The boys are back to go head-to-head again
Consider this the rubber match; the first in what will probably be a long series of tie-breakers.
Spencer Kyte took the first installment, earning a split decision win with Edson Barboza at UFC 134, but Duane Finley bounced back in explosive fashion over the weekend, scoring a knockout with Daniel Cormier at Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Kharitonov.
The Case for MacDonald (Kyte)
No, I didn’t just choose to take up for MacDonald because we’re both Canadian. And no, contrary to popular belief, there is nothing written in the laws up here that obligates me to support Canadian fighter no matter what.
With that out of the way, here’s the why and how I think MacDonald emerges from “The Big Easy” with a second consecutive win.
The first point has nothing to do with MacDonald in all honesty. He brings some things to the cage that I like, but a good portion of why I’m picking him here has to do with the fact that Belcher has been out of the cage and dealing with a very serious injury for the last 16 months.
While MacDonald has only fought once since Belcher was sidelined following emergency eye surgery—having dealt with his own injury issues—that bout yielded a quick and impressive submission win.
There’s bound to be someone who takes this the wrong way, but if you look at MacDonald’s track record in the UFC, a bunch of his losses came in fights where he was way out of his league. As opposed to Rich Franklin, Yushin Okami or Demian Maia, a return Belcher is a much more reasonable match-up for the Red Deer, Alberta native.
Stylistically, I think MacDonald’s advantage on the ground will be the determining factor. He has sneaky good jiu-jitsu, with four of his six wins inside the Octagon coming by way of submission.
I see MacDonald making this a grimy affair, working in the clinch, dragging the fight to the floor and trying to keep his weight on Belcher as much as possible, testing his conditioning in his first fight back.
From there, the long and lean Nova Scotian will work his submission game, looking for openings to sink in a choke. The longer this fight goes, the more it favors MacDonald.
What have you got to say to that, Duane?
The Case for Belcher (Finley)
I had originally lined out a passionate speech about bringing the “Face-Off Championship Belt” back to the States, but I plan on holding this belt for a long time, so I’ll let an incredible win streak do the talking.
When I look at Alan Belcher I see a wild card; he is aggressive, athletic and as tough as they come. My biggest question surrounding Belcher is how he will perform coming off what could have been a career ending eye injury.
Typically, when a fighter returns to the cage after a long layoff they are a bit gunshy at the start of the fight, and this is where I see the key to Belcher’s victory. He’s historically a “guns blazing right out of the gates” kind of guy, and MacDonald is the type of savvy veteran who allows his opponent to impose their will on him before catching something slick and finishing the fight. Belcher should be well aware of how MacDonald operates, so I believe after what could be a somewhat long “feeling-out” period, “The Talent” will get down to business.
Prior to his injury, Belcher was poised to make a run into the next tier of a then stagnant middleweight division. If he hopes to recapture any of that momentum, he will need to walk away from New Orleans victorious.
I know there have been a lot of “ifs” in this point, but when attempting to break down Belcher’s unorthodox approach, that’s all you can really say. I believe once the fight gets rolling, Belcher will find a home for his hands and knees, and maybe give the camera a good shot of that awesome tattoo before he puts MacDonald away for good.
My head says this fight plays out for Belcher on the scorecards, but my heart says Belcher finishes MacDonald in late second or early third round. It will be his second consecutive win over a Canadian, and subsequently mine as well.
That’s how I see it and that’s how it is going down.