The UFC returns to Fox this Saturday with a four-fight main card that is sure to excite fans, as lightweight standouts Nate Diaz and Jim Miller battle in the main event for a chance to fight for the UFC lightweight championship.
In the co-main event, welterweights Josh Koscheck and Johny Hendricks will fight in a matchup of two of the best wrestlers in the division.
Also on the main card, the master of the heel hook returns in Rousimar Palhares, who will be taking on Alan Belcher. Heavyweights Pat Barry and Lavar Johnson will open the main card, which airs at 8 p.m. ET.
Other bouts on Fuel TV include Tony Ferguson vs. Michael Johnson, John Dodson vs. Tim Elliot and John Hathaway vs. Pascal Krauss.
These are my predictions for submission, knockout and fight of the night.
Submission of the Night: Rousimar Palhares
The Mike Tyson of leglocks in MMA is Palhares, and intimidation factor alone makes him one of the more dangerous submission artists in the sport.
With a 14-3 record, Palhares has claimed three opponents in the UFC by heel hook and one by kneebar.
Belcher (17-6) is 7-2 in his last nine and is currently on the longest winning streak of his UFC career with three stoppage victories over Jason MacDonald, Patrick Cote and Wilson Gouveia.
Palhares can submit anyone in the division, and it really shouldn't come as a surprise if he works his way to the title doing just that. He is not only technically proficient at applying the leg locks, but very quick to do so once he gets the chance. Before anyone even sees it, his opponents are already about to tap.
Belcher will be cautious early, but it's going to be hard for him to avoid the strength and brutality of Palhares once he gets his hands on him. It will be interesting to see if Belcher can take this fight late, but there is doubt that he makes it there.
Knockout of the Night: Lavar Johnson
In a fight that guarantees a knockout victory, fireworks are expected between Pat Barry (7-4) and Lavar Johnson (16-5).
Both have a combined 20 knockouts between them and have been in some of the better heavyweight fights in recent memory.
Barry's main strength is on the feet, and while he is a former kickboxer and does bring that experience into the Octagon, Johnson is a much bigger fighter, is as tough as they come and packs a lot of power. At 6'4", 252 pounds and with an 81 in. reach, Johnson will have the advantage when it comes to size, as most of Barry's opponents do.
This could end up mirroring the Cheick Kongo fight, with Barry landing a strike that hurts Johnson, but it's all about how Barry follows up on it. His killer instinct in the Kongo fight resulted in him getting knocked out. His lack thereof in the Mirko Cro Cop fight, which can be attributed to his breaking his hand and foot, also cost him.
This will be a fun one, but it's going to be one that Johnson emerges victorious from if Barry decides to exchange. He won't have much of a choice.
Fight of the Night: Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller
Diaz (15-7) is no stranger to being involved in the fight of the night, and five of his previous UFC fights have gotten him that honor. He also has three submission of the night awards to go along with it.
Miller (21-3) has only one fight of the night bonus, but most of his wins in the UFC have come before the final bell. In fact, six of those 10 have come by submission or knockout.
Nobody is really expecting a finish in this one, and that already puts it ahead of the other fights to go long enough to be a thrilling fight with different shifts in momentum. It's scheduled for five rounds and will probably go the full 25 minutes.
What makes this fight fun is that Miller is able to control where it takes place, but he won't get to control how the fight is fought. Diaz holds advantages both on the feet and the ground and will be dangerous everywhere for however long the fight goes.
This has the making of being a controversial decision, but it's going to be a crowd pleasing fight all the way through.
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