Which UFC on Fox 19 fights are you most anticipating, and why?
MICHAEL BANE, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
The unfortunate loss of the main event due to injury drops this card a notch, but there’s still some things worth seeing on this Saturday’s card. The new main event features two fighters who have previously challenged Jon Jones for the Light Heavyweight Title. While neither Glover Teixeira or Rashad Evans is likely to fight again any time soon for the title, the winner of this fight will start to put himself onto the outer edges of the conversation. The loser almost assures he’ll never be a challenger again, as both fighters have had somewhat mixed results recently and are on the back end of their career. They’re still fighters with pretty big names, and the winner is likely to get a top five fight (Alexander Gustaffson, anyone?) next.
Khabib Nurmagomedov finally returns after two years out of the Octagon. Still only 27 years old, he’s in the prime of his career. A fight against the exciting Tony Ferguson would have likely granted him the next shot at the Lightweight title. Because he holds a win over current champ Rafael dos Anjos, an impressive and dominant victory against jobber Darrell Horcher may do that anyway. Expected to win, how he looks in his return is of huge interest to the MMA community and the rest in the 155 pound division.
Rose Namajunas can stake a claim to her own crack at the belt if she’s able to avenge an earlier defeat to Tecia Torres. Thug fought the Tiny Tornado three years ago in their Invicta days, but has shown rapid improvement from her days as a 20 year old fighter. Torres herself sports a perfect 7-0 record (her TUF loss was officially an exhibition match), but unlike Namajunas, has never finished a professional fight in any of her victories. Namajunas, on the other hand, has finished everyone she’s beaten, making her both exciting as well as a fan-favorite.
The fourth fight I’m really looking forward to is watching Iranian-born Beneil Dariush take on Michael Chiesa. Dariush has quietly climbed to #7 in the UFC Lightweight rankings. Chiesa is ranked #14, which would appear to be a step back after Dariush beat Michael Johnson, but the questionable nature of that decision victory is likely why he’s not getting a top five guy at the moment. Though many, myself included, felt that Johnson won, Dariush never did look overwhelmed or out of place and legitimately did take one round away from the former TUF runner-up. Chiesa sees this as a possible statement win over a higher ranked opponent, and having won four of his last five, he’s a game opponent who can utilize his long limbs to effectively choke out his opposition.
On a final note, the loss of Lyoto Machida and Dan Henderson does remove some name value from the show, but as my friend Rich Hansen said, it’s really addition by subtraction. The relevance of these two fighters, especially Henderson, is largely due to their past body of work and not how they’ve fought lately. The rematch was completely unnecessary, as their last fight was a yawn-inducing display of non-engagement. It was confusing as to why the UFC would put such a potentially dreadful fight on national TV in the first place, but at least we’re spare from having to sit through it to get to the good stuff.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Rose Namajunas vs. Tecia Torres is the highlight for me. This has some title implications and could be a good fight. I guess I also want to see what Khabib Nurmagomedov looks like after all this time away from the cage. And maybe if he can fight and manage to stay healthy. Other than that, it’s a throwback night. There’s still some name value, though, so it should be an interesting night. I would expect Glover Teixiera to grind down Evans for the lackluster decision win that won’t do much for Teixiera’s title hopes.
DAYNE FOX, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I hate ripping on a main event that was jacked up due to injury, but the bout between Rashad Evans and Glover Teixeira does very little for me. Evans looked to be a shell of himself against Ryan Bader meaning he has had one fight in his last five appearances in which he looked good, that being when he destroyed Chael Sonnen… a true middleweight. The book on how to beat Teixeira has apparently been written as well as he has struggled mightily since bursting onto the UFC scene. It seems to be more of a fight for relevancy than establishing a contender.
Now that I’ve pissed and moaned about how I’m not looking forward to the main event, I’ll tell you what I am looking forward to: Rose Namajunas and Tecia Torres is by far the fight that I’m most anticipating. I believe it deserves the co-main event slot it’s now getting as these two young ladies are engaging in a contest with serious title implications. Torres’ reputation has eclipsed her performance recently, but she is still technically undefeated and owns a victory over the surging Namajunas already. “Thug” Rose has looked vastly improved from her stint in the TUF house as she brutalized Paige Van Zant. The winner very well could punch their ticket to a title shot.
Mike Chiesa and Beneil Dariush is second on my list. Dariush has been getting slack due to the controversial nature of his win over Michael Johnson, but he is a legit talent that could very well be a contender for the next five plus years. I don’t think Chiesa has the same potential though he has had a competitive fight at the very least every time he gets a step up in competition. I could see him pulling off the upset.
The other two I’ll highlight won’t get much attention, but I think they’ll be fun to watch. Court McGee and Santiago Ponzinibbio are both pressure fighters that throw in high volume. The stakes aren’t that high, but it should be entertaining nonetheless. I doubt anyone else will circle Oluwale Bamgbose and Cezar Ferreira, but I very much expect a highlight reel KO from Bamgbose.
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