Robbie Lawler vs. Matt Brown
When this fight was announced, I immediately thought this would be fireworks and possibly a round of the year candidate. It features two heavy handed strikers with a knack of finishing fights. Add in the extra motivation, in which the winner get’s a title shot and expect both men determined to win by any means necessary. It’s going to be a fun one, with both men on somewhat of a similar resurgence in their careers. Lawler, who was with Strikeforce from 2009-2012, was certainly not the title contender he is today. In fact, Lawler went 3-5 during his tenure with Strikeforce. Then, which perhaps can be credited for saving his career, “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler returned to the UFC, as Strikeforce was purchased and the roster was merged into the UFC. Since, Lawler is 4-1 with three knockout victories, an impressive win over the highly touted welterweight contender Rory MacDonald and a closely contested title defeat to champion Johny Hendricks. Lawler is regarded as the second best welterweight, when two years ago, Lawler was not even in the welterweight picture. As for Brown, besides changing his life in which was once engulfed with drug usage, he is now considered one of the best welterweight fighters in the world. Rewind to 2011, in a fight against John “Doomsday” Howard, Brown was on the verge of being released from the UFC. He had lost three fights in a row, all by second round submissions. However, in a back and forth fight, Brown came out as the victor by decision. It certainly was a must win because a four fight losing streak in the UFC, would of undoubtedly had Brown’s next fight elsewhere. Despite going on to lose his next fight, Brown with a record of 14-11, went on to do the unthinkable. He pulled off a seven fight win streak, in which included gritty veterans and prospects looking for a stepping stone. Brown, finished six of those seven opponents by knockout and has emerged himself not only into the title picture, but one fight away from fighting for the welterweight belt. Remarkable and exciting at the same time, these two men’s resurgence’s have intertwined with each other. With everything on the line, the script that follows will certainly be a joy, so strap in, cause this one is shaping up to be a war.
Stylistically, this fight is almost certain to take place on the feet. The only other belief I have is that Matt Brown tries to turn this into a grappling affair, considering how good of a striker Robbie Lawler is. I mean, with a title shot on the line, it’s possible Brown could try for that, given Lawler’s past weakness of succumbing to takedowns. But, knowing Matt Brown, I’m not sure he’s going to change up his in-your-face style. I expect Brown to come at Lawler and try to put on a pace that Lawler can’t keep up with. However, I think he’s going to get countered and unlike Brown’s past opponents whom have had Brown in danger, when Lawler smells blood, it’s more than likely over.
Lawler has an 87% finishing rate and a 60% finished rate, while Brown has a 89% finishing rate and a 82% finished rate. If anything is clear from these statistics and keep in mind it’s a five round fight, there is no way this one is going the distance. Someone is getting stopped and in my opinion and by popular belief, it’s Matt Brown. So, my prediction is that Robbie Lawler defeats Matt Brown by knockout sometime before round three.
In the co-main event, we have Anthony Johnson, who fresh off a dominant win over Phil Davis, taking on a gritty veteran in Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. This will be Johnson’s second fight since re-signing with the UFC and his stock couldn’t be any higher at the moment. The win over Phil Davis was a shock to me, given how Johnson was fluctuating through weight classes. I mean, this is a now light heavyweight (205 lbs.) that fought at welterweight (170 lbs.) and as high as Heavyweight (206-265 lbs.). So, I wasn’t sure that he would be able to settle at light heavyweight and fight a top ranked fighter such as Phil Davis so quickly. However, he dominated Phil Davis like I never seen before and appears like he’s legit contender in the light heavyweight division.
As for Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, people might forget, but his last fight was a victory over Rashad Evans. The momentum of that victory, however was stopped due to injuries that sidelined Nogueira for more than a year. In fact, Nogueira has only fought twice since December of 2011. It’s possibly father time has caught up with Nogueira given his injury proneness. It’s a shame too because of his skillset and the shallowness of the light heavyweight division these days.
Anyways, as for a prediction, I really like Anthony Johnson here to win based off athleticism and speed. I think Nogueira has great boxing, but Johnson is going to be to quick for him to get anything off. Statistically, Johnson has a 65% finishing rate and a 100% finished rate, while Nogueira has a 57% finishing rate and a 20% finished rate. So, while both men have the ability to put someone away, I don’t think that’s going to be the case here, although Johnson has never lost a fight without being finished. At the end of the day, I think age and ring rust are going to catch up to Nogueira here. Johnson takes this via decision.
