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UFC on Fox 9: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

James MacDonaldFeatured ColumnistDecember 13, 2013

UFC on Fox 9: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

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    Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

    We were all heartbroken when news broke that we would be deprived of Matt Brown vs. Carlos Condit at UFC on Fox 9. Fortunately, Saturday night boasts one of the few cards deep enough to retain fan interest after such a monumental loss.

    In addition to a fantastic flyweight title fight between Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez, we can look forward to Urijah Faber vs. Michael McDonald, Chad Mendes vs. Nik Lentz and Joe Lauzon vs. Mac Danzig.

    Feeling overwhelmed at the thought of such a stacked card? Not to worry. I’ve called in the boys to help guide you through Saturday night’s main card.

    So without further delay, read on for the thoughts of Scott Harris, Craig Amos, Sean Smith, Riley Kontek and me, James MacDonald.

    You lucky sods, you.

Demetrious Johnson vs. Joseph Benavidez

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    Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

    Riley Kontek

    A rematch of the two best 125ers in existence? Count me in. The first fight went in favor of Johnson, but this one will go the way of Benavidez. Why? Because he is on a tear and learned from his first fight. It will be close, but an impending rubber match is afoot. 

    Benavidez, Unanimous decision

     

    Sean Smith

    As evidenced by the split decision in their first meeting, this matchup could go either way. Despite the disagreement among judges, Johnson did appear to be the better fighter in all areas last time around, landing more often and scoring five takedowns to Benavidez’s zero. It looks like Benavidez’s striking has improved under Duane Ludwig, but has it improved enough in 15 months to make up for the speed advantage owned by Johnson?

    Johnson, Unanimous decision

     

    Craig Amos

    The flyweight division is perhaps the most top-heavy class in the UFC, and Johnson and Benavidez are the absolute top of the top. This rematch has a sort of "too close to call" feeling to it, but I think Benavidez rebounds to even the score, forcing a rubber match somewhere down the line. 

    Benavidez, Unanimous decision

     

    Scott Harris

    I see this one going much as the first one went. Benavidez will use his power and takedowns early, while Johnson will weather the storm, fight out of a couple of guillotines, use this speed and footwork down the stretch and take a close decision. He wins close, but he wins clear, and he'll further cement his dominance on Saturday.

    Johnson, Unanimous decision

     

    James MacDonald

    While Benavidez has improved since the first fight, the champion may have improved even more so. Ever since fighting to a draw with Ian McCall, “Mighty Mouse” has looked every inch the champion that the flyweight division needs. Benavidez will have his moments, but I expect the strap to remain around Johnson’s waist.

    Johnson, Unanimous decision

Urijah Faber vs. Michael McDonald

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    Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Riley Kontek

    This isn't a title fight, so there is an incredibly good chance that Urijah Faber takes this. Michael McDonald is a future champion, but he is not on the level of Faber yet. This will be a close affair, but the Team Alpha Male poster boy will cash himself yet another title shot against the winner of Dominick Cruz vs. Renan Barao.

    Faber, Unanimous decision

     

    Sean Smith

    Although Faber's grappling may not be on the same level as Renan Barao's since he failed to take the Brazilian down on six attempts at UFC 149, "The California Kid" is still one of the more skilled ground fighters in the bantamweight division. McDonald is a dangerous striker, but his takedown defense has shown holes, as he has been taken down six times over six UFC appearances. If he can't remain standing against Faber, McDonald could be looking at another setback as he looks to fulfill his lofty potential.

    Faber, Submission, Round 2 

     

    Craig Amos

    Oftentimes, it takes a loss to an established star before a young phenom finally reaches his full potential, or so the platitude goes. If you subscribe to that belief, then this would be a perfect fight for McDonald to lose. But, as it happens, "Mayday" received a vital education from Renan Barao, which makes Faber his prey rather than a tough-love teacher. This will be the fight that makes McDonald a star.

