UFC Fight Night 25 Fight Card: Preview and Predictions for the Main Card
After falling short in a title fight against UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, Jake Shields will return to action at UFC Fight Night 25 against Jake Ellenberger. Less than a month after his father's death, Shields will step into the Octagon for one of the more important fights of his career.
Despite losing to St-Pierre, Shields is still considered one of the best fighters in the welterweight division. A loss to an underrated Ellenberger would be extremely damaging for Shields' hopes of earning a title shot in the welterweight or middleweights divisions in the future.
For Ellenberger, a win over Shields would catapult him into the mix for a 170-pound title fight. Ellenberger has won eight of his last nine bouts, with his only loss during that time coming via split decision against top contender Carlos Condit.
Former "The Ultimate Fighter" winners Court McGee and Jonathan Brookins will also compete in the event, which will be held in New Orleans, La. Additionally, Alan Belcher will make his return to the Octagon after a career-threatening eye injury has forced him out of competition for the past year.
Now, let's get to the predictions.
Alan Belcher vs. Jason MacDonald
In August 2010, Alan Belcher underwent an emergency eye surgery to repair a detached retina. For a period of time, there was concern that Belcher would never be able to fight again. However, Belcher has thankfully made a full recovery and will look for his third straight win at UFC Fight Night 25.
In his return, Belcher will meet another fighter who has been dealing with injury problems for much of the last year. At UFC 113, Jason MacDonald suffered a broken leg in his fight against John Salter, which forced him out of competition for nearly one year. In April 2011, MacDonald returned to the Octagon and picked up an impressive submission victory over Ryan Jensen.
Both fighters are fairly well-rounded, but Belcher should have a significant advantage in the stand-up. Despite potential ring rust, Belcher should be able to dictate where this fight takes place. For that reason, the Roufusport product should be able to pick MacDonald apart for an early finish.
Belcher defeats MacDonald by technical knockout in the first round.
Jonathan Brookins vs. Erik Koch
Even in victory, Jonathan Brookins has shown massive holes in his striking. Due to injury, we haven’t seen Brookins inside the Octagon in a while, though, so it is possible he has corrected some of his flaws.
However, Brookins showed the same flaws in his stand-up two years prior to his appearance on The Ultimate Fighter in a loss to Jose Aldo. Obviously, a loss to Aldo is nothing to be ashamed of, but I would have liked to see Brookins correct the obvious problem with his form that was pointed out in that fight.
Until Brookins’ striking catches up with his ground game, I don’t see him being able to compete with legitimate contenders like Erik Koch. Koch’s knockout power will be on display for his third straight fight.
Koch defeats Brookins by knockout in the first round.
Court McGee vs. Dongi Yang
Heading into this fight, my only concern with Court McGee is his lengthy time away from the cage. Aside from that, McGee matches up well against Dongi Yang. Being the marketable fighter that he is, the UFC wouldn’t have matched McGee up with Yang if they didn’t believe it was a fight he could win after the long layoff.
Yang recently suffered a decision loss to Chris Camozzi, who competed alongside McGee on The Ultimate Fighter before being forced out of the competition due to injury.
In the later rounds of his fight with Camozzi, Yang began winging his punches. If he does that again on Saturday, look for McGee to duck those punches and take the fight to the ground.
McGee holds the advantage on the ground in this fight, but Yang should be able to do enough to avoid being submitted for the first time in his career.
McGee defeats Yang by unanimous decision.
Jake Shields vs. Jake Ellenberger
Jake Shields heads into this fight only weeks after the passing of his father—also his manager.
While the first thought is that the loss of someone so close would have an adverse effect on a fighter, we have seen many instances where athletes use their sport as an escape from the negative emotions they are having in cases like this.
Shields’ opponent in the main event of UFC Fight Night 25 will be Jake Ellenberger, who is looking to make a big move toward earning a welterweight title shot. Ellenberger has won eight of his last nine fights, with his only loss during that time coming via split decision against current top contender Carlos Condit.
Ellenberger possesses knockout power and a solid wrestling background, but we have already seen Shields survive Dan Henderson’s right hand and proceed to take the Olympic wrestler to the ground. If Shields’ mind is in the right place during this fight, I see no reason why he wouldn’t be able to do the same against Ellenberger.
In what would surely be an emotional moment, look for Shields to grind out a unanimous decision victory over Ellenberger.
Shields defeats Ellenberger by unanimous decision.