The UFC will roll out its eighth card on FOX Saturday night in Seattle, Wash., headlined by a flyweight title bout between champion Demetrious Johnson and challenger John Moraga.
After a three-week layoff since Chris Weidman knocked out Anderson Silva at UFC 162, the mediocre card should at least tide fight fans over until UFC 163 on Aug. 3.
Besides a flyweight championship bout, which should offer the usual high-pace action we've grown accustomed to seeing from that division, the card will be anchored by two intriguing welterweight bouts. Rising contender Rory MacDonald and veteran Jake Ellenberger will meet in the co-main event while Bobby Voelker and Robbie Lawler will also fight on the main card.
Here's a closer look at all three of those fights, including the latest odds from Bovada and a prediction for each. All statistics used via FightMetric unless otherwise noted.
Bobby Voelker vs. Robbie Lawler
Odds: Voelker +230, Lawler -300
Based purely off of each fighters most recent bout, it's easy to see why Lawler is a heavy favorite.
"Ruthless" is coming off of the biggest win in his career after knocking out Josh Koscheck in his last bout. Voelker is coming off of a decision loss in his latest bout against Patrick Cote of all people. Throw in the fact that Voelker was the last minute replacement for Siyar Bahadurzada, who was the injury replacement for Tarec Saffiedine per MMA Junkie, and it's clear to see the odds are stacked against him.
Upon closer examination, this one is a little more competitive than what meets the eye though.
Lawler may have defeated Koscheck, but it doesn't take away from the fact that he was 1-3 in his previous four fights with Strikeforce before the win.
Conversely, Voelker was 3-1 prior to his loss to Cote—a loss that saw him lose a decision despite outstriking Cote in two of three rounds and landing four takedowns while not giving up any takedowns to his opponent.
Prediction: Voelker by Decision
Lawler can end the fight at any moment with his power, but he hasn't won a fight by decision since 2003. Voelker hasn't been finished since 2008. It's an upset, but not one that's out of the realm of possibility.
Rory MacDonald vs. Jake Ellenberger
Odds: MacDonald -240, Ellenberger +190
MacDonald comes into the fight as a strong favorite despite Ellenberger's recent knockout victory over Nate Marquardt and Vegas is exactly right in this case.
As good and experienced as Ellenberger is, MacDonald has shown throughout his brief, yet brilliant career that he deserves to be favored. However Ellenberger will prove to be a different challenge for MacDonald.
While most of MacDonald's opponents have been unable to handle the 24-year-old's wrestling, the stats show that Ellenberger is on similar footing in the department:
Prediction: MacDonald by Rd. 2 TKO
This fight should give us a great look into MacDonald's striking game. The stats show that he's capable of getting the best of Ellenberger on the feet. He nearly doubles his pace (4.39 significant strikes landed per minute compared to Ellenberger's 2.67) with better accuracy (55 percent to 45 percent).
Demetrious Johnson vs. John Moraga
Odds: Johnson -500, Moraga +350
Demetrious Johnson enters his second title defense in a bit of a predicament. He's the only UFC champion (not including interim champion Renan Barao) that has yet to headline a pay-per-view event.
Yet, he's not really in a position to make much of a statement about his drawing power without a dominant win over an opponent that few have seen fight.
Make no mistake, Moraga is a dangerous challenger. He's 14-1 in his career and has finished both of his opponents in the UFC, but his last fight was a Facebook prelim and the fight before that opened up the FX preliminary card.
Johnson has yet to earn a stoppage since dropping down to flyweight, but needs one here if he wants to stop his streak of fighting on free TV.
Prediction: Johnson by Decision
Moraga is a strong challenger, but hasn't done anything to show he can keep up with the quickness of Johnson. Mighty Mouse only allows 1.97 significant strikes per minute and is one of the better defensive fighters in the sport. He'll use that to his advantage once again to outpoint yet another opponent.
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