UFC/WEC veteran Dan Downes talks strategy and predictions for UFC on FX: Alves vs. Kampmann, airing live on FX (and international partners) Friday at 9 pm ET/6 pm PT
Last week the Ultimate Fighting Championship made a triumphant return to Japan. Unfortunately, my 3-4 fight picks were not so triumphant. Sure I was disappointed, but not nearly as much as finding out that the Baconfest tickets were sold out. On the bright side, I didn’t exacerbate my family history of heart disease and we all developed a new crush on the Japanese interpreter and Fluffy.
This week the UFC is back on FX for the second time and in Sydney, Australia for the third. Luckily for fight fans, this card will be a successful sequel (unlike this). Out of an intellectual's deference to Australian fans, I refuse to make Crocodile Dundee references. Furthermore, I also plan on skipping my ritual Bloomin’ Onion at Outback Steakhouse as a sign of solidarity. You’re welcome, Australia.
Court McGee vs. Costa Philippou
Winner of The Ultimate Fighter season 11, Court “The Crusher” McGee hasn’t lost a fight since he battled Jeremy Horn in 2007. He’s 3-0 in the UFC and has proven to be a well-rounded fighter with a great chin. Costa Philippou never made it into the TUF house after losing an elimination bout against Joseph Henle, but he made it to the UFC anyway (like some other TUF rejects we know) and has notched wins against Jared Hamman and Jorge Rivera.
Prediction: While McGee is certainly a tough opponent for anyone (even heroin), I think that Philippou’s boxing will be the difference. He’s definitely patient, as he has to listen to his trainer Matt Serra talk all the time. He’ll utilize this patience along with speed and footwork to tag McGee on the way to a decision victory.
Demetrious Johnson vs. Ian McCall
Next on the card is the first-ever flyweight bout, the winner of which will fight for the UFC flyweight title. WEC veteran Ian “Uncle Creepy” McCall is making his UFC debut and has the most experience at 125 pounds of anyone in the UFC’s division. His grappling and striking skills are impressive; the fact that he’s still likable despite the whole black nail polish thing even more so. Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson is competing for the first time since his loss to Dominick Cruz. What he lacks in McCall’s cool, waxed mustache, though, he makes up for with tenacity and aggression.
Prediction: This is a much more even match-up than people are expecting. Personally, I think that McCall is the more technical fighter, but Johnson’s speed advantage and ability to push the pace that will negate that. Mighty Mouse will effectively mix striking and takedowns en route to a decision victory. I hate to say it, but “Uncle Creepy’s” chances are about as good
you not saying "awwwwww" when you see this.
Joseph Benavidez vs. Yasuhiro Urushitani
The second match in the flyweight tournament pits another former bantamweight challenger, Joseph Benavidez, against UFC debutant Yasuhiro Urushitani. The spiritual guru behind the Joe-Jitsu movement, Benavidez tore though the bantamweight division losing only to Dominick Cruz. Urushitani has been fighting since 2001 and has great counterstriking abilities. With the unusual record of 19-4-6, it looks like he draws more than Bob Ross.
Prediction: Like CPR certification, counterstriking is a great skill to have, but it’s really hard to do on your back. Benavidez will find the opening, get it to the ground and finish it with one of his patented Joe-Jitsu guillotine chokes in the 1st round. It’s not all bad news for Urushitani -- I hear when Benavidez chokes you, you’re transported to a nice quiet pond, which sounds pleasant.
Thiago Alves vs. Martin Kampmann
Thiago “The Pitbull” Alves has hit a rough patch as of late. He’s only won two of his last five and has shown a lack of consistency inside the Octagon. Martin “The Hitman” Kampmann is looking to get on a roll, too. He grinded out a split decision victory against Rick Story in November after a narrow loss to Diego Sanchez that left me rocking back and forth in fetal position (chronicled here).
Prediction: Kampmann is a solid striker, but his fights against Sanchez and Story showed that his defense fissures under pressure. Alves will get in the Dane’s face and frustrate him more than when senior citizens use the self checkout lane at the grocery store. It’ll be close, but Kampmann will spend a lot of the fight moving backwards and that will give “The Pitbull,” the UD win. Let’s just hope that the judges give decisions quicker than grandma writes checks.
That brings another Downes Side to a close. Be sure to follow me on twitter @dannyboydownes and post your comments, thoughts, suggestions, fears, dreams, hopes, favorite pork product or turn-ons on the page here. If those last two intersect...keep it to yourself.