UFC on FX3: Analysis and Predictions
By Tom Taylor
At UFC on FX 2 on March 3 of this year, Joseph Benavidez blasted Yasuhiro Urushitani with a second round punch, securing the first KO ever in the UFC’s new flyweight division. At the same time, Benavidez snagged a spot in the finals of the UFC’s inaugural flyweight tournament.
While UFC on FX 2 was supposed to provide two tournament finalists, who would then square off for the flyweight title, a judging error left the new division in limbo. In the other semifinal fight that night, Ian McCall and Demetrious Johnson collided at breakneck speeds for three rounds. Initially, a decision victory was awarded to Johnson, leading and obviously disappointed McCall to storm out of the octagon. Later that evening, however, at the most fight press conference, UFC president Dana White revealed that there had been a scoring error, and that the fight was in fact a draw.
Fast-forward to the present day. On June 8, at UFC on FX 3, just over three months removed from their initial encounter, McCall and Johnson will collide again, to settle their score once and for all. The winner will move on to face Joseph Benavidez in the first flyweight title fight in UFC history. The rematch between the two dynamic flyweights will anchor a card riddled with intriguing fights that promise to be both exciting and violent. The main card of the event will be broadcast on FX, while preliminary bouts of the evening will be available on Fuel TV.
Ian “Uncle Creepy” McCall (11-2-1) vs. Demetrious “Might Mouse” Johnson (14-2-1)
If their first bout is any indication, the rematch between McCall and Johnson promises to be a barn burner. The first time the two elite 125-pound fighters met, the result was a competitive and lighting fast battle.
Given the breadth of skills, seemingly limitless gas tanks, and tremendous heart both men share, their second fight should look similar. Despite the closeness of their first encounter, it was McCall who held the dominant position at the end of the fight. It appeared that once the mustache-clad flyweight was able to find his groove, he was able to out muscle Johnson, as he was able to secure mount and unleash a barrage of ground and pound in the closing frame of the fight.
McCall’s key to victory in their rematch will be a second application of this apparent strength advantage. If McCall hopes to provide a more concrete result this time around, he will need to threaten Johnson with takedowns, and in turn heavy, imposing top game.
If Johnson took anything away from their first fight, he will have trained to avoid the potentially stifling attack of McCall. If Johnson is able to do so, he will then be free to attack with one of the more impressive weapons in his arsenal; his speed. Johnson held a visible speed advantage in the striking department throughout the opening rounds of their first fight, as he was even able to rock his opponent, causing McCall to momentarily stiffen up, only to catch himself before careening to the mat.
In the end, this fight could well come down to the age old battle of speed versus strength. This time around, expect strength to win, as McCall latches on to Johnson, mixing trips, takedowns and ground and pound into a dangerous cocktail that will spell a long night for the always game Mighty Mouse.
The Pick: In another competitive fight, where both men have their moments, McCall steals a unanimous decision victory and cruises into the UFC’s first flyweight title fight against Joseph Benavidez.
Eddie Wineland (18-8-1) vs. Scott “Young Guns” Jorgensen (13-5-0)
It has not been an easy road for bantamweight Eddie Wineland. Most recently, the former WEC champion was bested in back to back fights against Bantamweight contender Urijah Faber and flyweight contender Joseph Benavidez, and things to not figure to get much easier for Wineland as he locks horns with Jorgensen.
Despite losing his last fight to Renan “Barao” Pegado, Jorgensen will be a staunch test for Wineland. Wineland, however, will hold a slight size advantage over Jorgensen. It is in this department that Wineland’s best chances lie.
Look for Wineland to attempt to keep the fight standing, keeping his opponent at bay with stiff jabs in between power punches. Jorgensen, in contrast, will look to stay outside the range of Wineland, executing quick combos, if only to set up takedowns.
