The Ultimate Fighter
UFC/WEC veteran Dan Downes talks strategy and predictions for UFC on FUEL TV: Munoz vs. Weidman, taking place July 11
That’s right boys and girls, Danny Boy Downes is back for a mid-week edition of the Downes Side. Now, while some people complain about having fights on a Wednesday, I think they’re a great idea. Not only are they far better than sitcom repeats, but it’s trivia night at the sports bar by my house. Much like Jon Anik and Kenny Florian, geography questions and MMA go together perfectly.
This week the UFC rolls into San Jose, CA (whose highest elevation is 2135 feet) for UFC on FUEL TV. Hopefully the fighters on the night’s card have a more successful trip to San Jose than I did last summer. I was there for a friend's wedding, had a few too many “Diet Cokes” to drink and ended up telling explicit jokes in front of my in-laws. Ultimately, though, they’re still footing the bill for the wedding this summer so I guess it wasn’t a total loss...
Rafael Dos Anjos (16-6) vs Anthony Njokuani (15-6)
The main card begins in the lightweight division between Anthony “The Assassin” Njokuani and Rafael Dos Anjos. Njoukuani has alternated wins and losses in his last six fights and is looking to get some momentum. Known for his striking, I’ll always remember him as the guy that punted Chris Horodecki at WEC 45. Dos Anjos is a BJJ black belt who’s also looking to step up the division ladder after a couple tough breaks against Clay Guida and Gleison Tibau.
It’s no secret that the key for Njokuani is to stay standing. He has struggled against grapplers in the past and that will continue here. Dos Anjos may be at a striking disadvantage, but he surpasses his opponent in every other aspect. He’ll be able to avoid the knockout blow, get the takedown and submit the “Assassin” in the 2nd.
T.J. Dillashaw (5-1) vs Vaughan Lee (12-7-1)
We drop down to the bantamweight division as TUF alum T.J. Dillashaw takes on some English school alum Vaughan Lee. Both fighters are coming off big wins after dropping their UFC debuts. Both skilled grapplers, this will be a test of Dillashaw’s wrestling and Lee’s jiu-jitsu.
Dillashaw has been quoted as saying that Lee’s BJJ is “overrated.” I find that to be a bit of an overstatement, and that’s coming from the guy that once called the Grand Canyon “underwhelming.” Despite this incorrect assessment, TJ won’t struggle in the fight. He’ll be able to control Lee, keep him on his back and get the unanimous decision victory.
Karlos Vemola (9-2) vs Francis Carmont (18-7)
Next we head to the middleweight division for a bout between Francis “Limitless” Carmont and Karlos “The Terminator” Vemola in a bout sure to pour gasoline on the long feud between French-born Canadians and Czech-born Brits. Carmont is on a seven fight win streak (including 2-0 in the UFC) and former heavyweight Vemola is a six-time Czech Republic National Wrestling champion. That’s impressive, right? Also, Carmont's cornerman is GSP.
Much like the Dos Anjos/Njokuani fight, this one will come down to who’s the more well-rounded fighter. Vemola has brute force and a solid chin, but he lacks Carmont’s overall package (which I hear is impressive). Carmont will be able to pick apart Vemola on the feet and brush off his takedown attempts en route to a unanimous decision win.
That leads us to Aaron “A-Train” Simpson’s welterweight debut as he squares off against Kenny Robertson who replaced Jon Fitch. Simpson is a powerful wrestler known for grinding his opponents. Robertson is known for.....well.....nothing off the top of my head. He’s from East Peoria, Illinois which is the place Joe Girardi played Little League. That’s impressive, right?
Roberston has finished his opponents in 10 of his 11 career wins, but struggled immensely against Mike Pierce at UFC 126. In that fight he was simply outmuscled, and -- unless Simpson's cut to his new weight goes termendously wrong -- expect the same here. Simpson will be able to dictate the fight exactly as he wants. While not the most technical striker, one of his big bombs will find its target as he picks up the 2nd round TKO
We have another weight class debut as Joey “The Mexicutioner” Beltran makes his UFC foray into the light heavyweight division against James Te Huna. It only took one fight outside the organization to get the fan favorite back into the Octagon and he’s looking to begin a new stint in the UFC after recent struggles. James Te Huna has won three of four UFC appearances (all by knockout) and shown that not only can be a contender for the 205-pound strap, but that New Zealanders can be exceptionally violent.
Joey Beltran is a great guy. He even had fun Spanish nicknames for me when I hung out with him last year’s fighters summit ("pendejo" is a term of endearment, right?). Unfortunately, he’s overmatched here. Te Huna has better cardio and better striking. These two will stand toe to toe, slug it out and Te Huna will walk away victorious. Sure the fans will love it, but Beltran won’t love the UD loss.
Mark Munoz (12-2) vs Chris Weidman (8-0)
Which now brings us to the main event of the evening as all-around nice guy and “Filipino Wrecking Machine” Mark Munoz takes on probably-cool guy Chris "All-American" Weidman. Winner of four straight, Munoz is looking to make the case for a number-one contender spot with a win. His opponent will be a guy who surprised a lot of people with a win over Demian Maia in January... on 11 days' notice. Both fighters are accomplished wrestlers who win their fights by getting their opponents to the mat.
When two wrestlers of this caliber face off against one another, we all know what happens -- ugly striking fight. Seeing that this will be the case, I have to give the edge to Munoz. I’m not sure if he can beat Weidman in a bench press competition, but he definitely hits harder. Weidman’s striking defense has a lot of holes and he’ll get clipped and drop in the 3rd.
That wraps up another obscenely informative edition of the Downes Side. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @dannyboydownes and read my blog here. Also, be sure to leave your thoughts, queries and suggestions for trivia team names on the page, too. This time, try to keep the ethnic slurs to a minimum.