UFC 145: Info and Predictions for Every Fight
On Saturday, April 21, Jon Jones and Rashad Evans finally meet to end their rivalry. The fight has been a year in the making and at this point, both fighters are done with talking and just want to fight.
Jones has been on an absolute tear since making his UFC debut and many are already crowning him as the best light heavyweight of all time. Rashad looks to end the hype and regain his light heavyweight title.
The card is rounded out with some fantastic match ups between young fighters, which will have long-term effects on the UFC's divisions.
Marcus Brimage vs. Maximo Blanco
In the opening bout of the evening, Marcus Brimage faces Maximo Blanco in featherweight action.
Marcus Brimage made his way to the UFC as a member of the cast of the 13th season of The Ultimate Fighter. Entering the show at 3-1, Brimage was essentially a one-trick pony. Possessing solid stand up, he lacked any semblance of a ground game. He was quickly eliminated from the tournament when he faced Bryan Caraway.
At the finale, he showed that he had made adjustments in his training. His biggest asset is his hands. He has incredible speed which makes him a difficult matchup for most fighters. However, his ground game and submission defense are still incredibly suspect.
Maximo Blanco made a name for himself fighting for Sengoku and Pancrase in Japan. Stylistically, he's a wrestler who has fallen in love with his hands. He has knockout power in both fists and the ability to get the fight to the ground if he is losing on the feet.
Like many fighters who are based out of Japan, Maximo didn't cut weight which made him one of the smallest fighters at lightweight. After getting trounced by Pat Healy in Strikeforce, Maxi made the decision to cut to featherweight. This fight will be his featherweight debut.
Brimage and Blanco are very similar fighters on the feet. The difference is that Blanco is also a solid wrestler. This will be what wins Maximo the fight after a round of slugging it out on the feet.
Prediction: Maximo Blanco by TKO in the second round.
Keith Wisniewski vs. Chris Clements
In the second fight on the Facebook prelims, welterweights Keith Wisniewski and Chris Clements square off.
Keith Wisniewski made his UFC debut in 2011 in a gutsy performance against Josh Neer. I say gutsy and not intelligent because he allowed Neer to elbow him over and over again in the clinch without defending himself.
Fans didn't really get to see a lot from Wisniewski besides that he's very tough and bleeds a whole bunch when elbowed in the face. He's solid in scrambles and submissions but likes to stand and bang.
Chris Clements is making his UFC debut at UFC 145. At 10-4, he looks to fight on the feet ,as his submission defense and grappling are both questionable. There should also be some concerns about his chin as he's been put to sleep several times in his career. His gas tank remains a huge question mark, as he's never gone to decision.
This is probably the least interesting fight on the card on paper. Wisniewski's biggest asset is that he's an unintelligent fighter with a lot of toughness while Clements tends to like to stand and trade. It should be fun to watch, but neither fighter is challenging for a belt any time soon.
Prediction: Keith Wisniewski wins by decision as he has more experience. Yep, that's why he wins. Experience.
Mac Danzig vs. Efrain Escudero
The FX broadcast opens with a lightweight clash between two Ultimate Fighter winners in Mac Danzig and Efrain Escudero.
Mac Danzig is one of the most inconsistent fighters in the lightweight division. He also happens to be one of the most talented. His boxing and grappling are both top notch that he should be in the top 10 of the division. His shortcoming is that he's so small for the weight class that lesser opponents are able to beat him by keeping him at range or just out-muscling him.
Efrain Escudero is a strong grappler with limited striking. In fact, his striking is almost nonexistent. Efrain is definitely tough and has a strong chin, but there's just too much missing to make him viable in the UFC. Physical toughness can get you far, but his lack of mental toughness is a legit concern. Another concern is his lack of conditioning when pushed by his opponent.
This will be a lot closer than it really should be due to Danzig's size disadvantage. Escudero is stronger and will be able to use his strength to keep the fight competitive. Although, look for Danzig to take control once he's established his boxing.
Prediction: Mac Danzig will TKO Efrain Escudero in the second round. It will be Escudero's last fight in the UFC.
John Makdessi vs. Anthony Njokuani
In the second fight of the FX broadcast, lightweight strikers John Makdessi and Anthony Njokuani clash.
John Makdessi is one of the best young strikers in the lightweight division. Currently 2-1 in the UFC, Makdessi is for all intents and purposes, a pure striker. He's very dynamic with his kicks and has been known to throw them at various angles.
The problem is that he lacks the all-around skill set to really be a threat on the ground. He's also small for the lightweight division and would probably be better suited at featherweight.
Anthony Njokuani may be the most the physically imposing fighter in the lightweight division. For so much of his career he was such a pure striker that he just didn't have the skills to win fights if taken to the ground.
The Danny Castillo loss changed his mindset and Njokuani has been training his submissions and wrestling to be a more well-rounded fighter. There are still questions about his heart and ability to overcome adversity, but the fact he's made adjustments is good news for fans of Njokuani.
This is my big upset pick for the card. I think that as good as Makdessi is, he's still incredibly limited. He's also very undersized and will be facing one of the biggest guys in the division.
