While there has been an outcry of disappointment concerning UFC on FOX 10, based primarily on the lack of championship stakes in the main event, I strongly disagree with this sentiment. This may be a bit below the UFC on FOX standard that we have come to recognize, but to say this isn't an event to look forward to is asinine. Eddie Wineland vs. Yves Jabouin and Sergio Pettis vs. Alex Caceres are exciting prelim matchups and the main card is full of good fights between top level talent. Check out our breakdown of the main card matchups below, in order to get a better idea of what to watch for on Saturday night.
MAIN CARD PREDICTIONS
Before becoming the first victim of the 2013 leg of the Chad Mendes reign of terror, Darren Elkins had won five fights in a row with a UFC record of 6-1. Furthermore, he bounced back with a unanimous decision win over Hatsu Hioki at UFC Fight Night: Condit vs. Kampmann 2. This puts Elkins at a UFC record of 7-2 (17-3 overall) in one of the promotion's deepest divisions at 145 lbs. With his win back in August, Elkins has once again cracked into the top 10 and will be looking to climb his way up the rankings with a big win over Jeremy Stephens.
Jeremy Stephens has a lot of losses on his record, but only as a result of his willingness to mix it up with the best guys in the division. He has lost to the likes of Yves Edwards, Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis, Melvin Guillard, Gleison Tibau, and Joe Lauzon dating back to 2009. Nobody wants to lose, but if you have to do it, these are the guys you want to lose to. After dropping three in a row, Stephens went 2-0 in 2013, most recently knocking out Rony Jason at UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Henderson in just 40 seconds. Given the quality of his victorious opponents and his current win streak, Stephens could very well be on the cusp of being ranked with a win over #10 Darren Elkins. I think this one will be close, but definitive.
Winner: Darren Elkinds
2nd Fight: Donald Cerrone vs. Adriano Martins
Donald Cerrone is one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC, bar none. With seven post fight bonuses (3 FOTN, 2 KOTN, and 2 SOTN) in just eleven UFC bouts, Cerrone is pretty much guaranteed to put on a show for the fans. After a brilliant 'Submission of the Night' worthy triangle choke victory over Evan Dunahm at UFC 167, Cerrone is taking on an extremely dangerous Adriano Martins tonight in a match that embodies Cerrone's reputation for fighting whoever the UFC throws in front of him; no questions asked.
Not only is Martins extremely talented, but he is also a relatively unknown fighter, participating in just his second UFC bout after a 1-fight stint in Strikeforce. This makes Martins a real risk factor for Cerrone who has a lot to lose, but not much to gain with this fight. This also gives Cerrone the lion's share of the stress tonight and Martins should have no problem executing his skill set without any unnecessary pressure to win. Martins has won his last six fights in a row, and twelve out of his last thirteen, although as I mentioned before, only two of those wins were in major promotions. Nevertheless, his win over Daron Cruickshank back in November proved that he deserves a shot at a top ten opponent and Cerrone will be a big test for the 31 year old Brazilian who is fighting outside of his home country for just the third time in his pro career (once in Japan and once in the U.S.); a test I believe he will fail.
Winner: Donald Cerrone
By: 2nd round submission via triangle choke
Co-Main Event: Stipe Miocic vs. Gabriel Gonzaga
This will not go the distance. And yes that is my least bold prediction of all time. 100% of Gabriel Gonzaga's wins have come way of knockout or submission, while only two of Miocic's ten wins have gone to a decision. While Gonzaga may be just outside of the top ten rankings, this does not make him any less dangerous. All of his losses have come to the division's elite, and nobody else has stood a chance. Gonzaga has won four out of his last five fights since returning to the UFC. He fought four times in 2013, amassing a 3-1 record. His lone defeat was to top heavyweight contender, Travis Browne, and his most recent two victories took 17 seconds and 1:33 respectively. Given the current landscape of the heavyweight division, if Gonzaga can go 5-1 since his return, with a win over a top ten opponent, then he should sky rocket up the rankings. This is a big fight for the 34 year old Brazilian and I fully expect him to act accordingly.
Make no mistake, Stipe Miocic is a top ten guy for a reason. With only one loss on his record, he is a force to be reckoned with in the Octagon. Arguably one of the best overall athletes in the heavyweight division, Miocic could have just as easily pursued a career in baseball rather than MMA and been every bit as successful. His wrestling base, dynamic stand up, and overall toughness make him a nightmare for any opponent. Gonzaga may not be in the top ten, but the weight that his name carries makes defeating him equally as important. Both men are more than capable of doing some damage and looking for submissions on the ground, but I see this turning into a slug fest. You're going to want to pay attention during this one. I anticipate an explosive finish.
Winner: Gabriel Gonzaga
By: 1st round KO via head kick
Main Event: Benson Henderson vs. Josh Thomson
Josh 'The Punk' Thomson has been at this a long time. He made his pro debut back in 2001 and his UFC debut two and a half years later. And now, at 35 years old, he is fighting to lock down the #1 contender position and compete in his first ever UFC title fight. Don't confuse this for a lack of championship experience, however. As the former Strikeforce Lightweight Champion, Thomson knows what it's like to battle for five rounds against a world class opponent; a skill that will come in handy against the GSP of the lightweight division, Benson Henderson.
Out of Henderson's 19 career wins, nine have gone the distance, and he hasn't finished an opponent since Donald Cerrone back at WEC 48. While he may not be a fast finisher, he is every bit as dangerous as someone who is. Bendo controls fights whether standing or on the ground and aside from some guy named Rocky Johnson back in 2007 and Anthony Pettis, who just seems to have his number, Henderson has never been defeated in the cage. While Thomson can certainly hang with the Benson Henderson's of the world, I don't think he'll be able to defeat him; at least not tonight
Winner: Benson Henderson