The UFC returns to Sacramento tomorrow for one of the best top to bottom cards in recent memory. The main event features a championship fight in the flyweight division between Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez. Hometown hero and fan favorite, Urijah Faber takes on fellow Californian and top-contender, Michael McDonald in our co-main event. With four total Alpha Male team members fighting in what is essentially their home stadium and plenty of enticing matchups and exciting fighters rounding out the rest of the main card and the prelims, this is certainly an event worth canceling your Saturday plans for.
Now, without further ado, let's get to some predictions. Here's how you can expect the four main card fights to go down:
MAIN CARD PREDICTIONS
1st Fight: Joe Lauzon vs. Mac Danzig
This fight is flying under the radar a bit, and although I'm not surprised given the recent performance by both fighters, I have a feeling the media will be kicking themselves for not covering it more extensively once it's over. Mac Danzig has his back against the wall as he once again is forced into a win-or-get-cut situation. Danzig, who is yet to string together a two fight winning streak since his first fights back in 2007/2008, is coming off two consecutive losses, the most recent of which taking place at the last Mighty Mouse & FOX pairing back in late July.
He has his work cut out for him tomorrow night, as he is set to take on the always-exciting king of post-fight bonuses, Joe Lauzon. Despite an uncharacteristically underwhelming performance in his last fight in Boston, Lauzon promises he has made the small adjustments necessary to avoid putting on another stinker on Saturday. He also said that he's never intentionally tried for a post-fight bonus in his career and wouldn't be doing so tomorrow night either, however this strategy hasn't worked too well for him in the past.
Winner: Joe Lauzon
2nd Fight: Chad Mendes vs. Nik Lentz
Chad Mendes is one of the most dominant fighters in the world at 145 lbs. He has a 15-1 record, and his only loss is to the #3 pound-for-pounder in Jose Aldo. Since his loss to Aldo, he has gone on a 4-0 tear, finishing each of his opponents by KO or TKO, three of which ended in the first two minutes of the fight. In fact, he is just one knockout finish away from setting the all-time UFC record for consecutive knockouts or TKOs with five.
Nik Lentz is not to be taken lightly, however. Despite the mismatch in the rankings (#1 vs. #8), Lentz is an extremely dangerous fighter, fully capable of knocking out or submitting Mendes. His trash talk has been wonderful as well, helping to hype up a somewhat boring fight and build himself up before the fight. His confidence is undeniable and as much as I want to believe he has what it takes to turn this into a war, I simply don't buy it. Let's see if he can prove me wrong.
Winner: Chad Mendes
By: 1st round KO via punches
Co-Main Event: Urijah Faber vs. Michael McDonald
This has all the makings to be the best fight of the night. Both guys will receive a tremendous amount of support from the hometown crowd, although admittedly Urijah will likely get the majority of the cheers as he is the bigger name between the two. Both men looked outstanding in their last fights in Boston and both are true top-contenders in the bantamweight division. As if there wasn't enough hype heading into this fight, it is also likely that the winner will go on to face the winner of Cruz vs. Barao for a shot at the title.
Each fighter's performance in Boston tells a separate story. McDonald looked absolutely dominant against Brad Pickett. Pickett's trademark resilience made it into a great fight, but in truth, it was fairly one sided. While impressive, this was also a bit of a misrepresentation as Brad Pickett is no where near the fighter that Urijah Faber is, and McDonald likely won't be able to do what he did in Boston, tomorrow night. Urijah's a different story as he was nearly finished in the 1st round against Iuri Alcantara before a big slam turned things around for The California Kid, who went on to grind out a decision win. Alcantara isn't exactly a top contender either, but a win is a win, and Urijah has become quite used to getting his hand raised, as this will be his 4th time in 2013.
Winner: Urijah Faber
By: 2nd round submission via guillotine choke
Main Event: Demetrious Johnson vs. Joseph Benavidez
Tomorrow's Main Event is the long awaited rematch of the inaugural UFC Flyweight Championship match between Mighty Mouse Johnson and Joseph Benavidez. There are a few things you can expect heading into tomorrow night. For one, Joseph Benavidez is a far better striker than he was the first time around. Unlike the other Team Alpha Male guys, Benavidez started as a talented striker from the beginning, as far as power and aggression. Rather, the Bang Ludwig effect in Joe's case comes in the form of accuracy and footwork. Throwing bombs is a lot more effective when you can actually land them. His footwork will help set up those big shots and, perhaps more importantly, help him defend the outstanding takedowns by Johnson.
That being said, I'm still going with Johnson on this one. His wrestling has been unstoppable lately and improved footwork is only going to help so much defensively. Johnson is still one of the fastest, most well-rounded, and confident champions in the UFC and as good as he is offensively, his defense is where he really shines. Benavidez is clearly one of the most dangerous strikers in the flyweight division, however Johnson is too good at not being hit. I see him avoiding the bombs, landing multiple takedowns, and winning this one with his wrestling.
Winner: Demetrious Johnson