Wednesday, July 19, 2017

UFC on FOX 25: Weidman vs Gastelum - Fireworks on Cable TV Saturday Night!

With the long awaited and previously cancelled DC vs Jon Jones card at the very end of the month, and the Interim Middleweight belt up for grabs between Whitaker vs Romero not long ago, this card kinda snuck up on me frankly. Elsewhere in the combat sports universe 5 years later, Roger Gracie rematches Buchecha. It's rare in any sport two guys so clearly the head and shoulders above the rest best face off at a point where it's still compelling. Roger of the old school vaunted fundamentals and slow paced game and Buchecha of the new super athlete breed of frightening precision, athleticism, and power.

That being said, back to the UFC and this card......this event, man, it's got a great main card. The main event, and the 3 other main card fights all promise fireworks.
I doubt any of these fights will go the distance. I think perhaps Weidman and Gastelum could go the distance but only in the sense that I doubt very seriously the other 3 will and it would be quite a night if the entire main card was a series of stoppages. The UFC's cards of late haven't exactly been stoking my fan flame but this card features just the kind of stylistic match-ups that could put an end to that.

Weidman vs Gastelum - the UFC matchmaking narrative is painfully obvious, Weidman coming off 3 losses (only to top flight competition, and a controversial loss in his last fight due to the beleaguered unified rules regarding a downed opponent and knees), still finds himself where he's at: having lost 3 in a row. Gastelum has reinvented himself at a weight class up after blowing several fights due to coming in laughably overweight, then managed to set himself back again with a marijuana/banned substance test failure. I dunno how much more he could stunt his own career's growth but that being said, the UFC clearly is placing both of them at a crossroads: Weidman to prove he's at least a gatekeeper to divisional elite status or Gastelum is now the guy who beats former champs. Gastelum has shown surprising speed as of late, and he was never the kind of guy I was hyped on at the outset, but his skillset has served him well against I think the benefit of pivotal timing: he beat a non-TRT Belfort, he beat a soon-to-retire-doesn't fight consistently-Tim Kennedy, Johnny Hendricks (less impressive as time goes on), and Neil Magny (certainly a decent name but not a title challenger nor a former champ. Weidman has only lost to Whitaker, Romero, and Gegard Mousasi which deserves an *.
I think Weidman collides with Gastelum due to a rough run but shows he's still more than Gastelum can chew apart. Weidman via 4th round submission.

Bermudez vs Elkins - Bermudez has that potential to finish just about anyone on any given night. His record speaks of this: a loss to Lamas and Jeremy Stephens and Chan Sung Jung (having hurt his opponent just previously) but wins over Rony Jason and Kawajiri and Clay Guida. Elkins claim to fame is a come from behind stoppage win over Mirsad Bektic. Not exactly the stuff legends are made of. Entertaining, yes? World beating, no. I couldn't help but notice his speech in the UFC special and wonder if his nickname "the damage" is already indicative of early onset brain damage. It's a nice hype reel build-up so talk about heart and an iron chin but when your best wins are Hioki and Pepey, I'm not betting any coin on your chances my friend.

Villante vs Cummins - Cummins is a guy I've grown to like. As his style has evolved and his Tom Hardy-esque Charlie Bronson look at current, it's hard not to enjoy his pre-fight build up and his in cage style. The guy comes to finish and works hard to do it every minute of the round. He's the kind of guy who parlayed a total hail mary shot to get in the UFC on a late notice fight and here we are several years later in an opportunity to really move into the slate of guys we care about in his division as the merry go round of Jon Jones, DC, and Gustaffson has frankly grown tiresome to your humble narrator. It's also easy to forget that Cummins has lost by stoppage to most of the marginally good guys he's faced: Lil Nog, Glover Teixeira, and OSP among them. His best win is a majority decision over Blackhowicz. I'll just leave that there. Villante has alternated wins and losses (almost entirely) since coming to the UFC. He's got losses to Shogun, Latifi, and Lawlor but wins over Safarov, Perosh, and Corey Anderson. Cummins resume of losses is mor eimpressive than Villante so I have to give him the nod here but honestly either guy who throw it out the window and not get up.

Almeida vs Rivera - Time was not long ago before a Garbrandt blitzkrieg that Almeida was the second coming of the Chute Boxe style Brazilian hard charging Muay Thai onslaught. Problem was, Almeida would get wobbled even in fights he won. This failed him dearly in a fight that was another HL reel for now champ Garbrandt. He rebounded with a stoppage win over Albert Morales and he will likely continue to do just that until he runs into a guy with enough firepower to pounce when he gets hurt....and Rivera may be that guy. Except he hasn't stopped anyone in a fight since Marcus Brimage over 2 years ago....and all his wins dating back to Bellator/before the UFC and otherwise have been decisions. 3 rounds in a long time to go with Almeida and not get blasted. Garbrandt and one other guy are the only ones to not get stopped by Almeida since he came to the UFC. It's hard not to pick Almeida here by a series of punches, kicks, elbows, and knees.

One of my Jiu-Jitsu coaches, Rafael Natal is on the Prelims, and Alex Oliveira is on there as well. Lyman Good returns from a PED-enforced exile to cap off the solid prelim offering. I'm super excited this card is on FOX, and starts early with a main card kickoff of 8pm. 

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