This has to be the least-anticipated UFC on FOX event since the third event in May of 2012. Still, despite the lack of buzz, the card itself is more than serviceable. The preliminary card is downright great. And as we've discovered by this point in the UFC and FOX relationship, the ratings are seasonal. The numbers for this event won't be great, but no one expects them to be. They also know they'll rebound nicely after football season begins.
Saturday night is just about what the fighters can do. Can John Moraga shake up the flyweight division by creating a rivalry? Is Rory MacDonald really the next big thing at welterweight? I answer these and other questions with my predictions for Saturday's fights.
What: UFC on FOX 8
Where: The Key Arena, Seattle, Washington
When: Saturday, the two-fight Facebook card starts at 4 p.m. ET, the six-fight FX card starts at 5 p.m. and the four-fight main card starts on FOX at 8 p.m.
Demetrious Johnson vs. John Moraga
The truth is I'm ultra impressed with what Moraga has done so far in the Octagon. I'm a big fan of his style of fighting and I'm desperate to see more. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he bludgeons Johnson. In fact, what would be better for that division than someone who shakes it up?
But the reality is I haven't seen enough to be able to give him the nod. That doesn't mean what I've seen is bad, it just means that whatever one thinks about Johnson, he is battle tested against the division's best. We know the upper limit of his ability. Moraga's upper limit might be there, too, but we just don't know for sure. By default, I'm forced to give the champion the benefit of any doubt.
Jake Ellenberger vs. Rory MacDonald
I really don't know what to think about this fight. I've long been a believer in Ellenberger. I also think his criticism that MacDonald's hype is partly a media creation to be somewhat true. That said, we do know MacDonald is a very good, very well-rounded welterweight. How will that match-up with the firepower and athleticism of Ellenberger?
I don't have a clear sense, to tell you the truth. This is as much a coin flip to me as any fight between any top-notch contenders. Forced to make a pick, however, I can't help but notice MacDonald is a strong starter, which could partly neutralize Ellenberger's typical advantages. I also think the Carlos Condit experience has taught MacDonald how to apply consistent pressure, work through bad moments and game plan around an opponent's strength.
Ellenberger has the power and early ferocity to blast anyone at 170 pounds to smithereens and he may very well do that again. Yet, I can't help but wonder if this is the fight where MacDonald proves the media hype may have been early, but it wasn't misplaced.
Bobby Voelker vs. Robbie Lawler
If you'll recall, I actually picked Voelker to beat Patrick Cote. And if it hadn't been for incompetent judging, he would've. Say whatever you want about Voelker, he's right up there with Virgil Zwicker in his ability to take punishment. He also is a reasonably talented and dangerous fighter because of his ability to apply pressure late. Still, I don't think Lawler will fade so badly if the fight goes long that Voelker will be able to claim a stoppage or two rounds. Voelker is a little bit in this fight more than some realize, but Lawler should persevere even in the worst circumstance.
Liz Carmouche vs. Jessica Andrade
This has fun written all over it. Andrade has a nasty front head lock and guillotine. She can also punch for her size. Still, I wonder if Carmouche isn't a little too physical for her. She won't be out-jabbed by a more fluid, reserved striker and Carmouche is going to be hard to surprise from control positions. I suspect this will be competitive early with Carmouche taking over late.
From the preliminary card:
Michael Chiesa < Jorge Masvidal
Tim Means < Danny Castillo
Melvin Guillard < Mac Danzig
Daron Cruickshank > Yves Edwards
Ed Herman > Trevor Smith
Julie Kedzie > Germaine de Randamie
Justin Salas > Aaron Riley
Yaotzin Meza < John Albert