UFC / WEC veteran Dan Downes talks strategy and predictions for UFC 180: Werdum vs. Hunt, taking place Saturday, November 15...
Eso es chicos y chicas correctas, it’s time for the first Mexican edition of the Downes Side! Unfortunately my knowledge of the Spanish language is limited to four years of high school Latin and college German. Good thing I live in Southern California, where Spanish rarely comes into play.
Even though I’ve made poor life decisions, missing out on UFC 180 won’t be one of them. Live from the Mexico City Arena in (you guessed it) Mexico City, Mexico, Fabricio Werdum and Mark Hunt will battle for the interim heavyweight title. In the co-main event of the night, welterweight Kelvin Gastelum searches for the signature win of his young career against #7 ranked Jake Ellenberger. Grab your papas fritas and refescos, because it’s fight time!
EDGAR GARCIA VS. HECTOR URBINA
The main card kicks off in the welterweight division with Edgar Garcia and Hector Urbina. Returning to the Octagon for the first time in five years, Garcia has a 7-1 record (with six finishes) during his time outside the organization. A TUF 19 veteran and hard-hitting brawler, Hector Urbina makes his official debut.
Garcia may have had an impressive run as of late, but the quality of opponents hasn’t been the greatest. We know he can finish fights, but it’s hard to gauge how much he’s improved. Having said that, his experience and all-around skills should lead him to victory. Urbina has heavy hands, but his attack style borders on recklessness. As long as Garcia avoids the initial rush, he’ll wear Urbina down and win by submission in the third.
AUGUSTO MONTANO VS. CHRIS HEATHERLY
We stay at welterweight for Augusto Montano and Chris Heatherly. One of the most exciting prospects to come out of Mexico, every single one of “Dodger” Montano’s wins have come by finish. Only two of his fights have even made it out of the first round. After falling victim to the rarely seen omaplata during his UFC debut in August, Chris Heatherly needs to bounce back.
There are only two things a guy nicknamed “Stump” could be. One is a wrestler, the other is a cricket player. Heatherly is the former and he’ll be trying to use slow this fight down with his grappling. Much like Garcia, there are a lot of question marks surrounding Montano. If Let’s Make a Deal has taught me anything in life, it’s that you always choose the unknown. What’s the worst that could happen? Heatherly’s wrestling will give him the first round, but Montano’s wider arsenal of attacks wears the Stump down and he locks up the third round guillotine.
RICARDO LAMAS VS. DENNIS BERMUDEZ
We drop to featherweight for Ricardo Lamas and Dennis Bermudez. After challenging for the title and losing to Jose Aldo in February, the “Bully” Lamas came back with a decision win over Hacran Dias in June. A powerful wrestler, Lamas does his best work from top position when he can utilize his brutal his ground and pound. After losing his UFC debut to Diego Brandao in 2011, #7 ranked Bermudez has won seven fights in a row. His last time out, he submitted Clay Guida by rear naked choke.
Bermudez keeps a quick pace and does an excellent job stringing combinations together and attacking from different angles. Lamas’ number one priority will be to find a way to limit his opponent’s pace and aggression. A strong wrestling game is the perfect counter to these problems. Lamas is known for his wrestling, but he only converts takedowns at 31.37% rate. Every missed takedown is another opportunity for Bermudez to counter with strikes (especially knees). These blows will eventually take their toll and make it all but impossible for Lamas to bring the fight to the ground. Bermudez by decision.
JAKE ELLENBERGER VS. KELVIN GASTELUM
We return to welterweight for Jake Ellenberger and Kelvin Gastelum. After a poor performance against Rory MacDonald, “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger looked much better in a losing effort against Robbie Lawler. With this being a final shot at remaining in the upper echelon of the 170-pound division, Ellenberger needs to find the mark with his powerful left cross. Winner of season 17 of The Ultimate Fighter, the 23-year-old Gastelum is one of the hottest prospects in the division. Formerly a one dimensional wrestler, he’s rounded out his game extremely well en route to a 4-0 record in the UFC.
Gastelum has done well in his short UFC career, but he hasn’t been blowing anybody out of the water. He’s shown a lot of growth in a relatively short amount of time, but this is too much too soon. People are already writing Ellenberger off, but he still has a few more left in him. Ellenberger defends takedowns at a 93.75% rate and has the punching power to give Gastelum a lot of problems. The Juggernaut shows that he still has a little left in the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak and wins by unanimous decision.
FABRICIO WERDUM VS. MARK HUNT
Time for the main event! Since returning to the UFC from Strikeforce, Fabricio Werdum is undefeated at 4-0. His last time in the Octagon was certainly the most impressive as he took a commanding decision over Travis Browne. A jiu-jitsu wizard (not a playable class in the new D&D 5th edition), Werdum showcased his greatly improved striking in the Browne fight. He even lands significant strikes at a rate of 4.52 per minute (fifth highest in the division). Mark Hunt’s path to the heavyweight title has been a strange one, but the Super Samoan finally made it. Known for his brutal one-punch knockouts, he also defends takedowns at a 72.13% rate.
Personally, I’d really like to see “UFC champion Mark Hunt” to become a reality. 1) It sets the stage for a Hollywood biopic and 2) I imagine he’d walk around carrying the UFC strap like Yokozuna. Sadly, neither one of those things will come to fruition. A shortened training camp, coupled with the Mexico City elevation, doesn’t bode well for Hunt. He’s not exactly known for his cardiovascular impressiveness at sea level, let alone at over 7000 feet. He’ll come out head hunting, but Werdum is too smart to get in a firefight. Hunt tires himself out and Werdum wins via armbar in the second round.
That wraps up another linguistically unparalleled edition of the Downes Side. Follow me on Twitter @dannyboydownes. Also, don’t forget to leave your own predictions, thoughts, repartees and UFC fighters re-imagined as Frida Kahlo on the page here. Don’t disappoint me, internet.