-205 #5 Jeremy Stephens (25-13) vs. +175 Renato Moicano (10-0-1)
Jeremy Stephens: Iowa native knockout artist Jeremy “Lil Heathen” Stephens fought hard but came up short against Frankie Edgar at UFC at MSG. The loss was on the heels of Stephens biggest win to date over Renan Barao in a fan friendly striking battle.
Stephens just hit his tenth year of fighting under the UFC banner and at only 30 he is just now reaching his physical and mental peak. He has dynamite in both hands but he has failed to connect against the top guys. Stephens needs this win to get another crack at the Featherweight top five.
Renato Moicano: Undefeated Brazilian prospect Renato Moicano advanced his unbeaten streak to eleven with a spilt decision victory over Tiger Muay Thai’s Zubaira Tukhugov way back at UFC 199. Moicano has been sidelined with injuries since last year, but will be totally healed and ready for this huge main event opportunity.
Moicano has solid Muay Thai skills that are enhanced by his long frame. He trains at the Constrictor team with Rani Yahya which likely means he will be comfortable fighting off of his back.
The Fight: This is a huge leap in competition for Moicano, he keeps range pretty well but Stephens closes the distance with looping hooks that are going to make this a short match. Stephens Knockout 1st
-240 #3 Ronaldo Souza (24-4) vs. +205 #4 Robert Whittaker (18-4)
Ronaldo Souza: Former Strikeforce Middleweight champ Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza made short work of the offering that was Tim Boetsch in his last outing. Jacare dominated the stout Jeet Kune Doe practitioner in every realm, before finishing him off with a kimura in the first.
Souza’ last loss to number one contender Yoel Romero was a close as a decision could get. If he can get by Whittaker anything other than a title fight would make no sense, however with GSP leapfrogging the pack Souza may spend the next year fending off hungry contenders.
Robert Whittaker: TUF: Smashes champion Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker gave his hometown fans the show they came for in his main event debut. The 25 year old Aussie knocked out Derek Brunson in a back and forth fight of the night classic.
Whittaker has been flawless since his move up to Middleweight. 5-0 with three knockouts and three fight of the nights. This will be the biggest fight any Australian mixed martial artist has ever competed in, a win would give him legend status down under and very good chance at next crack at the title.
The Fight: Whittaker is not ready for Jacare, but in fairness to Whittaker I don’t know if anyone is ready for Jacare. Jacare’s improved Boxing skills will keep him off of the center line and keep Whittaker guessing whether he is going to strike or shoot. Souza Unanimous Decision
-134 #4 Rose Namajunas (6-3) vs. +113 #6 Michelle Waterson (14-4)
Rose Namajunas: TUF 20 finalist “Thug” Rose Namajunas was one judge away from fighting for a title. Rose went toe to toe with Karolina Kowalkiewicz for three rounds and narrowly dropped a split decision to the game Pole.
Namajunas will be coming off a nine month layoff after the Kowalkiewicz battle.Still only 24 Namjunas is the most promising young fighter competing for a shot at Joanna Champion.
Michelle Waterson: It was a long and frustrating road back to the octagon for 31 year old “Karate Hottie” Michelle Waterson. But the wait was all worth while when she finally returned to defeat Paige Van Zant with a rear naked choke in the first round.
The former Invicta Atomweight champion posses speed and mobility that sets her apart from other Strawweights. A long time Jackson/Wink fighter Waterson is proficient in all aspects of combat and has put herself in position to fight for a title before the year is out.
The Fight: Rose is going to want to close the distance on Waterson and look to get this fight to the mat. Waterson much like other Karate fighters can be very elusive and difficult to get a hold of. Waterson will score enough on the feet to overcome the size disadvantage and take this one on the cards. Waterson Unanimous Decision
-750 C Demetrious Johnson (25-2-1) vs. +550 #3 Wilson Reis (22-6)
Flyweight Title Fight (125)
Demetrious Johnson: The number one pound for pound fighter Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson dealt with some mild turbulence early against TUF 24 champ Tim Elliot, but overall it was smooth sailing to his eighth title defense. Now only two away from tying Anderson Silva’s defense record, Johnson has his sights set on the GOAT position.
At 30 years old Johnson has yet to lose a step, as a matter of fact he might of gained a step or two. If Johnson can officially clear out the division and capture the defense record by the end of this year a super fight with Cody Garbrandt or current Bantamweight champ could be in the making.
Wilson Reis: Some doubted the deservedness of Wilson Reis’s title shot last summer. But when Johnson pulled out of their bout Reis stayed on the card and submitted Team Alpha Male newcomer Alex Sandoval. Then he followed that up with a victory over tough Japanese prospect Ulka Sasaki to officially eliminate any doubt of whether or not he deserves this title shot.
Reis is a ten year veteran of the sport and competed with nearly every big name in the lighter weight divisions. His recent surge in the rankings can be attributed to his camp change to Alliance MMA in San Diego. Eric Del Fierro and crew have taken Reis from a dangerous ground fighter and turned him into a legitimate number one contender.
The Fight: It’s difficult to imagine a scenario where Reis wins this fight. Johnson is so good in every facet of the fight game that there is not really a Hail Mary chance in this match up. Johnson TKO 2nd