UFC 130 Preview and Predictions

Kendall Grove (12-8-0) vs. Tim Boetsch (12-4-0)

Remember when Grove showed such promise coming off of Season 3 of The Ultimate Fighter? His bout with Ed Herman in the finale was a three-round gem, and his D’Arce choke against Alan Belcher had you thinking good things were in store for the lanky Hawaiian.

Boy, were we wrong.

Grove has been maddeningly average since then, posting a 4-5 record over his last nine fights while never fulfilling his potential. For every quality performance he’s had since becoming “an Ultimate Fighter season winner” as Bruce Buffer likes to say, there has been an equally poor showing as well. With three losses in his last five and both wins coming against fighters who no longer call the UFC home, Grove could be looking at a must-win situation.

Boetsch caught a lot of people by surprise when he announced plans to move to middleweight following his UFC 123 loss to Phil Davis. Previous to that, “The Barbarian” had won four-straight, including a decision victory in his return to the Octagon at UFC 117. A massive man, it will be interesting to see what kind of impact the cut to 185 pounds has on the 30-year-old former high school and collegiate wrestler.

If Boetsch can get inside on Grove, he has the skills to hand the Hawaiian another loss. Grove works best when he uses his length to work in space and dictate the terms of the fight, but we’ve seen him pushed out of his comfort zone by physical fighters like Mark Munoz and Ricardo Almeida in the past. While Boetsch isn’t quite on the same level as Munoz, he has the physical strength and size to control the distance here, which could be the x-factor in determining the outcome of this fight.

Miguel Torres (39-3-0) vs. Demetrious Johnson (9-1-0)

I’d like you to meet our Under the Radar fight for UFC 130. For a fight that came together just over a month ago, there is a lot riding on this fight for both Torres and Johnson.

After reigning over the bantamweight division for what felt like eternity but was really just shy of two years, Torres has bounced back from back-to-back losses to post consecutive wins over Charlie Valencia and Antonio Banuelos. Those two fights showcased a different Torres than fans were used to seeing, as his decision to work with Firas Zahabi and the team at the Tristar Gym in Montreal has completely shifted the former champion’s approach in the cage.

Where he used to look to beat his opponents at their own game, Torres now relies on a strict game plan, tighter boxing technique and inflicting punishment while taking as little as possible inside the cage. Some may call it boring, but the reality is that if Torres wants to make another run at the 135-pound title, he can’t afford another loss.

While Torres is the former champion looking for a return trip to the top, Johnson is the young upstart who has been very impressive over since debuting in the WEC in April 2010. With three-straight wins following a spirited loss to Brad Pickett on short notice in his first fight in the WEC, Johnson has positioned himself inside the divisional top ten, and a win over Torres could be enough to move him to the front of the line of contenders.

In his UFC debut, Johnson used is lightning-quick takedowns and constant movement to keep “Kid” Yamamoto off balance and on his back, en route to earning a unanimous decision win over the Japanese star. That win came on the heels of a dominant submission victory over the much larger Damacio Page at WEC 52.

Though pundits are correct in asserting that Johnson would benefit from the introduction of a flyweight (125-pound) division in the UFC, “Mighty Mouse” has proven that he can more than hold his own within the bantamweight ranks. In fact, he might be the only fighter in the division who can match the frenetic pace and constant movement of champion Dominick Cruz.

If you need further persuading in order to get hyped for this fight, I’ve got you covered with the Under the Radar feature. And no, I don’t just say the exact same things I said here.

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