Brad Tavares will enter the cage on a four-fight winning streak. | Photo: D. Mandel/Sherdog.com
MiddleweightsLorenz Larkin (14-1, 1-1 UFC) vs. Brad Tavares (11-1, 6-1 UFC)
The Matchup: Were it not for some questionable judging at UFC on Fox 7, Larkin might very well still be undefeated in his professional career. Then again, perhaps “The Monsoon” learned a valuable lesson in the controversial defeat to Francis Carmont. Despite stuffing the majority of Carmont’s takedowns and out-landing him on the feet, Larkin did not author any single moment to make the fight his own. Thus, Carmont was able to steal the win on the basis of a couple cheap takedowns.
The former Strikeforce talent rebounded from the disappointing setback by outpointing Chris Camozzi at UFC Fight Night 31. Larkin had his usual multi-faceted attack on display in that bout, landing straight right hands, kicks to the body and elbows in the clinch before punctuating the win with a spinning back elbow late in round three.
In most cases, Larkin has the kind of tools on the feet to leave an imprint in the minds of the judges. His striking is unorthodox yet technical and his unpredictability is backed by good instincts and footwork. Larkin’s weakness is dominant wrestlers, which was on display in a second-round defeat at 205 pounds to Muhammed Lawal at Strikeforce “Rockhold vs. Jardine” in January 2012. However, that bout was later changed a no-contest after “King Mo” failed a post-fight drug screen. Overall, it would appear that the best would be yet to come for Larkin, whose most significant victory came against current welterweight title contender Robbie Lawler in July 2012.
Tavares, meanwhile, has been about as quiet as a fighter can be in winning six of his seven bouts in the Octagon. The Hawaiian has not generated much attention, in part, because he is not overwhelming in victory: All but one of his UFC triumphs have gone the distance. Still, Tavares is well-rounded and, at 26 years old, has time to improve the various elements of his game. “The Ultimate Fighter 11” cast member has yet to face someone as skilled on the feet as Larkin, so it will be interesting to see if Tavares alters his stand-and-bang approach.
While not the type of dominant wrestler that can smother Larkin, Tavares has shown an ability to blend together striking and takedowns. Although he usually relies on his stout takedown defense to keep fights standing, Tavares may opt to use his jab and straight right to set up takedown attempts.
The Pick: While Tavares is as hard-nosed as they come, Larkin’s versatility will prove to be the difference. He can throw spinning attacks from distance or elbows and knees in close quarters, and he should be able to avoid spending too much time on his back. Larkin wins by decision.
Next Fight » Mike Easton vs. T.J. Dillashaw