Takanori Gomi (31-6-0) vs. Tyson Griffin (14-3-0)
Gomi is in for a world of hurt if he hasn’t improved since he was picked apart by Kenny Florian in his UFC debut this past March. “The Fireball Kid” was once one of the top lightweights in the world, but while the sport has evolved, he’s remained the same fighter, and that is a recipe for disaster no matter who you’re facing.
Facing a guy like Tyson Griffin only makes it worse. The Xtreme Couture representative has improved his striking over the years and has always had a great wrestling base to start from. He absolutely never stops, as evident by the piggyback choke sequences – yes, plural – from his UFC 115 meeting with Evan Dunham.
Griffin was on the cusp of title contention before dropping his last fight for Dunham and he certainly wants to get right back into the mix as soon as possible, which is why he’s stepped in here for Joe Stevenson.
Jake Ellenberger (22-5-0) vs. John Howard (14-4-0)
This is going to be a battle! Both guys are powerful, compact welterweights who can change the fight with one punch.
Ellenberger looked tremendous in his UFC debut against Carlos Condit, and followed that tough loss with an impressive victory over Mike Pyle, while Howard has rattled off four-straight wins, earning each of the last two by way of knockout.
These two might not be very high on your name recognition chart, but do not pick this fight to be the time you go refill the chip bowl and grab a couple more Coronas. Sit your ass down and watch this fight, because these two could be taking home Fight of the Night and one of them might walk with Knockout of the Night honors as well.
Yushin Okami (24-5-0) vs. Mark Munoz (8-1-0)
Ah, Yushin Okami, the last man to “beat” Anderson Silva. Every time he gets close to earning another opportunity against the best 185-pound fighter in the world, he comes up short. It happened against Rich Franklin, and it happened against new BFF Chael Sonnen back at UFC 104.
This bout with Silva training partner Mark Munoz doesn’t have title implications, but it certainly has some intrigue. After all, Silva knows Okami’s game first-hand and has surely passed along that knowledge to the budding middleweight contender.
While there were anxious moments in his UFC 112 bout with Kendall Grove, Munoz managed to stave off “Da Spyder” and earn a second round stoppage, pushing him to a perfect 3-0 since dropping to the middleweight division.
This is a big fight for both men, as it will show where the ceiling sits for Munoz and whether or not the possibility of seeing Okami face Silva is worth hanging on to any longer. Both are interesting questions that I am looking forward to having answered.
Jon Jones (10-1-0) vs. Vladimir Matyushenko (24-4-0)
With all due respect to the grizzled Belarusian veteran, but how in the hell are we supposed to think that Matyushenko stands a chance in this fight?
In his last two bouts, “Bones” Jones has smashed Brandon Vera’s orbital bone into oblivion and mauled Matt Hamill, two competitors far the junior of “The Janitor” and higher up on the pecking order too.
The advantages Matyushenko usually brings to the cage – wrestling and hairy-chested old man strength – are nullified by the sport’s top prospect, as the Greco-Roman wrestling Jones employs is some of the best in the business, and his still growing 23-year-old frame is long, lean and becoming stronger with each day. Scary considering he hit Stephan Bonnar with a textbook back-to-back suplex in just his second UFC fight.
Sorry Vlad, but this doesn’t look good for you.