Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
On Saturday night the Honda Center will play host to the very first UFC women's fight. It'll also be the first UFC main event headlined by women. It'll also be the first two time fighters making their UFC debuts have headlined a UFC event.
So what does that mean for the fighters involved? While the main card is filled with mostly predictable bouts, the preliminary side of things is filled with tough, close battles that include matriculating Strikeforce fighters. Can they repeat the success their brethren had at UFC 156? And speaking of Strikeforce fighters, can the two headlining in the main event - UFC bantamweight women's champion Ronda Rousey and challenger Liz Carmouche - put on a competitive bout despite expectations otherwise?
I answer these questions and more with my predictions for UFC 157.
What: UFC 157: Rousey vs. Carmouche
Where: The Honda Center, Anaheim, California
When: Saturday, the three-fight Facebook card starts at 6:30 p.m. ET, the four-fight FX card starts at 8 p.m. and the five-fight main card starts on pay-per-view at 10 p.m.
Anything can happen and I believe Carmouche can thump with the best of them at bantamweight, but she's really outmatched here. It's going to take a very lucky shot (or shots) for her to earn a victory. It most certainly isn't going to happen in any kind of grappling exchange.
There's a fair criticism to make of Rousey that she hasn't faced anyone particularly elite yet, which is why her fights are ending so soon. As much as I admire Carmouche and hope she makes enough money in this bout to buy a kitchen table, I don't believe she's the one to really boost Rousey's resume.
When Machida first started in his MMA and even UFC career, he was elusive. It wasn't just a talking point. He wasn't hit very often and used movement extraordinarily well. Machida is still very good at measuring distance, he still charges opponents to close range and gets out of the way quickly from big shots. The truth now, however, is that Machida is hit a lot more than he used to be. Even if he grant he's still 'elusive' the stats over his last few fights unequivocally show he's moved away from the kind of game. That or his opponents have adapted.
So, is Henderson the guy to take advantage of that? I have my doubts, but I certainly do not rule it out. I think Machida is going to stay far away from Henderson early, using leg kicks and head movement as he circles out. As Henderson becomes more predictable, you'll see him strike. I don't think this bout is going to look anything like Henderson's battle with Mauricio Rua.
Faber may not be able to beat the very best either bantamweight or featherweight has to offer, but I'm still a believer he can defeat everyone else. His game is heavily predicated on athleticism and as long as that isn't slipping as he gets older, he should be fine here. Menjivar will be content to react to Faber's blitzs or scrambles and that's going to be his undoing. Menjivar is a tough customer, technical and hard to put away, so don't be surprised if this goes to a decision. But between Faber's speed, scrambling ability and grappling transition game, he's just too much for the Salvadorean-Canadian.
I like this move by McGee. Welterweight is a tougher division, but he'll have good size for 170 pounds and a fight with Neer is a great place to start. Neer is limited as a fighter, but isn't a pushover. You have to take a win from him, stay out of his clinch and use superior technique. That's a task McGee can accomplish. As long as he minds range and stays either far outside or far inside and doesn't succumb to Neer's pressure game-to clinch attacks, he'll be fine.
I'm happy to see Lawler back at welterweight, but I just don't know what he's really capable of accomplishing anymore. Notice I said 'I don't know' and not 'he's incapable'. I'm uncertain. My worry about Koscheck is that when he isn't careful early he gets starched by punches he never sees coming. Lawler certainly packs enough of a punch to make him a threat early, but Koscheck's ability to level change quickly and get to Lawler's hips over and over is going to be enough to earn him the victory.
From the preliminary card:
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