The UFC and FOX have improved their combined product since the debacle that was the UFC on FOX 1. Not that it wasn't an historic night for the sport and Junior dos Santos, but spectators unfamiliar with MMA were only treated to a couple minutes of action. Not to mention, FOX didn't even televise the possible fight of the year between Clay Guida and Ben Henderson.
MMA fans know that isn't what a night of UFC fights is all about.
MMA has separated itself from boxing in that a night of fights truly is that. A night of the plural word fights. Part of what makes a UFC night so exciting is predicting which fighters will receive awards for Fight of the Night, Submission of the Night and KO of the Night.
UFC on FOX 3 more closely resembled what traditional MMA fans are used to. We had some impressive TKO victories by Lavar Johnson and Alan Belcher, a competitive fight that went the distance between Josh Koscheck and Johny Hendricks and saw Nate Diaz establish himself as probably the No. 1 contender in the UFC Lightweight division.
Despite all that, television ratings were down for UFC on FOX 3. Several factors could have contributed to that. One reason could be that it was going up against Mayweather vs. Cotto. Another could be that it was Cinco de Mayo and the younger UFC fans were out partying.
Either way, UFC on FOX 4 has some intriguing matchups and it is never too early to make some predictions.
Fighter Analysis: UFC on FOX 4 will mark the 12th fight in the UFC career of Joe Lauzon. Lauzon has fought some of the UFC Lightweight division's best and will be looking to rebound after his loss by KO in Round 1 to Anthony Pettis.
It is never a good idea to step away from the television for too long in a Lauzon fight, as four of his last five fights were finished in four minutes or less.
Terry Etim is not a UFC novice himself, as UFC on FOX 4 will mark his 11th fight in the UFC. Etim's fights are typically exciting as well, and he hasn't had a fight go the distance in his last seven appearances in the Octagon.
Breakdown: Both fighters are high-energy fighters who are excellent at submissions. This one could go either way, as both fighters possess similar skills. I feel that Lauzon does everything slightly better and knowing his current pattern, it will end quickly.
Prediction: Lauzon by submission toward the end of Round 1.
Fighter Analysis: This is a very intriguing matchup in the UFC Heavyweight division, which seems to get deeper on a monthly basis. Literally.
Travis Browne, the undefeated, 6'7" giant with lightning in his fists displayed an impressive submission game the last time we saw him in UFC 145. The sky seems to be the limit with Browne, as he is displaying more and more MMA skills coupled with his freakish size and strength.
Ben Rothwell rebounded nicely after his loss to Mark Hunt with a KO victory over Brendan Schaub in four of the most entertaining minutes the UFC Heavyweight division has ever seen. Rothwell has serious KO power himself and anything could happen in this one.
Breakdown: When two of the largest, most hard-hitting men in the world try to knock each other out, all bets are off. While Browne is the undefeated up-and-comer in the UFC Heavyweight division, Rothwell has been a professional MMA fighter for 11 years and his best MMA days could still be ahead of him.
With that said, I look for a more poised and hungry Browne to knock Rothwell down and then finish him off.
Prediction: Browne by KO toward the end of Round 2. (Followed by a few victory tears of joy.)
Fighter Analysis: Two British heavyweights with similar résumés take center stage for the third fight on this card. Both fighters are coming off a loss, so it could be win-or-find-a-new-career for each participant in this fight.
De Fries is 8-1 with a UFC record of 1-1, while Thompson is 9-3 and 0-1 in the UFC.
Breakdown: Although both fighters are heavyweights, they both prefer to finish their opponents on the ground and win via submission. I look for the older and slightly more desperate Thompson to win over one extra judge and push him over the top to a victory.
Prediction: Thompson by split decision.
Fighter Analysis: The former NFL player turned weird guy on The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights seems to have remolded himself to a crowd favorite as the meathead in the UFC Heavyweight division.
