The UFC holds its best fight card in months with a sensational television offering headlined by a middleweight clash between top contenders 'Jacare' Souza and Gegard Mousasi. The rest of the card is also filled with important bouts and noteworthy names from heavyweight to flyweight.
Will Jacare prove he deserves a title shot next or is Mousasi about to repeat his success over the Brazilian once again?
What: UFC Fight Night: Jacare vs. Mousasi (UFC Fight Night 50)
Where: Foxwoods Resort Casino, Ledyard, Connecticut
When: Friday, the six-fight preliminary Fox Sports 1 card starts at 7 p.m. ET and the four-fight Fox Sports 1 main card starts at 10 p.m.
This is a tough one and I agonized over this pick. I'm going to side (however reluctantly) with Mousasi. The key for me is two things. First, Mousasi's takedown defense and ability to create/win scrambles has gotten very good. Second, Jacare's striking is also dramatically better, but more reactive and single shot. Jacare is going to have some success getting the takedown and threatening with bad positions, but I'd like to believe Mousasi is going to make him work for it significantly more. On top of that, as they exchange on the feet, I expect Mousasi to be able to land more often and more accurately while staying out of the way of Jacare's big punch. I can't say much of this in terms of what will happen with any strong confidence, but I no longer believe Jacare's wrestling superiority and top control will be enough to keep Mousasi guessing or in trouble.
Short of the 'anything can happen' streak of the bizarre MMA serves up time to time, this is Overeem's fight to lose. He has far crisper striking as well as a fuller attack positionally and in a wider variety of ranges. Rothwell has big power, but no real comparative advantages.
We all know Lewis basically has Thor's hammer for fists. The problem is his wrestling is OK and ground game fairly reliant on the basics. If you place him on his back, he's got enough to fend off the first wave of attacks and not much else. For anyone savvy enough to move and hold positions while unloading ground and pound, Lewis is in deep trouble. I actually think Mitrione is good enough to do that, but will elect to strike with Lewis instead. If that happens, I'm inclined to side with the fighter whose power literally shakes the Octagon.
It should be a hell of a scrap. Chiesa is arguably the better wrestler and certainly the better scrambler, but Lauzon has no problem playing from guard. The question is what happens there. For my money, Chiesa may find himself fending off bad moments, but will ultimately be able to control Lauzon, who is still a very credible talent, but also banged up for years of tough fights and an aggressive style.
From the preliminary card:
The illegal knee aside, Oliveira was tuning Lentz up before that happened in their first fight. Lentz was controlling the takedown, but couldn't positionally advance. On the feet, Oliveira was battering him with leg kicks or knees inside the clinch. The fight was three years ago, so we'd be wise to not read too much into it. Lentz is a clearly improved fighter. The problem is Oliveira has finally caught his stride, too. In terms of the composition of their offenses, too, not much has changed between them. They both still largely win and defend the same ways.
Moraga's defensive wrestling will give Scoggins some problems, but I don't believe insurmountable ones. Scoggins is excellent at mixing up his offense while under a relentless pace. His striking needs work as it's good for pot shots, not big shots, but he's still in the development stage of his game. Look for Scoggins to press the takedown where he'll eventually use a potent combination of passing to dominant positions while raining down punishments en route to a stoppage, either by TKO or submission.