-135 Joe Lauzon (26-12) vs. +115 Jim Miller (26-8-0 1 NC)
Joe Lauzon: Mma’s resident super nerd shocked the world at UFC 200 when the submission specialist showcased his lesser utilized punching power and knocked the iron headed Diego Sanchez out. Prior to this TKO Diego had previously only been stopped one time, by B.J Penn due to a cut. Lauzon looked like a man possessed at UFC 200, a mentality he’s hoping to carry into this fight.
“J-Lau” is no stranger to shocking the world, it’s been 10 years since his unforgettable debut, where he spoiled the return of the lightweight champ Jens Pulver by knocking him out in :48 of the first round . Lauzon may not win every fight from here out but he has made it abundantly clear that if he is fighting, you need to be watching.
Jim Miller: New Jersey’s blue collar hero Jim Miller was the definition of consistency his first six years in the UFC. Racking up a 13-3 record, you could rest assured if a fighter beat Miller they were destined for great things. But the CCR loving pugilist has come on hard times as of late, dropping four of his last six bouts. Miller did pick up a huge knockout over Japanese legend Takanori Gomi at UFC 200, a great start to righting his ship.
Miller is another one who’s heyday is probably past him by, but at 32 he has a few more years of going to battle for the fans. His spot on the UFC roster should be locked until he decides to call it quits, and he still has the skills to be a solid test to the next generation of up and coming fighters.
The Fight: This will be a rematch of a 2012 classic fight of the night at UFC 155. Miller won the first one by decision, but Lauzon showed awe-inspiring heart by battling Miller to the final bell, despite suffering a enormous gash above his eye in the first round that distorted his vision the entire fight.
Now at very different times in their careers, these two should be even more willing to go for broke with a loss not meaning nearly as much. Lauzon has the technical edge on the ground and I see him putting that to use later in the fight after another all out war on the feet. Lauzon RNC 3rd
-195 #10 Paige VanZant (6-2) vs. +170 Bec Rawlings (7-4)
Paige VanZant: The UFC’s golden girl will make her long awaited return to the Octagon following a runner-up performance on “Dancing With The Stars”. The nine month lay off was a much needed break for the 22 year old who suffered a devastating five round thrashing at the hands of Rose Namajunas.
Many in the mma community were quick to write off the brawling beauty after her loss to Namajunas, but the Team Alpha Male product is still an elite prospect who has the UFC and Reebok as her biggest cheerleaders.
Bec Rawlings: Rawlings post-apocalyptic villain appearance and partiality for a bloody brawl have earned her a moderately sized fan based and her first shot at a top 10 opponent in the UFC. Her most recent outing was a narrow decision victory over South Korean kickboxer Seo Hee Ham in March.
The 27 year old Aussie is based out of San Diego’s Alliance Training Center with superstars like bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz and Alexander Gusstaffson. Rawlings is a striker who thrives in brawls, but also has the submission savvy to finish fights on the ground.
The Fight: VanZant is going to need to close the distance as soon as possible. While Rawlings will want to keep her at a distance with her strikes. VanZant has showcased off the charts cardio and is lighting quick in grappling scrambles, somehow always winding up on top. These two attributes will give VanZant the edge and ultimately earn her the decision. VanZant Unanimous Decision
-180 Anthony Pettis ( 18-5) vs. +155 #6 Charles Oliveira (21-5-0 1 NC)
Anthony Pettis: “Showtime” has suffered an unprecedented slide in the past two years from world champion on the Wheaties box to unranked challenger. After losing his title to RDA, Pettis went on to drop his next two bouts to Eddie Alvarez and Edson Barboza.
Much of Pettis’s recent woes have come from being at a size and strength disadvantage, with this in mind, Pettis has decided to cut to 145 pounds for the first time in his career in an effort to halt his three fight skid. As a featherweight Pettis will be an immediate contender if he can maintain the power he possessed as a lightweight.
Charles Oliveira: Except for a freak esophagus injury he suffered in a bout against Max Holloway, Oliveira has been exceptional the past two years. The 26 year old has earned his #6 ranking by taking out studs like Myles Jury, Nik Lentz and Jeremy Stephens.
“Do Bronx” has been a contender in the UFC since he was 20 and is coming in to his own as he approach the age where most fighters peak mentally and physically. A win over a former champ like Pettis in front of millions on FOX, would put Oliveira on a short list of names qualified for a shot at Conor McGregor and his pot o’ gold .
The Fight: Unless Pettis is severely affected by the weight cut, I can not imagine a scenario where Oliveira can defeat him. Everything Oliveira is good at, Pettis is better. Oliveria’s best chance would be to get Pettis down where he could out Jiu-Jitsu him, but Pettis’s takedown defense should hold up in this smaller weight class. Pettis TKO Body Kick 2nd
+100 #4 Demian Maia (23-6) vs. -120 #5 Carlos Condit (30-9)
Demian Maia: It would not be a hyperbole to say Demian Maia has the best BJJ in mma history, his grappling skills have made top 10 contenders look like defenseless white belts.His most recent string of victories include a five fight win streak that have the 38 year old Brazilian on the verge of his second title fight.
Maia’s losses since his drop to welterweight were to Jake Shields a questionable split decision and Rory McDonald a clear unanimous decision. In both of these fights Maia’s cardio played a role in his defeats. These fights occurred when he was relatively new to the 170 pound weight cut. Now in his tenth bout at welterweight, Maia’s cardiovascular endurance should be better adapted to the cut.
Carlos Condit: “The Natural Born Killer” could easily be holding the welterweight belt right now. His January title fight with Robbie Lawler is the odds on favorite for fight of the year and a fight that was scored for Condit by many of the sports top pundits.
Now fully recovered fromthe five rounds of brutal warfare with Lawler, he will look to build his way back to a title shot. Condit is the quintessential warrior who will sacrifice his body in order to get ones step closer to a possible kill shot. But at 32 Condit’s battles have to be taking a toll on the gladiator and if he is ever going to have a championship reign he will have to win this fight.
The Fight: If this was a three round fight I would be willing to bet my first born that Maia would be able to control this fight for enough time to earn the decision. However this is a five rounder and Condit appears to have the ability to siphon his opponents energy and up his pace as he get deeper into fights.
There are a few factors that are unknown right now, like has Maia’s cardio improved since the Rory fight and will Condit be the same fighter he was before the Lawler war. All things considered, Condit will do what it takes to win the later rounds and pick up the decision in another five round instant classic. Condit Split Decision