Mitrione was on a roll with five straight victories in the UFC after the TUF 10 finale until he ran into UFC veteran Cheick Kongo. Despite the loss, Mitrione went the distance with Kongo and proved that along with his slightly goofy head, he has an above-average heart and will to win.
Rob Broughton is a veteran of MMA who is trying to get over the hump in the UFC. After starting off his UFC career with a victory over Marc Goddard, he has suffered losses by decision against two other fighters on this card, Philip De Fries and Travis Browne.
Breakdown: Once again, with the size and power of UFC Heavyweights, anything can happen at any moment during these fights. It has been a long time since Broughton has been defeated by TKO or KO, but I look for the determined Mitrione to end that drought.
Prediction: Mitrione by TKO in Round 3.
Fighter Analysis: This fight shouldn't need much build-up for even the casual MMA fan. Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida appeared to be the next big thing when MMA's "karate kid" dominated Rashad Evans to go 16-0 and win the UFC Light Heavyweight championship in 2009.
Three years later, Machida has lost three of his last four fights. However, in his most recent bout with Jon Jones, Machida proved after Round 1 that his unorthodox karate style can even score points against the division's (and possibly the sport's) most dominant fighter. Machida is a black belt in BJJ, so he won't panic if he gets taken to the ground, either.
Which he might.
Ryan "Darth" Bader is one of the most dominant wrestlers in all of MMA. He won his first five fights in the UFC before his collision with the division's other up-and-coming fighter at the time, Jon "Bones" Jones. Bader lost that fight by guillotine choke and then was upset by Tito Ortiz with the same move in his following fight.
The two losses, however, have seemed to turn Bader into a better fighter. Bader knocked out Jason Brilz five months after his loss to Ortiz and looked very impressive when he ruined Quinton "Rampage" Jackson's return to Japan in a dominant decision victory.
Breakdown: This fight could go a number of different ways. Machida is going to try keep the fight standing and apply unorthodox karate strikes to catch Bader on his feet. Although Bader is a world-class wrestler, he has some serious knockout power himself and the fight could end with a Bader or Machida KO or TKO.
If the fight goes to the ground, Bader would appear to have the advantage. However, Machida is a black belt himself and Bader would have to be careful not to get caught.
A KO, TKO or submission by either fighter is not out of the realm of possibilities.
Prediction: Bader by decision. As stated above, this thing could end in a number of different ways. If I were forced to predict one outcome, I would guess that each fighter will respect each other and not get caught standing or on the ground. The judges will see Bader as the aggressor and give him the decision victory.
Although I'm not rooting for that to happen.
Fighter Analysis: Hector Lombard, the Bellator Fighting Champion Legend, is finally in the UFC. His record over his last 25 fights is 24-0-1 and he has won 20 fights in a row.
No, that is not a typo.
The problem is, none of those wins were in the UFC. The casual MMA fan and mainstream media won't truly endorse a fighter until they put a streak together in the UFC. Just ask Jake Shields.
However, Lombard's talents can't be ignored. The 34-year-old from Cuba has finished fighters in every way possible. This is an awesome addition to the UFC and should make the Anderson Silva Division—er, the UFC Middleweight division—that much more intriguing.
His opponent, Brian Stann, is no slouch either. Stann has an overall record of 6-3 in the UFC but has taken on some of the division's toughest opponents. He rebounded from an overwhelming loss to Chael Sonnen with an impressive knockout of Alessio Sakara.
Breakdown: As ridiculously impressive as Hector Lombard has been over the past few years, it is always tough to predict how a fighter will do their first time in the UFC. The pressure is simply on another level and fighters either flourish or perish when the pressure is on. Stann is 6-3 in the UFC and will be a more-than-game opponent.
I think the newcomer gets the victory this time. Lombard is going to come in with a serious chip on his shoulder and Stann will be the recipient of Lombard's aggression. I think Stann will come to fight and I see the first round being close.
However, toward the end of Round 2 and beginning of Round 3, I believe that Lombard will catch Stann and that will be it.
Prediction: Lombard by TKO in Round 3.