Prediction: Anthony Njokuani will knock John Makdessi out in the second round.
Matt Brown vs. Stephen Thompson
In welterweight action, Matt Brown takes on Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson.
Matt Brown is known by UFC fans as an incredibly durable fighter who is good everywhere, but isn't great at a single thing. Brown's stand up is solid, though a bit simplistic. He's not very creative and often resorts to bullying fighters inside to do damage.
On the ground, he's crafty with his submissions but his wrestling leaves something to be desired. His best asset in every fight is his ability to take damage and keep coming forward. He has shown a tendency to fight his opponent's fight, which is the reason for his losses in the UFC.
Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson made his UFC debut at UFC 143. He's part of a new crop of welterweights who are skilled at everything, though his biggest strength is his kickboxing. He has very flashy kicks which come at really odd angles.
This has confused many of his opponents and was the key to his success in kickboxing and the regional scene. There really isn't a ton of information about his toughness or gas tank as no opponent has really tested him.
This turned into a bit of a rivalry after Brown was critical of Thompson following his UFC 143 win. I see Thompson as the future of the division and a fighter to watch in the future. Brown hasn't really impressed me in his UFC career and is just way too inconsistent to pick.
Prediction: Stephen Thompson picks up his second win in the UFC with a TKO win over Matt Brown at the end of the first round.
Travis Browne vs. Chad Griggs
In the last fight of the FX broadcast, heavyweights Travis Browne and Chad Griggs will clash.
Travis Browne is one of the top young heavyweights in the UFC. He splits his time between Alliance Gym in San Diego and Greg Jackson's camp in Albuquerque. Essentially a heavy-handed striker, there's really isn't a ton of information on his skill set.
We've never seen him in any sort of danger on the ground so there's no details on how good he is when fighting off his back. He does have questionable conditioning, which should be a concern if he can't put opponents away early.
Chad Griggs is one of the Strikeforce heavyweights that made his way to the UFC after the division was folded. He's best known as the man to end the hype train of Bobby Lashley. Like most American heavyweights, Griggs has KO power in his hands and solid wrestling.
His positional control on the ground may be the most underrated aspect of his skill set. He's also incredibly tough and has shown an ability to take punishment. Like Browne, his ability to fight off his back is a concern.
This is a fairly even heavyweight showdown between two incredibly similar heavyweights. Neither fighter has a real advantage on the feet or on the ground, which should make this an exciting fight. I think this is just a case of whatever Griggs does, Browne is just a little better.
Prediction: Travis Browne by TKO in the third round.
Mark Bocek vs. John Alessio
In the opening fight of the pay-per-view broadcast, Mark Bocek faces John Alessio in lightweight action.
Mark Bocek is considered one of the better submission grapplers in the lightweight division. He's tricky on the ground and has solid sweeps from all positions. He's also crafty in his submissions as he chokes opponents like a boa constrictor.
He's made strides in his stand up, but it's functional at best. He also doesn't fare well when opponents pressure him and take him off his game.
John Alessio is making his return to the UFC after a stint on the regional scene. Training out of Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, Alessio is one of the most well-rounded veterans in the sport. Known mostly for his wrestling, Alessio also has solid submission defense and stand up that makes him dangerous everywhere the fight takes place.
The one knock against him is that he sometimes loses focus during fights and essentially gives them away on the judges' scorecards.
I've never been sold on Bocek as a top fighter. Yes, his submission wins are impressive, but he's looked awful in his losses. John Alessio is just too well-rounded and should win this fight pretty easily.
Prediction: John Alessio by unanimous decision.
Mark Hominick vs. Eddie Yagin
The second fight of the pay-per-view broadcast pits Mark Hominick against Eddie Yagin in featherweight action.
Mark Hominick is a man on the road to redemption. Currently on a two-fight skid, Hominick looks to rebuild his career against Eddie Yagin.
Hominick is a crafty veteran with some of the best kickboxing in the entire division. He also has some solid grappling and has shown the ability to finish the fight from off his back.
The big question about Hominick is how he'll handle being in the cage without long-time trainer Shawn Tompkins in his corner. It may not sound like a huge concern, but Tompkins was a major reason for Hominick's success.
Eddie Yagin is relatively unknown to most MMA fans. He's spent most of his career fighting on the regional scene in the United States with only one fight in the UFC under his belt. What you need to know about Yagin is that he's a tough Hawaiian who has decent striking and a solid guillotine choke.
He trains out of one of the better gyms in the country in Alliance, so he's getting the proper training to prepare for Hominick. There's some questions about his heart, as he doesn't handle getting pressured particularly well.
This is a rebuilding fight for Mark Hominick. While Yagin is a skilled fighter, he's not on the same level as Hominick. Hominick's mental state is the only concern entering this fight, as it's the first time he hasn't had Tompkins around at all for his training camp.
Prediction: Mark Hominick by TKO in the third round.
Miguel Torres vs. Michael McDonald
In the third fight of the pay-per-view broadcast, Miguel Torres faces Michael McDonald.
