For most fight fans in the Great White North, May 8 has been circled on the calendar for months now...and the wait is just about over.
This Saturday, the Ultimate Fighting Championship makes it’s long anticipated third trip to the Canada with UFC 113: Machida vs. Shogun 2, live from the Bell Center in Montreal, Quebec.
The main event may be the most anticipated rematch of 2010, but before Lyoto Machida and Maurico Rua settle the score once and for all, several local favourites are set to throw down in critical matchups on the event’s stacked undercard.
Just like the last two times the Octagon made the trip North of the border, the Undercard is filled top to bottom with Canadian fighters guaranteed to get the partisan crowd pumped before the PPV portion of the broadcast begins.
Far from “gimme” fights, these fights represent dangerous, make or break fights for all the Canuck fighters involved...plus the return of the “Mexicutioner!”
What’s on the line, how will it go down, and most importantly, who’s coming out on top? Full breakdown of the night’s Undercard action after the jump.
Jason McDonald vs. John Salter
No matter what happens in this “curtain jerker” fight, the real loser already is the QAC (Quebec Athletic Commission). By now, everyone knows the drama that went into making this fight.
When Salter’s original opponent Nick Catone fell out of the fight with an injury, the UFC replaced him with popular Canadian journeyman fighter David “The Crow” Loiseau.
Enter the QAC, who based on some extremely shaky evidence concluded Loiseau had ties to organized crime (a growing problem in Montreal these days) and barred him from getting licensed.
Thankfully for “The Crow,” the QAC retracted their seemingly bogus accusation, but not before it was too late for him to appear on this card in his hometown (as a nice gesture, the UFC booked him instead on the Vancouver card in June).
Instead, Salter find himself facing another popular Canadian journeyman in Jason “The Athlete” McDonald. In his original UFC run, McDonald fought 10 times with a record of 5-5.
Though he earned a reputation as a “TUF Killer” for wins over Ed Herman and Chris Leben, going .500 in the big leagues was enough to cement his as a gatekeeper in the MW division.
It seems the UFC is only bringing in “The Athlete” to serve that same function against Salter, a NAIA collegiate wrestling champion with solid submission grappling credentials as well.
But McDonald is no slouch on the ground, either - he gave Demian Maia his toughest test on the floor to date and has one of the better top position games of an 185’er. He also has much more big fight experience then the still green Salter.
The real question for McDonald comes down to preparation. Taking the fight on only a few weeks' notice, he might not have the stamina to keep up with someone’s who enjoyed a full eight-week camp, and that lack of proper time to prepare may deny McDonald his shot as a resurrection in the UFC.
John Salter via TKO, Round 2.
Yokiyushi Yoshida vs. Mike Guymon
The first of the evening’s “Loser Leaves Town” matches (and the only not featuring any Canadian fighters), Yokiyushi “Zenko” Yoshida and Mike “The Joker” Guymon fight for a place in the stacked Welterweight division.
For Yoshida, the former Cage Force Welterweight champion (a title he won from Dan Hardy), this fight represents a chance to reclaim the hype two recent, crushing KO losses have all but killed.
For Guymon, the former King of the Cage Welterweight champion, the goal is the same: reclaim the momentum lost by his quick submission defeat in his UFC debut.
Yoshida’s problems in the UFC are ones that haunt many Japanese fighters making the transition stateside. Simply put, he’s a small 170, and doesn’t have the size or explosive power that guys like Josh Koscheck and Anthon Johnson, powerhouse wrestlers used to cutting large amounts of weight, have in spades.
Unable to dictate where the fight goes, those bouts ended with him on his back, looking up at the lights. The key for Yoshida is to use his incredible Judo, close the distance, and try to get the fight to the floor.
Which he should have no problem doing against Guymon. “The Joker” doesn’t have the wrestling pedigree or brute strength to dictate where this fight goes, and won’t be able to press any advantage on the feet because of it.
On the ground, “Zenko” has a slick arsenal of front chokes that have become his specialty, and I see him quickly wrestling the fight to the mat and sinking in a choke during a scramble.
Yoshida via Submission, Round 1.
Tim Hague vs. Joey Beltran
Ladies and gentlemen, the wait is over. At long last, “The Mexicutioner” Joey Beltran makes his return to MMA action!
Ok, so on the list of all time unintentionally funny fight monikers, Beltran’s must rank pretty high (especially cause he’s playing up the Mexican heritage with a first name like “Joey”).
In his last outing, he looked like a piece of meat being hand fed to highly touted prospect Rolles Gracie...until Gracie’s peanut-sized gas tank emptied and Beltran put him away in the second.
That win may have written his ticket in the UFC, but he faces a much sterner test in his second trip to the cage.
