That’s right everyone, another weekend with TUF Live and a UFC event means another double dose of Danny Boy Downes! Even though Sweden may not take kindly to people who don’t like Filmjölk, it treated me fairly well as I went 4-2 in my predictions. That, and I was able to haul these bad boys back from the wedding shower. As a side note, I’ll take getting punched in the face in a cage over opening gifts in front of a room full of women anytime.
Speaking of which, it seems that the awkwardness/disdain between Rashad Evans and Jon Jones has subsided for UFC 145. The two were downright cordial at the presser earlier this week. If these two can put differences aside maybe there’s hope for Chael Sonnen and Anderson Silva.... okay, you're right, that's ridiculous.
Mark Bocek vs John Alessio
The main card kicks off with a lightweight contest between Mark Bocek (10-4) and John Alessio (34-14). Bocek earned a unanimous decision victory at UFC 140 against Nik Lentz, but is mostly known for his superb grappling ability where the majority of his victories (7 to be exact) have come via submission. A great all-around talent, Alessio has won 10 of his last 11 fights (losing only to Siyar Bahadurzada a year ago) and returns to the UFC for the first time since losing to Thiago Alves in 2006. Fun fact: that was the same year Big Momma’s House 2 skyrocketed to success.
Alessio is no slouch on the ground, but he has a significant advantage standing up. As long as he sticks to straight punches and doesn’t overcommit, he could squeeze out a decision victory. Much like Big Momma’s House 2, though, that sounds better on paper (Martin Lawrence + Fatsuit = genius). Bocek will be able to get his takedowns, control position and get the decision from the judges. Now if you’ll excuse me, I'm going to watch some good 2006 movies like this and this.
Mark Hominick vs. Eddie Yagin
Next we drop down to featherweight for Mark Hominick (20-10) vs. Eddie “The Filipino Phenom” Yagin (15-5). A former no. 1 contender, Hominick is currently on an uncharacteristic losing streak and Chan Sung Jung dropped him in 7 seconds in December. Yagin's 15 wins are evenly distributed between KOs, submissions and decisions, and now he's looking to get that first UFC win after losing in his debut at UFC 135.
Mark Hominick is one of the best, most technical strikers in MMA. People are trying to make his loss to the Korean Zombie bigger than what it really was -- an aberration from a stellar career. Saying he has a glass jaw from one fight is like saying I wasn’t cool growing up because I played the flute in the school band. 1) Hominick was still standing after his fight against Jose Aldo and 2) Remember Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull? He’s all types of cool. Yagin gets KO’d in the second.
Miguel Torres vs. Michael McDonald
We then get the much anticipated return of Miguel Torres (40-4) as he takes on Michael “Mayday” McDonald (14-1). On top of the bantamweight division for a long time, Torres has had difficulty as of late going 3-3 in his last few bouts. McDonald, on the other hand, hasn’t lost since 2009 and is taking a big jump up in competition as he searches for his fourth UFC win.
At first glance, McDonald takes this all day. He’s younger, stronger and a rising star in the division. At first glance, people thought the Compact Disc was the pinnacle of music technology. Am I saying that McDonald is going to be obsolete in a few years? No. Am I saying that I still use my Discman? Maybe. Do I pray that McDonald comes out to “I Keep Forgettin”? You know it! Torres has the experience and is hungry for a win and takes this by decision.
Brendan Schaub vs. Ben Rothwell
The next fight is a heavyweight bout between Brendan “The Hybrid” Schaub and Ben Rothwell. Runner-up on season ten of The Ultimate Fighter, “The Hybrid” is looking to rebound after getting KO’d by Big Nog in August. Ben “Hybrid of a Viking and Roy Nelson” Rothwell is looking for redemption after his loss to Mark Hunt at UFC 135 in Denver proved that heavyweights should not be allowed to fight at elevation. Atlanta is only 1050 feet (that’s 320m for my metric system friends) above sea level, so this one shouldn’t be too bad.
Full disclosure: I’ve trained and hung out with Ben Rothwell here in Wisconsin, so I’m not exactly an unbiased observer. Normally in this case I throw the predicting job to my Grandma Murphy, but she’s currently recovering from a broken hip (this is actually a true statement). In lieu of that I’ll leave you with a fun anecdote. When he was a teenager, Ben Rothwell once jumped a guy working behind the counter at a Taco Bell who he felt was insulting him. While there may not be any video evidence of this occurrence, I imagine it looked something like this.
Rory MacDonald vs. Che Mills
The co-main event of the evening pits Rory “Ares” MacDonald (12-1) against “Beautiful” Che Mills (14-4). Coming off a TKO victory against Mike Pyle, MacDonald hails from Kelowna. At first I thought it was a Hawaiian Island but it’s actually in British Columbia. There are similarities, though, seeing that both places grow things. Hawaii has macadamia nuts, pineapples, coffee, and guavas while British Columbia grows marijuana. Mills was born in Gloucester, England which....uh.....has the largest ice cream factory in Europe (hey, they all can’t be winners). He made his UFC debut with a 40-second TKO win that earned him a co-main shot against the Canadian kid they're calling the next GSP.
Before injuring his knee in November, MacDonald was one of the fastest-rising stars in the division, and I expect him to continue that momentum. Mills is strong striker with an excellent clinch. Unfortunately, his attempts to utilize the clinch will allow MacDonald to get close, get the takedown and deliver the punishing ground and pound we saw him use in his fight against Pyle. MacDonald via TKO in the 1st.
Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans
That brings us to the main event of the evening. Rashad Evans has won four straight since losing to Lyoto Machida (his only loss) and people still aren’t giving him the respect he deserves, which further cements him as the lunch lady of MMA. Jon Jones has experienced a meteoric rise in the UFC en route to becoming the light heavyweight champion and undefeated. Well, except for that whole illegal elbow thing, but I’m pretty sure that’s like my cousin Lindsay’s police record as a minor -- it’ll get expunged after a few years.
When the Evans vs Jones hype was coming around the first time, I had Jones. That is, until Rashad’s fight against Phil Davis made me a believer. Now, Phil Davis isn’t at Jon Jones’ level, but he’s still an excellent fighter. Plus, I honestly believe the fact that they trained together gives Rashad an advantage in the sense that he doesn’t give into the mythos of Jon Jones. This will be a close, back and forth fight. It’ll be a technical chess match. Jones will tag him, but not with anything devastating. Rashad will utilize his footwork and speed to avoid getting caught with big shots and eventually get in to put the champ on his back. Here too there won’t be particularly devastating strikes, but it will be enough for Rashad to get the split decision win and take the title back.
Well, that wraps up another edition of the Downes Side. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @dannyboydownes, my blog and catch me live blogging the fights tonight here. Also, feel free to leave comments, musings, questions or post your deepest darkest secrets. I promise to respond and not judge you (maybe). Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a nice new chip and dip bowl that needs to be used.