A Complete Guide to UFC on Fox 9

Scott Harris@ScottHarrisMMAMMA Lead WriterDecember 9, 2013

A Complete Guide to UFC on Fox 9

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    Demetrious Johnson (left) and Joseph Benavidez fight Saturday for the second time.
    Demetrious Johnson (left) and Joseph Benavidez fight Saturday for the second time.Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

    UFC on Fox 9 slouches toward Sacramento to be born this Saturday. And at this point, the nationally televised lineup looks like it's been ridden hard and put away wet. Human video game character Anthony Pettis injured himself, presumably while practicing wall kicks or tall building leaps or what not, and is no longer able to defend his lightweight title against T.J. Grant. And just this past Saturday, news came that Matt Brown had sustained an injury and is unable to fight Carlos Condit, thus submarining the card's most exciting remaining fight.

    And yet, though this card is bloodied, it remains unbowed. The main reason for such is the main event, a flyweight title rematch between champ Demetrious Johnson and challenger Joseph Benavidez, who both fought for the right to wear the inaugural strap.

    Here's a full guide to the action, including information capsules on each fight and fighter, a quick prediction and where and when you can catch each contest. 

Alp Ozkilic vs. Darren Uyenoyama

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    Darren Uyenoyama
    Darren UyenoyamaKyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    Division: Flyweight
    Records: Darren Uyenoyama (8-4), Alp Ozkilic (8-1)
    See it on: Facebook, 3:30 p.m. ET

    Perhaps casting about for a foothold in the coveted Turkish market, or perhaps just a warm body, either way, the UFC signed its first fighter from that country recently in Ozkilic, who replaces the injured John Moraga for this contest. 

    Uyenoyama is slick with the jiu-jitsu but chinny like a clean-shaven piglet. Ozkilic has shown he knows how to find that button, but he ain't no Joseph Benavidez, the last man to defeat Darren. Ozkilic should get another shot in the flyweight-hungry UFC, but Saturday will not be his day.

    Prediction: Uyenoyama, Unanimous Decision

Sam Stout vs. Cody McKenzie

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    Sam Stout
    Sam StoutTom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sport

    Division: Lightweight
    Records: Sam Stout (19-9-1), Cody McKenzie (14-3)
    See it on: Facebook, 3:30 p.m. ET

    If Sam Stout is a journeyman's journeyman, what does that make Cody McKenzie?

    I don't know, but both these guys need a win. Stout and his nauseous-elevator fight career is going down again after UFC newcomer James Krause tapped him out at UFC 161. The move that did it? A guillotine choke.

    And you know that, there's kind of a funny story there. Because I hear tell McKenzie is pretty decent with the guillotine. After a trip down to MMA Central Records, I uncovered the small matter of fact that McKenzie, who sometimes shows up with Ronda Rousey in his corner, has 11 wins that way.

    Sometimes, the MMA, she is not a complicated mistress. McKenzie should pull out an upset. Especially now that he's back at lightweight, where his torso isn't longer than most of his opponents.

    Prediction: McKenzie, Submission, Rd. 1 

Abel Trujillo vs. Roger Bowling

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    Bowling (left) and Trujillo first fought in August.
    Bowling (left) and Trujillo first fought in August.Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

    Division: Lightweight
    Records: Abel Trujillo (10-5-1), Roger Bowling (11-4-1)
    See it on: Fox Sports 1, 5 p.m. ET

    There's a song out there where the chorus goes like this: It's like, "so light 'em up, up, up, light 'em up, up, up, light 'em up, up, up, we're on FI-YAAAAAH!" I think it's a Dylan cover.

    I mention this because these two are fixing to "light them up" this weekend. They're both pretty ill-tempered dudes to begin with, and after their August tilt ended in a no-contest and some genuine bad feelings after Trujillo clobbered Bowling with an illegal knee, this second title should be even iller than the first.

    Whenever a fighter pairing has a third of their combined victories by knockout, I'd say it's safe to watch out. Fight night bonus dark horse, right here. Think of it as an excitement safety net for the event, and give the edge to Bowling, who has a little more experience on the big stage.

