By Adam Martin
This past weekend, three more fights, all involving Canadians, were added to the stacked UFC 158 card that takes place in Montreal on March 16. Meanwhile, UFC 156 sees a scratch to a rising star give another Strikeforce fighter his shot to fight in the UFC.
Jordan Mein vs. Dan Miller, UFC 158
Former Strikeforce fighter Jordan Mein has finally been signed to the UFC, and he’ll make his promotional debut against tough veteran Dan Miller at UFC 158 in Montreal. Mein is coming off a devastating victory over another tough vet in Forrest Petz at Score Fighting Series 7, and looks to continue to climb the welterweight ranks by taking out Miller, who has never been finished in the UFC.
I think this fight is going to be Mein’s coming-out party. If you look at his record, he’s taken out some big names already, and at only 23 years of age, he’s really coming into his own. I saw him absolutely steamroll Petz and yes, I know that Miller is tough as nails, but I am quite confident in saying that Mein is not only going to win, but he’s going to become the first man to stop Miller in the Octagon.
This is the perfect first fight for Mein in the UFC, and you can expect bigger and better things from this promising youngster as his career takes off.
What do you think of the Mein-Miller matchup?
John Makdessi vs. Daron Cruickshank, UFC 158
In what is a brilliant display of matchmaking, lightweight strikers John Makdessi and Daron Cruickshank collide in the Octagon at UFC 158 in what could very well be the “Fight of the Night.” Both Makdessi and Cruickshank are two of the most technical strikers at 155 pounds, meaning a fight pitting the two against one another should produce fireworks.
I can’t say anything bad about this fight, as I was super pumped when I first heard it was signed. It’s perfect. Both guys possess mammoth power in their limbs, and both have produced some of the best knockouts in MMA over the past two years, notably Makdessi’s spinning back fist over Kyle Watson at UFC 129, and Cruickshank’s head kick KO over Henry Martinez at UFC on FOX 5.
There’s a possibility this fight is boring if Cruickshank uses his superior wrestling to control the fight on the ground, but there’s a certain sense of pride one gets when fighting a fellow striker in order to prove who’s better, so expect Cruickshank to keep this fight with Makdessi on the feet and give the fans a show.
What do you think of the Makdessi-Cruickshank matchup?
Nick Ring vs. Chris Camozzi, UFC 158
Nick Ring gets another fight in Montreal as he takes on fellow middleweight Chris Camozzi at UFC 158. Ring was supposed to fight in Montreal back at UFC 154, but he got sick the day of his fight and didn’t end up getting the chance to face Costa Philippou. But he’s healthy now and he’s fighting Camozzi, who is climbing the 185-pound ladder quickly.
Rankings-wise, this fight makes sense, but one of the problems with this is that Ring and Camozzi are friends, as Ring indicated in a tweet. We’ve seen what happens when friends fight each other, and the fights are usually extremely boring. While both Ring and Camozzi are tough competitors, they do tend to go to decision, so this could really be a grind for three rounds and this fight may be the “blur” on what is an otherwise absolutely stacked UFC 158 card.
What do you think of the Ring-Camozzi matchup?
Tyron Woodley vs. Jay Hieron, UFC 156
With an injury to prospect Erick Silva, former Strikeforce welterweight contender steps in on relatively short notice to fight veteran Jay Hieron at UFC 156 on Super Bowl weekend. You have to feel for Hieron, who can’t buy a break with his matchups — he’s 0-3 in his UFC career against tough competition and Woodley is an even tougher matchup for him than Silva.
As we saw from Woodley when he was in Strikeforce, his wrestling is exceptional and allows him to dictate where his fights take place. Although Hieron is a tough competitor with good takedown defence — just ask Ben Askren — Woodley is extremely underrated and he showed in his last fight against Nate Marquardt for the vacant Strikeforce welterweight title that he’s not afraid to stand and bang if need be.
The key to this fight is if Woodley can get the takedown. If he can, then he’ll be able to decision Hieron, and it’s possible he makes it a boring fight along the way. But if Hieron can keep the fight on the feet, he should have a slight advantage and could make things interesting. Still, it’s a tough matchup for him.
Regardless, the winner will stay a contender at 170, while the loser will fall into obscurity, making this a key divisional matchup in the first quarter of 2013.
What do you think of the Woodley-Hieron matchup?
Adam Martin has blogged for theScore.com and is a regular contributor to Sportsnet.ca’s MMA section. Follow him on Twitter @MMAdamMartin.