UFC 130 Preview: The Prelims

Torres vs. Johnson

By Jason Probst May 24, 2011
Miguel Torres (right) sports a 39-3 record. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

With the Miguel Torres-Demetrious Johnson and Kendall Grove-Tim Boetsch bantamweight and middleweight bouts streaming on Facebook, the UFC 130 prelims offer a glimpse into two divisions decidedly in flux, at least at the mid-tier contender level.

It should provide a compelling look at the rebuilding process for Torres, a former WEC champion who takes on the talented Johnson in what should be an exciting match at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Here is a closer look at the UFC 130 prelims, with a preview and picks.

Miguel Torres vs. Demetrious Johnson

The Matchup: Once the terror of the WEC’s bantamweights, Torres finds himself against “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, a rising star at 135 pounds. A tall, dangerous striker with outstanding submissions, Torres’ sole glaring weakness may be overpowering wrestler-types with fast hands, which is precisely the style Johnson exemplifies.

It must have driven a stake into the heart of every fan of the old-school Japanese scene when “Mighty Mouse” dominated Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto in the latter’s UFC debut in February. Using lightning-quick takedowns and great wrestling chops, Johnson showed he was a serious handful for the bantamweights in his stellar win at UFC 126. Throw in wins over Damacio Page and Nick Pace and a hard-fought decision loss to Brad Pickett prior to that, and we have a legitimate contender.

Torres is no easy task, for sure. The 5-foot-9 former champion has a boatload of experience, sports a 39-3 record and is a master at finding angles and ranges that work, using these to dictate how a fight goes. Johnson’s job is to close the gap and hit takedowns while striking a balance between keeping busy on the ground and not giving Torres an opening for a submission or sweep; expect him to push the pace, especially when he takes down Torres and negates his six-inch height advantage.

Torres remains an exceptional fighter, and though his consecutive stoppage losses to Brian Bowles at WEC 42 and Joseph Benavidez at WEC 47 prompted him to shake up his approach and training camps, this is still a bad style match for him. Essentially, Johnson only has to win two rounds, which means he will need three to four effective takedowns while not getting his block knocked off or blundering into a submission.

The Pick: Look for Johnson to flit around on the feet a bit before exploding on Torres and smartly taking it to the mat. Shower, rinse and repeat, and Johnson closes hard to a unanimous decision.

Continue Reading » Next Fight: Kendall Grove vs. Tim Boetsch
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