    Prediction: Bowling, TKO, Rd. 2

Scott Jorgensen vs. Zach Makovsky

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    Scott Jorgensen
    Scott JorgensenJoe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    Division: Flyweight
    Records: Scott Jorgensen (14-7), Zach Makovsky (16-4)
    See it on: Fox Sports 1, 5 p.m. ET

    Give it up for "Fun Size" Makovsky. Like the underproportioned candy bars that bear his name, Makovsky brightened the day of UFC executives just a few days ago (and less than a month after his last fight) when he agreed to step in for the injured John Dodson and keep an engaging scrap intact.

    It's a contest of firsts in this one, with Makovsky, a former Bellator bantamweight champion, making his Octagon debut and Jorgensen fighting for the first time at 125 pounds. 

    Both of these men are wrestlers first, and both will have very good size for flyweights. Jorgensen's punching power gives him at least a paper edge in striking, while his more developed jiu-jitsu game means he should be more comfortable off his back and in the scramble.

    Prediction: Jorgensen, Unanimous Decision

Pat Healy vs. Bobby Green

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    Pat Healy
    Pat HealyGreg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

    Division: Lightweight
    Records: Pat Healy (31-16-1), Bobby Green (21-5)
    See it on: Fox Sports 1, 5 p.m. ET

    When Cheick Kongo left the UFC, it created a sort of emptiness. Who would step up? Who would become the rightful heir to Kongo's low-blow throne? 

    Turns out it's Bobby Green. He's like a knight in shining armor in that regard. Unfortunately for Green, Healy appears to be all brass down there. Even if not, Healy's takedowns and rugged clinch game should make it hard for Green to fire off those cup-seeking kicks of his. 

    Prediction: Healy, Unanimous Decision

Edson Barboza vs. Danny Castillo

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    Edson Barboza
    Edson BarbozaJayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    Division: Lightweight
    Records: Edson Barboza (12-1), Danny Castillo (16-5)
    See it on: Fox Sports 1, 5 p.m. ET

    Unlike some of his Team Alpha Male colleagues, Castillo has yet to flash a newly flourishing stand-up attack under coach Duane Ludwig. No, he's a straight-ahead ground-and-pound guy. 

    Edson Barboza is, well, he's a little different. Which of his last two opponents do you want to ask about it, the one who tapped to strikes or the one who suffered a TKO by way of freaking leg kicks?

    Throw in Barboza's underrated takedown defense and you have a striker-grappler matchup heavily weighted in this case toward the former.

    Prediction: Barboza, TKO, Rd. 2

Court McGee vs. Ryan LaFlare

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    Court McGee
    Court McGeePat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

    Division: Welterweight
    Records: Court McGee (16-3), Ryan LaFlare (9-0)
    See it on: Fox Sports 1, 5 p.m. ET

    If LaFlare can win this one, we'll have a new name in the UFC welterweight division.

    After all, a victory would bring the mild-mannered Long Islander to 3-0 inside the Octagon and a perfect 10-0 overall.

    What's more, those three UFC contests will have all come in 2013; he accepted the McGee matchup just three scant days after defeating Santiago Ponzinibbio Nov. 9 in Brazil.

    As for McGee, well, there's nothing green about this guy. He's got a chin of oak and a reliable wrestling and volume-striking game, and there's not much he hasn't seen in or out of the sport. He won't electrify anyone, but he'll never beat himself either.

    Maybe I'm just a sucker for the hot new thing (I know I am, in fact), but I think LaFlare will do the beating here. He's got a well-rounded game and a clear desire to compete. Get out of his way.

    Prediction: LaFlare, Unanimous Decision 

Joe Lauzon vs. Mac Danzig

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    Joe Lauzon
    Joe LauzonWinslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Division: Lightweight
    Records: Joe Lauzon (22-9), Mac Danzig (21-11-1)
    See it on: Fox Sports 1, 5 p.m. ET

    Lauzon doesn't want to be known as "The Guy Who Hurts Himself For Money." After all, there are plenty of pro wrestlers and performance artists and Diego Sanchezes who fill that niche just fine as it is.

    But the titanium-tough lightweight with the silly, silly nickname has the MMA public's affection in large part because he's willing to donate a quart or two of his own humors if it means more smiling fans and more substantial paychecks.

    Danzig is nobody's easy out, but Lauzon should be able to use superior hand speed and that spidery grappling game to buzzsaw through this historically inconsistent veteran. And if it means taking two to give one or starting a scramble for a chance at a choke, well, so be it. Lauzon may not look to be exciting, but as long as he keeps living on the edge in there, he will be. And I ain't complaining.

