The UFC returns to big FOX with one of the better free fight cards of the year for mixed martial arts fans. There's no title on the line, but the stakes for the main card and even prelim card fighters are positively enormous.
There's a make-or-break women's fight, a potential No. 1 contender's bout at lightweight and heavyweight and much more.
In the main event, two of the heavyweight division's best tangle to see who gets a shot at UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez. Will Travis Browne keep the momentum going or will Fabricio Werdum use his veteran savvy to capture the opportunity to face one of the sport's best? I answer these questions and more with my predictions for Saturday's fights.
What: UFC on FOX 11
Where: Amway Center, Orlando, Florida
When: Saturday, the four-fight Fight Pass card starts at 3:30 p.m. ET, the four-fight Fox Sports 1 card starts at 5 p.m. and the four-fight main card starts on FOX at 8 p.m.
Fabricio Werdum vs. Travis Browne
There are a lot of tough calls on this entire card and especially the main card. This bout is one of them. On the one hand, Werdum has the clear edge on the ground, but probably not with the takedown. Still, he's extremely potent in the clinch and defensive enough on the feet to keep himself out of trouble. Browne, by contrast, has the edge in takedown defense and striking on the outside. Perhaps most importantly, Werdum has been inactive while Browne is riding the hot streak of his career. I don't want to oversell momentum, but I don't want to undersell it either. Belief in one's ability to succeed can stretch your maximum potential. If Browne can stay off the mat or the fence, this is his to lose.
Another tough call given both have pretty clear vulnerabilities. Carmouche is the more physical athlete of the two and the cleaner boxer by far, but Tate's ability to persevere is going to win the day. Carmouche is a bruiser on the mat and can work from the top, but doesn't have much to offer in the way of a guard. Tate can play both spaces and is arguably the better wrestler anyway. Tate is hittable, which is worrisome for her chances, but I suspect she'll be able to smother Carmouche en route to a decision win.
This is the weird thing about MMA. I firmly believe Cerrone can beat top fighters that Barboza can't, but I'm not convinced Cerrone can beat Barboza himself. Barboza can match and surpass Cerrone on the feet and should have more than enough to either defend the takedown or scramble to his feet. On the mat, Cerrone is clearly superior, but I have my doubts he'll be able to force the Brazilian to engage him there. Barboza has only really been tripped up when wrestle-boxers mix up takedowns with strikes, which is something Cerrone is not known to do. I expect Barboza to work on the outside and do so successfully.
A very, very tough call here. Romero can beat just about anyone in his division, but has perhaps highly questionable fight IQ. Tavares isn't half the athlete Romero is, but sticks to a game plan and is more well rounded. I can honestly see this going either way depending on who is more insistent on pushing their game. I'll give the edge to Romero despite my hesitations on the grounds that he can wrestle himself to safety and still has pretty formidable punching power.
From the preliminary card:
Khabib Nurmagomedov def. Rafael dos Anjos
Thiago Alves def. Seth Baczynski
Jorge Masvidal def. Pat Healy
Estevan Payan def. Alex White
Caio Magalhaes def. Luke Zachrich
Jordan Mein def. Hernani Perpetuo
Dustin Ortiz def. Ray Borg
Mirsad Bektic def. Chas Skelly
Derrick Lewis def. Jack May