The UFC returns to Fox for the third time on Saturday, and returns to New Jersey for the first time in about 1,100 years. Am I going? Fuck no, they don't credential me. I've been on Dana White's shitlist ever since I they caught me sleeping in the hedges at his house in Las Vegas (I swear I thought it was a Kampgrounds of America). Anyway, the prelims are on Facebook and Fuel TV, and since I have both, here's a breakdown of the bouts I plan on watching from the comfort of my couch, with a glass of ice tea in hand and the book "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" queued up on my Kindle Fire whenever the action gets dull. Woot.
-Tony Ferguson vs. Michael Johnson - Somewhere around the thirtieth season of TUF on SpikeTV my interest turned to resentment (too many scenes of jizz on food? Too much homo-innuendo?), and ever since, I've taken to counting the days when a TUF winner or runner-up meets his doom in the Octagon. For Ferguson, who was TUF 13, we're up to Day 335, although we came awfully close to seeing that sweet "L" when he fought Yves Edwards in December. For TUF 12er Johnson, well, he's crapped the bed twice already in the Octagon, so the clock is no longer ticking for him. Anyway, Ferguson = hard-hitting boxer with strong sprawl, while Johnson = wrestler and Chris Tucker lookalike. Ferguson will win this won via decision simply because Johnson doesn't have enough takedown ability to negate Ferguson's striking, and blah, blah, blah.
-John Dodson vs. Tim Elliott - Dodson is a talented and entertaining fighter with a ton of upside. Someone in the UFC agrees, because he's being fed a no-name wrestler whose greatest accomplishment thus far is knocking out Jens Pulver (and currently, a strong wind can knock out Jens Pulver).
-John Hathaway vs. Pascal Krauss - Weep not for what could have been, for the high hopes Brit fans had for Hathaway and the title "Next Big Brit Star" that once rested upon Hathaway's shoulders. Those days are gone now - dashed upon the rocks of UK-Guys-Still-Can't-Grapple Falls - gone thanks to Mike Pyle, so what's left is just some tall, lanky dude who once made Diego Sanchez and Rick Story carry his book bag home from school. But hey, that's something, right? Sure it is, and surely it's more than enough to deal with top German fighter Krauss, whose best technique is something called the "Atomic Bratwurst" and whose career has been spent beating guys with names none of us can pronounce.
-Louis Gaudinot vs. John Lineker - It's somewhat ironic that, for the lightest season of TUF ever (lightest in terms of weight class), Gaudinot was still too small. But that's how it goes for the former ROC champ, and thanks to some gutsy performances against bigger opponents, he now gets a crack at the UFC's brand-spanking new flyweight division. His opponent, Lineker, is a hard-hitting Jungle Fight champ from Brazil, which means that once Lineker is handed his per diem coupons by Zuffa and is exposed to the USA's abundance of food, the kid will probably never want to go back to his idyllic, albeit Lord of the Flies-like, section of the world. Prediction: Gaudinot via decision because Lineker spent the week eating hamburgers made out of cow and not wild tapir.
-Danny Castillo vs. John Cholish - WEC vet Castillo has racked up wins over Dustin Poirier and Joe Stevenson (not that that's a big deal), but has never really established himself as someone noteworthy in the Octagon. All that will change on Saturday night when he faces top prospect Cholish, because once Cholish out-strikes him, out-wrestles him, and out-jiu-jitsu's him, Castillo is going to be THE guy fighters refer to when they talk about "getting your ass kicked" and "looking like a total noob".
-Dennis Bermudez vs. Pablo Garza - Garza won over a lot of fans when he iced Fredson Paixao with a flying knee, and he looked beastly when he took out Yves Jabouin with a flying triangle. However, Poirier absolutely tooled him at the last UFC on Fox, and the kid is now tasked with taking on TUF 14 runner-up Bermudez. I envision this one going like this: Bermudez knocks him on his ass with a cross, stands over him, and beats him into a living death. This one is ending via Walking Dead, folks.
-Roland Delorme vs. Nick Denis - Who the hell are these guys and why should I care?
-Mike Massenzio vs. Karlos Vemola - Massenzio looked like a killer when he took out former WEC champ Steve Cantwell; Vemola used to wrestle in the Czech Republic and lift things up and put them down. If the same Massenzio that beat Cantwell shows up, Vemola is toast. Otherwise, Vemola is just going to be something along the lines of an English muffin and lose a decision.