whether his father's death has disrupted Shields' preparation, and that's a question we really have no way of answering. That makes this fight tough to predict.
Based purely on what we've seen from these two in the cage, Shields would have to be considered a solid favorite: Although he lost a unanimous decision to Georges St. Pierre, Shields has handily beaten everyone else he's faced over the last few years. But Ellenberger is no slouch: He's on a four-fight winning streak, and he's 9-1 in his last 10, with the only loss coming by split decision to Carlos Condit.
Ellenberger is a better striker than Shields, and an upset wouldn't shock me. But I expect Shields to use his superior grappling to grind out a decision and maintain his status as a Top 3 welterweight.
Court McGee vs. Dongi Yang
McGee won Season 11 of The Ultimate Fighter and picked up a victory in his first fight after that, submitting Ryan Jensen in October. After that McGee suffered a knee injury, and he's now been inactive for 11 months, but if he can shake off the ring rust he should match up well with Yang. I like McGee to submit Yang late in the fight.
Jonathan Brookins vs. Erik Koch
Brookins won Season 12 of The Ultimate Fighter and is now fighting for the first time since then, moving down to his more natural weight class of featherweight. Brookins is a talented young fighter, but I think he's facing an even more talented (and younger) fighter in the 22-year-old Koch. Koch has a great instinct for finishing fights, and I think he'll finish Brookins in what should be an exciting fight.
Alan Belcher vs. Jason MacDonald
It's great to see that Belcher is finally back, more than a year after an eye injury threatened his MMA career. Belcher was just starting to make his mark in the UFC, with two impressive wins in a row, when the eye injury sidelined him. Now he's back, and the UFC is easing him back into things with a very winnable fight against the 36-year-old MacDonald. Belcher should beat MacDonald up and win by TKO.