On Saturday, the Ultimate Fighting Championship will hold an event on Chinese soil for the very first time, when the Las Vegas-based promotion hosts UFC on Fuel TV 6.
Headlined by a middleweight showdown between ex-UFC champion Rich Franklin and former Strikeforce titlist Cung Le, the Nov. 10 event takes place at CotaiArena in Macau.
That means those particularly dedicated fans in North America must drag their behinds out of bed at 9 a.m. ET in order to catch the event’s preliminary card on Facebook. West coast people, enjoy watching that sunrise.
Here are five reasons to slip on your bathrobe, make a pot of coffee and tune your Internet box to the UFC on Fuel TV 6 stream:
Another Chance for Urushitani
Yasuhiro Urushitani needs to do something to make fans forget about his March knockout loss to Joseph Benavidez.
For a while, it seemed like I couldn’t go through a single day without seeing that highlight at some point, meaning that probably also holds true for many UFC fans. For those folks, watching Urushitani swallow Benavidez’s right hook is not only their enduring image of the former Shooto champion, it is their lone point of reference.
In the span of just a few months, the UFC has quickly grown its flyweight division to include more than a dozen fighters, and the quality of the competitors acquired speaks for itself. Top to bottom, flyweight might be the most talented division in the UFC.
To that end, Urushitani needs to bear down and start fighting for his professional life right now, or his UFC experience could quickly morph from a lousy first impression into an unstoppable chain of painful events, especially when John Lineker is standing in the on-deck circle.
Hands of Stone
Likely still flying under the radar for casual observers, Lineker is a fighter who could quickly become a fan favorite, provided he tempers his aggression with strategy in the cage and doesn’t make a habit out of missing weight.
Lineker’s punching power and eagerness to batter the ribs of his opponents are rare and exciting qualities for a flyweight to possess, but they could easily amount to little if the Brazilian continues to make the same mistakes that he made against Louis Gaudinot at UFC on Fox 3, the first of which resulted in Lineker coming in heavy at 127 pounds.
Though Lineker’s slugfest with Gaudinot proved to be one saucy, fan-friendly affair, I really believe that Lineker gave that fight away. Leaving one’s neck exposed against a fighter as skilled as Gaudinot usually only ends one way, and the American did not hesitate to cinch up a fight-ending guillotine when the opportunity arose.
Provided Lineker can correct the aforementioned errors and keep his chin down while chucking that heavy leather, I think “Hands of Stone” could find himself as a member of the top 10 club for many moons to come. Before that can happen, however, he must get past Urushitani.
On Saturday, I expect we will all see exactly what Tom DeBlass has planned for his Octagon run.
Entering the UFC light heavyweight fray by taking a fight in Stockholm with Cyrille Diabate on just 12 days’ notice is not what most would call the most ideal of circumstances. Even so, the New Yorker managed to plant “The Snake” on his back in round one. Were it not for DeBlass’ admittedly shallow gas tank that night, I think he would have won that fight.
The former Ring of Combat champion may be best known for his skills on the mat, but DeBlass should also be regarded as a threat standing, if only because of the power he holds in his overhand right and left hook.
Perhaps Diabate was out of DeBlass’ league in the standup department, but the same should not be true for Riki Fukuda, despite the Japanese fighter probably being the smoother striker of the two. I expect that DeBlass’ punching power will be even more pronounced at 185 pounds, a likelihood that could pay dividends if he lets his hands go when setting up his takedowns against the Grabaka representative.
Speaking of Fukuda, he is one tough guy to judge.
First, Fukuda got robbed against Nick Ring to kick off 2011. He took out his aggression from that loss on Steve Cantwell one year later, after which he nearly speared Costa Philippou’s eyeball right out of his dome en route to losing a unanimous decision at July’s UFC 148. Can anybody tell me what any of that actually means?
Fukuda seems to be both continually improving and standing still. While the former Deep champion appears to have bettered all of his skills since joining the UFC, it seems that he has not yet put it all together into a single, effective package.
The middleweight division is no longer the barren wasteland it once was. If Fukuda does not quickly develop a more dominant, unique skill set, he could easily burn himself out in the middle of the UFC’s 185-pound pack.
Uphill for ‘Hellbound’
I couldn’t forget the beating that Jeff Hougland took at the hands of Yves Jabouin if I tried.
“Hellbound” offered virtually no meaningful offense in that UFC on Fuel TV 3 appearance, hitting the canvas in rounds one and three courtesy of Jabouin’s powerful striking skills. It is unclear what, if anything, Hougland could have taken from that fight that is even remotely positive. Nevertheless, I have a feeling the bantamweight must find a way to improve in short order if he hopes to avoid catching a pink slip.
In facing Jabouin, Hougland was dealt no favors by UFC matchmaker Joe Silva, and I believe the fighter’s path to victory against Takeya Mizugaki will also be a difficult one. Though the former WEC title challenger has struggled to find consistency during his three years under the Zuffa umbrella, Mizugaki should not be underestimated. He may only hold a 4-5 record in his last nine fights, but it should be noted that the Japanese standout’s defeats have come against the likes of Miguel Torres, Scott Jorgensen, Urijah Faber, Brian Bowles and Chris Cariaso.
Can Hougland right his ship and avoid a loss that could easily cost him his job, or will Mizugaki take care of business and show he is still a relevant contributor to the UFC’s bantamweight division?