For a quick intro, there is a former UFC title challenger with a propensity for violence, young flyweight prospects, submission specialists, and middle of the road middleweights here. Simplest way for me to put it. Here are the details:
Story Thus Far: Herman is now a 15 fight veteran of the UFC and has faced just about every level of fighter in the process. He is now 33 and a run at the title would seem to be out of the question for the 8 year UFC vet, but he can still serve as a respectable gatekeeper. However, after that many fights I wouldn't be shocked to see him let go if he loses here which would be his second in a row and third out of four.
Natal stepped up on short notice to face Tim Kennedy at the Fight for the Troops 3 back in November and is likely on more stable ground as he was riding a three fight win streak heading into the fight. The problem is he hasn't beat anyone casual fans have heard of as Herman would represent his biggest name to date if he emerges victorious.
Fighting Style: Herman is a tough one to figure out. Is he a striker? Is he a grappler? What exactly do you label him as? Then you look at his 13 submission victories (it really doesn't seem like he has that many due to 9 occurring before entering the UFC) and figure you gotta label him as a grappling specialist... right? It would probably be most accurate to label him a grinder as he does his best work in close quarters and learned much of his craft from Randy Couture from his Team Quest years.
Natal is a high level BJJ black belt and does his best work on the ground whether he is fishing for a sub or issuing some GNP. Like Herman, he doesn't like to operate with a lot of space, but his kicks are respectable and his boxing is much improved from where he was when he debuted in the UFC.
What to Expect: Look for both of them to take it right at each other. I have no doubt that each one believes his clinch and submission games are superior to the other and they would love to prove it. Then when neither can neither can gain a measurable upper hand they result to slugging it out ala Herman's fight with Trevor Smith. Both have won Fight of the Night honors in the past year utilizing a similar strategy and it would be reasonable to expect this fight to have similar results.
Natal should be slightly better from a distance as his kicks have a lot more sting to them than any that Herman will throw at him. Herman has a hell of a chin though as his only KO/TKO loss was due to a knee injury. Natal won't be able to crumble him. Natal on the other hand has a very questionable chin as 3 of his 4 KO/TKO losses were clean KO's.
X-Factors: Very well worth noting is the quality of Natal's success. His 5-3-1 UFC record is respectable, but 3 of those victories came against late injury replacements who subsequently dropped down to welterweight in their next bout indicating Natal has had a significant size advantage in his bouts. Herman isn't going to be an undersized opponent he can bully. The combined amount of UFC wins of those Natal has beaten or gone to a draw with: 4 with half of those at welterweight. He hasn't exactly beaten the best competition. Natal has also had stamina issues in the past, but they haven't surfaced recently.
Who Will Win: This is one of the harder fights on the card to predict. Both are very well matched up and have so many similarities. I thought about flipping a coin but I'll go with my gut that says that Herman's time in the UFC is starting to wind down and Natal will spend the rest of his UFC career in a similar role to the one that Herman has been playing out. Natal by Decision
Story Thus Far: Horiguchi represents a big piece of the UFC's push to open up avenues in Asia. He is only 23 and had a very impressive showing in his UFC debut to Dustin Pague. The lone blemish on his record is to ONE FC title challenger Masakatsu Ueda. He has faced many of the best that the Asian market has to offer too. You better believe the UFC is gonna try and groom him for success.
Montague was thought to be the best flyweight outside of the UFC before he signed last year and ran into the freight train known as John Dodson which immediately killed all of the hype around him. That is actually very unfair to Montague as Dodson is one of the best in the world and his only other losses are to UFC vets Ian McCall and Robbie Peralta. Montague isn't one that should be given up on already at 26. He is far from his peak.
Fighting Style: Horiguchi is a high-octane striker in every sense of the word. With karate as his base, it should come as no surpise that he moves in and out very quickly and throws a very good mix of punches and kicks to mix things up similar to Lyoto Machida. With 8 of his wins by KO/TKO, it shouldn't come as a surprise that he has a lot of power in his fists.
Montague is a very well-rounded fighter as his 5 KO/TKO's and 5 submission victories attest. Boxing is his preferred style of fighting, but he throws an awful lot of kicks as well. He doesn't throw strikes with the same speed as Horiguchi, but he makes them count. He isn't the best wrestler out there, but can survive with most and take advantage of those who aren't the most experienced grapplers.
What to Expect: Montague likes to take command of the center of the Octagon and Horiguchi is content to float around the outside picking his spots to go in and out. I don't believe Horiguchi's plan is going to change at all with Montague. Montague usually has very good movement and it will be emphasized with someone who moves like Horiguchi. Look for Montague to double and triple up on his jab more often than usual as he tries to catch the quicker Japan native.
Horiguchi's ground game is still largely unproven. Pague was able to control much of the first round of their bout by grounding the smaller opponent and applying a body triangle which he maintained even as Horiguchi stood up. Look for Montague to exploit Horiguchi's lack of experience on the ground as Montague's wrestling is assuredly better and his submission game much more proven.
Don't be shocked to see some flash in the striking from these two. Montague is usually very straightforward, but can throw a spinning back fist and nice head kicks. Horiguchi is ballsy enough to try just about anything and often jumps into his punches.
X-Factors: Horiguchi has never fought at 125, but has fought at 130 pounds. As small as he was at bantamweight, I don't see the weight cut being an issue for him.
Montague has shown a good chin as he took a lot of hard shots from Dodson before dropping, but he has a tendency to freeze up with his offense after being rocked and I'm not just referring to right after being rocked. McCall had little trouble teeing off on him the rest of the fight after a series of hard ground shots. If Horiguchi just rocks Montague, it is likely all over.
