“Big Sexy” hasn’t been as prominent in the news since Stefan Struve handed him the first loss of his career back at UFC 124. He’s still offering up gold on Twitter and The UG pretty regularly, but the spotlight has faded and now he needs a win over Morecraft to keep his name in the news for more legitimate reasons.
Like a handful of other fighters on this card, including his opponent, it’s hard to gauge what we’re going to get from McCorkle in this one. He made short work of Mark Hunt in his debut and we all chalked that up to Hunt being over the hill, but “The Super Samoan” came out strong last time, while McCorkle had one burst of energy before Struve handed him a beating.
Morecraft lost to Struve last time out as well, though he acquitted himself quite well before catching the gigantic Dutchman’s fist with his face 21 seconds into the second round. The Massachusetts native dominated Struve in the opening frame, coming close to putting away the emerging heavyweight prospect with some heavy ground-and-pound. Failing to finish when he had the opportunity should serve as a great learning and motivational tool for Morecraft as he continues to develop.
John Hathaway (14-1-0) vs. Kris McCray (5-2-0)
I don’t really agree with the thinking that you can learn more from a loss than you can a win, but I do believe that fading from the spotlight after his loss to Mike Pyle is a positive for Hathaway.
Beating Diego Sanchez at UFC 114 brought Hathaway all kinds of attention, both good and bad, but the loss to Pyle at UFC 120 allows him to take a step back and continue developing the solid all-around abilities he’s shown thus far. While we’re always on the lookout for “The Next Big Thing,” sometimes we put that tag on fighters too quickly and I think that happened with Hathaway.
The 23-year-old Briton is still a very promising young fighter. Don’t get me wrong, I thought he looked great against Sanchez, but at this early stage in his career, there are going to be ups and downs, especially while competing in the stacked welterweight division. His UFC 120 bout with Pyle was one of those dips in the road, but he’s got a great opportunity to bounce back here.
McCray gets a high five for switching training camps heading into this fight. He’s been outclassed and outworked in his two UFC appearances to date, and working with the Renzo Gracie Combat Team should prevent that from happening a third time.
The former TUF finalist showed a lot of promise heading into the house, and a lot of heart while he was in there, fighting a record five times during the taping period. But he’s been flat ever since, losing to Court McGee in the finals and getting quickly tapped by Carlos Eduardo Rocha in his post-TUF debut at UFC 122 in Germany.
This is a tough fight for McCray and potentially a must-win; while I think his time on TUF could earn him one more chance, another swift exit from the Octagon could be the end of his UFC run.
John Madsen (7-0-0) vs. Mike Russow (13-1-0, 1 NC)
I’m not sure whether the fact that Madsen and Russow are a combined 6-0 in the UFC is impressive or indicative of the lack of depth and talent in the heavyweight division. Either way, their track records in the Octagon suggest this should be a good tilt, and you’ll never hear me complain about that.
After getting stopped in the TUF 10 tournament by eventual finalist Brendan Schaub, Madsen has rattled off four-straight wins over increasingly competent opponents. His wins over Justin Wren and Mostapha Al-Turk didn’t cause too many people to take notice, but after handing Karlos Vemola his first career loss (and a ticket to the light heavyweight division) and smashing on Gilbert Yvel at UFC 121, Madsen has earned some solid buzz.
His wrestling background and work with Brock Lesnar‘s DeathClutch team will always keep him competitive, but it’s his developing hands and nasty streak that has Madsen on many people’s radars now. The win over Yvel was the epitome of what the 31-year-old heavyweight can do in the cage, taking down the Dutchman with a precision double leg before unloading a bunch of bombs en route to the opening round finish.
Russow returns for the first time since doing his best impression of Homer Simpson as a boxer at UFC 114. Facing then unbeaten Todd Duffee, the Chicago Police Officer took two and a half rounds of punishment from the chiseled specimen before knocking him out with the one and only good punch he threw all night.
Amusing and unexpected as his win over Duffee may have been, Russow has now won 13 of 15 fights, with an early no contest and a loss to Sergei Kharitonov back in February 2007 standing as the only blemishes on his record. We know he can take a punch, or more correctly, a ton of punches, but whether Russow can defend against the takedown will be the determining factor in this fight.
With each passing fight, Semerzier’s upset win over Wagnney Fabiano is looking more and more like an aberration. He’s dropped three straight since catching the BJJ black belt in a triangle in his WEC debut, and is unquestionably looking at a must-win scenario as he officially welcomes “Bruce Leroy” to the UFC.
Semerzier has been competitive in two of his three losses, earning Fight of the Night honors with Cub Swanson in a split decision loss last time out, but he just hasn’t been able to replicate the success he found against Fabiano. Though they are relatively close in terms of total number of fights, Semerzier boasts a big advantage in terms of the competition he’s faced and having competed on the biggest stage in comparison to Caceres in this one.
I’m really looking forward to this one because I’m always curious to see how kids like Caceres handle themselves inside the Octagon once the TUF cameras are done rolling. He earned himself a lot of prime time exposure with his “Bruce Leroy” stylings and acerbic way of interacting with is fellow cast mates, but now Caceres needs to show he’s more than just a persona.
He’s been out of the cage for more than a year due to taping TUF 12 and an injury that forced him off the Finale in December. Combining that kind of cage rust with stepping under the lights against a talented fighter like Semerzier gives Caceres a perfect opportunity to prove that there is more to him than a Bruce Lee impersonation.