UFC on Fox 2 Prelims: 5 Reasons to Care

By Mike Whitman Jan 27, 2012
A year ago, few could argue that Charles “do Bronx” Oliveira (Pictured) was one of the hottest lightweight commodities in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Just 21 years old and possessing a wealth of speed, power and technical skill, the undefeated Brazilian was touted by some as the next big thing at 155 pounds.

Then came Jim Miller. Durable, experienced and razor sharp, Miller made quick work of the budding talent, submitting the favored young gun with a first-round kneebar at UFC 124. Though Oliveira appeared to rebound with a second-round submission over Nik Lentz, the decision was later overturned due to an illegal knee strike that eluded the referee’s view in real time.

Less than two months after his fight with Lentz, Oliveira was once again the favorite when he stepped into the cage against Donald Cerrone at UFC Live 5. “Cowboy” proved why he is so highly regarded at lightweight, stopping the Brazilian in a little more than three minutes and seriously derailing Oliveira’s hype train.

Now five months later, Oliveira will return to the Octagon at 145 pounds, taking on debuting five-year professional Eric Wisely on the UFC on Fox 2 “Evans vs. Davis” undercard. Oliveira’s return to the cage in his new weight class is one reason why fans should care about Saturday’s preliminary card, which takes place at the United Center in Chicago and airs live on Fuel TV prior to the main draw’s Fox broadcast. Here are four more reasons to give a hoot about the Expanded Satellite Package All Stars:

Did Anyone See ‘Real Steel?’

Why? Because Joey Beltran-Lavar Johnson is going to be a lot like that.

Little explanation is required here. Actually, little explanation is required when discussing any Beltran fight, because they all follow a similar pattern, but this one will be particularly easy to follow. Johnson is going to swing hard in the first round, and Beltran is going to see if he can take it. If he can, the notoriously durable -- and surprisingly well-conditioned -- heavyweight will likely earn himself a technical knockout sometime in the last two frames.

That is by no means a given, however, as “Big” Johnson’s nickname may be applied to his punching power, as well as his frame. The guy may be as one-dimensional as a point on a line graph, but he can flat-out swat. Kicks? We don’t need no stinking kicks. Ring the bell, and let’s see who falls down first.

WEC Never Die

Sherdog.com

George Roop seeks consistency.
Neither Cub Swanson nor George Roop seems to be able to get over the hump and firmly cement himself as a featherweight contender, so perhaps it is appropriate that the WEC veterans should scrap as they search for consistency.

To recap: Roop was in straight Kill Mode when he cut through Chan Sung Jung with a vicious second-round head kick last year. Three months later, he was demolished in a similar fashion by Mark Hominick. Just over four months after that, the lanky featherweight ripped through submission ace Josh Grispi, beating him from pillar-to-post before mercifully ending the fight in round three. Roop’s most recent outing at UFC 137 ended in a less definitive fashion, as he dropped a split decision to Hatsu Hioki in a fight many felt he won.

Likewise, Swanson has split his last four bouts, earning “Fight of the Night” victories over John Franchi and Mackens Semerzier, while dropping bouts to Chad Mendes and Ricardo Lamas.

It is unknown which, if either, of these men will be able to string together the quality wins required to contend for the featherweight title, but it is clear that both will have a lot on the line here. Neither competitor seems afraid of letting it all hang out; in fact, the opposite is true. Regardless of who comes out on top, this one should be a pleasure to watch.

Curse of ‘The Carny?’

Winning ugly is still winning, right?

Some fans may not appreciate Nik Lentz’s style, and some may still begrudge him for his curious split decision win over Tyson Griffin. However, this fails to paint the entire picture, as the Minnesotan is also capable of putting on fights like his bouts against Waylon Lowe and Oliveira, both of which were pretty much off the hook.

Lentz’s ability to be exciting seems contingent upon his opponent’s skill level -- specifically, his foe’s ability to neutralize his suffocating wrestling attack, either through excellent takedown defense or an aggressive guard.

A potent submission grappler with power in his hands, Evan Dunham seems to fit the aforementioned description, though it is unknown in what condition the Oregonian will enter the cage. He is reportedly battling a lingering big toe injury that causes the appendage to occasionally pop in and out of joint during training. One has to guess that is exactly as much fun as it sounds.

Will Dunham capitalize on his win over Shamar Bailey and re-enter the Top 10 discussion, or will “The Carny” coat the jiu-jitsu ace in a blanket made of molasses and use his wrestling to stifle Dunham’s more varied attack?

Remember the Einemo

There appear to be three types of fighters when it comes to strategy in mixed martial arts.

First, there are the scholars. These guys study their opponents extensively, making note of tendencies, both good and bad. They dissect their foes piece-by-piece, scouring fights for valuable insight that might be used to gain an advantage in the cage. Scholars are disciplined and usually see their well-prepared plans through to the end, even in defeat. This approach is rare.

Then there is the I-had-a-plan-until-I-got-hit bunch. These fighters come in with a vague idea of where they might be stronger or weaker than an opponent but have likely dedicated no real time or effort into researching exactly where or how they might exploit their opponents. As a result, they are often drawn into ill-advised situations that cater to their opponents in the cage, despite stepping in with the best of intentions.

The last group says things like, “I’m more concerned about what I’m going to do to him,” and “I haven’t seen a lot of film on him, but I’m sure it’s gonna be a war.” We’ll leave it at that.

It appears John Olav Einemo falls into the second category, or at least fell into that category during his UFC debut against Dave Herman. Despite being a former Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist, the Norseman repeatedly and openly engaged with Herman in a firefight after nearly five years away from competition. What resulted earned him both “Fight of the Night” honors and the first knockout loss of his career.

At UFC on Fox 2, Einemo will lock horns with a different type of opponent but one who should still hold a marked advantage in the standup. Will Einemo learn from his loss to Herman and do his best to drag Mike Russow underwater, or will he once again fall prey to the inherent adrenaline rush of competing in the Octagon?

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