Former WEC champion Jamie Varner has resurrected his career inside the Octagon. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Just three days removed from UFC Fight Night 27, the Ultimate Fighting Championship will return for another episode of “Trade Us Your Money for Violence.”
UFC 164 takes place Saturday at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee and is headlined by a lightweight title rematch pitting reigning champion Benson Henderson against former World Extreme Cagefighting ruler Anthony Pettis. I am told by reliable sources that the current over-under for the number of times we hear the term “Showtime kick” used during the pay-per-view broadcast is currently sitting at 55. However, that number is rising, so make sure you get your money in now.
Prior to Henderson’s attempt at cleansing his soul of the notoriously stubborn Pettis Stain, the UFC 164 undercard airs live and free on Fox Sports 1 and Facebook. Here are five reasons to tune in for the prelims:
Sherdog Fantasy MMA: UFC 164 Free Fan Pick’Em
‘C-4’ Blowing Up
Yo, Edson Barboza, I’m going to let you finish and you’re one of the best lightweight prospects in the UFC, but Jamie Varner’s knockout was one of the greatest upsets of all time -- of all time.
Are four-year-old Kanye West jokes still funny? I can never tell. The point: Varner has constructed one of the most impressive and unexpected career resurrections in recent memory. I remember the type of verbiage used ahead of his fight with Barboza, and it was not pretty. One of my particularly loud-mouthed friends used words like “dog meat,” “stretcher” and “mercy killing” to describe the matchup in private conversation, and he had not even been drinking.
We all know what happened. Varner made most of us eat a fat helping of crow with his efficient, aggressive performance, and the former WEC champion later put forth excellent efforts against respected UFC lightweight staples Joe Lauzon and Melvin Guillard.
In Gleison Tibau, Varner now meets another skilled and powerful veteran coming off a first-round submission win over John Cholish. Can Varner maintain his momentum or will Tibau knock him down a peg, as the Brazilian has done to so many others who had hopes of climbing the UFC lightweight ladder?
Hide the kids and any family members who are prone to seizures brought on my visual stimuli, because the flyweights are back in the house.
Louis Gaudinot just found himself called out by Ian McCall, but before the New Yorker can think about addressing that challenge, he must first deal with Tim Elliott, a competitor with great potential.
If you are struggling to put a face with the name when I mention Elliott, think back to his three-round war with future title contender John Dodson. Elliott gave “The Magician” all he wanted in that fight, as he put forth 15 minutes of supreme effort against his lightning-quick opponent. Elliott would repeat the trick in his most recent fight, though his hard work would this time net him a one-sided unanimous decision victory over the game but overmatched Jared Papazian.
As for Gaudinot, astute fans will recall that there is more to this Team Tiger Schulmann rep than that green mop on his dome. Though the former Ring of Combat flyweight champion has not competed in nearly 16 months due to injury, Gaudinot should not be underestimated, as evidenced by his second-round submission victory over power puncher John Lineker last year.
If Gaudinot and Elliott do not give you a show, nobody will. You would be advised to watch.
I find myself a tad frustrated with Pascal Krauss’ absences from the cage.
Yes, I know that Germany’s best welterweight is also a full-time student and that my impatient stance is a selfish one, but I cannot help it. I am not saying it is Krauss’ fault, but I do want to see this guy fight more often. Is it wrong to feel a little miffed that I have not been allowed to see more of this young man’s evolution in the UFC?
Krauss has competed just three times since first stepping into the Octagon in November 2010. He was sidetracked twice, first by a shoulder injury and then by some seriously banged-up ribs. “Panzer” returned to the cage healthy on Jan. 26, when he took a unanimous decision from Team Curran rep Mike Stumpf at UFC on Fox 6.
Krauss is now paired with former Pacific Xtreme Combat champion Hyun Gyu Lim. Can the once-beaten German continue to climb the welterweight ranks or will the South Korean extend his current winning streak to seven fights at Krauss’ expense?
Things cannot be easy for Ryan Couture right now.
Though a talented lightweight, it is difficult to imagine Randy Couture’s son living up to “The Natural’s” near-superhuman Octagon accomplishments. Though the elder Couture has always said his son is his own man, the former five-time UFC champion’s shadow looms large, regardless.
As though that were not enough, the younger Couture must deal with his father’s ongoing disagreement with UFC President Dana White. The result of the riff has caused the UFC hall of famer to be banned from UFC events, meaning he is not allowed to corner his son.
Whether Randy’s ban played a role in Ryan’s knockout defeat to Ross Pearson in April is anybody’s guess, but I cannot imagine it helped the 30-year-old. Can Couture get back on track when he meets “The Ultimate Fighter 15” finalist Al Iaquinta?
There really is not much to say about Jared Hamman that has not been said before. His head is made of concrete. His neck is some type of rubber compound. I am not even sure he has bones, to tell you the truth. He is extraordinarily fun to watch.
However, with that description comes my usual ethical tug of war over whether I should enjoy watching a man known primarily for his ability to take a shot. Hamman’s wide-open style and head-straight-up approach to defense has seen him hit the canvas in each of his last two outings. At the same time, his courage and resilience have also earned him victories over otherwise physically superior opponents in the past.
Can “The Messenger” find another win against Swedish talent Magnus Cedenblad and avoid taking too much damage?