UFC returns to Sacramento, CA, tonight for their final Fox event of 2016. This one is very interesting in that the two biggest fights feature two young, good-looking and inexperienced stars -- Paige VanZant and Sage Northcutt -- with not a lot of headlining capacity, especially on network TV. (Well, maybe if you count Dancing With The Stars.)
It was just a year ago where PVZ got her first UFC main event opportunity, but suffered her first career loss at the hands of Rose Namajunas. On that same show, Northcutt scored a second round stoppage win over Cody Pfister but showed vulnerability for the first time in his UFC career. He went on to suffer his first career loss to Bryan Barberena (who also fights on this card) before rebounding with a win at UFC 200.
The show also features the final fight in the career of “The California Kid” Urijah Faber. He has headlined many shows in this city and this card has a definite vibe of the old WEC cards he used to headline. WEC vets Takeya Mizugaki vs. Eddie Wineland on the Fight Pass prelims are a reminder of that.
Rounding out the four-fight main card is a welterweight clash between Mike Perry and Alan Jouban. This is on the main card specifically because of Perry, who has generated a lot of buzz both with his mouth and with his finishing power as he has KOd every one of his opponents as a pro including 2 in UFC.
Our panel has picks on the top five fights from tonight’s card below with odds coming from bestfightodds.com. Year to date record is in parenthesis with panel consensus picks and a record of the favorites as well.
- Josh Nason (72-46; .610): Host of Josh Nason’s Punch Out; writer/editor WrestlingObserver.com , WON Twitter guy
- John Pollock (72-46; .610): Fight Network analyst, Live Audio Wrestling co-host, MMA Report co-host
- David Bixenspan (70-48; .593): Figure Four Weekly writer, podcast host
- Favorites (69-49; .585)
- Dave Meltzer (68-50; .576): Wrestling Observer founder
- Mike Sawyer (68-50; .576): Tough Talk MMA
- Ryan Frederick (67-51; .568): WrestlingObserver.com UFC writer, WON Twitter guy
- Mike Sempervive (67-51; .568): Wrestling Observer Live and Big Audio Nightmare co-host
- Consensus picks (60-47; .561)
- Front Row Brian (65-53; .551): MMA newsbreaker, beloved internet personality, podcast host
- Steve Juon (65-53; .551): MMA Mania writer. Angry Marks founder
- Paul Fontaine (58-60; .492): MMADraws.com founder, WrestlingObserver.com writer
> Paige VanZant (7-2) vs Michelle Waterson (13-4)
While most wouldn't give either of these fighters much of a chance against Joanna Champion, this is still an intriguing matchup between strawweight contenders. PVZ has only lost once inside the Octagon while Waterson is a former Invicta champion at atomweight. While they may not be ready for it, it’s likely that the winner here will be pushed into a title fight. This is one of many fights on the card that is a virtual coinflip in the eyes of the oddsmakers...and our panel.
- VanZant (+100 underdog): FRB, Frederick, Nason, Fontaine, Meltzer, Juon
- Waterson (-105 favorite): Sawyer, Pollock, Sempervive, Bix
> Sage Northcutt (8-1) vs Mickey Gall (3-0)
After beating CM Punk at UFC 203, Mickey Gall called out the 20-year-old Northcutt and this fight was made. Northcutt came into the UFC with a lot of hype and mowed through his first two opponents on the way to stoppage wins. He hasn’t looked nearly as good in his last two, although he did squeak out a decision win at UFC 200.
Gall has looked great but every one of his pro opponents was making their professional MMA debuts. This is another one that is hard to pick, although a lot of money has been coming in this week on Gall, skewing the odds in his favor. Although he has competed at 170 before, Northcutt is moving up from lightweight, where he’d fought 2 of his 3 UFC fights. His only loss came at welterweight.
- Gall (-145 favorite): Sawyer, FRB, Pollock, Fontaine, Meltzer, Bix
- Northcutt (-135 underdog): Frederick, Nason, Sempervive, Juon
> Urijah Faber (33-10) vs Brad Pickett (25-12)
This is supposed to be the retirement fight for Faber after a long successful career where he, as much as anyone, was responsible for sub-155 lb weight divisions being added to UFC. The former WEC featherweight champion takes on a former flyweight in Pickett, who has had a mediocre UFC record. Fighting in front of his hometown fans should also help out the veteran Faber who is one of the biggest favorites on the entire card.
- Faber (-310 favorite): FRB, Frederick, Pollock, Nason, Fontaine, Sempervive, Meltzer, Bix, Juon
- Pickett (+335 underdog): Sawyer
> Alan Jouban (14-4) vs Mike Perry (9-0)
Perry is fighting on a UFC main card for the first time and this could be a star-making performance for the brash 25 year old. He has scored KO wins in his first two UFC fights, and has knocked out 12 straight going back to his amateur career. Jouban is no slouch, having won 5 of his 7 UFC fights, but he was KOd in the first round by Albert Tumenov. With another win here, it’s very likely that Perry could get the Gall/Northcutt winner in his next fight.
- Jouban (+117 underdog): Sawyer, Bix, Juon
- Perry (-125 favorite): FRB, Frederick, Pollock, Nason, Fontaine, Sempervive, Meltzer
> Eddie Wineland (22-11-1) vs Takeya Mizugaki (21-10-2)
This is the featured Fight Pass prelim and really harkens back to the days of WEC, which ran often in Sacramento. Both veterans came to prominence in that company and will square off against each other for the first time here. Wineland has a sub-.500 UFC record but has faced nothing but top competition. He has picked up KO wins in 2 of his last 5 fights, though. Mizugaki has been finished in 3 of his last 4 and badly needs a win here.
- Wineland (-178 favorite): FRB, Frederick, Pollock, Nason, Fontaine, Meltzer, Bix
- Mizugaki (+195 underdog): Sawyer, Sempervive, Juon
Action begins with the Fight Pass Prelims at 3:30 pm EST, FS 1 at 5 pm EST, and the main card on Fox at 8 PM EST.
As always, we will have ongoing coverage of the show tonight. While you’re waiting, check out the following content, also related to the show: