While the UFC Fight Night 184 prelims lack the depth of the surprisingly strong main card on Saturday in Las Vegas, these eight bouts still provide some worthwhile viewing material. The featured undercard battle leans on some name recognition, as Ultimate Fighting Championship mainstays Michael Johnson and Clay Guida face one another in a matchup where both men need a win. Beyond that, there are some prospects to watch. Mike Rodriguez looks to rebound from Sherdog’s 2020 “Robbery of the Year,” while Devonte Smith and Justin Jaynes figure to bring guaranteed fireworks at 155 pounds. Deeper still, Karol Rosa’s bantamweight scrap with Joselyne Edwards serves as a fascinating under-the-radar pairing, while reliable action fighters like Molly McCann and Youssef Zalal help round out a breezy slate.
Now to the preview for the UFC Fight Night “Overeem vs. Volkov” prelims:
LightweightNR | Michael Johnson (19-16, 11-12 UFC) vs. NR | Clay Guida (35-20, 15-14 UFC)
ODDS: Johnson (-225), Guida (+185)
Few fighters have combined such impressive highs and distressing lows as much as Johnson, who suddenly finds himself trying to stop a three-fight losing streak. Johnson spent a few years on the roster as a middling lightweight before a breakout performance against Joe Lauzon in 2013, when “The Menace” showed off a quick and dangerous striking game that had finally clicked into place. That led to a four-fight winning streak that ended in controversial fashion via decision against Beneil Dariush, but the UFC seemed to have Johnson’s back and gave him a prominent rebound fight against Nate Diaz. However, the bout wound up being all about Diaz, who lured Johnson into a losing fight and used his post-fight interview to build what would be a career-defining feud against Conor McGregor. As for Johnson, it was the second loss in a rough patch that saw him lose five out of six fights. With that said, even the lone win in that batch showed how effective Johnson can be at times: He starched Dustin Poirier just 95 seconds into a main event, making him the only man besides Khabib Nurmagomedov to beat “The Diamond” at 155 pounds inside the UFC. That overall skid led Johnson to cut down to featherweight, which did not turn around his woes. Losses to Darren Elkins and Josh Emmett only further typecast Johnson as someone who implodes as soon as something goes wrong, and wins over Andre Fili and Artem Lobov were not particularly inspiring. In turn, that led Johnson to ply his trade back at 155 pounds, but it has just been more of the same. Fights against Steven Ray and Thiago Moises went fine early, but Johnson quickly folded as soon as he was taken to the mat, with Ray earning a narrow decision and Moises scoring a low-percentage ankle lock submission. Johnson might need a win here to save his spot on the UFC roster, and he will look to score one against a fellow skidding veteran in Guida.
Guida is essentially set for life in terms of goodwill thanks to the first few years of his UFC career, when “The Carpenter” guaranteed as much excitement as anyone in the sport. His wars against Roger Huerta and Diego Sanchez were legendary among fans who were part of the Spike TV boom of the mid-2000s. That made his memorably terrible loss against Gray Maynard in 2012 a shocking aberration, but while that did sap Guida of some of his action cred, he has still shown a commitment to making things happen in the near-decade since. Sometimes the results were not particularly inspiring, as Guida had his fair share of fights in which he was simply willing to hold down the opponent; at other times, he charged into his opponents’ offense. However, Guida’s willingness to keep moving forward and apply some sort of pressure has been welcome, even as he has slowed down in later years. After a middling run down at featherweight, Guida returned to the lightweight division in 2017, when one-sided wins over Lauzon and Erik Koch provided some hope that he was on his way to a successful late-career run. Unfortunately for “The Carpenter,” things have stalled out since. Beyond a relatively inactive schedule, Guida’s lone win in his last four fights came in uninspiring fashion over the husk of B.J. Penn. Losses against Charles Oliveira and Jim Miller were quick affairs in which Guida almost immediately got himself choked out. Coming off of a decision loss in which Bobby Green mostly stalled him out, Guida also finds himself on the cut line and in need of a win.
Johnson should win this, but he is at the point where it is hard to have any faith in his gutting out a victory. Johnson’s defensive wrestling is usually solid, so it is easy to see a scenario where he can keep this fight standing, at which point Guida’s lack of defense should make him a sitting duck for the type of sharp counter that can knock out any man. However, as Johnson’s last few fights have shown, he can have all the success in the world shutting down his opponent’s wrestling, but he is now in his own head to the point that one takedown can send him careening off the rails into a one-sided loss. Guida may get knocked out trying, but as soon as he gets this to the mat, his relentless approach should be able to break Johnson, even at this stage in his career. The pick is Guida via decision.
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