March 30, 2010
There was clearly a strategy in mind when the UFC put together its first show on Versus. With a new audience on board, the promotion booked plenty of bangers and hoped for some slugfests. The card delivered nasty finishes in the top two fights — Jon Jones over Brandon Vera and Junior Dos Santos over Gabriel Gonzaga. With that in mind, the UFC appears to be going down a different path, especially with its undercard Wednesday night in Charlotte.
Ultimate Fight Night 21 has some pretty solid matchmaking but it also possesses plenty of potential for long, drawn out grappling matches. Based on the ridiculous reaction to Georges St. Pierre's ground and pound-fest, in New Jersey and with the media, is the crowd at the Bojangles Coliseum in for a long night?
Leland Roling from Bloody Elbow breaks down all six of the fights:
Yushin Okami (23-5, 7-2 UFC) vs. Lucio Linhares (13-5, 0-1 UFC):
Okami has proven that he can out wrestle and smartly grapple with Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts in the past, and his overall power and ground and pound abilities should give him the win here. Linhares doesn't have much to offer in the striking department, and I fear that Okami is too strong from top control for Linhares to be effective on the ground.
Has there been an Okami fight that could truly be branded as exciting? A ground-and-pounder against a jiu-jitsu ace can often turn into 15 minutes on the canvas.
Caol Uno (25-12-5, 3-4-2 UFC) vs. Gleison Tibau (20-6, 5-3 UFC):
Normally, I'd go with my gut here and pick Caol Uno by his versatile grappling skills, but Uno still remains a tough pick in many fights due to his lack of strength and striking. While his grappling is very good, Tibau presents an interesting challenge in that he has a lot of strength to break free from submissions. He also happens to be a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt himself, which should allow him to see the positional strategies that Uno employs coming.
Uno's return has been highlighted by slow ground battles (loss v. Spencer Fisher and draw v. Fabricio Camoes). This one should no different unless Tibau chooses to keep it on the feet. Based on Camoes' performance on Saturday against Kurt Pellegrino, does Uno stand much of a chance?
Jacob Volkmann (9-2, 0-2 UFC) vs. Ronnys Torres (14-2, 0-1 UFC):
Torres showed some impressive pace and takedowns in his battle with Melvin Guillard, but he failed to execute his submissions when he had Guillard in bad positions. Torres has explosive takedown ability, but will he be able to put Volkmann to the ground?
This one could be rough. Volkmann hasn't been up to snuff as a UFC-level fighter. Hopefully, it stays on the feet.
Charlie Brenneman (11-1, 0-0 UFC) vs. Jason High (9-2, 0-0 UFC):
This looks like a classic wrestler vs. wrestler showdown with the exception that High will more than likely not sink into the mold of striking with a fellow wrestler. High will more than likely succeed in wearing out Brenneman over the course of three rounds, but Brenneman's strength of record concerns me enough to give High a good chance at submitting "The Spaniard" as well.
It's tough to get a read on this one. High has been on the wrong end of two recent highlight knockouts (Marius Zaromskis and Jay Hieron) but it doesn't sound like Brenneman has thunder in his hands.
Gerald Harris (14-2, 1-0 UFC) vs. Mario Miranda (9-0, 0-0 UFC):
One of the more interesting battles taking place on the undercard will be the middleweight clash between Ultimate Fighter alum Gerald Harris and undefeated prospect Mario Miranda. Miranda has been a highly-touted prospect for quite some time massing nine wins with phenomenal Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills. Harris' power could become a problem for Miranda if he gains top position.
With his wrestling dominating his approach, Harris looks like a one-trick pony. His fight at UFN 20 was booed heavily until he finally finished an exhausted John Salter. Maybe we see a spectacular finish if Miranda's jits is as good as advertised.
Robert Emerson (9-8, 3-2 UFC; 1 NC) v. Nik Lentz (17-3-2, 1-0-1 UFC):
This is definitely a style matchup I can get behind. Emerson will bring his scrappy style of brawling to the cage against a veteran wrestler in Lentz who also has a propensity to inflict solid damage on the feet. It could make for an entertaining back-and-forth war.
I totally agree on this one. Lentz, nicknamed "The Carny," is a rough customer who doesn't mind getting blasted in the face to score his takedowns. Emerson is a very underestimated striker.
Andre Winner (10-3-1, 1-1 UFC) vs. Rafaello Oliveira (10-2, 1-1 UFC):If Winner stays off the deck, he could potentially destroy Oliviera on the feet. This is a good litmus test to see if Winner's game is complete enough to be considered a top prospect at lightweight.
This is an intriguing fight due to the challenge it presents for both fighters. Winner will have a tough time stifling Oliveira's takedown attempts, but Oliveira may be in for a surprising beatdown if Winner can unleash his hands. I'm leaning toward Winner, but I'm having a hard time seeing Winner stop Oliveira in the takedown game.
It's impossible to predict which one of these fights the Spike audience may see as a filler. On the televised card, all four fights — Kenny Florian v. Takanori Gomi; Roy Nelson v. Stefan Struve; Jorge Rivera v. Nate Quarry; Ross Pearson v. Denis Siver — have a good shot of delivering some sort of finish. The favorite is an Winner KO over Oliviera with longshot being Okami and Linhares.
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