UFC Fight Night 47 Bold Predictions: What's in Store for Ryan Bader, OSP?
Perhaps more than anything else, UFC Fight Night 47 has positioning going for it.
The Octagon makes its first trip to Maine on Saturday in the UFC's first fight card in 21 days. By the measure of 2014's jam-packed live event schedule, that's basically an eternity. With a week's worth of mostly bad news also clogging our timelines at the moment, it's easy to get the impression fight fans are just going to, you know, want to watch some fights this weekend.
To that end, Saturday night looks just right. Despite a head-scratcher of a main event, this event serves up a handful of other interesting attractions.
But what will happen? Exactly? Glad you asked. Here, Bleacher Report MMA lead writers Chad Dundas and Jonathan Snowden take their best, boldest guesses...
Prediction: Ryan Bader Ends OSP’s Rise with a Quickness
Chad: It would probably be best for everything if Ovince St. Preux beats Ryan Bader on Saturday, in the headliner of UFC Fight Night 47.
The victory would be far-and-away the biggest of St. Preux’s career, would push him to the brink of the light heavyweight top five and establish him as a legit businessman for the second half of 2015. It would create some fresh storylines for the 205-pound division and—who knows—if OSP played his cards right he might find his way into a high-profile match against somebody like Anthony Johnson or Alexander Gustafsson.
But, I don't know, man, I just don’t see that happening. Not only because this is MMA—which seems to so often locate its best stories and senselessly knock them on their backsides like a jealous toddler experimenting with gravity—but because I’m still not sure how good St. Preux really is at this stuff just yet.
He clearly has the ability to do big things in the cage, but he strikes me as more a work in progress than a ready-for-prime-time player. Who has he beaten again? Benji Radach? Ryan Jimmo? Where does he train again? And with whom?
Meanwhile, while the stink of a fluky 2011 loss to Tito Ortiz has never quite worn off, we know Bader is actually pretty good at this. His four career defeats are to three former champions and a No. 1 contender and my suspicion is if you’re not a real A-list dude in this division, Bader will beat you.
I don’t think he grinds out a wrestle-fest decision either. I think there’s a stoppage looming here, maybe in the first or second round.
Jonathan: I don't know if OSP will beat Ryan Bader—but I know I'd like him to.
It's not that I dislike Bader. Even though we didn't see eye-to-eye when I told him he needs to change his nickname to "The Master," he seemed like a pretty alright guy the few times I've interviewed him.
It's just that we kind of know what Ryan Bader is all about. He is, in many ways, the very same fighter I traveled to the Palms to see win The Ultimate Fighter. He's a solid wrestler with a hard punch. He's reached his ceiling and has been banging against it for years.
OSP is different. It still feels like he's growing as a fighter. He hasn't yet reached his potential. We don't know how good he can be. And that? That's kind of exciting.
Prediction: Brad Tavares and Tim Boetsch Steal the Show
Jonathan: There is no rational reason to believe Brad Tavares and Tim Boetsch will steal the show this weekend. I understand this. After all, eight of Tavares’ nine UFC fights have gone to a decision. Worse still, his only finish came against the battered husk that used to be Phil Baroni.
But, after watching him train at Xtreme Couture, I think he's finally ready to put it all together. Now 26, he's no longer a promising young fighter. He's just a fighter, period. This is his time.
Standing across the cage will be the "Barbarian.” You remember Tim Boetsch, right? If not, allow me to refresh your memory. He's that dude who just manhandles other dudes, the one who drops the Nick Rings of the world right on their Canadian tuchuses. While he's admittedly lost his way after spectacular upset wins over Yushin Okami and Hector Lombard, I'm convinced he still has plenty left in the gas tank.
This has the makings of the perfect fight, the ingredients for brilliance in place, awaiting nothing more than a locked door and a referee's demand to "get it on." It's a rising star against a falling one. They'll meet in the middle, colliding at just the right time. Trust me. This is the one not to miss.
Chad: I like where your head’s at here, Snowden. Boetsch vs. Tavares certainly has sleeper potential. It's sort of the opposite of a fight like Robbie Lawler vs. Matt Brown, which became overhyped and then turned out to merely be OK.