Miguel Torres was long considered the best bantamweight in the world before losing focus against Brian Bowles in the WEC. He's been able to use his reach to keep opponents at range while working his technical striking.
On the ground, he is known as one of the most aggressive submission fighters, as he constantly looks for the sweep or finish. He doesn't have any glaring weaknesses, as he's developed solid wrestling as well. The recent knock against Torres is that he's been looking to win instead of finish. It's a criticism that Torres has heard as well.
Michael McDonald is one of the top up-and-coming fighters in the UFC's bantamweight division. As with many young fighters, McDonald doesn't excel at one aspect of MMA. Instead, he is good anywhere the fight takes place.
If he does have a strength, it's his ground and pound, as McDonald does well maintaining his posture on the ground. He doesn't really have any weaknesses except that he lacks experience against top fighters and crafty veterans.
This is possibly the most interesting fight on the entire card. Miguel Torres is working his way back into title contention after losing focus for moment.
On the other hand, McDonald is looking to validate all the positive press he's received. I think this is just too much too soon for McDonald.
Prediction: Miguel Torres by split decision.
Brendan Schaub vs. Ben Rothwell
Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images
In the fourth fight of the evening, Brendan Schaub takes on Ben Rothwell in heavyweight action.
Brendan Schaub should be one of the best heavyweights in the business based on his skill set. His athleticism lends itself to his stand-up game, where he has solid hands and decent footwork. The issue, however, is that he has terrible defensive boxing. He leaves his chin open on most exchanges and that has been a theme in his UFC career.
He finds himself in a must-win situation. Not because he risks getting cut, but because if he can't get past Ben Rothwell, he'll likely be relegated to gate-keeper status for the remainder of his UFC career.
Ben Rothwell fights out of Roufusport after beginning his career training with Pat Miletich. He's a solid wrestler with functional boxing. He also has an above-average chin.
There are two huge questions regarding Rothwell in my mind. The first is his conditioning. He came close to passing out in his fight with Mark Hunt after gassing in the first round. His toughness is what carried him through the fight.
The other big question is if he's healthy. When fighters don't fight often, they tend to take fights when they are injured because they need to fight.
This should be a win for Brendan Schaub, but it won't come easily. Rothwell is extremely tough and has the skills and chin to upset Schaub if Brendan leaves himself open. I don't see that happening, though. Schaub knows that he has to win this fight and will not leave himself open to get finished.
Prediction: Brendan Schaub by unanimous decision.
Rory MacDonald vs. Che Mills
In the co-main event of the evening, rising welterweight star Rory MacDonald takes on Che Mills.
There have been huge expectations placed on Rory MacDonald's shoulders and deservedly so. I mean, when the welterweight champion goes on record saying you are the future of the division, you have to be able to back it up in the cage.
Luckily, MacDonald has been up for the challenge. As one of the new breed of fighters, MacDonald doesn't excel at any one aspect of MMA. Instead, he's become solid in all areas.
From his ability to box on the feet to his wrestling, he may be the most complete fighter in the welterweight division. His heart can be questioned after the Carlos Condit fight, but he hasn't shown any further signs of fading.
Che Mills has to be wondering what he did to deserve the co-main event spot at UFC 145 in just his second fight in the promotion. A British MMA stand out, Mills is currently riding a five-fight winning streak entering the fight with MacDonald.
Mills is primarily a stand up fighter with solid kickboxing and knees from the clinch. He has knockout power in his hands and a killer instinct to finish a fight whenever his opponent his hurt. As with many English fighters, his biggest weakness is his wrestling. He also has a very limited submission game.
This fight was booked to showcase Rory MacDonald. Many people are probably scratching their collective heads and saying "Who is Che Mills?" and rightfully so. Expect MacDonald to end the fight in brutal fashion on the mat with his ground and pound.
Prediction: Rory MacDonald by TKO in the second round.
Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
In the main event of the evening, Jon Jones defends his light heavyweight title against Rashad Evans.
Jon Jones has quickly made a name for himself as the big dog in the light heavyweight division. With an inhuman reach and surprising strength, he has been able to finish all challengers since winning the title.
Jones has awesome Greco wrestling from the clinch and creative striking at range. He has even added submissions to his skill set. There aren't any glaring weaknesses in his game, though expect his takedown defense and chin to be tested by Rashad Evans.
Rashad Evans finds himself in the underdog role as he waits to fight Jon Jones. As the former champion, Evans has relocated to Florida where he trains with the Blackzilians.
Evans' biggest strength is his wrestling and ability to get a fight to the ground, though that isn't to say that he isn't dangerous on the feet with his knockout power in both hands.
Since making the change in camp, Evans has become a more complete fighter. There are still concerns about his ground game, but he has the ability to scramble out from under opponents.
My heart is telling me to pick Rashad Evans. But my heart is wrong. Jon Jones is just too big of a challenge for Evans at this moment. Outside of a fight-ending knockout punch, I see this as another dominant performance from the champion.
Prediction: Jon Jones by TKO in the third round.