Clay Guida takes on Dennis Bermudez in an all important featherweight contest. Guida, a veteran of 19 fights in the UFC, will look to build off his impressive victory over Tatsuya Kawajiri. Guida, since dropping down to the featherweight division is 2-1, with the only defeat coming to title challenger Chad Mendes. A simple drop in weight and two victories, has Guida as the #7 ranked featherweight and looking like a possible contender in the division. It’s interesting to see if Guida has one more run in him, which is why a fight against Bermudez is a really good test to see if Guida can hang with the up-and-coming talent.
Bermudez, quietly has stringed together a six fight win streak and is creeping his way into the echelon of the featherweight division. Rewind to December of 2011, Bermudez was fighting Diego Brandao to become the Ultimate Fighter season 14 winner. During the fight, Bermudez dropped Brandao and smelt blood. While going for the finish, Brandao had recovered and caught Bermudez in an armbar. This marked Bermudez’s first loss in the UFC and third straight defeat. Then, fight after fight including a “Fight of the Year” candidate against Matt Grice, Bermudez was putting together and extremely impressive win streak. The last fight, earned Bermudez a performance of the night bonus, as he outworked and finished Jimy Hettes at UFC 171. Now, if Bermudez can defeat Clay Guida, look for his next challenger to be within the top five, as he inches his way closer to a title shot.
As for a prediction, I think this is going to be a close and fun fight. Whether they stand or turn this into a grappling affair, I think both fighters well roundness will show. I’m leaning towards Bermudez getting the job done via a 29-28 or split decision. Once again, statistically Guida has a 61% finishing rate and a 50% finished rate, while Bermudez has a 46% finishing rate and a 100% finished rate. None of that sways me because I don’t think Guida can finish Bermudez and when it goes to a decision, Bermudez has had the edge. Tough fight, but I got Bermudez.
Josh “The Punk” Thomson takes on Bobby “King” Green in an interesting and always pivotal fight in the lightweight division. Thomson, is coming off a loss to Benson Henderson, a fight in which he broke his hand in the first round and continued on for another four rounds. Also, many believed including myself that he had won the fight, but the judges saw otherwise. It was a heart breaker for Thomson, given that he was in line for a title shot until the champion, Anthony Pettis pulled out with an injury. It couldn’t of been scripted worse for Thomson, who made it known during the press conference that he might be headed for retirement after the series of misfortune. However, after taking some time to reflect, “The Punk” is back, as he fights in a familiar place, his hometown.
Bobby Green, a late replacement, will look to add on to his impressive 3-0 start in the UFC. Green’s last fight against Pat Healy was super impressive, as he showed off a dynamic striking game, resembling that of Roy Jones Jr. The hands were down, footwork and head movement were on point and the jab was there all day. It was a coming out party for the talented Bobby Green who now faces a stiff test as a late replacement, fighting a championship caliber opponent in Josh Thomson. However, it appears that Green is not one to shy away from anything. I mean, this guy just lost his brother and three other family members were shot due to gang violence in June. This is a rather quick turnaround to a tragedy and I’m a little concerned for Green’s mental state in this fight, but then again, this is a foster child that has been through the ringer and made it out a UFC star.
As for a prediction, I like Josh Thomson here to outwork Bobby Green everywhere. Thomson is super well rounded and won’t be fazed by Green’s striking. It’s going to be interesting to see if Green fights with his hands down, given that Thomson is no slouch on the feet. Anyways, I don’t like the timing of this fight for Green, nor stylistically. I still think Green has a bright future ahead of him, but this one of those “too soon” fights. Statistically, Thomson has a 70% finishing rate and a 17% finished rate, while Green has a 77% finishing rate and a 60% finished rate. Again, this is Thomson’s fight to lose, he’s too good everywhere to succumb to Green. It’s possible that Thomson could finish Green as well, most likely via submission, as Green’s past weakness has been submission defense. So, my prediction is that Josh Thomson will defeat Bobby Green via submission.
From the preliminary card: