Erik Koch and Ricardo Lamas kick things off once the FX prelims conclude, in a fight that moves one of them close to a featherweight title shot, something that is becoming harder and harder to come by these days. Remember when all Kenny Florian had to do was make the weight-cut and squeak past Diego Nunes to get a shot? And when Mark Hominick had to beat George Roop to get his? Now however, you have to rack up impressive wins just to get a fight that looks like it could produce a worthy injury replacement in a future number-one contender fight.
Lamas has the aforementioned win streak, beating Hatsu Hioki, and Cub Swanson most recently. Erik Koch comes into this fight after a long layoff, and was originally set to get a title fight against Jose Aldo but was forced out by injury. He beat Jonathan Brookins and Raphael Assuncao back-to-back in 2011, and his only career loss is to Chad Mendes, whose only career loss is to Jose Aldo, whose only career loss is to pavement. (That’s actually not true, he did lose once back in 2005, but where would I be if I let facts get in my way?) Both of these guys know that beating the other will put them at the front of the line for the winner of Aldo/Edgar, or into another number-one contender fight should Aldo win and then make the jump to 155 lbs. See what I mean about featherweight? I’d have to say this is Koch’s fight to win, he’ll most likely push the pace wherever the fight goes, and wait for Lamas to make a mistake and finish him.
Next up is huge fight in the lightweight division, where the winner should be the next number-one contender for the title at 155 lbs. Seeing a pattern here? Anthony Pettis came into the UFC in 2011 with a guaranteed title unification fight, with his WEC lightweight title being his ticket to the UFC strap. Fast forward two years, Pettis is 2-1 in the UFC, no title fight yet, and Gilbert Melendez is the one in the unification fight, coming over as the Strikeforce Lightweight Champion. Throw in the fact that Pettis was promised a title fight again after his last win, and that Eddie Alvarez was offered a UFC contract guaranteeing him a title fight upon arrival, and it really looks like Pettis is getting the raw end of the stick here.
He’s hoping the third times a charm when it comes to promised title fights, as a win over Cerrone on Fox would put his name back in the mouths of casual and hardcore fans alike. These guys are both dynamic strikers, and although Pettis didn’t fare well against the grinding style(that day) of Clay Guida, against Cerrone he’s likely to keep the fight standing and look for his next highlight for the ages. Cerrone has to know it will be coming, and will try to kickbox his way to victory. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Pettis will win, and also that his next fight will be for the belt.
The co-main event between Glover Teixeira and ‘Rampage’ Jackson should be one that is contested on the feet, and most likely won’t go to a decision. I say this knowing that most of the fights that get the description ‘won’t go to a decision’, oddly tend to. Win or lose, Rampage says he’s done with the UFC. He says they don’t treat the athletes well, they get rich off of the athletes, he doesn’t get enough pats on the back, and he is prepared to take a pay cut to fight elsewhere. Jackson has always spoke his mind about his relationship with Dana White and the UFC, and it seems that most of his gripes from the UFC making statements about his appeal as a top star, given his recent performances, and trying to resign him at a lower pay. Rampage has always said he doesn’t like fighting, or he used to say that before he admittedly used testosterone to help him recover from an injury quicker, and then seemingly found a new sense of youth and fighting spirit.
The UFC doesn’t intend on sending him on his way in one piece however. Jackson’s opponent, Glover Teixeira, is on a 17-fight win streak, and absolutely decimated his last opponent, Fabio Maldonado. Have you ever seen a fighter so hurt that the horn to stop the round sends him staggering back into the cage? Neither had I. Maldonado got pulverized by Glover, and the fight was stopped by the cageside doctor between rounds. Rampage is a much higher of a caliber opponent that Maldonado, but in his recent fights, he has taken more damage and takes longer to recover, if he does so at all. Teixeira is a bad dude, as Joe Rogan would say. Glover wins, most likely by TKO, but another doctor stoppage isn’t out of the question.
The main event on Fox is Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson’s first defense of his newly-minted UFC Flyweight Championship. His opponent is the TUF 14 tournament winner, John ‘The Magician’ Dodson. These two have been called the two fastest men in the UFC, and if Saturday will be your introduction to them, you won’t disagree. Johnson spends his fights darting in, putting his leather on you more times than you can account for, and darting back out. He doesn’t throw with power, but his speed and accuracy will leave you frustrated that you couldn’t get your hands on the guy who chipped away at your face for 25 minutes. Dodson is more of a finisher though, with 57% of his wins coming by either KO/TKO or submission.
It’s tough to tell which of these two is faster. I’d give a slight edge to the guy holding the belt, if for no other reason than that, and the only predicted winner I have in this one is the fans, as these are two of the very best fighters in the world south of 155 lbs, and they keep a high level of action during every minute they fight. Every fighter on this card is in the top 10 of their weight class, and every fight has major title implications. This is a great lineup for a free night of fights, and a great start for the UFC on Fox in 2013.