Who Will Win: I'm of the opinion that people are giving up too quickly on Montague. Yes, he lost in dramatic fashion to Dodson, but Dodson is considered to be one of the top 3 flyweights in the world and Montague was said to be the best flyweight outside the UFC prior to his signing. He still has it in him. And he'll find a way to get it done. It isn't that I don't think Horiguchi isn't the real deal... Montague is just a bit better at this juncture. Montague by Decision
Story Thus Far: Cabral is mostly unknown the North American fans. He appeared on the second season of TUF Brazil and wasn't eliminated due to a loss as he broke his hand causing him to withdraw from the tournament. At 30, it is a little difficult to label him a prospect, but he could make some noise in the division as he won his debut over David Mitchell very convincingly.
Cummings is someone North America is more familiar with as he was on the 17th season of TUF. He was eliminated early, but had a favorable debut himself easily disposing of Benny Alloway in August. He eliminated a lot of the good vibes by missing weight for his next fight by 8 pounds which caused his opponent to withdraw. To give Cummings slack, I'm sure the flight to China screwed with his weight cut... but 8 pounds! He could be cut if he loses.
Fighting Style: There is a very easy way to sum up Cabral's style: up until the Mitchell fight, every single bout he was in ended with a submission victory for him. This guy is a very serious and high level BJJ practitioner. He doesn't have a lot of striking ability and looks to get the fight to the ground as fast as possible.
Cummings himself prefers to take the fight to the ground as over half of his victories (9) have come by submission. He is a purple belt in BJJ, but has a much more extensive background in wrestling. I'm inclined to believe that he'll be more willing to stand and bang now that he fights in the welterweight division as opposed to middleweight or even light heavyweight at times.
What to Expect: Cummings is certainly the more well-rounded fighter, but Cabral is such a BJJ expert that Cummings will stand little chance of catching him on the ground in a submission. This fight actually reminds me a lot of Cabral's fight with Mitchell as Cummings is also a large welterweight with a reputation as a solid grappler. Cabral was able to pass Mitchell's guard time and time again and would expect him to do the same to Cummings.
Cummings has better takedown defense than Mitchell, so he has a much better chance of victory here than Mitchell did. Plus, Cummings has some power in his punch. How many of you remember his KO to get into the TUF house? Cabral has shown improvement in his striking recently, but I would be surprised if he tries to stay standing. Cabral will look to be elusive and only close the distance when looking for a takedown with judo trips.
Neither fighter is flashy with their strikes as Cabral is tightening up his sloppy punches while Cummings is best described as a fundamentally sound boxer with nothing that screams special about him.
X-Factors: I'm very worried about the conditioning of Cummings. He was nowhere near weight a few months ago and his first fight at welterweight only lasted 4 minutes. He could be in trouble if the fight lasts a while. The other thing to look out for is improved striking from Cabral. He does work with the likes of Jose Aldo and Renan Barao after all.
Who Will Win: This is actually one of the tougher fights to call. Cummings is super tough and will dictate where the match takes place more than any other opponent Cabral has faced. I really think that the weight cut will prove to be too tough for Cummings to have his tank run deep and Cabral will be able to catch him late in a close fight. Cabral by Submission 3rd Round
Story Thus Far: This is one of those fights you can't help but wonder why it was made. Wineland is a contender and Eduardo is coming off of a two year layoff.
It feels like Wineland has been around forever considering he was the first ever WEC bantamweight champion, but he is still only 29. Since coming into the UFC, his only losses have been to either champions or title challengers (Urijah Faber, Joseph Benavidez, and Renan Barao). His last loss was for the title to Barao so it is likely going to be a while before he is considered for the title again. In the meantime it seems he is content with fighting as much as possible with whoever is willing to step in there with him. I can't think of any other reason this fight was made.
Eduardo is getting up there in years at 35 and with not having fought in two years figured this would be the quickest route to the title. His only UFC win came against Jeff Curran which isn't saying a whole lot as Curran was only able to secure one win in seven tries under the Zuffa banner. To give Eduardo credit though, he rode an 11 fight win streak into the UFC from the Brazilian circuit.
Fighting Style: Wineland has a wrestling background, but doesn't do much with it. Well... I should say that he uses his wrestling in reverse to keep the fight standing as he is very much a boxer. He can take the fight to the ground as he has proven many times before... but usually doesn't take that route.
Eduardo doesn't mind standing and swinging himself as his two UFC appearances have shown. His background is in Muay Thai as opposed to boxing and is traditionally quite aggressive. However, 13 of his victories have come by submission so you know that his BJJ is very solid as well. He tends to take the fight where his opponent is weakest.
What to Expect: There is no secret to Wineland's plan. Stand and bang. He did that with Renan Barao and Yves Jabouin and there is a large gap between those two. Barao has been the only one to put him out as his previous TKO loss was due to injury so that should speak volumes about his chin which is the biggest reason he has had so much success with this style thus far.
Eduardo will probably be willing to trade for periods of a time (and even land some good shots), but look for him to try and take the fight to the ground. It is true that he hasn't even attempted a takedown in the UFC yet, but take a look at his opponents. Raphael Assuncao and Curran own a combined 29 submission victories. Eduardo wasn't and isn't going to take the fight to the place his opponent is most comfortable. Expect him to utilize trips from the clinch as Wineland has a very good sprawl.
X-Factors: Conditioning normally wouldn't be an issue with either fighter. But Eduardo will very likely be dealing with ring rust as he hasn't had a fight in 2 years. Eduardo is a long time veteran and might be savvy enough to know how to deal with the long layoff, but I expect it to be an issue.
Who Will Win: It should be obvious who I think will win. Hell, not just me, but the entire MMA universe. Eduardo is climbing a steep hill back into the Octagon with Wineland. I just don't see him being able to overthrow the recent title challenger. Wineland by TKO 2nd Round
Record for last Card: 6-4
Record for Year: 96-55-1