Spending nearly a month apart like this doesn’t work for me, and I hope you feel the same way too. Three weeks between cards – max – that’s what I say. Thankfully, the MMA world is set to oblige that request this month, so we’ll have to skip the catching up and reminiscing and get right to breaking down the UFC’s second appearance on Versus.
Rob Kimmons (22-5-0) vs. Steve Steinbeiss (4-3-0)
I feel bad for Steve Steinbeiss. Last time out, he gave the referee the thumbs up when asked if he was okay as Ryan Jensen cranked on a guillotine choke. Apparently the ref misunderstood because he stopped the fight, giving “The Hooligan” an even tougher-than-normal to accept defeat.
Kimmons is one of those guys who never really does anything too outstanding, but always does enough to remain employed by the UFC. He follows the “win one, lose one” pattern through four Octagon appearances, and comes in off a loss to Jorge Rivera for whatever that’s worth.
It’s the first fight of the night, so ultimately, you know the deal: winner sticks around, loser is happy to see Shark Fights signing so many former UFC fighters.
Darren Elkins (11-1-0) vs. Charles Oliveira (12-0-0)
Elkins admirably stepped in late for an injured Spencer Fisher at the inaugural Live on Versus broadcast back in March, only to have Duane “Bang” Ludwig break his ankle before he was able to really showcase his talents. Call this “The Debut: The Sequel” for the Hobart, Indiana native.
For Oliveira, who ranked third on Sherdog’s list of 10 Brazilians to watch in 2010, it is just “The Debut.” Seven of Oliveira’s twelve wins came in three nights, as the 155-pound Sao Paulo native has earned himself a trio of tournament titles in his homeland.
The lightweight division is deep and moving up the ladder is probably harder at 155 than in any other division. Both guys are looking to take their first steps in this one, which should make it an exciting affair.
Brian Stann (8-3-0) vs. Mike Massenzio (11-3-0)
No disrespect to Massenzio, a tough kid from Jersey who holds wins over Dan Miller and Drew McFedries, but Stann is the story in this one, and rightfully so.
Stann, a lieutenant in the United States Marine Corp, was awarded the Silver Star for his efforts in Afghanistan in 2005 and also happens to be a former WEC light heavyweight champion. This bout marks his middleweight debut, a move he decided to make following a loss to Phil Davis at UFC 109.
The Greg Jackson pupil has his autobiography coming out in September and it’s something we at Heavy suggest you pick up. Sometimes, it’s about more than the fights. This is one of those times.
James Irvin (14-6-0, 1NC) vs. Igor Pokrajac (21-7-0)
James Irvin is trying to get his life and his career back on track. He’s made the moves necessary to get his life in order – changed gyms, overcame addiction to pain pills, back up to a better weight class – and now he just needs to right the ship in the cage too.
His eight second knockout of Houston Alexander was supposed to be a launching pad to bigger and better things, but instead, Irvin has stalled because of injuries and other issues, and needs this win more than most.
Pokrajac is a former training partner of Mirko Cro Cop who has been soundly beaten in each of his two UFC appearances, the last being the opener of UFC 110 in Australia to native son James Te Huna. Without a better showing in this one, Pokrajac will be looking for a new place to fight.
Paul Kelly (10-2-0) vs. Jacob Volkmann (10-2-0)
Matching records meet in this lightweight contest, as the two former welterweights continue their evolution into lightweight challengers.
Kelly made the drop at UFC 99, defeating Rolando Delgado. Last time out, the Brit battled hard against HIT Squad product Matt Veach, earning a second round submission finish at UFC 112 to push his lightweight record to 2-1.
After a pair of bouts with Top 10 competitors resulted in the first two losses of his career, “Christmas” made the shift to the 155-pound division in his last bout, scoring a split decision win over Ronys Torres at the March Fight Night event in North Carolina.
As was stated earlier with Elkins and Oliveira – 155 is a shark tank and there isn’t a lot of room for middling competitors. These two will also be looking to make a lasting impression, so we should be in store for another solid scrap with this one.
DaMarques Johnson (11-7-0) vs. Matt Riddle (4-1-0)
Let me just get this out of the way right now: I can’t take Matt Riddle seriously. His hair is always awful and that just eliminates any talent he might have in my mind. Perception is reality, big fella, and you look like a Jersey Shore extra.
It also doesn’t help that I think DaMarques Johnson is well on his way to following in Kenny Florian and – probably more accurately – George Sotiropoulos’s shoes as a non-TUF winner who eclipses the guy who actually won that particular season. While James Wilks has been average, Johnson has earned a pair of bonus checks and keeps improving each time we see him.
Despite his bad hair, Riddle is a scrappy kid who can wrestle with just about anyone, so this could actually turn out to be a pretty solid fight. I just can’t picture it because Riddle reminds me of that douche in the “My New Haircut” video on YouTube.