Broomfield, Colorado was the desired setting to settle the score between John "Doomsday" Howard and Anthony "Rumble" Johnson, but a knee injury forced Johnson to withdraw from the contest.
So instead, the fifth episode of UFC On Versus 1 Preview will cover Howard and his new opponent, Daniel "Ninja" Roberts.
Fighting in smaller promotions throughout Oklahoma, Roberts has battled his way to a perfect 9-0 record. Despite being undefeated, Roberts will be facing the "octagon jitters" stigma that plagues most UFC newcomers.
Howard has been in the same position before, but unlike most UFC rookies, he passed with flying colors and has gone unbeaten since then. Flying under the radar of most, Howard's experience has earned him a perfect UFC record of 3-0.
Before the UFC, both warriors gained notoriety in a very similar fashion: most of their early wins were by excellent submissions, but as they grew, they showed that they were more than just a one-trick pony by finishing opponents with their strikes.
However, with Howard's one-punch power, it would appear that "Doomsday's" striking is a notch above Roberts. Howard just has the explosiveness in his hands to put anybody to sleep at any point in the fight.
Not to say that Roberts isn't as eruptive as Howard is; it just comes in a different aspect of the sport.
Anybody can stand there and trade punches, but against Howard, it's not such a smart plan. If Roberts want to assure victory, he should stick to the game where he is earned a majority of his wins, which his ground attack.
Roberts jiu jitsu experience has made him more than capable of scoring the takedown. Despite an improved sprawl, Howard is going to have his hands full against "Ninja" should the two clinch up.
Howard tends to relax a little bit too much against grapplers and often pays the price. Whether he is peppering his opponent with strikes or holding them at bay, he often finds himself on his back.
Then again, Howard has the strength to muscle his way back to the feet and look for a takedown of his own. If he can't get it, his punishing body shots and under-rated muay thai knees can wear an opponent down enough to create an opening.
But as stated earlier, Howard tends to get overly relaxed in these situations. Not to say that his composure is a bad thing, but against a hungry fighter such as Roberts, he could be walking a very thin line.
Roberts' explosive grappling could easily take advantage of a lull in the action by Howard.
If Howard finds himself spending too much time on the ground against Roberts, his UFC unbeaten streak is in some serious jeopardy as "Ninja" has over twelve years of jiu jitsu experience.
Both fighters are skilled at hitting reversals once the moment shines, especially Howard. Whoever finds them self fighting from the top will be able to deliver some pain, but they likely won't be able to outshine each other with their ground striking.
Regardless of who is fighting from the top, Howard needs to stay active. Roberts has some slick tricks up his sleeve, and has ended a number of his fights with very clean, technical submissions. Howard does have the strength to force his way out of just about any hold, but with the speed of Roberts' grappling, it might be too little too late.
Howard fans will be in jaw-dropping awe as Roberts steals the victory with a beautiful submission in the upset of the night.
Range striking: Howard
Takedown defense: Roberts
Clinch striking: Howard
Ground striking: Draw
Submission defense: Draw
UFC On Versus 1 Official Picks
Roberts over Howard
Keep an eye out for coverage on Vladimir Matyushenko vs. Eliot Marshall in the next couple of days.