This fight comes down to Wineland’s ability to lure Jorgensen into a slug fest, a bid with which he will likely be unsuccessful. Expect Jorgensen to bulldoze Wineland to the ground multiple times, and work for submissions and ground and pound. Wineland will prove to be wily and durable on the mat, but Jorgensen’s takedowns will be the story of this fight.
The Pick: Jorgensen’s wrestling will be the catalyst to a lopsided win in his favor, as he bests Wineland in each round, securing a unanimous decision victory.
Charlie “The Spaniard” Brenneman (15-3-0) vs. Erick “Indio” Silva (13-2-0)
In this welterweight matchup, the young and hyped Erick Silva will face his stiffest test to date against the proven wrestling chops of Charlie Brenneman.
In Silva’s last fight, he was handed a controversial disqualification loss after dealing illegal strikes the head of a grounded Carlo Prater at UFC 142. Despite the loss, much hype now follows Silva, who had rattled off a string of impressive victories before his blunder against Prater.
Enter Brenneman, who is no stranger to entering the cage with hyped-up fighters. At UFC on Versus 4, Brenneman dominated Rick Story, who at the time was coming off an impressive win over Thiago Alves, and was stirring up a buzz much like Silva is now. Brenneman put an abrupt halt to Story’s momentum, and will look to do the same against Silva. B
renneman’s game plan should not be surprising. As a powerful wrestler, he will look to ground Silva as quickly as possible, at which point he will able to pummel his Brazilian opponent with shots to the head and body. En route to securing these takedowns, expect Brenneman to attempt to catch Silva off guard, throwing leg kicks to weaken his opponent’s legs.
Silva, who is a member of the famed Team Nogueira in Brazil, should be well aware of Brenneman’s probable strategy, and will likely have drilled his takedown extensively. Silva’s takedown defense, in the end will be the x-factor in this fight. On the feet, he and his wiry, explosive offense hold a significant advantage over Brenneman.
If Silva is able to keep the bout standing, the fight will likely be his for the taking, as we have seen Brenneman finished with strikes before, most recently to the likes of the inflated welterweight, Anthony Johnson. Should Brenneman fail to drag Silva down, he is most likely in for a long night. While Brenneman may be successful in securing a few takedowns, look for Silva to squirm his way back to the feet, where he will punish the Spaniard with a dynamic and unpredictable standup attack, which in the end, will lead to another finish on the Brazilian’s resume.
The Pick: Despite Brenneman’s best efforts, Silva comes out firing and finds his target. His hands will send Brenneman tumbling to the mat, where Silva will follow him to secure a second round submission victory.
Josh “The Dentist” Neer (33-10-1) vs. Mike “Quicksand” Pyle (22-8-1)
In this welterweight matchup, we are treated with the spectacle of two tough veterans going at it. Neer, who holds 17 of his 33 career wins by way of knockout or TKO, and 12 more by submission, appears to be the better rounded fighter at a glance. His recent submission victory over Duane Ludwig and four prior consecutive TKO victories further illustrate this point.
Whether or not his multifaceted arsenal will be useful against the stifling ground game of Mike Pyle remains to be seen, however. Neer, who is 29, also holds advantages in the departments of experience and youth, but against a fellow veteran as versed as Pyle, these weapons too may prove insignificant.
Pyle, who at 36 years old, holds 16 wins by submission, seems to hold his best chances on the mat, where Neer is not slouch either. Given the ample ground game and experience of both men, it is a fair assumption that we may be treated to an intricate grappling match in this fight. Such a scenario will not last long however, given the finishing abilities of both competitors.
Speaking strictly of striking, it would appear that Neer has an advantage, so expect Pyle to be the first man to attempt to ground this fight. Pyle asserts his dominance in this department early, at which point Neer will weasel his way back to the feet, where he may be more comfortable. After several exchanges, look for Pyle to continue his campaign to keep the fight horizontal, only to be met with Neer strikes while shooting for a takedown.
The Pick: Neer dazes Pyle standing, and chases him to the ground to secure a TKO victory in the first round.