Outside of the top two fights, what other UFC Fight Night 81 bouts are you looking forward to on the card, and why?
MICHAEL BANE, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
This card is good enough top to bottom that I easily would have paid to watch were it a pay-per-view. But it’s free! The top two fights are killer, but there’s plenty to enjoy with the rest of the announced bouts. Travis Browne looked like a shoe-in for a title shot after knocking out Alistair Overeem and Josh Barnett in succession. His career hit a bit of speed bump in the form of Fabricio Werdum in a number one contender’s match, and then went a bit off the tracks altogether when he got TKOd in a slugfest against Andrei Arlovski. Like Browne, Matt Mitrione is a great athlete for a big guy, but his ceiling is significantly lower than Mr. Rousey’s. Browne should dispose of Mitrione pretty easily, but it will be fun to see if he can put on a dominant performance to build some momentum in the right direction.
Patrick Cote vs. Ben Saunders pits two fighters against each other who are trying to establish contender relevance in the welterweight division. Cote, a former challenger for the Middleweight Title against Anderson Silva, has gained some traction since moving down a class. He’s won four of his five fights at 170 lbs and is coming off of a fantastic back and forth affair against Josh Burkman that he finished by TKO. “Killa B” Saunders has won all of his fights in the UFC since coming back over from Bellator. He also pulled off the first ever omoplata finish in his return to the promotion. Saunders doesn’t mind throwing down, and Cote showed us he’s been working on his striking lately. This fight has potential to be both exciting and feature a high level of skill, with the winner knocking on the door of the top 15 of the division.
Paul Felder vs. Daron Cruishank is a great pick if you’re looking for a fight of the night candidate. Felder has had two performance bonuses in his last three fights, including a highlight-reel spinning back fist KO of Danny Castillo. Cruishank, whose background is in Taekwondo, has had his share of kick-knockouts. Both like to bang and throw specialty strikes, and both are coming off losses in their last two matches. There’s a lot of pressure on both of the fighters not only to win, but also to put on a great performance, as the loser could be in danger of being sent packing. Felder has a much higher ceiling than Cruishank, as the latter has shown himself to be pretty one-dimensional with little ground game to speak of. Felder should get an easy bounce back win here, but we may be treated to a high-level stand up battle en route to it. The UFC has been making an effort to reward Fight Pass subscribers lately, and this is a fight that could easily hold its own higher up on the card.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Travis Browne vs. Matt Mitrione and Patrick Cote vs. Ben Saunders are the two fights I’m looking forward to the most, after the top two fights of course. I think Browne-Mitrione will be an explosive affair, and I think Browne knocks Mitrione out early. Not that I think poorly of Mitrione, but someone’s getting knocked out here, and I think Browne is just a bit better. And I think Cote-Saunders will be a high-level fight. I think Saunders pulls off some slick submission to pick up the win. I think both of these fights will be very entertaining. At least, that’s what I’m hoping for.
DAYNE FOX, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Sean Shelby and Joe Silva deserve credit for this card. Well… they did before the wave of injuries wiped out the bottom of the card. Wait… am I really bitching about the bottom of the card being screwed up by the injury bug? I am excited about the Travis Browne-Matt Mitrione fight, but I’m not going to put that on there since it is too obvious of a choice. So my choices will be Patrick Cote vs. Ben Saunders and Daron Cruickshank vs. Paul Felder. I acknowledge that the majority of Cote’s bouts haven’t been exciting recently, but with Saunders dangerous guard I don’t think Cote will rely very heavily on his recently discovered wrestling. That should result in a fun brawl between two veterans. The battle between Cruickshank and Felder should be another striker’s delight with both very reputed for their kicks. Felder has put on two FOTN caliber performances against strikers in Ross Pearson and Edson Barboza. Why should things be any different this time around?
RICH HANSEN, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
“Other than these two different one hundred dollar bills I’m holding, which of these eleven pennies would you like? You can even have all of them!” Gee. Thank you for your generosity, but I think I’ll pass. But it’s ever so kind of you to allow me to choose from eleven rusty pennies. If it’s all the same to you, I’ll just wait for the two separate one hundred dollar bills, thankyouverymuch. Wait, what’s that you say? One of the pennies is a little more special than the others? But in order to have that penny I have to give ten dollars a month to a bunch of El Chapo wannabe tycoons who steal money from Donald Cerrone for wearing a patch on a pair of shorts, who steal money from Nate Diaz from wearing blue jeans on a Friday (like it’s reverse lent or some shit), and who steal money from their lightweight CHAMPION for wearing a tee-shirt? Yeah, eat me, and eat that penny, too. I’m disinclined to even take your hundred dollar bills as this point, clown.
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