Krzysztof Soszynski (25-11) vs. Mike Massenzio (12-4)
Just four days before he’ll step into the Octagon, Soszynski gets another change in opponent, as Massenzio replaced Igor Pokrajac and becomes the third opponent “The Polish Experiment” has been lined up against for UFC 131.
There really isn’t a lot that can be said about a fight that undergoes a facelift this late in the game. Massenzio is a tough kid who had a 1-2 run in the UFC. He missed the entire 2009 year due to injury and earned Fight of the Night honors with Brian Stann in his comeback fight, but coming out on the losing side of things got him released. He’s since earned a win on the regional circuit, and bumps up to light heavyweight for this one.
Soszynski has become arguably the most popular fighter to come off Season 8 of The Ultimate Fighter; yes, I think he’s more popular than Ryan Bader. He’s as scrappy as they come, as his two battles with Stephan Bonnar proved, and will need to adjust to a new stylistic matchup in this one on very short notice. He has a definite edge in this fight because he went through a full training camp in preparation for it – even if the camp was for a different opponent.
This fight is now a must-win situation for Soszynski. Four days isn’t a lot of time for Massenzio to game plan and get into much better shape than he’s been walking around in, so Soszynski needs to have a solid performance or else he’ll come under heavy criticism. He was favored to beat Pokrajac, and becomes an even bigger favorite now with the late change, and while upsets happen all the time, Soszynski doesn’t want to be on the wrong end of one here.
Jesse Bongfeldt (15-4-1) vs. Chris Weidman (5-0)
Like a number of fights on this card, this clash of middleweight prospects isn’t getting the respect it deserves.
Weidman is widely regarded as the best 185 pound prospect in the UFC and one of the top overall prospects in the sport. He looked solid in his UFC debut, defeating Alessio Sakara on short notice back in March, and comes into this bout as a late replacement again. At the very least, you have to applaud his willing to take whatever fights are offered to him.
For Bongfeldt, this is a chance to claim Weidman’s spot in on the prospect list by earning his first UFC win; he debuted at UFC 124 in December and battled back to earn a draw against Rafael Natal.
While he’s short on experience in the UFC, Bongfeldt holds wins over UFC vets Sean Pierson and TJ Grant, and has long been considered one of the top middleweight competitors in all of Canada.
He also could teach Nick Ring and James Head a thing or two about picking an awesome nickname; Jesse “Water” Bongfeldt…that’s a top 5 nickname. No doubt about it.
Weidman is an All-American wrestler and he’ll want to keep this fight on the ground as much as possible. While Bongfeldt has registered nine of his 15 wins by way of submission, he’s more of an opportunistic submission artist than anything else. He has the edge in the stand-up game, if only because Weidman has spent much more time developing his grappling game.
Because of the lack of depth in the middleweight ranks, the winner of this one takes a big step forward in the division and could be looking at a relatively well-known opponent next time out.
Sam Stout (16-6) vs. Yves Edwards (40-16)
This pairing of veteran UFC lightweights should turn out to be an entertaining affair.
While Stout has never managed to make his way beyond the middle of the 155 pound division, he routinely delivers exciting fights. His two wars with Spencer Fisher still deliver to this day, he’s earned Fight of the Night honors in three of his last four outings, and is impossible to knockout; “Hands of Stone” also has an iron jaw.
Meanwhile, Edwards returned to the UFC with a win over TUF 12 alum Cody McKenzie back in January, the 40th of his lengthy career. The man who introduced “thugjitsu” into the lexicon of martial arts styles used in the Octagon has won three straight and six of his last seven, with an almost equal number of wins by way of knockout (15) and submission (16) to date.
Stout will look to make this a kickboxing match, as he always done, and Edwards should do everything in his power to get this fight to the ground. Though he’s solid enough on the feet, he has a distinct edge over Stout on the ground, where Stout’s heavy hands and iron chin are less of a factor.
Stout looks to even his record in UFC’s on Canadian soil with a win here. The popular Canuck is 1-2 thus far in three trips to the Octagon in Montreal; this will be his first time competing in Vancouver.
For what it’s worth, Edwards is 1-0 in Canada, having earned a victory over Derrick Noble at MFC 24 in February 2010.