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The Downes Side: UFC Macao Predictions

UFC/WEC veteran Dan Downes talks strategy and predictions for UFC Macao, taking place Saturday, November 10

That’s right boys and girls, it’s time for another internationally acclaimed edition of the Downes Side! As a kid, I always thought that Saturday morning cartoons were too tame. Lucky for me, the UFC has set about making things right in the morning hours with UFC on FUEL TV 6 live from Macao.

The main event of the evening (which will air around 8:30 am Pacific time) showcases a middleweight bout between two of the most exciting fighters in the sport. A former kickboxing and Strikeforce champion, action film star and spin kicking machine Cung Le looks to add a second UFC victory to an already impressive career. His opponent, former UFC champion Rich “Ace” Franklin makes his return to middleweight for the first time since 2008 and looks to earn some more glory before he hangs the gloves up.

Takeya Mizugaki (15-7-1) vs Jeff Hougland (10-5)

The first fight of the evening (or morning depending on your hemisphere) takes place in the bantamweight division with two fighters looking to rebound from losses. Former title contender Takeya Mizugaki lost a close decision to Chris Cariaso at UFC 144. He’ll face off against submission specialist Jeff “Hellboy” Hougland who saw his nine-fight win streak ended by Yves Jabouin in May.

Mizugaki is harder to finish than the Team Challenge at a restaurant by my apartment. He’s a hard out and I don’t think that Hougland has the ability to put him away. That being said, Mizugaki does have the tendency to take unnecessary damage and allow himself to be pushed around. Hougland has the strength advantage that will give him the edge in the tie-ups, plus he’ll be more active on his feet in the standup exchanges. He’ll hustle his way to a UD. Mizugaki will be disappointed, but at least he won’t have indigestion.

Tiequan Zhang (15-3) vs Jon Tuck (6-0)

We move to the featherweight division as local(ish) boy Tiequan Zhang takes on the undefeated Jon Tuck. If you ask me, Zhang really hasn’t been the same since Danny Downes delivered him his first career loss at WEC 53. Since that time, he has dropped two of his last three, the most recent a 2nd round KO at the hands of Issei Tamura. Jon Tuck looks to make a name for himself other than "the guy with a nasty toe injury against Al Iaquinta at TUF 15."

According to Wikipedia (so you know it’s true), Macao’s roller hockey team “is the most powerful in Asia.” What does that have to do with this fight? Well, Tiequan Zhang will have to find another pastime after Tuck knocks him out. Zhang is a strong grappler from top position, but he often gasses and leaves openings in his defense. As long as Tuck avoids Zhang’s guillotine, he’ll get the win with a 2nd round knockout. But seriously, how about that Danny Downes guy?

Takanori Gomi (33-8) vs Mac Danzig (21-9-1)

We move up another division to lightweight as former PRIDE star Takanori “The Fireball Kid” Gomi faces off against Mac Danzig. After faltering against Nate Diaz and Clay Guida, Gomi rides some momentum after an incredible comeback victory at UFC 144 against Ejii Mitsuoka. Winner of the sixth season of The Ultimate Fighter, Mac Danzig generally gets it done with a mix of submissions and knockout power.

Once known for his brutal knockouts, The Fireball Kid’s power has been fading as of late. While he still has the ability to deliver that game-changing blow with one strike, he won’t connect. Danzig should use the same gameplan that led him to victory against Efrain Escudero in this fight. He’ll move around, tag his opponent and use the clinch to negate Gomi’s power punching. All this will wear Gomi down. Gomi's submission defense has always been suspect, and he’ll give up the RNC in the third.

Dong Hyun Kim (15-2-1) vs Paulo Thiago (14-4)

We head to the welterweight division for Dong Hyun Kim and Paulo Thiago. The “Stun Gun” looks to get back on track after a strange rib injury contributed to his 47-second loss to Demian Maia. Not to be outdone, Paulo Thiago lost his last fight against Siyar Bahadurzada in 42 seconds. He too needs to figure something out since he has lost three of his last four.

One of the bigger 170-pound fighters in the division, Dong Hyun Kim utilizes his judo and wrestling to grind his opponents down. Thiago does have decent counter striking, but I don’t see how he negates Kim’s grappling advantage. Kim will pressure Thiago, get him against the fence and secure the takedown. Once there, he’ll use his strength and ground and pound to batter his opponent for 15 minutes. Kim grinds his way to a UD

Thiago Silva (14-3) vs Stanislav Nedkov (12-0)

Time for the co-main event of the evening between Thiago Silva and Stanislav Nedkov. After being out of action for over a year, Silva had a rough return to the Octagon against title contender Alexander Gustafsson in April. Nedkov had some troubles in his UFC debut in October until tagging Luiz Cane with a solid cross hook counter to earn a first-round TKO. Both fighters are aggressive, strong and like to trade punches. This one has fight of the night written all over it.

While both men may be known for their striking, they are also well-rounded. Nedkov was a wrestling champion in Bulgaria (no word on how good their roller hockey team is) and a BJJ black belt. Silva also holds a jiu-jitsu black belt and a solid array of takedowns and ground and pound. The only place where there’s a mismatch is experience, and that will make all the difference. As the fight progresses, Nedkov will fade. This accompanied by his already shaky defense will give Silva the third-round KO

Rich Frankiln (29-6) vs Cung Le (8-2)

Time for the main event of the evening! Stepping into the Octagon for the 20th time, Rich Franklin looks to add to his accomplished UFC legacy. After losing his UFC debut to Wanderlei Silva, Le used his kicking skills to outpoint Patrick Cote in July. If you, unlike Nick Diaz, enjoy your fights with a heaping dose of spinning [expletive], well, Cung Le is the fighter for you.

Rich Franklin may have slowed down the last few years but he still has some gas in the tank. As fighters age, we worry about their ability to take a punch, but the glass jaw of old age hasn’t hit Franklin yet. With regards to Le, it may be entertaining to see a guy fight like a character from Tekken, but flash does have its downside. Le has struggled with his cardio in the past and it will strike again here. Franklin may struggle getting his range in the first round, but he’ll be able to adapt and start landing that strong left hand in the second and third rounds. Bpxing will be the difference and Franklin takes out a fatigued Le in the third.

That wraps up another cromulent edition of the Downes Side. If you’d like to be dazzled in 140 characters or less, be sure to follow me on Twitter @dannyboydownes. Also, don’t forget to leave your thoughts, comments, predictions and obscure Macao facts on the page as well. (Fun Fact #2: One of the biggest attractions in Macao is the wine museum.)