UFC/WEC veteran Dan Downes talks strategy and predictions for UFC Fight Night: Mendes vs. Lamas, taking place Saturday, April 4.
That’s right boys and girls, it’s time for another matinee edition of the Downes Side! While it may not be as majestic or carry the same heft as a manatee, at least it will still give you enough time to meet your grandma for a late lunch.
Ever punctual, the UFC rolls about 20 miles outside the nation’s capital to Fairfax, Virginia for a Fight Night (Afternoon?) that’ll make the U.S. Senate jealous. In the main event of the evening, former number one contenders Chad Mendes and Ricardo Lamas try to make their case for another shot at the belt. In the co-main event of the night, Jorge Masvidal and Al Iaquinta compete to continue their climb up the 155-pound ladder. Tell Harry Reid to relax. It’s fight time!
DUSTIN POIRIER VS. DIEGO FERREIRA
We begin the main card in the lightweight division with Dustin Poirier and Diego Ferreira. Poirier makes the jump to the 155-pound division after his first-round TKO loss to Conor McGregor back at UFC 178. Ferriera returns to the Octagon after suffering the first loss of his career to Beneil Dariush.
You always have to be skeptical of fighters that change weight classes. It’s like deciding to have a kid to save your marriage. It never really fixes things, but it’s way easier than talking about your feelings or actually discovering root causes. Fortunately for Poirier his lightweight stint will last longer than Kardashian nuptials. His defense can be lacking, but his overall technical superiority leads him to the decision win.
CLAY GUIDA VS. ROBBIE PERALTA
Next we drop to featherweight for Clay Guida and Robbie Peralta. Guida has been having as hard of a time as an actual carpenter in a “right to work” state. He’s struggled in his last few fights and really needs a win here to stay relevant. Robbie “Problems” Peralta is a hard-hitting taekwondo black belt looking to bounce back from a submission loss to Dennis Bermudez.
Much like selfies and cupcakes, I never truly understood Clay Guida’s popularity. His irregular movements and wrestling seeks to stall action more than force it. Even with that, he only succeeds on 38.1% of his takedown attempts. He’ll have an easier time in this fight though, because of Peralta’s striking style. Peralta may hit hard, but when he misses, he often leaves himself out of position. Guida grinds his way to a decision win.
JULIANNA PENA VS. MILANA DUDIEVA
We jump to the women’s bantamweight division for Julianna Pena and Milana Dudieva. Sidelined by a serious knee injury, Pena fights for the first time since winning TUF 18 back in November 2013. She’ll be greeted by Russian fighter Dudieva. An all-around fighter with a strong grappling game and powerful right hand, she’s coming off a successful UFC debut against Elizabeth Phillips.
Pena’s greatest attribute is her aggression. She charges hard and consistently applies pressure. She leaves a lot of openings for counterattack, but so far nobody has found a way to capitalize on them. Dudieva could stop the onslaught by bringing it to the ground, but Pena won’t give her the opportunity. The Venezuelan Vixen’s star keeps shining as she punches her way to the first-round TKO win.
MICHAEL CHIESA VS. MITCH CLARKE
We return to lightweight for Michael Chiesa and Mitch Clarke. After impressive wins over Colton Smith and Francisco Trinaldo, Chiesa fell victim to a Joe Lauzon TKO in his last fight. Mitch Clarke’s UFC career started with back-to-back losses, but he’s responded with two straight wins over John Maguire and Al Iaquinta. Capable on the feet, the ground is his real strength, as he has seven career submission wins.
Clarke may compete on the ground, but he’s overmatched everywhere else. Chiesa doesn’t have the most explosive power or striking, but he’s adept at exploiting weaknesses. He slips in punches through openings and wastes no time finishing things off with a submission. He’ll pick Clarke apart on the feet, bring the fight to the ground and lock in the rear naked choke in the second.
JORGE MASVIDAL VS. AL IAQUINTA
We stay at lightweight for Jorge Masvidal and Al Iaquinta. Winner of three in a row over James Krause, Daron Cruickshank and Pat Healy, Masvidal tries to make one more run to the top echelon of the division. A contestant on season 15 of The Ultimate Fighter, “Raging” Al has amassed a 6-2 record inside the Octagon.
Iaquinta has improved his game and shown a greater awareness of distance, but he’s still primarily a boxer. He couples that with a high output and strong cardio to wear opponents down as the fight progresses. Masvidal hasn’t been finishing opponents in his last few fights, but he’s much more dynamic of a fighter. He doesn’t have the same power as Iaquinta, but as Revenge of the Nerds taught us, brains can beat brawn. Masvidal will have trouble if he goes toe-to-toe with Iaquinta, but fight IQ and patience help him grab the decision.
CHAD MENDES VS. RICARDO LAMAS
Time for the main event! Undefeated against people not named Jose Aldo, Chad “Money” Mendes fights after a second unsuccessful attempt at the featherweight title. Known for his wrestling, his striking and knockout power in his right hand have developed over the last few years. Holding a 2-0 record after an unsuccessful title shot of his own, Ricardo “The Bully” Lamas hopes to keep the momentum going because he doesn’t have a budding career in a sketch comedy troupe.
Lamas is one of those fighters that truly embodies his nickname. When he’s allowed to dictate the pace and take control, he’s at his best. When he can’t bully opponents, however, his offense tends to stall. Mendes isn’t the type of fighter that lets himself get pushed around. His counterpunching will stifle Lamas’ initial attacks and allow him to score a couple takedowns. He won’t be able to put him away, but he walks away with the decision.
That wraps up another brunch time edition of the Downes Side. Follow me on Twitter @dannyboydownes. Also, don’t forget to leave your own predictions, thoughts, disdain and Bloody Mary recipes on the page here. I’m partial to the one that comes with a slider garnish.
> Check out the full UFC Fight Night: Mendes vs. Lamas fight card