Our top-to-bottom analysis of the entire event
Alex Caceres (5-2) vs. Jim Hettes (8-0)
Let’s be real: the “Bruce Leroy” thing was fun for a minute, but Caceres’ minute is up.
He was tapped quickly in his UFC debut by Mackens Semerzier and desperately needs a win in this one. Some will say he lucked out with Leonard Garcia being forced from this bout with an injury, and while that is partially true, Hettes is no slouch.
Unbeaten through his first eight fights, Hettes has as much experience as Caceres and is a submission machine. He’s forced all eight of his opponents to tap and has never seen the third round. His UFC debut could certainly be Caceres’ UFC going away party.
Edwin Figueroa (7-1) vs. Jason Reinhardt (20-2)
Figueroa put forth a game effort in a losing cause against Michael McDonald at Ultimate Fight Night 24 in Seattle. He took the fight on short notice, showed all kinds of heart and gets his “Thanks for helping us out” return trip to the Octagon in this one.
I’m honestly not sure why Reinhardt is making another trip to the UFC cage though. I don’t mean that in a spiteful way, I’m just perplexed. The 41-year-old is 0-2 under the bright lights, and was tapped quickly by Tiequan Zhang at UFC 127 in February. At this stage in his career, I’m not sure what he has to offer.
Jacob Volkmann (12-2) vs. Danny Castillo
Isn’t this a fun little fight tucked away on the undercard?
When he’s not being put on Secret Service watch lists, Volkmann earns wins in the lightweight division. He’s 3-0 since dropping down, grinding out wins over Ronnys Torres, Paul Kelly and Antonio McKee with very good wrestling and solid jiu-jitsu.
Castillo looked very, very good in his UFC debut, dominating Joe Stevenson back in March to win his third straight bout. The Team Alpha Male trainee has very good wrestling as well, with better boxing and more explosive hands than Volkmann.
These are the kinds of fights that help sort things out in the bottomless lightweight division. This is a fight that really deserved to be a Facebook prelim on a pay-per-view card; three straight wins for both should earn them some shine, not a chance to be buried here. I know it’s on Facebook, but Saturday afternoon and Sunday night are very different time slots.
Cole Miller (17-5) vs. T.J. O’Brien (16-4)
What did Cole Miller do to get this match-up? I know he lost his last fight to Matt Wiman and didn’t look particularly good in the process, but going from Wiman to TUF 12 reject O’Brien is a serious step down.
Miller has solid tools, but has never been able to put it together consistently for long stretches. He looked very good handing Ross Pearson his first UFC defeat, but had nothing against Wiman last time out. There needs to be more consistency from Miller if he ever wants to get out of the logjam in the lightweight division.
O’Brien has great length for the division, standing 6’2″ tall with long limbs, but he’s never shown anything that makes me think he can hang with Miller in this one. Sorry, I’m just being honest.
Karlos Vemola (8-1) vs. Ronny Markes (11-1)
There are a lot of people who have probably never heard of either of these two, but this should be a very entertaining fight.
Vemola absolutely smashed Seth Petruzelli in his light heavyweight debut all the way back in November, rebounding nicely from the first loss of his career. The only time he’s made it beyond the opening round was his loss to Jon Madsen at UFC 116. This dude is a monster with scary power.
Even less known than Vemola is Markes, a Nova Unaio product making his UFC debut in this one. He’s filling in for an injured Stephan Bonnar and coming off an April decision victory over Paulo Filho. Now that doesn’t mean as much as it did in the past, but with just one loss in twelve fights and having shown the ability to finish in multiple ways, Markes might be someone to keep an eye on moving forward. Or he might get mauled by “The Terminator.”
Either way, it should be fun.
Ed Herman (20-7) vs. Kyle Noke (19-4-1)
After missing almost two years due to knee problems, Herman is looking to make a speedy return to relevance, taking this fight just two months after beating Tim Credeur in his return. It’s not a bad idea at all considering he needed just 48 seconds to starch his fellow former TUF cast member, and a win over Noke would make a few people stand up and take notice.
The Aussie has put together three wins after being a part of the cast for TUF 11, most recently submitting Chris Camozzi in his homeland back in February. Noke is a well-rounded fighter who flies under the radar, but he’s got the skills to be a sleeper in the middleweight ranks if he can add another win to his recent run of success here.
Fitness will be the key for Herman. He’s fought for 48 seconds in the last two years, so don’t be surprised if Noke tries to drag this out a little to test his cardio.
Joseph Benavidez (14-2) vs. Eddie Wineland (18-7-1)
You wouldn’t know it by his placement on this card, the fact that he’s fighting a guy coming off a loss or the serious lack of exposure he receives, but Benavidez is the best bantamweight in the world not named Dominick Cruz.
He’s lost to Cruz twice — both in August interestingly enough — but other than that, the Team Alpha Male product has beaten everyone else they’ve put in front of him. He essentially a younger, faster, better version of his mentor, Urijah Faber, the man Wineland just lost to at UFC 128.
A win for Wineland would be a huge bounce-back after a middling performance against Faber in March. After winning the opening round, Wineland couldn’t adjust and dropped the next two. He’ll need to get back to being aggressive and physical if he wants to stand a chance with Benavidez. He was too tentative last time out, and that won’t work here either.
C.B. Dollaway (11-3) vs. Jared Hamman (11-3)
These two have identical records and both have something to prove in this one.
Dollaway had a nice little run going prior to getting cracked by Mark Munoz last time out. Some contended it was a quick stoppage, but “The Doberman” was out and needs a good performance here to win back some relevance in the division.
This is Hamman’s first fight in the middleweight ranks after going 1-2 in three light heavyweight tilts. He’s won Fight of the Night on back-to-back occasions, but needs to put a win on his resume or risk being cut. Hamman has solid power and will need to keep this fight standing if he hopes to have any success against Dollaway.