UFC 135 Fight Card: Breaking Down Every Main Card Fight
In the co-main event of the evening, former welterweight champion Matt Hughes may be making his last appearance inside the Octagon when he faces The Ultimate Fighter season one standout, and former welterweight title challenger, Josh Koscheck.
Other action on the pay-per-view portion of the event will feature former Pride champion Takanori Gomi against Nate Diaz, the undefeated Travis Browne will face Rob Broughton, and heavyweights Ben Rothwell and Mark Hunt will kick off the show.
It is always fun to look ahead at all the different ways fights can go down. But with this fight card, the outcomes seem a little more clear cut than others in recent memory. Granted, anyone can get caught in a submission or clipped on the chin, but seeing something that defies the odds this Saturday seems highly unlikely.
So how are the main card fights going to go down in Denver, CO? Read on to find out.
Ben Rothwell vs Mark Hunt
The first fight of the evening will see Ben Rothwell (31-7) and Mark Hunt (6-7) throwing down in a heavyweight tilt.
Although Rothwell has the clear experience advantage, Hunt has faced the much better competition over his career. Unfortunately for Hunt, he has never had success against the upper levels of competition.
Throughout his career, Rothwell has shown that his ground game is as equally dangerous has his striking. The majority of his wins have come by (T)KO, but his submission victories are not that far behind.
Hunt, of the other hand, has never won by submission. Out of his six career victories, four have come by knockout. The part of his record that really stands out is that out of his seven losses, six have come by submission.
Do not expect to see this fight standing for very long. Mark Hunt is one of the hardest hitters in the heavyweight division, but he can not hit you very hard if he is on his back. Look to see Rothwell take this fight to the ground as soon as the opening presents itself.
From there, Rothwell will land some ground-and-pound before locking in a submission and leaving the cage with another win on his record.
Prediction: Ben Rothwell def. Mark Hunt via armbar late in the first round.
Nate Diaz vs Takanori Gomi
After suffering back-to-back losses at welterweight, Nate Diaz (13-7) will be returning to the lightweight division to go up against veteran Takanori Gomi (32-7).
Both fighters have been going through rough patches in their careers as of late. Diaz has gone an unimpressive 3-5 in his last eight fights, while Gomi has gone 3-4 in his last seven.
Through a combined 59 fights, neither fighter has ever been stopped, so a (T)KO victory by either fighter seems highly unlikely. But on the other hand, each fighter has been submitted at one point of their career.
Diaz never looked very impressive during his first tour with the UFC in the lightweight division, with the exception of his submission victory over Melvin Guillard. While the same thing can be said about Gomi, it is difficult to see him losing this fight.
Diaz' best chance of winning this fight will be on the ground, where Gomi has been submitted in three out of his last six fights. But expect Gomi to use his superior striking to keep Diaz off-balance, and use his wrestling base to keep the fight standing as much as possible.
By the end of the fight, it would not be surprising to see Gomi on the mat once or twice. However, expect to see the majority of this match taking place on their feet, with Gomi relying on his striking to earn him the victory.
Prediction: Takanori Gomi def. Nate Diaz via unanimous decision.
Travis Browne vs Rob Broughton
Just before the co-main and main event of the evening, hard-hitting heavyweight Travis Browne (11-0-1) will be looking to remain undefeated when he takes on the well-rounded Rob Broughton (15-5-1).
Browne has looked very impressive thus far in his UFC career. His lone stumble—if you want to call it that—is when he fought to a draw against Cheick Kongo at UFC 120. Browne was quick to get back on the winning track when he knocked out Stephan Struve with a superman punch in the first round of their fight at UFC 130.
Broughton is pretty much unknown among most American mixed martial arts fans. In his lone fight in the UFC, Broughton scored a submission victory over Vinicius Kappke de Queiroz in the third round at UFC 120, but that was before the days of the UFC airing the preliminary fights on Facebook.
In this fight, expect to see Broughton trying to get this fight to the ground. While he is a hard hitter, Browne hits even harder. But Browne will use every bit of his reach advantage to keep Broughton at bay and turn the fight in to a slugfest.
The fight may make it out of the first round, but there is no way it sees the third round.
Prediction: Travis Browne def. Rob Broughton via TKO (punches) midway through the second round.
Matt Hughes vs Josh Koscheck
In the co-main event of the evening, former longtime welterweight champion Matt Hughes (48-5) will take on former welterweight title challenger Josh Koscheck (15-5).
It is said that every great champion has one great fight left in him. If that is the case, we did not see it in Hughes' last outing when he was knocked out by B.J. Penn in under a minute. Will we see that one great fight Saturday night, or will the younger, hungrier Koscheck send the hall-of-famer off in to the sunset with another loss on his record.
Right now, it looks like the latter will happen.
Koscheck looks almost like a better carbon-copy of Matt Hughes circa 2005. By that, Koscheck has wrestling that is every bit as good as Hughes' was back in the day, but his striking is better than Hughes' ever was.
It is difficult to see this fight being anything but one-sided. If the fight is standing, Koscheck will pick him apart. If the fight hits the ground, Koscheck is a much better grappler at this point of his career than Hughes is.
It's going to be a sad swan song for Hughes should this be his last fight.
Prediction: Josh Koscheck def. Matt Hughes via TKO (punches) in the third round.
Jon Jones vs Quinton "Rampage" Jackson
Heading UFC 135, Jon Jones will be making the first defense of his light heavyweight title against former champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson.
Rampage somehow landed his chance at regaining the light heavyweight title he lost to Forrest Griffin by defeating the now retired Matt Hamill at UFC 130. Rampage's performance in the Hamill fight, in many fans eyes, left much to be desired.
It appeared that Rampage could have finished Hamill at will, but he never turned up the pressure, and ended up winning by unanimous decision.
Jones, on the other hand, made Shogun Rua, who many considered to be the pound-for-pound best not too long ago, look like a scrub in their title match at UFC 128.
After seeing both Jones and Rampage's previous fights, are there any doubts about who holds the edge in nearly every facet of the game?
If Rampage does have one advantage, it is the fact he has been in many more high-profile fights than Jones. But after seeing how Jones reacted on the biggest stage of his career at UFC 128, one could come to the conclusion that Rampage does not even have that edge going for him.
In the main event, expect to see Jones use his ridiculous reach advantage and unorthodox striking to keep the aging star off-balance and consistently guessing about what will be coming his way next.
Jones will mix up his punches, kicks, and takedowns to dominate Rampage. But given the fact that Rampage has not been stopped in nearly six years—and that came from an even bigger beast that is called a prime Shogun Rua—this fight lasting the entire 25-minute duration is not out of the realm of possibility.
Prediction: Jon Jones def. Quinton Jackson via unanimous decision.