The end of the year is fast approaching and the UFC is winding down with fewer events in these final months. We’re only getting two this month, a Fight Night later in the month headlined by Josh Barnett and Roy Nelson and tonight’s pay-per-view broadcast featuring a flyweight title rematch between Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and John “The Magician” Dodson. In addition, heavyweight Andrei Arlovski and Frank Mir collide in a contest that has the division on notice. We will also see the return of number one ranked light heavyweight Anthony “Rumble” Johnson taking on number seven ranked Jimi Manuwa. Also scheduled are bout between Jan Blachowicz, Rumble’s initial opponent, and Corey Anderson, an athlete who is beastin more hours and days than possible without being some kind of time wizard. Will John channel his deepest yoga mat rage to overcome his opponent? Will Arlovski put the stamp on his title shot claim? All of this will be decided tonight!
Preview and Predictions
Paige VanZant vs. Alex Chambers
Team Alpha Male’s Paige VanZant climbed to 5-1 back in April following her three round grounding of Felice Herrig and looks to further her climb up the strawweight ladder with a win over fellow Invicta FC one-timer Alex “Astro Girl” Chambers. Chambers (5-2) is the first Australian woman to compete in the Octagon and would love to bring home a win over the rising VanZant and secure a spot in the top fifteen.
Both fighters love the ground attack but approach it in fundamentally different ways. VanZant is clearly a student of the Urijah Faber program, choosing to employ a grinding, ground and pound strategy that wears opponents down, whereas Chambers may be the more tactical of the two with a better submission base. The striking department is the wild card in this fight. Neither fighter is the most proficient when forced to utilize footwork and range, but VanZant’s camp has a wider ranger of coaches to utilize in developing their young female prodigy. Both fighters are still developing so it will be interesting to see who has progressed more. Chambers is tough, but this looks like another fight for VanZant.
Prediction: Paige VanZant wins by unanimous decision
Jan Blachowicz vs. Corey Anderson
Jan Blachowicz was originally scheduled to face Anthony Johnson at this event, but that fight was scrapped because there’s just absolutely no reason to put anyone’s children through something like that. He now faces Corey Anderson, an Ultimate Fighter winner who is 1-1 since winning the season. Don’t expect to see much finesse in this fight. Both fighters have plenty of room to improve - Anderson only has six professional bouts under his belt and Blachowicz is similarly 1-1 since leaving the Polish fight circuit. Someone may go to sleep on this one. Hopefully not the audience.
Prediction: Corey Anderson wins by second round TKO.
Anthony Johnson vs. Jimi Manuwa
Anthony Johnson’s wrestling defense has always been questionable, but that’s not going to be much of an issue in a fight against fellow Jimi Manuwa. Johnson is looking to bounce back after a disappointing title contest that saw him tap to Daniel Cormier earlier this year. For Manuwa, it’s another step closer to a contender’s match after a disappointing loss to Alexander Gustafsson in March of 2014 followed by a year long layoff. There are 26 knockout victories between the two of these fighters and they each need a win to stay relevant in a thin yet turbulent division. This one is yet another one punch knockout kind of fight, a fight that Rumble usually wins.
Prediction: Anthony Johnson wins by first round KO.
Andrei Arlovski vs. Frank Mir
Arlovski is the Cinderella story of the heavyweight division. A few years ago he was all but written off after being knocked out by Rumble Johnson, but after putting together three UFC wins over Brendan Schaub, Antonio Silva, and Travis Browne, he’s likely to be next in line to face the winner of Werdum and Velasquez’s rematch.
In the meantime, he has to face another veteran of whom people have been murmuring statements about retirement in Frank Mir. Mir dropped four straight against top ten guys before rallying with two wins this year. He defeated Antonio Silva and Todd Duffee in first round, performance of the night finishes this year and looks to finish the year with another solid victory over Arlovski. It’s interesting that two long time veterans of the promotion have never met in the cage, but now makes the perfect time given the stake involved.
Mir wants to be the spoiler. His BJJ has never been questioned, but his boxing tends to show up whenever it wants. Arlovski has always been a bit more consistent on the feet, and Mir has never really been able to aggressively take people down at will to impose his style of fight. Arlovski has to be patient to get the victory in this one. Mir is a clever fighter and likes to bait guys into entering his world. If he does, he should either be able to find the right shots to pick Mir apart or walk away with a decision win.
Prediction: Andrei Arlovski wins by unanimous decision.
Demetrious Johnson vs. John Dodson
Demetrious Johnson and John Dodson last saw each other in Mighty Mouse’s first title defense, a five round affair in which Mighty Mouse was able to take down Dodson throughout. The fight was punctuated by one of the hardest punches that Johnson has taken in the Octagon and for a moment it looked as though Dodson would steal the bout. However, Mouse recovered and continued a steady pace all the way to the end.
Johnson has looked progressively better in each of his fights since then and he seems to have developed a more fluid mix of striking and wrestling to combat some of the best in the flyweight division. Johnson has also been more active than the contender with five fights to Dodson’s three. Though Johnson has been fed some lower ranked fighters while climbing the pound for pound ladder, Dodson hasn’t showcased much new in his wins over Darrell Montague, John Moraga, and Zach Makovsky. To Dodson’s credit, he did enjoy more success when exchanging with Johnson earlier in their first fight. He was able to force Johnson to attack wildly and land with some solid counter shots. If he can repeat the success he had in the early going, he may be able to frustrate the champ and force him to make mistakes. Dodson will have to once again jump the same hurdles, only this time they’re larger. Whether he’s developed enough to make the jump, we’ll see, but the safe money is on the champ.
Prediction: Demetrious Johnson win by unanimous decision.