Cody McKenzie is willing to trade on the feet.| Photo Courtesy: Spike TV
Heavy on former “The Ultimate Fighter” cast members, the eight-bout UFC Fight Night 25 preliminary lineup will stream live via Facebook on Saturday at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.
For those of you not yet hooked on Farmville, Bejeweled Blitz or Words with Friends, let us take a closer look at the undercard, with previews and picks.
Cody McKenzie (12-1, 1-1 UFC) vs. Vagner Rocha (6-2, 0-1 UFC)
The Matchup: Rocha put forth a credible effort in his decision loss to surging lightweight Donald Cerrone, showing a solid chin and a persistent though ineffective approach. McKenzie, a likeable and submission-savvy product of “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 12, is possessor of perhaps the most exciting and effective trademark submission in the game -- a guillotine, or its nom de plume, the “McKenzitine.” After winning 10 bouts in a row with the hold, which is probably a record of some sort, he came up short in a spirited effort against Yves Edwards at UFC “Fight for the Troops 2”. There, the wily vet exploited his spotty standup in a bout in which McKenzie was ultimately choked out in three entertaining rounds.
McKenzie remains a work in progress as an MMA fighter and needs to develop better standing skills instead of just relying on his dangerous guillotine, which he seems able to find in virtually any ground position or scramble. The Edwards fight was definitely a learning experience, and he did show some improvement off his reality series performances, using his striking a bit more. Rocha is rugged on the ground and figures to have a clear advantage in takedowns and upper-body strength, though he may be loath to use it early knowing how dangerous McKenzie is off his back.
This should be an exciting bout between two developing lightweights, especially if Rocha opts to bang on the feet in an effort to soften up McKenzie. Despite his deficiencies, McKenzie is definitely willing to trade shots, something that cost him against the accurate Nam Phan in a bout that resulted in his elimination from “The Ultimate Fighter.”
The Pick: Rocha takes this on better striking and by avoiding submission attempts, as he grinds his way to a tough decision win.
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