This particular contest could be that overlooked scrap that vastly exceeds our expectations. Or, it could turn out of be 15 minutes of fence-leaning and failed kimuras. Might go either way.
Here’s hoping you’re right.
Prediction: A Fire Now Burns in Sara McMann
Chad: Earlier this year, I talked to Sara McMann for a sprawling preview I wrote in advance of her UFC 170 bout against Ronda Rousey. It was fine, but my 3,000 words turned out to be ridiculous overkill when McMann got jobbed by a quick stoppage just 66 seconds into the bout.
All along, though, I got kind of a weird vibe from McMann. She was a wonderful, thoughtful interview and a great fighter but didn’t really seem to want to be UFC champion. I mean, she did, but made it clear she could take or leave the fame, attention and responsibility that would come along with it.
I wonder if that’s changed now that she kind of got cheated out of her chance.
McMann was an Olympic wrestler, remember, and that kind of person doesn’t typically take well to being turned away on a technicality. That kind of person doesn’t typically take well to falling all the way out of a main event, championship fight and onto the Fox Sports 2 prelims.
It would be awesome to see a slightly more urgent, slightly more ticked-off version of McMann this weekend against former InvictaFC 135-pound champion Lauren Murphy. In my mindbrain, I imagine a scenario where McMann jets past Murphy via TKO (vicious GNP) and then jumps on the mic to say no end of inflammatory things about Rousey.
Why not Sara McMann 2.0?
Why not, Jonathan?
Jonathan: I'm with you. I don't feel like we ever got a chance to see McMann against Rousey. The potential struggle on the ground, the battle for the takedown, the ongoing war between Judo and wrestling—none of it materialized in the Octagon at UFC 170.
Instead we saw McMann dispatched in the blink of an eye. Whether the stoppage was just or not (I tend to believe the fight should have gone on) we didn't get what we paid to see.
I'm not convinced that McMann has what it takes to beat Rousey. I'm not sure, frankly, that anyone does. But, just like I was the first time around, I'm keen to see her try.
Prediction: Bizarre Fight Order Eventually Costs UFC at the Box Office
Jonathan: At UFC 173 T.J. Dillashaw shocked the world, winning the bantamweight title from the seemingly unbeatable Renan Barao. Even before a fifth-round finish he was slicker, sharper and faster than his Brazilian foe. It was glorious.
The result caused shock waves within the MMA bubble—and nowhere else. Barely 200,000 people watched on PPV, begging the question of whether a new star could be created on a show no one saw. Few knew much about Barao, the dominant champion with the protruding ears. Fewer still could pick Dillashaw out of a lineup.
Before he was elevated into the main event, before his tiny image appeared underneath Barao's on the UFC 173 poster, Dillashaw had never even appeared on the main card of a UFC PPV. In fact, he had never main evented a UFC show of any kind. He was the definition of "some guy." And "some guy" doesn't cut it when it comes to selling shows.
Unfortunately, it looks like the UFC has learned nothing from the Dillashaw debacle. Two top-10 flyweights, Zach Makovsky and Jussier Formiga, will compete on the Fox Sports 2 undercard rather than on the main show. In the razor-thin 125-pound division, either could be tapped to step in with champion Demetrious Johnson at a moment's notice.
When that happens they will be strangers to the broader audience, their place in the spotlight given to a journeyman named Seth Baczynski, a nondescript fighter who has lost three of his last four. It's a baffling decision. Can you explain it to me, Chad?
Chad: No, I can't.
The only thing I can think is that perhaps Fox is starting to lean on the UFC in an attempt to get more people to call their cable companies and demand FS2. Be honest, did you even know FS2 was still around? I, myself, did not, and now I'm kind of bummed to learn I'm not going to get to watch these prelims, which also inexplicably include McMann vs. Murphy.
Am I use-the-telephone mad about it? No, probably not, but perhaps some people will be. And hey, if even one person calls up and orders FS2 just to watch UFC prelims—bringing the channel's subscriber numbers to, like, an even dozen or whatever—then maybe it was worth it to the suits to hide Makovsky-Formiga and McMann-Murphy away where very few of us are going to be able to find them.
Kind of stinks for everybody else, though, especially the fighters.