UFC 166 Main Card Preview
Houston, Texas, is in for a show on October 19 when UFC 166 comes to town. The main card is jam-packed with three heavyweight fights, a bout between two elite lightweights and the lightning-fast action in the flyweight division. For the third time, the champion Cain Velazquez and the challenger Junior Dos Santos will battle for the heavyweight title belt.
John “The Magician” Dodson vs. Darrell “The Mongoose” Montague
An extremely dangerous fighter on his feet, John Dodson is known for his incredibly fast hands and impressive power. Currently the #2 contender in the Flyweight division, Dodson wants nothing more than to get back to the five round title fight against Flyweight champion, Demetrious Johnson. Standing in his way is Darrell “The Mongoose” Montague. New to the UFC, Montague has an opportunity to immediately make a name for himself against one of the best flyweights in the world. A win for Montague would launch him into contention for the belt, where a win for Dodson would almost surely earn him another title fight.
Official Prediction: Dodson (TKO 3rd Round)
No disrespect to Montague, but Dodson is an all-around better fighter, be it standing or on the ground. Dodson also has both more UFC experience and great conditioning. His fast hands and sneaky power will land him another victory in the UFC flyweight division.
Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga vs. Shawn “The Savage” Jordan
This heavyweight bout features two men who will not be winning via decision anytime soon. Gabriel Gonzaga and Shawn Jordan finish their fights. When these two giants enter the cage, people prepare for fireworks. Gonzaga, the Brazilian who is currently training with Team Link in Ludlow, Mass., is coming off wins in three of his last four bouts. Most recently, his brutal KO of Dave Herman came less than twenty seconds into the first round. Not only does Gonzaga throw cinder blocks for punches, but he is also an extremely dangerous fighter on the ground. His opponent, Shawn Jordan, is called “The Savage” for a reason. Jordan is not only a heavyweight, he is a big heavyweight—outweighing his opponent by eighteen pounds (242 to 260). Jordan is an imposing figure, holding onto a 73 percent TKO/KO rate, which should strike fear into the heart of any normal human being. Unfortunately for Jordan, Gabriel Gonzaga is far from a normal human being.
Official Prediction: Gonzaga (Submission 2nd Round)
Shawn Jordan is a very impressive strike with very heavy hands; however, he lacks strong takedown defense and overall grappling ability (one of Gonzaga’s strong spots.) Gonzaga will take this fight to the ground, and end it there. Shawn Jordan’s best bet is to try to keep the fight standing, and stay off the ground and out of the clinch. If this fight gets to the ground, “The Savage” will have trouble making it out of the 2nd round. Good luck, Mr. Jordan.
Gilbert “El Niño” Melendez vs. Diego “The Dream” Sanchez
When we last saw Gilbert Melendez, he was engaged in an epic five-round war with “Smooth” Benson Henderson. On that warm night in San Jose, the lightweight belt was on the line, and Melendez was preparing to make one of the most impressive transitions from Strikeforce to the UFC ever. However, it never completely came to fruition, as “El Niño” lost the split decision on a night that belonged to Benson Henderson. That night is over, and now Melendez has to deal with fellow lightweight Diego Sanchez. “The Dream” owns a very impressive résumé, with an overall professional MMA record of 26-5-0, which includes victories over the likes of Takinori Gomi, Martin Kampmann, Clay Guida and Paulo Thiago. On October 19, he will be facing his toughest opponent to date in Gilbert Melendez. This bout is intriguing, considering the contrasting fighting styles that will be featured. Melendez, a notorious training partner of the Diaz brothers and current Women’s Bantamweight champion and Ultimate Fighter coach Ronda Rousey, should be featuring his usual elite Jiu-Jitsu based attack; while Sanchez, a member of Jackson’s MMA, should have considerable game planning before the fight, as any Jackson fighter would. While Sanchez has the advantage of being in arguably the best fight camp in the world, Melendez has better conditioning, as well as Jiu-Jitsu.
Official Prediction: Melendez (Split Decision)
Both fighters have impressive wins over other elite fighters, great conditioning and packed arsenals of different attacks and strategies. This fight should be evenly matched, and should go the distance; however, I give Melendez the edge because of his impressive last performance that came against Benson Henderson.
Roy “Big Country” Nelson Vs. Daniel “DC” Cormier
Ever since he was crowned champion of season ten of The Ultimate Fighter, Roy “Big Country” Nelson has been a UFC fan favorite. Be it for his big belly and majestic head of flowing hair, or his signature overhand right, Nelson has that “it” factor that makes his fights so popular. His newest opponent, Daniel Cormier, one of the many fighters to join the UFC since the Strikeforce exodus, recently defeated former heavyweight champion Frank Mir, in a unanimous decision. “DC” is one of the strongest wrestlers in the UFC, and also possesses some heavy hands. However, the man across the octagon is owner of arguable the strongest right hand in the UFC (just ask Dave Herman). This fight’s outcome depends on if Nelson can keep the fight standing while consistently landing strikes, and if Cormier can take the fight to the canvas and smother Nelson with his outstanding wrestling. With a combined weight of 511lbs (Nelson 263, Cormier 248) this fight will pack a lot of firepower.
Official Prediction: Cormier (Unanimous Decision)
Daniel Cormier’s wrestling is just too good for “Big Country to handle. Cormier should have plenty of success taking the fight to the cage, or better yet, to the ground and gassing Nelson. As long as he is not caught be a haymaker on the way in, “DC” should emerge from this fight victorious. Beware the big overhand right, and proceed with caution Mr. Cormier.
Cain Velasquez Vs. Junior “Cigano” Dos Santos
For the third time, Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos are set to throw down in the octagon with the heavyweight title belt up for grabs. The Champion, Velasquez, is the favorite for this fight, considering his dominant performance in UFC 155 last December in Vegas. The wrestler is in for a new, rejuvenated Junior Dos Santos, with the same old heavy hands. In their first title match, Dos Santos landed one devastating overhand right, which effectively dethroned Velasquez, earning Dos Santos the belt. In their second fight, Velasquez used his elite wrestling and quick hands to batter “Cigano” for five rounds, en route to a unanimous decision.
Official Prediction: Velasquez (Split Decision)
Velasquez will retain his belt, but this fight is sure to be a war. Cain won’t win easily this time. Dos Santos will have improved conditioning and will have trained off his back far more, knowing the game plan of Velasquez. However, Cain’s wrestling is too effective, and will ultimately land him the decision, and another chance to defend his title.