    Prediction: Lauzon, Submission, Rd. 2

Chad Mendes vs. Nik Lentz

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    Chad Mendes
    Chad MendesBenny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Division: Featherweight
    Records: Chad Mendes (15-1), Nik Lentz (24-5-2-1)
    See it on: Fox, 8 p.m. ET

    With Cub Swanson and Chan Sung "Zombie" Jung injured and Ricardo Lamas (rightly) already set to face champ Jose Aldo next year, the next spot in the featherweight belt line would seem reserved for Chad Mendes.

    Lentz, however, has been a force at 145, where he is 3-0 since debuting there last August. He's a heavy grinder who gets in his opponent's face, and that win over Hacran Dias was awfully impressive.

    But Mendes 2.0 has the boxing as well as the wrestling to handle just about any test, and shouldn't be daunted by Lentz's aggression. Mendes should get his second title shot some time in late spring.

    Prediction: Mendes, TKO, Rd. 2

Urijah Faber vs. Michael McDonald

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    Urijah Faber
    Urijah FaberWinslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Division: Bantamweight
    Records: Urijah Faber (29-6), Michael McDonald (16-2)
    See it on: Fox, 8 p.m. ET

    The third of four Alpha Males competing Saturday night, the team founder has his toughest test at bantamweight this side of a belt-wearer when he faces the thunder-fisted McDonald.

    I'm really not sure how this one will go. It's not possible for a bantamweight to hit any harder than McDonald. Faber's grappling, his ability to gain favorable positions and threaten with chokes and submissions from all sorts of spots, is pretty nonpareil itself. But neither man is a babe in the woods when it comes to the other man's strength. 

    Simply put, this is a high-level bout containing lots of strengths but no weaknesses. These are two outstanding athletes, and we'll see whether the old guard is ready to give way to the new. I'll stick with the veteran for now, and his ability to get the fight to the ground and stay a few moves ahead of the talented young buck.

    Prediction: Faber, Unanimous Decision

Demetrious Johnson vs. Joseph Benavidez

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    UFC flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson
    UFC flyweight champ Demetrious JohnsonJayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    Division: Flyweight (for UFC flyweight title)
    Records: Demetrious Johnson (18-2-1), Joseph Benavidez (19-3)
    See it on: Fox, 8 p.m. ET

    Outside of Cain Velasquez, I don't see a UFC champion who presents a tougher puzzle than Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson.

    Benavidez has punching power. He has cardio for days. His takedowns are tough to resist. His chokes are final. He has the tools, he has the know-how and he has the experience.

    And he's not going to beat Demetrious Johnson.

    Johnson is a different animal. The footwork and the quickness make him hard to hit, but it can be done. Remember John Dodson's knock-down power against the champ? Dodson may have taken the first two rounds from Johnson when they fought in January. Remember when these two fought the first time, and Benavidez dropped Johnson with a right hand in the fourth round and then nearly locked on a choke?

    I remember. But it was all futile, I say. Futile! The cause of that futility is twofold. First is the obvious manner in which Johnson fights, his pure physical gifts. Johnson skitters over the canvas like a water bug, whether it's the first minute of the first or the fifth minute of the fifth. It's almost an optical illusion. 

    But it's more than just "he's fast." The champ seems to know exactly what the opponent won't expect and when, then fires it all off like a symphony. Takedowns, body kicks, clinch work, punch combinations, submissions and submission defense. He can do it all, he can do it all with blinding speed, and he can do it all with blinding speed when you're starting to wish you were fighting something tall and cool at the after party.

    Benavidez is an outstanding fighter. But he has the misfortune of living in a time that belongs to "Mighty Mouse." I may be putting too fine a point on it, but I believe Johnson is badly underrated. Beating Benavidez for the second time may raise is rep, or it may offer more fodder for the "flyweights are boring" set. Either way, you can't touch "Mighty Mouse," literally or figuratively. Give it up for the king.

    Prediction: Demetrious Johnson, Unanimous Decision

    Scott Harris is a writer for Bleacher Report MMA. He enjoys making predictions and such because they don't require any actual knowledge of anything. There's no accountability. For more information in this vein or to live more fully inside this accountability-free zone, follow Scott on Twitter.