Breaking down the action from The Mile High City
Just like Saturday night, we’ll work our way through to the main event, stopping at every fight along the way to let you know a little about some of the fighters you might not be familiar with, and what to expect when the cage door closes.
James Te Huna (12-5) vs. Ricardo Romero (11-2)
A meeting of two light heavyweights coming off losses kicks off the UFC 135 festivities in Denver.
Te Huna was in over his head last time out, losing to emerging star Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 127 back in February. Considering “The Mauler” is now making a push for the top 10, this fight is much more the New Zealander’s speed.
After a solid debut that saw him battle through a busted jaw to finish Seth Petruzelli, Romero came crashing back down to Earth in just 21 last time out. Kyle Kingsbury starched him, and now Romero—like Te Huna—needs to get back into the win column.
Who controls things on the ground will determine the winner. Romero has solid jiu-jitsu and we’ve seen Te Huna fall prey to submissions before, but if the Kiwi can maintain top control, he has the strength/power/size to grind out a win.
Takeya Mizugaki (14-6-2) vs. Cole Escovedo (17-7)
Mizugaki is consistent in his inconsistency, if that makes any sense. He alternates wins and losses, moving between marginal talents (wins) and the bantamweight elite (losses), and the pattern looks to continue here.
After losing to former champ Brian Bowles in July, the solid-but-unspectacular Japanese fighter comes back down the ladder to face Escovedo in hopes of getting back into the win column and avoiding the axe.
This is Escovedo’s “Thank You” fight after having stepped in on short notice to face Renan Barao earlier in the year. He’s lost three of his last four, and while the other two were outside of the UFC, they came against current UFC talents, so a loss would be the end of the line.
We should get a solid stand-up battle here, as Mizugaki has been keen on keeping fights standing since debuting under the Zuffa banner at WEC 40. Escovedo’s best asset is his striking, so that will suit him just fine.
Winner stays, loser most likely leaves town, so both men should come out firing.
Junior Assuncao (12-4) vs. Eddie Yagin (15-4-1)
The elder of The Fighting Assuncaos, Junior returns to the UFC after a four year hiatus, riding a six fight winning streak.
He’s down at a more natural weight after going 1-2 at lightweight in his first UFC run, and like his brothers—Raphael and Freddy—has a dangerous combination of good hands and slick submission skills.
Yagin makes his UFC debut on the heals of an impressive submission win over former Bellator champ Joe Soto at the start of August. A compact combatant, Yagin has a solid all-around game, and should be riding high off the Soto win coming into this one.
While I’m sure something higher up on the card will end up taking home the award, this is my pick for Fight of the Night. Both guys are good everywhere, and with the featherweight ranks soon to fill out thanks to TUF 14, winning is the only way to stay on the roster.