By Anthony Springer Jr.
Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto won’t be the only ones slugging it out on Saturday. The UFC on Fox 3 rolls into New Jersey with an action packed–and free–card that will end well before boxing’s biggest draw takes center stage. On the bill: a heavyweight fire fight, a lightweight showdown with title implications and a welterweight showdown featuring an up and comer looking to displace an old vet. Let’s get down to the main card.
Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller
The younger Diaz has been on a tear as of late. He made short work of Takanori Gomi and absolutely dismantled a fellow top contender in Donald Cerrone (that one sided drubbing may have been the finest performance of Diaz’ career). Jim Miller is no slouch. He’s the winner of 8 of his last 9 (the lone blemish coming courtesy of current 155-pound champ Benson Henderson) and has a reputation for workman like performances in the cage.
Miller is a scrappy fighter, comfortable anywhere in the Octagon, but Diaz is a different beast entirely. If Miller opts to stand with Diaz, it’ll be a short night for the hometown boy. Diaz lacks one punch knockout power, but his punches in bunches, punctuated by taunts and a ridiculously accurate jab, make him a formidable striker. Add his rangy nature and Miller is dealing with an adversary he can’t bully on the feet.
If there’s one missing piece to Diaz’ game, it’s take down defense. Rory MacDonald and Dong-Hyun Kim put the younger Diaz on his back at will, as did Clay Guida. If Miller is going to win the fight, it’ll be on the mat.
Watch for Miller to fight a smart fight. He’ll grind Diaz out on the canvas en route to a unanimous decision.
Josh Koscheck vs. Johny Hendricks
When Johny Hendricks flattened Jon Fitch late last year, two things happened. First, there were “OMG” sounds coming from shocked faces who couldn’t believe Fitch finally lost. And second, giddy feelings because somebody–anybody–knocked out the guy who was taking apart all credible welterweight challengers. Hendricks’ star is on the rise. On the other side of the coin, Koscheck’s is not. After being jabbed to death in a one sided affair by champion Georges St-Pierre, Koscheck’s title path is not impossible, but improbable.
This match is interesting. Both men possess one punch KO power, but don’t expect Kos to stand in front of Hendricks after seeing what happened to former teammate Fitch. If there’s a fighter smarter than Koscheck and 170, it’s GSP. Love him or hate him, Kos comes to win. If you’re a fan of the intricacies of wrestling, Koscheck might just put on a clinic. If you’re not, use this time to get a cold beverage and talk to friends.
Watch for Koscheck to take Hendricks down–or at least attempt to do so–and control the pace of this one from the outset. Kos via decision.
Alan Belcher vs. Rousimar Palhares
By far the most intriguing fight of the evening. Styles make fights, as they say and this is the quintessential striker vs. grappler bout. Belcher can hold his own standing but will likely be weary of clinching with Palhares. “Toquino” has a nasty habit of mangling limbs in submission holds and he’s crazy strong. My thoughts: Belcher will (wisely) keep his distance and pick Palhares apart on the feet to ride out a decision win.
Pat Barry vs. Lavar Johnson
Two words. Knock. Out. This one is surely not going to the judges. Barry has power in his hands and feet. Johnson has dynamite in his fists. Flip a coin to pick a winner. I’m going with the Johnson due to longer reach. The real winners here: the fans.
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