UFC On Fox 9: Observer Main Card Picks & Preview



UFC on Fox

By Josh Nason


It’s a much different card than originally planned, but there are a few interesting fights on this one, including the official crowning of the new Mr. Fox.

With two events left to go in ‘13 (updated results added in a few minutes):


- Dave Meltzer (104-40 -- .722): Wrestling Observer founder & writer

- Nason (103-41 -- .715): Wrestling Observer contributor & social media guy

- Todd Martin (102-42 -- .708): Weekly FFD guest | LA Times | Sherdog

- Mike Sawyer (94-50 -- .652): ToughTalkMMA.com, co-host of Tough Talk

- Oliver Copp (93-51 -- .645): combat sports insider, co-host of Tough Talk

- Mike Sempervive (92-52 -- .638): Wrestling Observer Live | Big Audio Nightmare

*****

125-pound champion Demetrious Johnson (18-2-1) vs. Joe Benavidez (19-3) II


The 27-year-old champion is unbeaten in his last five, and is looking for the third defense of the title that only he has held. He is coming off a 5th round submission win over John Moraga, and has become Mr. Fox as Saturday marks his 3rd main event on the network in ‘13.

The 29-year-old Benavidez is looking for his 4th straight win, and is looking to avoid going 0-3 in career title fights. So far this year, he’s beat Ian McCall by decision, Darren Uyenoyama by TKO and Jussier Formiga by TKO -- enough to earn him the rematch against Johnson.

These two first fought roughly 15 months ago with Johnson earning a split decision. The big question will be if the influence of Duane Ludwig with Team Alpha Male will be enough to make a difference, or if Johnson’s speed will be too much to overcome. In Benavidez’s hometown of Sacramento, this could be a great night for Benavidez or a career setback.

Johnson: Martin, Sawyer, Sempervive
Benavidez: Nason, Copp, Meltzer

Urijah Faber (29-6) vs. Michael McDonald (16-2)

An easy Fight Of The Night candidate, this is a classic match of experience vs. youth when both guys are fighting at the top of their game. Faber has won three straight since his last attempt at winning a title with submission wins over Ivan Menjivar and Scott Jorgensen and a decision win over Yuri Alcantara -- all in 2013. These Alpha Male guys like to stay busy. Bryan Alvarez’s favorite fighter is 5-2 since coming to the UFC in 2011 with those two losses coming in, you guessed it, title fights.

McDonald rebounded nicely from his title shot loss to Renan Barao earlier this year with an August second round submission win over Brad Pickett in a Fight Of the Night winner. The 22-year-old is 5-1 in the Octagon since 2011, and faces another big step up in competition Saturday night.

The California Kid:
Nason, Copp, Meltzer, Sempervive
The Kid: Martin, Sawyer

Chad Mendes (15-1) vs. Nik Lentz (24-5-2-1)


If anyone at Team Alpha Male has benefited from Ludwig’s striking coaching, it’s Mendes, who has won four straight by T/KO, three in the first round. He last was seen stopping Clay Guida in August, the first time that has ever happened to Guida. His lone defeat came at the knee of Jose Aldo and he wants another shot at the reigning featherweight champion in ‘14.

Since dropping to 145, Lentz has won three in a row and last was seen beating Hacran Dias by decision in May. Despite being in the UFC since September 2009, Lentz has never fought on the main card of a UFC show -- a span of 12 fights.

Mendes: Nason, Martin, Sawyer, Copp, Meltzer, Sempervive

Joe Lauzon (22-9) vs. Mac Danzig (22-11-1)

For the first time in his career, Lauzon (Jim Miller, Michael Johnson) has lost two in a row but as a fan favorite, has about zero chance of being cut with another loss. Danzig, however, is another story. He also has lost his last two (Takanori Gomi, Melvin Guillard), but hasn’t won two straight since 2007-08. With another defeat here, it likely will be good-bye for the TUF winner.

Lauzon: Nason, Martin, Sawyer, Copp, Meltzer, Sempervive