It's unclear who the next middleweight contender should be to face champion Anderson Silva now that Chael Sonnen has been thoroughly defeated. Some suggest the winner of a potential Michael Bisping vs. Brian Stann bout is the obvious choice. Others suggest if Hector Lombard can get past Tim Boestch at UFC 149, he's the guy.
And yet another group believes the winner of the main event at tomorrow's UFC event between Mark Munoz and Chris Weidman is the rightful selection. What we do know for sure is the complexion of tomorrow's victory for tomorrow's victor will play a huge role in how far up the contender totem pole the move. Who will win and how? I try to answer that in these predictions about UFC on FUEL 4.
Where: HP Pavilion in San Jose, California
When: Wednesday, the undercard begins on Facebook at 5:45 p.m. ET and the main card on FUEL TV begins at 8 p.m. ET.
Predictions for the six-fight main card airing on FUEL TV below.
I might live to regret this pick, but something tells me this is Weidman's fight to lose. There's no doubting this is the best Munoz we've ever seen. There's also no doubting he possesses ferocious ground and pound and much improved striking. Of all skills from Munoz, it's actually his wrestling that worries me. When it's on, it's on and his amateur wrestling accolades are impeccable. But there are moments when he doesn't follow through on his shots or becomes overly reliant on takedowns when the stand-up is going his way. Less so now than earlier in his career, but there were shades of that against Leben.
Weidman doesn't have Munoz's amateur wrestling resume, but his application of this skills in the MMA context have been extremely impressive. His gas tank against Demian Maia was lackluster, but he took that fight on eleven day's notice. And in the stand-up department, Weidman is bold. Not quite reckless, although he flirts with it. The point is this: I suspect Munoz is going to have takedown issues and will be outstruck on the feet.
I know it's a risky pick given Munoz's considerable skills and Weidman's lack of experience, but this is one scenario where styles making fights forces me to take the newcomer.
This might be the most impossible fight to predict on the card. Here are two fighters are essentially brawlers, making a forecasting a clear future an almost impossible task. I suppose I'll side with the New Zealander here because I suspect he'll be more interested in pressing forward with his attack. Beltran has a bad habit of fighting off of the fence, but who knows what the drop to light heavyweight will do for him? Seriously, though, this is a coin flip.
Pick: Te Huna
Robertson has some ability to take position on the ground and hold it, but his finishing record against better opposition doesn't wow me. More importantly, as much as Robertson has decent grappling he doesn't have the takedown ability to really cause problems for Simpson. I worry this fight could be boring if it doesn't end early, but either way I see Simpson as the eventual winner.
Both of these fighters are physically impressive talents, but each their own share of liabilities. In this particular match-up, Vemola should be able to take advantage of Carmont's lopsided skill set. I don't have a ton of confidence in Vemola if the fights goes long and Carmont stops an early onslaught, but I also don't think the odds of it going that long are particularly strong.
Dillashaw should be able to steamroll Lee. The jiu-jitsu black belt in Lee had a nice victory over Norifumi Yamamoto, but it's really hard to say what that even means anymore. Either way, I see Dillashaw maybe scoring enough on the feet, but definitely getting the takedown and doing damage from top position. I have real doubts Lee's going to be able to do much with Dillashaw's bread and butter.
Dos Anjos' takedowns aren't necessarily incredibly effective, but they're surprisingly diverse especially if he can institute a scramble. Njokuani's worked tirelessly on his takedown defense, but dos Anjos just may have the type of gluey, grappling-complimented takedowns that can give the Nigerian-American fighter trouble if his back is against the fence. From there, it's hard to see a way Njokuani survives.
Pick: dos Anjos