+110 Ryan Benoit (8-4) vs. -130 Fredy Serrano (3-0)
Ryan Benoit: Benoit has not been perfect in his 1-2 UFC career, but he has been entertaining. All three of his UFC fights have been finished with in the first two rounds, in fact he has only gone the distance twice in his 12 fight career.
Benoit is a muay thai fighter at heart, finishing 7 of his 8 professional victories by way of knockout, but his grappling has held him back from taking the next step to divisional contender. Benoit will need to implement improved take down and submission defense or he may be on the verge of being given his walking papers, despite engaging in memorable wars.
Fredy Serrano: Serrano is a world class freestlye wrestler who represented his native Columbia in the 2008 summer Olympics. He also competed on TUF Latin America 2, where he lost his first match to eventual season champ Alejandro Perez.
Serrano is a legitimate talent and would be considered a top prospect if he was 10 years younger. With only 3 professional fights in his career, he can ill afford to take a single step backwards if he is to become a flyweight contender.
The Fight: On paper this would appear to be a classic striker vs grappler matchup. But if you’ve seen Serrano’s recent fights you will see a fighter who is gaining confidence in his hands.
After losing the first few exchanges, Serrano will look to get this to the mat. Benoit will need to be prepared to sprawl at every second of this fight, his take down defense will hold strong and he will finish the exhausted Serrano in the third. Benoit TKO 3rd
+145 Francisco Rivera (11-6-0 1 NC) vs. -170 Erik Perez (15-6)
Francisco Rivera: Muay thai stand out Francisco Rivera does not like to leave anything to chance in the octagon, his all or nothing, let it all hang out style has earned him some memorable knockout wins, but it’s cost him at times as well. “Cisco” has fallen on hard times as of late, losing 4 of his last 5. His willingness to go out on his shield is probably the only thing that has kept him employed.
Rivera dropped a razor thin decision to Brad Picket in his last outing. Rivera had Picket hurt early but could not close the fight out and faded late. His MO seems to be go for the kill early and if he cant get it, lose. Rivera has one punch power but can never seem to find the chin of the better fighters. Maybe a more calculated approach can help get Rivera back in the win column.
Erik Perez: “Goyito” made a successful return to the octagon after a 14 month lay off due to injuries. Perez started off slow against Taylor Lapilus, but adjusted nicely mid fight and was able to get the unanimous decision.
The former Jackson/Wink fighter now trains with Eric Del Fierro at the Alliance gym in San Diego. Perez is known for being the hardest working guy in the gym and at only 26 years old he will continue to climb the bantamweight rankings if he can stay healthy.
The Fight: Perez has to fight the urge to engage in a brawl with the heavy handed Rivera. “Goyito” is a much more versatile fighter and has many more ways to win this fight, if he mixes up his attack this will be a fairly easy victory for the emerging Mexican star. Perez Unanimous Decision
-250 #9 Matt Brown (22-14) vs.+210 Jake Ellenberger ( 30-11)
Matt Brown: MMA’s resident gritty, grizzled tough guy Matt Brown, steps back into the octagon for the 22nd time in his career. Brown had a tough outing in his last bout losing to BJJ legend Demian Maia via rear naked choke, after being totally dominated on the mat for three rounds.
Brown has built a solid career in the UFC by going toe to toe with the best fighters in the world and at 14-7, he’s come out on top the majority of the time. 35 year old Brown is currently # 9 in the world, in all probability he will not make it into the title picture again, but can hang around for another five or so years serving as the unofficial gate keeper into the to 10 of the welterweight division.
Jake Ellenberger: No fighter has fallen further, faster than Jake Ellenberger. Once one fight away from fighting for the title, Ellenberger has lost five of his last six fights and may be on the outs if he falters again.
“The Juggernaut” has explosive power and is always a threat to end a fight at any given moment. His current woes may be a string of tough luck against world class opponents or his skills may have deteriorated from the numerous wars over the years. Brown will be a good measuring stick for where he is at in his career, if he loses here it will be painfully evident that he is not the same fighter he was three years ago.
The Fight: Ellenberger has dynamite in his hands and always has a punchers chance, however Matt Brown doesn’t really seem to be effected by punches to the head. If Ellenberger made this into a wrestling match he might be able to over power Brown on the mat for three rounds.
I don’t foresee this being a grappling match, Ellenberger will go for the kill early on, which will prove as a horrible game plan when he gasses and the “Immortal” picks up the pace later into the fight. Brown Unanimous Decision
-185 #3 Rose Namjunas (6-2) vs. +160 # 5 Karolina Kowalkiewicz (9-0)
Rose Namajunas: “Thug” Rose has had the most success post TUF 20. The 24 year old is 3-0 since the reality show and will be co-headlining her second event in a row. Namjunas’s wins over Angela Hill, Paige Van Zant, and Tecia Torres have been enough to earn her the number 3 spot in the strawweight division.
Namjunas has appeared to grow the most as a fighter since TUF as well, her standup is her bread and butter, but she wont shy away from a ground battle as we saw against Torres. If Rose can get a victory in this one she will more than likely earn a shot at Jedrzejczyk and the opportunity to become one of the youngest champions ever.
Karolina Kowalkiewicz: Polish contender Kowalkiewicz made a name for her self in the European fight circuit going undefeated and winning the KSW title. She has kept her unbeaten streak alive in U.S competition winning one fight in Invicta and two in the UFC.
Primarily a stand up fighter with excellent takedown defense Kowalkiewciz has beat two strong grapplers in the UFC and will be tested against a top tier striker in this bout. If she wins here a legendary Poland vs. Poland title fight against Jedrzejczyk may be on the other side.
The Fight: This fight is going to play out on the feet, both women prefer striking and have had success in the octagon with dominant kickboxing. Rose is the more aggressive of the two and will push the pace, while Kowalkiewciz will look for opportunities to counter. This will be a close fight but Rose’s aggression and work rate will get her the slight nod. Namajunas Split Decision
Robbie Lawler (26-10-0 1 NC) vs. Tyron Woodley (15-3)
Robbie Lawler: The road to the belt has been a long and bumpy one for 34 year old Robbie Lawler, but since moving his camp to ATT a few years back, the journey has become a lot smoother.
Lawler has put his challengers through hell for attempting to take his belt. He’s become the champ with a psychotic, sadomasochistic ability to take punishment, lights out power and gas tank that doesn’t quit. Robbie has shown no signs of slowing down in his recent bouts and is a nightmare match up for anyone in the welterweight division.
Tyron Woodley: “T-Wood” has waited patiently for his crack at the champ, Woodley was supposed to be the number one contender following a match with Hendricks getting scrapped due to Hendricks’ inability to make weight. After the Hendricks debacle, Woodley was leapfrogged by Condit for his shot.
Woodley has the tools to be the champ, it will be interesting to see how he performs in the championship rounds. He has only went past the third one time, a 4th round knockout loss to Marquardt for the Strikeforce belt.
The Fight: Woodley’s long lay off definitely adds some mystery to this match up, but even at his best, Woodley’s skill set does not match up well with Lawler’s. Lawler picks up his work rate as the fight progresses, while the heavily muscled Woodley starts out strong and fades later into the fight.
Woodley will win the early rounds forcing Lawler to go for the knockout late. Lawler’s killer instincts will kick in and Woodley will check out. Lawler Knockout 5th