By Josh Nason, WrestlingObserver.com
We’re back for the third UFC event in five days with the fourth in seven coming up. It should be fun, but a lot less fun now that Giblert Melendez vs. Al Iaquinta is off the card due to Melendez’s drug test failure.
How about that Conor McGregor?
- Jack Encarnacao (63-24 | .724) Sherdog Rewind host, The Lapsed Fan podcast co-chair, Steve Austin impersonator
- David Bixenspan (56-31 | .643) Figure Four Weekly writer, Observer Daily Update writer, podcast host
- Mike Sempervive (54-33 | .620) Wrestling Observer Live co-host | Big Audio Nightmare
- Front Row Brian (52-35 | .597) MMA newsbreaker, Twitter personality, podcast host
- Josh Nason (50-37 | .574) Wrestling Observer digital media and content guy, WON Twitter enabler
- Dave Meltzer (49-38 | .563) Wrestling Observer founder & writer, occasional cougher
> Frank Mir (17-9) vs. Todd Duffee (9-2)
Count me among those who counted Mir out several times over the last few years amid an 0-4 stretch. Then, he found himself against a depleted Bigfoot Silva in Brazil and knocked him out in 1:40. At 36, he’s still a going concern in the heavyweight division but a bad knockout loss could change it all. Mir is looking for back-to-back wins for the first time since 2011.
The 29-year-old Duffee returned to action for the first time in two years in December and knocked out Philip DeFries in just :33. In his three UFC wins, he’s spent a total of 2:40 in the cage. Wow. Healthy after suffering the effects of Parsonage Turner Syndrome, he puts himself in ‘Interesting Fight Territory’ with a win over a name like Mir.
Mir: Encarnacao, Sawyer, Pollock, Meltzer
Duffee (favorite): Nason, Bix, FRB, Sempervive, Juon
> Josh Thomson (20-7-0-1) vs. Tony Ferguson (18-3)
The 36-year-old Thomson returns for the first time in a year, a victim of back-to-back hard luck decisions to Benson Henderson and Bobby Green. Had he beaten Henderson, he would have got a lightweight title shot and who knows what would have happened then? Life sucks sometimes.
He’s got a chance to knock off a fast-rising contender in Ferguson, the past TUF winner who has won five straight with four finishes. Overall, he’s won eight of his nine UFC fights and looks ready to take the next big step in his career. Thomson hasn’t been finished in over a decade, so we could be in for 15 minutes of awesomeness. This should be your Fight Of The Night.
Ferguson (favorite): Nason, Bix, Encarnacao, FRB, Sempervive, Juon, Sawyer, Pollock, Meltzer
> Holly Holm (8-0) vs. Marion Reneau (6-1)
The 33-year-old Holm was visibly shaking going into her February UFC debut and put on a ‘meh’ performance in a decision win over Raquel Pennington. The undefeated Holm looks to regain her mojo and put herself on the Rousey Track against the very tough Reneau, a 36-year-old who is 2-0 in the Octagon. She’s won five straight and is a very live underdog.
Holm (favorite): Nason, Encarnacao, FRB, Sempervive, Sawyer, Meltzer
Reneau: Bix, Juon, Pollock
> Scott Jorgensen (15-10) vs. Manny Gamburyan (14-8-0-1)
WEC All-Star Jorgensen heads back up to 135 in desperate need of a ‘W’ after dropping four of his last five and six of his last eight. He gets Gamburyan who is an even 1-1-1 in his last three. His bantamweight debut, however, was a success with a second round finish over Cody Gibson. (Hey, at least you’ve probably heard of both these guys.)
Gamburyan (favorite): Nason, Bix, Encarnacao, FRB, Sempervive, Juon, Sawyer, Pollock, Meltzer
> Alan Jouban (11-3) vs. Matt Dwyer (8-2)
The 32-year-old Jouban arguably could be 3-0 in his young Octagon run, save a bad judges’ call in a decision loss to Warlley Alves. In his two wins, he’s finished both his opponents by first round KO, so there’s plenty to like here. In Dwyer, you get a 25-year-old Canadian who is 1-1 in his UFC tenure and is an absolute finisher with all of his career wins coming via T/KO. This should be hellacious.
Jouban (huge favorite): Nason, Bix, Encarnacao, FRB, Sempervive, Juon, Sawyer, Pollock, Meltzer