Tim “The Thrashing Machine” Hague is a Canadian bomber who has faced some truly bad luck in his UFC run so far. After defeating Pat Berry in his Octagon debut, he was on the receiving end of the quickest KO in UFC history (7 seconds) against Todd Duffee, followed by an utterly puzzling split decision loss to Chris Tuchscherer.
That loss actually resulted in Hague being cut from the promotion, until a spot opened on the Montreal undercard and his UFC run was put on life support. A third loss here would pretty much zip up the body bag and nail the coffin shut.
Luckily for Hague and the Canadian fans in attendance, this is exactly the kind of fight Hague can win. Let’s be honest here, Beltran didn’t look stellar against Rolles as much as the Gracie prospect looked utterly terrible against Beltran.
Hague is a big, powerful striker with proven submission skills as well. He’ll enjoy a 15-20 pound weight advantage over Beltran and should have his measure both standing and on the ground.
Tim Hague via TKO, Round 1.
TJ Grant vs. Johny Hendricks
In the UFC’s last trip to Canada (UFC 97), no fighter may have impressed as much as TJ Grant. The second most famous guy from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, Grant has great grappling acumen both on top and off his back, and brings a wealth of experience fighting all over the local Canadian MMA circuit.
Wins over proven commodities like Forrest Petz, Kevin Burns, and Ryon Chonan dot the Canadian grappler’s resume.
Unfortunately for Grant, he’s probably bitten off more then he can chew with this fight. Johny Hendricks is still relatively new to MMA, but as a collegiate wrestler he is one of the most elite competing in MMA today.
Wrestling for powerhouse Okalahoma State, Hendricks won the NCAA Division 1 Wrestling Championships in 2005 and 2006, and finished runner up in 2007, compiling a 56-1 record as a wrestler.
To this day, he is one of the most decorated (and hated, among collegiate wrestling fans) amateur wrestlers of the modern era.
Which spells bad news for Grant. Sure, Hendricks hasn’t looked stellar in his UFC run thus far, but he did blow fan favourite Amir Sadollah out of the water and has shown that he’s growing and developing beyond his outstanding wrestling skills.
Unless he makes an obvious mistake and gets caught in a submission, or unless Grant’s bottom game has improved by leaps and bounds, expect Hendricks to control Grant en route to a three-round unanimous decision.
Hendricks via Decision.
Marcus Davis vs. Johnathon Goulet
When Vince Lombardi famously remarked that winning wasn’t everything, “it’s the only thing,” he may have been referring to the UFC Welterweight division. In such a stacked shark tank, if you ain’t feeding, chances are you’re being fed on.
Once again, two skilled, popular fighters find themselves on the cutting block, fighting for a chance to stay relevant.
A win could propel either man back into serious contention. A loss, and the “journeyman” label could find itself applied quickly, and irreversibly.
Montreal’s own Jonathon “The Road Warrior” Goulet is a legend of the Canadian MMA circuit, fighting from one end of the country to the other, and everywhere in between (hence his nickname).
With 33 professional fights over a decade long career as a professional, Goulet has faced a slate of world class competition, but his inconsistency has kept him from breaking through to the elite level.
For Davis, the former boxer-turned MMA fighter-turned Irish marketing machine must right his ship following consecutive losses, including a blowout TKO loss at the hands (or rather, knees) of Ben Saunders last November.
Fortunately for Davis (and unfortunately for the partisan Montreal crowd) this is just the kind of fight that he can win. His boxing is crisp, technical, and powerful and his chin is sturdy enough to withstand all but the heaviest of blows.
He’s also well rounded enough to stay out of trouble no matter where the fight should go.
Goulet is an exciting, experienced, and well rounded fighter, but history has shown that he just doesn’t have the chin for the kind of wild slugging matches he frequently likes to get into (see Drew Fickett and Mike Swick fights).
Watch for “The Irish Hand Grenade” to land a bomb of his own and send Goulet down for the final time in his UFC career.
Davis via TKO, Round 2.
Joe Doerksen vs. Tom Lawlor
I could go into detail about this fight, about how Doerksen is another late replacement (and Canadian journeyman to boot), about how Lawlor is hungry coming off a close loss to Aaron Simpson, about who would have the advantage on the ground...but why bother?
For this fight, “Filthy” Tom Lawlor plans to enter to Bret Hart’s old 90’s era WWF “Hitman” entrance music...which should just about blow the roof off the Bell Center (anyone who knows about old school pro-wrasslin will know why). Lawlor via Sharpshooter.
Tom Lawlor via. Submission, Round 3.
Check back later in the day for our Main Card Preview and Predictions!