    McDonald, Unanimous decision

     

    Scott Harris

    I like McDonald's moxie in the run-up to this fight. But I don't think Faber is ready to pass the torch yet. He'll stay one step ahead of McDonald on the ground and inch ahead of him at the finish line.

    Faber, Unanimous decision

     

    James MacDonald

    Boy, this is a tough one to call. I think this fight comes down to whether McDonald can keep it standing. If Faber is able to consistently drag the 22-year-old to the mat, there’s only going to be one winner. I’m putting my money on McDonald keeping the veteran at bay, though.

    McDonald, Unanimous decision

Chad Mendes vs. Nik Lentz

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    Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Riley Kontek

    Let's be honest: Chad Mendes is the best featherweight in the world not named Jose Aldo. He has proved this in all of his performances. Nik Lentz has a similar skill set as Mendes, but everything that he does well, Mendes does better. Mendes will use his wrestling to keep this fight upright and light up "The Carny" on the feet.

    Mendes, TKO, Round 2

     

    Sean Smith

    While Lentz has not lost since moving to 145 pounds from the lightweight division, he's in for his biggest featherweight test to date. Lentz usually relies on his wrestling, but he may be forced out of his comfort zone when facing Mendes, an All-American wrestler. Although Lentz isn't easy to stop, Mendes recently became the first to stop Clay Guida with strikes, so he has the tools to finish The Carny as well.

    Mendes, TKO, Round 2 

     

    Craig Amos

    No one is rolling quite like Mendes these days, and I don't think Lentz is the man to stop him. Though a tough out, Lentz lacks the athleticism, explosiveness and invigorated striking ability to keep pace with Mendes, who will finish the action before the final bell sounds.

    Mendes, TKO, Round 1

     

    Scott Harris

    Yes, Lentz has won a couple of fights at featherweight. Yes, I love his in-your-face style of combat. But Mendes is the de facto top contender for a reason. He'll teach Lentz a lesson and put the upstart in his place with some of that big boxing.

    Mendes, TKO, Round 2

     

    James MacDonald

    Nik Lentz’s cocksure attitude heading into Saturday night’s scrap with Chad Mendes is mind-boggling. It is a nightmare matchup for The Carny. Mendes does everything that much better, so it’s hard to imagine a clear path to victory for the 29-year-old. Unless he can turn this into an ugly fight against the cage, it could be a short and painful night for Lentz.

    Mendes, TKO, Round 2

Joe Lauzon vs. Mac Danzig

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    Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Riley Kontek

    These two men are in danger of losing their jobs, even though I doubt the UFC would cut a bonus-collecting machine like Lauzon. They both have similar styles, although Lauzon has proved he can take as much punishment as any man in the sport. It will be a late stoppage that competes for Fight of the Night.

    Lauzon, Submission, Round 3

     

    Sean Smith

    Lauzon may be slumping, but he's been much more relevant in the lightweight division over recent years than Danzig. Having lost seven of his past 10 fights, Danzig is lucky to still be holding onto a spot on the UFC roster. He's still not badly overmatched against Lauzon, but Danzig is more likely to be caught on the ground in a fight that is almost sure to hit the canvas.

    Lauzon, Submission, Round 2

     

    Craig Amos

    Both these fellows have struggled recently, but due to strength of schedule and a smaller sample size, Lauzon's struggles are more forgivable. Lauzon also receives a pardon because he is going to beat Danzig this Saturday night and regain a little momentum.

    Lauzon, Submission, Round 3

     

    Scott Harris

    This should be a great fight. I think Lauzon has enough athleticism, especially in the grappling phase, to outfight the veteran Danzig. Danzig is most definitely on the hot seat here, and this could signal the end of a long and solid UFC run.

    Lauzon, Submission, Round 2

     

    James MacDonald

    This is a great way to kick off the main card. Joe Lauzon is always good value, and Mac Danzig is the type of opponent who can get the best out of him. I can see this going all three rounds, but I wouldn’t rule out Lauzon securing a late submission for another bonus.

    Lauzon, Unanimous decision

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